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Greatest Quote Ever


Sneakeater
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As an aside, I'm quite sure that liquid refers to anything that's neither solid or gaseous.

Plasmas! Superfluids! There are lots of other phases of matter that aren't solids or gases... but I'm just being obnoxious, particularly dangerous when I don't know what I'm talking about. Carry on.

edit to add: and you can't eat plasma, neither. But I hear that Adria is working on it.

Edited by Andrew Fenton (log)
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Has anybody read the actual article? Do we know if the next paragraph started, "Just kidding"?

I thought scientifically a fluid referred to any liquid or gas -- anything deformable.

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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Has anybody read the actual article? Do we know if the next paragraph started, "Just kidding"?

Of course, this is a valid point. At least personally, I realize that I'm taking that quote (and all that's implied with it) out of context.

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not to defend the original critic, but i don't think not being familiar with white chocolate chai emulsion on a lobster tail, however it is cooked, is something to be sneered at.

There is a big difference between this dish, which is clearly a new creation of the chef concerned, and a classic such as pate de foie gras. Most of us, would, I think, ask about the details of the new dish, out of interest and curiosity not necessarily ignorance, and many of us would have asked about the second at some point in our lives - we have all been novices and asking questions is how we learn. However, it is not unreasonable to assume that a food writer is beyond the novice stage.

Seconding Russ here, I would suggest to you that you would find people who would scratch their heads and look at you funny if you started talking about foams, emulsions, and other foods-as-chemical-compounds in vast swaths of New York City, even.

Granted. But a food writer, in this context, is not “people”, a food writer is supposed to be an expert.

I don't know...if you're a food writer....I don't think it's too much to ask that they know what an emulsion is. Or a foam. Shouldn't someone who writes about food for a living be curious enough to have read about trends and innovations in that area? Or am I asking too much from a regional paper writer?  :biggrin:

Absolutely agree. Curiosity is surely a requirement for a food writer? And I dont believe it matters where the food writer is located, or what sort of paper they write for, surely part of a job such as food writing is to inform and educate?

real sophistication is not about knowing the latest ingredients and techniques, but knowing what tastes good.

Same point as above. A food writer should, absolutely, know about the latest ingredients and techniques ( ... but star anise is hardly one of the “latest” ingredients, is it?). Simply knowing what tastes good does not qualify someone to be a food writer.

Russ, I had a similar reaction. I think for me the concern is the emphasis on nomenclature, as if jargon is important in and of itself. I think that view tends to elevate form over substance, and also can when taken too far (which I don't think has happened here) be exclusionary and pretentious. I'm inclined to believe the substance of this restaurant review may also suck, though.

Essentially agree, except that “jargon” is the stock-in-trade of a specialist writer, surely? This issue is not about nomenclature, it is about ignorance of nomenclature in someone supposedly an expert in the field (we do expect food writers to be experts in the field, do we not?)

It is, in my mind, quite acceptable to expect that a food writer would know what pate de fois gras is, with or without any elementary French language skills. The dish is usually written in French, is it not? I would hazard a guess that many “unsophisticated” diners with no French at all would still know what it is.

As for not knowing what star anise is! This it totally unbelievable for a food writer.

This is not about snobbery, or pretentiousness, or nomenclature, it is about someone who makes a living from writing about a subject they dont seem to know much about, or worse - something they dont even have much curiosity or enthusiasm for.

[edited to fix typo]

Edited by The Old Foodie (log)

Happy Feasting

Janet (a.k.a The Old Foodie)

My Blog "The Old Foodie" gives you a short food history story each weekday day, always with a historic recipe, and sometimes a historic menu.

My email address is: theoldfoodie@fastmail.fm

Anything is bearable if you can make a story out of it. N. Scott Momaday

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As an aside, I'm quite sure that liquid refers to anything that's neither solid or gaseous.

Plasmas! Superfluids! There are lots of other phases of matter that aren't solids or gases... but I'm just being obnoxious, particularly dangerous when I don't know what I'm talking about. Carry on.

edit to add: and you can't eat plasma, neither. But I hear that Adria is working on it.

Yay - bring on the the Bose-Einstein condensate braised abalone....

I love animals.

They are delicious.

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Has anybody read the actual article? Do we know if the next paragraph started, "Just kidding"?

Yes, I've just now read the entire review, and, no, she's not kidding. But there are a few "howevers."

It is true that this is an inept but also a well-meaning attempt at a restaurant review. First of all, she clearly went only once with one companion, so the review tells the reader what happened on that particular night and with those limited dishes. She was indeed relieved she didn’t order the foie gras, though it’s not clear if it was the “goose,” the “liver,” or the “pate” part that bothered her. However she was “surprised by a waiter who brought us both a sample of halibut ceviche, compliments of the chef. It's similar to a salsa or vegetable relish, except it also contains small, tangy chunks of halibut. The waiters offered the sample to all the diners.” That last declarative sentence seems so sad. OK, she really hasn’t been out to dinner at upscale restaurants a lot. But I admit that years and years ago when I was served my first amuse bouche, I too thought I was being singled out as “special” by the chef (or at least the waiter) until I saw the same dish being brought to everyone else and then felt just a little embarrassed.

The rest of the review is a straightforward recitation of their dinner with occasional references to what was flavorful or nicely browned but not what anything actually tasted like. She seemed oddly surprised that “The chicken was flavored with herbs, but still juicy.” And—horreurs—her aged Angus filet “was broiled medium well, just as I ordered it.” She dutifully reports that the desert menu offers “11 dessert wines, 17 cognacs and armagnacs and five other sweet items” (though I don’t know what she means by “other sweet items”), that the service was friendly though she was poured a cup of cold coffee (the waitress was “very gracious” when she mentioned it later), and there were white tablecloths.

But the most important piece of information is that I couldn’t find any other restaurant or food-oriented articles written by Donna Hale. She’s written about straight news both local and international for the paper, but not about food. So if we’re going to rag on anyone, it should be her editor. Poor Ms. Hale got an expensive dinner and a lot of internet bile for being a reporter sent to do a food-writer’s job.

:shock:

Emily
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[...]Essentially agree, except that “jargon” is the stock-in-trade of a specialist writer, surely?  This issue is not about nomenclature, it is about ignorance of nomenclature in someone supposedly an expert in the field (we do expect food writers to be experts in the field, do we not?)[...]

Yeah. A music critic should know what an enharmonic modulation is, even if most of the laymen/-women reading his/her article might need a definition and even then some wouldn't understand. Regardless, it is like a magical spice or herb when used in important moments of pieces.

Michael aka "Pan"

 

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Poor Ms. Hale got an expensive dinner and a lot of internet bile for being a reporter sent to do a food-writer’s job. :shock:

Point partially taken. However, I would argue that any "reporter" (whose stock-in-trade is still words) would have looked up a few things - such as "star anise"- for her own as well as her readers edification, if she was forced to write outside her own field. Someone who proposes to be a writer could have made that exercise of "having-to-write-outside-of-ones-own-field" itself into the review. I would think that the worst thing for a writer would be to appear ignorant, whereas to appear interested, adventurous, and enquiring would be a good thing. Ms Hale still gets to wear a lot of the responsibility. If your name's gonna be on it, you better be sure your readers get the impression you want them to get.

Second point: are there not any e-Gulleters in Indiana who would volunteer their services to the editor of this paper, to write future reviews?

Janet

Happy Feasting

Janet (a.k.a The Old Foodie)

My Blog "The Old Foodie" gives you a short food history story each weekday day, always with a historic recipe, and sometimes a historic menu.

My email address is: theoldfoodie@fastmail.fm

Anything is bearable if you can make a story out of it. N. Scott Momaday

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a reporter sent to do a food-writer’s job.

:shock:

That describes most newspaper food writers when they start out. Although there is a food-writing program at NYU, and although some people aim to become specialists at food writing from the get-go, most newspaper food writers are members of a newspaper's staff who get a few food assignments and learn on the job. This is the case not only at small regional papers, but also often at the New York Times and other top national papers. The mindset of most newspaper editors is that writing is writing, and that the specialties are of secondary concern because they can be learned. If they bring in actual experts, it's often in a freelance columnist capacity.

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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Our local paper does not review restaurants. Instead, they “report a dining experience.” Pure reportage with no editorializing (“I ordered the cheeseburger, while my partner had the chili dog.”). To be fair, our town is less than a tenth the size of Indianapolis, so a reporter for our local paper must be a jack of all trades, master of none. How large must a newspaper be before hiring a dedicated food writer?

I once attended a seminar on how to communicate risk to the public. One of the speakers, a reporter, made a point that has stuck with me. Most reporters are generalists, not specialists. If one has expertise and wishes to raise the level of newspaper discourse, one should offer their expertise to the reporter. The reporter may appreciate access to technical expertise, and the technical expert may appreciate improved accuracy in reporting. Win-win.

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Point partially taken. However, I would argue that any "reporter" (whose stock-in-trade is still words) would have looked up a few things - such as "star anise"- for her own as well as her readers edification, if she was forced to write outside her own field.

May I please make clear that Ms. Hale is NOT the person who didn't know what "star anise" (or "butter poached lobster" or a "vanilla chai emulsion") was? That's a completely different example posted by someone else in this thread.

Just want to keep everything tidy. Ms. Hale has taken enough grief without being thrown someone else's.

Edited by Sneakeater (log)
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Point partially taken. However, I would argue that any "reporter" (whose stock-in-trade is still words) would have looked up a few things - such as "star anise"- for her own as well as her readers edification, if she was forced to write outside her own field.

May I please make clear that Ms. Hale is NOT the person who didn't know what "star anise" (or "butter poached lobster" or a "vanilla chai emulsion") was? That's a completely different example posted by someone else in this thread.

Just want to keep everything tidy. Ms. Hale has taken enough grief without being thrown someone else's.

I think you owe Ms. Hale a dinner - complete with foie gras :raz::laugh:

John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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However, I would argue that any "reporter" (whose stock-in-trade is still words) would have looked up a few things - such as "star anise"- for her own as well as her readers edification, if she was forced to write outside her own field. Someone who proposes to be a writer could have made that exercise of "having-to-write-outside-of-ones-own-field" itself into the review. I would think that the worst thing for a writer would be to appear ignorant, whereas to appear interested, adventurous, and enquiring would be a good thing. Ms Hale still gets to wear a lot of the responsibility. If your name's gonna be on it, you better be sure your readers get the impression you want them to get.

let's get the facts straight. it was the writer's editor who reportedly knew nothing about star anise, according to the gulleteer.

fat guy is right. at small papers like indianapolis, people get pulled in to do lots of different kinds of stories. it's unfortunate, but true. when i was starting food writing, back in the stone tablet days, i was the food editor, restaurant critic, popular music critic and general assignment feature writer at the albuquerque tribune. and i'm sure i made my share of faux pas.

and while i'm at it, can we turn down the outrage a little? there's more to life than getting all jumped up over other people's shortcomings. after all, nobody went after you for misspelling foie gras, right?

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And ya know, not to be overly anal (or argumentative) about this, but if you look back at the "star anise" post, the reporter who didn't know what "star anise" was took the trouble to call up the poster here who mentioned it to ask him for an explanation. So, really, that writer sort of did exactly what the Old Foodie in fact says she should have.

Edited by Sneakeater (log)
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Oh dear! I offer apologies all round if I have mis-applied my criticisms - serve me right for trying to keep up with this debate while I should be working. Which is an explanation but not an excuse of course.

Interesting how this has inflamed everyone (my hand is up) - perhaps because irrespective of how the responsibility was allocated, this was an example of bad reporting/editing, and most of us here care about food and food writing and reviewing etc, and hate to see it badly done.

Janet.

Happy Feasting

Janet (a.k.a The Old Foodie)

My Blog "The Old Foodie" gives you a short food history story each weekday day, always with a historic recipe, and sometimes a historic menu.

My email address is: theoldfoodie@fastmail.fm

Anything is bearable if you can make a story out of it. N. Scott Momaday

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Shakespeare, everyone, Shakespeare had the answer: Much ado about nothing.

The quote was cute, funny and generated some honest hostility - some people even got to vent. Now they feel better - they have cleansed themselves. Everyone take a deep breath or two.

I think the reporter deserves a Pulitzer. It's not often a simple quote can generate this type of anger, hatred and animosity. Bravo! Curtain Call! and Bow!

Rich Schulhoff

Opinions are like friends, everyone has some but what matters is how you respect them!

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I think you owe Ms. Hale a dinner - complete with foie gras :raz:  :laugh:

Not a bad point - she may not like pate, but that doesn't mean she won't like it seared and sprinkled with a little fleur de sel! :wink:

"We had dry martinis; great wing-shaped glasses of perfumed fire, tangy as the early morning air." - Elaine Dundy, The Dud Avocado

Queenie Takes Manhattan

eG Foodblogs: 2006 - 2007

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OK, since we're finding our way(s) into understanding Ms. Hale's delemma, how about a round of penance. I've already admitted to misinterpreting my first experience with an amuse bouche. Then there's the time during my first visit to France, I ordered duck breast. In a huff, I accused the waiter of serving me beef instead of duck. He insisted that it was indeed duck, and I insisted that it was rare beef. In my own defence, I'd never eaten duck breast before and had never before huffed at a waiter. It was a bad trip for lots of reasons. Thank God, no one was asking me to write a review.

Emily
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When I was a couple of years into being an "internet food personality" there was this troll on Chowhound who went by "Al Pastor" and I just figured the guy's name was Al Pastor. I didn't even get the food reference. And yes, there were folks who felt this was a searing indictment of my abilities. I also used to write without contractions, because that's how lawyers learn to write, so my prose was really awkward and leaden in places. Everybody has to learn. I just hope those who are heaping scorn upon this poor reporter never have to be on the receiving end.

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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:shock::shock: Wow I never thought it would all come to this. I was just in a "mood" at the time i wrote my post so I apologize for the harsh statments i made. I had not read the whole article nor have I. my post was to let off steam about my hometown that is sooo far behind the times that it ticks me off. I want to move back home but it would be hard to do the food i want to do. I was just tying vent through the actions of the writer. And if anyone else had listened to the conversation i had with the writer, you really wouldn't have jumped my ass that bad, because she really had no idea about anything i was talking about. And sorry for trying to come up with a creative use for chocolate like in a sauce, other then in a dessert as I assume other will do.
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uhm, i hate to be in the position of defending this hack again, but i have to point out that butter-poaching is, actually, a term that makes no sense. It is a contradiction. a delicious one, to be sure, but how many people had ever heard the term before thomas keller invented it? it's really more like low-heat frying or a quick-confit. poaching implies cooking in liquid and, as we all know, butter ain't one.

and while i'm at it, i think it'll be interesting to see how many of us are still tossing around the words "foam" and "emulsion" (in the sense of a sauce) in five years. my prediction is that they'll be the "stacks" of this decade. when they're done extremely well they're amazing. when they're not (as happens most often), they are nothing more than a silly cliche. the jessica simpsons of food.

Butter poaching makes complete sense. Butter is not just fat, it's an emulsion which also contains a water-based component. And Thomas Keller did not invent this method of cooking or the term, he merely popularized it in North America.

While I'm at it I'll add that the term confit means "preserved", saying you're quick-preserving (quick confit) lobster makes absolutely no sense in this context...

'Emulsion' sauces, they've been around for a very long time. They're not going away. A few examples are hollandaise, beurre-blanc, and when you add that cube of butter or some truffle oil to your glace de viande guess what, you've got an emulsion. Not to mention salad dressings, mayonnaise and aioli, and chocolate itself is an emulsion...

As for foams, I don't think they will maintain the place they've held of late, however they will never go away. We've been making crème chantilly for a very long time, foams are simply another form of a very old concept. And finally, 'stacking' food. A sandwich is nothing more than a stack of several components. Same for a napoleon, or a mille-feuille. Adding different layers of textures and flavours creates an exciting dish.

Edited by Mikeb19 (log)
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When I was a couple of years into being an "internet food personality" there was this troll on Chowhound who went by "Al Pastor" and I just figured the guy's name was Al Pastor. I didn't even get the food reference. And yes, there were folks who felt this was a searing indictment of my abilities. I also used to write without contractions, because that's how lawyers learn to write, so my prose was really awkward and leaden in places. Everybody has to learn. I just hope those who are heaping scorn upon this poor reporter never have to be on the receiving end.

Ah! But Fat Guy, did being on the receiving end, and taking it on the chin as you no doubt did, help make you the internet food personality you now are?

If we are all going to do penance, lets at least be clear about what is our part of the sin.

On re-reading the thread, the better to understand how I misunderstood before, I find, as usual, more questions raised than answered.

First, if I can clarify: there are two different stories that triggered our rapid fire responses, and caused some confusion (my hand up). One - a Ms Hale (who may be a reporter or a food writer) reviewed a local restaurant, had some elementary French language skills, but misunderstood something about the pate on the menu, and a few other things that happen in restaurants at the fine-dining French restaurant end of things. Two - a local newspaper spokesperson who spoke to bdkollker about his culinary creations, but did not know what buttered lobster, star anise, and a number of other things were.

Some of my questions are: In case 1, do we think that the restaurant review was acceptable at any level? No-one seems to think it was a good review (well written, authoritative, entertaining …). How should we have responded to it? Should we just ignore it? Does it make any difference to our response if we know the qualifications (or title) of the person doing the writing? Particularly in case two I think it does make a difference if the newspaper person who spoke to bdkollker was the editor, a generalist reporter, or a food writer.

This stirs up a whole lot of questions about what constitutes a good restaurant review(er) – but perhaps that is a different thread.

Happy Feasting

Janet (a.k.a The Old Foodie)

My Blog "The Old Foodie" gives you a short food history story each weekday day, always with a historic recipe, and sometimes a historic menu.

My email address is: theoldfoodie@fastmail.fm

Anything is bearable if you can make a story out of it. N. Scott Momaday

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