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The Cynical Chef

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Posts posted by The Cynical Chef

  1. Mr. Asimov,

    Last week's New Yorker mag featured a sharp piece of satire loosely based on the Times' 4 star review of Masa in which the diners are insulted in Japanese, slapped, served white rice for an appetizer, slapped again and when their food finally arrives it is the waitstaff that gets to eat while the diners are merely told how good everything is. This reminded me of a skit on Tracy Ullman's show in which a couple finally gets into Manhattan's "hottest" restaurant of the moment, Troy's. As the abuse dished out by the waiter becomes intolerable, they demand "to speak to Troy!" The noisy dining room crashes into silence as our chef Troy appears and he is all of 15.....Anyway the point of my segue is surely you have had ONE meal so outrageous, so self-important and so sanctomonious that it stands out head and shoulders above the rest in its audacity. Please share & thank you for appearing on E Gullet.

  2. Speaking of fishing to the brink of extinction: I grew up in south Louisiana and always loved fresh shrimp but it was not until I actually sorted a fresh shrimp catch that I was able to see first hand what actually gets caught in a shrimp net. All sorts of small fish, turtles, rays, and anything else that gets in the net are brought into the boat. A shrimp net may stay in the water for 30 minutes or more so a lot of these sea creatures die in the net or die on the boat. These fish are typically groupers, croakers, snappers, pompano and many other fish that would end up on a dinner table if they were large enough. Imagine if every time a deer hunter shot a deer he also shot 10 squirrels, 5 beaver and a couple of blue jays and then left those dead bodies in the field. What a waste. The point is that the average food supplier is usually concerned only about #1. A Vietnamese shrimp farmer is looking to make a buck just like a Louisiana shrimper, Florida farmer or South Carolina restauranteur. Very few of these folks are actually concerned about what will be available for their children to farm, hunt or cook. It has always been that way and always will. Just yesterday the NY Times ran a piece on how the mega-grocery store chains (Wal Mart, Super Target, Ahold....) are forcing the small Central American Farmers into non-existence. These farmers need to supply a perfectly round trouble free tomato (or squash, or eggplant) to their distributor or it will not get bought. Sound familiar?

    In the summer we have a thriving Farmer's Market where I can buy stunning fruits, herbs and vegetables for less than I would get it from the large distributors. Some of this produce is organic or low in pesticides, all of it is wonderful and usually misshapen but it eats like ambrosia. My produce distributors have no idea what a green zebra tomato is but my customers sure do. The crazy part is that I am usually the ONLY Chef shopping at our market. What's up with that!

    A typical restaurant in the Outback price range is only interested in price, not taste. Same thing with the grocery stores. Slowly these forces have manipulated taste buds so that the average consumer has no interest in or cannot recognize flavor.

    So the end result is huge Fish and/or shrimp farms that produce a rubbery, lifeless product that is cooked and served with rubbery, lifeless tomatoes in a rubbery, lifeless restaurant.

    Demand better in Life!

  3. I think politics may be getting in the way of reality here.  In another thread - I mentioned a news article last night about huge restaurants in China.  The main thrust of the article was that there were so many more people in China with middle-class incomes than there used to be that dozens of these mega-restaurants were opening to meet local demand for a relatively new-fangled thing for most people - "eating out".

    Does middle class in China mean what it means in the US?  No.  But it means that a lot of people are living a lot better than 30 years ago.  And that means mom doesn't have to/want to sit home stirring stuff in a pot over a wood-burning fire for hours night after night.  That's a National Geographic view of the world (everything primitive is better).  I'm sure mom enjoys her new clothes - and the opportunity to have someone else wait on her - even if the food she's eating isn't just like grandma used to make.

    For what it's worth - I find the National Geographic view of the world somewhat patronizing.  And I think there are a whole lot of people in China who prefer GM golden rice to famine.  To me - the sin is when snotty Europeans try to convince starving Africans that it's better to do things the old way than to try GM crops so people won't starve.

    I appreciate fine hand-crafted food.  And - being upper-middle class - I can afford to make it at home - or buy it at restaurants (I have both time and money).  Most people in the world don't have that luxury - and I think it would be presumptuous of me to impose my preferences on them.  Robyn

    Agree

  4. Robyn I think you overestimate my super human crime fighting powers. I am but a lowly cook, e gullet memeber, Beard member, slow food proponent. All of our hemming & hawing could not possibly influence global events. As for not trusting the Vietnamese to do what's right I can only say this. I do not trust ANYONE that I do not know very well. I have a great amount of trust in the owner of my local Vietnamese market where I have shopped for years and I can only guess that this man is from Viet Nam but never having asked him.......this is pointless.

    As countries gradually embrace capitalism it is inevitable that a small minority will profit at the expense of others. Those others may be close neighbors or distant relatives.

    It is my position that somewhere in Viet Nam (or India, Pakistan, Guatemala, China....) there are dedicated cooks that are bemoaning the fact that too many of their contemporaries are turning their backs on hand made foods that celebrate the local culture. That is happening in my town, my state, my country and I gather that it is a common condition all over the world. As food processing technology grows there will be a great many people that will rejoice in having to spend less time in the kitchen.

    That is why a talented cook or professional chef is looked upon by the non-cooking segment as a magician.

    My point is that people all over the world are embracing convenience foods at great loss to their cultures but significant impact to the bottom line of a few.

  5. In terms of food safety and security, development of the communities where shrimp is harvested, and environmental sustainability I'm afriad Shrimping is a whole lot of bad news.

    In the Egullet world I'm really taken aback that there are people who profess a love of food, it's origins, its history and its importance...and yet ultimately make their consumptive choice solely on price.

    One of the most critical social problems identified by local peoples as part of expansion of the Blue Revolution is the loss of communal resources - including mangrove areas, estuaries, and fishing grounds - that local people depend on for both subsistence and commercial economic activities. Commercial shrimp farming has displaced local communities, exacerbated conflicts and provoked violence involving property and tenant rights, decreased the quality and quantity of drinking water, increased local food insecurity, and threatened human health.

    The major questions to ask include, do the touted benefits of shrimp farming outweigh the risks/costs to local people and environments? Do employment opportunities compensate for declines in access to communal resources and other social and cultural costs? Are the environmental and human costs balanced in some way by improving local lives, livelihoods, and cultures?

    And the answer would be "No" but who wants to hear that? The succesful shrimp farmer in Viet Nam that can now afford a new car or the executive at Red Lobster that is watching his (or her) bonus go up with his decreasing food cost. Not likely. Meanwhile the many negative side effects of this go largely unreported or brushed aside.

    I, however cringe at the mere mention of all-you-can-eat anything for the low, low price of......

  6. Now how's about a little conspiracy theory? It is no secret that China desperately wants Taiwan back as part of China proper. In 1994 China made some pretty serious military threats to Taiwan and Bill Clinton sent in the Navy. The straits of Taiwan are very narrow by blue water navy standards, only 180 clicks but at the time China had an unsignificant military repsonse because they had no reasonable defense against a US Navy Nuclear Carrier Task Force and all of the weaponry that it carries. Not today! China has been on a major shopping spree as far as blue water navy equipment and air & land based anti-ship weapons goes. It is extremely doubtful that even a cowboy president (GWBush) would do the same thing today. When China says to the world "we are invading Taiwan to throw out the puppet government and restore this island back to the Chinese people" we will bitch and moan diplomatically but no way would we send in the 7th Fleet. Ain't gonna happen.

    By then we will be buying soooo much stuff from the Chinese that we will just have to turn our eyes away. Wal Mart alone is on track to export 18 billion this year in merchandise from China. 18 billion!

    The real challenge is this: Can Capitalism & the Internet over take and soften the Chinese government before the old line Communists insist on invading Taiwan and possibly plunging the Far East into war?

    Perhaps 100 years from now Wal Mart will be credited with preventing war?

    Shoud we continue to devour Chinese shrimp (catfish, salmon, crayfish, bicycles, cellphones, printers...) in order to help bring a democratic government to China?

    Are those American shrimpers put out of work actually fallen soldiers in an economic cold war?

  7. I came across this Asia Times article, so I would be remiss not to post selected bits of text and a link, though it's way too long and complex for me to deal with at this ongodly hour. Here's the beginning of the article:
    On November 30, the International Trade Commission (ITC), an agency of the US Department of Commerce charged with enforcing trade laws, placed a countrywide tariff of 112.81% on imported Chinese shrimp, and a much lower one of 25.76% on Vietnamese shrimp. However, the majority of the shrimps exported from both countries are sold by several large companies, and the ITC applied much lower, company-specific tariffs to these firms, averaging 55% for Chinese exporters and only 4% for Vietnamese ones.

    Effectively, the decision to impose trade barriers on the US's most popular seafood was a muddled compromise between an informal coalition of Asian shrimp exporters and American shrimp buyers on one side, and threatened US shrimp fishermen on the other.

    Perhaps one of you fine guys or gals would like to summarize the other substantive points. :wacko:

    Better a trade war than a shooting war!

    Boat caught shrimp from American waters account for only 12.5 percent of all of the shrimp eaten in this country with the rest imported from the shrimp-farming countries of Brazil, Thailand, Vietnam, Ecuador, China & India. The shrimp coming out of the far east is usually Tiger shrimp and a lot of these shrimp are peeled, cooked and frozen. Yummy! Get this, China produces almost 500,000 metric tons of farm raised shrimp and the US exports as much as 25% and it's growing everyday. Another sign of the Wal Mart-ization of our country. Why pay someone (a skilled cook) to handle, properly store, peel and properly cook a highly volatile product such as fresh shrimp when you can buy frozen, peeled and cooked shrimp for less money? How else could Red Lobster offer all you can eat shrimp for 8.99 (9.99?)?

    The average per capita income in China is about $1,000 US. Can you imagine a Louisiana shrimper trying to live off of a grand? Ain't possible.

    The imported shrimp market has big friends in the form of Darden Restaurants, Contessa Seafood, and the rest of the Long John Silver's crowd. US shrimpers are typically small to medium size operators that sell directly to distributors. In China the farm owner sells to distributors but there are only a few distributors and remember we are talking about an enormous industry (Chinese farm raised shrimp) selling to another enormous industry (American semi fast food conglomerates). The American shrimper has to pay for his boat, insurance, federal, state & local permits & taxes, fuel, his crew, nets and on and on. The Chinese (Ecuadoran, Indian, Vietnamese...) shrimper has no such costs and his crew is used to living on a thousand bucks a year. Shrimp farms are on the coast in about 6 to 8 feet of water. Occasionally the FDA may quarantine a shipment of shrimp with unacceptably high levels of antibiotics but for every one caught how many get through? We know this because of the 1997 Imported Crayfish Tariff testimony. These countries have no version of DHEC, FDA or OSHA looking over their shoulders and there is no way that the millions & millions of pounds of imported seafood can be inspected by the FDA.

    The solution is tariffs that will effectively raise the price of imported shrimp to bring it more closely in line with typical prices. 2 years ago I was paying about $7.00 a pound for 26-30 (average number of shrimp per pound) count American, fresh white shrimp. This shrimp season those same little guys are about $5.50 a pound because of the cheap imports. More & more restaurants are buying the cheaper imported product thereby pressuring the American shrimpers into cutting their prices.

    Vietnam sells a smaller percentage of shrimp to the US market, so smaller tariffs but the larger companies in China supposedly have been routing their product through Vietnam.

    As a greater percentage of American diners lose the use of their taste buds, more American artisan food producers will lose their livelihood. If you ever ate an imported, pre-cooked, frozen and reheated shrimp side by side with a fresh, domestic shrimp there would be no comparison....none whatsoever! Unfortunately the general dining public is so used to eating crap while being convinced by the marketers that what they are eating is actually" Joyous, Mouth Watering, Pure Sensual Pleasure!"

    Too many of us vote with our pocketbooks.

    Fried Shrimp anyone?

  8. After seeing that photo I believe I would definitely hit Wilma's!

    :laugh:

    I think it will be Lois's Country Kitchen, country ham buffet night! Thank you, anything new I could change my mind.

    My instinct tell me that Wilma's Drive-In is the place to go for breakfast. The fact that there is both a Wilma's and a Wilma's 2 in such a small town tells me it has to be the place for solid home cooking.

  9. Sorry to say that the Greenville News still uses a "man on the street" for their restaurant reviews. This past Friday the reviewers awarded 5 stars to an average, over-priced steakhouse, Chophouse '47. Not that there's anything wrong with a good steakhouse but there is not much technical skill required by cooks in the kitchen of a steak house. One reviewer praised the twice baked potato as "the cheesiest ever". I couldn't agree more.

    I have interviewed a cook from this place that had assumed he was ready to move up to the big leagues because he spent a year making the cheesiest potatoes ever. When asked how these potatoes were made: instant potatoes whipped with butter and shredded yellow American cheese.

    On the same day the Greenville Journal's criminal mastermind Joree published a salad recipe that supposedly fed 6 yet it called for 2 pounds of Mesclun mix. YIKES!

    The salad dressing, a Raspberry & Herb Vinaigrette called for an entire bunch of cilantro, 4 ounces of raspberry jam, 1 cup of oil, 4 ounces of vinegar plus the usual assortment of dried herbs. One would have to serve this salad in a washtub to hold that much lettuce and then drown it with 2 1/4 cups of soapy cilantro vinaigrette. Oh, the horror.

    Remember, this woman supposedly STUDIED under Julia Child.

    It gets worse. The Journal has gone and hired a restaurant critic that according to the new editor has so much food knowledge as "to amaze". This guy reviewed a local Italian bistro and pronounced it as good or better than the much heralded standouts of NYC, SF and even Italy yet he declared he gets better Tira Misu at the chain grocery store, the smoked salmon was fishy, the whipped cream came from a can and the ravioli (a purchased, frozen, mass produced product) excellent. Now I like this guy's place but he's no Lidia Bastianich. But I wonder if this critic would also compare Bastianich's tira misu with the stuff from the Publix Grocery store?

    He shouted into the dark cave: HELLLLOOOOO! Is anyone in there?

  10. Our weekly newspaper, the Greenville Journal, is staffed with fine writers, first class designers and a sharp photographer. Here's the downside: their food editor is simply abominable. An earlier thread of mine foretold of the impending disappearance of Southern Food and implicated the food writers in my town. Hogwash, you say? Well friends, grab your barf bags and feast your eyes on this Thanksgiving recipe:

    1 6 pound duck, excess fat removed

    2 oranges, halved

    1 lemon, halved

    1/2 cup soy sauce

    1/3 cup honey or maple syrup (what's the diff, right?)

    1/4 cup vegetable oil (that's right, oil)

    3 cloves garlic

    1 TBL rosemary, dried

    1 TBL thyme, dried

    While I won't supply all of the instructions basically this gal asks us to stuff the duck with the citrus, bake for 30 at 400, then mix remaining ingredients into a glaze, pour glaze over bird and continue baking at 350 ( with the occasional basting break) until duck reaches an internal temp of 175 F.

    Who in their right mind would glaze a duck with vegetable oil?

    Why remove excess duck fat if you're going to glaze with oil?

    175 degrees? Hell let's cook it to 190, maybe 200 as to insure unpalatibility!

    Dry herbs? We're buying a duck for pete's sake why can't we get some fresh herbs while we're at it?

    You see my point? There are not enough Kathleen Purvis' to go around so the Joree Tamburro's (the criminal is named) of the food world are slowly taking over. Since no one at the Greenville Journal cooks, there are no checks and balances in place to prevent horrendous recipes like this one from being published. "Duck stuffed with orange, what a great idea Joree, how original!"

    This gal refers to herself as an accomplished chef even though she has never been employed at a restaurant. She claims to have studied under Emeril even though she just attended one of his many cooking seminars. See for yourself:Greenville Journal

    At my restaurant I am repeatedly frowned upon by new customers when I recommend the duck. They say duck is tough and chewy. You know why they say that? Because of imbeciles like this so called food writer publishing torturous recipes that are so heinous they would make Saddam Hussein cringe.

    Believe me that duck recipe is comparatively mild when stacked against her all time greats. What am I to do? This paper may be small (40,000) but in most respects it is a class act and it is marketed to the high end of society. Seemingly forward thinking individuals look at this woman's drivel and fawn over it. You know why? Because no one cooks so they assume that she must be right. Picture Kathleen Purvis, John Martin Taylor and Edna Lewis manning the Alamo with 5,000 Joree Tamburro's storming the place and you can understand the state of food in the South. And when I critique her to some people I know at the paper...."well your some hoity-toity chef, of course you don't like her recipes" Has anyone ever seen that movie "Invasion of the Body Snatchers"? Remember that guy running around looking at everyone's neck for the marks of alien acceptance? That's me!

    I am really thinking of joining the Dark Side. Life would be so much easier if I could just renounce my standards and succumb to the brilliance of Stouffer's and 175 degree duck.

    Excuse me while I go throw away all of my mirrors, that way I won't have to look at myself...

  11. Food Writers in a thriving, sophisticated Southern town CAN'T COOK!  Where is the ghost of Bill Neal when you need him!

    At my first, quick cursory reading of this thread, Cynical Chef, I was unaware of your reference to Bill Neal .. with a bit of Googling, I found what is indeed a treasure trove of his writing in his numerous books:

    Bill Neal's southern food writings ..lots of them! :biggrin:

    Bill Neal's Southern Cooking

    Biscuits, Spoonbread, and Sweet Potato Pie

    Good Old Grits Cookbook : Have Grits Your Way

    The Last Frontier : The Story of Hardeman County

    Remembering Bill Neal : Favorite Recipes from a Life in Cooking

    Through the Garden Gate

    Back to Cynical Chef's initial premise: I was reading an article from CNN which directly touched upon this topic and it noted:

    "The South is marked by vast areas of change." What geographers see is a region where "migrants and immigrants" continue the influx of "outlanders," said Pillsbury, with Atlanta, with its large population of non-natives, the ultimate example. "Tremendous numbers are coming in and altering Southern food and its interpretation," he said. Marvin Jones lamented that "meat and threes" are disappearing in his native south Chicago, and with them traditional Southern food.
    and
    Louis Osteen, Charleston restaurateur and cookbook author, says restaurants are stepping up to cook the way people once cooked at home. "There used to be a line between restaurant food and home food. Now restaurants are going to cook those foods," Osteen said.

    Please read the other points on this topic as well here ... from 2000 but still insightful

    Great Cuisines have their origins in poverty which is why we have pate' in France, scrapple & hog's head cheese in the south, meat loaf in the northeast. Country Ham, Serrano & Proscuitto are all examples of salt curing pork to make it last through the winter. Refrigeration is a very recent invention but prior to that one had to be very diligent in preserving enough calories to sustain through the winter. I absolutely adore making and serving duck leg confit but this technique came about out of necessity. In the last 20 or so years the evolution of Southern cuisine has occurred in restaurants, expensive restaurants and not in homes. The grains I buy from Glenn Roberts at Anson Mills are phenomenal and are way better than my grandmother ever dreamed of but at almost $4 a pound for grits, how do I justify using them if I don't charge appropriately. But what does "Anson Mills" mean to the instant grits crowd? Not much....

    Sorry, I'm rambling and losing my focus. The convenience food industry grows by leaps and bounds every day and the only restaurants that can afford to have a skilled labor force are the white table cloth ones like mine. Even if those restaurants are serving sweet potato pancakes with smoked pork shoulder, apple cider sauce, green tomato chutney and clabbered cream. Grandma would be proud!

    I cannot offer any solutions to this trend but I do find it quite dismaying. The socio-economic group that should look at cooking as the focal point of their culture and a point of pride is gradually turning their noses up at real food and relying on convenience products either in the home or in moderate to inexpensive restaurants.

    Please feel free to tell me I am wrong.

  12. I didn't even know there was such a thing as white bread crumbs until now.  This is very distressing.  I'm having visions of wonder bread!   :shock: I suppose it's somewhere between a third and a half a pack - it's really a visual, feel and taste thing - I know what it' supposed to look like, feel like and taste like and so it's more or less what meets that test. 

    Well, every decent recipe for cornbread dressing I've ever seen has some type of white bread crumbs in it. You need it because as you've said, without it, it's "worthless." Cornbread crumbs by themselves are just too coarse and heavy and, well, cornbready. I use 1 cup of white bread crumbs to 3 cups of cornbread crumbs. I used to set out some sort of coarse white bread, like a good French or Italian bread, wait until it got stale and use that. Now I (like all these other "busy people" we're discussing in this thread), use the Pepperidge Farm Herb Stuffing mix. Over in the "dressing vs stuffing" thread, fifi, another good ol' southern gal, uses crumbs from her special white biscuits. You, cucina, are using approximately the same proportion of saltine crumbs. Like the teenagers say, "It's all good."

    And back to the topic....I think that anytime you begin to discuss the whys and howtofores of change, there well may be disagreement. Everyone may agree that there has indeed been change, but probably not upon the reasons why, and whether or not the change has been a good thing. Like most things, though, there's usually some good and some bad, but there's always a price to pay. Is the price worth it? That's an individual decision, but I agree with those that think something dear is being lost, and I'm not at all certain that it is worth the cost.

    Also, I think that what we refer to as "southern cooking," and hospitality, and all the rest of it is a bit different from other regions, just as andiesenji points out, because the south was so rural. And poor. And the growing season is so long. It's natural that we were still growing stuff, and picking it, and serving up "meat and three" far into the autumn months, when all our Yankee cousins were already bedded down for a long winter. Our gardens and produce really were the wealth of the south. Our traditions, that stem from poor families that really were struggling "to make ends meet" and had little else to offer each other besides food and hospitality, were our treasure. We're losing them.

    Of course, I'm currently living in Missouri, which isn't nearly so important as Florida, but I think I've got a right to speak as well.

    Ok, let me jump back into this fracas that I created.

    First of all for really good cornbread, pour your cornbread batter into a very hot cast iron skillet that has about 4 ounces of shimmering duck or pork fat in it. And it is not sacriligious to put a little sugar into the batter...

    Hand made food is disappearing from every corner of our country (indeed the world) but here in the South we take more pride in our food stuffs than in any other part of the country. Witness the SFA. Is there a similar fraternity dedicated to preserving the potato culture of Idaho? Doubtful. I am a member of the SFA but keep in mind that the SFA is preaching to the choir, what member of SFA is NOT dedicated to preserving Southern food heritage? It is my position that the folks that need the SFA the most (working class) have little to no interest in making anything by hand because it is too damn easy to get a fried pork biscuit at Hardee's!

    Hand made food is quickly becoming the hobby of the wealthy. Who else has so much time on their hands that they can actually cook something from scratch?

    I have often asked my cooking class students to complete this statement: All great cuisines have their beginnings in_____

    Anyone want to take a stab at my answer?

    I'll give you a hint...Pate'.

  13. I believe it is inevitable. Much like the disappearance of the rain forests, our beloved Southern Food, the hand made food of the working class is destined for extinction. Within my lifetime (I'm just 42!) I believe that hand made Southern food will only be found in expensive, white table cloth restaurants such as mine. Biscuits, once the everyday staple of survival are now looked upon as something exquisite and awe-inspiring. How did this happen? My folks grew up in very rural areas on the opposite sides of the country and basic cooking skills (really life skills) were necessary for their very survival. Those skills included hunting, fishing and butchering. You want fish for supper, better go catch and clean it....I saw a TV commercial the other day for FROZEN Peanut Butter & Jelly sandwiches. How pathetic are we? My contemporaries can't make a peanut butter & jelly sandwich but my Mom used to churn her own butter. How is it that an entire set of skills has vanished in only 1 generation?

    The so-called Southern diners in town offer up a mere shadow of real Southern cooking. Vegetables are canned or frozen, macaroni & cheese is a prepared product, the barbecue is actually steamed or even worse it too is a convenience product and the fried chicken comes in a 50 pound box, already fried & frozen. Heat and serve fried chicken!

    When I was 8 or 9 a family friend went duck hunting and gave us some wild ducks, feathers and all and that night my Mom served wild duck for supper. What would one of those so-called cooks at a Southern meat & three do with a freshly killed chicken?

    We have 2 real newspapers in town, a Gannett owned dailyand a locally owned weekly and both of their respective food writers constantly offer recipes highlighting a variety of convenience foods. Canned this, frozen that. Do you see my point? Food Writers in a thriving, sophisticated Southern town CAN'T COOK! Where is the ghost of Bill Neal when you need him!

    The signs are all there. Soon the skills that enabled our parents and grandparents to survive depression and war-time rationing will be looked upon as magical and mysterious. The food of the working class: handmade biscuits, buttermilk pies, chicken and dumplings, will be cooked by CIA trained chefs and served by polished waiters in white table clothed restaurants. The working class will continue to turn to food served at convenience stores and Bill will roll in his grave.

  14. Harold,

    I bake my own bread several times a week and I discovered this by accident. I make my dough, allow it to double then shape it into loaves. The loaves then get covered in food film and I proof them overnight in the walk in cooler. After baking I get a nice, dimpled, lovely crust. I used to proof my breads in a proof box and was never satisfied with the results. I use a standard restaurant oven, not a bread oven. What exactly is going on that produces this crust. Yeast is fermenting, producing carbon dioxide and the bubbles are getting trapped in the outer layer but is there something else going on?

    BTW:

    I have a first edition of "on Food.." that I bought when I was in culinary school and I NEVER get tired of reading it. One day I will get pages 345 through 349 unstuck!

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