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Why does so much food suck?


lancastermike
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Funny: I just got back from lunch at a place that probably ought to fall in this category but doesn't really, and the first thing I do is click on the link in the e-mail from Fat Guy and see this discussion.

When dividend referred to what lancastermike ordered as "food we as eGulleteers thumb our noses at," I don't think she was referring to the type of fare served; there are whole clubs on some eG forums devoted to seeking out really good pizza, or great burgers, or real fried chicken -- and I've seen enough posts from White Castle fans and Popeyes devotees like me to know that fast food is not automatically disqualified from consideration as good food. What she was referring to was the care, or lack thereof, evidenced in the preparation, or lack thereof.

As Fat Guy pointed out above, Sysco products come in several grades, and from what I can tell, the Classic grade is good enough that a self-respecting restaurant could serve it with pride and still not charge too much. (At the Reading Terminal Market's Iron Chef-style cookoff featuring some of Pennsylvania's best chefs this year, about half of the items in the common pantry the competitors used were Classic Sysco products: Sysco Foodservice of Central Pennsylvania participates in the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture's "PA Preferred" marketing program and was a co-sponsor of the cook-off, which also featured Pennsylvania products.)

The burger and fries I just ate at Tom Jones Restaurant in Brookhaven -- a busy and inexpensive 24-hour eatery popular with Widener students -- were clearly foodservice products, but they were competently prepared; the fries were not mushy inside as some badly made frozen fries are, and the burger was cooked exactly medium (as rare as the restaurant allows; my waitress told me, "We don't allow any pink in our burgers." I blame the Delaware County Health Department and the lawyers, not her or Tom Jones' management, for this state of affairs).

When lancastermike says "it's not that hard" to make non-sucky food, I believe that what he means is that you really don't have to knock yourself out to make food that is of acceptable quality and taste -- not great food, just good food. The kitchen staff at the place he visited -- which I note he left unnamed, no doubt to protect the guilty -- didn't even bother putting out that minimal effort; nor, it appears, did the people responsible for buying the basic ingredients. Even junk-food-loving eGulleteers, I submit, would thumb their noses at such fare.

Edited by MarketStEl (log)

Sandy Smith, Exile on Oxford Circle, Philadelphia

"95% of success in life is showing up." --Woody Allen

My foodblogs: 1 | 2 | 3

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One more thing: Confidential to lancastermike: The next time you're in the area, you should make it a point to visit the Grey Lodge Public House on Frankford Avenue in Mayfair. This place is everything the pub you visited could be if the owners bothered to care.

Sandy Smith, Exile on Oxford Circle, Philadelphia

"95% of success in life is showing up." --Woody Allen

My foodblogs: 1 | 2 | 3

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It sucks to be me!!! The good news is I have found a brotherhood of passionate foodies that share in my frustration with our great nation. I believe that if some polititian would be bold enough to entangle culinary/hotel school with the public school lunch program, this would be an excellent way for our nation to educate a new generation of cultured consumers.

I am a Chef at a Country Club in New England. These people have money to burn, but not on food!!!

It was mentioned earlier about what Americans are willing to spend on the stuff. Read the book "Fat Land" for a little on this.

A young man, the son of a club member, who worked in my kitchen, asked his dad why he didn't like to buy the chef's specials, and try the suggested wine with the courses. His father, a successful stock broker, told him that it was a waste of money! You should see these ANIMALS at events with the piles of cocktail shrimp on their plates, and whatever else (carved tenderloin)that they percieve as "valuable"; they are absolute pigs. At the end of business, they complain at the cost, and don't want to raise the price for the next years event. These people have the wherewithall to make a difference. The problem is that they don't care, and don't place any value on it.

As far as crappy food in bars and restaurants, the food end of the business is a drain on the profits, which has also been stated. Add up the hourly payroll in the kitchen and you get the picture, not to mention the square footage required, investment in equipment and repairs, codes and everything else. Its hard to make any money if you want to do thing right. The chains have made it idiot proof and work through the magic of volume. For the little guy trying to make a living, its much easier to invest in a fryer & sell freezer treats to go with a bottle of the number 1 selling beer.

I really have a big problem with the tipping system in the US. It absolutely sucks that a person with no food background can work less hours than a professionally trained cook, and sometimes Sous chef, and consistently walk out suffed with cash! Im sure Thomas Keller agrees with this as well. I read an article on that subject, but I'm not sure what he ended up doing about it.

Feel free to bring me up to speed on it if you know.

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Well, the things the OP ordered are things that are easier to do poorly than to do correctly.  Forgive me for stating the obvious here.  I'd imagine it's easy to not change the frying oil a couple of times, and fried food that's been left to sit easier than frying to order.   As for pizza, it's certainly easier to heat up prefab than it is to make from scratch, which would be impractical for a non pizza specific place.  As for sushi, well, doing sushi well is hard.   So I think it's pretty easy to see why that round of food would suck.

Alot of American palates are conditioned around food that we as eGulleters thumb our noses at.  It's not going to change.  I know that the only thing I can do is choose to support the places I really beleive in when I do eat out.  That's why I can name 30 restaurants in my area I would like to eat at before I get to a single chain restaurant (except Chipotle  :wub: ).  I'm constantly sharing these places with my freinds and family, fighting the good fight.   So if where I choose to spend my dining dollars has any impact as a vote, I'm voting for the places that care, the places where the food doesn't suck.

I understand that some of us do thumb our noses at food or whatever, but I'm not in that mix. It might not be fair to generalize to that extent. I like thumb nosing food. I like nosed thumb food. I like some kinds of crappy food and I ain't afraid to say so. And I don't thumb my nose at anything.

signed,

an eGulleter

Funny:  I just got back from lunch at a place that probably ought to fall in this category but doesn't really, and the first thing I do is click on the link in the e-mail from Fat Guy and see this discussion.

When dividend referred to what lancastermike ordered as "food we as eGulleteers thumb our noses at," I don't think she was referring to the type of fare served; there are whole clubs on some eG forums devoted to seeking out really good pizza, or great burgers, or real fried chicken -- and I've seen enough posts from White Castle fans and Popeyes devotees like me to know that fast food is not automatically disqualified from consideration as good food.  What she was referring to was the care, or lack thereof, evidenced in the preparation, or lack thereof.

As Fat Guy pointed out above, Sysco products come in several grades, and from what I can tell, the Classic grade is good enough that a self-respecting restaurant could serve it with pride and still not charge too much.  (At the Reading Terminal Market's Iron Chef-style cookoff featuring some of Pennsylvania's best chefs this year, about half of the items in the common pantry the competitors used were Classic Sysco products: Sysco Foodservice of Central Pennsylvania participates in the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture's "PA Preferred" marketing program and was a co-sponsor of the cook-off, which also featured Pennsylvania products.)

The burger and fries I just ate at Tom Jones Restaurant in Brookhaven -- a busy and inexpensive 24-hour eatery popular with Widener students -- were clearly foodservice products, but they were competently prepared; the fries were not mushy inside as some badly made frozen fries are, and the burger was cooked exactly medium (as rare as the restaurant allows; my waitress told me, "We don't allow any pink in our burgers."  I blame the Delaware County Health Department and the lawyers, not her or Tom Jones' management, for this state of affairs).

When lancastermike says "it's not that hard" to make non-sucky food, I believe that what he means is that you really don't have to knock yourself out to make food that is of acceptable quality and taste -- not great food, just good food.  The kitchen staff at the place he visited -- which I note he left unnamed, no doubt to protect the guilty -- didn't even bother putting out that minimal effort; nor, it appears, did the people responsible for buying the basic ingredients.  Even junk-food-loving eGulleteers, I submit, would thumb their noses at such fare.

Ok I get your point. Let me illumine mine. For example turning our collective nose up at something is quite a bit different than thumbing our beaks. The first is 'no way will I eat that.' The second is disdain 'for a lot of American palates conditioned to eat that way and without resolution'. That's a huge statement.

If the weak/ill/bad preperation is ever to be even partly addressed/fixed, I would venture that a softer approach would bring better results.

Mushified french fries are not confined to the frozen variety.

Am I understanding that one wants to counter a lack of regard for food prep/handling with what? What is the resolution? Not ridicule.

Are we surprised that the ordinary amongst us not only create but are satisfied with ordinary? I just don't see it rising to this heightened level.

And nobody's gonna come around ask what's cooking if we filet/scorn them first.

One gets more flies with honey, does it have to be organically prepared?

This line edited>> Read. Discuss. Chew. It's big wide open. Y'all come. Come & dine. Chow time type of thing. Open means more.

We are each a part of each other.

Edited by K8memphis (log)
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You know, there are a lot of places that serve food that people don't go to for the food. No one ever joined a country club for the food (though we hope Steverino can win some fans and converts :wink: ). People go to bars for the music or the sex or the extraordinary coolness of the place -- there are brilliant bars that don't serve anything besides potato chips and pickled eggs. Cooking good food always costs more and takes more time than cooking bad food. Why would we expect an establishment whose success turns on the quality of its fairways or its bands or its attitude to spend that extra money on something that its clients aren't there to care about?

Given that this whole topic began with a post about about going to hear music, it sounds like people are looking for food in all the wrong places. I went to a local club the other night and had a cruddy burger and indifferent barbecue. Well, they have to serve 500 people who didn't come for the food in the hour before the opening act comes on -- what did I expect? Cassoulet?

I'm on the pavement

Thinking about the government.

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Ok I get your point. Let me illumine mine. For example turning our collective nose up at something is quite a bit different than thumbing our beaks. The first is 'no way will I eat that.' The second is disdain 'for a lot of American palates conditioned to eat that way and without resolution'. That's a huge statement.

If the weak/ill/bad preperation is ever to be even partly addressed/fixed, I would venture that a softer approach would bring better results.

Mushified french fries are not confined to the frozen variety.

Am I understanding that one wants to counter a lack of regard for food prep/handling with what? What is the resolution? Not ridicule.

Are we surprised that the ordinary amongst us not only create but are satisfied with ordinary? I just don't see it rising to this heightened level.

And nobody's gonna come around ask what's cooking if we filet/scorn them first.

I get your point, and the distinction you were trying to make. In that context, the choice of phrase was unfortunate, for I think we agree on the basic point. We're talking about "no way would I eat that crap" food, not food you eat to satisfy your status anxiety more than your hunger.

You can pay next to nothing for the former, OR you can pay dearly for it. And some of the food in the latter category falls in the former too.

One gets more flies with honey, does it have to be organically prepared?

:laugh::laugh::laugh::laugh::laugh:

Read. Discuss. Chew. It doesn't say spit.

You only do that over in the Wine forum when you're running a tasting.

You know, there are a lot of places that serve food that people don't go to for the food.  No one ever joined a country club for the food (though we hope Steverino can win some fans and converts :wink: ).  People go to bars for the music or the sex or the extraordinary coolness of the place -- there are brilliant bars that don't serve anything besides potato chips and pickled eggs.  Cooking good food always costs more and takes more time than cooking bad food.  Why would we expect an establishment whose success turns on the quality of its fairways or its bands or its attitude to spend that extra money on something that its clients aren't there to care about?

Given that this whole topic began with a post about about going to hear music, it sounds like people are looking for food in all the wrong places.  I went to a local club the other night and had a cruddy burger and indifferent barbecue.  Well, they have to serve 500 people who didn't come for the food in the hour before the opening act comes on -- what did I expect?  Cassoulet?

True, and I think I understand what you're trying to say about food served at places people don't go to for the food.

Frankly, a brilliant bar that serves only potato chips and pickled eggs is not the kind of place we're talking about here. It is honest about what it is, and if the potato chips are tasty and the pickled eggs decent, then it doesn't belong in this discussion, for the food it does serve doesn't suck.

But if you're going to bother to serve anything more than that, is it really that much costlier to pay some attention to what you're serving? Maybe not for a really busy bar, since turning out that much edible food for an army of drinkers might tax the kitchen, which is probably no bigger than the bar's bathroom. But if that's the case, then I would hope that the establishment isn't using its food as an enticement to visit. (Because of the laws governing Sunday sales at licensed taverns in Pennsylvania, there are many bars in the Keystone State that serve food purely as an afterthought in order to meet the revenue requirement. Still others open their kitchens only when they think the Liquor Control Board is watching.)

It sounded to me like the place Mike visited was using its food as a selling point along with the rest of the experience it offered. If I'm wrong, please correct me, Mike.

Edited to remove redundant word.

Edited by MarketStEl (log)

Sandy Smith, Exile on Oxford Circle, Philadelphia

"95% of success in life is showing up." --Woody Allen

My foodblogs: 1 | 2 | 3

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Given that this whole topic began with a post about about going to hear music, it sounds like people are looking for food in all the wrong places.  I went to a local club the other night and had a cruddy burger and indifferent barbecue.  Well, they have to serve 500 people who didn't come for the food in the hour before the opening act comes on -- what did I expect?  Cassoulet?

.... Frankly, a brilliant bar that serves only potato chips and pickled eggs is not the kind of place we're talking about here. It is honest about what it is, and if the potato chips are tasty and the pickled eggs decent, then it doesn't belong in this discussion, for the food it does serve doesn't suck.

But if you're going to bother to serve anything more than that, is it really that much costlier to pay some attention to what you're serving?

If one calculates the potential future revenue loss impact caused by sloppy practices such as using old dirty oil in the fryolator - it makes good business sense to spend the couple extra dollars (literally) and a few extra minutes of time to engage in sound kitchen management practices. That's true even if the kitchen is the size of the closet and your pantry consists of a freezer full of basic Sysco products or stuff purchased at a wholesale club.

When I lived in the NYC area I went on a semi-regular basis to the BB King Club on 42nd Street for live music. There was a $10 food or drink minimum per person and as a non-drinker I was always looking for a reasonable food choice. But the fact is that I'd typically have either a couple of sodas and then a dessert with coffee - a tab of about $20. Better revenue for the owners.

Then on one visit I finally ordered "real" food - a fruit and cheese platter. I can live with the fact that the platter was pre-assembled and pulled from a walk-in cooler immediately before serving. But couldn't they at least have used crackers that weren't ice cold? And... worst of all... the ball of "fried brie cheese" was pre-fried and ice cold - it too had come straight from the walk-in cooler! I never ordered food there again despite continuing to visit for music shows.

It's not rocket science and the food doesn't need to be great for me to spend extra money when I visit a nightclub.Bbut I don't think it's unreasonable to expect that it at least meet the standards of food I could buy at the corner gas station convenience store.

At least once every year when I'm in the DC area I have dinner from the Birchmere Menu before seeeing a show there. It's always basic stuff - a club sandwich with chips or a some pulled pork with fries and coleslaw. It's never great but it's always acceptable - and that's good enough because I like the convenience. In a typical crowd of 500 peopel for a show they usually have about 150 - 200 who eat dinner and another 100 or so who at leasts order snacks (nachos, wings or the like). If they did a really crappy job with the food those numbers would be cut in half or more over time because they rely on lots of repeat business. When I do the math I think any smart business person (and even plenty of dumb ones) would want that extra revenue.

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Given that this whole topic began with a post about about going to hear music, it sounds like people are looking for food in all the wrong places.  I went to a local club the other night and had a cruddy burger and indifferent barbecue.  Well, they have to serve 500 people who didn't come for the food in the hour before the opening act comes on -- what did I expect?  Cassoulet?

.... Frankly, a brilliant bar that serves only potato chips and pickled eggs is not the kind of place we're talking about here. It is honest about what it is, and if the potato chips are tasty and the pickled eggs decent, then it doesn't belong in this discussion, for the food it does serve doesn't suck.

But if you're going to bother to serve anything more than that, is it really that much costlier to pay some attention to what you're serving?

If one calculates the potential future revenue loss impact caused by sloppy practices such as using old dirty oil in the fryolator - it makes good business sense to spend the couple extra dollars (literally) and a few extra minutes of time to engage in sound kitchen management practices. That's true even if the kitchen is the size of the closet and your pantry consists of a freezer full of basic Sysco products or stuff purchased at a wholesale club.

When I lived in the NYC area I went on a semi-regular basis to the BB King Club on 42nd Street for live music. There was a $10 food or drink minimum per person and as a non-drinker I was always looking for a reasonable food choice. But the fact is that I'd typically have either a couple of sodas and then a dessert with coffee - a tab of about $20. Better revenue for the owners.

Then on one visit I finally ordered "real" food - a fruit and cheese platter. I can live with the fact that the platter was pre-assembled and pulled from a walk-in cooler immediately before serving. But couldn't they at least have used crackers that weren't ice cold? And... worst of all... the ball of "fried brie cheese" was pre-fried and ice cold - it too had come straight from the walk-in cooler! I never ordered food there again despite continuing to visit for music shows.

It's not rocket science and the food doesn't need to be great for me to spend extra money when I visit a nightclub.Bbut I don't think it's unreasonable to expect that it at least meet the standards of food I could buy at the corner gas station convenience store.

At least once every year when I'm in the DC area I have dinner from the Birchmere Menu before seeeing a show there. It's always basic stuff - a club sandwich with chips or a some pulled pork with fries and coleslaw. It's never great but it's always acceptable - and that's good enough because I like the convenience. In a typical crowd of 500 peopel for a show they usually have about 150 - 200 who eat dinner and another 100 or so who at leasts order snacks (nachos, wings or the like). If they did a really crappy job with the food those numbers would be cut in half or more over time because they rely on lots of repeat business. When I do the math I think any smart business person (and even plenty of dumb ones) would want that extra revenue.

But you're hardly representative of the target audience (btw, the Birchmere was the club I was talking about when I mentioned the crappy hamburger up-thread). And, as for the general economics of hiring a better cook, hiring more cooks, changing the oil more often, renting a larger space and buying better produce versus the increased revenue from additional food (in an establishment whose main draw is something other than the food) I'd question your economics. People who make a success out of a club usually know their stuff -- it's a tough business to succeed in.

And, as for the Birchmere, I'll bet there not one diner in five made the decision to eat there based on the quality of the food. Instead, the did what I did -- got off work, made a quick calculation as to how far from the stage they'd have to sit if they stopped somewhere else to eat, and said "screw it, let's get there early and just order a burger and a pitcher of beer." (Next time either of us are there, btw, we should explore the many Salvadoran offerings in the neighborhood).

I'm on the pavement

Thinking about the government.

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So really, what you are saying is, the answer to the question "Why does so much food suck?" is one of the two Ur-Answers.

The two Ur-Answers are:

1. Time and Money

2. Sex and Money

I didn't notice anything in any of these responses that had to do with Ur-Answer 2, so I will guess that the correct answer to the question is Ur-Answer 1.

:smile:

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So really, what you are saying is, the answer to the question "Why does so much food suck?" is one of the two Ur-Answers.

The two Ur-Answers are:

1. Time and Money

2. Sex and Money

I didn't notice anything in any of these responses that had to do with Ur-Answer 2, so I will guess that the correct answer to the question is Ur-Answer 1.

:smile:

That's because I'm way too old and way too frequent establishments where the hook-up potential is the main draw. From what I can remember of those days, nobody went to those bars for the food, either. Did they even serve food? (Personally, I just went to them to have my ego bruised again and again, but I was stupid then).

I'm on the pavement

Thinking about the government.

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So really, what you are saying is, the answer to the question "Why does so much food suck?" is one of the two Ur-Answers.

The two Ur-Answers are:

1. Time and Money

2. Sex and Money

I didn't notice anything in any of these responses that had to do with Ur-Answer 2, so I will guess that the correct answer to the question is Ur-Answer 1.

:smile:

A former boss of mine once said to me, "Have you ever of "propensity to profit"?"

I once wanted to upgrade the miniature pastries that we were using to a much higher standard. In my thinking, it would set a better image of what kind of caterer we were, and obviously, I wanted to be able to take pride in what was coming from my kitchen. He was more concerned with making as much money as possible, and the current food spec was working for him.

On another occasion, on one of my first jobs with the caterer, they dressed me up in Chef whites, and took me to their Oktoberfest job at the Ski Lodge account. I was on the job only for a week. I was more or less there to see how they did this annual event, and to assist in its preparation. The GM, a J&W grad, took the saurkraut, without rinsing out the salt, and put it into the hotel pan to heat for service. I called him on it, and he said, "that's how we always do it." I had the conversation about trying to do things right, and he said that, "nobody knows the difference anyway."

Well, what happened that day is this; I was standing out there in my "Cute" little Chef uniform, and this German woman walked up to me, and said, "ARE YOU THE CHEF?" with a not so English accent. I said, well, kinda? I knew it was coming. "You call this German cooking?! This is disgraceful; you didn't even bother to wash the saurkraut!" She was up one side and down the other with me. The owner saw what was happening, and he came over and said,"Chef, you are needed in the kitchen." He says to me, "don't worry, everybody else thinks its great. Besides they're not here for the quality food, they're here for the Oompah show." I really wanted to quit right then and there. I was embarrassed, insulted, and furious!

So, you see, so much food sucks because the expectations of most pre-conditioned citizens are very low, and good food is not a priority,(unless you come from a background that it matters) and second, its economics; "We're in business to do business, and to make a profit."

My point, you can stick a uniform on anybody, the cheaper the better, and as long as no one is complaining, with the exception of the occasional trouble maker AKA "Old German Woman", most people are happy, as long as the percieved value is in play.

In todaays market, its less about the food, and more about the sizzle.

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Mmm hmmm. I thought of adding another Ur-Answer to my list that had to do with something along the lines of Sense and Sensibility or alternately something expressed in Zen-like or Martial Arts terms but simply couldn't pare it down to a simple expression. Yes, I know what you mean. (As you can see, below. :rolleyes: )

So much food sucks because that is what people are willing to pay for. Large, sucky portions on large, sucky plates served by large, sucky (or small sucky) servers who are only doing their job "till they can find something *better*".

A former boss of mine once said to me, "Have you ever of "propensity to profit"?"

I once wanted to upgrade the miniature pastries that we were using to a much higher standard. In my thinking, it would set a better image of what kind of caterer we were, and obviously, I wanted to be able to take pride in what was coming from my kitchen. He was more concerned with making as much money as possible, and the current food spec was working for him.

Earlier I also started to write a rant about poor management to post here, but just got exhausted at the whole thing and gave up on it. :biggrin:

Thank god for the voices of old German women that cry out in the wind through the sizzle, spark and pizazz of being oh so cute in chef's whites, voices that are angry about Sauerkraut Made Wrong. :wink:

And woe to all the poor managers who think dullardly thoughts about profits that are "good enough" built on shoddy performance. Could be, if there is an afterlife, they might have to eat moldy cold pizza made with a dough based on baking powder and cheese made from chemical leavings, for Eternity. :smile:

Edited by Carrot Top (log)
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I was unpleasantly surprised, while in a regionally well-regarded restaurant several years ago, to see the chef use Jaquin's port in my duck breast with port sauce prepared tableside. I guess that was a case of "propensity to profit" as well.

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You know, there are a lot of places that serve food that people don't go to for the food.  No one ever joined a country club for the food (though we hope Steverino can win some fans and converts :wink: ).  People go to bars for the music or the sex or the extraordinary coolness of the place -- there are brilliant bars that don't serve anything besides potato chips and pickled eggs.  Cooking good food always costs more and takes more time than cooking bad food.  Why would we expect an establishment whose success turns on the quality of its fairways or its bands or its attitude to spend that extra money on something that its clients aren't there to care about?

Given that this whole topic began with a post about about going to hear music, it sounds like people are looking for food in all the wrong places.  I went to a local club the other night and had a cruddy burger and indifferent barbecue.  Well, they have to serve 500 people who didn't come for the food in the hour before the opening act comes on -- what did I expect?  Cassoulet?

Dude. Chill

The place we went to certainly has music, but not every night. I am an old married guy and I don't know what the action is like at this place. They certainly pitch food, have a nice dining room, the place is right in the middle of town across from the courthouse and plies a lunch trade. So they are in the food business. I was not expecting cassoulet. The stuff they flopped in front of us was just simply no good at all on any level. So why do it? I think the money answer is it. The cheaper they can make it the more they can make. And I guess enough people go there to make it worth their while.

Currently, I am laid up with a bad back pending surgery. My mobility is limited. So, my wife wanted to go get something to eat and we went to a local diner because it was easy for me to get in an out of. She had a real diner meal. A hot turkey sandwich with mashed potatoes and gravy. I had an omlete. Nothing fancy but somebody cared about it and it was fine.

If you are going to push food of any kind, just don't disrespect the customers. I'd rather the place I first talked about just serve pretzels and chips and nuts. At least it would be honest

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Dude. Chill

The place we went to certainly has music, but not every night. I am an old married guy and I don't know what the action is like at this place.  They certainly pitch food, have a nice dining room, the place is right in the middle of town across from the courthouse and plies a lunch trade. So they are in the food business. I was not expecting cassoulet. The stuff they flopped in front of us was just simply no good at all on any level. So why do it?  I think the money answer is it. The cheaper they can make it the more they can make.  And I guess enough people go there to make it worth their while.

Currently, I am laid up with a bad back pending surgery. My mobility is limited. So, my wife wanted to go get something to eat and we went to a local diner because it was easy for me to get in an out of. She had a real diner meal. A hot turkey sandwich with mashed potatoes and gravy.  I had an omlete. Nothing fancy but somebody cared about it and it was fine. 

If you are going to push food of any kind, just don't disrespect the customers. I'd rather the place I first talked about just serve pretzels and chips and nuts. At least it would be honest

So I see I wasn't wrong.

I wonder how much washing the sauerkraut would have added to the cost of catering that event Stevarino worked?

I feel my rant about profit being the byproduct, not the product, coming on. I'd like to think that -- as the Ridder family learned the hard way -- people will realize when a business is concerned more about the profit than about how the profit is made and treat its products with the same contempt their maker shows for them. But apparently that's not the case a lot of the time when it comes to food. Perhaps it's because people need to have their palates (re-)educated -- after all, I suspect that the manager who reassured Stevarino that most of the people attending that Oktoberfest either didn't notice or didn't care that the kraut hadn't been washed was right. Ideally, we should be preparing food for that one old German woman who will notice, but in many volume businesses, the rule is to produce for the masses, not the discriminating consumer. And food, I guess, is a volume business.

Edited by MarketStEl (log)

Sandy Smith, Exile on Oxford Circle, Philadelphia

"95% of success in life is showing up." --Woody Allen

My foodblogs: 1 | 2 | 3

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I apologize if my post about thumbing our collective noses came off as exclusionary - that was not my intention. I guess I just get frustrated because so many of my friends simply don't notice if food we order is poor. I'm talking things like brown, wilted lettuce in a salad, oversalting to the point of overwhelming inedibility, a slice of pizza so old and cold that the grease has congealed, just objectively BAD food. These are things that I think the average eGulleter would reject, while alot of people I know eat food like that on a regular basis, and not only don't complain, it's like they don't know the difference. I tend to generalize my experience with my peer group more than I should, so forgive me.

"Nothing you could cook will ever be as good as the $2.99 all-you-can-eat pizza buffet." - my EX (wonder why he's an ex?)

My eGfoodblog: My corner of the Midwest

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I was unpleasantly surprised, while in a regionally well-regarded restaurant several years ago, to see the chef use Jaquin's port in my duck breast with port sauce prepared tableside.  I guess that was a case of "propensity to profit" as well.

See, I don't even know what the problem is here - I don't recognize Jaquin's - I assume that it is a low quality port and lowered the quality of the meal. I think that there are two things going on. One is truly crap food - the stuff that dividend refers to in the previous post. I can't imagine that anyone who bothers to post on egullet would not recognize it's 'crappyness' :biggrin: ! But the other issue is the sophistication level of one's palate - and even egulleteers are all over the place in that area. I know that I don't have a terribly sophisticated and educated palate. I'm not at all sure that I would have recognized the inferior quality of port that Meanderer mentions. I know that when I went to NYC awhile back, I ate at a couple of places that weren't held in high regard by NY egulleteers - and I loved them! I simply don't have the exposure to 'better' places and the discrimination to tell the difference, perhaps.

Does anyone agree that there are two different issues here? And which one are we discussing? :laugh:

Kim

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I apologize if my post about thumbing our collective noses came off as exclusionary - that was not my intention.  I guess I just get frustrated because so many of my friends simply don't notice if food we order is poor.  I'm talking things like brown, wilted lettuce in a salad, oversalting to the point of overwhelming inedibility, a slice of pizza so old and cold that the grease has congealed, just objectively BAD food.  These are things that I think the average eGulleter would reject, while alot of people I know eat food like that on a regular basis, and not only don't complain, it's like they don't know the difference.  I tend to generalize my experience with my peer group more than I should, so forgive me.

And please accept my apology as well. I should have pm'd you and asked you what you meant before I posted.

Let's raise a crunchy perfectly seasoned cyber french fry to each other in salute. :biggrin:

I don't know if it's the case with your friends, but sometimes folks who smoke cannot tell the difference between food and the container it came in. And folks with sinus trouble who can't smell which that's probably all of us a time or two a year anyways. Well yes then there's those that are just dumb as rocks but...we come here to learn! :biggrin: It's a big wide world.

Edited by K8memphis (log)
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See, I don't even know what the problem is here - I don't recognize Jaquin's - I assume that it is a low quality port and lowered the quality of the meal.

Charles Jacquin et Cie., Co. (yes, that's how the company styles its formal name) is a Philadelphia-based distiller that produces a few high-end brands (Chambord blackberry liqueur, Pravda vodka) and a raft of low-end spirits. (Edited to add: The company's historical claim to fame is that it is America's oldest producer of cordials.) Usually, when you go to a bar in Philadelphia and order a well drink, Jacquin's is what goes into your glass.

I didn't know they produced port, though.

Edited by MarketStEl (log)

Sandy Smith, Exile on Oxford Circle, Philadelphia

"95% of success in life is showing up." --Woody Allen

My foodblogs: 1 | 2 | 3

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It sucks to be me!!! The good news is I have found a brotherhood of passionate foodies that share in my frustration with our great nation. I believe that if some polititian would be bold enough to entangle culinary/hotel school with the public school lunch program, this would be an excellent way for our nation to educate a new generation of cultured consumers.

I am a Chef at a Country Club in New England. These people have money to burn, but not on food!!!

It was mentioned earlier about what Americans are willing to spend on the stuff. Read the book "Fat Land" for a little on this.

A young man, the son of a club member, who worked in my kitchen, asked his dad why he didn't like to buy the chef's specials, and try the suggested wine with the courses. His father, a successful stock broker, told him that it was a waste of money! You should see these ANIMALS at events with the piles of cocktail shrimp on their plates, and whatever else (carved tenderloin)that they percieve as "valuable"; they are absolute pigs. At the end of business, they complain at the cost, and don't want to raise the price for the next years event. These people have the wherewithall to make a difference. The problem is that they don't care, and don't place any value on it.

As far as crappy food in bars and restaurants, the food end of the business is a drain on the profits, which has also been stated. Add up the hourly payroll in the kitchen and you get the picture, not to mention the square footage required, investment in equipment and repairs, codes and everything else. Its hard to make any money if you want to do thing right. The chains have made it idiot proof and work through the magic of volume. For the little guy trying to make a living, its much easier to invest in a fryer & sell freezer treats to go with a bottle of the number 1 selling beer.

I really have a big problem with the tipping system in the US. It absolutely sucks that a person with no food background can work less hours than a professionally trained cook, and sometimes Sous chef, and consistently walk out suffed with cash! Im sure Thomas Keller agrees with this as well. I read an article on that subject, but I'm not sure what he ended up doing about it.

Feel free to bring me up to speed on it if you know.

Wow. This is basically my story as well. It's very distressing to try and cook really good food in a really nice facility and constantly get shot down and have to bang out liver and onion blue plate specials and such for people who can afford any kind of food imaginable....for some reason my club decided we needed some state-of-the-art cuisine and after extensive searching hired a very fine executive chef-for a while we were turning out some really nice, beautiful food-but of course food cost was higher than it ever had been, etc.-so of course he's no longer with us and we're back to prime rib and lobster-of course the way these folks slug down the booze they aren't really tasting anything. So this begs the question, if this is the way the upper echelon of society eats, should we really be surprised that Joe Average out there is satisfied with virtually any garbage thrown his way? American eating habits are changing, but not as much or as quickly as we would like to think, especially in the hinterlands. As far as tipping goes, my club officially has a no-tipping policy. So instead of servers being highly motivated to go the extra mile to make decent tips, there is absolutely no incentive for any of them to work any harder or do a better job than the lowest slacker on the team.

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Charles Jacquin et Cie., Co. (yes, that's how the company styles its formal name) is a Philadelphia-based distiller that produces a few high-end brands (Chambord blackberry liqueur, Pravda vodka) and a raft of low-end spirits.  (Edited to add: The company's historical claim to fame is that it is America's oldest producer of cordials.) Usually, when you go to a bar in Philadelphia and order a well drink, Jacquin's is what goes into your glass.

I didn't know they produced port, though.

Just a couple stickler type notes. Charles Jacquin et Cie., Co, doesn't (well didn't) really produce Chambord, they just own(ed) the company in France which produces it and then import(ed) it to the US. In 2006 they sold the Chambord brand and all related assets off to Brown-Forman for a reported $255 million.

---

Erik Ellestad

If the ocean was whiskey and I was a duck...

Bernal Heights, SF, CA

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You know, there are a lot of places that serve food that people don't go to for the food.  No one ever joined a country club for the food (though we hope Steverino can win some fans and converts :wink: ).  People go to bars for the music or the sex or the extraordinary coolness of the place...

I don't know about that at all. There was one bar I went to in Philly for no other reason than they had the best -- and cheapest -- cheesesteak in the neighborhood, and there was another I frequented largely on the strength of its chicken wings.

My favorite local watering hole is renowned for its stew, and I don't know if I'd devote quite so large a portion of my visits to NYC to McSorley's if they didn't have one of the best $5 lunches I've ever eaten.

Many bars use food to distinguish themselves from every other establishment in the neighborhood that has the same selection of beer. Get yourself a reputation for the best burgers or wings or chili in town, you have a leg in terms of attracting people who maybe eat a little more discriminatingly than they drink.

Edited by GordonD (log)
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I want to speak up in front of Joe American Average.

Joe American Average knows a good burger, a good pizza and a good steak when he finds one. All other factors being equal, he'll take a hand-ground burger cooked over the grill rather than a Big Mac, or a wood-fired oven pizza made from fresh ingredients rather than some frozen nonsense.

However, Joe American Average does not fetishize food the way some of us -- and I'm one of them -- tend to. All other things frequently are not equal, so issues of time and money mean Joe American Average is willing to settle for the lesser product, which he does not think is bad just because it isn't great.

I do not feel I am in any position to criticize his priorities.

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My friend and I went to a popular lunch place and ordered what is supposed to be a plate lunch they are 'famous for'. A pork chop and some roasted potatoes etc...

It arrived at the table looking bleak. I first noticed that it was quite charred (which I think is a nice way of saying burnt), tasted it anyway, it was cold and burnt. ????? I don't know how they managed that. The potatoes on the other hand looked and tasted half raw. By the time I had assessed the whole situation, I looked up at my friend who had by this time nearly finished her chop which did not look any better than mine. She was working her way through the potatoes, when I caught the server and told her that the chop was burnt and cold. The server then said to me "it is supposed to be cooked that way." I told her I did not want it and to please take it away. She did in a huff and brought it back warmed. I simply did not eat it.

Meanwhile my friend had completed her meal said to me "you are right, it was no good."

What is to be done????. The truth is people- and particularly Americans (in my experience) DO NOT KNOW good food. It takes experience with good foods and some education. Most Americans have very little experience or education of that kind. All you need as proof is a trip to the local supermarket and peer into most carts. It is a shame.

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