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TDG: Craig Camp, Culinary Anarchist


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Confessions of a Culinary Anarchist.

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Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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Niente - but that is the point. I like salad with pizza. I think this is because it gives me the illusion of eating healthier. In Italy there are many 'pizza' type things with greens on top but they are usually cooked greens. There are also pizze with raw greens on the top, but that's OK - you just don't order the salad on the side. If you dig a little bit there are always logical reasons behind all the Italian rules - much like red wine with meat and white wine with fish. Yes there are exceptions but in in general the rule is true.

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"A guiding principle in Italian dining is that you eat one food at a time and that every food has its place."

http://www.nsa.naples.navy.mil/gaetansa/newpage124.htm

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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Good article, Craig.

Can you provide some examples of outre rules and the logic behind them?

(Not the old "no cheese with fish" rule, unless you feel you must.)

"I've caught you Richardson, stuffing spit-backs in your vile maw. 'Let tomorrow's omelets go empty,' is that your fucking attitude?" -E. B. Farnum

"Behold, I teach you the ubermunch. The ubermunch is the meaning of the earth. Let your will say: the ubermunch shall be the meaning of the earth!" -Fritzy N.

"It's okay to like celery more than yogurt, but it's not okay to think that batter is yogurt."

Serving fine and fresh gratuitous comments since Oct 5 2001, 09:53 PM

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"A guiding principle in Italian dining is that you eat one food at a time and that every food has its place."

http://www.nsa.naples.navy.mil/gaetansa/newpage124.htm

Wonderful, accurate and witty page, everyone should read it!

I particularly liked this : 'But if you order coffee or tea during the meal, ask for the ketchup, bottle, or request a doggie bag…watch out, you will be in big trouble'. I have an American friend who absolutely insists, vehemently, that he have his coffee with his dessert. He makes a big deal of this, telling the waiter at least three times and, guess what, ..........he NEVER gets his coffee with his dessert!

The page missed out two points:

You are meant to drink beer with pizza, wine is a big no-no. I've been in pizzarias in Naples that do not even offer wine! They serve only beer!

The other rule is for all the 'trendies' amongst us: It is NOT considered chic to drink wine if you are not eating. For example, if you go to go to a bar and order a nice glass of Soave you do not end up looking like a gourmand - at best you end up looking low class and at worse an alcoholic!

As I said, great page, funny and very true!

Edited by peterpumkino (log)
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Have just read Confessions Of A Culinary Anarchist and it's also very funny and very true.

I like this comment of Craig's: I thought I would be bored by the culinary mono-culture of Italy as compared to the all-encompassing diversity of the United States, but I found the reverse to be true.

When I first moved to the States (this was before fast food places opened in Europe) I was truly amazed at the diverse food available. I couldn't wait to eat Smorgasbrod at Sweden House, fresh sea food at Red Lobster, Italian at the Olive Garden, Mexican at Taco Bell - I thought I had died and gone to heaven. Duh! At the end of the day it's quality not quantity that matters!

When I first moved to Italy years ago as a young, non-drinking, naive, musician, I married an Italian girl (from Ivrea in Piemonte) and was invited into many homes - when asked what I wanted to drink I insisted on aranciata (no wine not even San Pelligrino). God knows what the Italians thought of me! So I can certainly relate to all of Craig's comments, except I'm no anarchist - as the bad joke referring to rape said, I just lie back and enjoy it.

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Some very interesting points in this thread. I love that the US Navy gives guidance to its people on eating in Italy :smile:

I have to say that I disagree with some of the strictures placed by Craig and Peter on practices such as drinking wine with pizza, or drinking wine without a meal (incidentally I absolutely deny that even Italians would agree with that !!!) or eating salad with pizza. Sure, this may be the custom in Italy, and I don't say they're wrong. In which case why should they say that anyone else would be wrong in not following their custom ? That smacks of elitism (down, Rover, down :biggrin: )

Some such customs, or "rules", derive from an understanding of what goes with what, what brings out the best in certain foods, and so on. It makes sense for the uninitiated to observe these customs because in that way they are likely to have the best eating experience. So indeed I could accept that salad and pizza just don't go well together, and the combination is likely to make the pizza seem too bland and heavy, and the hot cheese might spoil the flavour of the salad ingredients.

Other customs are just that --- customs whose origins are lost in the distant past, and which no-one could adequately explain in logical terms. I don't understand the problem of wine with pizza. Sure you wouldn't drink a fine wine with pizza, but a rich, coarse country wine goes perfectly with it in my view. Indeed, I find fizzy drinks (beer or soft drinks) actually spoil the pizza because they bloat your stomach and overpower any subtlety of flavour in the pizza. So I always drink wine with pizza in Italy :raz:

I am entirely in favour of keeping all those customs, because they help to build and maintain tradition and diversity, and they add to the whole cultural experience of eating. All I maintain is that keeping the customs is a choice for each individual, and it is wrong that those who do keep them should sneer at those who don't, or that there should be any suggestion of right and wrong in these matters.

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Great article, Craig! But this thread could go on forever! Don't forget that no self-respecting pizza place is open for lunch (at least in the north). No cappucino after 10:00AM, but never hesitate to put a quarter-pound of sugar in a single espresso! Never bring wine as a gift to an Italian host who produces his or her own! It is a lifetime's work NOT to give yourself away as being American. Even if you do not speak and wear fine Italian threads, you are destined to do something at the table that will sell you out! Thank God the Italians are as tolerant as they are.

Bill Klapp

bklapp@egullet.com

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I see it as my duty as an American to give Europeans as much scoffing and tsk-tsking material as possible. So I would order salad with pizza and then say stuff like, "Y'all don't eat salad with pizza? Well why not? I just love it! In America we eat ice cream with pizza! Sometimes we put the ice cream on the pizza and have a salad with it, and then afterwards we go out and we just drink wine -- no food -- all night! And if we need a snack we melt some cheese over fish and drink it with a chai latte!"

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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I see it as my duty as an American to give Europeans as much scoffing and tsk-tsking material as possible. So I would order salad with pizza and then say stuff like, "Y'all don't eat salad with pizza? Well why not? I just love it! In America we eat ice cream with pizza! Sometimes we put the ice cream on the pizza and have a salad with it, and then afterwards we go out and we just drink wine -- no food -- all night! And if we need a snack we melt some cheese over fish and drink it with a chai latte!"

You just couldn't help yourself by using that Southern accent, now could you?

Dean McCord

VarmintBites

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You just couldn't help yourself by using that Southern accent, now could you?

You got audio on your eGullet, Varmint ? :blink: Awww shoot, now y'got me feelin plumb ornery. How much extra do you have to pay for that ? :cool:

I just love it! In America we eat ice cream with pizza! Sometimes we put the ice cream on the pizza and have a salad with it, and then afterwards we go out and we just drink wine -- no food -- all night! And if we need a snack we melt some cheese over fish and drink it with a chai latte!

Of course the real problem for us Euros is that all of the above is true :laugh: If there were ever a vote for an accurately representative American dish, it would surely go to "waffles with bacon and maple syrup" or maybe just "pizza with ice cream and salad".

But ever true to the European spirit of Voltaire, I will defend to the death their right to eat it.

...well, maybe not quite to the death, but as long as the principle is clear. Thank you.

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You got audio on your eGullet, Varmint ?  :blink:  Awww shoot, now y'got me feelin plumb ornery. How much extra do you have to pay for that ?  :cool:

Yup. I just had to swap me some possum fritters for the new and improved eGullet Surround Sound. It comes with an Aroma Mode, too. Ain't nuthin to it.

Dean McCord

VarmintBites

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Uhhh . . .

Anyway, I DO cringe when HWOE orders a cappucino after dinner.

I guess if you repress anarchism one way (in eating), it pops out somewhere else. How many governments has Italy had since the end of WW II? :wink:

But then again, isn't Italy the source of that most wonderful bit of anarchic eating: a breakfast of ice cream on brioche? :wub:

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I guess if you repress anarchism one way (in eating), it pops out somewhere else.  How many governments has Italy had since the end of WW II?  :wink:

But then again, isn't Italy the source of that most wonderful bit of anarchic eating: a breakfast of ice cream on brioche?  :wub:

1. More than the number of years.

2. Yes in Sicilia they have that wonderful breakfast treat. Never in the north!

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Have just read Confessions Of A Culinary Anarchist and it's also very funny and very true.

What he said. Even though I have probably been scarred for life by witnessing 2 old Italian women nearly come to blows over the "correct" recipe for grain pie (Grandma was feisty). "The Rules". I can relate.

Also amused by your description of your Mom's idea of a typical American menu - my Grandmother used to attempt those dishes when we wanted to eat "American-style".

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Even in Portugal (really a non-traditional country playing at tradition - or is it the other way around?) it was easy to feel like a food anarchist. With a caffine low approaching, I requested an espresso while waiting for lunch. I had to convince them that I meant now, not after dessert. (I had actually considered stopping at the cafe next door before going to lunch to order a quick espresso just to avoid this!)

Also, picking up some food for a train ride, I tried asking for a whole orange from a cafe, in the morning. They kept explaining that they didn't have to go cups for orange juice, and I kept trying to convey, an unpeeled, whole orange was all I wanted. Finally got the idea across. The orange was listed on the receipt as "dessert".

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There are pockets of fidelity and order in the US. Try ordering mayonnaise on a pastrami sandwich at Katz's deli -- as many Europeans attempt -- and you'll experience a level of condescension few Italians could ever muster. Try learning the barbecue code in North Carolina so as not to come across as a profound puddin' head -- it takes years of training or a personal escort by Varmint. Or order a Diet Coke at the Super Duper Weenie and see what happens.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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So, no tuna melts in Italy?  With all those great panini machines?

I had the greatest tuna sandwich of my life at Bar Rinelli in Rome, just off Piazza Barberini. Just tuna, olive oil, and pepperoncino. The tuna may have been seasoned with additional things; I don't know. But it sure didn't need cheese. A tuna melt is a wonderful thing here in the USA (I recommend the one from Kitsch'n on Roscoe in Chicago, where they brown the cheese on the griddle so it actually acts like the top half of the sandwich), but once I tasted this sandwich in Rome, I understood how superfluous cheese would be on it.

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Fun thread!

Thanks Craig for an excellent article and Steve for starting it.

I can certainly attest to a lot of the same "rules" growing up in my Brooklyn, Italian-American household. Salad came after the main course, soda with pizza (I was a kid), pasta as a first course before a meat, fish or poultry based main course and certainly no cheese on seafood, with one clear exception. My mother used to make a crab sauce over bucatini pasta that to this day remains my ultimate comfort food. Live blue crabs were split open and cleaned out(roe was preserved) The upper shell was stuffed with an herbed bread crumb mixture that was mixed with grated pecorino cheese in about a 2:1 ratio. The stuffed shell was placed back on top of the crab body, tied together with butcher's twine and cooked in the tomato sauce for hours to permeate the flavors. The pasta with the sauce was heaven and even better the next day. After this, it was down and dirty eating the crabs. This was best done either with shirt off or a complete smock. Now I have to try to find fresh crabs. Unfortunately that is one of the problems of living where I do :biggrin:

John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

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  • 3 weeks later...

What this discussion points up is that ethnic groups with an old and complex culinary tradition have inflexible rules, both positive and negative. As they are infiltrated by modern commercially motivated cuisine, they may pass through a period incorporating the best of both worlds, but they will ultimately succumb to a global uniformity in which only the well-off can afford what was once the food of the peasants.

John Whiting, London

Whitings Writings

Top Google/MSN hit for Paris Bistros

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