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PSmith

Your most disliked trend in the food industry.

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There is an Emperor's new clothes vibe to the attitude of some( and I stress some ) adherents of modernist cuisine . In my opinion , those that employ these new techniques well, are those that don't use them just for the sake of using them. They just view them as additional tools and techniques in their cooking repertoire that can best achieve the result they desire. Progress is a great thing but a one dimensional approach to life or cooking is just boring for my taste.

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The barbeque craze, everyone that watches the barbeque shows and owns a pit thinks they are pitmasters, which is ok if they wouldn't open restaurants and charge people for their "barbeque". Same for the cupcake craze.

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Yeah, I know celiac is a real and serious illness, but the whole "gluten free" craze is driving me nuts. It had become a marketing gimmick that bestows the aura of "healthy" on anything. Now everyone and their mother thinks they are "gluten intolerant".

Same with the latest new "super berry from the Amazon rainforest" BS.

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Same with the latest new "super berry from the Amazon rainforest" BS.

Haha! :laugh: ... But the antioxidants, the precious precious amazonian antioxidants will heal your relationship woes!!! :rolleyes:

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I get (perhaps irrationally) irritated by over-specific listings of the source of every ingredient.

I bet 90% of diners have never heard of Mrs Smith's duck farm or Mr Jones' salt beds and couldn't find them on a map if they tried. And I bet most don't care.

"Locally produced" will do for me.

It always amazes me how verbose many chefs get on menus but they don't have time to say a simple word like "prepare".

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I get (perhaps irrationally) irritated by over-specific listings of the source of every ingredient.

Me too - next they will be giving the GPS co-ordinates of where the cow/sheep/duck etc was born. Or maybe one of those smart phone barcodes that will take you to the farm's website.

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In Ontario, restaurants have to cook ground beef to well-done. When we first came here from the States, I couldn't stand the hamburgers because of that. But now I've got used to it and medium-rare, which was how I ate burgers for 40 years, taste raw and icky. Funny how what you're used to becomes "good".

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I'm annoyed by the creep of marketing-speak into restaurant dining rooms. I don't want to hear about your "wine program" or "cocktail program". It's a wine list, or a cocktail menu....when I hear the word program applied in this context, it automatically makes me think about managed costs and markup, which erases any feelings of genuine hospitality. Leave the b-school jargon behind, please. Ditto for the kitchen jargon delivered by waiters in describing specials...."fired to medium rare" or "baked off to golden brown".

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Ditto for the kitchen jargon delivered by waiters in describing specials...."fired to medium rare" or "baked off to golden brown".

I actually like when waiters describe the specials - you're already eating there, it hardly seems like legitimate advertising at that point.

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you're already eating there, it hardly seems like legitimate advertising at that point.

Exactly what they want you to think.

Then they start the upselling.

When you go a supermarket, do you think the hard sell ends when you walk in the door, because you are "already there"?

Restaurants are no different.

There is nothing wrong with describing the describing the specials or any other dishes. Just do it in the language normal human beings use.

What is the difference between "fried" and "fried off", anyway?

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No ice in the water glass. I've started noticing this trend quite a bit over the past few years...refrigerated bottles of tap water, but no ice. It's easy enough to ask for it, so I don't get too emotionally involved, but unless there are some compelling non-alcoholic beverage choices I stick with water. During a 2-3 hour meal it's nice to have a cold and refreshing sip at the ready.

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Can't stand the tendency of inventing non-problems in order to flamboyantly solve them with outré techno-nonsense. Sous-vide meat is an example that springs readily to mind.

[this] point couldn't be more wrong, as many eG threads, restaurants and chefs can attest. Don't dis what you don't understand. Everything new isn't a bad thing. Progress happens, my friend.

Your concept of progress is endearing, and of course, sous-vide is certainly new (well, relatively), but in order to demonstrate progress novelty is not a sufficient condition. The type of question that needs to be answered is, "is making meat as soft as butter an improvement?".

The answer, at least my answer, is that it is not. Perhaps, if you have dental issues, infantile feeding habits or are under the impression that turning food into brightly coloured paps and wobbly gels is clever, you might get excited about some of the solutions to the non-problems that have been 'solved' by modernist cuisine. However, I fall into none of the former categories and am thus left unimpressed. The fact that, as you correctly note, "many eG threads, restaurants and chefs can attest" to the wonder of sous-vide may have more to do with the fact that many of these individuals are highly susceptible to fads and hopping on bandwagons.

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No ice in the water glass. I've started noticing this trend quite a bit over the past few years...refrigerated bottles of tap water, but no ice. It's easy enough to ask for it, so I don't get too emotionally involved, but unless there are some compelling non-alcoholic beverage choices I stick with water. During a 2-3 hour meal it's nice to have a cold and refreshing sip at the ready.

The tendency to not serve bottled water with ice is predicated on the observation that it seems somewhat absurd to select a beverage precisely because it does not come from the the mains water supply and then add frozen cubes of mains water.

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I prefer very little ice when it come to low-brow water. It melts and remains cool but not icy which to me nails the taste-buds. I agree about not adding a bunch of chlorinated ice to my $8 bottle of fancy mineral water. Why bother at that point?

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Sous-vide is an odd one. We have had "boil in the bag" fish and meat items for years in the UK. Vacuum packed (and sometimes frozen too) for longevity and then simmered to re-heat/cook. I remember Lamb Shanks being delivered to the pub I worked at in this fashion about 20 years ago.

Sous-vide does a similar thing - but in a more anal and precise way.

Oddly enough - the best piece of chicken I have ever eaten was not the one cooked using the SV method, but a breast cooked in a paper bag - but then it could be down to the chef knowing a good butcher.

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Removing the salt and pepper shakers from the dining tables. A lot of places have reduced the amount of salt they are using, I want more. And I like a LOT of pepper on my steak. GIve me the power to make my own choices. Yes, they bring it if I ask, after getting their attention. Would rather just have them available to start with.

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Gourmet burgers and "elevated" comfort food in general (lobster mac and cheese, truffle fries and the like). I do like a good burger, but I would much rather see more interesting options on a restaurant menu.

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FrogPrincesse's post made me think of this. There is a restaurant in that famous theme park in Anaheim that needs reservations but most of the items on the limited menu are just glorified sandwiches. Really, a waitstaff-served meal and the choices are mostly sandwiches? I have told my wife that I don't really want to eat there anymore since I'm most decidedly not a sandwich-for-a-meal kind of guy.

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you're already eating there, it hardly seems like legitimate advertising at that point.

Exactly what they want you to think.

Then they start the upselling.

When you go a supermarket, do you think the hard sell ends when you walk in the door, because you are "already there"?

Restaurants are no different.

While I don't want to get into a semantics argument - and maybe I'm not the typical diner - but I have an expectation to order a certain and specific amount of food when I go to a nice place. Usually a few apps, an entree per person, a few drinks, etc. Because of this expectation, I don't feel the supermarket analogy holds well (they certainly do upsell).

I'm going to either buy the special, or another entree off the menu... doesn't seem like an upsell to me. Maybe the special costs more, but I've never felt persuaded to get a special, I just like the options. If they can make my mouth water while describing it to me all the better.

However, some restaurants do take the descriptions a little too far for most people I will say. I don't necessarily care about which ranch the pork special comes from, but it doesn't upset me to hear it. Let it be said though that the types of restaurants that generally give these types of descriptions are for food enthusiasts...

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Well I do gotta say that the rare exceptional server will have you buying that bottle of wine, ordering apps and dessert and you thinking it was your idea all along. Few and far between though. I couldn't sell a dessert to save my life!

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"Modernist" anything. Sous-vide, foams, gels, using food service ingredients to essentially create processed food at home. I'm sure it's great and I know sous-vide serves its purpose well in a restaurant environment but I can't help roll my eyes when i hear of any of this stuff being used at home. The Modernist Cuisine at Home thread for example... Sous-vide buffalo wings, seriously?

....and I'll just show myself out


Edited by Crouton (log)

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LOL.

Some of the Modernist at home stuff seems like a lab exercise...perhaps fun, but not an everyday practical thing. But some of it is just plain a better way to do stuff. Like sous vide pulled pork. Just comes out better than a crock pot pulled pork and doesn't require the expertise of a pit master to do it old school.

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Cupcakes. If you can call them a trend, I thought they'd jumped the shark long ago. Yet sweet shops devoted to cupcakes seem to keep popping up. No ill wishes to their proprietors, people must be buying them.

And I share the annoyance at the over-specification of every dish on a menu. Not just the provenance of ingredients, but every technique or micro-garnish. All the surprise and mystery is gone. Back in the Middle Ages, I used to enjoy trying to figure out the secret ingredient or clever technique that elevated a dish. That fun is gone and oddly I enjoy eating out less than I used to.

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...you might get excited about some of the solutions to the non-problems that have been 'solved' by modernist cuisine...

I think this might be the hang up that's confusing you. The issue with much (not all or even most) food is not in 'solving problems' but in creating art. I'm an artist in a lot of ways (I love playing guitar, for example), and when I work out a new, incredibly complex riff, it's not because I'm solving a problem. I'm not curing what ails modern music, I'm making my art.

In food, I'm not a professional chef, but I play with it as art I can eat. I'll try different techniques because, often, they're 'cool'! I love looking at a dish and thinking, wow, I did that! I remember my first compound butter. I was so impressed with myself! I could've made the dish another way, but I (naively) thought I was one of the greatest cooks around because I could make compound butter.

Granted, if you don't want food art, then a Grant Achatz restaurant isn't the place for you to go. Or maybe the art you're looking for is more 'still life' than Pablo Picasso.

Point being: I'm not saying you're wrong in your irritation, just trying to shed some light. Chefs aren't 'fixing' any 'non problems' with a lot of these techniques, they're refining their art.

$.02


Edited by pastameshugana (log)

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I don't know if I'm annoyed or fascinated by the way marketing has made "Angus beef" sound like it's an automatic indication of quality. I don't know if it's only in Australia or if it's a global trend, but "Angus beef" is touted as being something rather special, when it isn't really. That's nothing new in the world of advertising, so I guess I admire the advertising industry as much as I'm annoyed at how successful they've been.

I'm not saying that Angus beef isn't good. I think it's the most common breed of beef cattle, and so there will be good Angus meat and bad Angus meat. Just because a cow is 51% black doesn't automatically make the beef amazing - and so it's the advertising that suggests this that annoys me. If Angus beef is the most common type of beef in the world, then by definition Angus beef is average.

There are many, many factors that determine the quality of a piece of meat by the time it gets to your plate and the breed of cattle is only one of them - even if the definition of the breed is pretty liberal. Would I prefer a McDonalds burger that touts Angus beef over a restaurant burger made with another breed? Doubtful...

In a slightly similar manner, I'm suspicious of chocolate manufacturers that promote cocoa percentage as an indication of quality.

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