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When concession food sucks


Ellen Shapiro
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Do most of you sneak your own food into movies, sporting events, etc., on account of the awfulness and unconscionable pricing of most performance-venue concession food?

1. Do you think it's ethical to bring your own food if the venue has a rule against it?

2. What do you like to bring?

3. If you listed favorites in response to the second question but you also answered no to the first one, you may now answer a third question: Does it feel good to be so bad?

Ellen Shapiro

www.byellen.com

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Ellen -- When I'm movie-going with good friends or alone, and I have timely replenished my home supply (which is quickly depleted when in season) -- cherries (not "squishy" ones, though).  I wash them at home, and seal them into a Ziploc plastic bag.  However, I don't always have the time or advance notice to make these arrangements.

I don't feel guilty bringing an item if the theater cannot offer it.  I do buy coffee or bottled water, and occasionally when I feel like it, hot dogs and M&Ms.  I haven't implemented this thought yet, but some champagne makers (including M&C)have very small bottles that could easily be placed inside a handbag for movie visits.  A problem would be the logistics of chilling the champagne, etc.

I brought mountain Gorgonzola, smoked chicken, red cherries and a tin of foie gras to a multiple-hour, open-air event last year.  It was Pavarotti singing in Hyde Park.  I paid eighteen pounds for tickets and sat on a garbage bag (which I had also anticipated needing).  Even though Safeway was the sponsor, bringing food was not prohibited.  But alcohol was.  I smuggled in a half-bottle of Moet & Chandon (not my preferred champagne, but I was worried about confiscation should it have been discovered) by hiding it underneath my windbreaker.

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i wonder when/how going to the movies and eating became so intertwined?  personally, i can go the 2 hours without having a snack.  although, i used to sneak rum into the theater back in the day so i could get/continue to be drunk.

i go with the popcorn, regardless of how bad it can be (it's usually pretty good) only because it's part of the going to the moviews "thing."

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Perhaps it's because Hollywood so rarely turns out a film that is able to captivate the audience to such an extent that the members don't need to multitask in order to keep from getting bored.

Also, I usually finish my movie snacks before the film starts.

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 also don't find the need at the theater. Eating during a movie or theater performance or concert, in the dark, trying to keep absolutely quiet, is too stressful. And I can force myself to go a couple of hours without food :)

However, whenever I go to a sporting event (specially American Football or Baseball) I take food with me regardless of the policy of the stadium. The food I've had from stadium concessions, specially in the USA, borders on the disgusting. My view is that if that's the best they can provide, I am under no moral obligation to buy. If their food was remotely acceptable, I would then not bring in my own. And given that I'm probably going to be in their stadium for upwards of 4 hours, I'm entitled to expect something to eat.

Anyone here from Yankee Stadium, or Giants Stadium ?

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OFF TOPIC:  

BTW: Ellen, off-topic, I like the new direction the forum is taking.  eGullet was probably a bit of a waste of your talents when nobody participated here, but the wider scope here now is really helping.

You might ask Jason or Steven to define somewhere centrally (or maybe you yourself can do it with one of those "pinned" topics at the top of your forum) what the expanded format is all about.  I know myself (since it's a shade off something we talked about here months ago), but for a newer user the few words ("Off the beaten track and out of the ordinary") on the main board aren't nearly enough.

ON TOPIC:

Bringing food in?  Yes it is ethical.  Not just for economic reasons, not JUST for reasons of variety, but mostly because the theater should not be supporting itself that way.  I make an exception for struggling art theatres, but have little sympathy for the mega-chains, where the profit margin is huge.

One thing I'd really like to talk about is the phenomenon of "Restaurant/Brewpub Movie Theaters".  These are few and far between, but the idea fascinates me.  Anyone here been to one?

Jon Lurie, aka "jhlurie"

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Cabrales--was it Moet & Chandon Nectar Imperial you snuck in?  I bet it would have gone quite well with the cherries.  Not many people realize it can be had in the small bottle.  I know it is not on your preferred list--but Nectar Imperial is one of very few champagnes good with dessert.  And there are shoulder-slung insulated wine bags I have seen that resemble handbags, albeit not as stylish as the ones you undoubtedly are seen with.

The only movie theater I would not bring food or beverages into is the Angelika.

Steve Klc

Pastry chef-Restaurant Consultant

Oyamel : Zaytinya : Cafe Atlantico : Jaleo

chef@pastryarts.com

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One thing I'd really like to talk about is the phenomenon of "Restaurant/Brewpub Movie Theaters".  These are few and far between, but the idea fascinates me.  Anyone here been to one?

I went to the Bethesda Theatre Cafe once with some friends to see a movie a few years ago. I didn't eat (we ate in advance) and when I saw the menu, I was pretty glad of it. Imagine the menu at TGI Friday's and you get the drift. Still, it was nice to be able to order alcoholic beverages and imbibe during the film, and it's kind of nice to watch a movie from a comfortable chair with a table nearby.

The Bethesda Theatre Cafe has since closed. There's a few other food-and-movie places locally, including an art house theatre near Dupont Circle. I might get food from the art house place if I was there at a mealtime, partly because I want art house theatres to stay open and partly because I've heard they get some of their food from Lebanese Taverna, a nice local Middle Eastern place. I have seen movies at some of these other places, but I didn't even bother looking at the menu when I went because it's most common for me to dine out post-moviegoing in order to rip apart the flick with friends over our meals.

I don't think dining operations and movie operations mix too well from a business standpoint, from what little of business I understand. I suspect there's no way for a decent restaurateur to make a go of it with the tables set for rotation only once every 2-2.5 hours, with no ongoing influx-outflux of diners, and with the airplane-seat-style set-expiration of the commodity of tables (once the movie starts, you're not going to sell that table). I bet the wait staff gets crappy tips compared to other restaurants, and I don't even want to think about what it does to a kitchen to have all its orders flood in within 15 minutes for all the meals to be consumed over the next 2 hours. On the other hand, I think an ice cream parlor-movie theatre combination might work, or perhaps something which only served cold plates.

I usually skip eating during a movie and just buy water from the concession. If I can't stand it, I bring something with me and don't feel guilty about it at all (well, again, unless I'm at an art house theatre that I feel the need to support).

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(Off Topic) Jon: I think this board is going to be self-defining for a little while before we try to put into precise words what it's all about. But please don't hesitate to suggest definitions as they occur to you. Perhaps even start a thread about it, and if it becomes a very interesting thread I'll pin it at the top of the index.

Ellen Shapiro

www.byellen.com

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The food I've had from stadium concessions, specially in the USA, borders on the disgusting. My view is that if that's the best they can provide, I am under no moral obligation to buy.

I don't know what the food in American stadiums is like, but it really can't be worse than the food available at English football games. The club I support offers the following menu choices:

- overcooked, slightly flabby hot dogs (the pink frankfurter-style kind, not sausages) in stale plastic buns

- dull, bagel-shaped bread rolls (the kind they've forgotten to boil) smeared with paltry fillings

- the most outrageous excuse for a hamburger you've ever seen in your life (and they're unimaginably worse from the stalls outside the grounds)

- and last (but possibly least) small packaged pies filled with a few scraps from the abattoir floor and a gravy made from Bisto and water

I've never taken food in with me, but I do always make arrangements to eat in a nearby restaurant either before or after. Unsurprisingly.  ;-)

Miss J

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In many American stadiums the key to getting decent food (now remember that I DID NOT say "good", only decent) is to be a rich S.O.B., have season tickets, and be allowed into the "Stadium Club".  It's like a secret cult.

I wonder if someone (with connections obviously) has ever done a roundup of Stadium clubs.

Jon Lurie, aka "jhlurie"

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Cabrales--was it Moet & Chandon Nectar Imperial you snuck in?  I bet it would have gone quite well with the cherries.... I know it is not on your preferred list--but Nectar Imperial is one of very few champagnes good with dessert....

Steve Klc -- I'm glad you mention Moet & Chandon Nectar Imperial -- I do like the sweetness in it, but it does not appear to be readily available in the UK.  I vaguely recollect it may have been created by M&C specifically for the US (or other non-French) market.  I drink Nectar Imperial quite a lot when it is available.

I have been exploring old champagnes of late.  (My wine knowledge is very limited.)  Many old champagnes drink like wine, and I am curious as to whether an old single-grape Chardonnay champagne (like a 1979 Salon I recently had) might be a possibility for accompanying dessert as well?  That Salon worked well as an after-dinner drink, at a minimum, before dessert.

On icewine, I did not know that Canada produces icewine until recently.  Have you used that country's icewine in, or as an accompaniment to, dessert?

Finally, if you have actually utilized a wine ingredient (e.g., icewine gelee) in a dessert, have there been instances where you have chosen a different wine to accompany the dessert?

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I am not inclined to eat at the movies either, but when my Beloved was pregnant she took to smuggling in all kinds of weird snacks.  It would've been a surprise if anyone had minded.  We have also taken picnics to Yankee stadium when we've had a number of hungry kids in tow.  I am not averse to spending large sums on food (and that may be an understatement), but large sums on the various sorts of garbage on offer at sports stadiums is something else (yes, I do eat the hot dogs).

To raise a new issue, though, what about airplanes?  I travel too much, and I am constantly tempted to bring my food onto a plane, but usually don't get around to it.   I am not sure whether airlines have rules about this or not - on the rare times I've done it, there has been no problem.  I think this an example of a period in confinement where you really might need to eat something, and what's on offer is borderline toxic.  I have considered the last statement, and do not regard it as an exaggeration.  British Airways currently have a chicken with tarragon dish which tastes like medicine.

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Wilfrid,

Six months ago I'm sure that airlines could (and did) look the other way when people brough packages of food on a plane.  In the current climate, I'll bet it's confiscated if it looks homemade.

I know I had no problems bringing on an outside bottle of water in November, but perhaps that's not the same.

Jon Lurie, aka "jhlurie"

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huh?????

surely you can bring a sandwich in your carry on.  they don't check every carry on, and even if they found a sandwich why would they stop you???  people bring food on for children all of the time.  methinks the concern lies more with da bombs and less with da ham and cheese.  :)

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For a totally new subject, such as bringing food on airplanes, I strongly encourage starting a new topic. It's such a good issue it would be a pity for it to get lost here.

Jon, regarding stadium clubs, I've been to several -- and also the U.S. Open and other events reputed to have first-rate food. There may be an owner's-box-level of catering at some venues that's even higher than the club-level stuff I've experienced, but based on the food I've tried I'd have to say that although it's typically better than the slop you get from the regular concession stands, it's not all that great at all. It's like the difference between a bad chain restaurant like Carl's Jr. and a better chain restaurant like TGI Friday's. Occasionally there will be sushi or something relatively interesting, but it's rarely better than what the sushi guy at a large suburban supermarket turns out. And of course it's even more wickedly overpriced than the regular stuff.

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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You can occasionally find a top-notch offering in some of the ballparks, and not necessarily in the luxury boxes.  I know that the old Milwaukee County Stadium (before they opened the fancy new Miller Park) had some of the best bratwurst you could find.  It was quintessential ballpark food, but it was done very well -- slowly grilled to allow just the right amount of exterior browning.  I remember eating 5 of them the first time I went to a Brewers game -- an accomplishment I have no desire to repeat.

Of course, what else would you expect from a park where the between-inning entertainment consists of a race between three different types of sausage and they sing the "Beer Barrel Polka" during the seventh inning stretch?

Dean McCord

VarmintBites

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Try bringing a Durian fruit onboard, if the smell doesn't get people you could still use it as a weapon...

=Mark

Give a man a fish, he eats for a Day.

Teach a man to fish, he eats for Life.

Teach a man to sell fish, he eats Steak

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