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lancastermike

Do you think I'm in trouble?

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We have been invited out to eat tomorrow night by friends. They are taking us to a fairly new Italian place. I looked at the menu online and saw this:

"Extra wide fettuccine pasta tossed with prosciutto, mushrooms, green peas and a hint of cream"

It's that hint of cream that has me worried. Not the cream itself, but that description. How many ounces in a hint? Is that supposed to be clever? It certainly is not original.

I sure hope the cooking is better than the writing.

I am fearful of this place already. Anyone agree?

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Nah, they wanted to say "it's only got a bit of cream, so don't expect a 'cream sauce,' and don't panic about the fat content -- it's health food, we swear" but it didn't fit on the menu.


Chris Hennes
Director of Operations
chennes@egullet.org

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Having googled the phrase enshrined above and discovered what I believe to be the website of the joint, I'd suggest that you have a 60% chance of having a meal of approximately the same quality as 95% of the other mid-level Italian places you've eaten at in your life (though in nicer surroundings than Luigi's Pasta Grotto and its ilk); a 25% chance of a better than average meal and a 15% chance of unfortunate glop.

For reasons I do not readily comprehend, even good chefs tend to put their websites and menus under the supervision of wordsmiths whose heavy hands are matched only by their soaring pretense; turgid menu prose is not necessarily linked to turgid cuisine. And, in this case, note that the descriptions are relatively straightforward if -- as you noticed -- somewhat imprecise. It could be worse.

Best of luck.


I'm on the pavement

Thinking about the government.

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According to my books, a hint is three times as much as an inkling, but only half as much as an innuendo.

Are you on a diet? Maybe the chef can use light cream. Or cut the amount to two inklings.


Notes from the underbelly

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Yeah, turgid prose on a menu description generally makes me want to run the other direction, fast. Most of my favorite places don't even bother with a description beyond the title of the dish - and that's the way I like it. You want more exposition, ask the server.

I've noticed an opposite tendency at trendy restaurants though...just listing the ingredients and maybe (maybe) the preparation style. It's a bare bones approach, but I kind of like the element of surprise.

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And once in a while....good, pedestrian, North American/Italian food is a good thing. For me at least.

Possibly not authentic...but yummy. To get all bent out of shape about "a hint of cream"? They probably just mean a small amount as opposed to a deluge.

No, I wouldn't be fearful. I've got sort of bigger issues in life to fear than a menu description.

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"Extra wide fettuccine pasta..."

As in pappardelle.

Broader than spaghetti pasta and more suitable for the condimenti than baguette bread.


"Viciousness in the kitchen.

The potatoes hiss." --Sylvia Plath

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I dont think I would rush to a place that "hinted" at cream


why am I always at the bottom and why is everything so high? 

why must there be so little me and so much sky?

Piglet 

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Some of their other menu items sound a lot scarier:

Sacchette di Prosciutto

Prosciutto & fontina pasta purses in a ground beef, crimini mushrooms, green peas in a rose sauce (sic)

Pasta Primavera

A base variety of fresh vegetables tossed with whole wheat fettuccini with a light olive oil and basil

Let's hope it's the menu-writer!


Overheard at the Zabar’s prepared food counter in the 1970’s:

Woman (noticing a large bowl of cut fruit): “How much is the fruit salad?”

Counterman: “Three-ninety-eight a pound.”

Woman (incredulous, and loud): “THREE-NINETY EIGHT A POUND ????”

Counterman: “Who’s going to sit and cut fruit all day, lady… YOU?”

Newly updated: my online food photo extravaganza; cook-in/eat-out and photos from the 70's

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are you serious,,,,,, a hint of cream,,, jesus, id stay away. Or you could stop being obsessive and just go and try and to enjoy the food, i mean its not a life altering meal that your expecting, give the guy a break, seems like you have already judged the cuisine before its been served.....for no reason

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Well, it could be worse. They could have gone with "a thimble of cream" or "a shoe full of cream" or "a hammock of cream." But anyway, the dish's description is a little silly, but I assume you're going for the food, not the literature. I've been disappointed by food that had a great, clear description and enjoyed food from menu descriptions I couldn't even decipher. You never know how it will go when you try a new place.

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"Extra wide fettuccine pasta..."

As in pappardelle.

Broader than spaghetti pasta and more suitable for the condimenti than baguette bread.

Darn! Someone beat me to it!

But your reply was much funnier than mine would have been. :laugh:

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.....seems like you have already judged the cuisine before its been served.....for no reason

I do that..am I wrong? I thought that was what posting a menu was all about .. judging cuisine before you order!! :smile:

besides it is much better dis it before you go to your self (ok and the whole Egullet board) than at the table pointing and laughing ..or even trashing it to the servers as I have seen people do!


Edited by hummingbirdkiss (log)

why am I always at the bottom and why is everything so high? 

why must there be so little me and so much sky?

Piglet 

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We have been invited out to eat tomorrow night by friends. They are taking us to a fairly new Italian place.  I looked at the menu online and saw this:

"Extra wide fettuccine pasta tossed with prosciutto, mushrooms, green peas and a hint of cream"

It's that hint of cream that has me worried. Not the cream itself, but that description.  How many ounces in a hint?   Is that supposed to be clever? It certainly is not original.

I sure hope the cooking is better than the writing.

I am fearful of this place already.  Anyone agree?

I would not be fearful of the place on these grounds alone. The dish has the ring of authenticity. As an experienced translator of Italian food lit, I can tell you this is not that bad, and the description is quite accurate. A hint would be approximately equal to a splash and, as others have pointed out, the writer wished to communicate that the cream is very much in the background. The dish, very retro, is still served in some trattorias of Rome. The small quantity of cream used to be needed (or such is my reconstruction) as a medium for distributions of the solids in non-tomato sauces. This used to be accomplished with large quantities of oil or pork fat or else cream. Today we have super designer pastas with wonderful starchy water to mix with the condiment and don't need these other aids so much. The writer was really just telling you to relax.

I doubt very much that the writer sought either cleverness or originality, nor would either even be appropriate in the sort of place that would serve this. The correct spelling of "fettuccine" -- or did you edit? -- more than cancels out the awkwardness of the hint.

I can't think of an Italian word being translated here unless possibly "una suggestione". The Italian would be more likely "un goccio," a drop (but not a literal drop, which would be goccia), and might well be omitted from the ingredient list. Nowadays Italians are just as obsessive about cream as anyone else.


Edited by Maureen B. Fant (log)

Maureen B. Fant
www.maureenbfant.com

www.elifanttours.com

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Pasta Primavera

A base variety of fresh vegetables tossed with whole wheat fettuccini with a light olive oil and basil

I love the phrase "base variety of fresh vegetables". I think they mean it's a vegetable base, but you could also read "base" to mean "lowly", "beneath contempt", or "substandard".


Edited by Batard (log)

"There's nothing like a pork belly to steady the nerves."

Fergus Henderson

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We have been invited out to eat tomorrow night by friends.

Let's assume your friends are inviting you out for the company, not the food critique. Go. Enjoy the evening. Comment on the food AFTER you get home, unless otherwise asked. Remember to thank your companions for the night out, even if you all pay your own way.

Things could be much, much worse.

oh, is a "hint" less than or more than a "touch"


Karen Dar Woon

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Well, we went and it was fine. Nothing special or anything but fine. To all who took offense at my post let me express my regrets. It really was offered as a light hearted one by me. Perhaps I came off too strident. I really did mean it to be sort of a joke.

We did, of course, have a great time with our friends and enjoyed their hospitality greatly. I did not have the dish with the "hint" of cream. i did have some nice pasta. The salads were ordinary and the salmon special my wife got was over cooked and tasteless. The bread service was very good and the coffee fresh and hot.

A good time was had by all and I really am not a grumpy snob.

Now, there is this Chinese place we go to that says on the menu that one of their dishes has a 'suspicion' of garlic......


Edited by lancastermike (log)

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Well, we went and it was fine. Nothing special or anything but fine.  To all who took offense at my post let me express my regrets. It really was offered as a light hearted one by me. Perhaps I came off too strident.  I really did mean it to be sort of a joke.

We did, of course, have a great time with our friends and enjoyed their hospitality greatly.  I did not have the dish with the "hint" of cream.  i did have some nice pasta. The salads were ordinary and the salmon special my wife got was over cooked and tasteless. The bread service was very good and the coffee fresh and hot.

A good time was had by all and I really am not a grumpy snob.

Now, there is this Chinese place we go to that says on the menu that one of their dishes has a 'suspicion' of garlic......

I don't think anyone was offended and, like you, I often peruse websites, menu adjectives, the font and condition of the sign above the door and any other clue I can find to suss out the quality and nature of the place where I'm about to dine.

As for the reasoning behind "suspicion" (and any other general comments anyone might have regarding menu wording in all its absurd glory, click here.


I'm on the pavement

Thinking about the government.

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I just saw a menu for a place that I'm going to this weekend- mussels with a "pinch" of cream. Now that one I just can't make sense of..... :wink:

Glad your experience wasn't too disastrous! Sometimes I just gotta remember the people writing the menu and the people making the food are often different folks.


Edited by Sony (log)

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