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Everything posted by Deacon

  1. *BLEEEACH* That statement HAS to have been made in jest! Can't I eat the peanut butter and the brownie together instead? At least specify the Scotch. I can't see Lagavulin or any Islay single-malt going with peanut butter--but definitely with smoked salmon! Maybe you were thinking of something more like Cragganmore or Macallan~?
  2. I prefer the "Top 5 in Each Major City" format myself. But both versions seem to have achieved their goal: foodies of the US storming the corporate offices with lit torches and improvised weapons, pissed at having their favorites left off the list.
  3. That's mostly a function of my empty pockets right now. Don't worry, as soon as I'm flush I'll be blowing my money on good food and good wine again. Why, thankee. I've learned a lot from just being here. :bow: Well, I may have been mildly pissed at Plotnicki at the time. Actually, it WAS delicious, I'm not just reflexively defending a poor choice because it was MY choice. My exact thought process was nothing more than "spicy food, spicy wine." If I'd had white wine the sauce would've completely overpowered it. And you're right, Bux, I've had pinot noir with tuna and with salmon and enjoyed both combinations. But they're red-fleshed fishes. Customer: Can I get a fucking steak here? Waiter: Yessir. And how do you want your fucking steak cooked? C: Medium fucking rare. W: (writing it down) Medium fucking rare. C: And some fucking french fries. W: (writing it down) Yessir. And to drink? C: I'll have a bottle of the Opus Motherfucking One, nineteen-ninety. W: Shall I fucking bring it out now? C: Yes, it'll fucking open up in the glass. And hurry it up, I've got tickets to see Glengarry Glen Ross this evening. W: That's a GREAT fucking play. I'll have your fucking steak out as soon as fucking possible. C: Thanks. Fuck off.
  4. Written long before his tripping days, back when he was a young effete wise-ass.
  5. That may be a long wait. As far as the wine part of the challenge is concerned, I'm suggesting that in a blind sampling a series of progressively more and more specific questions be asked. I am sure that color will be no problem. If you are a wine enthusiast with wide experience, I'm sure varietal will not be any challenge either. And varietal puts you part of the way toward country of origin. But I advise you not to boast unless you can back up your claims. Country of origin is enough of a challenge. If you get region, let alone the vintner, I will be surprised and impressed. If you miss, however, game's over. Although I suppose you could be tested with more than one to give you more than one chance to get it. Are you claiming to be able to specify a particular vintner blindfolded?
  6. Plotnicki, let's try to keep the wager a civil one. Since most of us can't be there to see this thing happen personally, the eGullet readership will have to learn the results secondhand. But that's no different from any other report of a restaurant experience. When it does happen, you and any friends from eGullet you may be with are honor-bound to report your results here fairly and accurately. Since there's no other way to get the results, I trust you to own up honestly if you get fooled, that's all. We could even make it an actual wager, but collecting the stakes, win or lose, is the problem. I'd like nothing more than betting the full cost of, say, dinner at The French Laundry on it, but it would be difficult to collect--and even more difficult to get into The French Laundry or Rao's, which is also impossible to get into. But I'd have to be in the area to collect, that's the problem. How about the cost of one dinner at your choice of restaurant, anywhere in the mainland US or Canada, against the same thing for me, my choice anywhere in mainland US or Canada. (For you, I imagine NYC; for me, wherever I happen to be travelling at the time, which might also be NYC.) I'd shake on it, but you're not here, so we'll have to keep it a gentleman's bet.
  7. All these qualifications sound like David Blaine saying he can read your mind, if the wind is right, if it's Tuesday, and if there's a cold front coming in over New Jersey, then he can tell you how many quarters you have in your pocket. But OK. But it won't be done by me personally. I think it may very well be done one evening, in a good-natured spirit, by one of your friends in a restaurant. And I am not trying to see anyone humiliated. But you did invoke your own name as a person qualified to speak about what is "good" and "bad" for everybody. As I say, I'm not trying to humiliate anyone, merely demonstrate the limitations of the hobby. Woe to you, Plotnicki, if you find yourself in Babbo, and somebody brings out a "ringer" plate secreted from the nearest Olive Garden. Okay, that would be too easy. Maybe Carrabba's. Or anything from a Cheesecake Factory. Won't your face be red. Or vice versa: imagine Plotnicki in a chain restaurant, genteelly railing against the quality of the food, when somebody reveals it's actually from (I don't know) Veritas? Ho, ho, ho, what fun. Wine would be even more difficult. Perhaps you're a wine professional, in which case I certainly concede knowledge and experience. But for the average talented mortal with no superpowers, yes I will say he'll get either white or red correctly blindfolded. But Plotnicki, I predict, will be doing well to get the country of origin, let alone the region, let alone the vineyard. But I may be wrong. We shall see. No prize for getting color. Credit for getting country of origin. Beyond that--fuggeddabouddit. No chance. This will be interesting. Keep us informed. But consider this a challenge. If you're not fooled by either wine or food, I will publicly. . . well, you come up with an appropriate debasement. But if you lose . . . well, does anybody have any ideas? And speaking of my subjective sense of taste, last month I had very strongly seasoned seafood gumbo, with a glass of zinfandel. Red wine with seafood? But it was delicious, and that's what matters. I'd have the combination again in a minute. But I'm just a peasant with no taste, what do I know?
  8. I thought it was you. We'll just have to call ol' Plotters's bluff sometime. One of you who knows him personally can set up a blind tasting, and then we'll see if he knows good from bad without the label on. Of course, whether he can or can't, the results will be duly noted here. . . .
  9. Aldous Huxley wrote in his essay "Guide Books" that the only really useful guide book is the one you write yourself. Of course, to do that, you have to have already gone to all the recommended places. The first time through, you pretty much have to put yourself in the hands of Michelin. (Or I guess in Huxley's day it was Baedekker [sp?])
  10. Maybe they should discontinue the Group Hug whenever one of the kitchen staff has a contagious disease.
  11. Plotnicki, I'm not trying to categorize your politics across the board, BTW, just your politics of food. I think it's entirely possible to be politically liberal and also gastronomically conservative. But these are not matters of mathematics that admit of only one solution, they are matters of taste. Exactly. You can always ASSERT that your taste is better, but I don't think you can prove it, except by being tautalogical: "My taste is better because my taste is better." The business of some people having more taste buds than other people was at least an attempt to scientifically quantify and explain food preferences, I grant you that. But even among "supertasters" there are differences of opinion. The number of taste buds on a person's tongue doesn't go far enough to explain why some people like Southwestern food more than Thai food, or why some people prefer Chez Panisse to the French Laundry. The "supertaster" theory doesn't cover THAT. More tellingly, try going to Daniel Boulud, Alain Ducasse, Charlie Trotter, David Bouley and Thomas Keller and asking the same question, and see how many different answers you get. Another tautology: The good ones are good because they're good. See the thread titled "Zagat Bashing: Partially Unjustified." Everyone was ragging on Zagat, so I went to the site and looked at the stats myself. Amazingly, the results were far from middle-brow: places like Le Bernardin, The French Laundry, and The Inn at Little Washington all got the highest marks. I didn't see one single city that voted Claim Jumper or Fatburger as the best restaurant in town. So much for the myth that if you let the "great unwashed" speak, they'll vote for mediocrity. The elitists are continually asserting that there's a mountain because they want to be on the top of it. There is no mountain, it's a plain. However, there ARE landmarks on that plain, and different landmarks serve as beacons to different people. There are, as Bux pointed out, fashions in any artistic endeavor. What you are trying to do is to get everyone to navigate by the same set of landmarks. I have no problem with a person who wants to drink milk or prune juice with his steak. Good for him. I have no business telling him how to eat. It doesn't affect me one bit what he eats. I think the whole business of "my taste is better" arises from an attempt to justify the money and the time it takes to indulge in this hobby. The people who do that are trying to defend their choice of hobby, and the money they've put into it, and the "better" argument is the only payoff they can find. Finally, perhaps it's a question of presentation. "Try the French Laundry--I've been there and I enjoyed it, and I think you might as well" goes a lot further than "I've been to the French Laundry and anyone who doesn't like it is a boorish Philistine with no taste."
  12. It's the same way all across publishing. You notice that no one gets asked to write a preface or foreword who *dislikes* the book or the author.
  13. Or foodies picking their restaurants from Gourmet's Top 100 Restaurants in the USA list. Exactly! It gives you a place to start, nothing more. The responsibility for developing your own personal sense of taste is always up to you. (You can't fairly judge a place that you've never been to.) The places you've been to serve as landmarks on an otherwise featureless plain that give you reference points to navigate by. After awhile you don't need the list. Call it instinct.
  14. "Put down those drills and pick-axes, boys! It's time for some zinfandel!"
  15. I think I'd enjoy the privilege of buying LML a drink down at the pub. He stands his ground, with a certain sense of style. Plotnicki's argument is the same old "some are born to follow, some (we) are born to lead," used by every Tory, Republican, Whig, etc. etc. who ever lived: "The people" cannot be trusted to run the government, and, if we're talking about food, they can't even be permitted to trust the evidence of their own senses if they say they want prune juice with their steak. I mean, my God, who does it hurt? I don't remember who it was here, but someone made the comment that the only people who divide the world up into two groups do so in order to put themselves on the favorable side of the fence. Always. The people who DEMAND that there be such a thing as "good taste" are doing so in order that they may feel superior to those who don't "have it," while the people who like milk and steak together continue to do so without permission from Plotnicki. And I think the crux of the situation is that you don't hear the eccentrics acting as if they are SUPERIOR to those whose taste is DIFFERENT from theirs. (I shouldn't say "eccentric," I should say "minority." It's ALWAYS the minority that gets it from the majority, no matter what the subject under discussion, food, politics, art, or whatever.) Bux: That's it exactly, put with more of a sense of style than I could muster: "good taste" = "fashionable." The food fascist argument is really: more people think that X is good, so it is, and the minority who disagree are wrong, because we are more numerous than they.
  16. * Customer asks for ketchup on baked potato. Result: Waiters frozen into immobility. Tablecloth fills up with error messages. Restaurant crashes and must be rebooted.
  17. They have better taste in men. I wouldn't touch that line with a ten-inch pole.
  18. No, in rural Alabama you'd be served iced tea as a beverage with whatever you were eating, and it would automatically be "sweet tea," so sweet as to dissolve your fillings, unless you specifically asked for unsweetened tea. Lemon allowed, but not hot tea, and definitely not milk. And when you got your chicken-fried steak, it would arrive with fries, green salad with plain French dressing out of a squeeze bottle, cream gravy with specks of black pepper, and plain sliced white bread from a supermarket presliced loaf. Bon appetit. Somehow the thought of Bux eating chicken-fried steak in Alabama is so unlikely as to seem surreal.
  19. No one's arguing that you can't drink whatever you want with steak frites. What LML is arguing is that the gastronomic equivalent of the Bilderburg Group shouldn't be allowed to meet somewhere in secret and decide that you can't drink white wine with meat, and that that's not egalitarian.
  20. Pizza pie. Pita bread. Shrimp scampi.
  21. Even better: bring your own cockroach. You won't get charged at all.
  22. You start your own Forum, apparently. Hey, this isn't Congress. Let 'em rant. They're not hurting anybody. (Although I do think the "fuck you" references might be kept to a bare minimum.) Seriously, having a forum and then complaining about the useless verbiage sounds suspiciously like . . . well, somebody else who does much the same thing for a hobby. Congrats on your dogged pursuit. This "topic" will eventually run out of gas. The Indianapolis 500 doesn't go anywhere new in the end, either. Let me see if I can add something new, then: Perhaps the point can be stated in terms of social, not gastronomic, interaction. (Getting back to Lord Michael's original point.) It's not a gourmet phenomenon but a phenomenon that happens in ANY hobby. Those in ANY hobby have their own cant, used to keep the outsiders out. It's a dividing line between them and the uninitiated. (Sometimes literally, but we don't have a secret handshake or an initiation, unless you count baptism of fire.) Some members of some groups take their membership and status very seriously. It's not enough to be on the inside; almost everyone else must also be kept OUT. Hence, snobbery. It's the uneasy feeling that you're on the wrong side of the thick glass wall. It's the idea that "we have to be better than you because we're different." It could be cities, sports teams, countries, grades in school, anything. You want to feel that the time you've invested in your hobby (profession, field of study) is justified, in spite of the nagging feeling that your time could've been spent better elsewhere. So you defend it--perhaps you OVERLY defend it: Those who are with us are right, and those who oppose us are wrong. We and we alone have seen the "correct" path. All else are lesser mortals.
  23. Not necessarily--OK, granted. There is such a thing as excellent barbecue, excellent hamburgers, excellent hot dogs. It's perfectly possible to eat well for little money especially with most Asian cuisines. But Shaw, for instance, argues that you can't compare the overall experience of a place like Alain Ducasse with some storefront Thai place, no matter how good the Thai place is. I stand by my statement that a person's expertise in this hobby is very much a function of the money that person has to spend. When you simplify the equation by taking out the middle of it, it basically boils down to "I've got more money, so my taste is better than yours." I would certainly grant that it is wider, but not better. Pardon me for sounding like a warmed-over Trotskyite, but this is primarily a hobby for those that have enough money to afford it. The downtrodden of the earth are not renowned for their gourmandise. I think that perhaps the "my taste is better" argument is an attempt to assuage guilt from blowing money on something that most would consider a luxury item. "At least my taste is better than yours (otherwise I've spent all this money for nothing)." B*llsh*t. I bet I can open a bottle of Wishbone faster than you can make vinagrette from scratch.
  24. Plotnicki, I think you've just put your finger on the very gist of the argument. Buying mass-produced products at the supermarket almost invariably COSTS LESS than making the same thing from fresh ingredients. Having "good taste" COSTS MORE than not "having it." Being a gourmet (shopping in specialty stores for arcane tools and ingredients, dining in ritzy restaurants, travelling to foreign lands to experience their cuisines firsthand) takes a LOT of discretionary income. Not everyone can afford it. The degree to which anyone practices a hobby is a function of the time they're willing to invest in it and the money they can spare for it. Since the rich have more money than the middle-class, who have more money than the poor, gourmets are stereotypically perceived as rich elitists with "let them eat cake" attitudes. It does no service to our hobby to put people down for not eating "well" when they have neither the free time or the money to spend learning what we know. Some people buy Wishbone because that's what they can afford. Putting people's food choices down as "wrong" is basically blaming people for not having enough money or spare time to devote to a hobby they may not be interested in in the first place. Reverse snobbery does also exist, BTW. This is typified by the "we're just plain folks" approach. "We just serve plain, simple food around here."
  25. I agree with you, m'lud. However, 75% of the way through this thread, you've just said the one thing guaranteed to open a king-size case of whup-ass 'round here. Prepare your heinie for a blast from the spank-o-ray! (especially from Shaw) And, there are levels of snobbery. I could be drinking a Heineken in two different bars: the first is a working-man's bar in Pittsburgh where most of the inmates are drinking Iron City Beer, the second is a very-diversely stocked brewpub. I might be tempted to think I have "better taste" than the guys drinking Iron City, but the patrons at the second place might think the same of me for drinking the "probably skunked" Heineken. The same goes if I take a drink of Johnnie Walker Gold. I may be tempted to scoff at the "coarseness" of the guy across the bar having, say, J&B-and-soda. But the folks over there drinking the Laphroaig will think me hopelessly naive for not having a salty Islay single-malt.
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