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Steve Plotnicki

Has the light dimmed on French cooking?

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Regarding Suvir; firstly, I suspect that English is not his mother tongue, so well done for being able to caulk your hull in a foreign substance. Secondly Survir, I imagine, comes from a different cultural background than many of us so what may appear meandering and political to Plotinki is probably germane to Suvir.

Plotinki, instead of scanning posts in search of chinks (the armour type), why don't you make an effort to assimilate what posters mean. You are too competitive regarding debate and being competitive in one's autumn years is not consistent with either wisdom or the advice of doctors.

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Plotnicki: Bux-Let me try this one.

Disagree with how Pacaud used curry = Disrespectful

Disagree for the reasons Peter stated = Disrespectful

Think chefs should understand curry   = Disrespectful

Is that it?

It must be because the way you have laid it out, there is no room to disagree without being disrespectful.

It's not it and I would suggest you reread what I've written and re-examine both what I've actually said and how I've phrased it. It's certain not disrespectful to disagree with Pacaud on how he used curry. The reasons a person states would actually connote some respect if that person were trying to establish a dialog. And finally it's certainly not disrespectful to think a chef should understand his ingredients. None of that applies to my estimation of Hoffman's remarks and I certainly didn't lay it out at all as you would like to make it appear I have. Here is what I said and I don't know how you get from this to what you have posted.

Bux: It seemed disrespectful, because I felt he hadn't done his homework on western use of curry for 700 years before he criticized Pacuad for not having read Madhur Jaffrey on curry. It seemed disrespectful in that he spoke of absolutes after emeshing himself in the "mystic" of one side of the issue. It seemed disrespectful, because he used the word cosmetically cosmetically in what struck me as a term of disrespect for Pacaud's command of French technique.
Plotnicki: The fact of the matter is that regardless of whether Peter might have been respectful or disrespectful, it has no bearing on how well Pacaud used the curry powder. The statement is either a true statement or not, and when Peter said it he is either being honest about it or not. I don't see how Peter's manners in any way impact a fair evaluation of Pacaud's dish? Maybe you can explain that to me and then I will understand what you are getting.
If the element of disrespect is unimportant, why dwell on it. For me it had importance only in that Pacaud comes as the more highly respected of the two from third party references. I will be happy just to say that in my opinion, Hoffman was wrong and demonstrated a lack of understanding and appreciation of both contemporary French food and that of the last 100 or more years. I've pretty well laid out what I know already and others have posted more interesting information about Pacaud's influences. India has just not had a monopoly on these spices for hundreds of years, but Hoffman seemed to believe they did and that he had the key.

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.

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Ruby and LML-I plain disagree. According to Suvir, a discussion about how the sophistication of cooking techniques vary from culture to culture should not be had because it neccesarily describes certain cultures as inferior. And if Suvir wants to feel that way about it he is entitled to do so. But it is plain rude for him to come onto this thread and lecture me and anyone else who is participating as if we are doing something wrong. There are people who happen to believe that some cultures have evolved to a greater extent than other cultures when speaking of specific ways that development has been applied. Haute cuisine vs peasant cuisine is but one example. And if Suvir wants to make a poltical statement in that regard, let him go find a political board to do so. Or let him raise the issue in the context of the topic we are discussing.

But this conversation was about the superiority of certain cuisines, and I intend to have it whether he likes it or not. And if it didn't happen to be the topic of countless books and endless discussion everywhere from universitys to this board, I might look at it differently. But it is the topic of endless conversation and endless speculation. And to act like it isn't and that he doesn't know it is a lie.

Bux-Now I understand. You just disagree with Hoffman about whether the curry was an appropriate use. The rest is just superfluous to the fact that you disagree with him.

The rest of your response it is intended to undermine the weight of his opinion. You do that by saying he hadn't studied the use of curry in French cooking for the past 700 years or however long you said. That's where you lose me. Why isn't it enough to disagree with Hoffman based on the flavor of the dish? Why the need to go to the next step which is, Gopnik shouldn't have relied on him? I mean I know Peter for a long time and I have respect for his knowledge of French cuisine. I'm sure Gopnik is the same as me. And you haven't offered any evidence that the guy isn't knowledgable. Yet you draw the inference from his statament that he hadn't studied the use of curry in French cuisine. I mean I don't see how you got there, nor why you are trying so hard to(emphasis) get there.

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Bux-Now I understand. You just disagree with Hoffman about whether the curry was an appropriate use. The rest is just superfluous to the fact that you disagree with him.

This what I first wrote on the subject.

"I agree about Gopnik, but more for the culture (small "c") than the food. I enjoyed most of his Paris to the Moon. Was his 1955 New Yorker piece the one that started with the Passard tomato by any chance? It was an article that gripped me until I came to the part where he quoted Hoffman (Savoy, NYC) on Pacaud's use of curry. Everything unraveled for me. The same thing happened when I reread that part in the book. I put down the book I was voraciously reading and couldn't pick it up again seriously. I finally finished it by ignoring the chapter and skipping around until I had finished readying everything else. Hoffman is entitled to his opinon, but I couldn't figure out what led Gopnik to quote it."

The rest may be superflouous as it is in honest response to your rather persistent questions and prodding.

The rest of your response it is intended to undermine the weight of his opinion.
Indeed, did you expect me to support his opinion when asked to further explain my opinion?
You do that by saying he hadn't studied the use of curry in French cooking for the past 700 years or however long you said. That's where you lose me.
Why are you lost when you know I'm responding to your questions regarding why I find his opinion less than one I would quote as expert?
Why isn't it enough to disagree with Hoffman based on the flavor of the dish?
First of all, Hoffman didn't mention the flavor. This was a major part of my disatisfaction with the statement quoted by Gopnik. Earlier in this thread I said: "He didn't talk about taste, as I recall, it was all about technique and the audacity of use [of curry] without reading Jaffrey." I've long held the position here that it's the taste and flavor that should count and not whether any French chef observes the techniques applicable to classic Indian cuisine--a cuisine which you yourself have held as far less advanced than French cuisine, without fear of offending. I'm finding parts of your posts on this subject fascinating in terms of successful debating technique, but absolutely disingenuous in terms of the discussion.

In fact, here you began this thread by saying:

Does this mean that French cuisine is dying? Not in the technical sense. It is far too ingrained in Western culinary culture to be eliminated. But as I keep saying through the opera metaphor, it is becoming about as relevant to our everyday lives as opera is. It is for the few who know how to appreciate it.
and then very recently in a thread on db bistro you say:
An amazing accomplishment that is in line with the French way of constructing/deconstructing foods to meet a social and gastronomic purpose.

Club Gascon and Daniel Boulud's three restaurants could be cited to explain the need for French chefs to go abroad to find willing diners, or they could be cited to show how French chefs have both the backbone and adaptability to please foreign audiences. L'Astrance and Hiramatsu can be cited for the need for French chefs to go abroad or to import foreigners to revitalize the cooking or to show the fundamental strength that exists and allows for inovation and foreign influence. All in all, all four of those indicate that the world is changing and that France is changing with it. I can't really answer the question of the light shining on France and can't predict where others will look, but it's safe to say that those who look at France closely with a bright light and an open mind, should not be disappointed. This is not to  discount the  brilliant work being done in Spain or the states, but I'd note that these chefs have all been strongly influenced by French cuisine.


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.

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"Club Gascon and Daniel Boulud's three restaurants could be cited to explain the need for French chefs to go abroad to find willing diners, or they could be cited to show how French chefs have both the backbone and adaptability to please foreign audiences."

Well now we're getting somewhere. The difference between how they are cited has to do with whether the person citing them thinks they did a good job of integrating foreign influences into the cuisine or not. Now in this example, Peter thinks Pacaud didn't integrate it well. What's wrong with that?

And when I ask that, to me, whether you agree with  him isn't relevent to Gopnik's use of the quote. And I must remind you, we are having this dialogue not because yuou disagreed. But because Gopnik relied on the quots. you asked why Gopnik relied on the quote a number of different times. Hoffman is a successful chef. And while you might disagree with that, being obejective that is a proper characterization of him. I mean the guy has run a successful restuarnt that has pretty good critical acclaim for what, 15 years? So what you have here, is a successful chef who feels a certain way about it.

What's wrong with that?

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What's wrong with that?
Lest we go off in circles again, you'd have to define "wrong." Would it be wrong for me to say I think Ducasse runs a sloppy kitchen? Would it be wrong for me to say I feel Hoffman doesn't appreciate French food. I'm not sure either would be wrong if you feel I'm entitled to say what I want. One would be wrong if you feel I should say only what I believe based on the evidence available to me.
you asked why Gopnik relied on the quote a number of different times.
I said "I couldn't figure out what led Gopnik to quote it." I suppose I could have well said "I felt the quote better portrayed Hoffman's unfamiliarity with French food than any fault in French food." Whatever I said, meant that I didn't agree to such an extent that I could no longer follow the thread for I believed it was based on a premise with which I could not agree.

It's well and good for you to defend the chef you know. I don't really want to crticize anything about him other than the statement which I judge from my own knowledge of French cooking and from tasting the particular dish in question. Had he been a prize winning chef with a four star restaurant, for me, that statement is enough for me to question his appreciation for western food. What's wrong with that and why would you expect me to make any sense of what Gopnik wrote based on Hoffman's statement?

I said:"Club Gascon and Daniel Boulud's three restaurants could be cited to explain the need for French chefs to go abroad to find willing diners, or they could be cited to show how French chefs have both the backbone and adaptability to please foreign audiences."

to which you replied: Well now we're getting somewhere. The difference between how they are cited has to do with whether the person citing them thinks they did a good job of integrating foreign influences into the cuisine or not. Now in this example, Peter thinks Pacaud didn't integrate it well. What's wrong with that?

You write well and express yourself well, but you don't read me carefully or read too much intohat I say. When I say you can support opposite arguments with the same statement, I mean exactly that. Anyone can put two different spins on the same fact. One can interpret facts differently. Does a chicken really cross the road to get to the other side, or just to leave the side he's on?

As for what's wrong with Peter thinking Pacaud didn't integrate it well, I haven't a clue. Gopnik offered no explation other than the Pacaud hadn't read Jaffrey.


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.

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Anyone remember this one ? :raz:

Yes, those were the days.  :biggrin:


"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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