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Jun 4, 1999 01:34 PM

Cow Eye Tacos

  • p

This sensational cover line is for a story on
adventurous eating/extreme chowhounding in the NY area
in Time Out New York's 6/3 -6/10 issue (Judi Dench on
the cover).

It is a little TOO adventurous for me personally, but
certainly makes for interesting reading and eating for
the more intrepid chowhounder.

If you want to read about/know where to find sauteed
goose intestine, whole goat head with tongue intact,
duck blood porridge and yes, cow eye tacos, check it

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  1. j
    Jessica Nepomuceno

    I did read the article on Cow Eye Tacos (and their ilk)
    in the last issue of Time Out NY. I have to admit, I
    was a little annoyed at the tone the writer took
    throughout the article. He did provide good
    information on where to find Jamaican sea moss and
    kidney-breakfasts, cow-eye tacos, and other items not
    found in the mainstream-American diet, but he did so in
    a tone that suggested, "these funny little people with
    their funny little dishes." The points of the article
    seemed to be the writer eating this stuff like he was
    fulfilling a dare, not because he was genuinely
    interested in the flavors, textures, or background of
    the meals. In short, it was another peek into the
    exotic world of non-mainstream American cuisine.

    Annoying. Anyone else think so? Or am I being
    reactionary? When it comes down to it, I'll glance at
    my roommate's copy of TONY for the address of a
    restaurant or its hours, not for their flippant, trendy
    and only semi-critical food reviews.

    13 Replies
    1. re: Jessica Nepomuceno

      Jessica - I totally agreed with your observation about
      the writing in this piece - even the illustration
      supported the idea that the foods tried were
      "disgusting," showing the diner with a clothespin on
      his nose and eyes crossed. I didn't get into that
      aspect of the piece when I first posted because I was
      short of time and wanted to get it out while the issue
      was still on the stands. You expressed my feelings
      about it pretty perfectly!

      1. re: Jessica Nepomuceno

        Hi Jessica --

        Although I have not read the piece in question, I would
        agree that the tone you describe is pervasive in TONY
        and several other publications of its ilk, such as

        1. re: Jeremy

          I read NY Press pretty much every week, and while I don't find their food coverage particularly useful I don't recall any of their food writers making fun of "odd" dishes. Do you have any examples in mind?

          1. re: steve d.

            No specific examples in mind. Whenever I read NYPress
            (not the food writing in particular, but rather the
            whole paper including the food writing), I come away
            with an impression of smugness, that the writers regard
            what ever they are writing about as something beneath
            them and not of value except insofar as it can somehow
            make them appear more interesting. It sounded to me
            like the "Cow Eye Tacos" article being described was a
            good example of this style of writing.

            1. re: Jeremy

              I've gotta hand it to you -- that's a perfect
              description of the writing in NY Press. (Which, I
              should add, is in many respects a pretty impressive

              1. re: Chris E.
                Jessica Nepomuceno

                Hey everybody. I should probably start a new thread,
                but here goes:

                I, too, miss Sam Sifton, late of the NY Press. As I
                recall, his articles on food/restaurants really did
                display a love for detail, quality ingredients,
                execution and atmosphere.

                I also miss Jessica (Harris, I think her last name was)
                who used to write music reviews for NY Press. Now that
                she's gone, the odious JR Taylor has cornered the music
                market in that paper. Kinda sad. But then, this is
                neither here nor there.

                Back to Sifton. Anyone know his plans? Where he's
                writing now, or any other details?

                1. re: Jessica Nepomuceno

                  Well, here's a little something Sifton wrote in NY Press a few years ago:

                  "There's little I hate more than the wide-eyed rubes who tell you how if you take three trains and a bus on the third thursday of the month you can get an eggroll off this woman with a butane-operated wok that's, SERIOUSLY, MAN--UNBELIEVABLE.. Nudge-nudge her a little, drop a five-spot into her apron, she'll give you a plate of stewed dog that'll have you crying with happiness. Yeah. You go do that.

                  "It strikes me that stories about Chinatown, particularly the ones about Chinatown dives-- this one's good for pork balls, that one for a squid special they have on Tuesdays--are just as annoying. For a good many people I know, eating in Chinatown dives is OVER, they'll have their steamed sea bass with black beans at Canton or Uptown, thank you very much, and be happy to pay a little more for the privilege. After a few years, the appeal of eating a $10 dinner in a mysterious hole wears off"

                  He's written similar tirades, this isn't an isolated example. What is it about this guy that you all admire so much?

                  Oh, to answer your question, he's working as an editor on Tina Brown's vapor-mag. And surely eating nice expensive lunches.

                  1. re: Jim Leff

                    Jim, I don't admire Sifton, anymore than the other NYP
                    cigar-smoking, limo riding, posturing chuckleheads,
                    playing at being journalists, but he did like food,
                    which their current food writers do not, and his
                    recommendations were sometimes good, in a chowhoundy
                    way. He's no different than those people (we all know
                    them) who move to the burbs and then turn against the
                    city neighborhoods they once loved.

                    1. re: Jim Leff
                      Jessica Nepomuceno

                      Wow, Jim. I guess I missed the NY Press issues that
                      contained Sifton's anti-chowhound tirades. The lines
                      you quoted saddened me, since what I admired about the
                      guy was his ability to wax rhapsodic about great meals
                      he has known. Now that I know his true colors--I can
                      say this: he should use his descriptive powers for good
                      and not for evil.

                      BTW, Jim, the fact that you either remembered the
                      quotes verbatim or actually keep files going back that
                      far both scares and impresses me!

                      1. re: Jessica Nepomuceno

                        No, I don't memorize and quote from the Canon of Sifton! I just had this particular quote handy because I mentioned it in an article I wrote some time ago. He's written even worse stuff than that, but the clippings are buried somewhere in my files. Probably just as well.


                    2. re: Jessica Nepomuceno

                      I believe the New York Press music writer was Jessica
                      Willis, who was at TimeOut for a while. (Doesn't
                      Jssica Harris write food criticism for the Voice?) In
                      terms of NY Press music writers, I liked Wif Stenger's
                      work and M. Doughty's, too. And Neil Strauss's, for
                      that matter. I think Wif went back home to
                      Scandinavia, didn't he?
                      I, too, enjoyed Sifton's writing about food and once
                      made his recipe for roasted chicken, basted with, if
                      I'm remembering correctly, soy sauce and something
                      "the color of motor oil." It was pretty good.


                  2. re: Jeremy

                    Ah, now I see. Very true.

                    1. re: Jeremy

                      Don't know about TONY, but agree re NY Press attitude.
                      I have come to the conclusion the NY Press guys are
                      not nearly as interesting as they think they are
                      (despite some writing talent). I for one am bored with
                      their sophomoric, self-satisfied, nothing to learn
                      from anyone, casually obscene approach. Their food
                      coverage has been largely worthless and lackluster
                      since Sam Sifton left. There was one particularly
                      offensive article about a congee shop downtown - maybe
                      it was good congee, maybe bad, but the author just
                      trashed the place. There was no sense that he knew or
                      cared what good congee looks and tastes like, who eats
                      it, how and when, etc; it was just an opportunity to
                      jeer and show some stupid, childish attitude.