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Ellen Shapiro

eGullet Society staff emeritus
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Everything posted by Ellen Shapiro

  1. May I ask all of your ages? I only mention it because I have no memory of a time when food writing was so snobbish. To me, right now too much of the food writing I see is self-consciously populist, which is also the case with too much travel writing. John Thorne is sui generis, but his pale imitators are just a drag.
  2. I'm definitely never speaking to you again. But for anybody else who happens to be reading along, I'll say that the clam pie (white, no sauce, no mozzarella) is the only pie that is arguably best at Pepe's. All other pies are better at Sally's! Back to other subjects, though my moratorium on speaking to Robb ever again may make discussion difficult, I think it bears emphasizing that breaking bread with strangers is the quickest way to cultural interchange. This is doubly true for Westerners who have, on account of the bad behavior of a few, acquired the reputation for being closed-minded picky
  3. To the philosopher in the proverbial ivory tower, it's easy to say "all taste is learned except maybe sweet and fat." But to bring this back to the food-and-travel aspect of Robb's book, I think that most everyone who has traveled a lot and paid attention will agree that people are fundamentally the same everywhere, even in the really remote places where there are no McDonald's and no Baywatch. I can't accept that this is all randomly learned, regardless of the appealing simple logic of such a position. It's true that wherever you go there are unusual foods that people eat. But those tend to b
  4. I don't think Russ was calling Robb a thrill seeker, but rather was saying Robb is not a thrill seeker for the purpose of thrill seeking itself (Russ, am I putting words in your mouth?). And in the instances where, to a non-food-obsessed individual it may appear that he is thrill seeking, there is a joie-de-vivre to his quest that gives it motives beyond pure one-upsmanship and machismo. That being said, much of taste may be learned, but as John Whiting intimates I've never been anywhere in the world where they didn't like sweets. I can't recall a single instance of a human being saying to me
  5. I think Robb has created a new book category: the passionate fresser’s* armchair eat-a-logue -- if you want to keep up, don’t forget to bring your own fork, knife, and spoon. As a person who loves both food and far-flung travel, the essays in Are You Really Going To Eat That? drew me like a Texan to a fruitcake. But the same way a suburban walker with no intention of ever attempting the summit of Mt. Everest may read and be riveted by Into Thin Air, so will the food enthusiast (armchair or active) be sucked in by Mr. Walsh’s historical, cultural, and social food adventures. My zeal for travel
  6. Oh Monica! What a treat! The photos were a great addition too. Is it time to start planning a return trip yet--with me?! Looking forward to the next installment . . . don't make us beg.
  7. Ellen Shapiro


    We went there on opening night and the menu was elaborately overloaded with choices . . . even the sauces and condiments were alacarte. Now the concept is expressed in fewer choices . . . sauces and condiments are part of the dish but sides are still alacarte and the cooking style is still minimalist. Is that a change in the concept? Maybe not. A change in the menu, yes. Call me a philistine but count me among the people who can't quite get over the hurdle of paying a billion dollars for such basic food. Yet I love those mushrooms.
  8. Have been to Picholine twice for lunch in the past <6 months. Nothing new to report . . . it's still the same wonderful restaurant.
  9. The nice thing about booze on a backpacking trip is that anything tastes good after a day of hiking! There's no need to worry about bottles. You can transfer any liquor to a nalgene bottle. The only weight consideration is alcohol content really. Higher proof is more efficient assuming alcohol is the goal (as opposed to flavor). One easy thing is to go to a liquor store that has a good selection of "nip" bottles (aka miniatures, airplane bottles, 5cl/50ml bottles). You'd be surprised at some of the good stuff (single malts, decent cognac) that comes in this size and many of the bottles are pla
  10. Um, no one felt compelled to comment on this stunning model? The brat-grilling uniform must be a regional thing.
  11. More stories! What entertaining tales for a gloomy and frozen Saturday morning. What good fortune that the snails showed up!
  12. What an amazing story! And just look at the story value--it happened in 1988--it's now 2004 and I'll bet you've told that story at least once a year since. Talk about proverbial payback!
  13. I wonder if it could be argued that the evolution of modern orthodox kashruth into a set of rules that reads like the tax laws is really the natural outgrowth of trends in the food supply. A hundred years ago most food was still being provided through very few steps in distribution from farm to table. There wasn't much processing. The need for supervision especially in insular communities would have been low. Today, food routinely travels thousands of miles through multiple processing plants and distribution points before it reaches the consumer. We have no idea who grew or produced what we bu
  14. Hi Vickie. I was thinking about space food and space travel, thanks to your Q&A, and it occurred to me that even though space food sounds like a very futuristic venture the reality is that the facilities for preparing and eating food in space right now are the opposite of futuristic: they're really quite primitive. I've just been traveling, as I do most every year, in the Himalayas, and I was wondering: does NASA's space-food team study the techniques that pre-industrial peoples like those in Nepal, Tibet, parts of Africa and South America, and Mongolia use to preserve food without refrige
  15. To those of us who grew up in Conservative Jewish families (please note that Conservative Judaism is the largest denomination within American Judaism), most of the above rules would not be considered relevant. In any religion, the absolutist and fundamentalist arguments and approaches have the most internal consistency and often appear to outsiders as the most worthy of respect. But my observance of Judaism has always been about honoring and continuing the traditions of my people and my religion while also being fully engaged in ecumenical society. To do that requires I believe some adaptation
  16. The Hearth Website characterizes the cuisine... "Our food is rooted in the classical cooking of Tuscany, presented in a fresh, modern way." Also... "Another common thread will be the use of true Italian cooking techniques (predominantly soffrito, a classic Italian flavoring-base of slow-cooked vegetables and olive oil), which are often sacrificed in modern restaurants in favor of easy fixes and culinary shortcuts. There will also be homemade pastas and risottos available, as well as some classic Italian combinations: lamb shoulder with borlotti beans and escarole and roasted cod with baccala m
  17. Note: This thread was split off from the Freaky Cooking Disaster thread in the Adventures forum. Thanks.
  18. Don't like 'em, don't like 'em, don't like 'em! Too sweet, too low chocolate percentage, not good enough cocoa. Okay, well, I'll eat Godiva if they're around. Ironically, I'll eat lots of them even though I don't like them very much. :) But I think I read somewhere that they dumbed Godiva down for the American market and that it's basically Hershey's-level chocolate. I have a friend who sometimes gives me chocolates from La Maison du Chocolat. Next time I get some Stan I'm going to give you a few.
  19. Let us know! I would love to get some. Do you think Bernachon are really the best still? I used to think so and have not had side by side comparison opportunities but I think La Maison du Chocolat may be as good and also Torres is local so no wear and tear from shipping. The last Bernachon ones I tasted though, which were hand-carried back, weren't as good as I remembered.
  20. The fresh pea shoots at Grand Sichuan Midtown are one of the best things in the world!
  21. There are GREAT deals all over town on leftover Christmas candy right now. Duane Reade, for example, is down (up?) to 75% off on Christmas M&Ms, Rolos, et cetera.
  22. Thanks, Pan. I too would like us to be careful to steer this conversation away from its potentially incendiary religious component and keep it focused on the basic question of whether kashruth observance makes foodieness (this is a word?) impossible. To refine the question, I think it should really be: "What are the challenges to foodies presented by observing different levels of kashruth?"
  23. I grew up in a kosher foodie family, but with the resurgence and vocal dominance of "modern orthodoxy" the practices we thought of as kosher would not pass muster by the strict definitions. We were conservative Jews and observed some traditions but not others. For example we would eat in restaurants we just wouldn't eat forbidden ingredients. Obviously it is easy to be a foodie under such circumstances. You're just a foodie who doesn't eat certain things. But when you lock yourself out of all restaurants other than kosher ones, and you radically limit your purchasing of and exposure to the lar
  24. Schielke I have no point of reference for knife pricing of this kind. Can you direct us to places that have the same knives as Korin for less money?
  25. Took my brother, the knife collector, to this store the other day. It was the first time we had been there. What an amazing place! The selection of Japanese knives is mind-boggling. The best thing is there are always chefs hanging around to talk to. I'm not good with chef faces, but I think we talked to Marco from Hearth for awhile. Or maybe just his evil twin. The sales help isn't all that helpful but they sort of try. They have a great catalog that has lots of information in it about metallurgy and sharpening as well as a lot of knives. And you can stand around the store and watch a cool kni
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