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Everything posted by MaxH

  1. MaxH


    IMO, it even READS pretty! :-)
  2. Why so? Same situation. Rare ingredients can make a big difference in food. When restaurants began following the lead of cynical truffle packagers a few years ago and passing off cheap unflavorful minor Tuber species as "black truffles" (very obvious if you know truffles, since they look different inside) -- in my experience it included some surprising restaurants, with chefs of taste and, in other areas, principles -- I found no difficulty calling them on it just as you describe for cigars. Their response has been embarassment and apology. It is possible that this reminds those kitchens that some customers notice, and that the restaurant's reputation is therefore at issue, and if so it might even do some good.
  3. I agree, and certainly some of us are talking about it. To clarify what I posted earlier, in citing the naming history of North American wines and cheeses, my point was that some copy-cat food-product names had less cynical motives, they were a pragmatic choice among alternatives that all have serious drawbacks. I know little about the beef industry though, nor if any such extenuation can be argued in the cases cited in this thread.
  4. Thanks for the comments, Bill. As you may know if you have spent some time reading this particular eGullet forum, the subject of online restaurant ratings and commentaries has long history here, including a recent detailed discussion of strengths and weaknesses. As a user of such sites I remain curious about how, specifically, you differentiate yours from others, very well established, that invite restaurant listings and ratings. For example the metropolitan US Restaurant Guides sites (middle-late 1990s), Chowhound (since late 1990s), and Yelp (since 2006) all also fit the description quoted above, with some degree of social-network features as well. [Edited to empahasize link.]
  5. Note, I'm not inquiring about this site's evident one or two attempts to post on eG -- what I saw was a not very informative invitation saying little at all about the site, its concept, who is behind it, etc. But as an avid follower of restaurant commentary sites online (and their history), before looking into this one further, I wonder if any eG regular or other third party knows more (like the points I mentioned, since the poster from "ahha box" did not evidently offer such basic info). Quick Google check discloses pitches posted in various US food-related fora online; also one automated report mentioning that the domain name itself became vacant less than a month ago (which may be irrelevant). For now I'm assuming it's a legitimate restaurant-info site, though when anyone enters such a long-standing and crowded field, it is very natural to explain yourself further, what differentiates your approach, etc.
  6. A huge point, with vast history in the US of course. Rotuts cited the excellent example of Black Angus, now euphemizing half the beef in US supermarkets. US (and not just US!) use of "genre" labels for wines and cheeses has long history. In fairness, it has also long been controversial in the US wine industry; Schoonmaker and Marvel's US wines book lambasted the practice 70 years ago. It's also helpful to understand a less cynical motivation, at least in wines and cheeses; the wine book I mentioned dwells on this. New-world industries struggle with utter lack of the kind of recognized product appellations common where such products have been made for centuries. Thus the main US high-end cookbook of 60 years ago proclaims merits of Oka and Poona, two North American cheeses I've rarely seen -- yet "Canadian Cheddar" is a self-explanatory homage. The US wine industry, as in other new wine regions, grappled seriously with labeling. New regional appellations would take time to establish; grape variety was an imperfect but at least honest compromise labeling; and the opportunistic called their jug wines "Burgundy" or "Rhine wine" and misinformed millions about those terms.
  7. Emily makes an excellent point, though I wouldn't be surprised if Steven's opening premise here is accurate too. I was reflecting on different kinds of traditional "food writers." There have been, and never very many, serious reference food writers (Alan Davidson, Mariani, Harold McGee), and food historians or essayists (including authors of all those o-the-times critiques of the US food scene around the 1970s, possibly its gastronomic low point indeed). But I gather our focus is periodical writers. Not so long ago, the prominent ones (like the authors of other food works I just mentioned) seemed mostly career journalists of long general writing experience, not just about food. Mimi Sheraton said that she'd been a staff writer at NYT for years before rotating into restaurant writing (from gardening or some other such department). Obviously, the changing economics of newspapers damps all of that. The volume of travel-leisure articles about food in destination cities seems to be undiminished in inflight, travel, auto-club, lifestyle, and general magazines. These articles often tap writers with some history and name recognition.
  8. In the current thread on aggregated online reviews, I mentioned bumping into variations of that. Some of my experience (clarified by quizzing restaurateurs) is of prominent restaurants accustomed to buttering up shoppers (less actually journalists, from what I learned, than researchers for guide books, the regional tourist board or even Chamber of Commerce literature). But also, in late years restaurateurs have increasingly vented about bloggers greedy to cash in on their influence (even if just self-perceived) by lining up shamelessly at this trough. When, as often true, the blogger is unknown to an even Internet-savvy restaurateur, it really stands out. That behavior undermines both ethical and journalistic ambitions of bloggers generally.
  9. SJMitch, I gather that you, like me, take time to study Yelp comments and try to sort wheat from chaff. I also don't know what fraction of busy readers actually do that, desirable though it may indeed make them as customers. I find it challenging to sort out quality comments from the hundreds posted per restaurant when I'm exploring new territory -- how many people actually do that? And I also notice the type of petty or sleazy attacks that Edward J mentioned, pure smear with no concrete information; they impair the site's utility to me as a customer too. I too notice that "the new [restaurants] now always seem to follow Yelp with a bit too much interest." I've heard from owners anxious over their numerical ratings, claiming that customers cite Yelp for the referral, or that the numerical ratings affect their business. Owner complaints like Edward's about pushy advertising sales have been commonplace. And "gaming" takes many forms: I've noticed someone, I don't know who, waging a protracted oblique smear campaign against one restaurant -- it could be anyone. There's specific history locally both of employees instructed to smear competitors via Yelp, and of both problem employees and problem customers waging Yelp vendettas. This particular gaming is unmistakeable, and clever enough to point to no specific source. I may discuss it with the restaurant.
  10. In my experience FWIW, it's exactly the real journalists who know enough about things like libel principles and evidence standards that they do not get into jams like this in the first place. Fundamentally or not, I think many people can tell the difference. Again I wonder about overfine distinctions in discussions such as ("but not limited to!") this one and the one about "real" chefs -- a preoccupation with trees that obscures the forest. People have always eagerly labeled themselves things like "artist" or "writer" from precisely the one viewpoint least capable of objectivity and detachment about it. Anyone can call themselves something, but if the label is meaningful, it's by consensus of peers, customers, etc., not the self-styler. Strunk or White once said a statement doesn't become funny just by being labeled so; I think that's the same principle.
  11. Whatever hair-splitting arguments people may enjoy, there's also a long commonsense understanding of "journalism" as associated with things like "journals." I think that understanding may be more to the point than formalities of definition. Though like most folks I like to put words out on the Internet, the self-selected self-edited self-accountable -- one could almost summarize a little harshly as self-absorbed -- nature of online comments has always struck me as more conceptually like tract printing or vanity book publication: the public offering up of ideas without the accoutrements of an established organization, oversight, demand, or even reputation. I remember (25 yrs ago) the first time I saw someone post a piece of criticism on the Internet (a book critique) and not title it comments, or report or opinion, but rather a "review." That stood out: At the time, to people attentive to language nuances anyway, the word widely connoted professionalism, editorial oversight, an established medium, etc. From that understanding, it looked presumptuous or pretentious. Of course this label appealed to online writers, so (like realtors abusing the word "home" as a marketing euphemism for house or apartment) with repetition it dulled many ears, and ceased to stand out.
  12. Welcome to the realities of being an attentive restaurant diner. I'm coming up on 20 years now of restaurants noticing that I was paying close attention, or was introduced by someone they knew such as a local journalist, then second-guessing that I must be a professional shopper, and offering payola, unsolicited. (Once at a high-end restaurant in Europe where I was simply learning about the cuisine, this even led to a stand-off, resolved eventually with all dignities intact, by a compromise bill.) I find this annoying, as though assuming my good opinion is for sale for a few dollars or a free dessert, which has led to routinely refusing even perhaps innocent comps if there is any possibility of my writing public or private recommendations, which these days is usually. I just gently refused such an offer at a local place I frequent, for that reason. More annoying is when some bloggers stumble into this reality and try to milk it for comps -- at least it clarifies just what their opinions are worth. The Y-site actively promotes contributor pictures, including that among criteria for specially featured reviews and premium reviewer status, whatever that means. Regulars work around the rule by changing their pictures later or using illegible ones, but as SJMitch observed, reviewer photos conflict fundamentally with objective criticism. Maybe Y'ers prefer being recognized (like those bloggers I mentioned), but the policy does reveal something about the site's prioritiies.
  13. I think IndyRob's comment and topic gets at the very core issue in consumer restaurant guidance. Here are some observations, maybe familiar to many other restaurant customers, who have also struggled with these information sources. "Aggregated" restaurant rating sites, like the one IndyRob checked, arrived on the Internet soon after HTTP tools and "browsers." A very serious one operated here in the SF Bay area (and a few other metro regions with large online populations) in the middle 1990s, a little early for the general public, but it showed exactly the same issues. (FYI in the 15 years before that, as Internet access slowly broadened from basically technical academia into mainstream, its typical communication tools were not "sites" but variations of email, like newsgroups [broadcast email]; those tools carried plenty of restaurant commentary, but as individual anecdotes, not aggregated into numerical "ratings.") Formerly, we consumers turned to centralized experienced sources for restaurant guidance -- Guide Michelin etc., Mimi Sheraton, in my region sources like Jack Shelton's newsletter and Ron Riera (a talk-radio critic who was a restaurateur himself and also knew the regions' restaurants encyclopedically). Whatever their biases, you could get to know these sources and how to correlate their advice with your own experiences. Enter Zagat guides (in print), then today's aggregating Web sites. With these sources I've found you're basically comparing apples to bicycles to annuities to sonatas. The source consistency of the experts is missing. If even many of IndyRob's 30 reviews per restaurant had actually tried both, so as to be competent to compare, that would be unusual in my experience. You get a different self-selected set of commentators for every restaurant, the conscientious ones drowned out by the offhand, or those with weird chips on their shoulders, or who made trouble themselves at the restaurant and want revenge, or employees or ex-employees shilling or slamming businesses where they have personal interest. Near me, in a cluster of radically different Asian restaurants heavily commented on Yelp (typically at least 500 reviews), the averaged "numerical" ratings are meaningless, all converging to 3.5 stars, a useful statistic about the raters' habits, not the restaurants. The solution? I've found real value in sites like that by identifying conscientious or reliable individuals even though they're invisible in the averages, and following their restaurant comments specifically. It seems like the knowledgeable individual critic's value still shows, even in vox-populi sources.
  14. My last comments were meant, and are relevant, only for the particular context that I wrote to, explicitly ("traditional media as well, when the paper can't, or won't, pay for the meals").
  15. I wouldn't respect it either -- though am very hard-pressed to conjure real examples, within my own adult experience (four food-conscious US metropolitan areas since the 1970s all with local print media both "high" and "low"). Someone else might have significant examples, but in my world the meal-cadging media restaurant critic has been basically a theoretical concept, even though one often mentioned. I believe there are causative reasons for that. Even the smaller, local, tabloid papers, as here in the SF Bay Area, sometimes harbor excellent critics, "excellent" meaning widely respected, with histories of useful writing. For restaurants, critics of that caliber are the only ones read and quoted consistently in my experience. I know how they work, because I've known some (and been approached a couple of times by editors offering such work). The economics don't favor shaking down restaurants if the critic is any good at all: Critics, of course, are part of the bait attracting a newspaper business's main product (you) to its customer (advertisers). Restaurant critiques, you'll notice, often highlight a paper's "weekend" or restaurant-advertising section. A paper that can't recover, through added advertising, far beyond the (say) $100 average per-issue expense of a critic's restaurant bill does not have a respected critic, and a critic who plays comping games will never become or stay respected. (Restaurant people have even been known to gossip!)
  16. prasantrin (Aug. 21): I've received just as much bad advice here and on other boards as anywhere else No doubt. However, I haven't seen eG or any other site surface, for years, persistently, in broad-based serious complaints such as: Restaurants catering "Elite squad" parties, attendees giving (unacknowledged) positive reviews in return [Wall St. Journal]. ("Elite squad" in my region incidentally includes people posting "reviews" of restaurants they avowedly never ate at, and creating duplicate restaurant entries and posting in them, one path to a high "review" count.) Businesses reporting pressure to pay "insurance," or admitting explicitly paying "to have a 'favorite review' topping the list" [LA Times]. Lawsuits by small-business groups (including in my area; related story in E. Bay Express link above) forcing Yelp to change some of its practices a while back. Reliable small business owners privately reporting extortion-like advertising sales for years; others taking out newspaper advertisements calling the site "Evil." These factors go beyond the issue of review quality from indiscriminantly aggregated comments, an issue shared by Zagat and other sites soliciting self-selected "reviews." (E.g., Google, the Open Table reservation service, the Restaurant listings themselves on Chowhound, etc.) weinoo (Aug. 22): Do people really ask for comps? I've been out with professional reviewers and that thought or action has never crossed their minds over careers spanning 30+ years. As a matter of fact, that is way beyond my comprehension. A huge topic, with aspects well beyond this forum. I've traveled sometimes to research restaurants in specific regions and been offered comped meals by some high-end ones (I always refused, but tapped the restaurant personnel for background info which they gladly furnished). Conscientious professional reviewers worry less about "comp" issues than being recognized, and receiving atypical service or food (Mimi Sheraton, who briefly tutored me on these subjects in the 90s, is full of stories from around NYC). I've talked to enough high-end restaurant managers to hear the weird little moves they have to be on guard against -- things most diners probably aren't aware of. Opportunistic "complaints" (though seldom as exotic as planting a severed finger in the food), requests for money back after a week's reflection on a meal evidently enjoyed at the time, gambits by arrogant kids claiming some online presence the manager never heard of (for good reason) and expecting it entitles them to free meals (?!) I hear this more from high-end restaurants. The petty maneuvers get more frequent as the bills go up. (The finger case was at Wendy's, but that was a grander gambit, aiming for a legal claim and cash settlement, I gather).
  17. It's something of a chronic topic even in past eG threads. In case anyone isn't up to date on earlier publicity: Wall Street Journal, 2007: "The Price of a Four-Star Rating" Los Angeles Times, 2009: "Yelp should review its disclosure efforts" East Bay Express, 2009: "Yelp and the Business of Extortion 2.0" San Francisco anti-Yelp newspaper ad discussed by an online marketing firm, 2011: "Yelp is Evil" A perennial point is Yelp's denials of claims that Yelp representatives offered to adjust reviews in exchange for advertising buys by the reviewed businesses. The denials paint a particular picture when coupled with years of such claims by many separate businesses in the media reports. I have also received detailed credible private reports of at least two cases of such pressuring, one case recent and verbatim, from respected local small business owners with reputations for integrity. What's novel in this new publicity is the claim that other people too are now playing a pay-for-ratings gane and from multiple directions. (Could this be the opening of a freer market in online payola??) All of which impugns mostly the numerical-ratings angle. Yelp still collects many honest independent comments. Its real utility for consumers (like that of Internet advice in general) may consist in spotting and sticking to individual commentators who have something real to contribute.
  18. A little more on Berton Roueché, then, for anyone so unlucky as to be unacquainted with his writing! Including info you won't see in standard online sources. From about the 1950s through the 1980s, Roueché wrote a column in the New Yorker, "Annals of Medicine," reporting real-life cases of rare or tricky disease identifications, often solved by public-health doctors, that came to be called medical detective stories. Many involved foodborne illnesses. Roueché's name was almost a US household word in his heyday: For literally decades, his original paperback anthologies Eleven Blue Men and The Incurable Wound, and a collection he edited of other medical writing (Curiosities of Medicine), were on every airport or supermarket books kiosk. Later, longer, anthologies included newer material and some, but not all, of the gripping stories in the famous original two books. You've seen some Roueché stories already (not always clearly credited), like the case of the "poison pants" that Arey alluded to earlier, if you've watched much of the celebrated US medical TV series House. (Credit Roueché for at least some of its success.) Possibly his best-known story, "Eleven blue men" (also the first anthology's title), has long been recommended to medical students (in a standard medical text I have) for its case study of a rare foodborne illness, accidental distribution of sodium nitrite mistaken for salt in a cafeteria. Nitrite depleted the victims' blood oxygen temporarily and they turned blue; contrast another of his cases, a man turning bright orange, with a similarly hard to trace but much more benign foodborne cause I won't spoil for you. The cases are fascinating; Roueché's style is part of it. He was an incisive nonfiction narrator with scholarly attention to background. Thus his leprosy case (opening with a man reading a magazine, smoking a cigarette, and smelling something burning, only to find it was his own skin from the cig. and he hadn't felt it) goes into ancient and religious accounts of the disease, whose victims often were shunned. That is one of the memorable early stories absent from the large later anthology The Medical Detectives, which I have. The original two books (which I sold off for a few cents when graduating from college) becamse so rare and sought that they fetched upwards of $100 when I last checked. And some of their most memorable stories don't seem to've been reprinted much if at all, for whatever reason. Maybe medical obsolescence, or increased cultural sensitivity to certain details. The leprosy case ("A lonely road"), heroin addicts in Harlem carelessly cutting their drug ("A pinch of dust"), and specifically the botulism case I've cited in this thread ("Family reunion") all are missing from the large modern anthology The Medical Detectives.
  19. Blether, since you added the point about temperature, here's a little more on that complex subject incl. an aspect the health-science sources rarely address for home cooks. Official advice quoted way upthread certainly favors refrigeration over unrefrigerated storage. (Purely from memory, in the lethal US case Roueché publicized, the spiced mushrooms, after long boiling in wine, were kept under oil for something like ten days in a cool household storage pantry. Incidentally Roueché didn't report the C. bot. spores' source in that case -- might equally have been the mushrooms themselves or one of the spices, such as peppercorns.) The refrigeration picture is complex both because of multiple C. bot. strains (which the medical sources tell all about) and the variation in refrigerator temps. (which they don't). I've measured some of the latter directly, using the precision recording thermoms. that I use elsewhere with wine storage. Nominal target temp. for US refrigerators is 38F (3.3 C) (for still other reasons). But in practice (a) the target temp. varies somewhat between units and (b) more importantly, it cycles up and down, how much depending on thermal mass enclosed, construction, and especially, how much time the door stays open. I've observed temp. swings to about 60F (15.6 C), down to below freezing (which explained some wilting vegetables. :-( So the official advice to refrigerate vulnerable foods for a few days and freeze for longer storage [more quoted upthread] isn't and really can't be more quantitatively specific.
  20. Zaskar, evidently you are thinking of hazards different from the topic of this thread. With botulism you don't, in reality, empirically have any idea whether anything is "safer" or not, nor whether you've "had the problem with garlic olive oil," unless you catch the food poisoning, in which case you may improve your chances of survival beyond the classic 50-65% with prompt medical attention for the strange neurological symptoms you'll experience. For preventing botulism, the heating-the-oil comment above repeats a gross misconception addressed before in this thread and elsewhere in eG. Folks -- please, please, read this whole thread! before repeating misconceptions already addressed here. Yes, I have that information in depth, in print, and it's behind my comments here. For example, selections from much more info in a current standard authoritative physicians' reference (the professional Merck Manual, emphasis to distinguish from other Merck pub'ns with related titles): Seven ... antigenically distinct toxins are elaborated by the sporulating, anaerobic gram-positive bacillus C. botulinum. Human poisoning is usually caused by Type A, B, E, or F toxin. Type A and B toxins are highly poisonous proteins ... Exposure to moist heat at 120 C (248 F) for 30 min kills the spores [sEE upthread comments on the persistent hot-oil misconception about this, and why -- MH]. Toxin production can occur at temrperatures as low as 3 C -- i.e., inside a refrigerator -- and does not require strict anaerobic conditions... Home-canned foods are the most common sources, but commercially prepared foods have been implicated in about 10% of outbreaks. Vegetables, fish, fruits, and condiments are the most common vehicles... In recent years, noncanned foods (eg, foil-wrapped baked potatoes, chopped garlic in oil, patty melt sandwiches) have caused restaurant-associated outbreaks... C. botulinum spores are common in the environment... Always take your food-safety info directly from reliable authoritative sources, not from rules-of-thumb quoted confidently and sincerely on online food fora!!
  21. To elaborate on two points Jenni cited: 1. I DO always have pH strips lying around, and access to fancy scientific equipment if necessary (and have scientific university degrees and experience, though am no food scientist). General chemistry training and tool access do not qualify me to guarantee my pesto sauce meets food-safety standards -- it's a specialized complex subject. Example: it's easy to test pH of water-based liquids drained from a pesto sauce (note that as explained on eG, upthread I think, the correct method is an electronic pH meter if the liquid is colored, which can throw off the reading of paper pH strips). But pesto sauce is a complex compound colloid with water, fats, solids, vegetable fibers, and emulsifiers (garlic juice). An expert would know what conditions guarantee that none of those media remains friendly to anaerobic pathogens. Since that happens commercially, again I suspect there may be authoritative public guidelines and if they were handy (or if someone had the patience to search things like the ever-changing US FDA information corpus with its periodically revised URLs), it might clarify what the mathematicians call "necessary and sufficient conditions." You can always freeze the stuff soon after you make it, that doesn't kill Claustridial spores, but does keep them from developing to live organisms which in time could generate the chemical toxin. 2. The scorn and skepticism Jenni mentions, also visible sometimes on eG, likely comes from people who did not experience anything like the following: (a) About 1970 as an adolescent I first read Berton Roueché's classic account, titled "Family reunion" IIRC, it's in some Roueché anthologies) of the Italian-immigrant patriarch who'd always made his spiced mushrooms in oil with no problem, until it killed him and sickened his family w/ botulism and left an investigating public-health doctor marveling at the absence of spoilage cues -- the toxic mushrooms looked and smelled very appealing. Then: (b) In 1971 (IIRC from a defective sterilizer -- in those days I don't think the rigorous temperature measuring and logging were required in US food preparation as today) the Bon Vivant specialty soup company inadvertantly distributed a batch of canned potato-leek soup, meant to be served cold, containing lethal amounts of botulinum toxin. Overnight the US media were full of botulism-prevention tips. For a time, people looked differently even at foods like canned green beans. Then: ( c) In 1972 I happened to get a lab-assistant job in a biology laboratory whose library was full of books on subjects like that. Once over a sandwich, I perused one of them full of photos of botulism's effects on people (not recommended for mealtime reading). (d) Being interested in all kinds of food, I've had several lengthy instructive personal experiences of other foodborne pathogens, which does tend to make one more aware in general. I hammer on this subject only after emergence of certain fashionable cooking ideas in the US with limited history in the culture -- made often by people too young to recall the widespread 1971 US botulism outbreak. Herbs in oil began this thread. Some modern online confit recipes specifically -- light salting, casual cooking, "OK to store for weeks at room temperature" -- would make any restaurant health inspector's jaw drop, and I (and even people I talk to who are experts) wonder if the US is setting up for another enlightening tragedy. Needlessly, since a little awareness can safely let you enjoy your favorite pesto recipe.
  22. Hi Arey, it's a very reasonable query and I also make the stuff myself sometimes. (Generally freeze it, and other flavored oils and butters, for keeping -- habit I developed 30 years ago, originally just to best preserve flavor long-term, in which case the issue doesn't come up.) I'd sum up the situation in my assessment as: Many recipe guidelines that I read, like the 2-3 week examples you quoted, reflect some more common spoilage risk (mold, oxidation, etc.) and have not even considered botulism because it isn't on people's minds, and is comparatively rare. (The gun in the "Russian roulette" botulism-hazard game has many, many cylinders, but unfortunately, unlike many spoilage mechanisms, one of them is loaded with a lethal bullet unless specific conditions are met.) I wouldn't rely on recipe instructions, unless they discuss this exact issue, any more than I'd rely on amateur Internet advice, to prevent something as potentially serious as botulism. Near me the Costco "warehouse store" chain has a role as a source not just for cheap products by the ton but also some outstanding ingredients for local food fanatics and restaurants because it contracts with first-class suppliers (artisanal cheeses for example). It has sold, off and on, a good house-label freshly-made refrigerated pesto sauce, clearly not steam-sterilized because it doesn't look or taste "cooked" like supermarket jar pestos. It, like many other fresh condiments whose labels I've checked, includes a touch of citric acid or some other such food acidifier, not really enough to affect taste noticeably. I assume it's for this reason, to get the acidity throughout the product to the range that prevents botulism. (This or a related eG thread has the lemon-juice dilution example illustrating how mild the acid can taste and still give the safe pH range). But it's made by professionals who, unlike me, know exactly how to guarantee its safety. If someone found and pointed to a truly authoritative (like, USDA, WHO, or EC Health Ministries) manufacturing guideline for that technique, it might be useful even for home cooks -- I speculate. I haven't researched this -- the info may be easily available in standard online food-safety info of the kind the USDA and related bodies have published for generations, originally in paper form.
  23. I'd quibble with some of the historical summary (though IMO it's far better than most), but agree with some of the upshot. "Bulletin boards" are, or were at the time, starting in the 1970s, basically self-contained, on individual time-shared computers that users dialed into. Whereas UUCP and the newsgroups (collectively and confusingly "Usenet") by their nature emphasized communication between different computers (anticipating a later widespread need). The "News" tools that carried the Internet's public discussions for 15 years until 1995 or so (and continue in a lesser role) spun off from Internet email, already around.* This does not mention the often overlooked or misrepresented role of private-networking firms (CompuServe, Prodigy, etc. etc.) that developed separate subscription-only, off-Internet discussion fora, including on food and wine. That was during a decade (1985-95) when several such firms competed with each other and with the developing, anarchic Internet, before they eventually merged into it. (Some of those firms, in trying to go their own way, blocked subscribers' access to existing Internet email and newsgroup services, delaying those subscribers' contact with the Internet for up to a decade, and contributing to the rich store of popular misinformation about Internet history.) The HTTP-era summary above was highly compressed, CH was far from pioneering. Another US consumer discussion forum on restaurants preceded CH by years. No one would be hearing of CH today had its predecessor's creator not found a spinoff angle paying much better money than any food forum has. Dynamics of newsgroup fora are different: Most were umoderated; I can tell you from reading r.f.c since its predecessor appeared in 1982 that its pervasive quirk was newbies not bothering to lift a finger to check any past content at all, therefore to perceive that their eager question was already addressed in 650 easily accessible threads (an actual number, from memory). Incidentally it IS "fora," originally and formally -- a casualty of declining dictionary use, a problem only if you also dislike "data," "media," and similar common plurals. I thought at the time that the mid-90s arrival of modern HTTP Internet tools launched the real food-forum fragmentation. Quality, well-established Internet food and wine (and even local-restaurant) fora were already thriving, and not in obvious need of break-up or competition. A point that never seemed to be noticed or discussed by the influx of new Internet users unconscious of existing fora, their traditions, histories, etc., prompting both heavy re-invention of the wheel, and creation of sites with privately stored, owned, and controlled content (unlike newsgroups). Blogs are merely an extension of this now 15-year-old larger fragmentation. *Trivia note: Both Sendmail and several News-related utilities, culminating in NNTP, were written by students at the same academic department.
  24. They were, though, here on eG, avant-garde as always. (Home-built Sous-Vide was a thriving topic here by 2007.) But I'm quibbling. Main reply:Escoffier is a counterexample disproving any theory that "pro" cookbooks must use institutional quantities. Escoffier (at least the recipes I've read -- I don't claim to know all 5012) used small, even individual-portion, quantities typically. Only the fonds de cuisine, such as stocks, are large-scale IIRC. That's why even we English-unit cooks (oops, we don't say that now in USA, since even England dropped them) easily get accustomed to deciliters if we read Escoffier. It proves to be an extremely convenient unit size for portioning. Sauces are constantly being mixed and doled out by the dl or half-dl or two dl in Escoffier. Maybe the idea was to prep the fundamentals in quantity, then give recipes as a restaurant would use, cooking to order.
  25. Adding to pep., Saulnier created maybe the ultimate professional reference cookbook: It's basically Escoffier with each recipe reduced to one line or so, making it pocket-sized, if terse. FYI, Duch's classic Handlexicon der Kochkunst is the Wiener-Küche or Viennese-cuisine counterpart to Escoffier. The problem of guessing what size onion the author had in mind is international. [ETA the usual spelling corrections] A detail, to dougal et al. for the record: Chez Panisse is downstairs at 1517 Shattuck; Chez Panisse Café is upstairs. (Separate businesses. Different phone numbers, menus, people, equipment, styles, hours, reservation requirements -- in fact sometimes they scarcely know much about what each other is doing unless people happen to converse during joint vegetable ordering. That point was made emphatically to me by Paul Bertolli when in charge of the restaurant, and it becomes clearer the more chance you get to try both, as I hope you will. When Waters made her food reputation, the Café did not exist. Her recent food-celebrity reputation, which seems independent and unaware of her original food reputation, is a recent separate thing. And the amount of misconception that can surround such people when they become celebrities is breathtaking.)
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