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Ellen Shapiro

eGullet Society staff emeritus
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Everything posted by Ellen Shapiro

  1. Now Varmint, I'm going to have to take a switch to you. You promised there would be no photos of me posted! That is most certainly a breach of barbecue trust.
  2. You snooze you lose!
  3. So there I was driving Fat Guy and Momo around Gastonia, NC, in search of lunch, only to learn that all the places we wanted to go are closed on Mondays and Tuesdays, when I spied this sign alongside the road: Now read that carefully. It's so full of linguistic wonderment, I can't remember the last time I took so much pleasure from six (depending on how you count them) words. I cut off several large SUVs, pickups, a wrecker (see I'm learning the southern lingo) and a cement truck in order to make the right turn into the Super Buffet Hong Kong Lob-Steer Inn. We resolved to eat there, for story
  4. Some additional dishes: Curry chicken popcorn Corn on the cob Egg and truffle New England clam chowder Tuna with crispy rice Cauliflower in textures Pineapple with cured salmon, avocado, and quinoa Conch fritter with a liquid center Jose Andres, again: Holding the foie gras cotton candy Preparation and presentation of the "meat and potatoes": Mango ravioli of trout roe with tomato seeds; to be slurped directly from the plate: Hot and cold foie gras soup: "Lobster Americaine," with a syringe containing the broth: A couple of additional dessert items: Mango soup with po
  5. Donk, you don't want to see them all! The conditions were less than ideal, photographing and eating something like 30 dishes in something like 2 hours -- and for the first part of that time there were 4 other people at the minibar so I had to avoid flash and couldn't move around much. But I will try to process several more photos. The problem is that we're on the road for the next couple of weeks using mostly dialup connections. So it may take a little time.
  6. There's nothing inside the lightbulb. To respond to your other comment, Hillvalley, the pics are from the Feb 20, 2004. We ate the same food that was on the printed menu, which is what was served to the other four people at the minibar, which was prepared by the same cooks. On top of that, we had one off-menu dish which will be on the menu soon: the light bulb. Jose and Fat Guy, who had never met before, engaged in heated conversation for quite some time, but the only thing Jose himself "cooked" was the light bulb. Nor was there any special advance preparation done: we had no plans to visit th
  7. A few additional Minibar photos, to add to the already excellent album that has been assembled here by Darren Vengroff & Co. Cone with trout roe & cheese Jicama ravioli with guacamole (right) and with tuna seviche (left) Deconstructed white wine This is a forthcoming dish that Jose let us try. It's a "light bulb of flavor" made of thinner-than-paper sugar candy. The light bulb of flavor The light bulb is illuminated by a flashing blue LED You are asked to place it directly in your mouth Guacamole and tomato sorbet The airy emulsion that tops the sea urchin The sea urchin prese
  8. On Wednesday, February 18, Fat Guy dragged me to the Hunts Point Cooperative Market in the Bronx -- at 7am. He was doing research for his book. Specifically, he was investigating the creation of a new cut of veal. It occurred not at all to me why this would be a big deal, but when you think about it they've been butchering veal for gazillions of years and it's pretty impressive that at this late date someone could come up with a different way to utilize a part of the animal. Hunts Point is big. It is according to the Hunts Point Economic Development Corporation the world's largest food distrib
  9. In that particular area, there's just Fernando and two cooks. There are several other prep areas as well. We didn't even see them all. If you like I can try to get some figures on the total number of people employed at Tavern in various capacities.
  10. Not that there's anything wrong with that! Many forms of literature are relatively new as separate genres: the novel comes to mind as the most prominent example, and of course food writing itself is a new category. There is even a small amount of food writing targeted at children, such as the wonderful books by Grace Lin: Dim Sum for Everyone, and The Ugly Vegetables. I'd love to see more of that. It's also interesting that much of ancient literature -- e.g., Aesop's fables, Gilgamesh, even the Odyssey -- is often categorized as children's literature today, probably because of its didactic n
  11. They serve brunch 10am - 3:30pm. Poached egg production begins around 9:45am and runs until around 10:30am. So your eggs are always going to be on short hold of a few hours or less.
  12. If you hadn't had the cool jeans that were ripped in the knees you could have had some m & ms with AgaCooker's sock beers. Then again, if you had had your jeans tucked into your socks (as if it were, say, leech season) you could have eaten the m & ms out of your shoes.
  13. I grew up in a working-class family without the means to travel much beyond the annual trip where the whole family piled into our old Checker station-wagon and we drove out to the Grand Canyon. In order to travel overseas, I saved my babysitting money, I worked at Crazy Eddie's selling microwave ovens, and I sold chains-by-the-inch from a shopping-mall jewelry kiosk. So I've always been acutely aware of the economic aspect of travel -- it's not something I ever took for granted. I was always looking to get bang for my buck, but I also had a strong interest in the anthropological aspects of tra
  14. I'd also like to cast a vote for haute cuisine as memorable food experience. Right up there on my list of top food experiences ever was my first trip to France as an adult with the means to eat in Michelin-starred restaurants. We reserved at several and our first meal was at Maisons de Bricourt in Brittany, the restaurant from chef Olivier Roellinger. I remember being a bit fearful that the language barrier would be a problem and that the whole experience would be stressful in various ways. Instead, we were almost immediately put completely at ease by the waitstaff and soon came an avalanche o
  15. A number of writers have been mentioned in passing during this roundtable, but I wanted to frame the question of great-food-and-travel-writers more comprehensively. So, step right up: those who have influenced you most, and why?
  16. Agreed on that point, Russ. As an Angelino surely you appreciate Michelle Shocked's lyrics in Come a Long Way: "I've gone 500 miles today I've come a long way And never even left L.A." At the same time, as a travel writer and avid traveler, I have to speak out against the insularity and isolationism that can result from the extreme view of "I've got everything I need right here in my 'hood." And for me at least, it was through travel to other places that I learned how to look at my home towns through a different lens.
  17. Russ and Robb, it's interesting that you both mentioned community-based experiences as favorites. It reminds me that right now we're in the midst of a very special community: eGullet. In what other community group can you find Russ Parsons and John Whiting even though they're 8,000 miles away from one another? I hope, if you haven't already, that you both get the opportunity to attend some eGullet community events in your area. eGullet is both local and global -- a new kind of church or community group. One of my fondest recent food memories is of attending the eGullet pot luck on the New Jers
  18. After asking this question I realized I might have to answer it, and that isn't easy. But I'm reminded of a trip I took right after graduating from university, when I traveled around the world on my own for about half a year. I had almost no money, so I participated in various programs aimed at students such as homestays, and I wound up living for awhile with a Thai family in Chiang Mai. At our first dinner together, the foods were all rather unfamiliar -- some I recognized components of but it was still hard to sort out. The food was served family style and you took just a little bit on your
  19. For me it would have to be wherever the best chocolate comes from! But then of course I'd probably learn that the cocoa beans are picked thanks to slave labor and that nobody locally had ever tasted the fruits of their labors because all the cocoa is shipped to and processed in Europe where one bar is sold for more than a picker makes in a month. Thanks for ruining my day, guys.
  20. I'd be interested to know, from Robb and from others, what has been your single most memorable and valuable food-travel experience of all time -- and why?
  21. I'm assuming you gentlemen are all experienced travelers, and that you've encountered lots of people beyond the normal touristed byways, so I'm quite surprised at the resistance I'm reading to the people-are-basically-the-same axiom. It's hardly a recipe for cultural hegemony; if anything the attitude that "they're not like us" is the one to worry about from a policy and cultural-relations perspective. Perhaps it's just a question of perspective or emphasis, but I find that some attempts to focus on differences to the exclusion of similarities can be a bit sensationalistic, patronizing, and ev
  22. Extrapolating from my age (35) to Russ's (48) where does that pinpoint the rise of the kind of non-snobbish food writing that Robb illustrates? Would it be sometime in the 1980s?
  23. John I think you're illustrating exactly the point I'm trying to make: speaking from the writer's perspective, we need to understand that when we visit a farflung place and eat bugs, it's not about us eating bugs and being cool. Rather, it may very well be that the people in that area are eating bugs because they're the only source of animal protein available to the poor. When we travel and eat we must look at food as a vehicle for understanding.
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