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

Is Your City or Town a Culinary


jamiemaw
 Share

Recommended Posts

Is your city or town a culinary Innie or Outie? Does it embrace new styles of cooking that may have arrived from far away? Or does it shy away from them?

Just as our belly buttons are tangible reminders that we were all intimately connected to our mothers at one time, so do our culinary portals connect us to the mother cultures that begat the way we eat today.

In certain places, that is.

I was given pause, and a reason to ask this question during a culinary scouting trip through Umbria and Tuscany. It was Sunday night at a rural cooking school and the only thing that stood between me, a strutting chicken and dinner - was a sharp axe.

But when I asked the head instructor how we might prepare the fowl –“coq au vin, or perhaps a nice curry?” I enquired – she looked at me as if I might want to pluck off too. “It’s Sunday and we will, of course, be roasting the bird with fresh herbs,” she said, as if to deter from this seasoned formula might prevent Italian trains from running on time.

Several nights later, after many consecutive meals of the other white meat near Munich, I had a hankering for Chinese. That too was about to go unrequited.

Certainly New World cities such as Sydney, Vancouver, and San Francisco are culinary melting pots – they’re outies, displaying convex navels for all to see. Here in Vancouver, you can watch the culinary DNA warp and weave nightly before your eyes. And as a bonus, and say unlike Toronto, there’s an identifiable regional cuisine, the way there is in Seattle, Portland and northern California.

Other cities might look more inward. As Innies they might tend to support less diversity of cuisines - even if equal profusion of restaurants. The raw ingredients might reflect a more historic and less quickly evolving culinary culture as well. Is this effect the result of longevity, attitude, and gastro-chauvinism?

So what is it? Does your city or town continue to embrace mother cuisines and celebrate them? And has it developed an identifiable regional cuisine, with ingredients, flavours and techniques integrated from elsewhere? Or, with the effluxion of time, or attitude, or the effect of local terroir and merroir – has it slowed, or even stopped, in its evolution?

Edited by jamiemaw (log)

from the thinly veneered desk of:

Jamie Maw

Food Editor

Vancouver magazine

www.vancouvermagazine.com

Foodblog: In the Belly of the Feast - Eating BC

"Profumo profondo della mia carne"

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Sydney, outie, thank god for that.

I was just about to post the same thing. LOL.

Your Outie is outed. And come to think of it, I've navel-gazed most contentedly, in your fine restaurants but especially on your beaches. :biggrin:

from the thinly veneered desk of:

Jamie Maw

Food Editor

Vancouver magazine

www.vancouvermagazine.com

Foodblog: In the Belly of the Feast - Eating BC

"Profumo profondo della mia carne"

Link to comment
Share on other sites

And as a bonus, and say unlike Toronto, there’s an identifiable regional cuisine, the way there is in Seattle, Portland and northern California.

Northern California has identifiable cuisine?

Perhaps I can't see the forest for the trees and didn't even realize that we have one.

Please explain what it might be, if you will. I'm lost here.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

And as a bonus, and say unlike Toronto, there’s an identifiable regional cuisine, the way there is in Seattle, Portland and northern California.

Northern California has identifiable cuisine?

Perhaps I can't see the forest for the trees and didn't even realize that we have one.

Please explain what it might be, if you will. I'm lost here.

Colour me flummoxed - by your reply. Surely northern California has a clearly identifiable regional cuisine, rooted in its fields and the local foddstuffs that led a resurgence of ingredient-forward cookery in the 80s. Thank Alice Waters, Jeremiah Tower and many others for recalibrating offshore methods to those local ingredients, and in an unfussed but focused way. And I'm not talking hangtoiwn fry here.

And surely northern California is an 'Outie' for other reasons as well, not least being the remarkable merging of Asian influences and techniques onto local menus. What emerged was not only distinctive, but set a template for other areas in the US.

As to the heirs of that emergent regional cuisine, I can think of no better than David Kinch of Manresa: His fish cookery alone is no fluke. :biggrin:

Edited by jamiemaw (log)

from the thinly veneered desk of:

Jamie Maw

Food Editor

Vancouver magazine

www.vancouvermagazine.com

Foodblog: In the Belly of the Feast - Eating BC

"Profumo profondo della mia carne"

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Northern California has identifiable cuisine?

While I fully recognize, say, Louisiana, as having its own unique regional cuisine, can one recognize California cuisine if not onsite ... other than having lots of fresh fruits and vegetables... organics galore ... in the old days of the 60's, I would have thought alfalfa sprouts and vegan everything, but today? au courant, cutting edge, so chic dining abounds (Steve Martin did a film, L.A. something, which was beautiful in mocking the food).. but that might refer to anywhere now ...

Thank Alice Waters
... referring to this Alice Waters?? :rolleyes:
The event would gather more than 200 farmers and food producers from the Bay Area, elsewhere in the United States and other countries for three to four days of tastings, films and seminars on delicious, well-crafted food.
Now that is classic California in its most pristine form ...

Jamie, did you have to make us actually think about yet another mindbending topic?? :hmmm: This is not so much fun as actual, may God help me here, work (my least favorite four letter obscene word) ...

Thinking about the cuisine of Atlanta in terms of our umbilical, of if religiously speaking, umBiblical, scar tissue ... maybe later, dude, gotta ponder over a stiff beverage ... :huh: washed down with some sticky over-sweet barbecue sauce ...

Melissa Goodman aka "Gifted Gourmet"

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thinking about the cuisine of Atlanta in terms of our umbilical, of if religiously speaking, umBiblical, scar tissue ... maybe later, dude, gotta ponder over a stiff beverage ... :huh:  washed down with some sticky over-sweet barbecue sauce ...

Sounds shockingly regional, Outie even. In fact Atlanta has been amazingly receptive to culinary influences from outside as its economy flourished from the early 90s onward. I was a willing accomplice when much of our family business was based there. I couldn't help noticing that one of the restaurants that presaged Atlanta's turn in dining to "Frankly, Scarlett, I do give a damn" if memory serves me, Pano's and Paul's was relegated out of the premier division of Top 50 restaurants this year. What that tells me is either that time has passed it by, or, more likely, 50 other restaurants have. they came from somewhere, and carried influences that excited at least the AJC food writers.

Sorry about the thinking part, but after you deal with that stiffy, how about some culinary provenance?

You're a peach.

Edited by jamiemaw (log)

from the thinly veneered desk of:

Jamie Maw

Food Editor

Vancouver magazine

www.vancouvermagazine.com

Foodblog: In the Belly of the Feast - Eating BC

"Profumo profondo della mia carne"

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Sorry about the thinking part, but after you deal with that stiffy, how about some culinary provenance?

You're a peach.

Here I must digress from the inny and outie comparison to address the need for putting a good bourbon in the local yokel peach barbecue sauce ... a recipe I am loathe to even contemplate ...

back to the topic at hand .. sorry for the digression ...

Melissa Goodman aka "Gifted Gourmet"

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I definitely recognize a California cuisine, but I'm not experienced enough, perhaps, to distinguish between Northern and Southern California cuisine. LA is an outie. So is New York. I suppose that's something fairly common in cosmopolitan port cities.

Michael aka "Pan"

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I've been thinking about your subject since the nanosecond you posted it, jamie. A couple of stiffies later, I'm no further ahead.

Although we have a better-than-vibrant tradition of outstanding immigrant cuisine here in Chicago, if we look at what's hot and happening here (and that's a lot) I guess the physique of my city features Big Shoulders and an innie. Innie in that the innovative chef class here looks inward to its own invention. (Boy, I used the letter combo "in" more times than I intended.)

I suspect my other beloved city, Montreal, may also be an outstanding innie, but I've been away too long to be au courant.

LA is an outie, a glorious pierced and glittery outie.

Margaret McArthur

"Take it easy, but take it."

Studs Terkel

1912-2008

A sensational tennis blog from freakyfrites

margaretmcarthur.com

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I've been thinking about your subject since the nanosecond you posted it, jamie.  A couple of stiffies later, I'm no further ahead.

Although we have a better-than-vibrant tradition of outstanding immigrant cuisine here in Chicago, if we look at what's hot and happening here (and that's a lot) I guess the physique of my city features Big Shoulders and an innie.  Innie in that the innovative chef class here looks inward to its own invention.  (Boy, I used the letter combo "in" more times than I intended.)

I suspect my other beloved city, Montreal, may also be an outstanding innie, but I've been away too long to be au courant.

LA is an outie, a glorious pierced and glittery outie.

What a lovely turn of phrase, Maggie. And surely the resurgence of dining in Los Angeles has removed the vestiges of feeling as if one were eating inside an animated feature - such as at Spago.

Having been conceived in Chicago, I feel a post-partum allegiance. Perhaps the gastro-landscape of some cities becomes more inward-directed. I think that's probably true of some self-congratulatory places that, not coincidentally, are also media capitals.

If only they would invest that capital as diversely as the mother cuisines that begat them.

Edited by jamiemaw (log)

from the thinly veneered desk of:

Jamie Maw

Food Editor

Vancouver magazine

www.vancouvermagazine.com

Foodblog: In the Belly of the Feast - Eating BC

"Profumo profondo della mia carne"

Link to comment
Share on other sites

So what is it? Does your city or town continue to embrace mother cuisines and celebrate them? And has it developed an identifiable regional cuisine, with ingredients, flavours and techniques integrated from elsewhere? Or, with the effluxion of time, or attitude, or the effect of local terroir and merroir – has it slowed, or even stopped, in its evolution?

I don't know which this place is. It certainly doesn't embrace ingredients, etc. from elsewhere - for example, Thai took most of the country by storm, but not here. Most ethnic restaurants are very Americanized.

But it's not like there's a distinctive regional cuisine being embraced in its place, unless you count meat and potatoes (and the potatoes aren't grown here).

Which category would you use for a place where chain restaurants count for at least 50% of the people's choice awards in the local newspaper's annual "best of" survey?

Marcia.

feeling very cynical about the area in which she currently lives

Don't forget what happened to the man who suddenly got everything he wanted...he lived happily ever after. -- Willy Wonka

eGullet foodblog

Link to comment
Share on other sites

San Diego - outie. We may not be a hotbed of cutting edge, but we work everything into what we do do. (noto bene - not always successfully)

"You dont know everything in the world! You just know how to read!" -an ah-hah! moment for 6-yr old Miss O.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Southern California doesn't have a distinct regional cuisine. However I don't know of any area that hasn't embraced and celebrated every new ethnic cuisine or culinary trend to come along.

Just a few days ago, driving through Chatsworth (northwestern San Fernando Valley) I passed a strip mall with a sign that featured two restaurants: Sushi Ichi-Ban and Jose Antonio Peruvian Chinese restaurant.

The latter sign startled me - it never occurred to me that there might be a Chinese sub-culture in Peru.

However there was this write-up in the Daily News

Also, when I mentioned seeing this restaurant sign to the folks at my office, one said that when she was on vacation in Peru, to visit Machu Picchu, the bus stopped in a village where everyone had lunch at a Chinese restaurant, however she said the foods were nothing like she had ever before eaten.

Edited by andiesenji (log)

"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Providence has been an outie for several generations. For this I am deeply, abidingly grateful.

I'm glad you chimed in Chris, because after reading your foodblog, it was clear that culinarily, Providence more than lives up to its name.

from the thinly veneered desk of:

Jamie Maw

Food Editor

Vancouver magazine

www.vancouvermagazine.com

Foodblog: In the Belly of the Feast - Eating BC

"Profumo profondo della mia carne"

Link to comment
Share on other sites

San Diego - outie. We may not be a hotbed of cutting edge,  but we work everything into what we do do. (noto bene - not always successfully)

Hmmm................gotta disagree on this one. I hate to dis my hometown, but San Diego is definitely an innie working on becoming an outie.

When I moved back in in 2001 from the Bay Area food culture shock is the only way to describe the experience. I had to go to 3 different stores just to find flat leaf parsely, some things I just couldn't source (like specialty Italian) and the quality level of many items was a step or two lower than in the Bay Area. But, OTOH, I am delighted to say that in 5 short years the situation has improved a lot. It's now easier to find specialty produce/food products and the variety and quality of new resteaurants has been very good.

Frankly, if one more person asks me where to find "amazing", "awesome" NY-style pizza, Mexican, Korean, Greek, etc. food "unique" to San Diego, I'm going to slap them into next week. It doesn't exist........yet. San Diego is working on it and moving at a pretty good clip, but the fish taco is not indigenous (San Felipe or Acapulco claims that depending upon who you talk to) to San Diego, in fact with the exception of El Zarape in City Heights ($.99 ea), the fish tacos in this town can be pretty disappointing.

A tourist town since nearly it's inception, San Diego was also home to more ex-patriated Iowans than any place in the world (yes, even more than Long Beach, CA), home to one of the largest assortment of miliatry installations and a pass through destination for those immigrating - legally or not - from Latin America. Now, I'm not going to dismiss the cuisine of Iowa because there are some mighty fine cooks there producing some excellent food. Nor, am I going to trash the military presence or weigh in on the validity the current border hysteria. No, my point is that San Diego's recent food history (i.e. the last 50 years) has been one mostly of status quo, safe, middle ground food designed to appeal to the widest range of people and tastes without offending. Safe is often boring, and so it was with a lot of what was available in San Diego. It tasted just fine, but it didn't make you sit up and take notice, it didn't rock the boat, and the taste buds certainly didn't sit up and say WOW that tasted great, or what a great meal.

For years San Diego was the largest producer of avocados in the world, and the largest U.S. producer of kiwis among other things and is currently the 2nd largest producer of macadamia nuts, of all things, as well as having organic/biodynamic producers doing some really interesting stuff. A lot of the locally grown produce used to make it to the local markets and I remember as a kid eating great produce. Not so much today, unless you shop at the local farmers markets. So in that regard I think San Diego has actually gone somewhat backwards in development.

Luckily for us, well trained chefs have discovered that with an average temperature of 72* year round, 10 inches of rain and an emerging awareness of food, that the quality of life here is pretty darn good. They can be a big fish in a little pond in a big city. Fine dining still has something of a casual flair to it, but it's awakened and is starting to thrive. It's not hard to find a good meal, well prepared and at reasonable prices. And, one thing that San Diego does really, really well is breakfast. Not just the hotel style champange brunch, but interesting menus at restaurants from small to large, msotly for less than $10 and with good coffee.

Young, enthisatic growers have discovered there is a market for community supported agriculture and that things grow pretty well here. Let's also not forget that the waters off the San Diego coast produce world class uni in demand everywhere. Slow Food has a convivium here that is doing what it can to develop awareness and it's base of members.

No, San Diego is not quite an outie yet, but like the fast pace of life these days, it's definitely and clearly moving in that direction and it's exciting to watch it happen, and of course, eat one's way through it :raz:

Didn't mean to get off on a tangent or rant. San Diego is a wonderful place to be from and to live. Historically, though, the food hasn't exactly been it's biggest selling point. Everyone's perspective may be different, but the times they are a-changin' in San Diego

Edited by kalypso (log)
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks for that, kalypso - life beyond George's at the Cove, where I'll freely admit I've done most of my SD navel-gazing.

Edited by jamiemaw (log)

from the thinly veneered desk of:

Jamie Maw

Food Editor

Vancouver magazine

www.vancouvermagazine.com

Foodblog: In the Belly of the Feast - Eating BC

"Profumo profondo della mia carne"

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I hope that a Kansas Citian will follow up on this post to Set Me Straight (Edited to add: As if that were possible!), but pace deep-fried turkey, I would classify my hometown as still an Innie, but with a glorious indigenous dish--barbecue--that lets it get away with navel-gazing to its heart's content.

Philadelphia was an Innie too, at some time in the past before my arrival here ca. 1983. Now, there is no doubt that this town's an Outie, transformed in no small part by waves--small ones, but waves nonetheless--of immigration from East and Southeast Asia, Russia, Ethiopia/Eritrea, and West Africa, among other places since the early 1980s. In fact, I'll bet that if you measured your city's culinary scene against the census category "Percentage of residents born abroad" and its direct descendant "Percentage of residents with at least one parent born abroad," you will find a very strong correlation between these statistics and the degree of cosmopolitanism evidenced in the local restaurant mix.

The American Midwest--Chicago included--has historically not been a destination for immigrants from abroad, though I hear that Minneapolis has become one for certain Southeast Asian groups. (Chicago's culinary verve is partly the product of internal migration.) The coastal cities historically have been. Those two facts, I would suggest, make all--or almost all--the difference.

Edited by MarketStEl (log)

Sandy Smith, Exile on Oxford Circle, Philadelphia

"95% of success in life is showing up." --Woody Allen

My foodblogs: 1 | 2 | 3

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I hope that a Kansas Citian will follow up on this post to Set Me Straight, but pace deep-fried turkey, I would classify my hometown as still an Innie, but with a glorious indigenous dish--barbecue--that lets it get away with navel-gazing to its heart's content.

Philadelphia was an Innie too, at some time in the past before my arrival here ca. 1983.  Now, there is no doubt that this town's an Outie, transformed in no small part by waves--small ones, but waves nonetheless--of immigration from East and Southeast Asia, Russia, Ethiopia/Eritrea, and West Africa, among other places since the early 1980s.  In fact, I'll bet that if you measured your city's culinary scene against the census category "Percentage of residents born abroad" and its direct descendant "Percentage of residents with at least one parent born abroad," you will find a very strong correlation between these statistics and the degree of cosmopolitanism evidenced in the local restaurant mix.

The American Midwest--Chicago included--has historically not been a destination for immigrants from abroad, though I hear that Minneapolis has become one for certain Southeast Asian groups.  (Chicago's culinary verve is partly the product of internal migration.) The coastal cities historically have been.  Those two facts, I would suggest, make all--or almost all--the difference.

Sandy,

I absolutely agree with you about immigration diversifying the culinary gene pool. In our country, the two primary beneficiaries of large-scale immigration over the past two decades have been Vancouver and Toronto. Vancouver now has an Asian-Canadian population verging on 40%.

But then there's assimilation of immigrants, and also assimilation of cuisines - quite organically they begin to merge.

I'd be interested to know how long you think "that degree of cosmopolitanism" (with apologies to Helen Gurley Brown :biggrin: ) will likely last in your restaurant culture before it begins to fade away, or change, perhaps because the kids want to work for ligne roset and FuTure Paradise. Do you think some of those cuisines will morph or merge into something more western, or continue to be distinctive and 'authentic'? Do local ingredients (especially the primary proteins) inculcate themselves and change the dish?

I'm also interested in aspirational dining, and how some immigrant-nationals in the second generation deliberately step out of their mother cuisine to eat westernized food in what they consider 'cooler' precincts. Could this generational transition be evidence of the Outie looking in?

What impacts of the foregoing do you see in Philly?

Edited by jamiemaw (log)

from the thinly veneered desk of:

Jamie Maw

Food Editor

Vancouver magazine

www.vancouvermagazine.com

Foodblog: In the Belly of the Feast - Eating BC

"Profumo profondo della mia carne"

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I absolutely agree with you about immigration diversifying the culinary gene pool. In our country, the two primary beneficiaries of large-scale immigration over the past two decades have been Vancouver and Toronto. Vancouver now has an Asian-Canadian population verging on 40%.

But then there's assimilation of immigrants, and also assimilation of cuisines - quite organically they begin to merge.

I'd be interested to know how long you think "that degree of cosmopolitanism" (with apologies to Helen Gurley Brown  :biggrin: ) will likely last in your restaurant culture before it begins to fade away, or change, perhaps because the kids want to work for ligne roset and FuTure Paradise. Do you think some of those cuisines will morph or merge into something more western, or continue to be distinctive and 'authentic'? Do local ingredients (especially the primary proteins) inculcate themselves and change the dish?

I'm also interested in aspirational dining, and how some immigrant-nationals in the second generation deliberately step out of their mother cuisine to eat westernized food in what they consider 'cooler' precincts. Could this generational transition be evidence of the Outie looking in?

What impacts of the foregoing do you see in Philly?

Well, since Susanna Foo has been turning out Cordon Bleu Chinese cooking for more than a decade now, I guess you could say that the process was short-circuited a bit here, at least when it comes to Chinese cooking. And she has been joined by others, like <mumble>, the creative chef at Nan in University City, one of a more recent wave of Asian-fusion restaurants scattered across the landscape. (I guess it probably helped that Philadelphia has had a Chinatown since the mid-19th century--it's one of the oldest, and geographically one of the smallest, in the country--but then again, Boston has one too, and I wouldn't call that city's cuisine cosmopolitan, or at least I wouldn't have when I attended college there.)

The other waves of immigrants--and the restaurants they have spawned--are still fairly recent: The Italian Market's Latin American accent became pronounced only within the last three to five years, for example. I don't think they are yet at the point where the next generation is ready to Americanize the dishes they grew up with or give an ethnic twist to more, um, white-bread fare. (The Cuban-Colombian-American restaurant on Pine Street may be called Mixto, but the mix is more of a pan-Latino one, as might befit an establishment connected to the owners of Tierra Colombiana.)

It might be more interesting to revisit your question in another five to ten years.

Sandy Smith, Exile on Oxford Circle, Philadelphia

"95% of success in life is showing up." --Woody Allen

My foodblogs: 1 | 2 | 3

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 Share

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
×
×
  • Create New...