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High Standards


jaybee
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If you just talk about the difference between eating the peach in it's unmanipulated natural state and doing something to that peach (no matter how simple or complex), than the doing something has immediately added complexity. Whether what you did to the peach is an improvement or not depends on your skill, imagination, quality of other ingredients, palate, place.

The first half is quite right, Toby. So we are all agreed on what "complexity" really means.

The second half might be right, but you have missed one important option from your list. "Whether what you did to the peach is an improvement or not" also depends on whether or not the person who is going to eat the more complex peach thinks it's an improvement.

For example, Heston Blumenthal might well have added liquorice, tobacco and black pepper. He would think that an improvement, but I would not. So the determination of "improvement" is totally subjective. Incidentally, that's not an extreme example. For instance, I happen not to like yoghourt, so any chef who added yoghourt to a peach, which very many people would say was an improvement, would find me saying the opposite.

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But, peach pie is less simple than a plain peach.

Of course it is. I'm afraid the plain peach is a bit of a red herring, to mix a metaphor. The paradigm is simple food (not to the exclusion of more complicated food).

Shall I part my hair behind? Do I dare to eat a peach?

I shall wear white flannel trousers, and walk upon the beach.

I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each.

I'm hollywood and I approve this message.

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Why do you assume that the pasta at Babbo is better when it doesn't taste as good in this instance?

No I am not talking about Yvonne. Let's move the example to something else. A person is going to eat three hamburgers. DB Burger, Peter Luger and a Big Mac from McDonalds. The person decides that the Big Mac is the best of the three. How do we tell if they are an expert and they are correct, or a know-nothing and they don't know what they are talking about?

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A person is going to eat three hamburgers. DB Burger, Peter Luger and a Big Mac from McDonalds. The person decides that the Big Mac is the best of the three. How do we tell if they are an expert and they are correct, or a know-nothing and they don't know what they are talking about?

if they end up PMing you then i suppose we know the answer. otherwise they are know-nothings. tourists, if you will. if i may. as it were.

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For example, Heston Blumenthal might well have added liquorice, tobacco and black pepper. He would think that an improvement, but I would not. So the determination of "improvement" is totally subjective. Incidentally, that's not an extreme example. For instance, I happen not to like yoghourt, so any chef who added yoghourt to a peach, which very many people would say was an improvement, would find me saying the opposite.

But what if the problem is that your palate can't asses the dish properly? What if it is the greatest dessert ever made but you don't understand it? Is your assessment valid?

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For example, Heston Blumenthal might well have added liquorice, tobacco and black pepper. He would think that an improvement, but I would not. So the determination of "improvement" is totally subjective. Incidentally, that's not an extreme example. For instance, I happen not to like yoghourt, so any chef who added yoghourt to a peach, which very many people would say was an improvement, would find me saying the opposite.

But what if the problem is that your palate can't asses the dish properly? What if it is the greatest dessert ever made but you don't understand it? Is your assessment valid?

It's like having a low IQ--these people were their damned defective-subjective low end palates. They can't under stand the best food.

I'm hollywood and I approve this message.

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But what if the problem is that your palate can't asses the dish properly? What if it is the greatest dessert ever made but you don't understand it? Is your assessment valid?

so it's as simple as those who "get it," and those who don't. the "haves"and "have nots" so to speak.

Edited by tommy (log)
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so it's as simple as those who "get it," and those who don't. the "haves"and "have nots" so to speak.

I didn't say that. I just asked how do we take into consideration that the conclusion is faulty due to the inability of the taster? Why does the fault always have to lie with the food? Why not the taster?

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A person is going to eat three hamburgers. DB Burger, Peter Luger and a Big Mac from McDonalds. The person decides that the Big Mac is the best of the three. How do we tell if they are an expert and they are correct, or a know-nothing and they don't know what they are talking about?

We can't tell from the data you give. He might have a poorly educated palate. Equally he could be an eccentric expert. What we can’t say is that a preference for MacDonald’s is “wrong”. At least not wrong in the sense that the statement “the earth is flat” is wrong.

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What we can’t say is that a preference for MacDonald’s is “wrong”. At least not wrong in the sense that the statement “the earth is flat” is wrong.

You are just delaying the inevitable. We know where each place gets their meat from. What type of quality they buy. What the fat to meat ratio is. How they grind it. What method they use to cook it. We can measure the other components like the bun and the quality of the ingredients used to make it. And we can measure the quality of the condiments. In fact we know all of those things (generally) before anyone ever puts a hambuger in their mouth. So in this environment, how can anyone who says a Big Mac is the best of the three burgers know what they are talking about? And of course this doesn't take into account circumstantial evidence like if you were to choose 50 restaurant reviewers from daily newspapers, likely that zero would pick the Big Mac as best. So how much more evidence do we need then this to be able to prove it? And we don't need to prove it like we can prove the earth is round. Nobody requires that level of precision when describing food.

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If you just talk about the difference between eating the peach in it's unmanipulated natural state and doing something to that peach (no matter how simple or complex), than the doing something has immediately added complexity. Whether what you did to the peach is an improvement or not depends on your skill, imagination, quality of other ingredients, palate, place.

The first half is quite right, Toby. So we are all agreed on what "complexity" really means.

The second half might be right, but you have missed one important option from your list. "Whether what you did to the peach is an improvement or not" also depends on whether or not the person who is going to eat the more complex peach thinks it's an improvement.

The only way I, as a cook, can judge whether what I've cooked tastes good or not is if it tastes good to my palate. Much as I like to cook for other people, and enjoy any pleasure they derive from my cooking, I really don't want to (and don't have to, and don't even know if I could) cook in a way that will please someone else's palate but not mine. I suppose I could do it, but then I wouldn't like it. I find this can be a big problem with something as simple as salt and how mine or others' palates are calibrated to saltiness.

So to get back to the original question of this thread, sometimes I don't like a restaurant's cooking because, while I may recognize that the ingredients, techniques are excellent, I just don't like the same tastes as the chef.

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I'm staying out of the fray, but thought I'd throw this quote into the mix and add a link to an article I posted that's being ignored :raz:

``It's easy to cook a filet mignon, or to saute a piece of trout, serve it with browned butter à la meunière, and call yourself a chef. But that's not really cooking. That's heating,'' Keller writes in ``The French Laundry Cookbook.''

http://forums.egullet.org/index.php?act=ST...f=2&t=15834&hl=

ediot: link to the article the quote is from, duh

Edited by gknl (log)
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So to get back to the original question of this thread, sometimes I don't like a restaurant's cooking because, while I may recognize that the ingredients, techniques are excellent, I just don't like the same tastes as the chef.

Toby, I knew that we were in agreement :smile: We are also both right :biggrin: Appreciation of food is a matter of individual taste above all else.

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What we can’t say is that a preference for MacDonald’s is “wrong”. At least not wrong in the sense that the statement “the earth is flat” is wrong.

You are just delaying the inevitable. We know where each place gets their meat from. What type of quality they buy. What the fat to meat ratio is. How they grind it. What method they use to cook it. We can measure the other components like the bun and the quality of the ingredients used to make it. And we can measure the quality of the condiments. In fact we know all of those things (generally) before anyone ever puts a hambuger in their mouth.

Your reasoning is circular. You imply that we know that the Luger burger is going to taste better because of a “better” meat. Yet the only reason that the meat is considered better is because most people prefer the taste.

And of course this doesn't take into account circumstantial evidence like if you were to choose 50 restaurant reviewers from daily newspapers, likely that zero would pick the Big Mac as best. So how much more evidence do we need then this to be able to prove it?

All that proves is that most people prefer Luger's to MacDonald's.

And we don't need to prove it like we can prove the earth is round.

The only one anxious to prove anything appears to be you. The rest of us think that proof is quite impossible in matters of taste.

Edited by g.johnson (log)
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Toby, I knew that we were in agreement  :smile:   We are also both right   :biggrin:  Appreciation of food is a matter of individual taste above all else.

Yes, but that brings us back to the question of palates -- we've had several threads about how sense of taste actually works; the most informative for the discussion of consensus of taste was the one g.johnson started about the three kinds of tasters. According to that theory, beyond educating or habituating a palate (for instance, getting accustomed to saltier or spicier foods) there was the element of an actual physiological response to various tastes that differed among the three types of tasters, where the super tasters were going to recognize tastes (sometimes unpleasant) that the rest of us just don't taste. As I remember, most people were in the mid-range of tasters, and so I suppose that among the mid-range there is some kind of consensus.

As for individual taste, I had a friend who only liked beef extremely well done, dried out, tough, leathery, what a big waste, right? He was wrong.

Edited by Toby (log)
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All that proves is that most people prefer Luger's to MacDonald's.

But why do they prefer it? Is it random? People must go through some routine where they evaluate it before they reach a conclusion don't they? And why do so many people come to the same conclusion? What does the fact that 50 out of 50 newspaper critics could choose the same burger mean? Some of this must prove something. It can't be completely up to the individual palate. Too many palates are alike for that to be the case.

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Yes, but that brings up back to the question of palates...

Absolutely so. I remember that thread, and G.J's posts were very informative. What you have to note is that the concept of "super-tasters" is not a qualitative one, it's strictly physiological. So what they can do is to differentiate and identify specific flavors, but that doesn't imply any qualitative assessment as to whether any flavor is good or bad. Training a palate to identify flavors is also a physiological issue.

Habituating a palate is interesting. On the one hand it can mean "dulling" the palate so that it no longer identifies certain flavors. On the other hand it can mean training the mind to believe that certain flavors which it instinctively finds unpleasant are not so.

The use in common language of the word taste as in "good or bad taste" relates to the qualitative issue only.

As for individual taste, I had a friend who only liked beef extremely well done, dried out, tough, leathery, what a big waste, right? He was wrong

No, he wasn't wrong. If he likes dried out beef, he likes dried out beef (unless he's lying to you). I guess that makes him unusual, but he's not wrong. I doubt that he could persuade you or me to habituate our palates until we agreed with him :raz:

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Toby - Macrosan is right. Those mealy and pale tomatoes they sell at Gristedes are better then the heirloom tomatoes at the market at the height of the season. You know why? Macrosan's friend who likes the shoe leather beef said so. In fact we should phone him before dinner from now on so he can tell us what is good to eat.

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All that proves is that most people prefer Luger's to MacDonald's.

But why do they prefer it? Is it random? People must go through some routine where they evaluate it before they reach a conclusion don't they? And why do so many people come to the same conclusion? What does the fact that 50 out of 50 newspaper critics could choose the same burger mean? Some of this must prove something. It can't be completely up to the individual palate. Too many palates are alike for that to be the case.

Ran out for a quick late lunch. Went to Carl's Jr., a local fast fooder cuz it was quick. Got the six dollar burger (actually $3.95 but $5.49 or so in a combo meal with fries and a coke). After I walked it back to my desk, it was still warm and tasted (uncharacteristically) great (great, do you hear me Steve?). The fries and the coke were ordinary, but the burger was very, very good. Note to self: go off peak hours for chance of fresher ingredients and freshly cooked. Probably helps to be hungry as well. Of course, after I spilled some juice from the burger on my trousers, it was a nine dollar burger.

I'm hollywood and I approve this message.

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