Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.

Sign in to follow this  
Wilfrid

Cook at home or eat in a restaurant?

Recommended Posts

You left out eating in someone else's home...

My least favorite of the options, Bux, and a very high risk project indeed unless you are confident of your host's abilities in the kitchen.  Of my American and English friends, I can think of only two, maybe three, who can prepare food to a reasonably good standard (one may actually be a better cook than me).   My partner's Dominican family and friends are, in contrast, a safe bet so long as they stick to Dominican home cooking.

I am also pretty high risk myself as a guest.  I make people nervous because they know I have strong opinions about food.  And I did once hear myself say:  "This is surprisingly good" when I was a guest at someone's table.  How's that for bad manners?  They should have thrown a saucepan at my head.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The few potluck dinners I have participated in have been scarring experiences. I was put off humuus for a decade by one and can never look at an egg noodle without a slight frisson of dread.

To paraphrase the philosopher Fatus Guyus, "Most people enjoy their own cooking. Most people have low standards."

Eating at someone's home who has not been thoroughly examined beforehand for several months as to their culinary sense is foolhardy at best. A potluck is a concatenation of random preferences, habits, boxed mixes, and tinned soup mystery ingredients.

This way lies madness.


"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

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Wow, sounds awful. I haven't had that experience, must be my guest list, tho' I don't make it based on culinary skill. Last Thanksgiving's dinner was a delectable feast from beginning to end (don't get me started).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

We've talked about doing a potluck dinner, but giving everybody the recipes we want them to make rather than making it truly "lucky." I've heard of people doing this before. I've held off on trying because, well, it seems a little gauche to tell guests what to make and what method to use to make it. We've also talked about the same idea but telling people what generally to bring without giving them an actual recipe, or telling them to bring a side dish/dessert/appetizer that fits with whatever theme the meal will have. Anybody tried this?

I used to attend a lot of meetings that were "potluck dinner" meetings, back in my more activist days. I always made the effort to bring something decently prepared that most anybody would eat...some chili, baked pasta, a strata...simple but good dishes. I got really sick of being the only one to contribute something I'd call "dinner." I finally cried foul when I brought this nice baked pasta dish and found only two other meeting participants (of the 10 or so present) bothered to bring anything...one brought a 2-liter of Diet Coke, and the other one brought chips and salsa. Of course everybody leapt upon the pasta and demolished it before I could even get a small portion for myself. So after all my work I left the meeting hungry and went home and had cereal for dinner. Never have I felt so unappreciated.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Also, I dislike the term pot-luck and feel like I have an opportunity to introduce a new term. What do you think of "cooperative dinner"? Anything other term you think is better?

This made me think about the term "pot luck".  At a glance, its derivation seems obvious - taking a chance on what's in the pot - and maybe it is.  I know it goes back at least to nineteenth century England - I recall the Pooters in George and Weedon Grossmith's Diary of a Nobody asking tea guests whether they would be willing "to take pot luck".

Can anyone take us further with its origins, or should I go look it up?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
We've talked about doing a potluck dinner, but giving everybody the recipes we want them to make rather than making it truly "lucky." I've heard of people doing this before. I've held off on trying because, well, it seems a little gauche to tell guests what to make and what method to use to make it. We've also talked about the same idea but telling people what generally to bring without giving them an actual recipe, or telling them to bring a side dish/dessert/appetizer that fits with whatever theme the meal will have. Anybody tried this?

My parents were part of a group that did the first kind. There was a group of 6 couples. Every month or so 1 or 2 of the couples would get together to plan a meal. They'd pick the theme and research & select the recipes. The recipes were then distributed among all the couples. They kept track of who did what dish so one couple wasn't always stuck with the expense of the (usually) most expensive main course. On the appointed day they'd get together at one of the couples homes and bring the dish they were assigned. They, and all us kids, referred to this as the Gourmet Group. They kept this up for 10-15 years. Eventually, they started going to restaurants more frequently. Now, one of the couples is divorced (the wife & new husband stuck with the group), two couples live out of state, and the others "snowbird". But they still get together (if not the whole group than 2-4 couples at a time) a few times a year.

I have done the second kind. For the last Thanksgiving I assigned various tasks (bring a green veg, bring dessert, etc.). Actually one gentleman is particularly cool about this. He is part of one of the aforementioned family friends (see above), who retired a couple of years ago. Ever since then he's been in charge of the kitchen. He's not very creative, but you can give him any recipe and he does a very good job of it (I think being a retired pharmacist helps with following the recipes, he's like a chemist in the kitchen). So, when he offered to make dessert he also asked me for a specific recipe. I gave him a pecan pie recipe I had been meaning to try - it came out very good. He's also learned to make many of the dishes his wife is famous for at holiday time (and he makes'm better).  :biggrin:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

in terms of dining, there is nothing i love more than sitting down to a well-executed, delicious, beautiful, fabulous meal, shared with people i love, in my home or at the home of the friend who cooked the meal...especially on  a summer evening, at a picnic table in the back yard, candles and torches blazing, many bottles of wine chilled and ready to drink.  this is living.

my motto is:  YOU CAN HAVE MORE MONEY, BUT YOU CAN"T HAVE MORE FUN  :smile:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Does anyone do block parties?  Our block has one every summer on the National Night Out affiliated with the Block Watch program.  We close our street for 1 night (which one can get a permit to do on this night providing you are not on a major street), and we set up long tables complete w/table cloths, fresh flowers and everyone brings a dish.  These parties are a lot of fun, and in addition to great food, we get to know all our neighbors.   We also invite our local firemen and police to stop by.   A couple of times the firemen have brought their truck over and the kids have a great time getting to sit in the truck.  We used to have grilled salmon w/ everyone bringing a side dish, but now we've changed it to where everyone brings what meat they want to grill plus a side dish to share.  It's surprising, but the food turns out very well, and there is always a lot of asking for recipes afterwards.  The block watch captain is basically in charge of getting the permit and dropping off flyers with the date & time.

Also speaking of potlucks, our NW moderator mamster has invited the northwest eGullet group over to his place for a potluck for our next eGullet get together in March.  We're in the planning stages right now.  col klink has offered to bring some of his smoked/barbequed meat...his choices present us with the delicious dilema of choosing from smoked chicken, duck, salmon, beef (and later on this summer he's offering barbequed ribs).  The rest of us are all bringing side dishes.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I hope we can avoid any scarring experiences at the Seattle potluck, even though I may be deep frying.

We're taking the precaution of preannouncing our contributions and clearing them via grunts of group consensus.  This is how chimps run their potlucks, and I figure what's good enough for one primate is good for another.


Matthew Amster-Burton, aka "mamster"

Author, Hungry Monkey, coming in May

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
... eating in someone else's home...
Wilfrid:

My least favorite of the options, Bux, and a very high risk project indeed unless you are confident of your host's abilities in the kitchen.

Well of course you choose your invitations carefully, if you can't choose your friends on their culinary interests. You live in NY. Eating in a restaurant is a high risk project if you're not selective. I was particularly thinking of the home of a couple of professional cooks I know.


Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Cabrales - my choice of reading material is most often non-fictional works, mostly social history stuff, and trashy Sci-Fi. So the former is educational, but rarely about food. ...

If you would like to discuss this further we could state a seperate thread?

Adam -- A new thread can probably be put off for now?The reason I ask about your reading is that I find reading about food (mostly in books about French restaurants or other food-specific books) to be an outlet (an avenue for expressing, though anticipation, comparison, etc.) desires about food. Reading about food can also prompt me to want to try the relevant dishes, so the way reading affects my relationship with food is rather layered.  :wink:

On potluck, I had some potluck breakfasts a long time ago (in my student days) that I enjoyed. The host would make all of the hot items (e.g., scrambled eggs, pancakes) and brew good coffee, but there would be coordination for guests to bring different juices, bagels, flavored cream cheeses, store-bought smoked salmon, fresh fruit salad (also less prone to mess-ups), etc.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Adam,

I read Midnight in Sicily just before a trip there a couple of years ago. Found it great, but didn't remember the food (in the book I mean...I definitely remember the food in Siciy itself) so much. I'm going to re-read it.

As to the home vs restaurant topic, I'll take home any night as long I get to cook. My wife thinks I'm nuts because I'll often spend more time preparing a meal when I'm home alone than if I'm feeding the family. I just like the whole process, from assessing what's on hand and how I can make it taste good to the actual prep and cooking.

When I'm feeding the whole family, someone is always asking, "When's dinner?" or wishing I was making something else.

I've often said the best meals are the ones you eat at home, but I've also been wrong many times. I'm lucky enough to get paid to eat in restaurants, so I do get to eat at a lot of them, and maybe that makes me a little jaded. I know I can't take the time to prepare stocks and do all of the other things a good restaurant kitchen can. But I think my preference for home has more to do with some of the non-food aspects of eating already mentioned.

Mamster...did you ever read Trillin's old New Yorker piece about deep-frying turkeys? It has some great lines about burns. Don't know if it's online or not.

Jim


olive oil + salt

Real Good Food

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Blue Heron, the neighborhood party sounds wonderful.  Most of the parties we throw/attend are potluck or "everyone bring a heavy-grazing dish."  Out here in the tiny country town where we live, we do potluck all the time and the food is always all wonderful.  It's weird how that happens--almost serendipitous.  In addition to everything else I love about my town, I can't believe how progressive and skilled my neighbors are in the kitchen.  Part of it has to do with the fact that those of us who socialize are "birds of a feather," and also with the reality that we live too far from any major city to dine out often--so we are forced to cook.

Last fall the mayor and his wife threw a wonderful oyster roast--they ordered oysters from the Gulf of Mexico which were shipped within two days--we all brought sides, while D & B provided oysters, a shucking table, a grill, and a deep fryer.  One of the guests broiled pans of them in the oven with marinara, bacon and provolone.  It was an AWESOME party--it could never have been as fun in a restaurant.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Adam,

I read Midnight in Sicily just before a trip there a couple of years ago. Found it great, but didn't remember the food (in the book I mean...I definitely remember the food in Siciy itself) so much. I'm going to re-read it.

Jim - sorry, I didn't see your reply to my post until now. Here are some food notes from Midnight in Sicily, so you don't have to re-read the book. You read this before going there? It would have terrified me to much I think.

http://www.duffyandsnellgrove.com.au/Teacher....resence

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Out here in the tiny country town where we live, we do potluck all the time and the food is always all wonderful

stellabella -- Thanks for your description. When I was a kid, I read about fictional communities where people would all know each other and have gatherings. I also imagined that people would exchange home-made jam and canned items, and bring food to sustain neighbors when they were ill or otherwise preoccupied. Are such acts of mutual caring figments of my imagination, or could they occur from time to time in a community such as yours?  :wink:

Also, do you have special potlucks during certain holidays?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Adam,

Thanks for the link to those notes. Reading them triggered memories, and I know that after reading about panelle and le vucciria I made a special effort to seek them out. In Cefalu we found a small bakery that made panelle panini, and I went back almost every day for the soft roll filled with several layers of the thin chick pea frittter. In le vucciria, Palermo's old market that Robb describes as having been completely altered since his first visit, we wandered around but kept coming back to the food sections. I had a sandwuch in the meat stalls that was incredible. The vendor had a crude wok-like pan (maybe an old hubcap) set on a propane burner at an angle. He'd pour a bit of olive into it, slide some thin slices of beef into the oil, cook for a few seconds, then squeeze half a lemon over it before sliding into a roll.

We had several interesting conversations with Sicilians about the mafia. It's still a force but not nearly so obvious as in the 1980s, altho' caravans of carabinieri screaming through Palermo were a common sight. We went to Trapani to see the high-end shops frequented by the mafia wives that Robb described, and in a trattoria there watched a very large man be treated deferentially by the owner and speculated about his connections. But we always felt safe in Sicily, and it’s probably our favorite place in Italy. We’re planning to go back next spring.

Jim


olive oil + salt

Real Good Food

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Wow, that sounds wonderful. Sicily, is  has been on the list of must go places, but this confirms it. I have made the chick pea fritter (they also eat it in the North-west of Italy and in the South of France) at home, but it just isn't the same has having it as street food.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Street food. In China I had a radish that was roasted in a charcoal contraption. The vendor carved it, salted it, dipped it in a sauce and put it in my hands.  :smile:  :smile:  :smile:

Some of the best meals I have had that I haven't made have been in situations like that.


"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

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Steve Klc suggested I post about this on this thread - there is (drum roll please) and third option! Impromptu gourmet, a high-end delivery slash takeout slash cook yourself option. These are kits from Charlie Palmer, Jean-George, Peter Kelly, Eric Ripert, and Claudia Fleming (Hi Steve!) that are delivered to you and you prepare the food at home. I've done Jean-Georges' black-trumpet mushrooms crusted lamb which arrived with lamb in a bag, lamb just in a bag, scallion in a bag, polenta...you get it. But it was lots of fun, and I only needed to provide the pan, the salt and pepper and olive. I just checked their website and it is down. Anyone know anything about the state of their wares?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

stellabella, your neighborhood oyster roast party sounded fantastic!  

cabrales, I never thought about it, but our neighborhood has some of the elements you describe.   My neighbor across the street (until she passed away last year) used to bring me homemade Russian borscht, piroshky's and pelmeni dumplings.  A couple of times she had me over to let me help her make the piroshky's so I could learn how.  Next door to her, my neighbor grinds her wheat & brings me fresh baked bread and home made wild huckleberry jam.  Another neighbor goes fishing to Alaska every summer, and when he gets back, he goes up and down the street offering fresh salmon steaks to all of us (he's the same neighbor that provided the salmon for the block parties).  My next door neighbor who is a home gourmet cook has invited me over to dinner for tonight when she heard my hubby is away on a trip (I can't wait, she always makes something really delicious!).  I've also been the lucky recipient of homemade muffins, cookies, fresh fruit in season from various neighbors.  In exchange, I offer my homemade pickled apsparagus, fresh garden tomatoes when they are in season, otherwise, sun-dried tomatoes; homemade soups & meals to new mothers; salads, soups, shrimp cocktails to ill or elderly neighbors.  During the teenie beanie craze, I used to buy happy meals to get the beanies and give the happy meals to the neighbors!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Steve Klc suggested I post about this on this thread - there is (drum roll please) and third option! Impromptu gourmet, a high-end delivery slash takeout slash cook yourself option.

i have seen these up until recently.  certainly i've seen different non-perishable items from this company such as demiglace, etc.  haven't noticed the full meals recently, although i haven't been looking.

i made one when they first came out.  it was lamb chops as i recall.  start to finish in just about 20 minutes if i recall.  it was very good!

since these dinners last only a few days on the grocer's shelf, i would not be surprised if the company fails, at least in respect to the full dinner kits.

along the same lines, if you do some prep over the weekend, or even the night before while you're prepping for that night's dinner, you can shave a lot of time off of cooking.  just last night i rolled out marinated pork chops, thai curry string beans, roasted potatoes, and an arugula salad with a lemon vinagrette in less than 1/2 hour.  the pork chops took the bulk of the time.   as prep on sunday, i set the pork in the marinade, washed the arugala and got it ready, cleaned the potato, steamed the string beans, and that's about it.  nuked the potato to expedite the roasting (pan roasted on the stove).

this is probably the wrong thread to be blabbing about this, but what the heck.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
there is (drum roll please) and third option! Impromptu gourmet, a high-end delivery slash takeout slash cook yourself option. These are kits from Charlie Palmer, Jean-George, Peter Kelly, Eric Ripert, and Claudia Fleming (Hi Steve!) that are delivered to you and you prepare the food at home. I've done Jean-Georges' black-trumpet mushrooms crusted lamb

Liza -- How was the J-G dish's outcome with respect to taste?  Were there lots of black trumpet mushrooms?

In the UK, there is advertised on TV from time to time a service called Leaping Salmon. It is not at the gastronomic levels that the chefs you name make clear, and the commercial is a bit corny. However, for example, one of the mains listed as requiring little skill is Pan Fried Ostrich Steaks with Celeriac Mash, Scallions, Black Trompettes and a Chinese Black Vinegar Sauce with Blue Congo Potato Crisps (I have been wondering how ostrich tastes like).  

http://www.leapingsalmon.com/

The Leaping Salmon service is not inexpensive, though.  The ostrich steaks are, for example, 20 pounds for a serving sufficient for two people.  A menu of (1) Tatin of Cherry Tomatoes, (2) Roast Rump of Lamb, Rosemary and Garlic, served on a bed of Sweet Potatoes with a Mint, Tarragon & Courgette Salsa, and Lemon Butter Sauce, and (3) Chocolate Fondant with White and Dark Chocolate Sauce, is 40 pounds for two.  Also, a limited wine selection is offered (e.g., Moet & Chandon Brut Imperial is not badly priced at 25 pounds, for last minute needs).

I have not utilized this service.  Have members experience to report?  :wink:

Interestingly, the reviews listed on the company's website include the following: (1) "Very professional service...9 out of 10" from the Sunday Times, (2) "The service is really excellent" from the Daily Mail, (3) "Much more rewarding than a take-away..." from the Independent, (4) "a gourmet meal company that really delivers" from the Evening Standard, and (5) "Leapingsalmon is perfect..." from Time Out.  I have not read the full text of the above reviews, and members should not rely.  But the reviews make the company sound a bit interesting.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I love ostrich meat. It's more passionately meaty than most beef of late, and very lean. It takes very well to being barded and doesn't have any gamy quality. (though the Chinese black vinegar sauce could trounce the ostrich if one isn't careful).

I found the J-G dish super. D. and I loved that everything was included, such as the jus. The lamb itself was a nice portion size and you definitely got the headiness of the mushrooms. The kit for two cost around $38, far less than my local takeout would for two.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Street food.

Have members thought about the pros/cons of receiving vaccinations against Hepetitus A and B? The vaccinations take several months to complete, in three shots when I received them. (There didn't seem to be that many cons.)

I feel better about eating street food and food in less developed countries after having received the shots. In the UK, the shots are free from the National Health Service.  :wink:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Sign in to follow this  

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...