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Craig Camp

Attacking Italian Restaurants

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The problem with this discussion has been what Korzybski called "levels of abstraction". The statement "On average, people in Italy know and care more about food than do Americans" is not effectively addressed by "I and my friends are passionately devoted to food, and we're Americans". The latter would only be an answer to the sweeping generalization, "Nobody in America cares about food as much as any Italian."

But no matter. We're all having a good time. :biggrin:


John Whiting, London

Whitings Writings

Top Google/MSN hit for Paris Bistros

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I think a fundamental difference between American's conception of food and the Italian's perspective can once again be illustrated by television which is of course a reflection of our respective cultures. (of this neither the Italians or Americans can be proud)

The Italian equivalent of the "Today Show" is "Uno Mattina", as I have mentioned before they devote a huge amount of time every day on Uno Mattina to coverage of food and wine. While the Today Show has regular (weekly I think) appearances of a celebrity chef, Uno Mattina features producers of the raw materials far more than famous chefs. Every day there are several long features with a producer of some cheese, grower of artichokes, salami maker and on and on.. In each of these segments they go into great detail of how the product is produced and how to determine the highest quality. Each segment can easily go on for a half-hour – every day. Like the Today Show, they also have a weekly visit from a celebrity chef, but that chef is more likely to be on a farm somewhere interviewing a producer than in the studio cooking.

This extensive consumer knowledge demands that restaurants use the high quality ingredients their customers expect.

In other words the Italian coverage spends far more time talking about ingredients than they do on learning to cook them. I would suspect that part of the reason for this is that the producers assume that the viewers already know the recipes. However, it does reflect a general cultural obsession with the raw materials needed to prepare a dish. It seems to me that Americans are often more obsessed with recipes, tools and technique than the raw food materials required. I have observed many times an American cook proceeding with a recipe because of an interest in the recipe itself, in spite of less than pristine ingredients. While, all-in-all, I find this adventurous spirit on the part of American cooks refreshing and admirable: it is decidedly non-Italian.

I do not think that the reason Italian food falls short outside Italy is that all the ingredients are inferior. Quality ingredients can be obtained by those willing to spend the money and take the time. While there are certain to be some differences in flavor, it does not preclude high quality results. For instance it is reasonable to assume that Brasato di Barolo can be prepared with equally successful (if slightly different) results in Piemonte or Pennsylvania or that zuppa di pesce can be fantastic in Boston or Bari. There are some ingredients - like prosciutto and Parmigiano that can't be replicated and must be imported and lose quality in the process, but the range of Italian cooking is broad and you can minimize the use of such products.

It is incorrect to assume that Italy is a land of gourmet cooks who spend hours each day to search out the ultimate salami or the tomatoes of just one farm, this is no more true than it is in the United States. What is true is that the average consumer is more aware of what constitutes quality and this forces the AVERAGE quality of food to be higher than it is in the United States. Can you find fantastic tomatoes in the USA? Of course you can. What is different in Italy vs. the United States is that the AVERAGE quality of tomatoes that you can buy any day in any grocery is much higher. Strangely enough, this also extends to the beef and chicken, which is of a much higher AVERAGE quality in Italy than it is in the United States. By the way, the horse meat is much, much better here.

Admittedly the knowledge and attention of the Italian consumer is concentrated into a far more narrow range of cuisines than the American consumer that has to deal with. A typical Italian consumer has little knowledge of (and interest in) the cooking of other countries. As an example of this you only have to visit a Chinese restaurant in Italy, where they often have to sell pizza and other Italian dishes just to stay in business. Foods of other countries are curiosities to be enjoyed (and complained about) on vacation. To find decent selection of foreign food choices in Italy you are essentially limited to Roma and Milano – and then it is expensive.

The major difference has to be the knowledge, viewpoint and the expectations of the consumers.

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In my lifetime, so far, the best produce I've experienced has been in Italy and Malaysia, and I wouldn't be able to say which place is better, but the climate zones of the two countries and, thus, the produce, is entirely different.

Michael: I have only tasted Malaysian fruit in London, shipped by air, and obviously it isn't the same. Then again, have you tasted mamey and guanábana from Cuba? The stakes for tropical fruit are very high in this world!

Do consider what I mean about western Europe, in reality a small place by worldwide standards: Scottish Angus beef, Guijuelo Iberian ham, Rhône valley vineyard peaches, Seville bitter oranges, Whitstable oysters, aged Modena balsamic vinegar, Cádiz bluefin tuna, Breton lobsters, brie de Meaux, Campanian mozzarella di bufala, pré-salé lamb, radicchio trevisano, saucisson de Payerne, Carril clams from Galicia, Dutch 'maatjes haring', Cavaillon melons, salame Felino, Cantabrian sea bass... and of course San Marzano tomatoes!

Meaning: the distinguishing characteristic in the wealth of products here in Europe lies in their amazing variety (fish, fruit, fowl, meat, cheese, wine, pulses, vegetables, salads, oil...) within the top quality levels.


Victor de la Serna

elmundovino

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FG, the other cuisines you mentioned, especially French and Japanese, are noted in the U.S. by their creativity, always evolving from what we once knew. Places like Nobu and Bouley and Jean-George were "new" kinds of French and Japanese reataurants serving cutting edge cuisine. Other than Babbo, can you think of an "evolved" italian restaurant?

I guess another question is are we looking for Italian restaurants in the U.S. to develop new creative recipes or just do the best thaey can at being authentically Italian?


"These pretzels are making me thirsty." --Kramer

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Other than Babbo, can you think of an "evolved" italian restaurant?

I can't.

So this once again this returns to the question: Whose fault is this? The choices are:

A. The ingredients are so inferior you can't do it.

B. The customer don't know the difference so you don't do it.

C. The chefs have not figured out how to do it.

D. Most Italian restaurant owners went to the P.T. Barnum school of restaurant management.

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I think a fundamental difference between American's conception of food and the Italian's perspective can once again be illustrated by television which is of course a reflection of our respective cultures. (of this neither the Italians or Americans can be proud)

In terms of food-related media:

- How many cookbooks are published each year in Italy, and how many are sold?

- How many non-cookbook books about food and wine are published each year in Italy, and how many are sold?

- How many food and wine magazines are published in Italy and what are their circulation figures?

- Do the major newspapers in Italy have food sections comparable to those of the New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, and San Francisco Chronicle?

- Does Italy have a 24-hour food television network?


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 think a fundamental difference between American's conception of food and the Italian's perspective can once again be illustrated by television which is of course a reflection of our respective cultures. (of this neither the Italians or Americans can be proud)

In terms of food-related media:

1. - How many cookbooks are published each year in Italy, and how many are sold?

2. - How many non-cookbook books about food and wine are published each year in Italy, and how many are sold?

3. - How many food and wine magazines are published in Italy and what are their circulation figures?

4. - Do the major newspapers in Italy have food sections comparable to those of the New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, and San Francisco Chronicle?

1. The question of how many is not relevant. If you want a sales contest the USA will win everything. There are only 58 million Italians and most of them learn to cook from their family and friends. However, there are a huge numbers of cookbooks available here and they are ALL about Italian food. A major difference when compared even with the largest Borders who has to divide their attention between all the cuisines of the world. I assure you even a small book store has more cookbooks about Italian food than the largest American store.

2. The food and wine sections are huge in Italian book stores. Once again they only have 58 million Italians to sell to and most of them already know how to cook.

3. What is this sales and circulation bullying? Of course the USA sells more of everything.

4. No the newspapers worry about politics here. They don't much cover food. More American newspapers should take the hint considering the Better Homes and Gardens food sections they produce - Campbell's soup on everything anyone? However there are far more food and wine magazines here.

We could also add all the food, wine and restaurant guides from Gambero Rosso, Slow Food, Veronelli, Luca Maroni and others that come out and are updated every year and on and on...

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We can also add a quality instead of quantity issue here. (Funny just like food portions in the USA) The Italian cookbooks and wine guides published in Italy make guides and cookbooks published in English look a bit wimpy.

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In terms of the numbers, it doesn't take a professional mathematician to make the adjustment: the US population is approximately 5x the population of Italy; therefore one would need to divide US sales figures by 5. Does anybody know, for example, how many cookbooks are published in Italy each year and how many are sold? Are those numbers more or less than 1/5 of the American numbers?

That most cookbooks in Italy are about Italian cuisine is not relevant to the point that Italians care more about food in general than Americans. We know they care more about Italian food -- I don't think anybody questions that. What I'm trying to test is the assertion that they care more about food period. Specifically, in this instance I'm trying to test the assertion that because there's a lot of food coverage on one Italian TV show it means Italians care more about food than Americans. Surely the scope of that inquiry must be widened to ask the question in general about all media.

Does quality determine interest? I'm far from convinced on that point. If Italian food programming is much better than American food programming, but American food programming draws better ratings, I'm not sure what that proves about interest. It probably demonstrates something about knowledge, but not necessarily interest. Diversity of programming and media would also tend to demonstrate interest.


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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Who cares about interest if the quality isn't better? People in the U.S. will always say they are very interested in food and buy cookbooks, subscribe to magazines and redo their kitchens but then don't do anything with them (not all, but many).

Just like I doubt you could extrapolate the number of books sold to literacy rates in countries.

I agree with Craig in that in Italy, more people are learning to cook from relatives than from TV or magazines. As people in the U.S. have been more prone to move away from existing family to different parts of the country, there is less opportunity to learn to cook from grandparents, aunts, uncles, etc. I may be incorrect but since Italy is a smaller country and family members stay closer together, there are more opportunities to cook with family members.

My mother learned to cook from her mother. My mother now lives in sunny Florida and eats out 5 or 6 nights a week. (no later than 6:00 PM I'll add). It's sad but my daughter can't learn anything cooking related from her.

I still don't see what any of this has to do with Italian restaurants in the U.S.


"These pretzels are making me thirsty." --Kramer

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In terms of the numbers, it doesn't take a professional mathematician to make the adjustment:

We are talking about food not formulas. However those willing to argue statistics instead of taste always seem to win. That is because numbers are comparable and taste is not.

I am not interested and do not care to be involved in a long and involved argument over statistics. Perhaps I am now too old to care about wine scores and cookbook demographics and want to reach out to my own feelings about food and wine even if they disagree with statistics. I assure you I used to be interested in them as much as the next guy.

All I know is that I lived in the United States for most of my life. By the time I left I hated to go shopping and found the restaurants boring and expensive. Here I look forward to every trip to the store or a restaurant. I am only interested in what my palate and soul tell me and what they tell me is that is that the food tastes better here and that it is easier and cheaper to obtain. It no longer matters to me what is statistically better, because I know this is better for me and my tastes.

I know that is not what make points in a debate, but for me taste seems to have become too personal and I cannot separate the experience from the emotion. In fact, the intertwining of emotion with taste is what makes me love food and wine - at the end it is a personal experience.

So I will leave it to others as to what the percentages of what is sold to who and can offer only a personal observation that there is far more attention paid to food in Italy than there is in the USA.

The original point of this thread is WHY does everyone love to beat up Italian restaurants outside of Italy after they have eaten in Italy. I think this is indeed an interesting topic.

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. . . the Italian coverage spends far more time talking about ingredients than they do on learning to cook them.

There's another aspect to this. A great many of the artisanal foods that are featured by Slow Food require no cooking -- they merely have to be served up on a plate. They are the original fast food -- they are slow only in the making. In France there may be more emphasis on cooking, but local shops and markets feature excellent ready-to-eat food made in-house which may or may not require warming.

In other words, in both Italy and France you can be an enthusiastic and discriminating foodie and hardly need to cook at all. Ready-to-eat meals have a bad name in America because they are overwhelmingly mass-produced, but throughout the rest of the world they have many centuries of history behind them. (In parts of Asia they are among the best meals you can get.)


John Whiting, London

Whitings Writings

Top Google/MSN hit for Paris Bistros

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Who cares about interest if the quality isn't better?

I care because several people here have said "Italians are more interested in food than Americans" and they've gone on to use that theory (which they have stated as fact) to explain other things. Thus, understanding that claim is important to answering the questions we seem to be trying to answer here. If it turns out that interest in food -- as a statistical measure -- is as high or higher in the US than in Italy, yet food quality turns out to be higher in Italy, then we'll know that interest does not explain quality. That, to me, would have to alter some of the assumptions that have been made by many on this thread.

It is also possible to be less interested yet more knowledgeable about something. For example, if someone is raised Catholic, that person is likely to know a lot more about Catholicism than I do. Yet that person may, like many of my lapsed Catholic friends, be totally uninterested in Catholicism, whereas I find Catholicism very interesting and actually go out of my way to read stuff about it. Thus there is a disconnect between interest and knowledge, explained by upbringing. The same may be true of the US and Italy: it may simply be that many Italians are raised a certain way, and therefore possess a species of knowledge that they can't shake regardless of interest. Whereas, many Americans may need to make an affirmative decision to acquire that knowledge.

Or this may all net out, in which case maybe we have to look elsewhere for explanations.


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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Who cares about interest if the quality isn't better?

I care because several people here have said "Italians are more interested in food than Americans" and they've gone on to use that theory (which they have stated as fact) to explain other things. Thus, understanding that claim is important to answering the questions we seem to be trying to answer here. If it turns out that interest in food -- as a statistical measure -- is as high or higher in the US than in Italy, yet food quality turns out to be higher in Italy, then we'll know that interest does not explain quality. That, to me, would have to alter some of the assumptions that have been made by many on this thread.

Steven, the problem with this line of reasoning is that interest in food and culinary culture cannot be measured statistically in the way you suggest.

Take me, for example... I think you know me well enough to know that I am not only deeply interested in food, but especially in cooking and entertaining in my home. I also have, as I think this thread demonstrates, a great interest in the Italian philisophy of cooking. I would suggest that I am in the top 0.1% of Americans when it comes to caring about food (which is something I would say about most of the readers of this site).

Understanding the foregoing, what are we to make of the fact that I only subscribe to one food-related magazine (Saveur)? What are we to make of the fact that I own less than 20 cookbooks, and that fully half of them are about making bread? Six months from now, when I get around to giving away all the cookbooks I haven't opened in over two years, I'll probably have around 8. What does it mean that I open "The Joy of Cooking" and Julia Child's "How to Cook" more frequently than any other cookbooks I own (including the "Italian Bible," Marcella Hazan's "Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking")? From a purely statistical standpoint, I guess I don't care about food all that much and I guess I don't really have that much interest in Italian food.

All people like Craig, Bill, I and others can tell you is that, having spent time living and working (as opposed to touring) in Italy... it is just obvious that people over there care more about food. You and I care a lot about food and so naturally when we are spending time together in New York we often talk about food. To many (most?) "regular" New Yorkers we would seem to be unusually food-obsessed. Clearly, our interest in food is not the same as the "average American." But, in Italy I have conversations with "regular people" about food every day. These are not people who are regarded as caring about food all that much.


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Steven, the problem with this line of reasoning is that interest in food and culinary culture cannot be measured statistically in the way you suggest.

Exactly! The number of magazines and books are not a determining factor in how the food tastes. The person with all of the magazines may enjoy cooking but does not care enough about the food to understand how to make it taste good.


"These pretzels are making me thirsty." --Kramer

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Who cares about interest if the quality isn't better?

I care because several people here have said "Italians are more interested in food than Americans" and they've gone on to use that theory (which they have stated as fact) to explain other things. Thus, understanding that claim is important to answering the questions we seem to be trying to answer here. If it turns out that interest in food -- as a statistical measure -- is as high or higher in the US than in Italy, yet food quality turns out to be higher in Italy, then we'll know that interest does not explain quality. That, to me, would have to alter some of the assumptions that have been made by many on this thread.

I would suggest that I am in the top 0.1% of Americans when it comes to caring about food (which is something I would say about most of the readers of this site).

All people like Craig, Bill, I and others can tell you is that, having spent time living and working (as opposed to touring) in Italy... it is just obvious that people over there care more about food. You and I care a lot about food and so naturally when we are spending time together in New York we often talk about food. To many (most?) "regular" New Yorkers we would seem to be unusually food-obsessed. Clearly, our interest in food is not the same as the "average American." But, in Italy I have conversations with "regular people" about food every day. These are not people who are regarded as caring about food all that much.

If this is true, and if the only problem with Italian restaurants in the US is the number of bad ol' Americans that populate the US, why is it that authentic Italian restaurants are not the same as in Italy in ANY country?

I believe that there is something about the authentic foods of Italy that just doesn't translate well anywhere. It seems to me that is the more interesting question, rather than just harping on the inferior tastes and complacency of Americans as the cause. Are you saying that no one -- not the Chinese, not the Japanese, not the Mexicans -- no one else cares as much about quality food as the Italians? Or that in none of these countries is there even a portion of the "sophisticated" population large enough to keep in business one quality Italian restaurant?

Because that's all it would take, right? Enough people that know, understand and care about fine cuisine to keep one fine, authentic Italian restaurant open.

It's difficult for me to imagine that New York doesn't have the market base to support and sustain at least one such restaurant, if indeed a dearth of knowledgeable customers is the only problem. In fact, I would think that in New York there exists enough of these intelligent, sophisticated, knowledgeable, caring, quality-demanding Italian immigrants alone to support at least one such restaurant all by themselves, if that were the only problem.


Edited by Jaymes (log)

I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

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There is one good Italian restaurant in London -- called Assaggi. This is authentic and good. It is not very well known because it is small and the cook does not appear on TV.

I am sure there is one in New York. Maybe it just isn't very well known.

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Here are some of my new thoughts on this:

1. The first part of the question, why Italian food in [insert country] doesn't taste the same as it does in Italy, even when executed the same way, does seem to come down to ingredients. This is fundamentally true of most cooking, as one cannot make truly "like in Spain" tasting Spanish food outside of Spain -- indeed, it is difficult even to make "like in New York" New York pizza outside of New York. Italian food, due to the fact that it is relatively uncomplicated and is generally designed to highlight the ingredients, is more sensitive to these problems than many other styles of cooking.

2. Understanding #1 above, it should still be possible to make first rate food in the Italian style using the excellent ingredients that we have available to us here in the US. The food won't taste exactly like it does in Italy, but it will still be excellent. My feeling is that there are several such restaurants. The examples I used upthread about Felidia being Italian-traditional in America and Babbo being Italian-forward in America illustrates the two different approaches that these restaurants might take.

3. The assumption taken by some here is that there aren't any truly good or first-rate Italian (as opposed to Italian-American) restaurants in America. This is something with which I take issue. I would argue that there are a number of first-rate Italian restaurants in New York City alone. Do they taste exactly like restaurants in Italy? No, this is impossible per #1 above. Are there differences in portion size and other things that "pervert" the Italian ideal? Sure there are. They aren't in Italy selling to Italians with Italian expectations and Italian customs. But, I would suggest that this doesn't make them inherrently "bad." All the "French" restaurants in New York make similar diversions from the originals in France, and they aren't marked down for it.

4. Looking at the high end of dining, however, one has to ask what the criteria are for a "great, top-level restaurant." The model used by many people is a predominately French one, where complex, complicated preparations and artful presentations take pride of place over simple treatments, clean flavors and basic presentations. Take fish, for example... I would assert that Estiatorio Milos serves the best fish in New York City in the best way possible: simply grilled whole and served with some lemon and a little evoo. Why isn't this considered the best fish restaurant in the city? Why is another (hypothetical) restaurant, that serves salmon with a potato/horseradish crust and yuzu vinaigrette be considered a "better" restaurant? As I have remarked before, Italian culinary culture is based in home cooking and Italian restaurant culture is still relatively young (largely post WW II). This does not lend itself to the flights of fancy and execution that usually characterize a high-end neo-French restaurant. I wonder, however, whether or not we feel that there are a lot of "really good" French restaurants outside of France serving elevated versions of the simpler French cooking that highlights and depends on characteristic locally available ingredients. Or, really, are there in fact a lot of good truly French restaurants outside of France?

5. Considering #4 above, it makes me wonder whether or not there are any truly great restaurants replicating a certain regional cuisine outside the region that gave birth to that cuisine. My guess is that the answer is no. The one thing that makes neo-French food travel so well is that what we think of fundamentally as "French cooking" is not necessarily a specific range of dishes, ingredients and flavors so much as it is a technique -- which is to say, a systematic and codified approach to cooking food. In America, one may make a dish of squab and spring vegetables (or whatever) and end up with a result that is considered "good French food" even though that specific dish may have no equivalent in France and may not feature even any characteristically French ingredients. I would also suggest that it is easier to obscure the fact that a dish is made with slightly lesser ingredients if one is making Tournedos a la Rossini than it is if one is making Bistecca alla Fiorentina. Italian cooking, on the other hand, is very technique non-intensive. The Italian techniques of cooking food are few, and all are easily mastered at the level of the competent home cook. Good Italian food is not so much about cooking as it is about shopping.

6. But really, when it all comes down to it, the real reason Italian restaurants in America aren't as good as they are in Italy is that there aren't many Italian restaurants in America. 99.99% of the "Italian" restaurants in America are, in fact, Italian-American. Someone who is expecting real Italian food, and can sense the roots of Italian cooking -- however much diluted -- in Italian-American food, is not likely to be satisfied in an Italian-American restaurant. In terms of other countries, there are related problems. French cooks, for example, by and large just don't get it. It is still not entirely rare to see a cook in France do things like boil pasta for 20 minutes in milk.

Perhaps a more interesting question might be: What national cuisines do travel well to other countries. And, of those national cuisines, what is it about them that travels well? Or, more to the point, what part of them travels well and what is it about certain cuisines that allows us to identify a partial transplantation of one country's cuisine as "good X food" and not others?


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This is fundamentally true of most cooking, as one cannot make truly "like in Spain" tasting Spanish food outside of Spain...

No kidding. As I, a veteran of my own private "tortilla war" can readily attest.


I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

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On the matter of ingredients, "different" doesn't necessarily equate to "inferior."

In our area there is a German restaurant run by a German family. I was chatting up the owner a while back. He told me that although he prefers the pork he can buy in the US for some things, it isn't the same as the pork that he buys in Germany.

So, in order to get the exact same pork flavor, he imported whatever breed of pigs it was, and now raises them here in Central Texas, feeding them whatever it is that they would normally eat in Germany.

That's not to say that German pigs are any BETTER than American pigs (speaking of the four-legged variety of course), but according to him anyway, they are different.

I suspect then, that if you were, say, trying to run an "authentic South Carolina Pig Pickin' joint" in Berlin, you'd have the opposite problem.


Edited by Jaymes (log)

I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

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There is one good Italian restaurant in London -- called Assaggi. This is authentic and good. It is not very well known because it is small and the cook does not appear on TV.

This is by no means a generally held opinion; knowledgable friends have spoken disparagingly of it. I've eaten very well indeed, more than once, at Artigiano in Belsize Village, which was highly commended in this year's PAPA awards. I'm sure there is someone out there who will immediately rubbish it. It's like arguing over blind dates.


John Whiting, London

Whitings Writings

Top Google/MSN hit for Paris Bistros

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On the matter of ingredients, "different" doesn't necessarily equate to "inferior."

I absolutely agree with this. In fact, I think I say something to that effect upthread.

However, there are certain cases (American beef versus European beef; Italian Parmigiano Reggiano versus American Parmesan Cheese; etc.) where "different" does equal "inferior."


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On the matter of ingredients, "different" doesn't necessarily equate to "inferior."

I absolutely agree with this. In fact, I think I say something to that effect upthread.

However, there are certain cases (American beef versus European beef; Italian Parmigiano Reggiano versus American Parmesan Cheese; etc.) where "different" does equal "inferior."

Of course there are. And vice versa as well.

And thank god for it.


I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

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Are there no Californians able to chime in with some comparable Italian restaurants? They can't all be on the East Coast. Where do places like Oliveto (Berkeley) or Delfina (San Francisco) rank?

(I can't say, as I haven't been to either.)

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      I'll be in Naples for a few days next month and I wanted to try something traditional, and my friend recommended trying parmigiana. She said she loved it, but the problem is that she ate it at her Italian friend's house, and I won't be able to have that exact parmigiana. So, I did some research online and found a few restaurants that have good ratings and are serving allegedly great eggplant casserole. This place is 4 stars rated, but people seem not to agree whether the parmigiana is good or not.... On the other hand, this place has a great rating, appears when searching for the parmigiana, but nobody seems to write about it in their reviews. Finally, this one is said to have the best parmigiana in Naples (or in the world, for that matter), and I wanted to know if anyone had the so-called world's best?
      I would really appreciate if you could help me make the decision. Looking forward to your advice!

    • By alacarte
      I recently took a trip to Northern Italy, and was delighted to find that the cappuccino everywhere was just wonderful, without exception. Smooth, flavorful, aromatic perfect crema, strong but not too strong.
      Aside from the obvious answer (duh, Italians created cappuccino ), what makes Italian capp so fantastic, and how do I duplicate the effect here?
      I'm wondering if it's the water, the way the coffee is ground or stored, the machines used....I'm baffled.
      Also noticed that the serving size tended to be smaller than what I'm used to -- i.e. a small teacupful vs. a brimming mug or Starbucks supersize. Not sure why that is either.
      Grazie mille for any insight on this!
    • By Modernist Cuisine Team
      The Modernist Cuisine team is currently traveling the globe to research pizza and different pizza styles for our next book Modernist Pizza.  Nathan and the team will be in São Paulo and Buenos Aires soon. We'd love hear from the eGullet community—what pizzerias should they visit while they're there? You can read more about our next book Modernist Pizza here. Thanks in advance, everyone! 
    • By scordelia
      My article was published (my first one!)! Hooray! And I do have some Florentine restaurant recommendations including the new Osteria del Pavone which is amazing--lampredotto ravioli is now a thing and it must be tried.
       
      http://www.classicchicagomagazine.com/florence-in-winter/
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