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Caveat Emptor


Liza
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Very interesting, Liza. Thanks.

"I've caught you Richardson, stuffing spit-backs in your vile maw. 'Let tomorrow's omelets go empty,' is that your fucking attitude?" -E. B. Farnum

"Behold, I teach you the ubermunch. The ubermunch is the meaning of the earth. Let your will say: the ubermunch shall be the meaning of the earth!" -Fritzy N.

"It's okay to like celery more than yogurt, but it's not okay to think that batter is yogurt."

Serving fine and fresh gratuitous comments since Oct 5 2001, 09:53 PM

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Interesting article. My regular sushi bar serves us a small bowl of "real" wasabi, which is only for their regulars..everyone else gets the regular bright green stuff..I was amazed at the difference in taste...

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The author, Katie Mclaughlin, has an eMail address at the end of the article. Is any eGulletier writing to her? I suggest our esteemed #1 or Steven Klc, in their eloquent way can maybe straighten her out. Or even guide her to our site for educational purposes.

Re: Camembert or Brie is not "faux" when pasteurized, even in France. And I have never seen the word "Reggio" on a tru Balsamic, even in Italy.

And, what does she mean by: "U.S. law prohibits making certain cheeses from non-pasteurized milk."

Peter
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And, what does she mean by: "U.S. law prohibits making certain cheeses from non-pasteurized milk."

I am sure Fat Guy could say it better than I could, butyou can not import, buy, posess, or fondle raw milk cheeses that are aged less than 60 days inside the United States.

Nuts!

Ben

Gimme what cha got for a pork chop!

-Freakmaster

I have two words for America... Meat Crust.

-Mario

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I wrote to her as soon as I read the story but it was to tell her I thought she did a good job. And I received a nice reply. :raz:

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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For whatever it's worth, I e-mailed fromages.com in regards to the age of their Camembert that they ship to the U.S. (I dug up an old Fat Guy article I remember reading). The woman replied that they are usually aged 1 week when they get them, then they are shipped out as soon as possible. I'm hoping this is true, but I have my doubts. :hmmm:

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At the time I wrote that article, Fromages.com had just gotten busted for violating the FDA/USDA/Customs rules and was only shipping 60+ day aged unpasteurized cheeses and was using pasteurized for Camembert, Epoisses, et al. I have read nothing that would indicate a change in US policy and if anything we are trending towards stricter controls -- there is serious pressure to ban all unpasteurized cheeses, even when aged more than 60 days.

In terms of the Argentina-by-way-of-Australia thing, I think the writer must have felt compelled to publish the establishment's explanation but the implication seems to be that she doesn't find it credible. I'd have liked to see her track down the ultimate answer, but unless somebody has information that Argentinean beef can be shipped via Australia to avoid our regulations I'm likely to believe the WSJ got it right.

Then again I'm open to additional information, and I'm sure the writer at the WSJ is too.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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"Because real Key limes are yellow, a true Key lime pie isn't even lime green. The golf-ball-size fruit can cost four times as much as ordinary limes and are tough to find outside Florida."

Key limes are readily available at asian grocery stores like Uwajimaya here in seattle. Have been for several years I think. Not expensive at all, either.

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Some would take the position that they're not acceptable as key limes if they're grown in Mexico or anywhere else outside of Florida. There are a number of semantic/linguistic issues one could take issue with in the story -- you could say that wasabi is whatever everybody calls wasabi, for example -- but clearly the writer was trying to make the point that the restaurant industry as a whole plays fast and loose with authentic food names and sometimes does it out of ignorance.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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Here's what I don't understand. Isn't the Journal a subscription-only service? I pay good money for a subscription. Are non-subscribers finding that they can view the link above?

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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Here's what I don't understand. Isn't the Journal a subscription-only service? I pay good money for a subscription. Are non-subscribers finding that they can view the link above?

Yes, I can. Perhaps the WSJ is building bridges between itself and the everyday surfer. Yours just happens to be a toll bridge.

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Here's what I don't understand. Isn't the Journal a subscription-only service? I pay good money for a subscription. Are non-subscribers finding that they can view the link above?

WSJ online makes some of the articles accessible, but most are not without a subscription to WSJ Online.

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Of all the aspects of this article, the one I found most interesting--most vague--and most worth following up on was the" Argentine beef end around by way of Australia angle." Somebody's going to get in trouble for that one--the writer, the source, the distributor or the aide responsible for the loophole in the bill or regulation.

And Shaw--not only are we tending toward stricter controls--there's a good bit of dissent within the EU as well on this and other cheese issues.

I also don't think we can have too many of these articles which try to raise awareness--even if due to length restrictions the subjects can't be explored with the depth that some of us may prefer. Battling ignorance and raising awareness--of chefs and of the general public--has to start somewhere and in all, I appreciated the article even though it might not have been the most nuanced or original. For what it was trying to accomplish, it succeeded well, I thought.

Steve Klc

Pastry chef-Restaurant Consultant

Oyamel : Zaytinya : Cafe Atlantico : Jaleo

chef@pastryarts.com

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Here's what I don't understand. Isn't the Journal a subscription-only service? I pay good money for a subscription. Are non-subscribers finding that they can view the link above?

WSJ online makes some of the articles accessible, but most are not without a subscription to WSJ Online.

The Journal seems to allow many of its life-style and Weekend Journal items to flow over to the free side.

Subscribers may e-mail articles and abstracts to non-subscribers.

Apparently it's easier still to dictate the conversation and in effect, kill the conversation.

rancho gordo

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I hear that scallops are actually fish cheeks.

more likely to be punched out skate wings. since the scallop is really the adductor muscle that holds the shells together cut open the "scallop" and if the grain is vertical it's a scallop, horizontal and it's probably skate.

having opened bushels and bushels of these suckers as a young girl i ought to know

Nothing is better than frying in lard.

Nothing.  Do not quote me on this.

 

Linda Ellerbee

Take Big Bites

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Of all the aspects of this article, the one I found most interesting--most vague--and most worth following up on was the" Argentine beef end around by way of Australia angle." Somebody's going to get in trouble for that one--the writer, the source, the distributor or the aide responsible for the loophole in the bill or regulation.

I found the article a little vague and a little lose with the facts. I have a problem with things like that because they tend not to raise consciousness as much as they leave people confused about the problem

And Shaw--not only are we tending toward stricter controls--there's a good bit of dissent within the EU as well on this and other cheese issues.

Are we tending towards stricter controls on listeriosis, unpasturized cheeses or the use of place and product names that are controlled elsewhere? Possibly yes on the first, definitely yes and no on the second and I'm confused on the third. Louis, at DiPalo tells me a crack down on listeriosis has just begun last week and that the price of prosciutto is likely to rise as a new policy of inspecting every ham has been instituted. One can never be sure of the intent of this policy. Is it to reduce risk of listeriosis, or to limit import of foreign meat? There is certainly a campaign to eliminate all raw milk cheese, both imported and domestic, here in the US and a similar campaign in the European Community. On the other hand, the agricultural inspectors at the points of entry into the US, no longer seem concerned about small quantities of cheese you bring in for personal consumption as they are not a general health risk in the way contaminated meat might be.

I also don't think we can have too many of these articles which try to raise awareness--even if due to length restrictions the subjects can't be explored with the depth that some of us may prefer.  Battling ignorance and raising awareness--of chefs and of the general public--has to start somewhere and in all, I appreciated the article even though it might not have been the most nuanced or original.  For what it was trying to accomplish, it succeeded well, I thought.
It seemed a little muddy in spots. Sort of the same clarity and depth with which the subject might be covered on the five o'clock news. My best shot is the confusion added to the general store of knowledge in terms of camembert. In France, it is often made from pasturized milk for local consumption. One has to shop in the better stores to buy the raw milk variety. The name is not subject to the controls one might expect. Unilke brie and many other cheeses, camembert can be made most anywhere in France and thus it's far harder to complain that camembert from Vermont is also not camembert. A recent issue of The Art of Eating concluded that there may currently be no source of raw milk Epoisses. Although little of it may be heated to the temperature required by pasturization, all of the current supply is heated to some degree to kill germs. The caption under the photograph states that "true brie is moldier." Can anyone verify that? I may know what's meant, but if you've ever seen a piece of pasturized brie left in the back of my refirgerator, you'd understand it's moldier than blue cheese in France.

Clearly if there's a ban on beef from Argentina and beef is being shipped from Argentina to the US via Australia, Ms. McLaughlan has missed the far more important story. Chilean sea bass is not sea bass and as noted, a million fish are confusingly named to appeal to the ignorant consumer as are fruits and vegetables for the purpose of sales appeal. I think this is a different issue and the article starts to confuse apples and bananas with oranges. Do vegetarians eat beefsteak tomatoes?

Are the little round limes from outside Florida so different? The limes we find in Puerto Rico, where they are known as limons can be yellow or light green but generally lighter in color than Persian limes. The difference in color between the juices is less great, but so much of commercial dessert in the US is phoney that this is the least of the misleading labeling, in my opinion.

I believe she's just plain wrong on the balsamic vinegar issue and gives misleading information. She confuses "traditizionale" balsamic with ordinary commerical imitations without offering the reader one clue about finding what she considers the real stuff.

I assume she's dead on about the wasabi because I know nothing about it. I fear the general public will assume she's dead on about the other stuff they inow nothing about and that's why I think the article is not helpful in raising awareness. I don't think you can battle ignorance by offering half truths. But this is the WSJ. People tell me they find the food coverage good there, but when I'm led to a story, I find it no more helpful than the lower middle level of the NY Times.

---

Fish cheeks, by the way, are a delicacy possibly even greater than scallops and not likely to be sold as scallops. As far as truth in advertising goes in food terms, I suppose the vendors of skate scallops might point the finger at those who proffer veal scallops and scalloped potatoes on the public. Of course they'd need to sell them as "skate scallops" and not as scallops first.

Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

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Good observations Bux. Unfortunately, what she wrote may have been condensed or edited down and in final form ended up like what, 600-700 words? Your thoughtful and in depth response alone might be 1,000 words. (Do we have a "word count" feature in this software Shaw?) Would that Katy have had that much freedom.

Maybe I'm just in an uncharacteristically charitable mood today but this was a mainstream piece--yes the equivalent of a 5 o'clock news bite in the grand scheme of things culinary--but even the 5 o'clock news is capable of putting an issue or concern on someone's radar prompting them to look elsewhere for some more in depth information.

Like to eGullet. Each of the specific examples she mentions would fill up threads here on their own. In fact, we could do tens of thousands of words on any individual topic--balsamic, key limes, Chilean sea bass, etc--while she had a few hundred to survey them all.

Somewhat vague means they're trying--and is still good in my book as long as it isn't intentionally obtuse, deliberately biased or designed to mis-inform. Somewhat vague means there's a need for things like Ed Behr's Art of Eating (when he's not assessing the significance of Heston Blumenthal that is) and for us to post at eGullet. I'm glad there is that need.

Plus, I have to admit I have different expectations from Katy and a piece like this in the WSJ than a comparable piece in our national paper of record. (I know, I'm being charitable.)

Steve Klc

Pastry chef-Restaurant Consultant

Oyamel : Zaytinya : Cafe Atlantico : Jaleo

chef@pastryarts.com

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Perhaps I'm being uncharitable and perhaps my criticism should be directed towards the WSJ or its editors. In any event it was not personally critical of Ms. McLaughlan, but of the article as it appeared. Maybe the WSJ should have allocated just a little more space for such an important topic.

Unfortunately, what she wrote may have been condensed or edited down and in final form ended up like what, 600-700 words? Your thoughtful and in depth response alone might be 1,000 words.
Maybe I could use an editor.

Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

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Special K: When you're composing or editing a post you can click "Check Message Length" just to the left of the main text window. This gives you a character count, not a word count. But if you divide by about 6 (average English word length of 5 characters plus 1 space) you'll get a decent word-count estimate.

Bux's post was 5351 characters. My method would give an 891 word count. Actual word count on the post, tested in MS Word, is 945. Close enough though not exact.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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I have found both the article and this thread following to be very interesting. I guess I just always assumed that when I was ordering a salad with a balsamic vinagrette for $6 it was NOT got going to be the real McCoy and was under the assumption that everyone else knew the same. Now if I was at a very nice restaurant and ordered a fish with a balsamic glaze for $75 I would expect it to be real. Maybe they should continue referring to the fake stuff as balsamic vinegar and call the "true" stuff balsamic tradizionale.

As for the wasabi, living in Japan I eat this stuff all the time. Go into most restaurants or anybody's home and ask for wasabi and you will be handed a green tube. Ask for it in a supermarket and you will be led to the condiment aisle instead of produce. Everyone knows what the real stuff is and don't think anyone in this country feels mislead by the food industry labeling. Of course in the US where wasabi is not as familiar, it could be confusing.

Someone mentioned finding key limes in an Asian store, where those the Japanese sudachi? I just used them 2 days ago and when i read that article I was wondering if these where true key limes or a very close relative. They are a little smaller than golf balls, have quite a few seeds and taste like limes but not quite as acidic. Their season is fall/winter over year aren't that expensive, I bought 3 for 128 yen, so a little more than $1.

Kristin Wagner, aka "torakris"

 

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