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eGullet Society staff emeritus
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Everything posted by Chad

  1. Bill, as an attorney and dedicated eGulleter, has an ironbound duty not to let the truth stand in the way of a good story. For shame, Dean. You know better. Chad
  2. Well, boring writing is boring, but that's not what I was getting at. In retrospect, I was making two distinct, but related, points. First, good food writing is always personal -- It's not self indulgent, but the writer has to have some investment in what he's writing about. We'll even put up with mediocre writing if the writer has passion and personality. Take Michael Ruhlman's interminable run on sentences, for example. You just want to smack him and say, "This is a period. Use it." But he's a good story teller. He's involved with his topic. His writing has some personality. It works. When Robb Walsh recounts the history of the okra pod you can sense his personal interest in the subject. A potentially dry topic becomes engaging, even if Walsh isn't trying to be "entertaining." Second, if you're going to get into the "Weird Things People Eat" arena, you damn well better make it personal. Otherwise you've turned a fascinating topic into a dull academic treatise. That's why Tony Bourdain's A Cook's Tour sells and the Proceedings of the International Symposium on Flower-Eating Culture in Yunnan Province of China doesn't. History and anthropology aside, we're along for the ride. We vicariously share the writer's fascination -- or his squeamishness. We want to know why people eat some of these things, sure. We want to know the history. But we also want to share the writer's experience of the food, the culture and everything leading up to putting a fried bat in his mouth. The fried bat is not, in and of itself, all that interesting. If the writer's disengaged, so are we. That's my theory, anyway. The question to the panel now becomes -- Am I full of shit? Chad
  3. I was fascinated by the discussion kicked off by Russ Parsons -- yeah the Playing with Feces one. Don't read too much into that. Exotic (to us) food as arrested development, as thrill seeking, as cultural exchange, yada, yada, yada. One thing that wasn't covered is that the food itself is not that interesting. It may give us a frisson to read about eating ant eggs or grub worms, but only if the writer does his or her job properly. Otherwise it's just one more factoid. This point hit home while I was reading the galley proofs of Jerry Hopkins's new book Extreme Cuisine: The Weird & Wonderful Food that People Eat. This is an overhaul of his previous work, Strange Foods. It's full of some of the most radical meals ever -- from durian to dumpster diving. Hopkins is a good writer. He can even be a powerful writer. He is the guy, after all, who wrote No One Here Gets Out Alive, spent time on the road with the Doors, and has written for Rolling Stone for years. He has eaten some really bizarre stuff. Should be a wild ride, no? No. As a matter of fact, big chunks of this book are downright boring. There will be a full eGullet review in a week or two, but the bottom line (thus far) is that Hopkins, in his desire not to turn other cultures' foods into a sideshow, maintains a level of detachment that makes reading about eating live monkey brains about as interesting as reading the local zoning ordinances. There's none of Tony Bourdain's swashbuckling, Jeffrey Steingarten's manic compulsiveness or Robb Walsh's passionate anthropology (for want of a better term) or love of old diners. In short, there is no personality. In the intro to Are You Really Going to Eat That?, Walsh says, "I discovered that weird food isn't all that interesting unless somebody interesting eats it, or somebody eats it for an interesting reason." I'd add that unless somebody writes about either one in an interesting way, it's just another encyclopedia entry. Okay, long winded premise over. What do you think Robb, Ellen, Russ, John? Where in that intersection of food and writer does the real story lie? Chad
  4. Are you thinking of the infamous stinky Durian? Also see Durian, tried it yet? Vomited yet? Chad
  5. Chad

    Riedel "O" Series

    Dunno if y'all caught this or not, but Riedel has just introduced a new line of anti-stemware, the new "O Collection" -- the Vinum series without the stems. Strange but true. Chad
  6. Wake up, you bastards! <grumble>Sitting around drinking coffee, chatting while the rest of us eagerly await photos and reports.<grumble> Chad
  7. Cook's Illustrated did a brief piece on slow cookers in the March/April 2003 issue. In the "standard slow cooker without fancy features" category, they recommend either the Rival or the Farberware Millenium. They do like the West Bend Versatility -- that's the aluminum one that you can use on the stovetop. I'd find that handy as I always brown my meat before putting it in the crock pot. My wife doesn't, which really creeps me out. Personally, I'd get the 6.5qt oval stainless Rival. The stoneware lifts out for leftover storage or easier cleaning, a huge plus in my book. There is very little worse in this world than cleaning a gunked up crock pot. Awkward, messy and just a pain in the ass. We frequently leave ours to soak for days, each hoping that the other will tackle the job out of sheer disgust or impatience. I usually win. The pullout crock would be a breeze to clean. Chad
  8. Bwahahaha! My favorite line: "I see. They call small "tall" because it makes the customer feel good when they pay $3.00 for a urine-sample size cup of coffee swill." Chad
  9. Dead: Chet Atkins, Jim Kilgo, Winston Churchill, and Douglas Adams. Weird match up, I know, and probably a lousy mix for dinner conversation, but these are all folks I wish I had known. In Jim Kilgo's case, I wish I had known him better. He was my writing teacher at UGA. I took several classes from him, worked on a one-on-one writing project with him and spent some time at his house, but never knew him as well as I would have liked. He had a tremendous influence on me, though. He was an amazing writer. Alive: Mark Knopfler, Nicholas Christopher (author of Veronica, A Trip to the Stars, and Franklin Flyer), Alton Brown, and a tie between Neil Gaiman and Lemony Snicket. Drinks with Tony Bourdain would be cool, too. Chad
  10. Which Tim O'Brian? The writer or the brilliant mandolin player/songwriter? I'd pick the latter. Very cool guy. Chad
  11. Chad

    A Chef's Beer

    Paul, the eGCI is the eGullet Culinary Institute -- kind of a volunteer-taught online cooking school that started late last year. You can see it here. There are about 40 classes so far, ranging from basic stock making to Indian cuisine. Very cool. As a matter o' fact the eGCI just got a huge writeup in the Washington Post. If you'd be willing to do a homebrewing course, that'd be pretty damn nifty. E-mail or PM Andy Lynes. He's coordinating the new semester. Chad
  12. Nah, we knew what you meant. Thanks for taking so much time with this issue. Food topics are certainly gaining greater notoriety in the mainstream press, yet there are still many issues that are oversimplified, sensationalized or simply ignored. It's great to see someone who is willing to take on those kinds of stories. Chad
  13. Chad

    Slow Cooker Pork Roast

    Hmm, just opened the latest Cook's Illustrated to discover a nifty pork map showing all the cuts, their primals and where on the pig they come from. Sure enough, the center loin roast is ideal for roasting (wherever do they come up with those inventive names?). However, there is a sirloin roast that shows a good bit of connective tissue and looks like it would be a good candidate for braising, though CI doesn't recommend the cut. Chad
  14. Chad

    Slow Cooker Pork Roast

    Yes indeedy, Dave the Cook did a class on Brining for the eGullet Culinary Institute. Definitely required reading. For a pork tenderloin, I don't even sear it off before tossing it in the oven. Just goes in a baking dish or casserole for 35-40 minutes at 350. For a larger loin roast, Tommy's right, sear in a big-ass pan and toss it in the oven. Chad
  15. Dunno if y'all are aware, but Chef Luchetti has a bio and portfolio here at SanFranciscoChefs.com. There are some gorgeous shots of her desserts. Chad
  16. Marian, thanks for being with us. With your background writing about food & nutrition, have you noted any trends, science or other food topics that are just plain ignored or missed by the mainstream media? If so, are the topics not covered because they're too complex? Not sexy enough? Not sufficiently controversial? Chad
  17. Dunno if y'all have noticed, but Marian Burros, the subject of this conversation, is doing an eGullet Q&A right now. If you have questions about her review of Casa Mono or her other food writings, jump in. Chad
  18. American Culinary Institute's Foods to Get You in the Mood. Personally, when thinking of romantic foods -- or foods that might lead to romance -- I'm inclined toward small portions (don't want to feel bloated), light on spices & garlic (that breath thing, you know), that you can eat with your fingers, and don't involve a lot of last minute prep. Champagne cocktails are always appreciated, but you could use this as an opportunity to introduce Prosecco. The mushrooms in puff pastry sound wonderful. Chocolate dipped strawberries are a classic, but your strawberry-champagne sorbet sounds even better. Maybe a light broth or soup with crouton chips or quenelles? Chad
  19. My favorite food analogy is also my favorite Southernism: "He was hanging in there like a hair in a biscuit." Used to describe someone's tenacity. I love that line. Chad
  20. Yup, adding an acid/citrus note is a standard trick in Southwestern cooking. It doesn't tame the heat but balanaces it nicely, creating a perception of less heat. I'm not sure I'd do that to chile, however -- unless you're going for that Bobby Flay Mango Chile sort o' feel. What I'd do is simply serve the chile over rice or pasta with lots of cheese on top, which has the effect of reducing the portions (or at least proportion) of chile and adding a filler starch. Chad
  21. However, this reviewer works for the Sunday Telegraph -- a pretty big newspaper. A quick check of circulation figures shows that the Sunday Telegraph delivers nearly 711,000 papers every Sunday, slightly lower than the NYT's million or so, but still significant. They can afford to have a reviewer visit a restaurant multiple times. You have a point about smaller newspapers. The Wichita Eagle, for instance, delivers about 100,000 Sunday papers. Not huge by any stretch of the imagination. And their budget probably doesn't allow for several visists to the same restaurant. But you also don't see the level of invective that you might in a larger paper. Why? Too small a sample size to be that abusive. In everything I've read from big-name restuarant reviewers, they visit a restaurant a minimum of three times. And that's for a good review. For a bad one they'll go back four or five times just to make sure that they can back up their negative comments. It's simply a credibility issue. For this asshole to rake a restaurant over the coals on the basis of one meal is irresponsible at best. In truth, he wasn't reviewing a particular restuarant, any restuarant would have done. The meal was simply a vehicle for him to show off his nasty wit. That's fine if you're reading a column for its entertainment value but completely useless if you actually want solid information about the restaurant. Chad
  22. All righty, then. There ya go. Just use the buffing wheel or conical doodad with the polishing rouge. Take your time and don't let the blade get hot. I used two spring loaded C clamps to lock my knife down to the bench in my garage when I buffed out some polishing scratches, but a vise or anything else that'll keep the blade immobile should work. The last thing you want is the Dremel flinging your knife across the room . Chad
  23. Matt, dude, this is why God gave us Dremel tools . Actually, if you don't like the patina (I don't mind 'em myself), try high grit sandpaper from an automotive store, 1000 grit or so. Or Flitz metal polish. Either one will get your knife back in shape. Chad
  24. Yup, the reviewer has every right to his opinion. And I find the British reviews a lot of fun to read as the reviewers try to trump one another with witty invective. However, this paragraph from the Sunday Telegraph stopped me dead in my tracks: What? Three meals in six years? And the review only based on one of them? He fucked this restaurant on the basis of one meal? That is completely irresponsible, unprofessional and obnoxious. He may win a lawsuit, but somebody needs to take him out back and explain professional journalism to him -- preferably with the blunt end of a pool cue. Chad
  25. I made a variant of Fifi's Chicken & Sausage Gumbo from RecipeGullet a couple of weeks ago. It was simply mind blowing. The best gumbo I've ever eaten. But you're right, there is a dearth of jambalaya and other Louisiana classics. Mayhaw Man, fix that immediately! Chad
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