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PSmith

Your most disliked trend in the food industry.

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Sounds like reverse elitism to me.

Ah - the stock reply.

Have a read of this - which I have also llnked to in my latest blog posting - "When does sharing become bragging?"

http://online.wsj.co...1630924000.html

BTW, the header graphic on your blog is brilliant.


Jason Perlow

Co-Founder, The Society for Culinary Arts & Letters

offthebroiler.com - Food Blog | View my food photos on Instagram

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BTW, the header graphic on your blog is brilliant.

LOL - that was thanks to my nephew. And to think I used to tell him off for playing with his food.


http://www.thecriticalcouple.co.uk

Latest blog post - Oh my - someone needs a spell checker

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You have a selection criterion for friends that involves doing a stocktake of their kitchen?

I think, too, what's being missed here, by both 'modernists' and traditionalists, is that for a whole lot of people on eGullet it's a case of wanting to play with food. It's no more or love an expression of the culinary arts than it is to, yeah, buy a serious wok burner or assemble your own cold smoker or bake your bread using a ghetto engineered steam oven or fill the shelves with four hundred cookbooks. Looking at the 'dinner' or 'best dishes of 2012' threads, it's obvioust that many, many, many eGulleters--some of whom are professional, many of whom do everything from surgery to teaching to Lord knows what else--enjoy 'toys'. The thread that shows many of us go far beyond what's necessary for creating a healthy, tasty home-cooked meal. I feel that working outside of the industry probably makes me, personally, more inclined to want to play with things. Buying a hot smoker, which is quite uncommon here in Australia, and learning how to use it wasn't strictly necessary but I've had a lot of fun this year figuring out pulled pork and brisket and ribs. I suppose that, yeah, I could've used an oven, right? Or just gone to the BBQ place a couple suburbs over? In my day job I'm a primary school teacher. And you know what? When I come home from a lengthy day, the last thing I want to read is a book that talks about teaching. I don't want to do any professional reading at all on those days. I don't even want to look at anything work-related. Something tells me if I'd been working as a builder all day that the last thing I'd feel like doing would be coming home and continuing work on my renovation. This isn't true of every teacher or builder--or cook, even--but I know it's a feeling that's not unique to me.

Sous vide strikes me as something is a convenience tool. No more or less than a pressure cooker or slow cooker or rice cooker. For example, I might feel like coming home after fairly lengthy hours to some 'roast' lamb. Solution: seal up half a leg and place it in the bath. When I come home I prep some salad or whatever else I want to serve with the lamb, sear the lamb and then I'm ready to go. 'Roast' lamb with maybe ten minutes of prep time. And prepared in a way that doesn't involve allowing the oven to chew up power all day long. It's not a go-to method for cooking anything and everything, just as a hot smoker and a wok burner--and, shit, even a frypan on an old gas stove--all have things they're good at and things they're not so good at. Like smoking, it's also possible to get into sous vide--at least in a home environment--for a significantly lower price than the high end commercial units. I mean, saying you need to buy a $500 unit is like saying oh, to BBQ at all you need to go out and spend $1000 on kit because that's what a lot of restaurants use. It also, like that quasi-professional step of hooking up a coffee machine to a PID controller, allows a home cook--who may or may not be especially skilled--to achieve a superior result 'every time'. That fillet of poached fish, for instance. Yes, you can just nail a piece of fish in a pan or in a paper bag or wherever else. A professional, a really good one, might nail it every time. Just like someone might be able to get by without a PID controlled coffee rig. By sight and smell and everything else they and the fish guy would bang out one perfect example of espresso or salmon after another. And yet me? I'm not a professional. I don't cook fish all that often. When I want to, ~$1 for a sous vide bag and my existing slow cooker/pid setup seems to be a nice way of getting a great result every time. Just as setting my induction cooktop to heat the water to ~80C allows me to thoughtlessly prep my morning coffee. From day one I've been having consistently great cups. As good as a professional with top-of-the-line kit and years of experience and everything else? Or even someone really experienced without such 'fancy' kit? No. I'm not kidding myself. I mean, there's a reason that eGulleters are on the whole as passionate about cooking as they are about going to great restaurants. No one on this forum comes across as 'oh, Modernist Cuisine and my ghetto sous vide rig mean I'm more skilled than Thomas Keller'.

As for the money thing, I'd say the spread of incomes on eGullet is fairly wide. And that, too, like any hobby, people prioritise it over other things. I mean, consider a friend that really, really, really enjoys cars. He or she might spend a lot of money buying shitty old cars and finding replacement parts. Much more time than you, someone not so interested in cars, might deem reasonable. You might just want your car to 'work': to get you from A to B and not fall apart along the way. He or she might spend a lot of free time working on cars, reading about cars, talking about cars. Those eGulleters you see with a lot of modernist additives on hand or a real sous vide rig or a serious barbecue or truffles, even, might not actually be rich or trying to convince us all they're the next Myhrvold. I mean, most people that walk into my living room are struck by the books. Shelves of books. Towers where the shelves don't hold any more. Loads of cookbooks, yeah, but also lots of history and pop sci and comics and modern lit and everything else. I'm not wealthy by any definition. It's just that I choose to spend a fair portion of my disposable income on books. Altho', yeah, I guess I could just go to a library ...

As much as I really like books and as much as I direct my interest at specifc kinds of books (just like someone who might spend a lot of time reading about and baking bread but do very little with, say, sweet pastries or curries) I don't think for a moment that I can make up a statement about a person based on what they read. Oh, this person reads Janet Evanovich or Cormac McCarthy or Frank Miller, so they must be x kind of person. I can or cannot be friends with them. Or that this book or this author tells me a whole lot about this person's life or character. People are more than their toys and hobbies or convenience tools.


Edited by ChrisTaylor (log)

Chris Taylor

Host, eG Forums - ctaylor@egstaff.org

 

I've never met an animal I didn't enjoy with salt and pepper.

Melbourne
Harare, Victoria Falls and some places in between

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You have a selection criterion for friends that involves doing a stocktake of their kitchen?

Oh absolutely. There's a complex application process involved, as well as a six week waiting period while I review all of the appliances and the required stem to stern inventory of their pantry, freezer and wine closet, as well as a four year background check on what restaurants they've eaten at.


Edited by Jason Perlow (log)

Jason Perlow

Co-Founder, The Society for Culinary Arts & Letters

offthebroiler.com - Food Blog | View my food photos on Instagram

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The whole anti-Elitism argument usually makes me smile

1) it pretty much confirms the fact that those it is used by or for do consider themselves elite.

2) Is there really anything wrong with being Anti-Elitist. ? I mean a world war was fought against the fascist ideal of elitism. An extreme example to be sure but it does admirably demonstrate that there is nothing inherently wrong with being Anti-Elitist.


"Why is the rum always gone?"

Captain Jack Sparrow

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The whole anti-Elitism argument usually makes me smile

1) it pretty much confirms the fact that those it is used by or for do consider themselves elite.

2) Is there really anything wrong with being Anti-Elitist. ? I mean a world war was fought against the fascist ideal of elitism. An extreme example to be sure but it does admirably demonstrate that there is nothing inherently wrong with being Anti-Elitist.

GODWIN ALERT


Jason Perlow

Co-Founder, The Society for Culinary Arts & Letters

offthebroiler.com - Food Blog | View my food photos on Instagram

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Reverse-elitism is not the same as anti-elitism.

But isn't this discussion getting well past the point of being stupid?

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Unlike JP, I couldn't give a monkey's what people do at home (dinner parties have always been about having one's culinary sensibilities offended), but I have a serious problem with the degree with which culinary accolades are accorded to professionals who practice 'modernism' for the simple reason that they practice modernism (cf San Pellegrino's top 50 ). An Adriá fanboy once tried to argue that this kind of food 'isn't supposed to taste nice'; to which there is little response except to stop paying attention.


Edited by Putty Man (log)

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Unlike JP, I couldn't give a monkey's what people do at home (dinner parties have always been about having one's culinary sensibilities offended), but I have a serious problem with the degree with which culinary accolades are accorded to professionals who practice 'modernism' for the simple reason that they practice modernism (cf San Pellegrino's top 50 ). An Adriá fanboy once tried to argue that this kind of food 'isn't supposed to taste nice'; to which there is little response except to stop paying attention.

Actually, I don't actually care what people choose to do at home for their own culinary enjoyment and done between consenting adults (that is, unless it involves fava beans and a nice chianti). I just think that the concept of Modernism in the home is as practical as building your own particle accelerator or plutonium centrifuge in your garage.

Note, I'm not giving Mr. Mhyrvold any ideas here.


Jason Perlow

Co-Founder, The Society for Culinary Arts & Letters

offthebroiler.com - Food Blog | View my food photos on Instagram

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Modernist technique like anything can be used in a superficial way, and I find that annoying, more than culinary modernism itself. Restaurants that are using modernist techniques to be trendy would have been serving small portions in a puddle of sauce on an enormous plate with a coulis and a powder in the 1990s. Glad that's over. There was never enough room on the table for those huge plates.

One thing to be gained by experimenting with new things at home is that you can recognize them out in the wild, and it demystifies industrial food. For instance, by experimenting with xanthan gum, I've learned that one of the main things I dislike about processed food is xanthan gum, and despite my best efforts to domesticate it, it's not an ingredient that I really want to use, but that doesn't rule out the possibility that I might find some other industrial thickener that does cool things in the home.

Knowing those things in the context of classical technique also helps to clarify, I think, what is really interesting about the traditional methods. There are also traditional methods that are better suited to the professional kitchen than home. I mean...I keep at least three kinds of stock, along with demi-glace, glace de viande, espagnole and various other sauces in the freezer, but I don't expect everyone to do that. If you were running a classical French restaurant kitchen and just trying to get the most out of all your ingredients, you would just have all those stockpots going all the time.

The most interesting modernist cuisine is often taking traditional flavor combinations and presenting them in a new way, and when it's clever and playful and smart, I like it, whether it happens in a restaurant or at someone's home. At the same time I can be surprised by the complexity of a velouté at a place like La Grenouille in Manhattan where they still do it old school.

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Reverse-elitism is not the same as anti-elitism.

But isn't this discussion getting well past the point of being stupid?

It pretty much became ridiculous the first time someone argued with a personal opinion in a thread titled " Your most disliked trend in the food industry" Since then it seems to have been those who realized it was ridiculous having a bit of fun with those that didn't. :)


"Why is the rum always gone?"

Captain Jack Sparrow

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Is gas stove Modernist? Not in 2013, but it sure was compared to the wood burning stove. Is Induction burner Modernist? May be. But there is no gas in my Condo building and Induction for me is preferable to electric. Others may disagree.

Is pressure cooker Modernist? I remember my grandmother using it in Soviet Russia. She surely was not cooking Modernist Cuisine carrot soup in it though.

The list can go on and on. We all use chemical ingredients to cook. NaCl (AKA table salt) is the most common example.

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We could give SV more of a '70s feel by calling it "boil-in-the-bag" like we did back then. Microwave ovens weren't common yet, and I remember you could get things like creamed corn that came frozen in a vacuum sealed bag in a box. I realize they didn't use PIDs and circulators then since water boils at a consistent temperature at sea level at least, and it didn't have to be so precise anyway, since it was usually just warming up something that was already cooked, but whenever I see something sous vide I'm thinking "boil-in-the-bag."

As Ruhlman says of pâté en croûte, "it's a meatloaf in a pie crust."

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No boiling, not even simmering. Cooking rather than reheating. The food is not pre-processed. But it is in a bag. I suppose as none of us are really that interested in food minor points like those shouldn't make a difference. And boil in a bag just sounds so tacky it's ideal for aggravating people who do it. An ideal choice of put down one would think.


Nick Reynolds, aka "nickrey"

"The Internet is full of false information." Plato
My eG Foodblog

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Wow!

You people do take yourselves seriously!

I gave up following this thread 100 posts back. It was getting so silly. But I popped back today for old time's sake. A New Year foible. Hoping to see what we had left behind.

I don't care how my food was cooked. If it tastes good, that will do. I really don't need to know the precise brand and model water bath, grill, mixer or, heaven preserve us, microwave that produced it. Or what thermometer measured it or what spoon stirred it.

I really get tired of endless threads comparing the size and efficiency of your thermal probes and suggestions or how to make sous vide birthday cake.

It's just cooking. Get on with it, serve dinner and shut up.

There is a place on Eg for those kind of discussions; I'm not convinced this is it. The whole thread had been hijacked.

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Since then it seems to have been those who realized it was ridiculous having a bit of fun with those that didn't. :)

LOL. Well spotted. ;)


http://www.thecriticalcouple.co.uk

Latest blog post - Oh my - someone needs a spell checker

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It's just cooking. Get on with it, serve dinner and shut up.

If I wanted to cook dinner and shut up I would not be on egullet. Noooooo! I want to talk about it with like minded people who may or (gasp!) may not share my opinion.

;)

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. . . . let's take this scenario: You're invited to dinner, you really enjoy the food and conversation, then, after dinner, while your host is moving the last of the dishes back to the kitchen, you tag along, since you're in the middle of discussing something. You notice the kitchen has a lot of Modernist equipment, and inquiry reveals that the meal was prepared using quite a lot of Modernist techniques and ingredients.
The scenario is an impossible one. Anyone who knows me is well aware I would have seen the kitchen and the prep process long before eating and the conversation. :) I also do not tend to socialize with people that are into producing dishes based on Modernism or Molecular Gastronomy or Avant Garde cuisine in their -homes-. They don't typically pass my sniff test as people I want to be associated with because they aren't down to earth enough. . . . .

Please clarify what you mean when you say 'Modernism' and 'Modernist'.

I have a very clear idea of what I mean by 'down to earth' and 'Modernism' (respectively, 'practical and grounded in reality' and 'the pursuit of an understanding of how food works, the exploration of the available means for achieving desired results in the kitchen, and the application of both to get the best possible results when cooking').

I suspect we're having a discussion about two entirely different things; you've exclusively expressed your distaste for certain equipment and ingredients, when those are merely the means to certain (by no means all) ends, and many of today's Modernist ingredients and equipment will be obsolete or mainstream in 100 years, just as those newfangled blenders and prepared pectin were, decades ago.

What could be more 'down to earth' than applying an intelligent understanding of food to its preparation?

Wow!

You people do take yourselves seriously!

I gave up following this thread 100 posts back. It was getting so silly. But I popped back today for old time's sake. A New Year foible. Hoping to see what we had left behind.

I don't care how my food was cooked. If it tastes good, that will do. I really don't need to know the precise brand and model water bath, grill, mixer or, heaven preserve us, microwave that produced it. Or what thermometer measured it or what spoon stirred it.

I really get tired of endless threads comparing the size and efficiency of your thermal probes and suggestions or how to make sous vide birthday cake.

It's just cooking. Get on with it, serve dinner and shut up.

There is a place on Eg for those kind of discussions; I'm not convinced this is it. The whole thread had been hijacked.

Virtually all the discussions of Modernist cooking appear in dedicated threads, where you'll find a distinct absence of dismissiveness of tradition or those who favour this (not least because most people's enthusiasm for Modernism has nothing to do with rejecting what already exists).

If some people's enthusiasm for Modernism (probes, water baths, whippers, and all) is annoying, why go out of the way to read threads dedicated to these very topics, whether they're about techniques, restaurants, or sources of materials, when there are heaps of other topics and discussions to explore?

If I'm entirely uninterested in a topic, I just don't bother looking at discussions of it. It would never even cross my mind that these discussions shouldn't exist because they don't interest me.


Michaela, aka "Mjx"
Manager, eG Forums
mscioscia@egstaff.org

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Please clarify what you mean when you say 'Modernism' and 'Modernist'.

I thought I knew the meaning of 'down to earth', and have a very clear idea of what I mean by 'Modernism' (respectively, 'grounded in reality and practical' and 'the pursuit of an understanding of how food works, the exploration of the available means for achieving desired results in the kitchen, and the application of both to get the best possible results when cooking').

I suspect we're having a discussion about two entirely different things; you've exclusively expressed your distaste for certain equipment and ingredients, when those are merely the means to certain (by no means all) ends, and many of today's Modernist ingredients and equipment will be obsolete or mainstream in 100 years, just as those newfangled blenders and prepared pectin were, decades ago.

We're not going to agree on this Michaela, but that's perfectly ok. Not every argument has to come to an agreement. Or even accommodation.


Edited by Jason Perlow (log)

Jason Perlow

Co-Founder, The Society for Culinary Arts & Letters

offthebroiler.com - Food Blog | View my food photos on Instagram

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We're not going to agree on this Michaela, but that's perfectly ok. Not every argument has to come to an agreement. Or even accommodation.

Heck, I'm just trying to figure out if we were even discussing the same thing!

But that aside, 'bacon explosion'? I'm intrigued. State/county fair sort of thing?


Michaela, aka "Mjx"
Manager, eG Forums
mscioscia@egstaff.org

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We're not going to agree on this Michaela, but that's perfectly ok. Not every argument has to come to an agreement. Or even accommodation.

Heck, I'm just trying to figure out if we were even discussing the same thing!

But that aside, 'bacon explosion'? I'm intrigued. State/county fair sort of thing?

I wish it was just a county or state thing. No, It's a obsession with bacon thing that started in the BBQ community probably five years ago. Now everyone is doing it.

https://www.google.com/search?q=bacon+explosion&aq=f&oq=bacon+explosion&aqs=chrome.0.57j5j0l2j62.3288&sugexp=chrome,mod=14&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8

I love bacon. Really really love bacon. But I don't like bacon explosions, it's the ultimate lily gilding over the top "lets see if we can weaponize bacon and be disgusting americans" thing.


Jason Perlow

Co-Founder, The Society for Culinary Arts & Letters

offthebroiler.com - Food Blog | View my food photos on Instagram

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So now you are anti-American?

Knew it all along.

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But this is strictly in the realm of very fine dining and a very particular type of fine dining...

That being said this doesn't belong in every fine dining restaurant and most certainly not in the home

Tell that to Mr. Birds Eye :wink: .


Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

mweinstein@eGstaff.org

Tasty Travails - My Blog

My eGullet FoodBog - A Tale of Two Boroughs

Was it you baby...or just a Brilliant Disguise?

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