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Fat Guy

Fine Dining vs. Cheap Eats

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I wasn't really responding to Steve P's major statement; I agree that, in terms of analysis, simple often has less to analyze than complex.

I'm responding the the "discussing" part.  For me, discussing doesn't have to be analyzing.

Hate to quote myself but...

Fine cuisine invites discussion of technique, and that's always a large area for discussion. But "cheap eats" invite more comparison, more discussion of value, and in some cases some very interesting points about mass production.

It's more what and how you analyze. Food is more than just what you put in your mouth and taste. You can have a pretty deep analysis about other aspects.

In other words... I think we agree.

As for the main point, what are your thoughts on that? Really the whole thing balances on an individual interpretation of the word "interesting". Fine food is MORE interesting, more subtle, than cheap food, sure... but that's not really all that was said. There is plenty interesting--and I'm talking about being able to analyze--in a $5 bowl of Pho. A hamburger, maybe not, but even that... maybe... if the analysis is about more than just the nuances of its taste or the cooking methodology.

Andy said it well:

the arguement as originally presented is too reductionist to merit serious debate

It's just TOO dismissive of the possibility that there are other things to analyze or talk about outside of fine dining. The statement isn't discussing a LEVEL of interest, its setting up two alternatives--interesting; not interesting.


Jon Lurie, aka "jhlurie"

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There's also the question of what constitutes "cheap eats." A boiled two pound lobster, butter, and your own wine will set you back about $8 in many Maine lobster pounds.

Is the ambiance of a manhattan restaurant worth another $40 for the same lobster and your wine? Of course, if you aren't in Maine, it could be, and they give you a tablecloth in NY.

If the argument is "how much is the value of the theater experience which surrounds certain dining worth?" my answer tilts to the NY location. Add a David Rockwell interior, Riedel, highly skilled waitstaff, and glamour to our humble lobster for an upscale treat.


Apparently it's easier still to dictate the conversation and in effect, kill the conversation.

rancho gordo

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The author of the thread or Steve P. needs to clarify what is cheap eats and what is fine dining. My interpretation was fine dining = Michelin star restaurants, and cheap = everything else, more or less. Seattle may not have "fine dining" in the same sense as NY, but we still find plenty to discuss and analyze in our dining here at any price. Of course I absolutely respect anyone's opinion that less than a michelin experience is not intersting (to themself), but then they should make that clear as well, as opposed to a generalization.

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I'll be honest and admit that if Steve P. simply trades the term "less" for "not very", than our positions become basically identical.

like so:

the "Cheap Eats" aspect of dining not being very interesting on an analytical level

to:

the "Cheap Eats" aspect of dining being LESS interesting on an analytical level

Maybe this is a nitpick, if that's what he meant and this is just out of context. After all, it was Fattus Gaius who chose the comment, not Steve P. himself.


Jon Lurie, aka "jhlurie"

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For me, the value added to a lobster at the haute cuisine level relates to the cooking. Most importantly, a fine dining establishment is likely to disassemble the lobster prior to cooking. This allows the claws and tail to be cooked for different lengths of time -- if you cook a lobster whole, one or the other will always be over- or under-cooked. The bodies are typically made into a stock, which may be used as a base for a sauce. Perhaps several preparations will be offered together, or in sequence, as is available at Cello in New York and as I enjoyed at La Cote Saint Jacques in Burgundy last year (lobster in, as I recall, four services).

If you're talking about just paying more for better ambience with the lobsters being equal, well, that's in a category of differentiation that has nothing to do with the actual lobster.


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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Discussion of ANYTHING is always more interesting if well-written. I'd rather read a well-written essay about a pastrami sandwich than a badly-written one about caviar. (And I'd rather EAT the well-prepared pastrami sandwich than the bad caviar, also.)

Discussion of food at the inexpensive end of the scale is more valuable, because that's where you spend most of your money on a regular basis. You can't eat at high-end places continuously, you'd get jaded and bored, not to mention bankrupt. But a tip on a good pastrami-on-rye, great burger, Thai food, etc. is something I can use on a daily basis.

And everyone knows the holes are put in a White Castle hamburger patty because the buns are put directly on top of them on the grill to steam while the patties cook. :wub:

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As for the main point, what are your thoughts on that?  Really the whole thing balances on an individual interpretation of the word "interesting".

I guess I agree; fine food is usually more interesting because it more naturally has points of complexity for the discussion to revolve around. But not necessarily; the better food writers can have very fascinating discussions discussing the simple, discussions filled with nuance, insight, and visual flavinoids.

Perhaps it takes more skill to make the simple interesting.

On the other hand, I don't think discussing simple food is less fun than fine food. And if I'm having fun, I never ask the question "is this interesting"?


beachfan

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How did my original comment, which seemed to be applauded at the time become something that I had to defend? Hmmmm.

My point is much narrower than you have portrayed it to be. And it is consistant with something I have said on these boards many times in the past. The reason that "cheap eats" is often less interesting to discuss is that the *technique applied* to making the food isn't very demanding. For example, two of my favorite "cheap eats" are to be found on McDougal Street in the village. Yatagan for the best doner around and Mamoun's makes terrific falafal and shwarma. But the skillset required to prepare those three dishes isn't very demanding. I am sure if any of us got a job working at either place, even if we had no experience doing any cooking, that within a matter of days, or maybe a week or two we would be making them proficiently. Now you could say the same thing about boiling a lobster but you can't say that about making a lobster bisque. At least a good lobster bisque for that is nuanced in many ways. It's for this reason that cheap eats are cheap. The labor is basically untrained and the ingredients are basic. Neither of those things are true for more demanding preparations which rely on top quality ingredients and technique that has been honed and perfected over years.

So when I say that discussing "cheap eats" (hamburgers) isn't interesting to discuss, it means that there is a limited amount of technique to apply to making them. Same with hot dogs. I even find instructions and discussions on making steaks to be boring. Not that the occassional tip doesn't merit being noticed but, it's basically throw them on the fire and when they feel like the fat part of your palm they're done. Now a fire, how to make one and when to spread the coals and how hot to cook at and should it be direct, indirect, etc., now that's a nuanced conversation. But how to shape the patties?

My statement also is not directed at disussing the art of finding and eating a good hamburger. I have unlimited attention for recommendations that are worthy. And I have the time and inclination to jump in my car and go check out the worthy ones. But in the same breath I have to say that as I've gotten older, I'm less impressed than I used to be. There was once a time when I would drive out of my way to try the deep fried hot dogs at a place like Swanky Franks because the Stern's recommended it. But at my age, having had the eating experiences of nearly 50 years, I don't need to do the cheap eats thing as sport and I can be honest about how disgusting those franks really are. I think I have made that quantum leap on a number of different foods. Like the discussion we had a few months back on BBQ when both Fat Guy and I said that most BBQ is junk. A very unpolitically correct statement with the cheap eats crowd. But that Fat Guy and I, we know how to take risks.

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Trying to cover all the responses here.

I think to focus on money is a mistake. It isn't that things aren't as interesting and nuanced because they are inexpensive, it's just that most inexpensive things happen to fit the description of being less interesting. And while a conversation about a pizza can be interesting, what can you discuss, how to make and roll out the dough? That's all it is with ingredients laid on top. And while those of us who might want to make one at home will be interested in that discussion, I submit it doesn't have the same level of nuance involved as getting the broth in your bollitto misto just right. And that's why pizza chefs make less money than the chef at Fini in Modena.

And I think when Andy raises food in Malaysia, or even when I eat in Chinatown, you can't compare the cost of those types of meals with food at a French influenced restaurant. Asian food seems to have it's own discreet economic system that doesn't apply to other food types. But if you strip cost away and just look at the methods of preparation, the same level of nuance isn't there as in cuisines that utilize more complex technique. Look at Japanese food. It is highly technical to be able to prepare the food to be an exact shape and size. There is an entire technique devoted to the slicing of fish. I never see Japanese chefs

hacking up a soy sauce chicken like they do in a Chinese restaurant. And because the food preparation and service is so delicate and so demanding, and since the success of the cuisine is so dependant on the quality of ingredients, the cost of Japanese food is radically different than the cost of Chinese food.

Beachfan makes a good point about the difference between mundane and cheap which is another point I had made in the same post as the one Fat Guy quoted me from. The pursuit of the best hot dog just doesn't turn me on so much anymore. I mean there you have Fat Guy saying that Hebrew National is entry level, and people waxing rhapsodic about Usinger's. But I have to say that if I never tasted a Usinger, and all I ate were Hebrew National or Boar's Head, I wouldn't care very much. After all, it's just a hot dog and hot dogs are sort of mundane at this point. Not that I don't like to eat them because I do. But I don't see the virtue in them the way I did ten years ago. But I would travel quite a long distance for the promise of the best chevre or to buy a bottle of the best olive oil. And I'm tempted to fly to France just to go to the Dordogne to that walnut oil mill because of all the ingredients I ever had in my house, it had the greatest impact per tablespoon of any we ever used. But for a hot dog? I'd have to be passing by. Or you'd have to tell me it was the greatest thing since chopped liver. Now that would be a tough one.

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Most BBQ is junk.

The only argument here is that all food is measured by the complexity of the technique used to prepare it. Admittedly you are mostly referring to discussion of the food, and not the quality of the food itself, but even those lesser items have plenty of value for discussion.

Jokingly, quite a while ago, we had a discussion about Steve Klc and what we'd like to see him prepare. This was in the formative days of Jinmyo's little "I like Pie" joke, and unknowingly I stated that I'd like to see Steve prepare something as simple as a pie, because it would be far more interesting to see something achievable by most of us from start to finish, rather than to see one of the more elaborate presentations we know he's capable of, but that his "audience" could never achieve.

My point is... that your discussion has to be catered to your audience. Find the intesting elements in making a pie, or beating an egg, or cooking a hamburger, and you open someone up to greater things eventually. eGullet would be the haven of snobbishness that a few critics say it is if it didn't realize that.

Nobody here is going to debate that fine food is... finer. But a discussion of how to make the best possible chicken soup may have quite a bit of interest--and even wider value--than a discussion of the best Michelin 3-Star restaurants in Paris.

Luckily this site has room for both.


Jon Lurie, aka "jhlurie"

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And I'm tempted to fly to France just to go to the Dordogne to that walnut oil mill because of all the ingredients I ever had in my house, it had the greatest impact per tablespoon of any we ever used. But for a hot dog? I'd have to be passing by. Or you'd have to tell me it was the greatest thing since chopped liver. Now that would be a tough one.

You might feel differently if the only place in the world one could get a hot dog was in some obscure little village in the mountains of France.

One thing that makes hot dogs less interesting and intriguing to write and read about is its ubiquitousness.

And that came about, of course, because of its universal appeal.


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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Good points Steve P., although I find tips on how to prepare the perfect steak more interesting than how to prepare the coals. I particulary enjoyed learning a few months ago a slow cook method of cooking steak that is popular in high end restaurants...always something new for me to learn, and I even went as far as to email Steven S. to request his notes on NY non-steakhouse steaks (which included wonderfully written descriptions on techniques, flavors, cuts, etc.)... which he kindly sent, and I found great interest in reading and analyzing.

I agree, lobster bisque is more interesting to analyze than lobster, and agree with what you are saying in general here, especially regarding hamburger making techniques, etc.

As for techniques in ethnic restaurants, yes falafel could be easily learned I imagine (although I've never had it I imagine I could easily get it down). However something more complicated like a good complex mole which I love, or many Indian foods, curries, etc. which I am not familiar with, would be daunting and worthy of much analysis & discussion on my part. A little bit of heaven for me would be participation in a complex mole taste-off...yum!

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Jon - Well in my simple mind, discussing food is in reality discussing two things. The quality and the uniqueness of the ingredients and the type and level of technique applied. Do you disagree with that? I mean yes there is the social aspect, the politics of it, etc. But the food itself, what is there but ingredients and technique?

I think that most things that are better, are better, because better technique has been applied and more interesting ingredients have been used. Choucroute is a "better" dish than a hot dog in a bun with sauerkraut because it involves an elaborate preparation of the sauerkraut with goose fat, garlic, bacon, smoked pork chops, white wine, spices etc. And while I like a good dog on a bun, it's nowhere as interesting to discuss as to how to make a good choucroute, or even how you eat one. It's the same with a pie. I might be wrong but, it seems to me that making perfect leaves for a millefeiulle is more demanding than making a pie crust. Hence, more interesting to discuss.

That there is room to discuss all of these things on eGullet isn't the issue. The Internet has unlimited space so one can discuss anything they want. But the question was, why are articles on hamburgers always so disappointing?I'm just being the messenger that the lovers of hamburgers want to shoot because I'm pointing out their likeability far exceeds their being interesting. Saying this another way, it's why Chowhound is less interesting than eGullet. There they believe the hamburger is the end all and be all. And my being glib about the limitations of hamburgers is not something they want to hear over there.

Jaymes - Well that point goes to it being mundane. But there is another issue at play. The walnut oil in question is the zenith of walnut oils. Is the best hot dog as profound as the best walnut oil? Not in my book. That's one of the issues here and I don't think it is overcome by claiming that rarity has an impact.

Blue Heron - Well when you get into moles, or roasting spices for a curry, you are starting to get into a certain level of complexity that spans well beyond where any discussion of hamburgers can take you. But when you talk about slow cooked steak, you make my point exactly. Steak was interesting to discuss *when applying a completely different technique when making it.* It's not the steak that made the discussion interesting, it's the new and different technique used to make the steak.

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Jaymes - Well that point goes to it being mundane. But there is another issue at play. The walnut oil in question is the zenith of walnut oils. Is the best hot dog as profound as the best walnut oil? Not in my book. That's one of the issues here and I don't think it is overcome by claiming that rarity has an impact.

You are comparing THAT walnut oil to ALL walnut oils.

But if there WERE only one obscure village in France that prepared hot dogs, and you were the first outsider to discover it, you'd return home from that gustatory revelation a new man.

You’d have a pig epiphany.

You’d buy a sausage machine. You’d research every hot dog possibility. You’d wax rhapsodic about this fabulous new dining discovery. You’d go on endlessly about this casing, or that seasoning, or which part of the hog is the absolute very best to use; which mixing methods produce the finest, the most-desired texture and, indeed, what texture is the most preferred by connoisseurs. Is it better finely ground, or more coarse, with bits of meat and herbs and seeds. You'd contemplate which fillers were the best or if any fillers were required, or if fillers only adulterated the purity of the final result and what is the tastiest fat level. You’d lecture everyone who asked about which spices impart the most delicate nuance… infusing flavor but not overpowering the delicate taste of the animal itself. The animal, by the way, that only feeds on French clover and lavender and that, if one wishes to produce the authentic French Hot Dog, one must import from that region of France, and one would know it by the name of the prestigious village stamped upon its rump.

Food writers, as the news got out, would make the de rigueur pilgrimage to the little village to report the latest food fashion. They'd speak of how difficult it was to reach the little village, how they had to hire "native guides" and four-wheel drive vehicles to transverse the narrow, rutted mountain roads, but how it was "worth it." They'd publish their findings with scholarly articles complete with glossy pictorals of the colorful local workers with big fat black French moustaches, wearing berets and bloodied aprons and standing outside the picturesque and quaint "hot dog factory."

And I don’t even want to get into the endless condiment possibilities that everyone would soon be debating.

Oh yes, it would be a much different experience than just wandering up to the hot dog stand and saying, “Hey, Bud. I’m next. One, all the way.”

And when I say, “you,” Steve, I don’t mean YOU, Steve. I mean foodies all over the world. Including myself.

I’m just commenting on how we take the commonplace for granted. And elevate the unusual, the difficult, the costly to revered status, sometimes deservedly so, sometimes not.


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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"But if there WERE only one obscure village in France that prepared hot dogs, and you were the first outsider to discover it, you'd return home from that gustatory revelation a new man."

Jaymes - I don't know. A sausage is a sausage is a sausage. It's just ground meat and spices. It has its limitations as great as it can be. But the walnut oil, or a jar of home made tomato paste from Tuscany, or aged balsamic vinegar, those things transcend place in the way that a sausage never could.

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As we all know, Steve, the people at Chowhound can be somewhat limited too. It's the height of arrogance to champion a hamburger over choucroute, only its reverse sobbery.

It's like the rich man who's proud that he still drives a Cadillac instead of a BMW. If he drives the Caddy because he's more comfortable, fine, but if the Cadillac takes on almost mythical proportions in his mind--if he yearns for that car beyond all others for no good reason other than the fact that he's spent years telling people how comfortable it is, and how much he loves it...

...then he's a nut.

Food's the same way.

But not every one is a rich man, and I mostly mean that metaphorically. People have different levels of cooking experience, different bank accounts, different upbringings, etc.

A discussion about the technique of making the perfect hot dog may be of more utility to someone with less ambition, or less experience, or less money. It may be less pleasurable to some people, although certainly nobody is forcing them to participate, but it has its purpose and we shouldn't be either dismissive or scornful of it.

You yourself are now using the word "less" to modify the word "interesting" now... and that's been my whole point all along. Sure, its "less interesting", but in the right hands and in the right time its interesting enough.

You shouldn't change your opinion one iota. Fine and complex food is your passion, as it should be. Leave lesser food to lesser mortals, and we'll all be happy.


Jon Lurie, aka "jhlurie"

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Blue Heron - Well when you get into moles, or roasting spices for a curry, you are starting to get into a certain level of complexity that spans well beyond where any discussion of hamburgers can take you. But when you talk about slow cooked steak, you make my point exactly. Steak was interesting to discuss *when applying a completely different technique when making it.* It's not the steak that made the discussion interesting, it's the new and different technique used to make the steak.

Steve P. - ok, glad I could help you make your point on steaks. :rolleyes:

However, regarding the moles and curry's and their complexity, the other point I meant to make is that I don't consider them "fine dining" being rather moderate in price, but still very worthy of analysis, nuance, discussion, etc. Otherwise I think we're in agreement.

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"But if there WERE only one obscure village in France that prepared hot dogs, and you were the first outsider to discover it, you'd return home from that gustatory revelation a new man."

Jaymes - I don't know. A sausage is a sausage is a sausage. It's just ground meat and spices. It has its limitations as great as it can be. But the walnut oil, or a jar of home made tomato paste from Tuscany, or aged balsamic vinegar, those things transcend place in the way that a sausage never could.

There is obviously only one solution.

You must at once send me a jar of this walnut oil so that I can sample it and see for myself.

So that I can compare it to the very finest of hot dogs and evaluate the impact both have upon my life. :biggrin:

Of course, I'll be needing some of that tomato paste and balsamic vinegar as well so that my research will be complete.


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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I wasn't really responding to Steve P's major statement; I agree that, in terms of analysis, simple often has less to analyze than complex.

I'm responding the the "discussing" part.  For me, discussing doesn't have to be analyzing.

One further thought: Steingarten's article on peaches, toro, baguettes have a ton of analysis too.  I like his articles that have the theme "search for the best..".  Simple subjects, often good analysis.

Discussing doesn't have to be analyzing, but that's precisely the argument shaw was seting up by quoting Plotnicki.

...one more example that the "Cheap Eats" aspect of dining not being very interesting on an analytical level.
It doesn't discount the interest on other levels. I think the references to green tea and potato gratins were misleading and probably introduced because Plotnicki had certain specific points on his mind. I think "level of subtlety and variance" is what is the context that separates "fine" from "cheap" and that's the essence of the point. How many can really say there's as much to analyze in foods that lack sublety and variance as in those with considerable subtlety and variance.

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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Asian food seems to have it's own discreet economic system that doesn't apply to other food types. But  if you strip cost away and just look at the methods of preparation, the same level of nuance isn't there as in cuisines that utilize more complex technique. Look at Japanese food. It is highly technical to be able to prepare the food to be an exact shape and size. There is an entire technique devoted to the slicing of fish. I never see Japanese chefs hacking up a soy sauce chicken like they do in a Chinese restaurant.

The image of the cleaver "hacking" reminded me of this wonderful Taoist story:

The ancient Chinese philosopher Chuang Tzu tells a story about a prince observing his cook cutting up an ox: Out went a hand, down went a shoulder, he planted a foot, he pressed with a knee, the ox fell apart with a whisper, the bright cleaver murmured like a gentle wind. The prince marveled at his cook's technique. The cook denied that he had a technique, saying instead that he followed the Tao. He explains how when he first began to cut up oxen he saw the whole ox in one mass. After 3 years he saw the distinctions. But now, many years later, he sees nothing with his eye. Instead his whole being apprehends. His cleaver finds its own way. He cuts through no joint, chops no bone. The cleaver finds the spaces in the joints. Its blade is thin and keen. When that thinness finds the space there's all the room it needs. In 19 years he's never had to sharpen his cleaver. When he's done dismembering the oxen, he withdraws the blade, stands still and lets the joy of the work sink in. He cleans the blade and puts it away. The prince says, "This is it! My cook has shown me how I ought to live my own life."

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Steve P. suggests that "It isn't that things aren't as interesting and nuanced because they are inexpensive, it's just that most inexpensive things happen to fit the description of being less interesting".

Just this morning, for less than $20 I picked up a fermier goat cheese from the maker, a nectarine, white peach, a couple of figs and a handful of freshly dried pitted bing cherries from the growers. The cheese was a new one developed by the cheesemaker at the request of a Napa vintner who wanted a foil for champagne and was created with that combination in mind. The fruit were the roundest and most balanced the market had to offer this morning. Now, I'll concede that the champagne can cost whatever you want to pay, but even without that extravagance, the cheese and fruit measured together will offer tremendously interesting combinations, opportunity for both analysis and orgasms of taste.

(Actually, but outside my example, I bought 3 additional different cheeses from this fabulous producer, and am counting on wine to address the cholesterol! ) :raz:


eGullet member #80.

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So many responses...so little time...

If I understand what Steve P. is saying, some foods are simple to prepare and therefore are not very interesting to discuss (e.g. olive oil, tomato paste from tuscany, falafel, steak). Foods merit discussion in proportion to the complexity of preparation, the number of ingredients and their uniqueness (some seem to focus more on technique while others think the ingredients are key). Naturally, there is some correlation between the interest generating factors and the price, but that correlation (as many have stated), is very partial.

So, we may come up with a formula:

I(dish) = A*NumberOfIngredients + B*NumberOfUniqueIngredients + C*StepsInPreparation +

D*SpecialToolsForPreparation + E*VeryLongSteps

Where I is the level of interest in discussing a dish.

Let's say we set A=1, B=4, C=1, D=4, E=4

How does steak score?

Assuming beef+salt+pepper+oil or clarified butter and three steps (put on fire, flip, put on fire some more, let rest)

I(steak)=1*4+4*0+1*3+4*0+4*0=7

How about chicken soup? Falafel? Shawarma? caviar? Olive oil? Tomato paste? timpano? wild hare served in three services (or lobster in four?) should the factors be modified or is a nonlinear combination called for?

Of tangential interest to me is the question of why the failure rate in the simplest of dishes is so high, but that's off topic.


M

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Most  BBQ is junk.

Let's amend that to "Most commercial BBQ is Junk"

I've been dabbling in the art of smoking for a number of years and have found that even the first attempts at serious BBQ by amateurs almost always blows away that sold at 95% of commercial barbecue joints. Don't know why this is the case other than the fact that most commercial places try to lessen the costs involved in long, slow cooking with attention to fire control that results in great BBQ. Most are using gas fired smokers and pre boil their product, then hide their sorry results under gobs of over sweet sauce. Good BBQ needs no sauce!

A lot of this is the result of local fire codes that forbid the use of open pits with hardwood coals in many urban areas. Truly good BBQ, whether it be ribs, brisket, pulled pork or poultry can be as nuanced and interesting as any other exacting high end cooking. Unfortunately most of the US just does not apply the standards of excellence to BBQ that exist in parts of the Carolinas or Texas. Even in those parts of the US the number of truly good BBQ joints is eroding.


=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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If I understand what Steve P. is saying, some foods are simple to prepare and therefore are not very interesting to discuss (e.g. olive oil, tomato paste from tuscany, falafel, steak). Foods merit discussion in proportion to the complexity of preparation, the number of ingredients and their uniqueness (some seem to focus more on technique while others think the ingredients are key).

But that's not what was originally said. The original comment had more to do with economics--haute cuisine versus anything and everything else. And the start of this conversation asserted that there was little to nothing to discuss about anything except for the high-ticket end of the spectrum.

Also, Steve's analysis of what is or is not interesting was limited to the complex, and there were implicit connections to it's expense or exclusivity.

It's perfectly okay if he limits his own interests. But to put everything in two barrels--expensive and cheap eats, interesting and boring, worthy and unworthy, choucroute and hamburger, is to carry the argument too far. The differences between these things are a matter of degree, not a sharp line.

A simple food--an egg let's say (to please Cabrales) can be prepared in about a million different ways, and even some of the cheapest and easiest to prepare can not only be infinitely satisfying, but also a proper, interesting and most importantly relevent point of conversation. The analysis will never challenge that of a more complex food, but does it really have to in order to be relevent and worthy?


Jon Lurie, aka "jhlurie"

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