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What are you a stubborn purist about?

The bagel and cream cheese thread got me to thinking about the ways in which we chowhounds are a contradictory lot—so open-minded and adventurous in some ways and so vehemently opposed to what we consider breaches of cultural integrity on the other. It may simply amount to privileging knowledge—feeling people should know the rules before they break them—but at any rate:

Midlife inspired this thread by suggesting that pizza, bagels, pastrami, and hot dogs caused the most furor.

In my case, most of my indignance is reserved for certain Italian dishes—not pizza, because I accept that that has truly been adopted and adapted in no less genuine ways by nonItalians (which isn't to say I don't have my own preferences, just that some foods belong to us all—*unless* you're eating it in Italy, in which case don't insist in English that it's got to have 4 types of meat on it for God's sake, which I did hear once and felt sick with shame by association).

But for the moment, I'm thinking that the thing I can't abide being done wrong is a Caesar salad. No virtually raw egg, no anchovy, no Caesar! Hell, it's a Brutus. Heh.

Et tu?

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  1. I'll come up with one or some of my own, but boy do I second your Caesar thing! I won't order it without asking about the egg and the anchovy and therefore I rarely get it. So it has Romaine? Is that it? Thanks, t. I think this will be a great thread.

    2 Replies
    1. re: c oliver

      It's funny how a "purist" insists on anchovy. I've learned from two different sources that Cesar salad did not originally contain anchovies. They were something added later. It's the worcestershire sauce in the dressing that contains anchovies.

      1. re: Avalondaughter

        Yes, that was mentioned downthread. And all these years we thought....

    2. I started writing, then deleted, two different initial replies to your question. First, I thought I was a purist. Then I thought I was a curmudgeon. But finally, I have to sigh and accept the fact that I'm an American.

      When it comes down to it, I want all my ethnic food to be pure. I don't want gimmicky spins on classic ethnic dishes, I want prodigiously accurate takes on classic ethnic dishes. 90+ percent of the time, I don't want wasabi mashed under my coq au vin, or cassava root in my gnocchi (inside Boston wink, Taranta is actually pretty awesome), or sweet summer corn in my bibimbap. Along similar lines, I generally have little use for so-called fusion cuisine.

      But it seems I'm totally ok with innovation when it comes to American/New American food. No problem with lobster mac 'n' cheese, green chile cheeseburgers, miso-soy-glazed Rocky Mountain trout. It seems that if the base dish is American, I'm about 1000 times more tolerant of gimmickry, as long as it's super-delicious.

      10 Replies
      1. re: finlero

        Yeah, finlero, you know how I feel about Jose's gnocchi! :)

        That's really interesting...as an American, do you therefore think you give more respect to other cuisines? That, in the same way that people of one culture should only get away with telling jokes about that culture and not another, you don't want to presume when it comes to others' cuisines?

        1. re: tatamagouche

          I'm sure it all flows from the same well of thought, but in this case, at least for me, I don't think it has too much to do with respect or getting away with stuff. As best as I can tell, it's driven by two main things:

          1) Food tourism - I think a part of my brain thinks of a trip to an ethnic restaurant (or even cooking ethnic food at home) as a mini vacation. You travel somewhere exotic, take in the culture, come home with the memories. In some way, the addition of non-standard ingredients pulls back the curtain on the illusion for me.

          2) Melting pot - America is so relatively young and such an amalgam of other cultures, its cuisine isn't as sharply defined as that of many world cultures. As a result, there's something of an "anything goes" sensibility into the food.

            1. re: finlero

              I don't mind if a classic ethnic dish isn't done authentically, but for god's sake if you're making some significant changes, label it that way on the menu! If I order "gnocchi" off the menu and I get anything other than potato-flour-egg-water, I'll be pissed. If you want to add cassava I'm totally cool with that as long as you advertise it as such, so I can order accordingly and not be surprised when it shows up on my plate. That said, when I'm cooking in my own kitchen you can be sure some totally unforgivable changes/substitutions/experimentations are going to be visited on some poor unsuspecting ethnic classics, but then I've got nobody to answer to but my own palate.

              1. re: Emmmily

                Not to worry—Taranta, which is a Peruvian-Southern Italian place, indeed labels it as cassava gnocchi with a chicha de jora green lamb ragu.

                I agree with you about the wording too. For instance, when a menu says "eggless Caesar" or "vegan Caesar" or some such, at least I know well enough to avoid it.

                1. re: Emmmily

                  Even "properly labeled" non-ethnic ethnic food is enough to push my buttons. I'm sure if my great grandmother ever saw Mrs T's Potato, Cheddar & Jalapeno pierogies she would roll over in her grave! And don't get me started on Cook's Country"s choice for "Best Kielbasa" being Smithfield's! PHULEEEZE! I can hear Grandma rolling over again!

                  1. re: al b. darned

                    pierogis and kielbasa aren't ethnic food?

                    1. re: thew

                      I think this was intended as an extension of the bias against ethnic food with wacky ingredients thrown in.

                  2. re: Emmmily

                    Here Here! That is one of my pet peeves too. Just tell me. Taking liberties with a universally known preparation without informing your unsuspecting diner is just rude and egocentric. I don't care how talented a chef you are, if you're calling it by a name associated with a specific recipe, I'm going to judge you based upon my knowledge of that recipe. If you want to tweak it, please, just let us (your patrons) individually decide whether we're feeling adventurous or traditional that night.

              2. re: finlero

                Very nice summation of how I feel too. Bravo.

              3. An already lost battle, and not exactly food, but still... the Martini. Gin, vermouth, full stop. These colored sugary concoctions that you'll find everywhere may or may not be cocktails, but they are not a Martini.

                30 Replies
                1. re: Gin n Tonic

                  If I have vodka and vermouth, I call it a Vodka Martini. I know it's not. Guess I should ask for a vodka with dry vermouth. And then the bartender will probably correct me and say "oh, a vodka martini." But *I'll* know the difference, won't I?!?

                  1. re: c oliver

                    I'm almost (almost!) willing to look the other way when it's a "vodka martini." I can't abide these blueberry-pomegranate "martini" abominations you'll find everywhere now.

                    1. re: Gin n Tonic

                      I whole heartily agree that a Martini is Gin and Vermouth. (a'la M*A*S*H) but a "Vodka Martini" in my mind is not a huge fopaux. for those who don't like gin, but just cuz you serve it in a martini glass dose not a martini make.

                    2. re: c oliver

                      You can right a wrong that has been wrought against the name of the Martini (and stump most bartenders) by ordering a "Kangaroo."

                      1. re: alanbarnes

                        I think I read that. Maybe here? Maybe from you? If I stump bartender, do I get a free Kangaroo???

                    3. re: Gin n Tonic

                      I agree! I find I actually have to order a "dry gin martini" in order to get what I want, and even then......
                      Or order it by stating the name of the gin.

                      1. re: Gio

                        I always order by name (gin of course) because otherwise it becomes a decision tree

                        - martini? yes
                        - vodka? no
                        - gin? yes
                        - vermouth? dah
                        - olives or onion? !?!?!
                        - up or on the rocks? ?!?!?!?!?!?!

                        A martini is not the glass it is served in - me 'sapphire up olive' (love it but now very rarely!)

                        1. re: alwayscooking

                          "A martini is not the glass it is served in"

                          Exactly. The glass is a cocktail glass, and the concoctions served in it are cocktails, the martini being a very specific one. It really is the glassware nomenclature that begat the problem, I think. When people think of it is a "martini glass," they understand anything served in it to be a "martini." Grr.

                          1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                            Hmm. Manhattans tend to be served in Martini glasses (in my experience) but I somehow doubt that anyone would mistake it for a Martini...

                            1. re: huiray

                              But, as CM points out, it's not actually a 'martini glass.' The correct name is a cocktail glass. I don't see many Manhattans being drunk these days but when I do it's on the rocks not up.

                              1. re: c oliver

                                Yes, but as has also been said THAT glass is so often presumed to contain a "martini"...

                                I drink Manhattans often when I dine out and want a cocktail. Or in a bar when with other folks (alternating with Gin & Tonics). Straight up, two cherries, stirred not shaken. I'll send it back or refuse it if it comes to me all frothy and bubbly internally.

                          2. re: alwayscooking

                            This reminds me of my recent experience at Bonefish Grill. I asked for a gin martini straight up with olives. (I've found that you have to be that specific to avoid getting something other than what you want.)

                            What I got tasted wrong to me, so I asked the bartender what kind of vermouth he had used and how much. He told me that HE HAD NOT USED ANY VERMOUTH (!) because that was his general policy in making martinis. It's a two ingredient drink. How tough is it to make it correctly? GRRRR . . .

                            1. re: gfr1111

                              on the otehr side i was at a bar recently and the woman next to me ordered "a vodka martini, no vermouth"

                              that's not a martini. it's a shot

                              1. re: gfr1111

                                My reply to that would of been "If I wonted gin I'd of ordered a gin"

                                1. re: gfr1111

                                  How can it be his generally policy to turn a martini into just gin? I'm appalled (and I don't even drink martinis).

                            2. re: Gin n Tonic

                              Oh, that's my Dad's pet peeve. A "Martini Up" order, if questioned whether gin or vodka, immediately gets immediate disapproval. Personally, I just try to get lime in my vodka-tonic instead of lemon.

                              1. re: Gin n Tonic

                                I don't even like traditional martinis and I know it's made that way and it pisses me off that people consider a "martini" to be anything with vodka in it. Martini doesn't even refer to the vodka/gin in the drink. It refers to the vermouth!

                                1. re: Avalondaughter

                                  What do you consider a "traditional" martini? Are you saying you just don't like martinis?

                                  1. re: c oliver

                                    Ha ha. That's correct. I don't like martinis. That's why I find it funny that I'm such a purist about nomenclature. I don't drink them.

                                    1. re: Avalondaughter

                                      Ha ha back at ya! I'm sure I hold equally strong views about many things that don't effect me in the least :)

                                  2. re: Avalondaughter

                                    True in Italy that you'll likley get a vermouth (Martini and Rossi brand) when ordering a martini but lost to us the origin of the classic gin martini cocktail. Wiki has it starting in the gold rush but it seems well established by the very late 1800's - before Martini and Rossi would have likely had a wide distribution. Since it has been around for more than 100 years, a martini is absolutely gin, vermouth, and olives - shaken and stirred is up to the drinker - I'm flexible on that.

                                    1. re: alwayscooking

                                      In Italy you have to ask for a "martini cocktail" otherwise you do get vermouth!

                                      1. re: roxlet

                                        Made that mistake only once! But then I switched to the lovely local wines.

                                    2. re: Avalondaughter

                                      You mean I'm not the only one?

                                      I get fairly nutted up about the "pour coors in a cocktail glass and sell it as a Coorstini" marketing (and imbibing) that I see.

                                      The really stupid part of it is that I don't even drink martinis.

                                    3. re: Gin n Tonic

                                      Count me in with the martini purists.

                                      If you put beer in a martini glass, it would not suddenly become a beertini. It would still be beer. Grape juice poured in a wine glass does not miraculously become wine. Tea poured in a coffee cup does not become coffee.

                                      It's rather simple, my argument: The drink doesn't change because of the glass.

                                      1. re: Ima Wurdibitsch

                                        Although it would be awesome if grape juice did do that.

                                      2. re: Gin n Tonic

                                        I am with you 100%. I'm willing to even be a little bit lenient - you can call a vodka martini a vodka martini. But a martini sans adjectives has gin.

                                        1. re: Amuse Bouches

                                          And what is interesting is, unless you specify gin, more often than not, the bartender will make you a vodka martini. I have to remember to be very specific when I order a martini. I made this mistake quite a few times before I wised up.

                                          1. re: Amuse Bouches

                                            I agree with the martini sentiment. I like both vodka and gin martinis. I like dirty vodka martinis a lot as well. That is a far as I am willing to go on the bending of the term martini though. Anything else and it is simply a cocktail.

                                            1. re: sisterfunkhaus

                                              but the dirty, and the vodka, and certainly a dirty vodka martini IS bending it. i say bend away

                                        2. Pho is my feel good meal - went to Fork and Spoon with work folks and ordered the pho - horrible stuff. I should have known and yet people rave about how "authentic" the food is.

                                          7 Replies
                                          1. re: juliewong

                                            LOL- we visited friends last weekend, and she proclaimed herself to be a Chinese food snob - turns out she only likes Chinese food from PF Chang's!
                                            I didn't laugh out loud because they were treating us to lunch at PF Chang's at the time, and it was quite tasty, but I'd be surprised if anybody from China got off the plane, went to PF Chang's, and pronouncd the food to be authentic.

                                            1. re: EWSflash

                                              Oh my. We went to PF Chang's with my brother some years ago and, yes, it was a really tasty and fun meal. It's probably the closest they ever come to Chinese food. They were amazed when we mixed our own dipping sauce rather than having the server do it for us. This probably belongs on the "sheltered" thread. I guess I DO forget how different 'hounds are. Thank heavens :)

                                              1. re: EWSflash

                                                If you got off a plane in the middle of China and walked into the nearest restaurant, chances are you wold not eat one thing presented to you! Authentic Chinese is not something most Anglos can appreciate. Believe me; I have been there.

                                                1. re: pikawicca

                                                  Mmmm...I don't believe you—yet. I need examples. Cause I'll try virtually anything once.

                                                  1. re: tatamagouche

                                                    Meat that is way past what we would consider safe to eat. (Think "aged chicken" without refrigeration.) Most of my issues were with food past the point that I found (safely) edible. Weird ingredients I can handle.

                                                  2. re: pikawicca

                                                    My bro-in-law, who has a truly milquetoast-midwestern-white-Lutheran palate, was supervising construction of a gold mine in Mongolia. Can you see where this is going? He was based out of Beijing, and his local coworkers routinely took him out for dinner to play "shock the foreigner, and get him blithering drunk while we're at it". The two things I heard him talk about was eating donkey, which he said was very muddy and dull-flavored, plus eating a donkey made him sad, and a whole roasted frog, which for some fool reason (probably comedy related) he took the first big bite between the frog's back legs. Guess what came shooting out into his mouth in molten form . He said everybody at the table was laughing until he started gagging- he said that quieted things down at the table. immediately.
                                                    Yeah, I dare say there probably isn't a place in China that tastes like PF Changs, not that it isn't tasty food that I crave sometimes, Im not fooling myself that it's anything approaching authentic anything besides authentic PF Changs.

                                              2. I guess I am far from a purist. If I want something pure, I make it. I never expect to have it when I order out. Dining out to me is enjoying my company and food is secondary to me. I order something simple I know will be descent and I don't mind. It is a chain or a 5 star, I've had lousy food at a top and great and a chain. But I don't let it bother me. I don't eat out often and when I do it is with my friends so I am there to have fun and not be a food critic.

                                                A purist ... no 1,00+ ways to make chili and I care less but I still call it chili, spaghetti another one, a meat or pasta of spaghetti pasta is still called spaghetti. Who care if it is the traditional purist way when you go to a restaurant they still call it spaghetti. Caesar, I know how to make it but some restaurants add a bottled caesar dressing and call it caesar, which is why I would never order caesar in a chain restaurant. Go to a true Mexican restaurant in TX or New Mexico or Nevada and you will get multi versions of tacos. None like most americans make or eat daily. Which was real, they all claim to be. They were all good, and I still like the ones I make very NON traditional.

                                                So I don't order steak from a seafood restaurant, or fish from a steakhouse, Caesar unless they make it in front of me, don't order, I order what is safe. Unless it is a truly small dive in New Mexico (i.e., example) serving truly authentic Mexican food, I will order but not expect authentic.

                                                Honestly, I order what I like and very very seldom have I ever been disappointed. I can go to Micky Dee's and get a big mac but that is all I expect and nothing more. Maybe just easy to please or not very "picky." I do enjoy good and great food and appreciate it, but realize, not everyone is like me.

                                                However a good bourbon and coke ... they better not get that wrong :)

                                                31 Replies
                                                1. re: kchurchill5

                                                  A truly good bourbon should not be ruined with coke. And that is what I am a stubborn purist about.

                                                  1. re: smarsh

                                                    I don't think any good liquor should be adulterated. And using Coke as a mixer ruins the liquor AND the Coke. Bleh.

                                                    1. re: c oliver

                                                      I agree. If I'm treated to a bottle of good single malt scotch (have The Balvenie right now) guess what goes into it? Scotch.

                                                      1. re: bayoucook

                                                        Absolutely. We usually have two bottles of scotch in the house -- a single malt for sipping and a good blend (usually Dewar's) for scotch and soda, cooking (ie butterscotch pudding) and hot toddies.


                                                        1. re: Amuse Bouches

                                                          I'm a purest about absolutely hating (meant in the whole sense of the word) scotch. and it is not because I had crappy scotch what i tried was 15 year old glen fittich so hadn't had it since.

                                                          1. re: comfortcaffe

                                                            I'll post something about actual food later, but on the scotch... yeah, if you can't get along with a Glenfiddich, you're probably not going to like any others. It's pretty middle-of-the-road for single malts.

                                                            That said, I have enjoyed every scotch I've had, except for Laphroig.

                                                            But the whole "alter the well booze all you want but don't mess up the good stuff" applies to a whole lot of foods. None more obvious to me than coffee. You don't take a premium single origin and dump Splenda and skim in it. Drink it black. Appreciate the aromas and the flavors. Learn how to taste what's in there.

                                                            Want to screw up your coffee or espresso with additives - that's why they make french roast, supermarket blends and Starbucks. But ordering a Panama Esmeralda, Kenya Kangunu, Ethiopia Michelle or Honduras La Tortuga or similar and stepping all over it? Not cool.

                                                            That's probably my biggest "purist" pet peeve.

                                                            1. re: Panini Guy

                                                              excuse me, but no. one may well be able to "appreciate the aromas and flavors", and know how to "taste what's in there", but that isn't the way they enjoy it. and some people may even be able to tell the difference between a supermarket blend and a premium origin, after they "screw it up" to their taste.

                                                              1. re: thew

                                                                A) the thread is about what items one is a 'stubborn purist' about and this is mine.
                                                                B) I completely disagree with you and would call it "rationalization". Putting milk and sugar in Panama Esmeralda is no different that putting Coke into a glass of Chateau Montelena. Many people enjoy a little Coke in their wine. But once you've done that to a great bottle, you might as well be drinking plonk.

                                                                Yes, you might be able to discern some trace of blueberry after putting milk into a particularly long fermented Ethiopia Harrar and you may get some of the woodsy/earthy qualities of a Lintong Sumatran as both are pretty strong in those coffees.

                                                                But you'll never pick out the jasmine in a quality Yirgacheffe, the blackcurrant of a good Kenyan, or the lemon/tangerine acidity of an Esmeralda once you've altered it with cream and sugar. And what a waste of a good coffee that is.

                                                                1. re: Panini Guy

                                                                  As the OP, I took PG's post to be in the spirit the thread was intended. And as a wine drinker, I understand his point—even if I myself haven't learned to appreciate good coffee and probably never will.

                                                                  1. re: tatamagouche

                                                                    "I understand his point—even if I myself haven't learned to appreciate good coffee and probably never will."

                                                                    Now that I get completely. I feel the same way about tea. I know it's really complex and there are thousands of varieties each with different characteristics. Even had some cups of unique teas that were really enjoyable (brewed at correct temp and unadulterated). But there's only so much time and brain capacity. I don't enjoy tea nearly as much as coffee, so I'm at peace settling for a more basic knowledge on the subject. As we sell some excellent teas in the shop, I can converse a bit on those, but a lot of my customers know more about tea than I do.

                                                                    However as anyone on CH who's read my rants knows there are few things get the back of my neck hairs as stiff as a statement implying "it's only coffee/it's all the same". And it's not just a snob thing. There are significant geopolitical implications that result from choosing bad coffee over good.

                                                                    1. re: Panini Guy

                                                                      Yeah, I was actually defending you up there... :)

                                                                  2. re: Panini Guy

                                                                    i dont dispute your right to be a purist about it. not in the least.
                                                                    i'm just not sure i agree with your whys.

                                                                    1. re: Panini Guy

                                                                      I love good coffee, but I take mine with >gasp< half & half & splenda. Please invite me to a coffee tasting at your place. Your descriptions made me very curious.

                                                                      1. re: linguafood

                                                                        Would love to have you. But it's a long trip to Pittsburgh from Berlin!

                                                                        Don't know how motivated you are on this, but there's a wonderful group of guys in Copenhagen who'd rock your world on the subject and would likely be happy to have you in for a tasting:

                                                                        1. re: Panini Guy

                                                                          Perhaps when I'm back in PA - Happy Valley ain't so far from the 'burgh '-D, and it's been a while....

                                                                  3. re: Panini Guy

                                                                    I even like Laphroaig and the other Islay malts. Most of the time. A while back (like 1990 or so) I had a 16(?)-year-old Laphroaig that had such a strong hit of iodine that it tasted like it had been aged in barrels full of Band-Aids and plastic pool toys. Too much of a good thing.

                                                                    Still and all, I'll add a little water to a good whisk(e)y to open up the nose. And although I usually drink my coffee black, I find that a touch of cream sometimes adds a new dimension to some varietals. It has a tendency to kill the bouquet in anything that's light and floral, but can actually enhance brews that have earthier flavors.

                                                                    1. re: alanbarnes

                                                                      Funny thing is I love Lagavulin. And it's only a short jog between the two distilleries. But to me, the peaty smokiness of the Lagavulin is enjoyable while the Laphroaig has an overwhelming taste of burnt microwave popcorn to my palate. And I'm kinda bummed about that because acquiring a taste for Laphroaig is sort of a badge of honor in scotch circles. Just can't do it.

                                                                      1. re: Panini Guy

                                                                        My SO adores Laphroaig. Even the smell turns my stomach.

                                                                        He's also a serious coffee drinker. Hm.

                                                                        1. re: Panini Guy

                                                                          +1 for Lagavulin, my DH however dislikes it's peatiness. More for me :)

                                                                        2. re: Panini Guy

                                                                          Spot on about the java, PG. Tat, I learned to drink black coffee at a coffee house, The Purple Elephant, just down the street from UNM. My wife knows when coffee idsweak or just plain bad, when I put the cream in.

                                                                  4. re: c oliver

                                                                    Ditto. I like my vodka (preferably Ketel One) with ice and olives.

                                                                    1. re: cycloneillini

                                                                      Absolutely. Nothing but ice and a little green vegetable. Hmm, is an olive a vegetable or a fruit? It has a pit.

                                                                        1. re: tatamagouche

                                                                          Either way, if you have enough vodka cocktails or martinis, I think you can count the garnish as one of your recommended 5 fruits/vegetables per day.

                                                                          1. re: Ima Wurdibitsch

                                                                            That's been my personal philosophy for a number of years. Like hiding vegetables in chicken nuggets to get children to eat them :)

                                                                        2. re: c oliver

                                                                          If you get an almond stuffed green olive you get a serving of fruit and protein. That's my story and I'm sticking to it

                                                                    2. re: smarsh

                                                                      Nor should a good Coke be ruined with burbon-lol

                                                                        1. re: Passadumkeg

                                                                          haha! For the record, i prefer my bourbon, scotch, and whiskey with one ice cube. For martinis I do vodka (because of my adversion to gin... see post about things you haven't had since college), but usually i'll do a gibson.

                                                                  5. Oh, I thought of a food whose purists are practically militant: BBQ. That's not a criticism, I dig their passion.

                                                                    24 Replies
                                                                    1. re: tatamagouche

                                                                      Yep, that's one of my purist peeves. Someone will tell me they're bbqing this weekend and I'll say, "Oh yeah, what are you smoking?" Their answer, "Oh I'm a nonsmoker, I'm bbqing steaks." No you're "grilling steaks"!

                                                                      1. re: alliedawn_98

                                                                        That's regional though. In California barbecue and grill are synonymous, and the Southern style barbecue is nonexistent.

                                                                        1. re: Amuse Bouches

                                                                          That's true in Canada as well. Doesn't make it right.

                                                                          1. re: Wahooty

                                                                            Gotta agree with Wahooty. It's not the same thing; just because a lot of people in one place call it the same thing doesn't make it so. This is an issue of semantics, not cuisine; I can understand why the *words* have become synonymous. But that doesn't mean the two cooking techniques are suddenly synonymous, just because real barbecue is "nonexistent" in CA (really? I find it hard to believe that there aren't any BBQ joints in such a huge, populous, diverse state). I could fry something and say I'm steaming it; doesn't make it true.

                                                                            1. re: tatamagouche

                                                                              I used to be this way about bbq. But 2 thoughts made me reconsider. First, while the origins of low/slow/embers cooking were in fact related to the term barbecoa, as used by Spanish settlers and the indigenous peoples over 500 years ago, it's current usage by purists is a much more modern affair. Nobody in the 50's and 60's was interested in calling barbecue something that specific. If people in the low country and Memphis, etc., were seriously contentious about the term's usage, they never let anybody else know - and surely, nobody else in the country or even internationally, ever was. It's only a modern phenomenon, since the Memphis in May and other bbq festivals gained fame, that we purists (such as we are) insist on calling bbq, and only bbq, bbq.

                                                                              2nd point is simply that the generic use of bbq is just too damned big. It can't be stopped - it's silly to stand in front of the on-rushing train. There's Korean bbq, Mongolian bbq, Australians throwing shrimps on the barbie. Perception is truth. It does make it true, whether we like it or not.

                                                                              The question that always sits on my mind about these things (and indeed, it is a semantical argument, not a food or taste one), is ok - bbq is now grilling, universally accepted, get over it... so what do we call real (cooked low and slow, over wood embers) bbq?

                                                                              Same question with lox and smoked salmon. People have been calling smoked salmon, lox, for a long time. So now, if you want to talk about the traditional, brined salmon (NOT smoked), you can no longer say lox to distinguish it - what DO you say?

                                                                              So I now say, "bbq, you know, meat cooked low and slow over wood embers, not hamburgers". And I say, "lox, you know, traditional brined only salmon, not Nova or other smoked salmon". I figure that it's the price of being a purist. Insisting that others follow your cause gives you ulcers. Ditto sushi. "sushi, you know, the delicious stuff served by trained Itamae with years of experience serving knowledgeable clientele - not the Americanized McSushi crap in the Chinese restaurants..." (Except that one isn't just semantics... it's flavor and texture and real differences in quality.)

                                                                              BTW, your point on steaming and frying is great - but what's braising in oil, maybe confit other than that term also refers to slow-poached fruit? Does browning = caramelization or maillard reaction (why do some chefs consider them the same)? Convection is something only done in a convection oven, or is it all forms of heat energy transferred by air or other moving thermodynamic masses? Grilling? Same as Gridling? Precision is a bugaboo... being a semantic purist in something as creatively deviant as cooking is damned hard work.

                                                                              1. re: applehome

                                                                                Well, the price of being a stickler for language, which I generally am (not always successfully, to be sure) is definitely that one has to say what one means. One of course can't force others to do likewise—but one can ask questions that imprecise language raises, e.g., "Wait, are we *barbecuing,* or are we grilling? Nudging each other awake around the brisket at 3am, or kicking it on a patio for a couple of hours?"

                                                                                Which is not to say there's no such thing as synonyms. So far as I ever knew, "browning" and "caramelizing" were pretty much interchangeable terms; looking it up to see I might technically be wrong about that, then I have been as mistaken as Californians who think grilling and barbecuing are the same thing. (And please let me know if I am!) As for the Maillard reaction, that describes what's happening; that's not a cooking techinque, agreed?

                                                                                At any rate, synonyms are synonyms; misnomers are misnomers. I'm not saying there aren't gray areas, but you said it exactly—precise definitions are hard work, in lots of areas of life beside cooking. Doesn't make them any less worth striving for—at least in this particular context, among people who devote great amounts of time and energy to learning about food from every angle.

                                                                                1. re: tatamagouche

                                                                                  I would highly recommend Harold McGee's On Food and Cooking for a thorough but easily understood discourse on browning and the major difference between caramelization and the Maillard reaction.

                                                                                  Caramelization is mainly a process of heat applied to sugar, resulting in alcohol, acetaldehyde, acetic acid, diacetyl and other organic compounds. The simple sacharides break down and recombine into numerous compounds that provide bitter, fruity, nutty, toasty flavors.

                                                                                  The Maillard Reaction is a significantly more complex reaction that applies to some existing mixture of carbohydrates and amino acids (which add nitrogen and sulfur atoms to the mix). It occurs over several intermediate steps (over time and heat), and results in a significantly more complex set of flavors. In addition to the caramelization flavor elements, you get pyrazenes and peptides and a host of other compounds that create savory, oniony, chocolate and earthy, potato-like flavors. While most people think of the maillard reaction as forming the crust on steaks, it's part of forming the crust on breads, darkens beer, creates flavor in chocolates, and is a part of most browning reactions that are not specifically based on sugar alone.

                                                                                  Most people may not see this as a significant difference, but any good and knowledgeable chef ought to know what these reactions are about and what flavors develop from them. There's a world class chef that makes this boo-boo, confusing caramelization and maillard browning, right here in an article on this site, and it immediately set off my purist alarm. You can't caramelize meat or anything else that has protein in it, other than perhaps taking a cold piece and dipping it into caramel. So if a chef says that they're caramelizing meat while cooking it, they're full of shite.

                                                                                  And while it may seem like it's a fine line to some, this doesn't fall into my, "it's just semantics, let it go", category. It's science, dammit. And in science you can't just make up shit whenever you want to.

                                                                                  1. re: applehome

                                                                                    "There's a world class chef that makes this boo-boo, confusing caramelization and maillard browning, right here in an article on this site, and it immediately set off my purist alarm"

                                                                                    Ah Ha! I knew there was a purist alarm! You must be on red alert all the time. I can't help but think that reading through Chowhound must drive you absolutely bananas some times.

                                                                                    Don't always agree with you, but I am a big fan of your eloquent arguments and purity of stance. Keep on challenging us and making us questions our own beliefs and actions.

                                                                                    But in the "don't always agree" category:

                                                                                    "And in science you can't just make up shit whenever you want to."

                                                                                    As a scientist who spends a lot of time questioning our base of knowledge, I am finding a lot of holes in the religion we call science. Lots of assumptions, lots of extrapolation, not always justified. I do sometimes wonder if people make up shit whenever they want to. We like to pretend that science is based on logic and reasoning, but often, if you delve below the surface, you can find huge holes in the logic, as well as large areas of unknown.

                                                                                    Well that's neither here nor there. I would love to go eat good sushi with you any day! Keep us focused on the prize Applehome...

                                                                                    1. re: moh

                                                                                      You're beginning to sound like the sort of person that doesn't trust any sentence that begins with the words "They say..."

                                                                                      (I have a grammar problem above - I'm not sure if there should be a full stop after the ellipsis. )

                                                                                      In terms of scientific fact it means it nestles somewhere between "Everybody knows" and "You can take it as read".

                                                                                      1. re: Paulustrious

                                                                                        That was not an ellipsis! It was a "suspension period".

                                                                                        And people think I'm a purist!

                                                                                      2. re: moh

                                                                                        Yes, but science states upfront the assumptions, hypotheses, and method of extrapolation, allowing other scientists to either repeat the experiement or to re-trace the hpothetical-deductive trail.

                                                                                        1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                                                                          Sam, science pretends to state upfront the assumptions, but often, there are biases that are left out or forgotten or disregarded. And a lot of results are then extrapolated way beyond the construct of the original study.

                                                                                          Science is a great tool, a very successful and efficacious tool. But it is still a tool, not the religion that many of us scientists proclaim it to be. I personally love it, but I am also realizing its limitations. I am sometimes unpleasantly surprised when people use it as dogma. I also hate it when people play that "he said, she said" game with statistics being twisted to match the message the speaker wants to convey.

                                                                                          1. re: moh

                                                                                            The process of peer review is essential. It works because for international refereed journal papers (i.e., the currency of science), others who work in the same field are always glad to shoot down the BS. Bodies of theories, hypotheses, methods, findings, interpretation of results all co-evolve within the different scientific communities. Bubba Bush tried to (wrongly) claim that climate and environmental scientists didin't agree among them (our) selves and that our statements were just "theory". Truth was that we had reached consensus quite a while ago. There are now 18 climate models - each with stated assumptions and methods. There are 18 because we don't know but put up for review and use the different data based assumptions associated with each. Of course, when I refer to "science" I'm referring to the bio-physical sciences.

                                                                                            1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                                                                              Oh, I'd love to go out for supper or even tea with sam and moh!

                                                                                                1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                                                                                  Absent for a while, but sentiment is echoed. Think about what we could eat, and what we would talk about! I'm smiling thinking about a huge CH dinner party. Twinkling lights dancing, eating, drinking in the universe!

                                                                                                  I've missed you all. Thank you all for your passion and love. It feeds me when I am hungry.

                                                                                                  1. re: moh

                                                                                                    moh!!!! So good to see you back. Wish you were here with Dana Zsofia and me, eating my special cornbread. email me, please. My own life situation has changed.

                                                                                        2. re: applehome

                                                                                          Well, amen to that! But whether it's cooking or science or the semantics of either, my point was, I *still* don't want to let it go. I want to know whereof I mean. And I thought your original point was you were willing to let go re barbecuing vs. grilling.

                                                                                          And while you've reminded me about caramelization/browning and I will now not confuse the two, I would still say the Maillard Reaction is the name of a process that occurs, not of a cooking technique, no? Or am I still misunderstanding? Or has someone turned it into a verb?

                                                                                          1. re: tatamagouche

                                                                                            McGee uses the term Maillard Browning. Browning is the verb, but what's happening is either a caramelization reaction or a maillard reaction. You can say that you're browning anything and be correct. You can't say that you're caramelizing meat.

                                                                                            I am indeed letting go of bbq and lox. Words and foods change over time, and at some point a cause is lost and one has to retreat from the front line. I just sense these words as being irretrievably gone in terms of their purist meaning.

                                                                                            I am saddest at losing the concise delivery of so many connotations that come with the pure form of the meaning. But that is gone in any case. If you have to explain each use of a word, why use the word? I believe that the fight is over - we lost. We were overwhelmed - held down and beat senseless by the public refuge who ruined TV, then turned to instant messages and now do nothing but twitter insanely. (There's a whole separate subject area to delve into - the changes in spoken vs. written vocabulary thanks to boards and text messaging. I'm sure there are PhD's being awarded on the subject - even as we speak.)

                                                                                            But there is another thought I often have in this context, which is that in Japanese (a language I was "born to"), words very often have more than one meaning - a generic one, and a more specific one. Sake, for instance, means both generically any alcoholic drink, and specifically Nihonshu, the brewed rice beverage. It is written differently in Kanji, to distinguish each item, but appears the same in Kana, the phonetic alphabets. There are many such examples - and in speech, one has to figure out the intended meaning in context. The interpretation is sometimes different based on the listener's knowledge and experience base. Puns are based on these juxtapositions and misinterpretations.

                                                                                            Perhaps we ought to embrace this form of communication when describing food. If one says that hamburgers are good, you'll get a chorus of "mmmm... hamburgers". And yet one is thinking about a Big Mac while another, of an $80 wagyu burger. Nevertheless, there is a consensus. In certain contexts, that's all we need. Perhaps if I said gourmet hamburger and somebody still thought about a Big Mac, then there would be an issue. But that would never occur here at Chowhound...

                                                                                            (And these are indeed ellipsis, which represent an omitted thought.)

                                                                                            1. re: applehome

                                                                                              It is sad, indeed, to watch the disappearance of a beloved word, to see its precision stripped away as it joins the morass of generalities. Farewell, awesome and momentarily.

                                                                                              And beware 'holistic', your time in the sun is ending. Soon you will be just another 'healthy' as you sidle up to 'organic'.

                                                                                              1. re: applehome

                                                                                                "I am indeed letting go of bbq and lox. Words and foods change over time, and at some point a cause is lost and one has to retreat from the front line. I just sense these words as being irretrievably gone in terms of their purist meaning."

                                                                                                I agree at some point a cause is lost—I disagree that barbecue v. grill is one of them. (I should hope serious cue fanatics, which I actually am not, would too.)

                                                                                                But as you say, we can't all be in charge of explaining every word as we go; we have to choose our battles. I'll go with that one, you go with caramelizing/browning, and together we'll change the world! Or not.

                                                                                        3. re: applehome

                                                                                          lox is not smoked salmon, being from the west coast of Canada I think of smoked salmon as the fish marinated and "HOT" smoked

                                                                                          1. re: comfortcaffe

                                                                                            There is a big difference between hot and cold smoked salmon. Lox is typically a salmon filet, that has been cured, and then often it is cold smoked. The cold smoking does not cook the fish, resulting in its characteristic smooth texture similar to the raw product.

                                                                              2. According to my husband, hot dogs don't have ketchup on them and hamburgers DO have mayo.

                                                                                Cobb salads have blue cheese dressing.

                                                                                20 Replies
                                                                                1. re: c oliver

                                                                                  I agree with those three, Cobb definitely have blue cheese dressing vinaigrette which is what I am used too. All different ...

                                                                                  1. re: c oliver

                                                                                    Is your husband from Chicago? The no ketchup rule is LAW in Chicago, to the point where some places won't even put it on if you ask.

                                                                                    1. re: c oliver

                                                                                      I heartily agree with Mr. Oliver's dogs and burgers law, and add this addition -- hamburgers should NEVER have mustard. And as for mayo, some version of thousand island dressing is even better.

                                                                                      1. re: Sharuf

                                                                                        WHAT????? No mustard on a hamburger? Are you serious? You are kidding, right? Have you never had a What-a-burger, you poor child? Only condiment put on them is mustard, along with lettuce, tomato, and onion. And they are wonderul.
                                                                                        Personally, when I make hamburgers and hotdogs at home, I add mayo, mustard and ketchup. Yes, mayo on a wienie. It is wonderful. So is Heinz ketchup

                                                                                        1. re: steakman55

                                                                                          New Mexico's Lottaburger's come w/ mustard too and green chiles!

                                                                                          1. re: steakman55

                                                                                            I was 20 years old the first time I saw mustard on a burger (McDonald's Poughkeepsie, NY) and I took it back. It's funny because I grew up on Long Island less than 100 miles from Pkpsie and I felt like I had traveled to a different country. Still prefer ketchup only but I repect the local traditions on stuff like that..

                                                                                            1. re: gwk222

                                                                                              it is a regional thing. Jfood, from NJ, never had a burger served with mustard growing up. blech.

                                                                                              when he went off to college and bought one and took a bite, blech mustard, wtf. Took it back. Then found out about the regional thing.

                                                                                              Mustard does not belong on hamburgers.

                                                                                              1. re: jfood

                                                                                                And ketchup does not belong on hot dogs.
                                                                                                What are the other 8 Commandments?

                                                                                                1. re: Passadumkeg

                                                                                                  They all have to do with reporting back about where you ate during a cross country trip.

                                                                                                  1. re: Passadumkeg

                                                                                                    I put ketchup on my hot dogs...
                                                                                                    *prepares to be tarred and feathered..."

                                                                                          2. re: c oliver

                                                                                            Cobb salads should have Roquefort as an ingredient and a vinaigrette for the dressing.


                                                                                            1. re: Sharuf

                                                                                              That's my understanding too, although I'm not a purist about that—up to a point. Past that point, say, if it only has about half of the traditional ingredients, it might be a good salad, but it ain't a Cobb. That's not even purism, it's just semantics!

                                                                                              Actually that's true of my OP re the Caesar as well. Or rather maybe it's language purism as opposed to culinary purism—and as a longtime editor, I admit to being a snob about that, and have chimed in on many a thread about menu misspellings etc.

                                                                                              On the other hand, maybe I'm just a salad purist. :)

                                                                                            2. re: c oliver

                                                                                              And steaks never have steak sauce. I am definitely a purist about my steak - a good filet mignon, on the rare side of medium rare, preferably no bacon wrap. Period. End of story. Give me one of those purist Caesar salads to go with it and I am in heaven.

                                                                                              1. re: cycloneillini

                                                                                                Caesar salad in its pure form is one of God's gifts to us.

                                                                                                And if a steak is a good one it needs nothing but salt and pepper- to me, a good steak is a grilled ribeye. Oh, wait, one of my fave restaurants here puts a litle hat of blue cheese (used to be gorgonzola, but times are tough I guess) on a nicely-grilled medium-rare ribeye and boy if that isn''t good. But I rarely do that at home, though we do it with good burgers.

                                                                                                Viva gorgonzola!

                                                                                                1. re: EWSflash

                                                                                                  I’m with you cyclo and flash...

                                                                                                  An offer of steak sauce makes me skeptical of the steak’s natural flavor. Any good steak shouldn’t need to be made palatable, it should be delicious on its own.

                                                                                                2. re: cycloneillini

                                                                                                  No steak sauce; no marinade. Only kosher salt or sea salt and coarsely ground black pepper. And the steak should be USDA Prime, dry aged. End of story.

                                                                                                  1. re: cycloneillini

                                                                                                    Throw the A1 and all that junk out. If you need that stuff, your steak must be spoiled.
                                                                                                    And besides, all those 'condiments' interfere with the good red wine that goes with a steak.

                                                                                                    1. re: cycloneillini

                                                                                                      Thank you. Good to know there are others like me. When I see someone slathering bbq sauce or steak sauce all over their steak, I cringe. It's just so much better without it--you can actually appreciate the meat!

                                                                                                      1. re: Full tummy

                                                                                                        I do like to dip steak fries into A-1. Never put it on the meat, though.

                                                                                                    2. re: c oliver

                                                                                                      I agree with the dog and burger rules, too. Don't know about Cobb salad because I don't care for it.

                                                                                                    3. Cuisine, like culture, continuously evolves. If it doesn't evolve over time then it's dead.
                                                                                                      So I'm not much of a purist about general ethnic cuisines or even specific dishes when it comes to the variety of ingredients that may be used or included.
                                                                                                      I am more purist with the method of the preparation.
                                                                                                      Using finlero's bibimbap with sweet summer corn as an example -
                                                                                                      - Each component in "proper" bibimbap is prepared individually (in home style, usually as an individual ban chan dish) so if the corn is say lightly steamed, then cut into strips with a portion of the cob with kernels attached, then seasoned with garlic slivers, chopped green onion, and a bit of crushed red pepper and quickly sauteed in sesame oil, it meets the criteria for inclusion in bibimbap.
                                                                                                      Dumping a can of green G onto the dish doesn't.

                                                                                                      15 Replies
                                                                                                      1. re: hannaone

                                                                                                        Oh dear. Another admission. When I am really late and when we are eating bulgogi or kalbi from my stash of frozen packages, we will often microwave frozen GG corn and peas as the vegetable side.... Very unauthentic.... but so convenient.

                                                                                                        I do find I am an odd contradiction of free-wheeling eat-anything CH and stubborn purist. I will eat anything and everything at least once, and I enjoy trying new things, new combinations. But I have quirky stubborn streaks that rear their ugly head every once in a while. For example, there is no point eating bulgogi/kalbi without kimchi and rice. Must have those two accompaniments. I missed the kimchi dearly when eating kalbi on Hawaiian lunch plates.

                                                                                                        No cream cheese in my maki please. Just can't do the cream cheese - rice combo. Tried it a couple of times, always ending in tears.

                                                                                                        I heartily concur with the Caesar salad aficionados about the egg and anchovy.

                                                                                                        I really like my risotto made with arborio rice, and other more traditional rices. Brown rice risotto - like it well enough, but I don't call it risotto.

                                                                                                        Please - no blue cheese in my mac cheese. Sorry, I just don't like blue cheese enough, and it makes me sad when it is in the mac cheese.

                                                                                                        Although I have enjoyed many mashed potato versions in my life, I tend to prefer pure mash potato with butter, milk and salt. This is a comfort food thing.

                                                                                                        And mum - please no more kimchi in the spaghetti sauce.... I've tried, but I can't wrap my puny little brain around this one.

                                                                                                        1. re: moh


                                                                                                          I keep some frozen veggies (GG and others) for a quick fix. But when using with rice it's "mixed rice", not bibimbap!
                                                                                                          Bulgogi or Kaibi without kimchi is just wrong.
                                                                                                          Spaghetti sauce with kimchi has a strange appeal, I'll have to try that one. But please no oysters.
                                                                                                          I have used kraft slices in versions of kimbap. (with spam for instance)

                                                                                                          1. re: hannaone

                                                                                                            You know, you might like the kimchi in the spaghetti sauce. A lot of people really enjoy my mum's kimchi sauce. But it's a little quirk I have, I have to pick out all of the kimchi...

                                                                                                            Spam kimbap is excellent! I'm not sure you can sell me on the Kraft slices though. I happily follow your lead in many things, Hannaone, but this... I know this is bordering on irrational. It is not that cheese and rice don't go well together, after all I love my risotto with Parmesan, I've had plenty of rice and cheese casseroles, etc. But I think I have a mental block when it comes to Asian food combos of rice and cheese.

                                                                                                          2. re: moh

                                                                                                            Gosh, moh, you really had me going, cheering you on until you got to the mac & cheese- sometimes I just microwave a big glob of gorgonzola over some al dente pasta, and gobble it down with a ton of pepper.

                                                                                                            That and the risotto, it makes me gag, but I realize that's freakishness on my part.

                                                                                                            1. re: EWSflash

                                                                                                              The blue cheese discussion was chowy and interesting enough to merit a thread of its own, so we've split that off here: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/611585

                                                                                                            2. re: moh

                                                                                                              I will not touch risotto made with anything other than arborio rice and other appropiate additions. It's not risotto otherwise. Yuck.

                                                                                                              1. re: sisterfunkhaus

                                                                                                                You may want to reconsider. IMO, both Carnaroli and Vialone Nano are superior to Arborio when making risotto. And they're just as traditional, albeit harder to find.

                                                                                                                1. re: alanbarnes

                                                                                                                  I much prefer Carnaroli to Arborio. Haven't tried Vialone - yet.

                                                                                                                  1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                    i thought arborio was it, but when i tried carnaroli years later, i was schooled.
                                                                                                                    haven't had vialone yet, though.

                                                                                                                    1. re: dinaofdoom

                                                                                                                      +1 for carnaroli over arborio -- I find you don't have to stand over it the way you do arborio to get it to turn out which makes me happy.

                                                                                                            3. re: hannaone

                                                                                                              That's a nice way to put it too—that sometimes what we're objecting to is as much a matter of technique that's careless or disrespectful as anything. Not the what but the how.

                                                                                                              Still, I know there are people on this board who will admit to sticking hard and fast to certain rules about certain things.

                                                                                                              As an oft-self-styled Italophile, I was adamant for a long time about nixing the mixing of fish and cheese. Then along came David Nevins at Neptune Oyster in Boston, who combined mussels with robiola and fried lobster with cheddar. And life as I knew it changed forever...birdies singing...

                                                                                                              However, I can still feel in me that sort of ambivalence w/r/t Italian; I still, for instance, disagree with kchurchill5 (no offense) and agree with Emmmily that if I order "spaghetti" and some other kind of pasta comes out, I'm going to be a) annoyed for myself and b) contemptuous of the fact that someone who's serving food publicly doesn't know or care enough to get their pasta types straight.

                                                                                                              1. re: tatamagouche

                                                                                                                Well, if I ordered spaghetti and a different pasta came out, I'd probably send it back. Or at the least, ask to see a manager and express my annoyance that inaccuracy. What if i ordered ravioli and got capellini? Sheesh.

                                                                                                                1. re: tatamagouche

                                                                                                                  I think much of the "purist" also depends on what time frame you are looking at.
                                                                                                                  It has been twenty years now since I was in Korea, so much of what I think of as traditional Korean comes from that time.
                                                                                                                  I know that there have been many developments in Korean cuisine, but from my reference point the dishes that I had in the eighties and early nineties are THE dishes.
                                                                                                                  I have also been digging into Korean history and cooking, looking at a lot of the dishes served in the royal Joseon courts as well as "peasant" origins. And at some from even farther back in time( the Three Kingdoms period). Two (or three) more classes of "traditional" or "pure" Korean.

                                                                                                                  1. re: hannaone

                                                                                                                    You should do a thread about the peasant versus the royal Korean dishes. I know something about that w/r/t Thai but not Korean—would love to hear about it!

                                                                                                              2. The buffalo wing is one of mine. There are plenty of other wing preparations that are plenty tasty, they're just not what I want when I want wings. I want a deep-fried wing, coated in buttery hot-saucy vinegary goodness, with celery and blue cheese. Sweet sauces, or creative flavors, or roasted/grilled/whatevered wings always just leave me feeling unfulfilled and regretting the caloric load.

                                                                                                                Oh, and I am 100% with the cocktail people. Call a cocktail by its proper name. Tini is NOT a suffix. And it drives me nuts when Canadians refer to their blended whiskies as "rye" when there are so many lovely ryes in the world (some of which are even Canadian).

                                                                                                                17 Replies
                                                                                                                1. re: Wahooty

                                                                                                                  Buffalo Wings -- yeah, that's my hang up. The original is like PB&J -- a culinary miracle, it's a perfect combination of flavor/texture, and simple. Frank's Hot Sauce, butter, chicken wings. And yet somehow people feel the need to mess with it and it invariably comes out worse. Especially breading! That's just not a Buffalo wing.

                                                                                                                  1. re: sbp

                                                                                                                    You know, I once got talked into going to Hooters via the common mantra, "actually, the wings are really good." {shudder} There is no way the tiny quantity of meat on a chicken wing can balance out that much breading. And then the sauce makes it soggy, and...it's just SO unsatisfying.

                                                                                                                    1. re: Wahooty

                                                                                                                      But you got to spend time with Lexus and Mercedes, right?

                                                                                                                      (Given your avatar, I couldn't resist.)

                                                                                                                      1. re: alanbarnes

                                                                                                                        Oh, no...Raisins actually DOES have great wings. ;)

                                                                                                                        Actually, funny you should mention that...this happened not long before that episode aired...

                                                                                                                        1. re: Wahooty

                                                                                                                          Yeah, maybe they should focus on the chicken - eh - tenders.

                                                                                                                          1. re: alanbarnes

                                                                                                                            How sad is it that I actually remember what I ordered? Merely because it was so difficult to keep a straight face while asking Lexus or whatever her name was for a "strip cheese sandwich."

                                                                                                                            1. re: Wahooty

                                                                                                                              Ha...the same thing happened to me not long ago...a friend (a gay friend, no less, just to sweeten the pot) won a wings party and I had to go once and for all. Get this—I actually ordered an oyster roast too. Oof.


                                                                                                                              Although, having never thought much about wings in my life—it's just one of those phenomenons that somehow escaped me—I honestly never knew breading's a bastardization! Via Chowhound, learn something every day.

                                                                                                                              1. re: tatamagouche

                                                                                                                                Really every "variation" on Buffalo wings -- breading, adding ingredients to the sauce, baking, etc. -- compromise some element of what makes the real deal such a classic. As others have noted, breading interferes with crispiness (the SKIN is supposed to be crispy, not what's on top of it) and prevents the skin from rendering fat (meaning it will be flabby). Omitting the butter/margarine seems to allow the vinegar in the hot sauce to make the wing go soggy very quickly. Adding ingrdedients to the sauce generally thickens it up and causes it to sit ON the wing. This makes it gloppy and usually causes it to lose crispiness. The butter/hot sauce only combo, tossed with the wing and then drained immediately creates a very thin coating that becomes part of the wing itself. A perfect wing looks orange, but if you run your finger over it, virtually nothing comes off.

                                                                                                                                The only problem I have with "authentic" wings nowadays is that Franks Hot Sauce has become milder. They dumbed it down a lot over the years. If I want truly hot, I add a few drops of very flavor neutral habanero.

                                                                                                                                1. re: sbp

                                                                                                                                  Yeah, I'm not 100% purist when it comes to the hot sauce - I'm not all that attached to Frank's. But I'm always mad at myself when, without thinking, I order "medium" wings and what shows up is a gloppy mess of basically barbecue sauce with almost no heat to it. I mean, it's not the restaurant's fault - the menu just says "wings," not "buffalo wings." But I have told one of my friends to remind me when we go out that I don't actually want "wings." :)

                                                                                                                                  BTW, excellent breakdown of what makes a Buffalo wing so good. You've clearly done your homework. :)

                                                                                                                                  1. re: Wahooty

                                                                                                                                    Agreed—really appreciate this primer! Now I have to go find me some real ones.

                                                                                                                                2. re: tatamagouche

                                                                                                                                  Your root link ... a most enjoyable diversion: naked local color.

                                                                                                                                  Lighting and angle confounds yet suggests broad influences:

                                                                                                                                  clinical pathology ...


                                                                                                                                  mexican gore tabloids ...


                                                                                                                                  Nice work (consider yourself perma-linked)!
                                                                                                                                  Cheers! (gotta love that froth) ...


                                                                                                                        2. re: Wahooty

                                                                                                                          The Hooters thing is really surprising. The first time I went, I ordered medium hot because I was sharing them with DH and he can't eat food as hot as I do. They came out without sauce. They CLAIMED it was mixed with hot sauce and butter, but if you don't order the HOT variety, there is nothing more than grease on your wings. The other curiosity is why they offer breaded wings. It really was surprising, as these are not "Buffalo wings". I finally learned to ask what they consider there most popular -- and they are hot with no breading.

                                                                                                                          That said, they are okay. Not worth a special trip unless you are looking for a place to eat that is open late.

                                                                                                                          1. re: RGC1982

                                                                                                                            Actually their "naked" wings as they call them are quite authentic. But for whatever reason whenever you order them they take 3X as long as the regular ones with all that yukky breading.

                                                                                                                          2. re: Wahooty

                                                                                                                            AFAIK, "real" Buffalo wings are *never* breaded. And WTF are "boneless wings"?

                                                                                                                        3. Interestingly, I just had an argument with my son this afternoon about my adamant refusal to switch over to using whole wheat pasta all the time. He figured it would be a simple change and delivered the whole "nutrition" lecture but I just don't care. Irrational, maybe. But don't mess with my tried-and-true Italian-American traditions!

                                                                                                                          2 Replies
                                                                                                                          1. re: boppiecat

                                                                                                                            You could always do some of both. Buy it for him with the understanding, you will teach him, that he has to cook it himself. No extra work on your behalf and some extra quality time with your son. Heck, that is what my mom did to me. Now that I am older, we still get together and cook for fun (among other things).

                                                                                                                            1. re: boppiecat

                                                                                                                              boppiecat, I use whole wheat pasta most of the time, as I try to avoid white flour (glycaemic index) but like baguettes, in some dishes I have to indulge in white pasta.

                                                                                                                              By the way, on recent trips to Italy, whole grain pasta - whole wheat, farro and other grains - has become very common.

                                                                                                                              Italian (US)American food, like the food of Italian emigrants elsewhere in the Americas from Canada to Argentina, is food that has adapted the recipes and foodways of the home country to new circumstances - more meat, for one thing, which was a major reason for emigrating from some very poor places. However, our new ways of living mean it has to change again, while remaining true to its traditions. The Italian workers who built the tunnels under Mont-Royal, erected buildings and toiled in mines needed a huge caloric load and a lot of animal protein. Computer slaves don't.

                                                                                                                              As for purism, I'm fairly purist about pizza, but won't bother arguing about it any more.

                                                                                                                            2. I haven't read thru all the replies, but for real - butter. Not some other concoction of fat, I want REAL butter. Not something colored yellow. BUTTER!

                                                                                                                              5 Replies
                                                                                                                              1. re: JerryMe

                                                                                                                                It's just incredible how good room-temperature unsalted European butter tastes.

                                                                                                                                1. re: JerryMe

                                                                                                                                  Yes margarine has its place, just not in my house!!

                                                                                                                                  1. re: sisterfunkhaus

                                                                                                                                    Tell me the place, please, I can't think of one.

                                                                                                                                    1. re: Passadumkeg

                                                                                                                                      In a vegan's house? That's the only excuse I know of for using margerine instead of butter.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                                                                                        Or in a kosher home, if you want something to smear on your bread during a fleischig meal. My grandmother certainly served it, and Ruth! Lafler! Yours didn't?

                                                                                                                                2. the short answer is: i am not a purist about certain dishes, just a stickler for the dishes being accurate renditions of the menu description.

                                                                                                                                  if i have my heart set on a certain dish being one way, or including certain ingredients, i always ask for more information so i know i am ordering something i will probably like.

                                                                                                                                  for instance, when i ordered age tofu the other day, it was because the menu specified all the things i love about the dish: silken tofu, seasoned broth, light breading, bonito flakes and scallion.
                                                                                                                                  instead, i got bite sized pieces of extra firm/chewy tofu in a very thick batter, with soy sauce and ginger and nothing else.
                                                                                                                                  had the menu accurately described what i actually got, i would have passed.
                                                                                                                                  i freakin' hate that!

                                                                                                                                  1. Challenging question!

                                                                                                                                    I am a purist only by occasion and associated memory. i.e. Every once and a while I make myself a spam and cheese wiz sandwich, but I never deviate from the way my grandma made it because that associated memory is more important than than finding a "better way" or trying something new.

                                                                                                                                    If I am not cooking for myself as such, then I am only a purist in approach. That is, who am I cooking for. Knowing my audience and their preferences. i.e. I typically always make a "Signature" style mac and cheese when I BBQ. But if everyone brings the kids, I leave out the blue cheese and add in an amount of american to the blend. If it is a smaller group that includes a specific friend, I replace the cheddar with smoked habenaro cheddar. If he is there is a larger group, I replace half the cheddar with pepper jack. If it is for the ladies, then I make make several changes, different pasta, add alot taleggio, reduce the egg... etc.

                                                                                                                                    Understanding my own approach, I try to understand, accept, and respect the same in others.

                                                                                                                                    I disagree with the idea of "purism" if it prevents the cook/chef from learning about or knowing their audience. It can make for a poor dinner party, dining experience, or cause a restuarant to fail. In reading several responses, it flows. The cook/restuarant, in many cases has decided to force thier beliefs on someone else, failed to listen, and change.

                                                                                                                                    So I am at the store the other day and a daughter is asking her mom to get a Healty Choice rice and bean dish for here instead of cream chipped beef. The mom says, "I don't like rice". I almost lost it.

                                                                                                                                    In teaching or a experice that has an educational theme, then "purism" can be used as a cultural tool.

                                                                                                                                    I am sure I went off on a tangent... but that is my nickles worth

                                                                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                                                                    1. re: HypnotizedPalate

                                                                                                                                      I hate people who tell me that when I make a particular Irish or Canadian dish that it is not authentic because a book tells them that it should only be made a certain way.

                                                                                                                                    2. I'm a stubborn purist when it comes to what I prepare for others at home - and especially Japanese food, sushi (NO avocado or cream cheese), Mexican food, and French sauces.

                                                                                                                                      I apply the same standards if I go out. I don't order and don't want to pay for stuff I wouldn't make.

                                                                                                                                      On the other hand, I'll happily eat anything someone else makes for me as a guest. Even California rolls, big flour tortilla burritos, pasta with jarred sauce and green can parm, hot dog in Wonder Bread, ...

                                                                                                                                      4 Replies
                                                                                                                                      1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                                                                                                                        Hot dog in Wonder Bread raw!! ummmm

                                                                                                                                        Too funny Sam, and yes, I would absolutely eat that with mustard for dipping! Only the regular yellow - no, brown, flavored, grainy stuff!

                                                                                                                                        1. re: JerryMe

                                                                                                                                          A raw hot dog in Wonder Bread. I have never heard of that, but it sounds really tasty.

                                                                                                                                        2. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                                                                                                                          I'm OK with the avocado and cream cheese in sushi rolls. But I'm a purist when it comes to tofu and mochi. No tofu lasagna, no cinnamon-raisin mochi, etc. I cannot conceive even putting that in my mouth.

                                                                                                                                          1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                                                                                                                            for some reason, I read fast and read "green eggs and ham" instead of "green can parm"...

                                                                                                                                          2. Reuben Sandwich - It's Corned Beef, Never Pastrami (that's a Rachel). Sauerkraut, not Cole Slaw. Russian Dressing, Not Mustard. Swiss Cheese...always. Rye Bread...always. It's grilled...not toasted, not cold. Change something? Put Turkey on it? Call it something else. And please spell it correctly. It's not RUEben, but REUben.

                                                                                                                                            A Hot Pastrami sandwich goes on Rye Bread, with Mustard. Period. (If you have Dr. Brown's cream soda with it, it's pure NYC heaven.)

                                                                                                                                            Spaghetti Carbonara never contains cream. Ever.

                                                                                                                                            9 Replies
                                                                                                                                            1. re: mcsheridan

                                                                                                                                              I agree! Rueben is my favorite and I don't like it messed with. I had a Rachel one time and it was pastrami, but it had smoked turkey on it as well. Don't know if that's authentic.
                                                                                                                                              And carbonara is pancetta and cheese and eggs! Didn't know I was a purist until I read your reply.

                                                                                                                                              1. re: bayoucook

                                                                                                                                                People who call what is an adulterated alfredo on pasta and call it carbonara peeve me. I know a guy who used to make carbonara and it didn't even have egg it. Also, carbonara has to have black pepper in it hence the CARBONara part.

                                                                                                                                                1. re: sisterfunkhaus

                                                                                                                                                  Er, I don't believe that's the source of the name. But I've been wrong many times before - especially here on CH.

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: sisterfunkhaus

                                                                                                                                                    There are a few stories about the background of the name, none of which mention pepper. To name a couple: coal miner's dish, the fact that it was prepared over coal fires.

                                                                                                                                                2. re: mcsheridan

                                                                                                                                                  Wondered if someone was going to mention this - agree completely. (Not that I have anything against a Rachel, it's just not a Reuben.)

                                                                                                                                                  And, along the same lines, a "club sandwich" is roasted turkey, mayo on one side, bacon, lettuce, and tomato on the other (well, if you add some extra mayo, I won't complain). I'm partial to a sandwich which is BLT on one side and chunky chicken salad on the other; I really like it but it's a "Hollywood", not a club. And those sandwiches with avocado or cheese may be tasty, but they're not "clubs"!!

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: KevinB

                                                                                                                                                    Unless there's an extra slice of bread in there, it's just a "junior club".

                                                                                                                                                    I do love a chicken salad sandwich with bacon and lettuce, please hold the tomato...and I promise I never call it a club, not even "junior". :)

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: mcsheridan

                                                                                                                                                      unless it has three slices of bread it is a sandwich, not a "club" unless the third slice is present.

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: jfood

                                                                                                                                                        It's a NYC diner thing, What can I say? they put all the same fixin's on two slices and call it a junior club. <shrug>

                                                                                                                                                        I agree that three slices of bread doth a Club sandwich make. :)

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: mcsheridan

                                                                                                                                                          Wow - I never even thought that a 2-slice sandwich could ever, would ever, might ever be called a "club", even a "junior". As almost always, I agree with jfood - if it's not a triple decker, it's not a club. And , for the record, I don't object to restos referring to their custom combinations as "club style", which to me signifies a three decker sandwich with one group of fillings on one side and another on the second.

                                                                                                                                                3. I swing on a lot of foodstuffs, trying to be as *pure* as possible (whatever that means in context), but I will never sway on butter vs. the erstaz (see JerryMe upthread) or real maple syrup.

                                                                                                                                                  Real maple syrup is just wonderful tree juice, concentrated. The Log Cabin or Aunt Jemima corn-syrup concoctions cannot compare. Plus, maple syrup is a useful ingredient in a way that its imitators cannot approach. I will always be a purist in this.


                                                                                                                                                  5 Replies
                                                                                                                                                  1. re: cayjohan

                                                                                                                                                    I concur most heartily. Butter always, in all cases and all places. Maple Syrup...accept no substitutes.

                                                                                                                                                    Likewise...real Crab...never "Krab" or any of it's surimi cousins.

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: mcsheridan

                                                                                                                                                      To us, kamaboko (fish cake) type foods are as real as real can be. They have a lot of uses. We never tried to sell any of it as Krab or crab. Too bad people in the US rarely know how to use and appreciate the stuff.

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                                                                                                                                        Many in the US were turned off the whole business by delis and restaurants selling the mock item back in the late 70s through the 80s as the real deal, without disclosure. When you pay for crab salad or crabcakes, you expect to get what you paid for...and the taste you expect.

                                                                                                                                                        I don't know if the practice still goes on, but I'm always on the lookout for it.

                                                                                                                                                    2. re: cayjohan

                                                                                                                                                      Cay, in Quebec, non-maple syrup is jokingly referred to as 'Sirop de poteau" which translates as syrup of telephone poles... Love real maple syrup!

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: cayjohan

                                                                                                                                                        Yes real maple syrup is expensive, but a little packs a big flavor punch and goes a long way.

                                                                                                                                                      2. A chile relleno with other than a poblano pepper should be a hangin' offense, from the tallest mesquite tree in the hood.

                                                                                                                                                        3 Replies
                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Veggo

                                                                                                                                                          Good thing those mesquite trees don't grow as tall as pinon pines. A New Mexico green can be stuffed just fine, thankyouverymuch. Girth be damned - sometimes a long chile is just what the doctor ordered.

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: alanbarnes

                                                                                                                                                            So, knowing Veggo's CO connection—does this mean there's a state-to-state difference in chile rellenos? What about AZ I wonder...

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: tatamagouche

                                                                                                                                                              In metro Phoenix, one can find a decent stuffed poblano in the Mexican side of town, around Glendale. In Scottsdale, they try to trick the rich people by pawning off stuffed anaheims (bleech) on them. Go figure.

                                                                                                                                                        2. Goodness - I had no idea I was a purist until I read the responses here:
                                                                                                                                                          - ceaser - dah
                                                                                                                                                          - martinti - dah
                                                                                                                                                          - pesto - dah
                                                                                                                                                          - bibimbap - dah
                                                                                                                                                          - rissoto - dah
                                                                                                                                                          - gnocchi - dah
                                                                                                                                                          - butter - are we even talking about this?
                                                                                                                                                          - sushi - has ben co-opted by s.calif for far too long for me to complain about avocado (sorry sam)

                                                                                                                                                          10 Replies
                                                                                                                                                          1. re: alwayscooking

                                                                                                                                                            Oh, pesto, interesting...you mean it has to be basil, pinenuts, parm. etc.? I guess I'm actually not a purist on that one...I love the original as well as variations on the original—cilantro-walnut, hell, collard-pecan, I don't care, as long as they taste good.

                                                                                                                                                            Again, as said Italophile, for me I get upset mainly when 1) some loud American insists on having things his way, in English, in Italy instead of god forbid just trying something new for once and 2) a supposed Italian restaurant here in the US clearly doesn't know its bruschetta from its broosheda.

                                                                                                                                                            All that said, alwayscooking, what's your take on pesto?

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: tatamagouche

                                                                                                                                                              Pesto is basil, pignoli, garlic, parm reg, olive oil and salt. If a less expensive nut or cheese is used or an innovative ingredient is introduced (olive/mint/caper) , it should be called something else.

                                                                                                                                                              But I know this battle was never fought.

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: alwayscooking

                                                                                                                                                                I do Kalamata olives, capers, sun-dried tomatoes and garlic. And I call it a tapenade.

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                                                                  Yay! - but that assumes a predominance of olives. I've had 'pestos' of walnuts and mint and some of capers and something . . .

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: alwayscooking

                                                                                                                                                                    I bought one of those HUGE jars of Costco pitted Kalamatas. And I use as a pasta sauce as well as a spread.

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                                                                      Olives are so good with capers and tomatoes - and the basis of so many great dishes.

                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: alwayscooking

                                                                                                                                                                        Try this. Sauteed chicken breasts w/ francaise sauce, half covered w/ capers, half covered w/ chopped Kalamata olives.

                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Rmis32

                                                                                                                                                                          Maybe tonight! I've got some breasts that need to be frozen or eat --- and the freezer's quite full :)

                                                                                                                                                                2. re: alwayscooking

                                                                                                                                                                  Actually, what you describe is known as pesto alla genovese. And if yer gonna be a purist about it, you can only use Ligurian olive oil.

                                                                                                                                                                  Pesto only means that the ingredients (namely herbs and garlic) have been ground, or crushed.

                                                                                                                                                              2. re: alwayscooking

                                                                                                                                                                Butter, yes. Real, unsalted, European butter. I just got my first Butter Bell and it's wonderful. Keeps it soft at room temp even in this heat. Love it.

                                                                                                                                                              3. OK, reading through the replies.
                                                                                                                                                                Butter, yes, has to be real.

                                                                                                                                                                Caesar Salad: OK, the only place I've had it "real" is in Puerto Vallarta, made table-side - absolutely amazing. I order it here in the states, knowing that the dressing may be bottled, only because (hopefully) it will be on Romaine lettuce only, no iceburg. If the menu seems questionable on the type of lettuce, I'll ask.

                                                                                                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                1. re: tracylee

                                                                                                                                                                  I've had real Caesar salad made table-side here in the states only at two places - once at an Italian restaurant in Virginia Beach (of all places!) and at the Pink House in Savannah. Years ago.

                                                                                                                                                                  I haven't actively looked for places that make it properly elsewhere over the years, I just happen not to have had it. Where else, dear Chowhounders, is the real deal to be had?

                                                                                                                                                                2. as someone mentionec above maple syrup, real pure and nothing else.

                                                                                                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                  1. oh i thought of another, hope it counts- organic free range meat only and free range eggs, i like to know how the animals were treated same with organic milk,

                                                                                                                                                                    9 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: umbushi plum

                                                                                                                                                                      I agree about humanely raised animals. If you're going to eat meat, pay the price for an animal living the way nature intended! Or follow the example of many cuisines and use just a little meat for flavor in a a mess o' veggies.

                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: NYchowcook

                                                                                                                                                                        Or hunt. A good hunter causes no pain and thins herd/flocks that might other wise starve. My kids called game "happy meat". One vegetarian son eats no corporate meat, but will eat what I hunt. This is why I shot my TV, but keep my shot gun.

                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: NYchowcook

                                                                                                                                                                          And you probably won't be having turkey for Thanksgiving. At least not the ones raised for eating. The wild/heritage turkeys are probably a bit sparse on meat for that purpose. Hey, P-keg, any info on wild turkeys? Do you hunt birds? We have wild turkeys pass through our property regularly; our new dog flushed one the other day. Never saw one fly before :)

                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                                                                            I love wild turkey. Takes a lot of work, but you'll detest Butterballs afterward. Lots of dark(er) meat. I fly from Bar Harbor to Las Vegas tomorrow afternoon and catch up w/ my bro and Scargod after 3 hours of raw oysters and fine Scotch. I'm a wee bit frightened.

                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Passadumkeg

                                                                                                                                                                              Can one actually BUY wild turkey?

                                                                                                                                                                              Re oysters, i've craved that ever since you mentioned the three dozen at the Wynn the last time. And I believe Scargod is the one who should be scared --- you know, your proclivities, if you will :) Could be a long couple of weeks for him!

                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                                                                                Yes, one can buy Wild Turkey..............Bourbon. Heh, heh, heh.
                                                                                                                                                                                Scargod and I had a great time!

                                                                                                                                                                          2. re: NYchowcook

                                                                                                                                                                            yeah, i can't bare to thinhk about how we treat some animals, i will always and only eat humanly raised animals! and yes use less, i'm vietnamese so we do the little meat and lots of veggies and rice thing all the time at home ;-).

                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: NYchowcook

                                                                                                                                                                              I agree about humanely raised animals....

                                                                                                                                                                              I second that. The very reason I don't do veal.

                                                                                                                                                                            2. re: umbushi plum

                                                                                                                                                                              Um... the organic label unfortunately doesn't really have anything to do with the way animals are treated. Most organic milk comes from farms that are pretty much the same as regular farms the cows are just fed organic feed. It's a bit better than the alternative, but they're frequently not any better on the treatment issue (other than not using hormones and such)

                                                                                                                                                                              Even so, I buy organic unless small local is avaliable.

                                                                                                                                                                            3. i'm kind of odd in my purism... things that don't need futzing with--- leave them alone! at least on my plate!

                                                                                                                                                                              if you steam my broccoli and cauliflower and any other veggies, don't douse them in butter, olive oil, or anything else.

                                                                                                                                                                              sugar plum or grape tomatoes... just give me the box. don't drizzle them with oil or mix up with cheese. just hand em over.

                                                                                                                                                                              egg white omelette -- don't mix in a little milk to make them fluffy (i'm allergic and they taste... milky!)... and don't mix the veggies into the eggs. that's not an omelette to me. i like my egg cooked and then just delicately wrapped around the filling...

                                                                                                                                                                              rant over.

                                                                                                                                                                              13 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Emme

                                                                                                                                                                                i am totally the same with vegetables, i hate anything on them especially butter or oil, always tastes to heavy and greasy i like my veggies pure ;-)

                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: umbushi plum

                                                                                                                                                                                  YES! Any time when we my boyfriend and I eat veggies, he always adds a dollop of butter on them. If we are eating canned veggies that need to be microwaved, he will add a tablespoon or so of butter before they're nuked. Even on peas. PEAS! They are deliciously buttery enough. Drives me nuts!

                                                                                                                                                                                  I guess what really bothers me is the fact that he doesn't like any kind of veggie or fruit in its pure form. He's really picky about them as it is. What's annoying is when he won't eat carrots unless they're glazed or smothered in blue cheese, or can't eat strawberries if they're not coated in sugar.

                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Yesenia

                                                                                                                                                                                    i love veggies - but i have to say peas+butter = yum

                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Yesenia

                                                                                                                                                                                        I am a purist about veggies in a can. No veggies in a can. I will eat some frozen veggies, but no boiling-- only steamed, sauteed or roasted. Boiled veggies lack flavor, color, and crunch.

                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: sisterfunkhaus

                                                                                                                                                                                          I'd say that kinda depends on how long they're boiled. No need to boil the shit out of them. Or the flavor, color, crunch for that matter.

                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: sisterfunkhaus

                                                                                                                                                                                            No canned beans? No canned tomatoes? Wow, you must stay quite busy making all that from scratch. Plus in the winter canned tomatoes, IMO, are far superior to fresh.

                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                                                                                              those are my personal canned vegetable choices.
                                                                                                                                                                                              in fact, i can't think of any other things i eat in a can.

                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: dinaofdoom

                                                                                                                                                                                                People pick on canned food too much. Sure, there's no reason to eat canned peas. But some things are best (or only available) from a can. SPAM, condensed / evaporated milk, and pumpkin, for example.

                                                                                                                                                                                                When Anthony Bourdain did Spain, he ate some pretty good-looking (and hideously expensive) canned seafood. At up to $300 per tin, I don't think anybody's going to accuse Espinaler's products of being anything other than deluxe. And even basic good sardines and oil-packed tuna can be quite tasty.

                                                                                                                                                                                                Out of season, the can is your best option for other stuff like tomatoes, sugar cane, and bamboo shoots. And then there are things that you just aren't going to find outside of a can. Until my local grocery starts carrying pickled red-in-snow in the deli case, the can is the only option.

                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: alanbarnes

                                                                                                                                                                                                  i totally forgot about canned pumpkin, and condensed/evaporated milk is also quite useful.
                                                                                                                                                                                                  oh and tuna/sardines/crab/salmon.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  some canned choices, however, baffle me: potatoes. mushrooms.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  and, i cannot get that NR episode out of my mind-- $300 cans of clams! holy crap.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Passadumkeg

                                                                                                                                                                                                      Oh, yeah, cuz. Da good stuff. Dat kine grinds broke da mouf.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    2. re: alanbarnes

                                                                                                                                                                                                      The canned duck at Au Pied de Cauchon in Montreal is worth the trip in and of itself.

                                                                                                                                                                                        2. Agree re: carbonara- it irritates me when I see pasta with cream sauce with bacon described as carbonara on a menu. I recently was asked what I thought about a friend's special ovenbaked carbonara which included about a lb of emmenthal and no eggs. The dish tasted great, but it didn't resemble carbonara. I decided to preserve the friendship, and refrain from lecturing on the criteria of a proper carbonara.

                                                                                                                                                                                          I don't drink lattes or cappuccinos after 12 noon.

                                                                                                                                                                                          14 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: phoenikia

                                                                                                                                                                                            And peas?? I have to admit I add browned onions. I, umm, first learned how to make spaghetti carbonara from a vegetarian epicure cookbook. And I may substitute some leftover pork chop for the meat.

                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: himbeer

                                                                                                                                                                                              I think that's hysterical that a vegetarian cookbook even attempted a version of carbonara! And, while you're dish sounds really good, with browned onions and leftover pork chop I think you've probably gotten too far away to call it carbonara. Maybe himbeer-nara?

                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                                                                                                hadn't thought about adding himbeer (aka raspberries) to carbonara....sounds delectable!

                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: phoenikia

                                                                                                                                                                                                  I have never tried raspberries. I'm a keep the sweet and savory tastes separate please kind of gal. And I just use beaten egg plus parmesan. Lol I love going into my local frou-frou organic store and just buying 2 strips of bacon.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  I was living in a professor's home for the summer with other students. We took turns cooking. They teased me for making mashed potatoes [different meal] from scratch. Apparently several had grown up on instant.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: himbeer

                                                                                                                                                                                                    mashed potatoes 100% absolutely must be made from scratch. the only reason i would even think about using instant would be if i was backpacking and trying to save weight. even then I'd probably just make something else

                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: comfortcaffe

                                                                                                                                                                                                      I have tried, God knows, to eat instant potatoes, but I can't do it. In fact, I've tried the "scalloped potatoes," and the "au gratin potatoes" and hash browns, and almost every other form, but if it's anything other than a Tater Tot, I simply cannot abide potato "things" that aren't created from Fresh Potatoes, the exception being Fast Food French Fries. Since I am unbelievably Lazy, I almost never experience a Potato Gratin. Anyway, Instant Potatoes, Hurl.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      A couple of other observations with respect to purism and/or NOT:

                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. Real Butter: YES. Only Real Butter: YES. European Butter: YES.
                                                                                                                                                                                                      2. Carbonara: No Cream. I mean I love the Carbonara-like dish with cream and no eggs that also has a bit of grilled onion in it, but that is NOT Carbonara, although it's really delicious.
                                                                                                                                                                                                      3, Martinis: I really, really like a Really Dirty Vodka "Martini," but I agree that this is not a true Martini. But any Bartender who is younger than 50 or so probably wouldn't know a true Martini if it walked up and bit them on the butt, although that sounds like fun, and I plan to mention it to my next Bartender.
                                                                                                                                                                                                      4. Buffalo Wings: Are a specific THING. There are all kinds of wings. But, as was noted above, only wings made in the style of Buffalo Wings ARE Buffalo Wings.
                                                                                                                                                                                                      5. Caesar Salad: I KNOW that the now-famous version of the then non-famous salad is probably not authentic, but, seriously, have you ever had a Caesar Salad without Anchovy? It's insipid. It tastes ghastly. I HATE anchovy, but I couldn't eat a Caesar Salad without it. Is the story true? I've been tracking it down for years, and the best I can tell is that he MAY or MAY NOT have put anchovy into the original salad on that original night, but, it seems it made it's way in there eventually, quite apart from the Worcestershire sauce (or, if not Lea and Perrins, the Worcester sauce). And despite claims that he hated and was opposed to the addition of anchovies, and probably chased his little commis around with a big knife, the fact IS that Cardini's Caesar dressing DOES contain anchovy. I prefer to believe he's okay with it.
                                                                                                                                                                                                      6. Barbecue: This one drives me nuts, because barbecue (barbeque, BBQ, etc.) of today bears little resemblance to the Barbacoa of the Taino, so getting all uppity about regional differences, and nomenclature, and naming, and whatnot seems rather foolish unless you LIVE in Pine Bluff, or High Point, or one of the many other enclaves of barbecue, in which case you should feel free to say and do any damn thing you want. I'll be there shortly.
                                                                                                                                                                                                      7. Vegetables: Hate to admit it, but I LOVE canned corn. But I also LOVE frozen corn, and I double-plus LOVE LOVE LOVE Corn On The Cob. But I HATE canned peas. And I think peas like a little butter on them, unless they're creamed and served with little onions, which is a dish worthy of Zeus himself. Veggies? Hmmm. My relationship with them is somewhat strained and difficult, but we've agreed to keep seeing one another and try to work out our differences.
                                                                                                                                                                                                      8. Pesto: I agree, Pesto Alla Genovese (Pesto in the style of Genoa, the place) is exactly what it is. If they MADE a specific type of Pesto in Emilia-Romagna, it would still be a pesto (Pesto Bolognese anybody?). Besides, pesto is always great. However, I also agree that when you say "pesto" people think of the green sauce with PINE nuts, not WALnuts, despite the fact that it's out-of-hand.
                                                                                                                                                                                                      9. Cheesy Poofs rock. As long as that's not all I eat. And it isn't.
                                                                                                                                                                                                      10. Ketchup is Ketchup. Not Catsup. And Ke Tsiap is STILL Ke Tsiap and NOT Ketchup, and I use it almost every day. YUM! Also, Ketchup is, I now know, a non-Newtonian fluid, which has far less to do with Newts than you would otherwise guess, and I will eventually be finding out about non-Newtonian fluids.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: jamesmasonlv

                                                                                                                                                                                                        "Any Bartender who is younger than 50 or so probably wouldn't know a true Martini if it walked up and bit them on the butt."

                                                                                                                                                                                                        That may have been true about 10 years ago, but not with today's craft cocktail movement. I promise you you can find real martinis most places these days—and if "LV" means you're in Vegas, definitely there.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        PS. Great answer.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: tatamagouche

                                                                                                                                                                                                          ...and even then when you ask for "a Martini" I suspect most bartenders would ask you, "What kind of Martini?" Sigh. I didn't ask for a "Vodka Martini", nor a "Dirty Martini", nor a "Martini with a Twist", nor a Gibson, etc etc. I asked for "A Martini". There is only one kind of drink that is called "Martini", without any other qualifications.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: huiray

                                                                                                                                                                                                            except that even within the only one kind of drink there is no set proportion of ingredients, nor does it indicate what gin you want if you have a preference -

                                                                                                                                                                                                            and whether the fundamentalist says so or not, the vodka martini is now accepted as a martini as well

                                                                                                                                                                                                            better the bartender ask, than not and you get something you do not want

                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: thew

                                                                                                                                                                                                              No. A "Vodka Martini" is NOT a "Martini". The "Martini", without any other qualifications, without any other instructions to the bartender, means the Martini as originally put together, and as executed in the classic style by the bartender.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              If I wanted anything different I would have said so, or specify it with the next round. Yes, different bartenders (confident in their craft) may indeed have their own special tweaked proportions etc - which is why one hears of folks liking certain bartenders at certain places.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              Is the basic point such a difficult concept to grasp?

                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: huiray

                                                                                                                                                                                                                um the martini, as originally put together has almost nothing to do with the drink you are talking about. the origin martin was:
                                                                                                                                                                                                                1 1/2 ounces London dry gin
                                                                                                                                                                                                                1 1/2 ounces sweet vermouth, preferably Noilly Prat
                                                                                                                                                                                                                1 dash orange bitters
                                                                                                                                                                                                                1 teaspoon simple syrup
                                                                                                                                                                                                                Small piece lemon peel
                                                                                                                                                                                                                Green olive for garnish

                                                                                                                                                                                                                so i'm pretty sure you will admit that is a martini has changed since then. and if it could change from that to gin and vermouth and an olive, with the ration around 4 or : 1, then it could also change from that "classic" (not original) to something else today

                                                                                                                                                                                                                Is THAT basic point such a difficult concept to grasp?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: thew

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  ...and you, sir, are stretching this beyond recognition.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I did not specify the entire list of ingredients in any of my posts. However, what I was on about was that the original Martini has GIN in it, together with vermouth. The olive is less certain but is almost universally recognized as part of an "original" Martini.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Very well, would it help if I said "...Martini as executed in the classic style in Modern Era America..." instead?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  BTW what you list looks more like a Martinez, the precursor to the Martini.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                  and, even then,..."...almost nothing to do with..." seems incorrect, sir.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: huiray

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    perhaps I'm stretching, but i think you are picking an arbitrary cut off point for "originally put together, and as executed in the classic style "

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: thew

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I have already proposed a modification to my phrasing. You may wish to reread my post above.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Oh, "Martini" = Gin + vermouth (+ olive) was also hashed over earlier in this very thread, starting here: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/6094... . Even there you indicated that you at least agreed that it was "bending it" if a Martini had other than gin + vernouth in it. http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/6094...

                                                                                                                                                                                          2. Mostly, I go along with it being more about technique than ingredients. I have no tolerance for shortcuts that change the flavor and texture to the point that the item is no longer that item. Call it something else, if you wish. But there are some ingredients that do matter.

                                                                                                                                                                                            BBQ pork ribs need to be dry rubbed and smoked - and they need to be spare ribs for the right amount of fat, meat and proper cooking time. If you like oven baked baby-backs, good for you - but it's not bbq. Ditto pulled pork. If it wasn't smoked, it isn't bbq, no matter how much liquid smoke you use. And if you par-boil meat, you're making stock - you're taking your meat and flavoring the water - guess what's happening to your meat?

                                                                                                                                                                                            I agree with Sam - Americanized sushi is crap - made for people who don't like sushi. Kind of like that Long John Silver motto - "Fish for people who don't like fish." ummm... why???

                                                                                                                                                                                            Coddled eggs are necessary for Caesar's alright, but remember that Cardini's original did not contain anchovies other than what's in the worcestershire sauce - in fact he was opposed to adding anchovies.

                                                                                                                                                                                            American "sweet cream butter" a madison avenue moniker, took over only after WWII, when the dairy farmers needed to counter their losses to margarine by producing a cheaper product and marketing it as a "new" taste (Like "New Coke"). European butter not only has a higher butterfat content but is also cultured, (which takes time and so costs more), the way our butter used to be for centuries before that marketing push. But today, many people who have grown up with uncultured butter, prefer it.

                                                                                                                                                                                            Chowhound tolerance doesn't need to include shitty food. Someone that eats cheesy poofs all day isn't a foodie, even if he really, really loves cheesy poofs and eats more of them than anyone else in the world. An open mind is an educated one, or is in the process of becoming an educated one - and as one gets more educated one generally tolerates ignorance and stupidity in others less. That doesn't mean that the mind is closed - just better able to differentiate between good and bad.

                                                                                                                                                                                            3 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: applehome

                                                                                                                                                                                              Hear, hear, applehome—although I don't think it was a question of tolerating shitty food; at least that wasn't my intent. It started with that bagel thread, which is about what "should" or "shouldn't" be in or on a bagel, how the latter should be eaten, etc.

                                                                                                                                                                                              To some extent you're saying what I just proposed as well—that sometimes this is simply a matter of semantics. Your yogurt-based dressing might be awesome, but it's not a Caesar dressing.

                                                                                                                                                                                              On that note, I've read the historical account a few times, and I had no memory that there weren't anchovies—but I just looked it up in Davidson and you are correct. I'll be damned. I wonder at what point that did become "proper." (Mind you, I did think that to make it properly you didn't necessarily put them on top, just minced them into the dressing—but now and then adding a few fresh white ones on top is just...so...tempting.)

                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: applehome

                                                                                                                                                                                                So are you saying as long as I don't eat too many "cheesy poofs" that I can still be a Chowhound??? Please tell me that's what you mean cause I've been on a real Cheetos binge the last few weeks :)

                                                                                                                                                                                                Excellent post, BTW.

                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                                                                                                  Thanks - the real measure, of course, is how orange are your hands? I've been known to open those small bags that come in the variety pack we used to buy for kids' lunches, and tip up the whole thing into my mouth (ok, it took 2 or 3 tips) just to avoid the dreaded orange hands.

                                                                                                                                                                                              2. Not so much as being a purist, but there are certain dishes I like in a certain way.

                                                                                                                                                                                                Ankimo - has to be loose, not tightly wrapped in a torchon. A much better (imho) texture, souffle-like, but immense in flavour and richness.

                                                                                                                                                                                                Scrambled eggs - has to be soft and wet from stirring over a low fire. Omelettes have to fluffy and wet on the inside.

                                                                                                                                                                                                Stir-fried dishes have to be cooked on super high octane heat, with that charry wok breath. And char kuay teow isn't the same without lard. Same requirement for lard goes for mee pok tar (Hokkien/Teochew style flat wheat noodles, like tagliatelle, served with soup on the side; related to hui tieu nam vang in Vietnamese places). And lard for that extra crispness in a sfogliatelle.

                                                                                                                                                                                                Sweet and sour pork needs to be made with a cut that is half fatty half lean.

                                                                                                                                                                                                Chendol without the red beans. Ice jelly with a squeeze of kalamansi lime. And definitely several attap chee in my ice kachang (shaved ice with syrup). (Attap chee is some kind of SE Asian fruit product, someone wiser will have a translation I hope, had it all my life but never had to describe it.)

                                                                                                                                                                                                No jalapenos or habaneros for pickled chilli, got to be the SE Asian ones (sorry, don't know exact name/type, we called them "chilli").

                                                                                                                                                                                                etc. etc.

                                                                                                                                                                                                7 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: limster

                                                                                                                                                                                                  Limster, you're my hero to this day.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  And though I could look it up, I'm going to ask you instead—what's the difference between sweet & sour pork as I knew it as an 8-year-old in Oklahoma and as you know it (since I probably haven't had it since)? I imagine that's a relevant enough question in this context...

                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: tatamagouche

                                                                                                                                                                                                    Thanks for your kind words as always.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    Since I've already mentioned the cut of pork, here's an answer regarding the sauce: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/4930...

                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: limster

                                                                                                                                                                                                      Ketchup. Should've known.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      I wonder statistically how many of the things hounds consider abominations involve the use of ketchup...

                                                                                                                                                                                                  2. re: limster

                                                                                                                                                                                                    I'm picky about scrambled eggs too, but I am not sure what a "pure" scrambled egg is. I do not want it to be made with oil or milk. I hate them to be too soggy/watery. I don't want them to be ultra dry, but when there is extra fluid coming out- NO.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: queencru

                                                                                                                                                                                                      You might want to look this over about scrambled eggs:


                                                                                                                                                                                                      Since reading this, I've been doing them the Karl S way and it's like I've discovered a totally new egg. I love 'em.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                                                                                                        The custardy way? Yeah typically I do not make mine broken style. I don't even attempt on my current range since the heat level is various levels of blistering inferno.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: queencru

                                                                                                                                                                                                          Yeah, I just love the creaminess.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  3. Carbonara - no liquid dairy whatsoever. It might be nice with dairy, but don't present it to me as carbonara, which sets my expectations to eggy delight not dairy delight.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    Fresh bagels - do not commit the crime of toasting them. Toasting is for stale bagels (and good bagels should stale quickly).

                                                                                                                                                                                                    Hard rolls - the real ones, klopped by hand, that go start to stale in about 3 hours - I miss them.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    Pastrami - should be from the plate/navel. Lean pastrami is a an advertisement for disappointment.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    Calzones should not be confused with stromboli.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    Tomato sauce (for pizza and most pasta) - no sugar.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    Ragu bolognese - is a meat sauce, not a tomato sauce; see carbonara above for my general attitude about truth in advertising.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    Nutmeg is better than cinnamon

                                                                                                                                                                                                    Sauerkraut should be cooked - with onions cooked in some pork or goose/duck fat, maybe some apples, riesling or white wine, caraway seeds.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    Plates and serving dishes for most pasta dishes should be warmed before serving.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    Many foods should never be reheated in a microwave oven.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    French-style scrambled eggs are vastly superior to the broken omelette Americans call scrambled eggs.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    10 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Karl S

                                                                                                                                                                                                        tomato sauce- no sugar so true! and so with you and the rest who say no to the liquid dairy in cabonara

                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Karl S

                                                                                                                                                                                                          "Sauerkraut should be cooked."

                                                                                                                                                                                                          What do you mean?! You mean some people call coleslaw or something sauerkraut?!

                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: tatamagouche

                                                                                                                                                                                                            No - my wife likes it straight out of the bottle/bag and gets mad at me if I don't leave some out of the pan for her. I always saute an onion, drain and wash the sauerkraut before adding (especially "fresh kraut" that is super salty), and add caraway. That's just for hot dogs and wursts. A choucroute for dinner with smoked pork chops (kassler rippchen), double smoked bacon, wursts, etcetc involves a lot more - like the riesling wine.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            To me, sauerkraut is a way of preserving cabbage that adds some flavor, but at the end, it is still intended to be cooked cabbage. To her, it's a pickle.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: applehome

                                                                                                                                                                                                              Ah! I see.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              OT, but I always wonder why caraway is so underappreciated stateside.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          2. re: Karl S

                                                                                                                                                                                                            If you're a purist, do NOT order stromboli in Indiana. The one time I did, I was surprised when a big sausage and pepper hoagie showed up at my table. When I said to my friends, "that's not stromboli," they said, "yes it is." I described what I was expecting, and they said, "oh, you're thinking of a calzone." No. No I wasn't.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            "Well, that's what stromboli means here."


                                                                                                                                                                                                            I mean, it was a good sandwich, but it wasn't stromboli.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            I still wonder if that really is a regional thing, or just my two friends that grew up going to that pizza joint...they were both so adamant that I started to think I was confusing it with something else.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Wahooty

                                                                                                                                                                                                              Go to Rhode Island, stop in any diner and order a grinder and a cabinet and see what you get.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: al b. darned

                                                                                                                                                                                                                AL B - LOVE IT!
                                                                                                                                                                                                                Fellow Rhode Islander!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: lemiller610

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Actually, a Vermonter, but I lived in RI for 10 years, so I get the RI jokes in Yankee Magazine.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            2. re: Karl S

                                                                                                                                                                                                              Totally agree on the sugar in spaghetti/pizza sauce. I ALWAYS read the ingredients on the jar before I buy it - maybe buying it in a jar makes me a non-purist!? - and if it has sugar or corn syrup in it, forget it. I'm the same way about my bloody Mary mixes on the rare occasion I buy a mix rather than making my own with V-8. Have you ever tried to find a bloody Mary mix without corn sweetener in it - it's not easy.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            3. Egg creams - Must be made by someone at least 75 yrs old.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              3 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Rmis32

                                                                                                                                                                                                                Dang, now that's a very specific type of purism.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: tatamagouche

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  It IS true however. Well maybe over 65 I'd say.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                2. re: Rmis32

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Is the 75 years of age more important than the Fox's U-Bet?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                3. I don't use minced (ground) meat.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I use cheap steak, and chop coarsely. I prefer the taste and texture immensely, and on the occasions I have to eeat other peoples recipes involving mince, I can feel a little sick these days.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  9 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Soop

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    These threads get so tangled I can't even figure out what this refers to...?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Soop

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      So you can make a patty out of minced beef? I wouldn't think it would hold together.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        you would use egg to bind it, but I refer to anything mince is used in: Lasagne, Chili (ESPECIALLY Chili) etc

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Soop

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          The only thing I used ground beef for is burgers and it's nothing but beef that I grind myself. For lasagne I always use sausage (which I make myself also) and chili I'd use cubes of beef because I want that size not a mince. We're all different :)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      2. re: Soop

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I buy inexpensive cuts (in Cali, Colombia) and have the butcher put it through the grinder using the coarsest setting. Probably comes out like your chopped meat.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I think that's the big difference, Sam. I use the big one when grinding and it definitely has the texture of MEAT.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I thought of asking my butcher to do this, but I kind of like it the way I do it. Obviously it will be better quality if you know exactly what's gone in it, and you can probably adjust the coarseness. But there's something satisfying about nice little chunks

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Soop

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Good on you. But I'd rather play with my daughter than chop meat (if it can be done well by my friendly and competent butchers who gladly do anything anyone asks).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Since our two-legged daughters are grown, I only have the four-legged ones around now. And they are VERY attentive when I'm grinding meat :) VERY.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        2. I dislike being a finicky diner or drinker. Do I prefer my martinis dry? Yes, but I'll still drink one thick with vermouth. Do I like tacos in corn tortillas? Yes, but if it's in flour, eh, I'll survive.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          The one thing I can't stand, however, is the terrible cumin-choked dreck that is often passed off as Indian food. I can't understand how restaurateurs from such a storied and vibrant culinary culture are willing to pass off pineaples, sultanas and coconut cream as authentic korma or throw spices in a pureed sauce and call it curry. If I am served a carnation pink vindaloo or sweet rogan josh one more time, I will probably kick someone's Assam.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          4 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: JungMann

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            The uber dry Martini isn't really purist. Traditionally they were at least 3 to 1 gin to vermouth.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: JungMann

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              You're not saying, though, that cumin doesn't belong—just that it's heavy-handed in what should be a balanced mix, yes?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: tatamagouche

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Cumin certainly belongs in Indian cuisine, when balanced out by the other spices in a proper curry.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            2. Hey great topic, tatamagouche, and an easy one for me to answer...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1) sushi

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              The way sushi has been hi-jacked and tortured these days, it's only a matter of time someone does a "1001 sushi rolls" book.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              A cuisine that focuses on simple, clear, and balanced tastes has surrendered its identity to the American propensity towards using seasoning as the main event, opening up the entire pantry of seasonings: mayo, srirracha, jalapenos, and yes, even copious amounts of soy sauce. (I find too many use soy sauce on their sushi like they do flavorings on their snow cone!) I know something's gone wrong when the focus leans more towards the seasonings than on the main protein item.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              But how about the so-called "traditional" sushi bars out there? Too many of them, if not most, are leaning more on their freezer and pre-prepped tane (ingredients) than on the traditional focus on only fresh, in-season goods. A good sushi bar should not be afraid to not buy a "popular" ingredient because it is out of season or not at its peak.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I believe much of this is a direct consequence of the average diner's habit of "dictating" what they wish to eat, rather than to leave it in the hands of the chef. It's a subtle subterfuge, but this "trains" many sushi shops into only carrying, and always carrying, the same "top 10" tired items all year long [and therefore implying frozen ingredients] irregardless of seasonality. A very Pavlovian response on the part of those "rudderless" sushi bars that have no backbone nor mission other than to make easy money off of their customer while the going is good! Where is their sense of pride?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              There's a big difference between patronizing the customer vs. respecting the customer, and I think the latter requires the sushi chef to assume an advisory (not dictatorial) role. Too many sushi bars out there are merely patronizing their customers, which ironically demonstrates a lack of respect towards the customer. ("Oh, can I do an inside out crunchy roll with Pop Rocks sprinkles like they do at Such-and-Such-a-Place? Of course!")

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              ...and to those who are puzzled why a more permissive sushi bar is not respecting their customer, keep this in mind: that the best margins at the sushi bar are in the Americanized rolls. It's easy money for an easily-fooled customer, the ones that are subsidizing the few traditional customers enjoying their authentic sushi made with the best ingredients available in the shop. So the roll customer brings in the most revenue, but only the lowest grade of ingredients are being used for his rolls.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              2) espresso

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              When we can get to the point where even a simple majority of cafes can pour a drinkable espresso, I'll remove this from my list!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              A corollary: there are many out there that believe they dislike espresso, but only because they were never served a well-pulled shot.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              ...and an observation: a good sushi bar is just as rare as a good espresso bar. How rare? One would be lucky to have even one of each in their metropolitan area. An honest count would leave most metropolitan areas at zero, and a few lucky exceptions can count 3 or more of each in their metropolitan area...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              61 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: cgfan

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Great post - I totally agree with your sushi comments, but think that the reasons are deeply part of our cultural differences. There is no way that the traditional respect for the food and the itamae (and the training he receives) could ever translate into a society as capitalist and lowest common denominator oriented as ours. I've just gotten to the point where I finally understand that Americanized sushi is Americanized sushi - it will ever be thus. No amount of tirade against Chinese restaurants serving lousy sushi, against white people who can't tell the difference between one Asian culture and another (food or any other cultural aspect), will ever make a difference here. Americans demand the cheapest, fastest, most easily edible - typically the worst - and they always get what they want.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                It is up to us, as Japanese-Americans, or simply as Americans who truly understand the cultural and food issues, to make sure that the real places stay real and stay in business. Even as Super-McSushi opens up next to a Jiro disciple with twice the variety of cream-cheese rolls and at half the price, we need to do what we can to make sure that enough people understand why it's worth the difference to keep the real stuff alive.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                This will surely be followed by a chorus of, "but we like the cream cheese rolls and we can eat what we like". Yes, yes, my children - you can eat all the McDonald's nuggets of delicious chicken goodness with sickeningly sweet "barbecue" sauce - and no, you're not following corporate dictates as they ruin American palates - you're just expressing your own individual and wonderfully developed tastes. I'm just waiting for the McSushi place that rolls up a McNugget with "barbecue" sauce and serves it as the all-american roll. Indeed.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: applehome

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I don't really see this as a problem confined to the US. I had one Japanese friend who lived in LA for two years and was fascinated by the Americanized sushi. She liked eating it and enjoyed making it. This is probably because Japan is very similar. If you go to an Italian restaurant, it's no more authentic than the typical American Italian restaurant. A lot of dishes have a Japanese spin. Chinese restaurants were similar- a lot of dishes with a Japanese spin on them. I think there are purists in every society, but there just as many people looking for a more Americanized/Japanese spin on certain dishes.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: queencru

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    In Japan, there is an element of pop-culture with the younger generations, (since the modern prosperity, starting in the 60's and blossoming in the 80's), that directs commerce towards the same kinds of quick, cheap, anti-traditional foods that we have here. For example, sushi robots and conveyer-belt sushiyas, as well as ingredients like (kewpie) mayo and spicy tuna are from Japan, rather than from us. And yet, there is no reason to suspect the demise of real traditions. Plenty of salarymen, inheritors of the merchant class ethics, still insist on traditional itamaes, trained through long apprenticeships. There's no such assurance here - in fact, the economics speak against a long term survival of traditional sushi.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    While I don't particularly like fusion cooking, I'll admit to having one or two dishes I've actually enjoyed over the years (particularly by Ming Tsai). But I'm not talking about that kind of spin or creativity, whether misplaced or not - that's not what's threatening Sushi in America. I'm talking about McSushi - the crap that's served in these Chinese and Korean run restaurants, that more and more Americans are eating and declaring their love for, served by the guy that's driven out to the burbs every morning in vans from Chinatown that was cooking egg foo young yesterday and that learned to pre-cut slices of fish (nice big slices, at that) from a compatriot, this morning -with key instructions coming on the drive out.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    And I don't mean to sound bigoted against Chinese and Koreans. I'm mainly angry at Americans who not only can't tell the difference but feel that it's unimportant to do so. Anybody can learn to make great sushi - anybody with the desire to spend 4-6 years working in increasing grades of sushiyas and training hands-on with experienced Itamae, and most importantly, serving and satisfying, more and more demanding and knowledgeable clientele. Doing this requires working in Japan, or perhaps, LA. It used to be that the US had pockets of Japanese salarymen and other afficionados where enough Izakayas and Sushiyas that catered to them existed to create a valid training ground here - but I don't think that's true any more - not even in NYC. Even the Itamae friends that I know in NYC are having to serve McCrap just to make a buck and compete against the Chinese/Korean places. How does one learn about Kazunoko-Kombu or Saba-Kazunoko when serving frozen salmon all day long?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: applehome

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Your point is well-taken, but I don't think it's as black and white as all that.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      To once again use my local sushi-ya as an example, the apprentice's job is to make all the gaijin rolls (which the place doesn't push, but serves to stay in business) and to learn from the itamae. The itamae's job is to handle the good stuff and teach the apprentice.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Japanese is one of the predominant languages spoken, although there aren't many salarymen from Japan. Rather, you see a lot of members of the local Japanese community. They're not there for a cost-is-no-object tour de force, but they do expect well-prepared, high-quality ingredients. Like the saba-kazunoko I was served last week (even though I had to post here to figure out what the heck it was).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Maybe this environment isn't going to allow the apprentice to achieve the level of mastery he might if he were working in a bigger city (eg Tokyo). And maybe having to spend a significant amount of time on more "menial" tasks will lengthen his learning curve. But by the time he's done with his training he'll be an entirely competent - and maybe even talented - sushi chef.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      At least I hope so. Shige-san has already retired once, and he can't go on doing this forever...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: applehome

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        As much as you focus on traditional sushi, go to any large izakaya chain and you will get essentially the same thing. I never saw an izakaya with the level of sushi quality or traditional food you mentioned. Granted I was not in a particularly cosmopolitan city, but most of the izakaya I went to had French fries, fried chicken, some generic sushi platter, something fried with cheese, a dish or two with Chinese influence, a dish or two with Korean influence, a few salads, and a whole lot of other dishes that weren't screaming tradition.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: queencru

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          But you're talking chain. Is this really where all the end-of-day salarymen get-togethers happen? In NYC in the 1980's, the Izakayas were all run by individuals with their own standards and creativity up the wazoo. Some had great sushi skills, others made the world's best yakibuta, etcetc. But all were special and serving only the highest quality - I saw lots of yakitori and yakiton, but no southern fried chicken. There was a true master of oden - made his own surimi, bought a special grade of konnyaku. There was as much foreign influence as the chef had experience with. If these chains in Japan are making and serving junk California rolls with just avocado, krab and cucmber - that would be a real shame. Is that what's happening, or are there some interesting futomaki that may use things like avocado, but are then made with all kinds of tsukemono and pieces of fish?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          But actually, it doesn't really matter what these chains are doing. The point I was making is that the real stuff is not in danger in Japan, regardless of the creeping acceptance of the sub-normal. There is an on-going market for the traditional items and Jiro and his kind are not going to go out of business just because the chains expand. Here, it is a different story. There is a real concern (and I'm relaying what my NYC Itamae tomodachi, here since the 80's and trained in Osaka for years before coming here, is saying when I sit there eating cod sperm roe, California Uni, and the most incredible awabi - what he had that day), that he has to turn more and more of his business over to gaijin eating salmon and yellowtail. And then, they complain that it's cheaper at the Chinese place. How long before he closes shop and moves either back to Japan or perhaps to Brazil, where his Japanese/Brazilian wife is from?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: applehome

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I went to large chain izakaya, tiny island izakaya, small independent izakaya- basically the menu had lots of similar items regardless. Like I said, I was not in Tokyo. I don't really know what goes on there. But when talking the average Japanese person who does not live in Tokyo, that's what there is.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        2. re: applehome

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          "I'm mainly angry at Americans who not only can't tell the difference but feel that it's unimportant to do so."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I think, as I've said elsewhere, that this latter is one of the keys to the whole post. I can't angry about igorance per se; I can get angry about willed ignorance. Again, for me Italy provides the most personal examples; again, and I've told these stories numerous times here (sorry), two illustrate your point for me:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          —The guy in the Florentine trattoria (this was about 10 years ago) who ordered pizza (in English, of course) with pepperoni, sausage, bacon, and I'm sure hamburger (I don't remember anymore, just that it was four meats) and when the waiter, taken aback, sort of shook his head in confusion and indicated he wasn't sure the chef would do that, the guy said, Trust me! It's really good that way.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          —Me in a trattoria in Atrani about 10 years ago, my first visit to Italy, when a chef-owner, beaming, welcomed us and said he'd fix us whatever we liked, and proceeded to list a few pastas with sauces. I asked if I could have A pasta but with B sauce, assuming he'd say yes. Instead he shook his head sadly and said, No, those don't go together.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          And I fell in love and ate it the way he recommended I eat it and learned my lesson forever after.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: applehome

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            You are correct that the problem isn't the incorporation of Asian ingredients into Western cuisines and vice-versa that is the problem per se. It is whether it is being done with intelligence and respect for the ingredients. In my own cooking, I freely make use of what's on hand, but I'm not looking for a "more is better" approach. So I'll toss a little gochuchang into my spaghetti sauce to make a more interesting arrabiata, or add a spoonful of oyster sauce to my pan sauce for a steak.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            To me, sushi should be about restraint and purity of flavors. What drive me craziest is the proliferation of those over-the-top sushi rolls. Is anything more cringeworthy than some "rainbow dragon crunch" roll? It's not culinary innovation, it's simply "lets cram as many different things people like in one roll." When you've got tuna, salmon, hamachi, tobiko, nori, rice, crunchies, avocado, cream cheese, scallions, a fried egg and spam all in one bite, you don't taste anything. The flavors aren't distinct, but they don't meld either. I agree, it's a patronizing dish -- "stupid Americans will pay $12 for this crap".

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Interestingly, I do take issue with the idea that this is an American problem. Most other countries I've been to -- especially the more homogeneous and isolated countries with a well developed cuisine -- tend to be far less accepting of "outsider food" than in America. Foreign restaurant food is much more adapted to the local palate than it is in the States.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            So I don't think of it as cultural arrogance by Americans. It's not that Americans are not able to distinguish cuisines or appreciate ethnic foods (there is more ethnic diversity in restaurants here than in most places). The average American doesn't appreciate good food period; American's by and large love crappy food. I can't tell you how many people I know prefer a McDonalds hamburger to a homemade, medium rare burger.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Of course, you're preaching to the choir here, because CH is primarily a place for people who can tell the difference between good food and crap.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: sbp

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              It's not cultural arrogance in terms of the specific qualities of the food, I don't think we're capable of that other than in small pockets, such as arguing regional bbq styles. But many Americans are truly arrogant in their lack of ability or desire to differentiate Asians (as well as other ethnic groups - Latinos, etc.). That affects the ability to distinguish good food, (any time you can't speak the language, or understand the particular background and history of a food, you will not be able to get the best service or version of that food). But even that isn't the real cause of the poor food quality that I've been referring to. The real cause is our insistent drive towards the almighty dollar - our maximum capitalism. Few countries can compete with us on that playing field. We'll always want to minimize the cost and maximixe the sales, particularly as we mass produce the product. Chinese restaurants are making sushi because they see a marketplace that they can exploit with relatively cheap ingredients, very cheap labor, and maximum sales and profits. That would be fine, except that they're driving quality places out of business - it's the Walmart business model. I'm sure it exists elsewhere, we're just really, really good at it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              The only recourse is the education of the consumer, and outside of places like Chowhound, that's pretty much a lost cause. Which is why here at Chowhound, we ought to all agree that Chowhounds ought to attend only the real places, buy only the best product. Perhaps our efforts will keep the food at a higher standard, keep the real places alive. But that's difficult - even for the most educated sushi aficionado. People are going to succumb to the supermarket sushi counter and they're not always going to be able to afford the best sushiya in town. Making your own is part of the problem, not a solution. You (generic) are not a trained Itamae and you cannot make real sushi at home - hence you are settling for poor product, the same as at the Chinese restaurant, even if you are making your own from so-called "sushi-grade" yellowtail. You are not giving the Chinese chain money, that's for sure, but the same commercial suppliers that service them with inferior fish are supplying the supermarkets. Making your own is not going to save the trained Itamae's shop - other than perhaps allowing you to satisfy your sushi jones cheaply enough, most of the time, so that you can save your pennies for the special occasional visit to the real sushiya.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              My Itamae friend has certainly lost business because of the recession as much as any other business. People that might have been able to afford a $100 night at his place now spend $30 at the Chinese restaurant and get knowingly worse food, but it's what they can afford. It would be a shame if coming out of this recession, the survivors were the Chinese places (which are virtual chains in ways you wouldn't believe) and the overall quality of sushi were destroyed forever. America could very easily forget how good sushi really is. Like prohibition made Anheuser Busch stronger - it's taken 70 years for real beer to make a comeback.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: applehome

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                "But many Americans are truly arrogant in their lack of ability or desire to differentiate Asians (as well as other ethnic groups - Latinos, etc.). That affects the ability to distinguish good food," Jfood totally disagrees. Just because one's eye is not capable of this distiguishment can NOT be extrapolated into the ability to have an opinion of good vs bad food.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                But what jfood disagrees most strenuously is the persistent correlation between price and good food. Let's take Tokyo for example. One night you can have a tremendous meal in a restuarant in which they almost carry you to your seat with mother of pearl chopsticks and then on the next night you need to walk 3 flights of dimly lit stairs to an 8-seat sushi bar. And both will knock your socks off. The idea that "you can save your pennies for the special occasional visit to the real sushiya" is contra-Chowhoundish. You should, and jfood has, found tremendous sushi at the local places where jfood did not undersatand a word and had dishes that would knock your socks off, at about 25% of the cost of the night before.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                An the idea that one needs to understand the history of food may make one appreciate it more but jfood totally disagrees with your assertion that "you will not be able to get the best service or version of that food". In jfood's world, that's called learning. So when jfood was brought to restaurants oversees by customers and he did not understand the geneology of the meal he did not receive good service? please.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                And although jfood is a big fan of Chowhound, it is not the only place where foodies can gather to share ideas. Big world out there with many people to learn from who have never even heard of this site.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                "Which is why here at Chowhound, we ought to all agree that Chowhounds ought to attend only the real places, buy only the best product" - Sorry, vote for the negatory on this one. Jfood will not give up his hot dogs nor wi\ould he ever consider not walking up to his favorite street foods in NYC, the Big Yellow Truck in Stamford or the falaffel stands in Tel Aviv. THAT is the essence of Chowhound, finding deliciousness in the $1000 sushi dinner and the $1 hot dog, not unilaterally expunging the latter from the palate.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                And one does not need to be a trained Itamae to make "real sushi" at home. Jfood is not a trained baker, but he made an awesome choclate cake last night, not a trained Italian chef, but his lasagne and meatballs last night were awesome, and never attended the French Culinary Institute but everyone enjoys his Coq. That is also one of the essences of Chowhound. Being able to train yourself to achieve deliciousness.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                And why is the $30 Chinese dinner, prima facie, a worse meal than a $100 sushi dinner. Sounds like a little food-xenophobia. Sometimes a good General Tsao is a fantastic meal, or a bowl of Pho, and one does not need to spend $100 on either of these.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Yes there will be survivors and unfortunate casualties of these economic times. And jfood hopes his favorites and yet to be trieds are part of the survivor pool. He knows better though. And this little experiemnt called Capitalism is the best that history has found. It allows your favorite Itamae to charge his $100 for dinner, and allows the newly landed immigrant a chance at the gold ring. Jfood for one thanks his stars that he lives in this great country in which a kid from the ghetto could rise and afford those $100 sushi dinners, sit and write on Chowhound while his wife treats her mother and daughters to a trip overseas to celebrate birthdays, and enjoys the food brought here by newly landed, wide-eyed immigrants with that love of freedom blazing through their pores. Count jfood with a strong love of America and capitalism. It works.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: jfood

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I wrote this in reply to your first post, last night, but it applies as well here. Thanks for taking the time to make a more thoughtful reply.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  You complained about my imposing my standards on others and ignoring their standards. Please explain further the point of my not accepting their standards - which are those? Chinese restaurant McSushi? What are we talking about - loving McDonald's? I would submit that this is not a standard - or at least, if it is indeed some sort of standard, it is the lowest common denominator - a very low bar to be aspiring to in terms of setting anyone's standard, especially a chowhound's.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Food changes, food infrastructure changes - economic and social upheaval is just that. But consider, for the moment, great Jewish delis. Only a few are left in NYC - there aren't that many Jews left on the Lower East Side (or elsewhere in NYC). But where else are there ANY decent Jewish delis? What about those of us 2nd and 3rd generation Jews, spread out across America? What passes for Pastrami in the rest of the US? What passes for deli? Boar's Head? Is this a good thing? Or is this a lowering of standards (not just my standards - but those of a whole ethnic group).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  What if there were 10 authentic Sushiyas left in the US, 10 years from now. You would be whistling dixie (or dayayenu) down the street because it didn't affect your sushi standards? I have to go to NYC for a decent pastrami sandwich - that's not acceptable for me today. Having to go to NYC for anything better than Chinese restaurant McSushi will not be acceptable for me tomorrow.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  As to my assertion that Americans are blind to Asian ethnicities, just exactly what do you call the phenomenon of sushi in Chinese restaurants? That's "my standard"? Have you tried speaking Japanese to the Teppanyaki chef in your local "Japanese Steak House" recently, because I haven't met a Japanese cook in one of those since about 1980.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  It tastes good to me... the chowhound by-line, who cares who prepared it, what he used, what he knows. No education, no desire to learn about quality differentiators, no desire to improve one's standard. It's really ok by me - I could care less what you set your standards to - *except* - when your lack of standards affects my ability to get great food. Then, I'll do what I need to, to get what I can. And that is mostly about getting up on a soapbox.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I actually thought I drew the line pretty well from the lack of ability to differentiate Asian cultures to the American acceptance of lousy sushi in Chinese restaurants to the negative effect on real sushi. The recession is a major factor, but clearly, the competition from the Chinese restaurants is a killer. Your apparent happiness eating lousy sushi is a major concern for me. Your inability to see why this is a problem not just for me but for all that have higher standards regarding any food, is an even greater concern. You should watch out for me on that soapbox.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: applehome

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    ALL of jfood's posts are thoughtful, thank you very much and none taken. Some are more emotional than others and do not meet the standards set forth by the Mods and get deleted (95% of the time jfood agrees with their decision), just like so many of yours, so jfood knows you feel his pain on having to re-write. But it is a site worth the re-works. And hopefully the Mods leave these up since jfood has no malice and he believe vice versa, just some intellectual reparte. :-))

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    OK now on to the questions:
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Jfood believes there is more that the goalposts of sushi-perfect and your McSushi verbiage (oh he wishes you would throttle back on the use of that mc-word). Why is there nothing between "crap" (your constant word) and the "best" as you perceive it. Chinese restaurant McSushi? Why cannot someone other than Morimoto serve great sushi? There are two great sushi places in jfood's town. One is a more traditional sushi resto that serves other Japanese cuisine, the other is more Asian fusion. But both are very good. The latter will sell Philadelphia roll (blech) and jfood agrees with you that this will never cross his lips.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    But look at your own word, "any time you can't speak the language, or understand the particular background and history of a food, you will not be able to get the best service or version of that food". So jfood is not a linguist and because of this linguistic brain flaw he will not be able to get the best version of food? Pahleeze. Here's a trick he learned from his brother (one of the smartest people in America). Find a great chinese cookbook, find what dishes you would like to experience at a great chinese restaurant in Chinatown and write the names in Chinese and bring with. Hand to the server. Works like a charm. Gotta think out of the box.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Great Jewish delis - jfood considers this almost every weekend. Alas there are few in NYC (thank you Katz) and jfood will not comment on the no Jews either statement. But the delis followed my peeps to the suburbs. Go to NJ and Long Island and you will find great Jewish delis, although many of them are disappearing as well. And if you want the names of some good ones in NJ, just place on the Tri-State board, you'll get a few hits. And oh how jfood misses his pastrami and corn beef living up here in FFD county CT. He has to drive 20 miles to Katz (no relationship) to get a good, but not a great pastrami. And jfood does not agree that Jews will lower their standards to BH pastrami. We have learned to live without many things in our history, pastrami can be added to the list. (And jfood will assume your Day-eh-nu reference is not a xenophobic assertion). But the great thing about America is that if there were a demand and a customer base to support a great Jewish deli in Chicago, it would be built, (please see references to Langers in SoCal for justification by jfood's left coast brethren).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    And to your travelling comment, 50 years ago you also needed to go to NYC for a great Pastrami sandwich. It was the 2nd and 3rd generation Jews who decided to move, not the delis.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    And to your point of Chinese sushi combos. Jfood couldn;t care less if a Chinese restaurant sells sushi or a Japanese restaurant sells Pho, as long as it is good. He is not a food bucketizer, he is a food enjoyer. The Chinese owner marries a Japanese person and they bring there heritage recipes to jfood's table, he is one happy dog. What could be better than enjoying great cuisines from two great nationalities at the same time. Heck if Katz's brings pastrami sandwiches to Morimoto's, jfood's taking up residence.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Nope jfood has not spoken Japanese to a chef at a "Japanese Steak House" since he does not like restaurant where food is played with like the elephants at Ringling Brothers. But who cares what language the chef speaks? So let jfood understand, if the food is great, the service is great the food is prepared to historical perfection, because the chef has a Vietnamese or American passport, you complain? Jfood thinks that's a bit bigoted. And are you also saying that only the Japanes have the DNA to learn the skills of Sushi preparation? Jfood hopes not.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    "I could care less what you set your standards to - *except* - when your lack of standards affects my ability to get great food." - Absolutely nowhere, no how has jfood made such a remark. You want a great Pastrami sandwich, go to Katz, great sushi, pick your place in NYC, LA, Tokyo and Dubai and go for it. Can't find it in Massachusetts? Move or travel. The "Butterfly Theory" does not hold true to food choices. How does a non-Japanese making sushi in a Chinese restaurant in Nebraska effect your ability to find pastrami in Boston? BTW - Jfood will not eat stuffed pizza outside Chicago (one Giordanos used to be in Milwaukee) won't eat hot dogs in most places and reserves Pastrami to you know where.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    And basic economics would dictate just the opposite to your conclusion on quality sushi. As people believe that your so-called McSushi (such a derogatory term) is the true essence of sushi, the demand for your higher quality will go down, therefore making it more available to the cusumer, like you who demands that subsection of the sushi spectrum. Likewise as the demand goes down, the price should follow, unless such sushi is a Geffen Good.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    And although jfood appreciates the thoughtfulness. please do not have concern for jfood on his eating habits. He is fully capable of finding good sushi when he desires, good pastrami when he desires and feels very comfortable in eating different cuisines together. And although jfood thinks your avatar is incredibly adorable it does give the appearance of Chicken Little when it is so small on the screen.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Ciao Apple and hopefully the Mods allow this to continue for a bit. Jfood thinks you are presenting some great points. He may not agree with them but he will defend your right to say them. That's part of the American way as well. :-))

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: jfood

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Thanks again. I do appreciate your writing - I think we all learn from it.


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      This makes no sense to me:
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      "As people believe that your so-called McSushi (such a derogatory term) is the true essence of sushi, the demand for your higher quality will go down, therefore making it more available to the cusumer, like you who demands that subsection of the sushi spectrum. Likewise as the demand goes down, the price should follow, unless such sushi is a Geffen Good."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Supply and demand dictates that as the demand goes down (for the real sushi - or anything else), so will supply. Price may drop initially, when there is over-supply, but eventually the market will correct itself and the supply will simply vanish.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      It's simply not fair that you live that close to NYC that you can go to the real Katz's as often as you please - maybe not as often as if you lived on Houston St., but certainly better than an Acela or shuttle ride down. There are no good deli's up here. The only good (home-made) pastrami in town serves it on mushy "pseudo-rye" or on a sweet portugeuse bun (Ghaak!).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      One thing you're absolutely right about is that I have brought things to the extremes for the sake of the dialectic. As Alanbarnes also pointed out, things are not that black and white. There is not good sushi and bad sushi - there are many buckets, some bad but almost good, some good but still pretty bad. What we have in Boston, other than O Ya, which is an example of the latest super-expensive, super-creative Sushi craze, are very few traditional, Japanese trained Itamae who run real Sushiyas. They have mostly converted to serving crazy rolls, salmon and yellowfin, leaving the carriage trade to go for O Ya (or Uni). The rest is Chinese restaurant... drek? Is that better? My friend in NYC, complaining of the lack of business is in the same boat. So we're not talking about the most expensive places, like Nobu or Morimoto, but the real great, traditional sushi places like Ushiwaka Maru. Nobu will survive along with the Chinese burb sushi (is burb sushi less offensive than McSushi?)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      But my point about having to go elsewhere for the best stuff stands even though there are shades of gray. The problem? No Japanese salarymen. Not much we can do about that. No demand by more Americans - a few will pay $500 for Nobu or $30 for burb sushi, but $100 for real but unadorned stuff? Not so much. We maybe can do something about that... maybe not.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      So ok - what's wrong with Americans liking [burb] [Mc] [mediocre] [Americanized] sushi? Nothing more than Americans liking chef boyardee instead of a fantastic Bolognese. Or mac'ncheese out of box instead of a real baked pasta casserole of incredible cheeses, bechamel and cream.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Yes, yes, we all eat the packaged and mediocre stuff. Is that worth discussing? The question really is, why not have the good stuff available to all Americans? On the one hand it makes sense that the best sushi is in Japan, the best Bolognese in Italy, the best Chocroutte in Alsace, etcetc. But we do have a global economy, we do have generations of immigrants, we do have a high standard of living (even if it's not the highest standard in the world). So why not bring on board the best products - and by the way - the learning and effort it takes to understand and appreciate what these best products are all about?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I'm glad you can send you family overseas, but I can't. Unfortunately, I grew up there - so I have a taste for the best and little tolerance for imitations. But the attitude, that I want the very best of something, extends to many things other than what I grew up with. Perhaps because I have had the best of something, I can appreciate that other folks have had the best of other things. Like people from the low country understand what whole pig q is about far better than us Yankees. (oooh - dreaded word) But that's why I thought you might understand the Pastrami analogy. If you can get Katz's quality in NJ or CT, good for you. I can't get it here in Boston.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      The argument that Chinese rest. sushi is actually plenty good is false on its face. It is inferior in every way, measurable by anyone interested in making even the simplest of comparisons. That's the same as saying that the can of Chef Boyardee is the same as the best Bolognese. It simply isn't true, no matter how you slice it into the old canard - we each have our own tastes. It's the very desire to improve those tastes that drive us to be on Chowhound. It's our ability to tell each other of the better products that you can find elsewhere that makes us listen to each other.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      In my mind, it is a culinary tragedy when better dishes succumb to the public morass of the lowest common denominator. It's what's happening to sushi today, believe it or not - part of the recession, to be sure, and that affects a lot more than just sushi. But nevertheless, it's a freakin' tragedy.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Americans voted overwhelmingly for the guy that had lived overseas, got rid of the provincial Texan. That speaks almost as much to me as that we voted in the Black guy (and got rid of the white bread Texan). Oh, and by the way, we voted in the Progressive "Socialist" and got rid of the Conservative "Ultra-capitalist". New days are here. He's even growing a White House vegetable garden. We should all move forward to the best quality we can get.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: applehome

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Hey A -

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Next Chapter:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1 - Basic Economis, usually Chapter 2 or 3 in the book, states that as demand goes down, price goes down to achieve equilibrium. If there is a subsequent and not a necessary decrease in supply then equilibrium will be achieved at a higher price. They are two mutually exclusive events.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        2 - "Burb suhi" - maybe not less offesive but definitely brought a smile to jfood.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        3 - Jfood would not equate burb sushi to chef bor-r-dee but that is probably a point of opinion versus fact. Jfood grew up on the latter and now keeps his own stash of Hazan in the freezer. Hey live and learn the proper technique at home as was jfood's point in one of his posts.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        4 - Just because one grows up overseas, or Texas or North Carolina, one develops tastes and opinions from learning. Jfood grew up on CBRDee, frozen Swanson's dinners and frozen breaded shrimp. But he decided that he was not going to spend his life eating this style. He loves great texas BBQ (used to bring Sonny Bryan's home with him) understands but does not like Memphis Q, and is learning to love the NC version (vinegar is becoming a favorite of jfood). But us Northerners can appreciate the beauty of smoked meat even though they never lived there. Likewise with some NOLA food jfood so loves these days. And jfood's comsumption of pastrami is down 98% over the last few years since he left NJ. :-(( And you are correct that there is no good pastrami in Boston but you do have some redeeming cuisine. :-)).
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        5 - Sushi in a Chinese restaurant is probably something jfood has nothing to say other that to agree to disagree, once again its a perception divergence and you probably have significant experience from growing up in Japan versus jfood in NJ.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        6 - If people think eating a cucumber roll is sushi, their choice. And jfood loves it that no one at his table usually likes unagi and anago, more for jfood. For the record jfood will not eat uni, so there is a great trade available.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        7 - The US voted for a candidate who has a black father and a white mother, jfood only wishes people would stop calling him an Afro-American (so if his mother was Japanese would he be the first Japanese President?). And yes jfood voted for him and hopes his policies get the US the hell back on track after that idiot. But he beat the guy from AZ and his side kick (about who jfood will reserve comment). Jfood does not think that any group wants to take W under their wing. BTW - and everyone should take this totally with a grain of cynical salt, jfood finds it funny he sent his wife home to tend the garden while he went to visit the troops.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Oh well, jfood just finished his last conf call, plans on some carbonara, some chocolate cake and get the eye round from ATK salted for tomorrow night going.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Ciao A.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: jfood

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          BTW, Sonny's is mediocre at best these days. They are a chain that is right about up there with Dickey's. They used to be the best, but not anymore.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        2. re: applehome

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          A journalist here at a French-language Montreal daily who happened to be on a flight with then Senator Obama said he was more impressed by the fact that Mr Obama was the only other person on the flight reading a book than the fact that he is Black or his cosmopolitan and multicolour family.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          So yes, I love jfood's postings, but as in real life passing encounters, would smile sweetly and not argue either about (unmitigated) capitalism or the definition of "America", though I'm sure the many kind US posters on this and other boards know that using America to refer to the US can stick in the maw of your neighbours north and south, who are, after all, just as much a part of the American continent(s).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I think the garden is a wonderful initiative. And no, not a snobbish one; there have been countless community gardens in very poor neighbourhoods throughout the USA and elsewhere in the world. They can be a powerful force not only for nutrition and joy in eating, but for people taking back their neighbourhoods and fighting fear and control by gangs. Teenagers are involved, but also lots of grannies and grandpas.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: lagatta

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I live in the U.S. and had always avoided referring to myself as "American." But I have talked to people from all over the world, including Canada and Mexico and Brazil and they all seem to think that "Americans" means people from the US. I don't understand it but I accept it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          2. re: applehome

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            What do you do with my sushi? It is good. I learned from my mother. My sushi rarely has sashimi.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          3. re: jfood

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Brother jfood - may I suggest a trip to Montreal to sample their smoked meat (try both Schwartz's and Dunn's - different styles but both are great), and then, if you can find the time, schlep to Toronto and find your way to the Monarch Tavern where you can sample Zane Caplansky's unique smoked meat (many posts on the Toronto board)? I love NY deli, even if it's from touristy places like Carnegie, Stage Door, or 7th Ave, and I think you'll appreciate our north of the border take on it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          4. re: applehome

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Why would you single out Americans for butchering foreign food? Sushi in the US is better than Mexican food in Japan. How good's the Korean food in Rome?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            The US is MUCH better at accepting foreign cuisines than most other countries out there. Your rant feels a bit misplaced.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: huaqiao

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Korea is a poor example, but I've had very good food from immigrant communities in Rome.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I certainly wouldn't single out US Americans, but many countries have accepted and transformed other cuisines. It is more interesting to look at how foods from certain groups have been integrated - and transformed - by a variety of host countries.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              After all (bit of peninsular pride here) isn't French haute cuisine in large part an acceptance and transformation of Italian cuisine? With input from its many regional cuisines and foreign influences, just as in Italy.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: huaqiao

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Thanks, huagiao. ITA!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                This obsession with denigrating US approaches to foreign food strikes me as the height of narcissism: it's designed to make the US the centre of all discourse (and the big bad if not the big good) and elevate the American hound who speaks.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                It is, for instance, hilarious for this poor sod located in the UK to hear about the Americanisation of Chinese food, when much of the stuff I find in my edge of the world is complete rubbish. (It is equally funny to hear the self-flagellating "only in America!" rant about unhealthy food-- come to the land Atkins forgot, which has battered and deep fried itself multiple times over.)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I would argue that we really need to start thinking in terms of region (the US is a massive landmass, as is Canada and diverse if only for that) and in terms of Urban/Rural.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                But really, one does tire of hearing how absolutely terrible the US is on all counts-- until it comes to TIPPING. Then somehow American hounds return to the supremacy of all things American. Perhaps a more balanced and informed discussion would be of use.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Lizard

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Well - like it or not, the cry for help from my Itamae friend is for real, and the difference in quality between what he serves, as a traditional Japanese dish, and what is served as sushi in Chinese restaurants is equally real. If there are worse versions elsewhere, that is not my concern (until I'm there...). The reality is this: With a bit of education and understanding, we, as chowhounds in the US can change our behavior and perhaps lead the way to prevent worse food from taking over everywhere. Unfortunately, that is simply not a worthy goal for most, even here, alas.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Somebody ealier said I was preaching to the choir. Perhaps. But it is indeed a sinful choir - eating chef boyardee instead of bolognese and maki rolls stuffed with cream cheese and smoked salmon instead of chewy mirugai or sweet awabi prepared by someone who knows the difference. Note that I said "instead of" and that's an important distinction, to me. Eating these "lesser" foods alongside the good stuff is normal - something we all have to do or end up doing for one reason or another. Eating them INSTEAD of the good stuff is simply not chowhoundish behavior. Anywhere, in the world.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  This thread was about being a stubborn purist. The real question is WHY? Why are you a stubborn purist about anything. Is it a core behavior learned in childhood? (I would think that's the case for many of us.) If so, is there anything you should do about it - i.e, should you change your core beliefs to be less stubborn? With regard to ethnic foods, as we become 2nd and 4rd generation Americans, should we allow everything our parents held dear to melt away into the pot?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I guess that most poeople here think we are all supposed to be happy eating Boar's head pastrami or no pastrami at all, except for the once a year trip to a place that has the real stuff. It's the reality, as is burtb sushi, so there it is - but me? I'm never going to be happy about it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: applehome

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I just don't buy your premise that lowest-common-denominator food is going to displace the good stuff. Yes, mass-market sushi and Italian food are more common than ever, but that's because tastes have changed. The same people who ate at mediocre suburban steakhouses in the past are now more "adventurous," so they eat at mediocre suburban Italian or Asian places. But the folks who have always sought out the good stuff will continue to do so, and their support will keep the good places in business.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    There's no doubt that there are currently fewer people (Japanese or otherwise) dining on expense account. And of course the owners of high-end restaurants aren't happy about it. But that situation is a reflection of the economy in general, not a wholesale abandonment of good food for mass market dreck.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    No matter where you go, rainbow rolls are going to be easier to find than saba-kazunoko. Just like it's easier to find spaghetti and meatballs than carcioffi alla giudia, or sweet and sour chicken than tea-smoked duck. But hounds will sniff out the good stuff. It's what we do. And given that Sacramento, California can support good traditional sushi, I'm not too worried about its fate in the bigger cities.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: applehome


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      just one more point.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Do you think that this lowest common denominator is some epiphany that has come to being recently. Jfood would postulate that there has been a wide range of food quality since Eve ate a red delicious versus a Fuji apple.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Jfood would also state that many MORE people in America are now enjoying great Bolognese and great Sushi and great Foie Gras than at any point in its history. Likewise with the advent of the internet people can find great cuisine to make at home, share great restaurants with visitors and enjoy both.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      How many non-Jews coming to NYC would know who to ask, or would want to ask about Katz? An American going to Tokyo, woud s/he have any chance of finding great sushi? Italy and great bolognese?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Jfood always like to view with a half full glass and views the expansion of information driving even better food for those who care. For someone who grew up with Chef Bor-R-Dee he would never have known bolognese from Ragu from a jar with some fried beef if it were not for Hazan.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      So instead of viewing the world as a sky is falling approach try to think of the pleasure so many more people are having with the introduction of sushi, bolognese and other great meals into the mainstream versus focussing so much on the McFood that you so dispise.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      It makes life a little more tolerable in these stressful times.


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: jfood

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Thanks, AB and J - these are good conclusions, whether I agree or not. I'm glad that these points of view are reflected here. But remember that it was Jim Leff's own posts, early on, that encouraged us to find the unusual and the best and to keep these businesses going by our patronage. The flip side is to patronize their competition, the common places, the chains, less, (and just about all Chinese restaurants are a chain). Lowest common denominator food is out there, whether it's new or not, and good places are going out of business, whatever the causes - it seems to me that in a recession it's just that much more important for those who can afford it to continue or even to increase their eating at the best (not necessarily the most expensive) places.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Speaking of Sacramento, I did a couple of TDY's while in the AF at McClellan and Mather - they supported our comms equipment. When I told my father I was going out there, he told me a story of his own from WWII days. He got stationed there as part of his signal corp training, and took a night job at a local deli - a sandwich stand. This is an orthodox kid from the Bronx, mind you. This stand got it's pork - mainly bacon and ham, from a local piggery that had an outstanding reputation (I have no idea if it still exists, I never found the deli in 1979). He now had access to all the delicious ham in the world, as they kept several whole joints in the walk-in at any given time. After about 6 months, he left for his next assignment, but had made a good local friend and years later even acquired some property with him in Elk Grove. But back to WWII - this friend told my pop that after he left, the deli owner figured out that he had gone back to profitability after losses for 6 months, which he had traced to the night shift! My pop said that he acquired his taste for incredible ham - which he had never had before - at this deli in sacto. I can't imagine how much he had to eat to make this place lose money (and still fit into his uniform), but he never found another ham that he liked as much. And this was a precursor to his spending a couple of years in Korea and more than 12 in Japan - eating his way through every little town he went to.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        This ham was like an epiphany, an awakening of the foodie within. It probably happened because of the years of palate suppression under orthodox rules of eating - boil it all, flavor is verboten.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        So yes, with the glass full I look forward to the awakening of the American palate. All those suppressed years under corporate food guidance, all those billions and billions of customers served in the McFood cosmos - they're all going to have a giant food epiphany. Then all the real sushiyas will be saved! I'll get pastrami in Boston!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      2. re: applehome

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Applehome. I understand that you want to help your itame friend but I think you are missing the point.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Those that eat sushi at chinese restaurants, korean restaurants, and your generic terriyaki chicken japanese restaurants aren't likely to appreciate the traditional offerings that your itame friend serves at his restaurant. Thus, they are not going to pay more for that higher quality. Those people will go and then wind up blogging about how expensive and how small the portions were at your friend's restaurant.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Your itame friend, if he's as traditional and legit as your paint him to be, is competing against other traditional itames. I think sushi preferrences are evolving towards the more tradtional and the prime example is here in LA. 8 years ago, the board consensus for top LA sushi was Sasabune (precut fish, hot rice, heavily sauced nigiri). Now we have more traditional itames such as Mori and Keizo. People are now starting to understand the difference between different grades of nori, that rice is at least as important as the fish in nigiri, and where and when they should be seeking out kan buri belly.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        It may be tough to hear, but your itame friend may just not be as good as his competitors in serving high quality traditional sushi. I'm not sure what the traditional sushi market is like where you live but history has shown us that people will go to great lengths to find high end traditional nigiri. Yasuda has done quite well in NY, Mori and Keizo have found a nitch in LA, and even in San Diego you have Kaito which has obtained a loyal following.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Trust me, the people that order poorly made $3 california rolls are not the same people asking for shirako, hoya, or kama toro.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Porthos

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I'd agree, in general, that the people who eat steaks at Outback are not your normal clientele at Peter Luger. But the crossover to Smith & Wollensky and Morton's is probably more significant. These folks have brought themselves to understand the quality of meat to the point that they can appreciate the difference and are willing (and able) to pay for it. It may not be an every day or even every week event, but the point is that the quality issues are understood and the market for the higher quality is well established.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          All you have to do is read the responses here to see that even chowhounds won't always do that for sushi (or more generically, for ethnic foods that they are not prepared to learn more about). The attitude is clearly, don't force your standards onto me - I am happy at Outback, or Chinese McSushi, or Smokey Bones, or Olive Garden - don't bother me about anything more complex or "supposedly better" - it isn't worth the money or the time to learn about it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          If that's the marketplace, then the battle is a difficult one, indeed. It may be that in the long run, the McSushi expansion will lead to more people looking for better grades of sushi - some people will seek to better their palates. But in the short run, the better places cannot attract and hold onto a clientele that simply isn't willing to consider the value of the better product.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I've eaten sushi all over the world over 55+ years, including during my first 10, growing up in Japan. I believe my tastes are pretty much refined enough, by now, to tell what's good and what's not. I've seen enough Itamae work with the best tools, with the most incredible technique developed over decades, and absolutely unique and highest quality incredible ingredients. I've had long talks over their technical and philosophical theories on some incredible minutiae regarding specific fish and preparations - the positions of certain bones requiring different cuts, etc., etc. All in Japanese, by the way, which I spoke before I spoke English. I think I can pretty much judge great sushi for myself, despite the fact that I am certainly still learning.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          This Itamae had a well known place in NYC during the 80's and most of the 90's, and was the favorite of huge crowds of Japanese salarymen in NYC. He moved out to the NYC burbs about 10 years ago (Westchester) and had been doing great - the biggest complaints he had were when he shut down his place for private parties - often for me and my friends and family. But he's having a harder time today. He still gets the knowledgeable clientele - but he's lost a lot of people who came to his place for sushi because it was a good place to go. Of course, it's the recession. But it's also the Chinese restaurants down the street opening up their "sushi bar", and the willingness of his clientele to not see the value of his work in order to save a few bucks eating crappy McSushi made and served by untrained generic Asians.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: applehome

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Not everyone is dedicated to bettering their palate or dedicated to seeking the most authentic and most delicious. Also, one must realize that not everyone can afford to do so. A delicious bowl of pho is one thing. High end sushi is another.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I know that none of Yasuda's fans would give up Yasuda for a "chinese restaurant sushi bar". It's not even a question because everyone that goes to Yasuda understands what Yasuda is about. I would argue that the business your friend is losing to the Chinese restaurant was only ordering sushi rolls at your friend's restaurant and didn't/wouldn't try your friend's finer offerings anyways. For those, there's no difference between a california rock n roll at your friend's place and one at the chinese restaurant. The clientele that your friend lost did not understand your friend's craft or were not taught by your friend the subtle differences of sushi. Again, that is not your friend's target audience.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            That said, your friend could be in a bad market where his clientel doesn't understand good sushi. Even Peter Luger would go out of business trying to sell steak in a vegetarian market. Have your friend move to SF. They are in dire need of a highly trained top end sushi chef.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Finally, the Chinese/sushi restaurant probably doesn't serve authentic Chinese cuisine either so you can also shed a tear for the legitimate Fuzhou restaurant that's gone out of business as a result. You can't blame the restaurant. It's the ignorance of the clientele that you need to change.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Porthos

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              And that last is exactly applehome's quest!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Porthos

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Yes - exactly as Sam said, my quest is to change the ignorance of the clientele, even here on Chowhound. As you say, I'm NOT blaming the restaurant.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                You bring up Yasuda and high-end sushi, but I'm not talking about that entire movement. I distinguished Morton's and S&W from Peter Luger to make that point. People who eat at Outback still see the periodic value of those higher grade (but not necessarily the absolute best) chains - there is a continuing market for that level of steakhouse. In the sushi world there is McSushi and there is Nobu - the middle ground of honest, experienced Itamae is being squeezed out, especially in this recession. I'd like to see more of a marketplace to support traditional, diverse, high-quality sushi made by well trained Itamae, without always going to the extreme of a high-end place. I'd like to see chowhounds that can afford it seeking out great sushi, prepared expertly, and understand that they don't have to drop $500 per person at Morimoto.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                It's true that my friend certainly wants to develop more clientele at my level than McSushi eaters. But as long as he was the main sushi game in town, many of the McSushi eaters ate at his place, and learned from him as they ate. He developed a following, and some of them are still there. But too many have left and no new clients are showing up. They're eating McSushi because it's cheaper and they can't tell or they can't afford the difference. This is enough of a shift that he can no longer get the neta he used to get. He has to be a lot pickier than he was with specials and he has had to lower his standards in certain ways.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                "Not everyone is dedicated to bettering their palate or dedicated to seeking the most authentic and most delicious." Then why are they on Chowhound, a site dedicated to precisely those things? Why wouldn't you or anyone else here encourage others to seek quality and tradition, and to train their palates and their tongues to appreciate the expert cuts, the most wonderful and unique ingredients - to learn to differentiate between butsugiri (rough cut) yellowtail and farmed salmon, and a perfectly sliced mebachi chu-toro.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: applehome

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  "Then why are they on Chowhound, a site dedicated to precisely those things?"

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I doubt your friend's lost clientele are here on CH. To play devil's advocate, it was your friend's job to educate his clientele and explain to them the difference between different cuts of fish, serving fish in season, properly cooled and seasoned rice, etc. That's why Yasuda has such a loyal following. He does that and after you learn, you cannot and will not go back to McSushi or even some place like Sasabune.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I am with you on the sushi crusade. Believe me. I've been banging my head against LA style omakase for about 5-6 years now. And now that people actually recognize that Sasabune isn't omakase or even good sushi I don't have to go on as many tirades. But I don't expect everyone to enjoy food and appreciate food from my point of view. Am I wrong to say that I preferred the pastrami at Second Ave (original) over the pastrami at Katz? I can make as many arguments based on flavor and texture as the Katz supporter. Who' is "correct" in the burgundy vs bordeaux argument?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Taste is an X factor and some people's tastes can't be changed by education or experience.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Even on CH, you have to find posters whose taste you most align with. And for those that want to learn and better their palate, those are the posters you take recommendations from and learn from.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Porthos

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I have taste. Everybody else has opinions.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      3. re: huaqiao

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Yes, you do NOT want to eat Mexican or Chinese in Colombia!!!