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Everything posted by timothycdavis

  1. Thanks, GG, but I think the above is the wrong link...it was called "Table Dancing: Southern by the Grits of God" if you're able to search for it or whatnot. Off to Charleston--will report back! TCD
  2. Thanks GG and Holly! Can't wait to get there again! best, Tim PS: Holly, have always loved your site, and consulted it on more than one occasion. Continued good eatin' to ya.
  3. I agree, and to which I'd add: it's also quite often (wrongly, in many cases) thought to be hopelessly authentic. I did a piece on it here: http://forums.egullet.org/index.php?showtopic=48040&st=0 Edited to add: whoops! I see you read it already. Spit out boiled peanuts? Blasphemy!
  4. this is the only relevant point in this too-long conversation. I'm curious about something, and I'm not asking this to be snarky, I'm really curious: Do you suppose that your friend Tony Bourdain hasn't left some unflattering things about himself out of his books, or indeed any items that others familiar with the various situations described might consider significant omissions? Do you suppose that everything in Ruch Reichl's however many memoirs she has now written is factually accurate, and that nothing others might find significant was omitted and that nothing was made up out of whole cloth? Since I hardly see how the answer could be "yes," given human nature, do you feel that everything else they say is automatically suspect? Or do you think your thoughts on this particular item may be especially strong due to the fact that the other party is Keller? This isn't advocacy for Psaltis or his book, I just have to say that I find some reactions curious given, for example, Bourdain's notorious slagging of other chefs -- in particular those who could be seen as competition in the field of food-related television (something I should point out I don't particularly have a problem with). ← Emeril and I applaud you. 'bam,' TCD
  5. Hi all. I'm headed to Charleston, SC tomorrow for a wedding, and, as I'm subsisting (barely) on a freelance salary, wondered if anyone had any ideas of good, hearty cheap eats in the immediate area. Thanks in advance! TCD
  6. I am curious about one thing, however: a food writing course? Is there some sort of a formula? Is it inherently different from any other kind of writing, say, about sports or cars or cats? Writing courses I can see, but was just wondering about the specialization aspect of it.
  7. O-M-G. Busboy, your post was, is, beautiful! Hey -- did you take a breath when this masterpiece was flowing from you? ← What if it's a particularly fetching navel? And if you're related to it and it's not your own, that's just gross.
  8. How do you figure? How do I figure? Do you think either of the above gentlemen have lost even one whit of business because of this? You're missing the point. If he actually wrote about the incident in the book and said he didn't leave TFL on his own terms, we wouldn't be having this discussion. It all has to do with his credibility, not whether or not he actually hit anyone. To me it is simple. If he didn't come clean in the book about the circumstances surrounding his leaving TFL, everything else he says is automatically suspect. ← Like with the Canseco steroid tell-all, if the man's lying, why hasn't anyone sued? It's important to remember that this is a memoir, a bit of autobiography (or biography -- who knows how much his brother wrote). He's entitled to present it all the way he wants, so long as it's not slanderous. And it wouldn't appear to be, since no one's going after him. Is his (rather effusive) praise of Keller dubious as well? I go back to something Bourdain said way back when: "It's his story as he saw it and felt it. It's hardly a definitive account. Undoubtedly, there will be other versions of Psaltis' Last Day at the Laundry--and the infamous Bay of Pigs at Mix and we can mull those over as well. In the classic Japanese film Rashomon, ALL the stories were interesting. Which version (or combination of versions) one chooses to believe are half the fun." Also: Who gives a shit if anyone threw a chair/didn't get recognized/etc? It happens all the time. These chefs are men, not gods! Again and again: hasn't been refuted except in the media. And I work in the media, but all the reportage on this is as much hearsay as Psaltis' book is claimed to be by many on this (great) website. Out, TCD
  9. Christ-amighty! Of COURSE he's trying to make money with the book -- all authors do, even Rimbaud and Shakespeare did. Of COURSE publicity doesn't hurt when you're opening a new resturant. See the old Muhammad Ali axiom. Of COURSE he's talented -- you don't get into the kitchens he did without some serious, er, chops. As for the accusations: who cares about a spotless walk-in? As long as the food is fresh, I'm smart enough to realize that the walk-in's not always going to be spotless. Ever look at yr own kitchens? As for slaps or anything else, who cares? I've been in newsrooms where a punch was thrown. I was one of the throwers, in fact. (I missed.) So there was a chair thrown. Does this make a man not a great chef? Was Ty Cobb not a great hitter, even though (it is said) he was a reprehensible a-hole? Psaltis made some money, and a name for himself. The book (I'm about 3/4 way through) seems relatively tame, overall. I don't see it as a slash-n-burn slander job. Surely Psaltis would have known any undocumented incidents could (and would, and have, depending on who you believe) bite him in the ass. I'm sure he could been a bit-more self-deprecating, a la Anthony Bourdain. To that end, however, I'd bet a few of Tony's old co-workers might disagree with some of the representations in Kitchen Confidential. I once worked with a reasonably well-known author, someone who everyone talked about as being one of the real peaches of the literary world. I found him to be a real jerk. Is my version somehow less valid because I'm not as well known? Like all public figures, Psaltis will be judged in the court of public opinion. He already has, no doubt. That said, I tend to believe him, or at least his intent. He has a lot more to lose than Keller or Ducasse any day of the week.
  10. Thomas Wolfe has some biscuit babblin' going on "The Web and the Rock." Lots of choice food descriptions from the old trencherman in that book. I'll try and find... good luck, tcd
  11. You say toe-MAY-toe, I say Toe-MAH-toe, let's call the whole thing off. Heck, I've seen restaurants around here that even advertise "Pulled Q" !
  12. Jay-sus! (That's the way us Southerners say "Jesus" when we're exasperated.) Not to beat a dead Appaloosa, but someone's got to put a stop to this most nonsensical of notions. Need one have fought in the Civil War to write about it? Walk in space to write science fiction? Dunk a basketball to cover the NBA Finals? Hold office to write for the Washington Post? Be a swordsman to write porn scripts? Answers: 1. no 2. no 3. no 4. no 5. hell no As a reasonably published writer who writes most often on native Southern food and its context, I've learned that sometimes the BEST writers on a given food or situation come from outside the region. The best article I ever read on NYC breakfasts was from native Southerner (and all-around good guy) John T Edge. RT (Johnny) Apple of the NY Times has written some marvelous pieces on native Spanish and Italian cuisine. What do they have in common? Besides being extremely well researched, they (usually) enter into foreign turf with a paucity of preconceived notions. They filter their experiences, really feel things, and ably transmit that experience into elegant prose. They allow the food (the people, whatever) to move THEM, not move the food to fit their purposes. They admit to being shocked on occasion, disappointed on others. They develop trust, which develops a loyal readership. So no, I have no problem with a "yankee" (sigh) writing about my native cuisine. I only ask that it be written well, to wit: interesting, fair, and above all, considered. I am, TCD (eating a bagel with smoked salmon cream cheese, incidentally.)
  13. Green's lunch, an age-old place, has a great southern slaw dog, and matt's chicago dog, also downtown, does a mean Chicago-style.
  14. Where I live in NC, there's a huge, burgeoning Latino/Hispanic population. I think the trucks serve two purposes -- mobility, especially to hit "hot spots" like construction sites, etc., and also the simple fact that a taco/truck van costs less, making it easier for the would-be entrepreneur to go into business. I've never had a bad experience with one, frankly. A couple bucks and you're set.
  15. Weaver Street Market in Carrboro always has a nice assortment of local/artisanal cheeses -- I always try and load up on my visits there. Here's the link: http://weaverstreetmarket.com/
  16. Would you believe we speak even slower and more unintelligible without it? caveat -- I only allow myself about one a week these days. I love the stuff, but it can put the pounds on like nobody's business.
  17. Black Magic: Old Coke and the New South Larry Brown likes it poured over ice. Rick Bragg has been known to enjoy a frosty can with breakfast, even while reporting from the far reaches of the globe. William Faulkner preferred mixing his with a little—ok, a lot—of Jack Daniels whiskey. We are talking, of course, about Coca-Cola. Indeed, Southerners – both writerly types and otherwise—have enjoyed The Real Thing for ages. A Dixie favorite since its initial concoction by Confederate Civil War veteran and Atlanta native John S. Pemberton, “Coke” has added to Southern life for over a century now. Dr. Pemberton was a pharmacist, the famous legend goes, who came up with the original formula for Coca-Cola syrup while attempting to create one of the cure-all tonics so popular at the time. Rumored to be a morphine addict, the good doctor originally, and rather famously, included coca leaves in his elixir, though that ingredient was later removed. (Interestingly, many soft drinks were developed first as medicines – 7UP, for instance, originally contained lithium.) In a steal of a transaction perhaps rivaled only by the sale of Manhattan for twenty-four dollars worth of trinkets, Dr. Pemberton sold Coke’s secret formula for $1,750.00 As time passed, Coca-Cola became better known as a comestible, and its popularity spread like wildfire, first to the North, then out West, and finally overseas, where it remains the most popular American soda export. In the South, however – a place once derisively described by H.L. Mencken as the “Coca-Cola Belt” -- the drink still manages a sort of double life. A tasty refreshment, sure, but still retaining – at least in some folks’ minds – a curative quality which soothes away minor ills, makes cakes moister, and works wonders on peanuts and bug-dotted car bumpers (pour on a can and work with a stiff brush). Take note, Coke, and any aspiring young professionals in the marketing department. To use a refrain sometimes heard in these parts, “We remember you when you was jus’ a baby.” Wander down into the less-populated and transplanted sections of the South, and ask folks (nicely, after introducing yourself) what they take for a minor sickness. Trailing perhaps only headache powders, Coca-Cola on ice, sometimes paired with saltine crackers, will be your recommendation. Other colas, while popular, don’t seem to have the same curative effect. Indeed, even the word “cola” seems flat without a big cursive “Coca-” in front of it. The can, with its bold red-and-white design, seems to announce itself as a healer as surely as the same colors do for an ambulance. Suffering from a case of the trots? Take a two-liter Coke, let it go flat, and then drink a glass every hour or so (the above cure is also said to work for nausea, but I’d try it over ice first, just out of gastronomic principle). Some folks even swear by a glass of hot Coca-Cola as a sure-fire way to relieve congestion. Other uses include relieving jellyfish stings (just pour it over the offending area) and bee stings (mix it in a poultice with a bit of tobacco). A few brave souls have even attested to Coke’s ability as an aid to summertime tanning – just slather a can’s worth all over your body. (This one seems a little fruitless, as nothing attracts bees like an open can of Coke. If you decide to try it, you might bring a few extra cans for the ensuing stings.) Coke’s bubbly black magic isn’t used solely on physical ills, however. Some Southern fathers—perhaps out of the same ingrained need to turn the tables and gross out their children that gave us that glorious repast “cornbread in buttermilk” – have handed down the habit of pouring a package of peanuts into a bottle, and eating the softened nuts after quaffing down the Coke. Coke has been used for years by cost-conscious Southerners to moisten cakes and countless other desserts (indeed, the Cracker Barrel chain of restaurants even offers Coca-Cola cookbooks). Folks with leftover barbecued meat have been known to retain moisture and grilled flavor by reheating their food in a shallow pan, along with a can or so of the beverage. Pot roasts basted in the elixir stay moist and extra-tender, folks say. Mixed with ham drippings, some Southerners even make a gravy with the drink. Truly adventurous souls substitute the beverage for coffee in making that Southern specialty, red-eye gravy. These folks, it’s been established, “ain’t from around here.” One of the main misconceptions about the South is that we drink Coke for breakfast. This isn’t entirely true. We drink Coke most anytime we need refreshment. It’s the original Iced Latte: cold and caffeinated, and suitably carbonated to boot. In this way, we were way ahead of our time. Breakfast goes well with Coca-Cola for a number of reasons. First, it’s convenient: no waiting around for a can of Coke to brew. Second, you can take it with you, without suffering the imperialistic shame of carting around an insulated cup from one of the big national coffee chains. Most importantly, it tastes good – sweet but slightly bitter, with enough carbonation to fire those lazy synapses even before the caffeine boost kicks in. Helen Ellis, Alabama novelist and author of Eating the Cheshire Cat, was once asked in an interview what the essential social difference was between Southern women and other American women. “First thing that comes to mind: Coca-Cola for breakfast,” she replied. “I can’t imagine hauling myself out of bed at 6:30 a.m. without knowing that little red can is waiting in the fridge. People always tell me I’m a morning person, chipper, a bundle of energy, awake. How do I do it? The answer is easy: Coke for breakfast – it fuels Southern women. Coke makes us perky on the outside, while we’re bubbling on the inside.” Actress and Atlanta native Sela Ward, hired fresh out of college to promote Coke’s biggest rival, the Carolinas-based Pepsi, even fingers Coke as a key to her dramatic development: “I drank Coca-Cola for breakfast,” she once revealed in an interview. “Pretending to like Pepsi was probably my first acting job.” As of late, even non-Southerners are getting into act: Lucian Truscott of the New York Times wrote a whole column about the joys of the drink, in which he quotes his friend David Vaught. “The whole coffee thing is a lot more negative,” Vaught told Truscott. “It’s like the difference between a mountain stream running over rocks and a stagnant pond.” The closest the South ever came to (up)rising again? The introduction of “New Coke.” Why, you’d have thought someone came out with pimento-free cheese spread. Terror and anger of a General Sherman variety spread throughout the land. How were we to clean our grout? To polish our bumpers? To clean our toilets? To tenderize our meat? Worse yet, what the hell were we going to drink for breakfast? Thankfully, the company came to its senses, and New Coke soon faded away, much like all the other colas that have dared to challenge “Classic” Coke’s 100+ year Southern supremacy. Perhaps more importantly, Atlanta was spared a second burning.
  18. There's always a bit of a delay (I think they send media mail), though they're good about sending contributor copies the few times I've had something in there. I think I have a version of that article I can post if anyone is bored enough to want to see it. (thanks Suzanne and GG...) Swear i wasn't Googling my name, TCD
  19. I didn't mean to imply that the *presence* of sweet tea was stereotypical, just that there's more going on in Southern cuisine besides "swee'tea," grits, and pulled pork. And yr right -- it IS better. Too much lemon always spoils the party.
  20. ...and I think Hollis put it perfectly. It's the same dynamic that has made the Drive-By Truckers into critical darlings in the space of 2 1/2 years, a dynamic that has sold them loads of records and gained them much acclaim the world over, yet, in many ways, pigeonholed everything they'll ever do afterwards. Durned if you do and durned if you don't. (That one's for you, Jon!) xo, TCD
  21. kathi said: Is that an example, perhaps, of the same thing that the Southern stereotypes stem from: Seeing what you're looking for? er... "Seeing what you're looking for" is certainly a hurdle all writers -- hell, everybody period -- must try and get over, but it's hard not to write from a point of view when you do, in fact, have one. How can I find what I'm looking for when I don't know what I want? Of course, you have to allow yourself room to change your mind, I admit. And I digress. That said, I think Tricia does a fine job, as do you, as does Helen. Hell, I voted you best local critic in our recent "Best of" issue. That said, for a city our size, the restaurant coverage does seem awful small, both in our two papers and all the other -- (whatever they are -- Skirt? South Charlotte Weekly? The Auto Trader?) -- papers around. And you know I hate the whole "foodie" description, but I've never seen a city this size that had such a scaredy-cat approach to dining. It seems like most of the "higher end" restaurants stick basically take a high-falutin' approach to comfort food. Which, of course, was something of a trend for a while, which thankfully seems to be changing along with the times (the food-politics angle is something I'll delve into next time around). Maybe this is what customers have asked for, and who is a restaurant -- in business to make money, of course -- to turn them down? None of that piece was meant to denigrate the Observer, nor my own paper. I guess I'm just surprised there's not more being written. 95% of the piece was in regard to the national media as opposed to locally. I apologize if it in any way come off otherwise. (I guess the "peep" and "postage stamp" might have given that impression.) peeping, er, piping down, TCD
  22. Jon, Dang good thing you didn't! I'd have to get all-fired mad at you and come put a-whuppin' on ye.
  23. Both the coffee cup and prices are as good as advertised. it's a cliche, but you're as likely to see a traveling sports celebrity there as you are a construction worker. Reason: it's no nonsense, real down-home, and neither place cares a whit about popularity in the public sense...they're too busy serving up the goodness! AS for BBQ, Bill Spoon's on South boulevard is most people's pick (eastern nc-style 'cue). However, they are only open for lunch, and perhaps just during the week....worth it, though, if you can make it. They even take IOUs if you don't have the available $$$... hope this helps!
  24. Brunswick Stew, Hoppin' John, Limpin' Susan, Low Country Shrimp boil, She Crab soup, Shrimp and Grits, Frogmore Stew, Crab Cakes, Benne Wafers, Fried Quail, Sweet Potato Pone, or even Purloo! Hoppin' John I have all year 'round, not just on New Year's. Fried Quail -- not too fried! -- is a delicacy worthy of a king. All of the boils -- including Frogmore -- aren't too far off from similar Maryland-style cuisine. The same with the She-Crab soup and Crab Cakes, though in my experience the Southern versions are usually way spicier. And we all know how widespread shrimp and grits has become when Emeril serves up a batch...
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