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PSmith

Your most disliked trend in the food industry.

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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

It sounds like you have some built up resentment, and this is a bit of an oversimplification and close minded approach to food. If you enjoy bread, souffles, cappuccinos, and meringue than you have enjoyed foams. If you enjoy alcohol or any other fermented products than you are drinking processed food that is just as "unnatural" as any ingredients used in modernist food. Most modern gels are made with seaweed extracts of some sort. Calling this food processed shows how unfamiliar you are with the actual techniques and ingredients.

Would you prefer everyone prepare food the same way forever and never have any innovation?


Edited by Baselerd (log)

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Menus with cute names for dishes in quotes. I blame Thomas Keller for this aggravating trend. The current TFL menu is a horror show of ill-conceived quotation marks. Oysters and Pearls is elegant and provocative. "Oysters and Pearls" is insulting -- no I did not expect the to include real Pearls. To what end do you call a dishes Mushrooms "a la Grecque" or Blood Orange "Mimosa" with Champagne "Granite"? I can only assume the quotes are intended to communicate the obvious point that these are merely TFL's interpreations of traditional dishes -- a point which a TFL patron need not have clubbed over their head.

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I think its just a lack of education in the proper use of quotes. Look at how the proper use of the apostrophe has slipped in the past 20 years.

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It angers me to see packaged food sold in the same size package at the same price but with less food in the package The new pound now seems to be 12 ozs. It's a ploy to to hold onto uncarefull shoppers.

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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.

Thanks, but I'm not at all confused. I have no problem if individuals want to have fun messing around with food. The problem comes in the posturing by many 'modernist' chefs as something other, and vastly more important, than mere chefs. Ferran Adriá may have changed the food scene, but that doesn't mean that he isn't/wasn't a pretentious pseudo-intellectual, or that it was a change for the better. Indeed, 'new' is not a synonym for 'progress'. If there is to be any progress at all, it comes from those not so arrogant to rubbish everything that came before them and who don't make grandiose claims and publish inane manifestos.

I can see the appeal for the intellectually challenged, but that doesn't mean that I need share it.

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Would you prefer everyone prepare food the same way forever and never have any innovation?

Great example of a false dichotomy.

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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

It sounds like you have some built up resentment, and this is a bit of an oversimplification and close minded approach to food. If you enjoy bread, souffles, cappuccinos, and meringue than you have enjoyed foams. If you enjoy alcohol or any other fermented products than you are drinking processed food that is just as "unnatural" as any ingredients used in modernist food. Most modern gels are made with seaweed extracts of some sort. Calling this food processed shows how unfamiliar you are with the actual techniques and ingredients.

Would you prefer everyone prepare food the same way forever and never have any innovation?

No, I think innovation is great. But over-complicating something as simple as buffalo wings is not innovation. It's silly.

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No, I think innovation is great. But over-complicating something as simple as buffalo wings is not innovation. It's silly.

I think its fun! ... I cook mainly for fun and I love trying the same dish many ways. It's a great way to learn (for me).

I don't cook with the objective of "a meal" at the end. If I did I would totally agree with you.

It all depends on what you want to get out of it.

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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.

There's a place around here that gets some Neiman Ranch (spelled improperly?) steak. It's the most expensive thing on the menu, but it's a pretty good steak for a sub-steakhouse price. The ribeye is bigger and a lot cheaper, but...

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.

I'm not particularly wealthy. The meat I eat is frequently the less desirable cuts - supermarket-brand frozen thighs, mostly. If I want to cook for a crowd, it's going to be shoulder, not fillet.

The ability to turn what is (for the most part) poor quality ingredients into something edible without risking safety is a fabulous innovation.

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The ability to turn what is (for the most part) poor quality ingredients into something edible without risking safety is a fabulous innovation.

This is what I mean by non-problem. Sous-vide did not make this possible since braising and slow-cooking had already been available techniques for millennia.

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The ability to turn what is (for the most part) poor quality ingredients into something edible without risking safety is a fabulous innovation.

This is what I mean by non-problem. Sous-vide did not make this possible since braising and slow-cooking had already been available techniques for millennia.

But sous-vide produces a completely different product than braising so I don't see why it is addressing a non-problem. It is just another (not a better or worse) solution for a problem. By your argument once you have one solution to any problem it is not worth looking for any other options

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The ability to turn what is (for the most part) poor quality ingredients into something edible without risking safety is a fabulous innovation.

This is what I mean by non-problem. Sous-vide did not make this possible since braising and slow-cooking had already been available techniques for millennia.

Braising is typically involves much higher temperatures than sous vide cooking, is generally more work, and produces different results. The higher temperature alone (simmering liquid nominal temperatures are approximately 185 - 195 F) results in dramatically different meat texture. For example, I have prepared pork belly at 140F and 155F, both were very distinct from the other - and neither could be prepared using any other techniques. It is more difficult to preserve the meat's flavor with a braise, since you have to partially submerge the meat in a relatively large amount of liquid - which is great in its own right, but a totally different process and effect (resulting in much of the meat flavor extraction into the braising liquid, and much of the liquid flavor penetrating the meat).

I have never performed a 72 hour braise, nor have I heard of anyone doing such a thing. With sous vide, you can just throw in the food and forget about it - which in and of itself is a huge selling point for both home cooks with busy lifestyles and restaurant mise en place logistics.

With that said, who ever demanded that every new technique present a solution to an unsolved problem? You could argue all cooking techniques developed in the last thousand years are redundant - solving non-problems. However, that would be a very simple and close minded approach to cooking.


Edited by Baselerd (log)

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This is what I mean by non-problem. Sous-vide did not make this possible since braising and slow-cooking had already been available techniques for millennia.

The problem with cheapo meat isn't the texture; it's the flavor. $0.99/lb chicken is one step away from the sponge I use to wash it. Braising and slow-cooking require immersion in a quantity of water and heating to a sub-optimal temperature (200F is a minimum); the end result is stringy and tasteless. Sous vide is a nice alternative.

A secondary advantage is heat efficiency. Warming up the oven isn't so bad in the winter, but in the summer, it heats the whole apartment. A sous vide rig setup is far more efficient - especially for small quantities of meat - and you can put it outside if you're desperate.

If only the @#$#@$#! thing worked properly.


Edited by jrshaul (log)

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The proliferation of GMOs is, in my opinion, the most disturbing trend in food.

~Martin


~Martin :)

"Unsupervised, rebellious, radical agrarian experimenter, minimalist penny-pincher, self-reliant homesteader, and adventurous cook. Crotchety, cantankerous, terse, curmudgeon, non-conformist, and contrarian who questions everything!"

The best thing about a vegetable garden is all the meat you can hunt and trap out of it! 

 

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What's wrong with irradiated food? It isn't radioactive.

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It alters the quality of the food and impairs the flavour.

Googling the "taste of irradiated food" doesn't turn up any authoritative reports. There's lots of posturing by groups on either side of the issue, but not one actual study that I could find.

Do you know of any?

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I started to accept modernist techniques when I read the book on El Bulli, and how Adria was really, at the core of it, really interested in capturing intense flavors, and reading some of MC@H.

I, like many, was scared of chemical-sounding names. But when I learned that sodium citrate is just a salt made from citrus, and that it wasn't artificial (in the way that splenda, or transfats are), I was on board. Or agar agar -- Asia uses it, yet we don't in the US because we've used gelatin. It just happened to be what was available at the time. I'd rather use an plant product, anyway, if it does the same thing.

I started thinking "What if we had created sous vide first?" Would be consider boiling odd? What's the goal? Asia discovered agar agar first -- would they consider gelatin odd?

I had the good fortune to attend a seminar taught by Harvard professors and Jose Andres and his thinkfood group at Georgia Tech. The "ah hah" moment came for me in the end, with desserts. He loaded strawberry puree and something to thicken it in the ISIwhip, and created a 99% pure strawberry mousse without all of the calories from cream. Not only did he create a superior-tasting product, easily, but it was also much healthier.

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It alters the quality of the food and impairs the flavour.

Googling the "taste of irradiated food" doesn't turn up any authoritative reports. There's lots of posturing by groups on either side of the issue, but not one actual study that I could find.

Do you know of any?

Here are some references to a few....

A Host of Problems

"Numerous studies have been carried out to ascertain whether cytotoxic effects occur when unirradiated biological test systems are cultured or fed with irradiated media or food. In such studies, adverse physiological growth retardation and inhibition, cytological cell division inhibition and chromosome aberrations and genetical effects have been observed in a wide range of test systems, ranging from bacteriophages to human cells... The available data suggest that a variety of free radicals may act as the toxic and mutagenic agents."

Cytotoxic and mutagenic effects of irradiated substrates and food material. Radiation Botany, 11:253-281, 1971.

A Cancer Warning

"An increase in concentration of a mutagen in food by irradiation will increase the incidence of cancer. It will take four to six decades to demonstrate a statistically significant increase in cancer due to mutagens introduced into food by irradiation. When food irradiation is finally prohibited, several decades worth of people with increased cancer incidence will be in the pipeline."

Food Irradiation. Nutrition, 16:698-701, 2000.

Mutations in Fruit Flies

An increase in the rate of mutation has been found in fruit flies reared on a basic medium that was irradiated with a sterilizing dose (150,000 rads) of cobalt-60 gamma rays... Visible changes were two to six times more frequent in the irradiated series than in the controls, such as half-thorax, vestigial wings and incurved wings." [Note: Fruit flies have long been a dependable bellwether for determining the potential mutagenicity of substances.]

Mutations: Incidence in Drosophila melanogaster reared on irradiated medium. Science, 141:637-638, 1963.

Fatal Vitamin E Deficiency in Rats

"A considerable number of the second litter of the experimental group of rats that ate irradiated beef died. Symptoms observed were marked fluid buildup of the face, ruffled hair coat, general incoordination, spastic hopping gait, and sometimes complete loss of movement with dragging of the hind quarters.

Those pups most severely affected often became completely prostrated a short time before death. In no case were these symptoms noted in the control group. The probability is that the pups were suffering from the characteristic muscular dystrophy syndrome commonly referred to as nutritional muscular dystrophy known to result from a marginal vitamin E intake."

Growth, reproduction, survival and histopathology of rats fed beef irradiated with electrons. Food Research, 20:193-214, 1955.

Chromosomal Damage to Human Cells (I)

"Irradiated sucrose solutions were extremely toxic to human white blood cells. Cell divisions were inhibited. Degenerated cell divisions were observed and the chromosomes were grossly damaged. The DNA was clumped or the chromosomes appeared shattered or pulverized. In contrast, treatment with unirradiated sucrose at the same concentration had no apparent effect on the mitotic rate and the chromosomes were not visibly damaged."

Effects of irradiated sucrose on the chromosomes of human lymphocytes in vitro. Nature, 211:1254-1255, 1966.

Chromosomal Damage to Human Cells (II)

"White blood cell cultures from four different healthy human males underwent a considerable inhibition of mitosis and chromosome fragmentation."

Cytotoxic and radiomimetic activity of irradiated culture medium on human leukocytes. Current Science, 16:403-404, 1966.

Toxic Chemical Formed in Food Containing Fat (I)

"When food containing fat is treated by ionizing radiation, a group of 2-alkylcyclobutanones [toxic chemicals] is formed. To date, there is no evidence that the cyclobutanones occur in unirradiated food. In vitro experiments using rat and human colon cells indicate that 2-dodecylcyclobutanone (2-DCB)... is clearly cytotoxic and genotoxic."

Genotoxic properties of 2-dodecylcyclobutanone, a compound formed on irradiation of food containing fat. Radiation Physics and Chemistry, 52:39-42, 1998. (Cosponsored by the International Consultative Group on Food Irradiation)

Reproductive Problems, Cancer in Mammals

"A careful analysis by FDA of all Army data present (including 31 loose-leaf notebooks of animal feeding test results) showedsignificant adverse effects produced in animals fed irradiated food...

What were these adverse effects?

A decrease of 20.7 percent in surviving weaned rats.

A 32.3 percent decrease in surviving progeny of dogs.

Dogs weighing 11.3 percent less than animals on the control diets... Carcinomas of the pituitary gland, a particularly disturbing finding since this is an extremely rare type of malignant tumor."

Food irradiation: An FDA report. FDA Papers, Oct. 1968.

Fatal Internal Bleeding in Rats (I)

"A significant number of rats consuming irradiated beef died from internal hemorrhage within 46 days, the first death of a male rat coming on the 11th day of feeding. This rat became sluggish on the 8th day of the regimen and started refusing food. He continued to be morbid during the next two days, did not eat any food, lost weight and appeared anemic. He was found dead on the 11th day.

Vitamin K deficiency in rats induced by feeding of irradiated beef.

Journal of Nutrition, 69:18-21, 1959. (Cosponsored by the Surgeon General of the US Army)

Fatal Internal Bleeding in Rats (II)

"Hemorrhagic death had occurred in all males fed irradiated diets by day 34... There is evidence to suggest that inefficient absorption of vitamins, i.e. vitamin K, from the intestinal tract may contribute to a deficiency state." [Note: Vitamin K plays a major role in blood clotting.]

Influence of age, sex, strain of rat and fat soluble vitamins on hemorrhagic syndromes in rats fed irradiated beef.

Federation Proceedings, 19:1045-1048, 1960. (Cosponsored by the Surgeon General of the US Army)

Fetal Deaths in Mice

"Freshly irradiated diets produced elevated levels of early deaths in [mice fetuses]... The increase in early deaths would suggest that the diet when irradiated has some mutagenic potential."

Irradiated laboratory animal diets: Dominant lethal studies in the mouse.

Mutation Research, 80:333-345, 1981.

Embryo Deaths in Mice

"Feeding of mice for two months before mating with 50 percent of the standard complete diet irradiated with gamma rays provokes a significant increase of embryonal deaths, probably to be interpreted as a dominant lethal mutation associated with gross chromosomal aberrations, such as breaks repeatedly found to be induced by irradiated materials."

Pre-implantation death of mouse eggs caused by irradiated food.

International Journal of Radiation Biology, 18:201-216, 1970.

Radioactive Organs and Excrement in Rats

"Considerable amounts of radioactivity were present in the liver, kidney, stomach, gastrointestinal tract, and blood serum of rats fed irradiated sucrose solutions. Radioactivity was present in urine and feces samples.

Biochemical effects of irradiated sucrose solutions in the rat. Radiation Research, 37:202-215, 1969.

A Thalidomide Warning (I)

"The thalidomide disaster might have been prevented if an easily performed investigation of possible cytotoxic effects in plant cells had been made. It must be acknowledged that any compound causing [cellular] damage must be considered a potential hazard to any living cell or cell system -- including man."

Toxic effects of irradiated foods. Nature, 211:302, 1966.

A Thalidomide Warning (II)

"Irradiating can bring about chemical transformations in food and food components resulting in the formation of potential mutagens, particularly hydrogen peroxide and various organic peroxides.

It is now realized, especially since the thalidomide episode, that older testing protocols do not detect the more subtle population hazards such as mutagens and teratogens. In view of the serious consequences to the human population which could arise from a high level of induced mutations, it is desirable that protocols for irradiated food should include in vivo tests on mammals for possible mutagenicity."

Mutagenicity and cytotoxicity of irradiated foods and food components.

Bulletin of the World Health Organization, 41:873-904, 1969. (Cosponsored by the US Atomic Energy Commission and Food and Drug Administration)

~Martin


Edited by DiggingDogFarm (log)

~Martin :)

"Unsupervised, rebellious, radical agrarian experimenter, minimalist penny-pincher, self-reliant homesteader, and adventurous cook. Crotchety, cantankerous, terse, curmudgeon, non-conformist, and contrarian who questions everything!"

The best thing about a vegetable garden is all the meat you can hunt and trap out of it! 

 

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The proliferation of GMOs is, in my opinion, the most disturbing trend in food.

~Martin

Irradiated food is another.

I agree!

~Martin


~Martin :)

"Unsupervised, rebellious, radical agrarian experimenter, minimalist penny-pincher, self-reliant homesteader, and adventurous cook. Crotchety, cantankerous, terse, curmudgeon, non-conformist, and contrarian who questions everything!"

The best thing about a vegetable garden is all the meat you can hunt and trap out of it! 

 

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Lots of papers presented above. Many from the dark ages. Some not relevant. Some maybe relevant...hard to judge without looking up the whole reference.

I'm sure plenty of studies also exist that fail to show dangers from irradiated food.

Whatever the case with irradiation one needs to see it in context with other things we do to food...like grilling it or baking it..and what potentially toxic stuff is generated the old fashioned way.

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My most disliked current trend is foraging, and it seems to be popping up on menus all over the place. I don't want to eat a plate of stuff that I could pick in the laneway outside, and I don't think it's in any way interesting to eat foods that most people walk on merely because it's "foraged". If it tastes great then fine, but if it doesn't add anything to the dish other than massaging the chef's ego, leave it off the plate!

Rene Redzepi has a lot to answer for.

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