Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Food Media & News >
Nov 15, 2008 06:57 AM

Joanne Kates meets Caplansky's smoked meat

Here's the review from the Globe and Mail. Way to go, Zane.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. I can't stand her, but it is good to see Caplansky's getting more and more popular.

    14 Replies
    1. re: duckdown

      I wish I didn't need to pull out a Yiddish dictionary to know what the heck she's talking about in that review. There are too many references to word nobody I know ever uses.

      1. re: foodyDudey

        Joanne tends to write for a kid that enjoys the sound of their own voice. And I agree with duckdown, I don't care for her, however the influence of her columns can't be ignored.

        1. re: foodyDudey

          I like that the fact Joanne throws Yiddish words into her reviews. I don't think the word meshuga is used enough on this board.

          Which reminds me, does anyone know if anyone in Toronto sells Mashuga Nuts (addictive & decadent cinnamon sugar pecans)?

          1. re: phoenikia

            I also enjoyed the Yiddish words. Probably doesn't hurt that I understand them, but I think they definitely belong in a review about corned/smoked meat in Toronto.

        2. re: duckdown

          I can't stand her either -- she irritates the piss outta me. She always finds a way to make her reviews 90% about herself, and 10% about the restaurant. Her literary arrogance seeps down my monitor each time I suffer through reading one of her online reviews.

          1. re: Bueno

            Ah,but you still read her, which is why she has outlasted almost everyone else in her line of work. Love me or hate me - just don't misspell my name :-)

            1. re: Bueno

              That is more along the lines of how I feel about her

              I think she is an annoying hack and can't believe she got such a job...

              I did not care for the yiddish, nor her attitude or comments. bottom line in this exception though is for once the crotchety old witch finally has something positive (albeit confusing) to say, and for a place like Caplansky's, it is deserved

              1. re: duckdown

                Crotchety old witch? Her columns are fair game for criticism, but personal insults unrelated to her work say more about those making them than they do about her.

                1. re: duckdown

                  She's had that job for at least thirty years. She's obviously doing something right. I, also, don't trust anything she writes, but I (and apparently you) still read her.

                  I can't fault the Yiddish in the context of Caplansky's. Actually, I find it interesting how many Yiddish words are now accepted as English. I note that the editors Italicized neither boba nor drek [sic]. I would also consider meshuga to be proper English. BTW, her parent's generation still supported Spadina. She's no kid!

                  1. re: embee

                    Hey it's just my opinion.... and you know what they say about those...

                    Didn't mean to cause an outrage or anything, just agreeing with buddy above me in saying I would rather listen to nails on a chalkboard than her

                    1. re: duckdown

                      Hey, no outrage. I agree with your opinion, but we still read her...

                    2. re: embee

                      Kates is one of the few reasons for which I occasionally read the Globe; let's consider her chops:

                      First, Kates is one of the few restaurant (only?) reviewers in Toronto who actually attended a real cooking school, and that was in Paris, no less. If she feels a beurre blanc is overdone, a Hollandaise is watery, or that the chef has a heavy hand with salt, she knows what she is writing about, unlike, for example, Sara Waxman in the Sun, who seems to have got her gig by virtue of her marriage to Al.

                      Second, her longevity. She has seen Toronto grow from a city with a few good steakhouses, one or two French spots, and a slew of Italian places that featured red and white tablecloths, candles in Chianti bottles, and acrid red sauce, to the dazzling array of dining options we have today, and she was always at the forefront. She was eating sushi when most of us were gagging at the idea of eating raw fish; she extolled pho when most of us wouldn't set foot in the dingy Viet spots on Spadina. I have been encouraged to try spots I never would have thought of due to her reviews.

                      Third, she's no snob; she's as happy in a hole-in-wall as she is at Susur, if the food is good. She expects a certain level of cleanliness (no food will sit easy if you see roaches scuttling across the floor), but decor is usually a minor item in her reviews, except for noise level. And on that, I agree with her - if you have to shout to make yourself heard at a table for two, that detracts greatly from the meal.

                      Fourth, she judges restaurants on what they aspire to be. I remember a review of Harvey's after they introduced one of their specialty burgers (the Ultimate?) some years back. She didn't criticize them for not having tablecloths, silverware, or for having to stand in line to order; she knew it was a fast food joint, and took it on that level. IIRC, she liked the burger and toppings, found the bun so-so, and hated the frozen french fries. Similarly, when she visits an "upscale" place like the Fifth, she expects(in addition to good food, served properly) an offer to take her coat, not to be abandoned without a word by the hostess, and someone to pull out her chair. The restaurants, through their choice of menu, price level, and advertising, set their own bar; she merely tells them whether they've cleared it or not.

                      Finally, her use of Yiddish: As embee notes, the use of borrowed words is considered perfectly proper in English. Has no one here ever used "etc.", "i.e.", or "Adieu" in their writing or speech? I'm not Jewish, but I've read enough elsewhere to know that Boba is grandmother, meshuga is crazy, and bubkas (which I usually see written as "bupkis") is nothing. ("Mishpochah" was new to me, I'll admit, but from the context, it was pretty clear it referred to people back in the "Old Country", and didn't bother me. It actually means "extended family", and yes, I had to look it up.) But this piece was clearly seeped in nostalgia, and I don't fault her for salting it with the language of her youth.

                      Also, "drek" (usually "dreck") means crap, and could, IMHO, be applied to some of the comments above.

                      1. re: KevinB

                        Sara Waxman hasn't been writing for the Sun for five years or so. And I doubt Al had anything to do with her position. Sara was George Anthony (now CBC exec, then Sun entertainment editor)'s secretary.

                        1. re: Dimbulb

                          I used to pick up the Sunday Sun for their TV guide; now that I have a digital box, I don't bother anymore, so it's been years since I have read it. I only read Sara because she was in the TV guide, and I like food. I'll take your word that she's no longer there. But your last sentence proves my point - she was a secretary who was given the food beat without Kates' formal training, and her reviews showed that.

              2. It is surreal to me to be the subject of a Joanne Kates review. I was flat on my back last Tuesday when the call came that they wanted to take pictures for the weekend paper. Earlier that day I'd hurt my back but miraculously as far as I'm concerned I was fine by Thursday. I started getting calls at 8 am Saturday morning and knew this would be a weekend like no other. I thought we'd run out of food by Sunday night but I was wrong.

                I don't know if Ms. Kates knows exactly how she changes lives but I sent her a note of thanks. I find it remarkable that she would even feature a place like ours but then again she did review the Hot Box Cafe a few years back. In any case, it was gratifying to be recognised by someone I respect and admire.

                I am also grateful for the support and encouragement I've found on these boards. Thanks to you, my job is far from thankless.

                1. The original comment has been removed