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The Camille

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  1. One of the most notorious examples of recipe plagiarism is one invented by Richard Olney, where he inserted stuffing under the skin of a chicken. He wrote about it in Simple French Food.  A few other people picked it up, claimed it as their own and published recipes based on it. I believe Olney grumbled a bit, but essentially did nothing to protect his copyright.

    Olney did in fact sue the author in question, the once-famous Richard Nelson, in the mid-1980s and, I believe, won, setting a legal precedent of sorts. The strange part was that Nelson (if my memory is not too foggy) passed off the French recipe as an example of American Regional Cuisine, something that Nelson did much to popularize.

    Actually, I found an excellent discussion of the case in the site of Daniel Rogov, the food critic for Ha`aretz. Was tempted to plagarize it (har har) but instead will provide a link (look about 3/4 way down the page).

    More on Olney - another site that mentions the lawsuit:

    Olney's million dollar brussel sprout recipe

    According to Rogov, Nelson had 'lifted' 39 recipes from Olney.

    But the case was made based on the similarity of writing style in describing the recipe procedure - I doubt the duplication of ingredients or (completely restyled) procedure alone would have been enough basis for the suit:

    The case against Nelson was not difficult to prove. Olney has a very individual style.

    Regarding journo standards:

    Some info about plagiarism, copyright, and recipe acknowledgement from:

    The Guild of Food Writers

    (the professional association of food writers and broadcasters in the UK).

  2. Camille & Choco: plagiarism and copyright infringement are two different things. Even if something is in the public domain, even if no law protects it, it is still plagiarism to copy it without attribution -- to say you created it when in fact someone else did.

    FG: I know there is a distinction, but I'm not sure how you apply ethics to plagiarism in certain cases. For example: If I publish a recipe that includes a standard bechamel sauce as one of the components, and list the ingredients and steps for it therein - is attribution necessary? The Olney/chicken stuffing example is similar, no?

    I just think unethical is a bit too strong a term for something this grey. If no law protects it, then what defines the standards?

  3. One of the most notorious examples of recipe plagiarism is one invented by Richard Olney, where he inserted stuffing under the skin of a chicken. He wrote about it in Simple French Food.  A few other people picked it up, claimed it as their own and published recipes based on it. I believe Olney grumbled a bit, but essentially did nothing to protect his copyright.

    As someone explained earlier, Olney would have had no legal leg to stand on, because it's not illegal to copy someone's recipe without attribution if you put it in your own words. It's just unethical.

    Unethical? So any subsequently published recipe that calls for placing stuffing under the skin of a chicken is unethical? And was Olney really the first person to do this? Or the first published example?

    Do you know how many published recipes contain identical lists of ingredients or specific processes? Are they all (minus one, I guess) unethical? How many recipes are so unique in this regard that they would pass your ethics standard?

    As far as I know, formulas and processes are not protected by

    copyright law. To obtain legal rights you would need to secure a patent (lawyers please correct me if I'm wrong).

    I've always understood this to mean that the 'ingredients and steps' portion of a published recipe are not copyright-able. Only the 'creative expression' (the 'in your own words' part) is something that can be copyright infringed, or plagiarised. You do not need to alter the list of ingredients (by omission or amount) in order to avoid copyright infringement. Is this incorrect?

  4. It depends on the level of cuisine.  $1.99 is fine for a hot dog.  $23.99 doesn't seem appropriate for seared tuna.

    I know what you mean. It's more applicable to low-end menu pricing, isn't it....

    But then, when is the .95 price point a good idea? Does $23.95 sound more 'genteel'? If so, why? (that was the jist of my question - my lack of clarity there)

  5. I'm with Holly too - it works, however annoying it might be to some people.

    But .95 isn't the way to go, if you go there. All price points should end in .99

    Multiply the number of items you sell annually that end in .95 by four cents -- that's the impact this change could have on your annual income.

    In volume sales, it can be a significant amount, with the same psychological benefit as the .95....

    So .95 makes no sense at all. Am I missing something?

  6. How many items would you have at any given meal made at home for your daily meal?

    I think in order to fully appreciate any cuisine, you have to follow the traditional pattern of dining. Part of the appeal of 'Indian food' is the accompaniments, and the order/variety of courses. So I usually go all the way with that idea, depending on the regional food I'm serving/ordering.

    Go out to restaurants?

    At least twice a week. In NYC - you know the deal. In London - still much to explore, and so much more on offer.

    Any particular items you like to eat more often?

    Not really; I like most of what I've experienced so far. I'm trying to develop a better discernment of the different regional styles of food, at the moment.

    If you are non-Indian, could you tell us how often you prepare an Indian meal or even inspired by India meal?

    I've become so attuned to the cuisine that I'm probably always inspired by it now. Refined spicing routines, progressive menu planning, and providing more 'condiments' are what come to mind.

    Do you have or know kids that follow a similar pattern to yours in regards to Indian food?

    My nephews/nieces/cousins. So far, so good....

    What Indian foods do these kids find most appealing to them? Have they grown up outside of India and eating Indian food?

    As with most children - the 'fun' foods are a safe bet. Snacks, breads, and desserts. In this way they develop a taste for the spicing routines without realising it. My nephew, in particular, loves nimki, will now only eat fresh made flatbreads and frybreads, and is crazy about coconut chutney, galebi, and (my poor version of) sandesh. Hopefully, the main dishes will follow, as his palate matures....

  7. If you asked me why, I think I'd tell you polenta is a different type or grind of cornmeal than grits are, but I'd be hard-pressed to go into more detail than that.

    Hey, we posted the same thought at the same time - make a wish! :smile:

    You're right about the difference - I think it's something to do with the processing of grits (lime?) - probably someone on here will know more.

    Also, full germ v. de-germinated makes a big difference when you're trying to use cornmeal for making a bread starter - but that's going a bit off topic....

  8. I'd be interested in a taxonomy of cornmeal. I notice there are about a million different kinds but I don't really understand the key distinctions.

    For the purposes of polenta, I think the key point is the grade of the grind (coarse v. fine). Ever try to make a decent polenta with fine ground cornmeal? Not very good, in my opinion.

    My grandmother used to sub grits when she couldn't get the proper grind of cornmeal (back in the day). Not the same taste, exactly, but a better approximation of the texture she was after.

    The same holds true for other 'flours or meals' (chickpea or gram being the one I'm experimenting with right now). I'll post my version of panizza/farinata/panelles once I've made the final adjustments. Basically, the fine ground of most available chickpea flour is the reason the recipe hasn't translated as well when outside Italy. I'm experimenting with grinding my own - something I've just realised my grandmother had done all along. Would be interested in others' opinions/experiences about this....

  9. Not that it matters. You'd die anyway, wouldn't you?

    What do you mean? Eventually... or right after eating that way?

    Just wondering, as a natural left-hander (who had a hard time of it when visiting points East). BTW, I do know the reasoning behind it, but I'll leave the explanation, if necessary, for you.... :raz:

  10. FG's grandfather created the Styrofoam cup but he couldn’t figure out the lid (he thought the lid had to be made out of Styrofoam too) so someone else beat him to the patent (I think that’s how the story goes). He was, in any case, an inventor—who never managed to quite pull it all together.

    You mean the Fat Guy could have been the heir to the Styrofoam Cup fortune? That's amazing - sounds like an inspiration for a Seinfeld episode. FG should write about that....

    elyse: All my non-essentials are in London (I'm in NY, at the moment). But one of my cousins is supposedly working on an 'improved' version (she's got the last surviving prototype) - if I get a pic I'll upload to this thread. It's really ingenius in its simplicity, but it's like Ellen said about the spork - it doesn't add to your eating pleasure. I think it's enjoyable to 'slurp' up the stray strands of spaghetti. Plus, with the super efficient 'cutting action', you're left with a lot of tiny bits on your plate to deal with....

    Re Thai customs: Don't they (sometimes) use sticky rice made into balls to scoop up food?

  11. Fast food restaurant patrons very often eat with something called a spork. A combination spoon/fork thingie. It has fan websites and everything. There's also something called a floon....

    I actually hold patent rights to an eating utensil my Grandfather invented. It was never marketed, or even named - we just called it "Nanu's spaghetti spoon". It's not really a spoon, though. It looks like a cross between one of those pasta grabbers and a honey twirler thingie (not sure what that's called, either). We used to eat spaghetti with them all the time; my Grandfather made quite a few prototype sets, in various mediums (metal, ceramic, wood). It twirls the spaghetti into a perfect bite sized portion, and then (and here is the best part!) the sharp grabby protrusion bits cut off the excess. No batteries needed, no moving parts.

    I never realised how weird that was until I read this thread. I wonder how many people design and craft their own customised eating utensils? :wacko:

    There must be others....

  12. David Leite:

    I tailor my writing all the time, but I'm finding that I'm seeking out venue where I can write in my natural style.

    I've read a fair bit of your work. Maybe I'll go back for second read and see if I can spot examples of 'tailor' v. 'nature' (sort of a free writing lesson for me). Thanks for answering my pesky questions, too.

    David Leite:

    When I’m established, I'll tell you.  :wink:

    David, if you can't be considered 'established' as a food writer, then I'm really Annette Funicello. :raz:


    In more than a dozen years on this job, I've seen the difference a strong, active first-person voice makes in the response I hear to my articles. They can hate my voice, love my voice, disagree with it, learn to like it. But they certainly respond to it.


    Doesn't a lot of the rise of the "I" have less to do with egoism and more to do with a general move to informal style, which is supposed to simulate the writer's speech, which is naturally peppered with the first-person? This strikes me as a positive trend.


    First person, in food writing, equals passion.

    But isn't 'passion' an expression of ego? Not that I disagree with what mamster says about the general move to informal style, which might be another topic altogether, in that it has positive and negative repercussions. But is egoism a negative? (mamster - not implying you're saying that, just not sure)

    There is a glut of writers and writing out there. Part of the immediacy and identification of the informal style gives the reader the idea that, "Hey, I can probably write too!". Not to be elitist about it - maybe they can, and they should certainly try, if they're interested. And of course they need to appreciate that writing is not just a passion, but a craft.

    But I'd like to think that the only point behind the newbie third person writing rule is: It develops craft. And craft will help you to better express your ego in an appropriate (or entertaining) style. I don't think it should be taught as if the goal is the elimination of ego, because I think all writing is ego-driven, or probably should be.


    I really believe that readers crave the comfort of a real person with them in the kitchen, a living, fallible -- and fallible may be the key -- person.

    Interesting. I'm trying to figure a way to argue that 'fallible' is only possible if you've got a well developed ego. Please stop me if I'm wrong....


    I've debated this with other (non-food) journalists who think first-person is a little "icky" (and yeah, sometimes I still feel a little icky in first person too -- who the hell should care what I think?).

    I also don't see it as a question of "Who the hell should care what I think?"

    One of the challenges of writing is making people care what you think. Isn't that the passion that precedes the passion for the subject? I don't see how that can be done, in any style, venue, or pov narrative, without being ego-driven. Craft is just the means to that end.

    Is this not applicable to non-fic writing? (Obviously, not referring to hard news or technical writing, although....)


    When I finally was "bestowed" with the hallowed honor of that postage-stamp picture on top of my weekly sig, I noticed an immediate difference. The response from readers, the letters, faxes, phone calls (this predates e-mail -- oooh, I'm old) dramatically increased.

    Thanks for the story. A photo sig is the ultimate, eh? But don't you miss those letters, faxes and phone calls? E-mails just aren't as satisfying, imo....

  13. Draw as much attention to yourself as you think appropriate, and then back off some.  First drafts are always too long anyway, take the blue pencil to yourself before your subject.

    I'd agree. But that's the sticky bit, isn't it? What interests me is how much of the 'I' in non-fiction, is fiction. It seems the current style of first person non-fiction writing is really pseudo-non-fiction. Or fiction presented as non-fiction. Not disingenuous in terms of the food, but in the characterisation behind the 'I'. (Note: I don't have a problem with that, just wondering how you non-fic guys see it)

  14. To me this is the crux of the matter. I love reading first-person food writing...if the writer, the main character, is fascinating, intriguing, interesting. When a writer's personality is so large that it can't be contained behind detached, third-person narrative, then first person is the way to go. That's why I find Riechl, Bourdain, Hesser, Trillin, and Steingarten appealing. Of course, sometimes first person is just plain wrong for a piece. A smart and judicious writer, and one who wants to keep working, will know when to switch.

    Okay. But do you have any specific criteria (for yourself, obviously, and by 'you' I mean any writer) in regards to when to switch (pov)?

    Also, what about the fact that 'fascinating, intriguing, interesting' is a subjective determination? I believe Fat Guy mentioned this in another thread - that he would tailor his piece based on the expected reading audience. How much weight goes into that, as to how it might affect your 'natural' writing style?

    I'm asking as an outsider (I write two-bit comedy scripts, so most of this doesn't apply). But I'm interested in the frame of mind of writers, in general. It seems to me that the advice you get from 'established' writers differs from what the 'up and coming' suggest. In regards to the established writers, is it 'hindsight 20-20', or are they, in effect, blowing smoke after the fact?

  15. If I can't say "I think. . . " or "I want to know . . ." or "I DO know about this . . ." then why should anybody listen to me? 

    FWIW, I agree with you completely.

    I'm no expert, and not a journo, but I have a few journo friends. I was told that the "youth" market (under 35) prefers the first person narrative - but then again, the voice should also reflect their own sensibility. Some of these friends I mention are past the market age, but deliberately adopt a "youthful" voice (or maybe they're just immature anyway :smile: )

    Personally, I think ageism is crap, but it seems to be the reality in many industries. Is it a consideration for food writers too? I ask because I don't know....

  16. Have just read Confessions Of A Culinary Anarchist and it's also very funny and very true.

    What he said. Even though I have probably been scarred for life by witnessing 2 old Italian women nearly come to blows over the "correct" recipe for grain pie (Grandma was feisty). "The Rules". I can relate.

    Also amused by your description of your Mom's idea of a typical American menu - my Grandmother used to attempt those dishes when we wanted to eat "American-style".

  17. I share Claude's opinion that it used to be illegal, but is no longer. I know quite a few people with dual French/US citizenship.

    I can second this. I'm currently waiting for my Italian passport ( :laugh: ), without having to renounce my US citizenship. I'm also qualified for French (assuming I pass the language requirement), and Greek (I was born there - don't ask) citizenship.

    Every country has different criteria on this, and they change based on current events (which means if any US citizen qualifies and is interested, they shouldn't delay in applying).


    Was curious about the German requirement myself. If you can read German, here are the details:

    german citizenship info


    dual US-German nationality explained (English)

    From what I gather, Germany is a bit tougher than the other EU countries, but then I don't know your personal circumstances. Check it out.

  18. When you pre-cook the veggies do you stop them before they're completely done, and then finish in the soup, or just barely warm them in the soup?

    I'll warm them together in a saute or braise, just prior to serving, and then plate them and pour the hot broth over. Heating them in a lot of broth for a (relatively) short time, after the initial saute, doesn't seem to enhance either the taste of the vegetables or the broth, so why do it? This is in no way traditional, and a better cook might do it differently. It's just easier for me to control the taste and texture this way, and less stressful to keep it ready to go when I'm in the kitchen with a lot of other dishes working at the same time.

    Theoretically, there's a magical flavour-meld that occurs with long slow cooking, but I haven't managed it with this one yet.

    Have a wonderful holiday.

  19. Now I'm curious - does anyone else "blow out" raw eggs to use for dyeing (small pinholes on either end, then literally blow out the egg)? I usually do this if and when I need eggs for baking or other cooking just before Easter. Then I've got a supply for kids (or adults) to paint when they come over. They're somewhat more fragile than hard boiled, but they can be saved indefinitely, and you can use non-food colouring, if desired.

  20. -Arkansas boiled egg pie

    -Stuffed whole inside a meat loaf

    -Chopped and used as part of the dressing/stuffing for braciole or flank steak.

    -Simmered in Italian style tomato sauce instead of or in addition to meatballs, sausages, etc.

    -Cubed and added to chopped meat to make what I believe is called a "Hockfleisse" (sp?) style hamburger.

    -Cream the yolks into sweet butter and then add minced white to make a Finnish style egg butter - used to spread on sweet breads baked for Easter.

    -I'll second the pickle idea, and add that there are many variations: Make your own brine to pickle like Japanese style pickled ginger, or spiced like an Indonesian pickle, a hotter type chili pickle, sweet pickle, etc.

    -Have Greek style egg fights - loser eats the eggs.

    -Vegetarian style "chopped liver: process eggs with carmelised onions, sauted mushrooms, walnuts, seasonings, to make a veggie "pate".

    -Battered and deep fried as "Scotch" eggs. Tempura eggs?

  21. I tried to make an all green minestra, without a lot of meat.  I ate a really good one in Roma but I'm hazy on the details.  I used peeled fresh fava beans, artichokes, and cress.  I added 1/4 c of carnaroli rice and a light chicken broth as a base.  I used a small amount of garlic and some scallions.  I didn't like it because the texture ended up being too monotonous and the flavor too muddled.  Maybe I should just stick to one veggie to start with?



    From your description, it sounds like you are talking about Vignarola, a Roman style vegetable stew, usually with artichokes, peas, and fava beans. There are quite a few variations, though.

    I know what you mean about muddled flavour. When I make something like this and want a brighter taste that accentuates each vegetable, rather than a stew type dish, I cook each veggie separately, and then add them to a light broth. For Vignarola, I usually use artichokes, peas, fava, and baby spinach, added to a chicken or roasted vegetable broth after cooking each separately, and then sprinkle on scallions and mint (or other fresh herb if you're mint phobic) as garnish. Pancetta or guanciale can be added too if that flavour dimension is desired.

    Edit: Forgot to mention lemon, either in the broth, or the zest chopped fine as garnish. Also, eggs can be added to the broth as a straciatelle - I always do it like this when I make it as a strictly vegetarian dish.

  22. Are there any Italians living in Italy in this forum??? I guess not.

    Trillium, how did you make the minestra, and why were you disappointed? The traditional recipe calls for 3 or 4 different kinds of meat, as a relief from the lenten fast, but nowadays most Italians will make a lighter version. I'm making a veal broth with escarole and home-made meat filled tortellini, and even the tortellinini is a bit of overkill. :smile:

    Have you decided on lamb or pork or something else or??? Either would be traditional. I'm making both, because of the amount of guests and fussy appetites - roasted stuffed leg of lamb with mint pesto, and pork loin cooked in milk (stovetop preparation). Also peas sauteed with mushrooms and tiny onions and two kinds of potato - English roasted and panzarotti (Neapolitan potato croquettes). Artichokes will be part of the antipasti.

    Do you want a savoury torta like potato or a dolci like grain or fruit pie? Another tradition would be pizza rustica - a savoury cheese egg and meat filled torta presented as part of the antipasti (or right after midnight in my family).

    Happy to write up and post any recipes if you are interested. Have fun.

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