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Can you name foods and drinks where the original recipe has almost disappeared from mainstream restaurants?

There are foods and drinks that, due to cooks' (or restaurant owners') laziness or cheapness, have almost disappeared from mainstream restaurants at the expense of deliciousness. I find this very sad. Below are a few examples. Can you name some others?

1. Margaritas--It is almost impossible to find a Margarita on the menu in a restaurant bar that does not contain sweet and sour mix. This is not part of the original recipe and is included to reduce the cost of the drink because sweet and sour mix is cheaper than Cointreau, Grand Marnier, or even Triple Sec, as well as bottled/fresh lime juice. The laziness comes in the form of no need to squeeze fresh lime juice--just pour that sweet and sour from the bottle. When "top shelf" Margaritas started appearing about 15 years ago, I thought that would solve the problem. No way! Press your server or your bar tender and he/she will admit that even in the top shelf drinks, sweet and sour mix STILL makes an appearance.

2. Caesar salad--Today's Caesar salad is a mild ranch dressing-like bottled "Caesar" dressing over iceberg or romaine lettuce with some preshredded mild white cheese and prepackaged croutons on top. Garlic, worcestershire sauce, parmesan, egg, and even salt and pepper fail to make an appearance. In other words, anything with flavor has been eliminated. Don't get me started on the lack of anchovies which, I realize, is technically non-traditional if added whole, but still ought to be included, at least in the dressing (where anchovies are traditional). Again, including the ingredients I have listed above increases the price greatly, as well as the time necessary to make the dish, and who would want to sacrifice time and money for--uh--flavor?

What really bugs me about these modifications to traditional recipes is not that they exist but that they have crowded out a restaurant patron's ability to get the real thing.

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  1. +1.
    One time my husband made a big batch of margaritas- our 3-2-1 Tequila/lime/cointreau mix that we'd experimented with and decided on. His coworkers lo ved the taste and were pounding them down like they were the usual quasi-Mexican restaurant variety and several got sick. So from then on we made a note of informing people that they were about ten times as strong as the ones you usually get in restaurants.

    1 Reply
    1. re: EWSflash

      Just to clarify: Is it a 3-2-1 ratio? As in three parts tequila, two parts lime juice and one part cointreau?

    2. The limes were fresh, BTW :-)

      1. Housemade dressings (blue cheese, ranch, etc.) although most places will make their own vinaigrettes.
        Desserts bought from restaurant suppliers. These are usually cheesecake, molten lava cake,
        not to mention pies. I wouldn't mind, but I wish restaurants would find a GOOD bakery to get their desserts. I hate looking down and seeing my slice of pie oozing Comstock filling.

        5 Replies
        1. re: Michelly

          Funny, I used to make all dressings from scratch working in a restaurant which I almost never do at home. For Ranch we used chicken consomme (who knew?) and for blue cheese would put crumbled blue cheese in the oven just long enough for them to start glossing up and releasing the yummy oils into the dressing before adding it to the dressing. It was way better dressing but then again not something you would want to leave in your fridge for a month like the bottled stuff.

          1. re: Michelly

            Ugh, desserts from restaurant suppliers! The funny thing is, you often see these in display cases. When i see a whole cake sitting in a display case mechanically divided into 16 slices with a piece of paper in between each slice, it's like the KISS OF DEATH. I'll never understand why the owner wants to trumpet having ersatz desserts, when he could easily remove the paper.

            1. re: sbp

              But wouldn't a professionally baked cake, well chosen by the restaurant, be superior to a home made mediocrity, if baking is not the restaurant's forte?

              1. re: therealdoctorlew

                Yes, but a professionally baked, well chosen cake wouldn't be pre-sliced and "papered" by any reputable baker.

            2. re: Michelly

              Speaking of salad dressings, I haven't seen Creamy French (not like "real" French Vinaigrette) in years. The late LA restaurant Nickodell's had it. Okay, it's only ketchup, mayonnaise, etc. but I still miss having it in a restaurant.

            3. The Martini.

              16 Replies
              1. re: gordeaux

                i agree - martini...
                i cringe when a bartender asks "what kind?" or "vodka?"

                1. re: porker

                  There's only one kind.

                  1. re: Sue in Mt P

                    Sounds like you are a Prescriptivist.
                    http://www.rdwarf.com/users/mink/mart...

                    Probably most of the comments in this thread will be from Prescriptivists, people who are a certain that there is one correct way of preparing an item.

                    One strength of the Prescriptivist position is:
                    " Finally, there is the bracing sense of keeping the barbarian at the gate, of shielding a flickering flame of culture against the gusts of fad and fashion."

                    1. re: paulj

                      I am curious: if I get annoyed when I order Mashed Potatoes, and get Whipped Potatoes, does that make me a Prescriptivist?

                      I hate Whipped Potatoes.

                      1. re: DougRisk

                        There's a difference between having a preference (even a strongly held one), and insisting that there is only one correct way of preparing potatoes (or a Martini).

                        While I have my preferences on many items, I'm more of a Descriptivist when it comes to cooking terminology and names. I'm more interested in the history and range of use of a term or dish name than I am in defining its boundaries.

                        1. re: paulj

                          There are plenty of correct ways to prepare potatoes, and there are a huge variety of drinks that can be served in a cocktail glass. But Stouffer's Scalloped Potatoes aren't Pommes Anna. And a Martini is gin, vermouth, and an olive or a twist. Period.

                          Yes, I **am** a prescriptivist. And the barbarians **are** at the gates. Fortunately, the resurgence that classic drinks are seeing in geeky cocktail bars is making some headway into the mainstream.

                          1. re: alanbarnes

                            Well, then I guess I'm a prescriptivist too. If something deviates from the original recipe, it's an adaptation, and that should be noted. As they say, "don't feed me bs and tell me it's chocolate cake." I haven't any problems with adapted or revised recipes, but please: don't do me the insult of telling me it's the real deal when it's not.

                            1. re: mamachef

                              Don't feed me s*** and tell me it's peanut butter!

                              1. re: flavrmeistr

                                They treat me like a mushroom: feed me sh*t and keep me in the dark!

                      2. re: paulj

                        Agreed. There is one martini. Period.

                        Other drinks are merely served in martini glasses.

                        1. re: JudiAU

                          You've obviously never heard the joke, if there's only one, it's a martinus

                          1. re: JudiAU

                            Although if we want to go truly original, it should be made with Old Tom gin and sweet vermouth...

                            1. re: alanbarnes

                              <sigh>...people always look at me like I have three eyes when I suggest that this is how I REALLY like my martinis. :( With a dash of orange bitters too, please.

                              So does it make me a prescriptivist if I wish I could walk into a bar and ask for a simple cocktail like a daiquiri or a martini without having to specify a recipe?

                              1. re: Wahooty

                                Don't forget the maraschino liqueur! Originality has nothing to do with standardization. A martini as it currently is (or IMO should be) defined has nothing to do with the "original" recipe.

                                Arbitrary? Probably. But that's my story and I'm stickin' with it.

                      3. re: porker

                        As someone who worked as a bartender while in college at a restaurant with michelin stars, I can say most bartenders know what a traditional martini is. We ask because its not proper form to tell the customer they are wrong and that if its not gin its not a martini.

                      4. re: gordeaux

                        Any old style drink, the bartender either does not have the ingredients or needs to look it up. Old Fashioned. Rob Roy, Rusty Nail, Stinger, Manhattan, Side Car.

                        Try ordering a "Traditional Margarita Over Ice Not Frozen" and see how many times you get a frozen margarita.

                      5. I see the problems you cite as the indicia of a poor restaurant. Such places are also prone to make martinis with vodka, cook barbecue in an oven, and use the microwave. I'm sorry to hear that they are the mainstream anywhere.

                        1. Real New England clam or fish chowder. No flour please and what the hell was that rosemary in the chowdah in Bedega Bay Calif.??? The chowders we just had in California beared little resembalance to what we get in Maine.

                          28 Replies
                          1. re: Passadumkeg

                            Honest to gawd, Pdk. You know this! To eat Real New England clam chowder, Just Stay Home! Otherwise, you'll be getting New England STYLE clam chowder! It might be delicious; it might be one of the best you've had, but it will lack an indefinable something, and you will be the only one who knows it. And as far as the rosemary..I just don't know what to say. That was just plain WRONG and I hereby apologize for the gret stet of Cali. for inflicting suchlike upon you. : )

                            1. re: mamachef

                              Hey, the sour dough bread, Petroli soul and dungeness crabs were exellant. Now about that rain....

                            2. re: Passadumkeg

                              Is there any reason why chowder in California (or Washington) must be like that in Maine? New York is allowed to have its own style, why not the west coast?

                              1. re: paulj

                                Tradition. Why do you think they call it New England "style"? White chowder is the "official" soup of Connecticut. Try eating an enchilada in Maine and maybe you'll understand.
                                Manhattan, Italian clam soup, given the name chowder by a bunch of wealth WASPS to make it more respectable.
                                Yes sir, give me some California style sour dough bread w/ rye flour and caraway seeds, please.

                                ps Look at the title of the thread.

                                1. re: Passadumkeg

                                  Manhattan chowder was started in Conn.. The style of the day was to blame it on NY. I do prefer it to the fat soaked library paste flour thickened New England Style. Non flour type creamy is delicious.

                                  1. re: phantomdoc

                                    What do people have against a Béchamel?

                                    1. re: paulj

                                      I don't want a bechamel in my red chile either. Bechamel has its place, but true New England chowder, it ain't in chowder.
                                      In Maine, I've been teaching lobstermen and their families, bechamel just isn't part of the chowder culture of rural Maine.

                                    2. re: phantomdoc

                                      RI has all 3 types; white, red and gray (no milk).

                                      1. re: Passadumkeg

                                        boy do i miss being able to get authentic RI chowder! ( the grey, unthickened kind). i live in southern california now, and the grey chowder is nowhere to be found.

                                        1. re: westsidegal

                                          If the USA operated like the EU, each state would have its own protected version of chowder. A California restaurant could warm and serve a frozen soup made in RI, but not make it from scratch!

                                2. re: Passadumkeg

                                  Is this the sort of Bodega Bay chowder that you don't like?

                                  http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/322195

                                  What do you think of the claim that chowder should be thickened with 'biscuit' (hardtack or pilot bread)?

                                  http://whatscookingamerica.net/Histor...

                                  1. re: Passadumkeg

                                    The recipes that I find online for well known Boston restaurants like Durgin Park and Union Oyster House include a flour roux. Are the recipes wrong, or is that Boston style wrong?

                                    1. re: paulj

                                      The roux base is a modern restaurant iteration. Roux thickened soups hold better over time. The original recipe was only thickened with milk, a bit of cream, and the starch from the potatoes. If you tried to keep it hot for any great length of time, it would probably curdle.

                                      1. re: sablemerle

                                        Paul, honestly, they are tourist joints or I don't know any better, or take my money places.
                                        Flour in chowder in downeast Maine will rate you a T&F rail trip out of town.
                                        You got it sable!

                                        1. re: Passadumkeg

                                          Was that true Maine style ever prevalent in mainstream restaurants (see subject line). Something can't 'almost disappear' if it wasn't there in the first place.

                                          Maybe the subject should be changed to: things that aren't prepared like I think they should.

                                          1. re: paulj

                                            Yes! Come visit Maine! I'll take your out for a $ 7.95 lobster dinner and lots of wicked good chowdah; Rhodie Island on up!

                                            1. re: Passadumkeg

                                              aren't you in New Mexico?

                                              How about a green chile clam chowder thickened with masa?

                                              1. re: paulj

                                                Back in Maine 6/2! Come visit.
                                                Made a big pot of pollacjk chowder for my dear Yankee last week.

                                                1. re: Passadumkeg

                                                  What time?

                                      2. re: paulj

                                        There's an age-old controversy in Boston about milky chowder vs roux-based chowder.

                                        Less controversial is that the two places you cite serve pretty bad food, so I'd not consider them a bellweather on chowder-making (nor anything else, save indian pudding).

                                        One foremost authority on Boston Chowder is Jasper White. He does not use roux, but rather thickens his chowder with smashed potato and adds cream.

                                        1. re: C. Hamster

                                          Learning about variations and controversies like this is part of why I take a Descriptivist stance. I like learning and digging into the history and background dishes.

                                          The earliest recipes for chowder in New England did not have potatoes. Instead the stew/soup was built up of layers of onion, fish and biscuit (hardtack). That fits with something I learned in the shepherds/cottage pie thread - that potatoes didn't become popular in Europe and the USA until the late 18th and early 19th c.

                                          Even without mashing potatoes can contribute starch to thicken a soup; baking ones more so than the waxy reds. Some Spanish cooks claim that cracking potatoes rather than cutting them releases more starch into the soup (Basque Porrusalda).

                                          1. re: C. Hamster

                                            There's a chowder cookoff on the dock up in Newport, RI every year. You go around and taste chowder from restaurants from all over the US and beyond. I seem to recall that there were some from Britain as well. We were there many years ago and I think the admission was $5 which paid for all the samples you could get plus drinks (it was sponsored by Schweppes that year) which came out to a cheap lunch in Newport at the time. I just checked and the fee has gone up to $25 for 2011. But you will get to taste some really excellent seafood and clam chowder, and very little of it will be gloppy with flour as is so commonly served in restaurants as NE chowder.

                                            1. re: junescook

                                              Stiff gloppy chowder is gross. But places here still advertise that a spoon stands straight up ... as if that were a *good* thing

                                              1. re: C. Hamster

                                                Interesting. I was a sous chef at a steakhouse and was responsible for making the soups daily. I had usually made the thin version as I felt it was more authentic but one day the owner told me I needed to make it thicker. Grudgingly, I made it thicker (with a roux) the next time I made it and made a little of the thin style too. I took a poll from staff and a few of the regular customers and the vast majority preferred the thicker version. At that point I kind of decided that "traditional" does not always mean "the best" to most people. I guess I am the same way- I don't really care about tradition if the dish can be improved in some way. I'll take flavor any day of the week over tradition.

                                                1. re: LorenM

                                                  Where was this? I'm just curious...last year I had an excellent very traditional New England one in, of all places, California. the cook was very proud of having it thinner and it was damn good. I asked if there had been riots becuase it wasn;t Elmer's Glue and he said "not yet."

                                                  1. re: hazelhurst

                                                    Middle of the country- Denver. Mostly non-natives live here so tastes seem to be pretty all over the board as far as regionality is concerned. Granted I ddn't make the thick version as thick as Elmers glue (like the Chunky Soup gunk) but thicker than the traditional 50/50 milk and heavy cream I used before. (it also has butter and clam juice). I think they both had their merits but the consensus was definitely thicker.

                                                    1. re: LorenM

                                                      Funny how the OP omitted customer preference as a reason for deviating from some idealized original. But maybe the opinions of the ignorant masses don't count!

                                            2. re: C. Hamster

                                              Smashed? Mashed? or whipped?

                                        2. The lack of anchovies in a caesar salad is a problem... I guess too many people asked for a caesar sans anchovies.

                                          Also, any kind of chicken or meat, if the chef is unsure of himself, will not only come cooked through but over-cooked just to be sure that nobody can claim they ate raw chicken.

                                          3 Replies
                                          1. re: GraydonCarter

                                            Actually I never order that salad because the anchovy flavoring is overwhelming (because it's not a taste that's subtle and I find it gross).

                                            Anchovies are NOT a traditional part of the dressing. Anchovies are present in the Worcestershire sauce, which IS a traditional part of the dressing. That's the only place anchovies need to be.

                                            1. re: Avalondaughter

                                              Anchovies have been a traditional element of the dressing itself in small amounts for a very long time. Anchovies topping the salad, not so much.

                                              1. re: C. Hamster

                                                The original did not have anchovies, period. It was Worcestershire sauce.

                                          2. I think it may depend upon where you live. It's not especially difficult to find a Maggie with fresh lime juice and no sweet & sour where I live. And tableside Caesar made from scratch, while endangered, isn't dead.

                                            I also think your question might better be qualified by specifying "in the U.S." Both of your examples are widely available in Mexico made the original way. In fact, the Hotel Caesar in Tijuana was recently renovated and one of the centerpiece dishes is the original Caesar Salad made according to the original recipe, anchovies and all.

                                            10 Replies
                                            1. re: DiningDiva

                                              Do you have a reference for the recipe used a Hotel Caesar (original or current)? What I'm seeing in the Wiki article is the use of Worcestershire, not anchovies. Obviously Wiki may be wrong, and if so it should be corrected. But a correction requires substantiation.

                                              How about the raw egg?

                                              A problem underlying most of the examples in this thread is, "what is the original?" Often people claim such and such snapshot in time and space is the 'original'. But the history is usually more complicated.

                                              1. re: paulj

                                                Well, since we've all learned that Julia Can Do No Wrong, maybe we can rely on her. In one of her books ("The Way to Cook" I think) she reported she'd found Caesar's daughter and that the Oracle said no anchovy (but yes to Lea & Perrins). I'm afraid I'd have to put a cup of L&P in to vaguely taste anchovy in the whole salad, though. And I love anchovy.

                                                1. re: hazelhurst

                                                  I wonder when anchovies replaced L&P. Maybe when some upscale restaurant in SD adopted the dish?

                                                  1. re: paulj

                                                    Dunno..there were no anchovies in the ones I saw in New York in the 1960's (They heyday of the tableside show)...but the argument was raging even then. I had one at teh Penrose Room in Colorado Springs a few years ago and the server who made it was clearly prepared to jump either way. She had a speil about the inception that was an amalgam of everything I ever hear.

                                                  2. re: hazelhurst

                                                    In another of her books (Julia and Jacques Cooking at Home) she remembered having the salad made by Caesar Ciardini himself -- and by adding anchovies she said you adulterate it.

                                                    1. re: jmckee

                                                      I had an uncle Julian who remembered the salad made by Caesar himself - Julius. He said they were having dinner at Marcus Cicero's place when Julius and Gnaeus Magnus started arguing and throwing food at each other. Some anchovies ended up in the salad. Marcus (who apparently always spoke too much when drinking unwatered wine) ate the salad later that night and saw the genius of Caesar's "anchovy" salad.

                                                      1. re: porker

                                                        Funnily a lot of professional chefs no escew both the anchovy and the Lea and Perrins in favor of a truly Roman thing, garum (though technically, I suppose Garum Coloratura is about as close to true Roman Garum as a modern mashmallow is to the ancient product that actually had Marsh Mallow in it.)

                                                      2. re: jmckee

                                                        Best Caesar I have ever had in my life is at Bern's steakhouse (Hyde Park, Tampa). Tableside preparation and it's incredibly. Transports you back to the early 80's when many fine restaurants would make this tableside.

                                                        1. re: rruoti

                                                          Love Bern's.

                                                    2. re: paulj

                                                      The Hotel Caesar is in Tijuana where there are no laws against using raw (or coddled) eggs in a caesar salad.

                                                      I may have misspoken about the anchovies. But this article might provide some insight on the authenticity - http://www.ediblecommunities.com/sand...

                                                  3. Mashed potatoes.

                                                    Now its either instant, skin on "smashed", or garlic. Or even all 3.

                                                    Peel the spuds, boil them in salted water, add butter, milk and a little more salt. You can even add sour cream if you must. What's so hard about that?

                                                    17 Replies
                                                    1. re: chileheadmike

                                                      I think some dishes, such as mashed potatoes, are like fashions: they're in vogue, then they become outdated or old-fashioned. In today out tomorrow And like other trends, they'll make a comeback - everything old is new again sooner or later.

                                                      1. re: chileheadmike

                                                        What you describe is easy for the home cook, but can have a few problems for a restaurant:
                                                        - peeling potatoes requires labor. Recall all the military humor about KP duty peeling potatoes.
                                                        - they don't appeal to everyone. Some want the extra smoothness of instant. Others like the contrasting textures of smashed or skins on (my preference), or the added taste of garlic.

                                                        1. re: paulj

                                                          I think a lot of it really boils down to what the restaurant is trying to do - at Denny's, I fully expect dehydrated potatoes; at privately-owned local restos, I don't. If you pull up to a restaurant and see a Sysco truck outside, and fresh-mashed is what you're craving, my advice is to turn around and go elsewhere.

                                                          1. re: mamachef

                                                            I constantly hear Sysco equated with poor quality. They can, and do, deliver fresh meats, produce, seafood etc. Yes, many of their customers only ordered pre-made, frozen or dried products, but really, you shouldn't paint all restaurants that order from Sysco with the same brush. In many parts of the US and Canada, Sysco or their equivalent is the only choice that will deliver, and if you are an independant restaurant, you do not have the time to go and pick up.

                                                            1. re: golfer1

                                                              Many restaurants order from Sysco and other wholesalers, they also have cookware, flatware, silverware, sacks of rice, flour and other heavy items that can be delivered without the owner going to the cash and carry. I agree with golfer1, the wholesalers are not all about premade foods.

                                                              1. re: smartie

                                                                They also deliver cleaning supplies. My Mom used to get shower cleaner from Sysco, when she worked at a retirement facility.

                                                              2. re: golfer1

                                                                I know that my sysco, and US foods reps can get local produce, and local organic produce, and organic produce, and they do that very well, at competitive pricing. So sysco is not all bad....

                                                                1. re: golfer1

                                                                  Totally. Even the finest restaurants that would never dream of using pre-made entrees still need to order pantry basics and cleaning products. The sight of a Sysco truck is not a sign of poor quality.

                                                                  1. re: golfer1

                                                                    I worked the bar in a restaurant with a michelin star and a james beard award winning chef when I was in college. We got deliveries from the sysco truck regularly. Just because you see it somewhere doesnt mean they serve pre packaged crap.

                                                                2. re: paulj

                                                                  Another point is that..... how can I put this, really really traditional mashed potatoes are often a calorie load. A lot of that pre frozen, pre mashed stuff gets in becuse it also allows the resto to cut down on the cream and the butter, keeping thier costs down and (in those places where the calorie contents are placed on the menus, stopping people from getting heart attacks just looking at the menu. The Escoffier recipie for mousse du pomme de terre is about 25% cream and butter by mass, and in it's day was often snubbed for not being fatty enough (back then a lot of resto's like the mashed potatoes to be at least 50% butter and cream, most good ones strove for 75% (which sounds to me like it would be more along the lines of potato flavored melted butter).
                                                                  I know I'm treading on really, really thin ice trying to mention non-western foods (as a lot of people could and would say that NO version of them a westerner would have ever tasted here would be authentic) but from what I understand, actual, factual orginal version Sour and Peppery Soup (aka Hot and Sour Soup) is supposed to have chicken blood in it.

                                                                  1. re: jumpingmonk

                                                                    Yes indeedy, jumpingmonk. Or duck blood, if it's fancy. It is gelled and is cut into strips about 2" long by 1/4" crossection. It;s about the consistency of a soft tofu and has a very mild very slightly metallic flavor.
                                                                    I'd LOVE to get my hands on a bowl of proper hot and sour soup made this way.

                                                                    1. re: buttertart

                                                                      Actually I've had duck blood, just not in hot and sour soup (The one time I had it I had is stir fried with ginger and yellow chives) I didn't think it was bad, but it wasn't something I fell in love with, either. But at least I can put in onto the list of "things I have actually tried) like the time I had the tortoise soup.
                                                                      BTW from one chinese food lover to another, maybe you could shed some light on this iteration of the question, a case where I'm fairly sure that the recipie has been adapted, but have NO IDEA what the orginal would be. One of the Chinese dishes I really really love is Xiamen/Ha Moon Chow mai fun. In every version of this dish I have ever eaten one of the meat ingredients appears to be strips of deli type boiled ham/spam. As I am fairly sure that this is not an ingredient indigenous to China (at least not during the time when the dish was presumably invented in Xiamen (it is older than 50 or so years, right and so would pre-date the post WWII spam proliferation?). So what on earth was there originally, that was similar to boiled ham. It can't be roast pork, that's there anyway, I'd say Chinese/Yunnan style ham or even the fine hams of Chin-Hwa (even though these are much more country hams al la prosciutto crudo or spanish jamon) but given the fact that it's practically basic fare in Chinatowns (where Chinese style ham is fairly available) if it was, youd think someone (maybe one of the higher ticket resturants would do it the "old way").
                                                                      Other dishes might fit the bill by a case where the substitution is done because the original ingredient is somewhat dangerous. For example a lot of Thai and South East Asian dishes make copius use of pulverized macadamia nuts, on the grounds that the authentic candlenuts are in fact mildly toxic in substantial quantities. Or anyone trying to re-create a Roman recpie using silphium would have to substitute, as silphium is extinct.

                                                                      1. re: jumpingmonk

                                                                        Maybe trickle-up (way up) from Brits in Hong Kong? 50 years ago was 1961 as much as it pains me to think about it, so perhaps it is part of the post WWII canned food proliferation.

                                                                        1. re: buttertart

                                                                          That would make sense if the first dish of Xiamen was indeed made post WWII, but I tend to assume it's older, say pre 1900. Though a British influence would explain why the same ham is in Tai Pang mai fun which certainly is Hong Kong in orgin.
                                                                          To muddle the issue further there seems a little disagreement as to what Ha Moon mai fun actually is. I always though of it as basically being like ten Ingrediants, minus the beef and plus ham and pickled vegetables. But in some areas it appears to denote a mai fun with a light sweet and sour tomato based sauce. (which goes a long way to explains a lot of confusion in cases where Ive expected the first and got the second). For a comparison of the two one can go to J.M. Family Noodle (or Noodle King I cant remeber which is the current name) and compare the Xiamen to the Chao Cha Chao mai fun, one is with the tomato sauce one isn't (though they seem to have no consensus on which gets which).

                                                                          1. re: jumpingmonk

                                                                            It would be good if scoopG were to chime in here. Since Ha Moon is just Xiamen I would think it could be just about anything a Xiamen cook might concoct?* I'm not terrifically familiar with Fujianese food and am not a big noodle eater, sorry.
                                                                            *or quite possibly not, if it's along the lines of Tainan danzi mian - from the other side of the strait - which has a standard list of ingredients...

                                                                        2. re: jumpingmonk

                                                                          The H&S soup in Taiwan has duck's blood in it, and is quite good. I really like the blood and rice cakes, but am not so thrilled about big chunks of congealed, cooked blood.

                                                                          1. re: tastesgoodwhatisit

                                                                            It's good in the soup but I wouldn't like it as a dish with leeks or rice cakes, I don't think.
                                                                            Was eating the Sichuan dish chang wang (intestines in spicy sauce) in Taipei and asked my companions if the blood in it was chicken blood. They said oh no, it's duck blood, much finer. (Nothing like a nice big dish of blood and guts.)

                                                                3. french toast. if it's not made with hardtack... ;-)
                                                                  Hell, any recipe requiring truly stale bread.

                                                                  And ol-fashioned cornbread.

                                                                  13 Replies
                                                                  1. re: Chowrin

                                                                    I've heard of south cornbread, and a northern style, but not ol-fashioned. How old do you want to go? to the days before baking powder?

                                                                    1. re: paulj

                                                                      talkin cherokee style. no egg, more cornmeal than flour, little or no sugar. Baking powder's native to America, ya know? (but I don't know if it got to the Appalachians).

                                                                      1. re: paulj

                                                                        This is a question that always floats to my mind when the whole Prescriptivist vs. Descriptivist debate comes up here on CH (which is about every other day, it seems). The Prescriptivist camp feels that a certain label can only be applied to a "traditional" or "authentic" recipe - but how far back in the tradition do we have to go? Humans have been preparing meals for themselves for thousands of years, and the methods and ingredients used have been subject to near-constant evolution, due to countless factors - migration, ingredient availability, personal and cultural preference, etc. It seems to me that picking one particular place and time's version of a dish - Escoffier, Julia Child, whatever - can't be anything other than arbitrary. There's always an older version, and there's always a regional variation.

                                                                        But to each their own, of course. Only slightly OT, anyone really interested in the whole Prescriptivist/Descriptivist thing should see David Foster Wallace's essay on the subject, which was collected in Consider the Lobster but can also be found here (http://instruct.westvalley.edu/lafave... ). It definitely changed the way I think about language - not to mention the way I see the ever-present There-Is-Only-One-Carbonara debate here on CH.

                                                                        1. re: darklyglimmer

                                                                          Dead link. Chow's not smart enough to strip the punctuation following the web address. If you see this while your post can still be edited, just insert a space before the period.

                                                                          1. re: alanbarnes

                                                                            Thanks, alanbarnes. I hope that fixed it.

                                                                            In case it didn't: the essay was called "Tense Present" when originally published in Harper's Magazine, and the slightly less catchy "Authority in American Usage" when collected in Consider the Lobster. A google search will turn it up.

                                                                          2. re: darklyglimmer

                                                                            I'm all for innovation, but sometimes you just can't beat the genuine article. How can you improve on Peking Duck, for instance, which has been around for over 3,000 years? Or the original Martini? To f*** with perfection is to embrace the sin of mediocrity.

                                                                            1. re: flavrmeistr

                                                                              I believe evidence of Peking duck dates to the Yuan (1280-1368) at the earliest, not 3000 years ago. I'm sure people ate duck in China well before this of course. As I understand it, it was first prepared in the Nanjing area and the big duck restaurants were established in Beijing by people fleeing the Taiping Rebellion (1850-1864) during the Qing dynasty.

                                                                              1. re: flavrmeistr

                                                                                My question still kind of stands, though, Flavrmeistr. With Peking duck, going from Buttertart's (very impressive, btw) history on the dish, and using the most conservative of her dates - would the Peking duck enjoyed by a diner in 1864 bear much resemblance to the one you consider perfection? Would the one from 1280? Out of the close to 1,000 years of Peking duck's history, which version are you going to call the genuine article? All I'm saying is this: I think it's wonderful that you've found a version of Peking duck or a particular martini formula that you find so superlative that you need seek no further, but I don't think that necessarily makes everything else mediocre.

                                                                                Anyway, I mostly just wanted to point people toward the DFW essay. It made me think nonstop of CH as I read it, and I still think of it every time a topic like this comes up.

                                                                                Edited to fix a stupid typo that I should have caught the first time.

                                                                                1. re: darklyglimmer

                                                                                  Not as far as I'm concerned. That's all I'm saying.

                                                                                  1. re: darklyglimmer

                                                                                    OT but it's a damn shame DFW is no longer with us. Such a tragedy and loss.

                                                                                    1. re: buttertart

                                                                                      Loved his stuff. Truly a shame and a loss.

                                                                            2. re: Chowrin

                                                                              Do you mean cornbread with no added sweetener? And no cheese/bacon/other add in?

                                                                              1. re: jeanmarieok

                                                                                Yup.

                                                                            3. kung pao chicken (stateside only).

                                                                              1. Cobb Salad, with watercress and endive.

                                                                                1. What passes for nachos is an affront to gulls that scavange landfills.

                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                  1. re: Veggo

                                                                                    What?!?!? You don't like plastic neon yellow/orange cheese product with semi-stale chips with Pace Picante and frozen Calavo guac? I'm shocked, shocked I tell you ;-D

                                                                                    (please, everyone, e-forums are a flat medium, so that noone misunderstandsmy tongue is very firmly in my cheek)

                                                                                  2. Real onion rings. I used to be able to get hand battered onion rings, with that super crunchy, thin cornmeal batter that flakes off like a delicate cornflakes. I LOVE onion rings, but now I never order them because all I get served are pre-frozen sweet gummy donuts with a thread of onion that slides out with the first bite.

                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                    1. re: la2tokyo

                                                                                      Oh, this is so true! And they really aren't that hard or complicated to make. I detest frozen overly battered o-rings!

                                                                                    2. mai tai

                                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                                      1. re: Dapuma

                                                                                        boo hoo

                                                                                        I love a good mai tai

                                                                                      2. Lobster Thermidor...it's amazing how many places use parmesan cheese on this French Dish which is authentically made with Gruyere

                                                                                        4 Replies
                                                                                        1. re: bagelman01

                                                                                          The earliest English translation of The New Larousse Gastronomique uses Parmesan in this dish, not Gruyere. Louis Diat (french Ritz-Carlton chef) has 'paramesan or dry Swiss'.

                                                                                          1. re: bagelman01

                                                                                            Um, no.

                                                                                            The dish was created by Tony Girod, the chef at Cafe de Paris, in the 1890s. He gave the recipe to Prosper Montagne, who published it in Larousse Gastronomique. It calls for Parmesan cheese.

                                                                                            1. re: alanbarnes

                                                                                              Could the Gruyere be an attempt to make the dish more French than the original?

                                                                                              1. re: paulj

                                                                                                Paul,
                                                                                                Your posts are interesting to me. You seem to be quite fastidious about making sure people are not fastidious.

                                                                                                Fascinating.

                                                                                          2. Oh yes, tons of stuff disappearing or fading away from the Cantonese landscape

                                                                                            Some 20+ years ago, the ha gow (shrimp dumpling) in dim sum used to be made with freshwater shrimp (live), and made to such a standard where the juices in the shrimp would ooze out, literally an explosion of flavors in the mouth. Many places in Hong Kong now outsource shrimp from Vietnam (frozen), to keep costs down and also to operate on a level of efficiency (fast execution, delivery, and "steamed to order" style). There are a few exceptions where you can still get a quality ha gow, but you may end up paying more for it.

                                                                                            The traditional Cantonese sweet and sour pork dish is absolutely nothing like the Chinese American version (thickened with cornstarch). There are maybe 2 to 3 places in Hong Kong tops that do it the old school way, one of which uses dried and fresh hawthorns to create that natural sweet and sour flavor. Some places use ketchup and vinegar and/or sugar to call it a day, some use fusion (strawberry), but in the end it is not classical S&S pork.

                                                                                            The Hong Kong egg puff (eggettes) snack, which is essentially a waffle/pancake matter mix put into a cast iron grill to form a honeycomb shape (crispy outside, soft interior)... while I cannot attest to whether the new schooler vendor snacks do it better or not with electric grill, the original way of doing it came from those unlicensed vendor push carts, where it was heated by charcoal. While that took a lot longer to make, it did result in a much better product. Pretty much has nothing to do with the vendors wanting it that way for the taste and texture from a foodie standpoint, but more out of practicality.

                                                                                            Cantonese BBQ, like BBQ pork (cha siu).... or even claypot rice, or even really old school crispy skin suckling pig.... The traditional way is charcoal grill. Mostly banned in many kitchens due to ventilation and pollution (and other regulations), but there are a few places that are still licensed and OK'd to do so (but very rare).

                                                                                            And last but not least.... won ton noodle soup (not won ton soup). There seems to be the thought amongst purists that no place ever nails down the three components altogether, even in Hong Kong (broth, noodles, dumplings)...despite how simple and seemingly easy to do. 2 out of 3 nailed ain't bad already for the most part. There seems to be extra points awarded amongst bloggers these days that the dumplings must have excess skin dangling out (like a goldfish tail), at least for visual effect, for it to be more authentic.

                                                                                            I would imagine, like any other cuisine out there, that many great dishes are being phased out or substituted, either due to lack of interest, health reasons, being more labor, time intensive and costly to make, lack of popularity (subjective) or to catch up to what others are doing.

                                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                                            1. re: K K

                                                                                              "Cantonese BBQ, like BBQ pork (cha siu).... or even claypot rice, or even really old school crispy skin suckling pig.... The traditional way is charcoal grill. Mostly banned in many kitchens due to ventilation and pollution (and other regulations), but there are a few places that are still licensed and OK'd to do so (but very rare)."

                                                                                              One of the reasons I love the little Jerky place on Canal and Allen so much; they still DO use charcoal (or at least still use a grill capable of leaving a char on the jerkey)

                                                                                            2. I don't believe that the OP was bearing the standard of authenticity so much as trying to hold some ground against undue bastardization. Indeed, the “prescriptivism” discussion, albeit interesting, seems to be somewhat off point. We started with an attempt to note that it is important to maintain some sense of the traditional standard of certain items. Not so much that there is one and only way, but that there must be some basic parameters agreed upon for anything to have any semblance of objective meaning.

                                                                                              I submit that tossing lettuce leaves in Hellman’s mayonnaise and calling it a Caesar salad does not make it a Caesar salad. Similarly, something will be lost if we begin to accept ketchup on noodles made with bleached flour as spaghetti ala marinara. Feel free to ascribe labels to me for such a notion – traditionalist, historian, preservationist. Nevertheless, I cannot escape the notion that there is merit to the idea that, if definitions may evolve, we are permitted to limit and shape that evolution.

                                                                                              5 Replies
                                                                                              1. re: MGZ

                                                                                                Right.

                                                                                                We know that some recipes/dishes/cocktails/etc. have a real origin with a fairly specific recipe. And, they were given a name. This does not mean that you can not look to do variations on a theme, but do not try to pass it off as the original.

                                                                                                This is especially important when you have really gone off the reservation. I recently saw an episode of Ramsay's Best Restaurant (in Britain) where 2 young, talented chefs served there guests a risotto.

                                                                                                Well, the risotto 1.) Did not have any rice in it, 2.) did have Yogurt in it and 3.) was cold. What was really interesting about this was that the diners all said that they might have really enjoyed it had they known what they were getting. But, since they were looking forward to getting a warm rice-based dish, they were put off by it.

                                                                                                And I don't think they would have called themselves Prescriptivists.

                                                                                                1. re: DougRisk

                                                                                                  You don't have to be Prescriptivist to understand this case. From a descriptive point of view, this was a failure to communicate. The cooks were using 'risotto' in a way that did not match the customer's understanding.

                                                                                                  The same could happen if the cook tried to make an authentic Maine style chowder, and the customers expected a thick bechamel with clams and potatoes. I imagine it is hard to educate your customer base to appreciate the authentic version.

                                                                                                  1. re: DougRisk

                                                                                                    ...wait, no rice? Wow, what was used, orzo pasta? Now I'm curious! Maybe it looked like rice...? Honestly, I have no idea what that could have been or why it would be called risotto without any rice in it. Oh, maybe it was potato that had been "riced"? hah...no, I'm just clueless here.

                                                                                                  2. re: MGZ

                                                                                                    Excellently put, MGZ.

                                                                                                    1. re: MGZ

                                                                                                      Well put, MGZ. As the OP himself, I can certify that what you said is exactly what I meant, expressed, perhaps, more clearly than I could have said it myself! Thanks.

                                                                                                    2. Hmm, I'm not sure I can think of anything not already posted. I did have my very first "real" (real is my definition of real, I don't actually know any history about it) blue cheese dressing when I was little, maybe 6, 7 or 8 years old.

                                                                                                      'Til then, I'd only been exposed to the "roquefort" dressing at Bob's big boy. Oh, man, I loved that stuff with the giant chunks of cracked pepper. That was saying a lot since even as a kid I didn't like dressing on my salads.

                                                                                                      Then, at one of my still-favourite restaurants, Anna's Trattoria in L. A., I had salad with blue cheese dressing. I expected roquefort-style taste and visual but was entertained by the little crumbles of real blue cheese and the sparkling olive oil and vinegar. Best. Salad. Ever.

                                                                                                      I have never been the same. NO blue cheese dressing can compare and if anyone claims their dressing is "real blue cheese" dressing, I know it is just "better than mayo" but not what I would describe as "real."

                                                                                                      Hmm, that is all I've got.

                                                                                                      Almost forgot...on the Ceasar salad dressing, or even the salad on a whole, I'd never even had one until I was in my twenties. It was real, and it was made fresh. There was the heart of a romaine, a real dressing with egg, lemon, itty bitty salty fish blended in (they asked me first if they could add anchovies, naturally, I said YES) and it was beyond wonderful.

                                                                                                      I'd only bothered trying a restaurant "cesar salad" once before (a friend took me to an applebee's and I was vegetarian at the time so I got the cesar--didn't really know about fish in the dressing yet). It was awful, tasted like mayo and the lettuce was all wilty. So, I never bothered again until I had been informed that there was such a thing as a "real" version.

                                                                                                      Glad I tried it and glad I didn't just give up based on the icky experience of the past.

                                                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                                                      1. re: MinkeyMonkey

                                                                                                        Was the Anna's Trattoria dressing just blue cheese, olive oil and vinegar? I've never had it like that, but it sounds interesting. I'd eat an old shoe if the preparation involved blue cheese. Got a recipe? (Not specifically the AT one, just an example of the like.)

                                                                                                        I'm guessing that most restaurants use the phrase "real blue cheese" dressing to mean "containing real blue cheese." At least that's how I'd take it.

                                                                                                        1. re: darklyglimmer

                                                                                                          Oh, I wish I had a a recipe! I don't use dressing and when I do, it is at places I already know, like AT. But, yes, it was just those three things and I think they had dried herbs on the salad too. If you're ever in L. A., you've got to go. Have the minestrone soup, too.

                                                                                                          Yeah, I think you are right about that phrase. I worked for a doc back in '93 and she bragged about her husband making the best real blue cheese dressing ever. I asked what it was like and she said he used buttermilk instead of mayo. I never did get to try it but it sounded pretty good at the time...

                                                                                                      2. Anchovies were not at all part of the original Caesar salad.

                                                                                                        20 Replies
                                                                                                        1. re: jmckee

                                                                                                          It's funny how people define "original." More often than not, it's the version of the dish that person first encountered, regardless of whether that version was faithful to historical antecedents. With foods that have ancient roots or evolved organically, there's certainly some room for difference of opinion regarding originality. Ragu Bolognese, hot and sour soup, coq au vin - while some versions are clearly recent inventions, there just isn't a canonical recipe.

                                                                                                          But when it comes to the Caesar salad, the Reuben sandwich, Lobster Thermidor, or the Martini, it's different. These things came into existence within living memory or nearly so. And they were created by the process of invention, not evolution. One day there was no such thing as a Caesar salad, and the next there was.

                                                                                                          While there may be hundreds or thousands of "original" recipes for fish chowder, there's only one for the Caesar - the "recipe" that Caesar Cardini used on July 4, 1924 when he made the first one. And you're right - it contained no anchovies (except for those that were an ingredient in the Worcestershire sauce).

                                                                                                          1. re: alanbarnes

                                                                                                            But even trade marked names have a way of escaping their define boundaries. The classic cases being Xerox and Kleenex. Caesar salad and Martini have done likewise.

                                                                                                            1. re: paulj

                                                                                                              That is a completely different issue. People will refer to a copier as being a Xerox without actually trying to get you to believe that it came from the Xerox corporation. They are simply using a common term to refer to that thing.

                                                                                                              But calling some greens and an egg a Caesar salad is ridiculous. Especially if that is what the customer sees on the menu.

                                                                                                              One of the points here is, are customers being somewhat duped because some chef or restauranteur is playing fast and loose with well defined things.

                                                                                                              IOW, don't try to serve me tilapia when the menu said Dover Sole.

                                                                                                              1. re: DougRisk

                                                                                                                Don't forget the croutons!

                                                                                                                For many diners, a Caesar salad is romaine with croutons. The anchovies or L&P, the raw egg, the table side preparation are not important - those are things they do in fancy restaurants, not what you expect in a family restaurant, or a grocery store mix.

                                                                                                                That cat is out of the bag, and no amount of protest is going to coax it back in.

                                                                                                                Yesterday I made a chowder. I hesitate to call it clam chowder because I only had a small can of clams (whole Maine ones from TJ). But I tried to follow the spirit of the Maine style, only lightly thickening it with some instant mashed potatoes - plus the natural starch from the potato pieces. My wife really liked it, but did not recognize it as chowder. She thought it was a potato soup.

                                                                                                                1. re: paulj

                                                                                                                  You can keep bringing up the chowder example as much as you want, or try to "over-define" Caesar salad as including table-side service, but some things have actual definitions.

                                                                                                                  So you can call some baking-soda based bread Sourdough all you want, but we all know that it is not Sourdough bread. Even if someone really likes it.

                                                                                                                  1. re: DougRisk

                                                                                                                    Is this a better definition of the original?
                                                                                                                    http://www.marzetti.com/marzetti_kitc...

                                                                                                                    1. re: paulj

                                                                                                                      No, Sourdough does not have any lemon in it. Though, I imagine that I am being quite Prescriptivist about it.

                                                                                                                      1. re: paulj

                                                                                                                        Heh, good one.

                                                                                                                    2. re: paulj

                                                                                                                      Chowder is not thickened!
                                                                                                                      Maybe this will help:
                                                                                                                      http://www.slimcoincidence.com/blog/?...
                                                                                                                      God you're stubborn.

                                                                                                                      My name was almost Chowderhead.

                                                                                                                      1. re: Passadumkeg

                                                                                                                        I took this post
                                                                                                                        http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/7774...
                                                                                                                        as permission to use mashed potato to lightly thicken my chowder. By the way, I'd suggest looking up Jasper White's book 50 Chowders. I learned something from reading the preview chapter that is available on Google books.

                                                                                                                        I did not claim to follow your authentic Maine version to the letter. Maybe I used the wrong phrase when I wrote 'spirit of Maine'; I was inspired to make this batch by this thread, but I did not see the need to adhere to anyone's rules.

                                                                                                                        By the way, by your rules, what should be proportion of broth (milk etc) to solids in a chowder. Most of my soups end up on the chunky end. White implies that earlier chowders where closer to stews, and got more brothy in the late 19c.

                                                                                                                        1. re: paulj

                                                                                                                          The Bostonians will jump on me, but JW is upscale fluff, not downeast, cookin'. Most of my former students' families are lobstermen and have been making real working man's chowder for hundreds of years. I learned to make chowder from depression era Mainers not some Bostonian whose restaurant at which I can't afford to eat. Chowder is New England soul food. We are from different worlds.
                                                                                                                          Fini.

                                                                                                                          1. re: Passadumkeg

                                                                                                                            The closest I've come to eating like a NE lobsterman is pilot bread (Pilot Boy, not Crown brand) and hardbread (Purity from Newfoundland). http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Pur...

                                                                                                                            I think I'll break up a biscuit and put it to soak over night. But I don't have any salt cod to go with it.

                                                                                                                      2. re: paulj

                                                                                                                        <That cat is out of the bag, and no amount of protest is going to coax it back in.>

                                                                                                                        Put an anchovy in the bag. What cat can resist an anchovy?

                                                                                                                      3. re: DougRisk

                                                                                                                        >IOW, don't try to serve me tilapia when the menu said Dover Sole

                                                                                                                        That's not playing fast and loose with a well defined thing. That's just plain old deceptive.

                                                                                                                        1. re: darklyglimmer

                                                                                                                          My example was to the extreme, but that is my point. Making a Tarte Tatin with Pears could be done by a "Descriptivist", but making a Blueberry Pie, and turning it upside down and serving this to some unwitting (Prescriptivist or not) customer would be deceptive

                                                                                                                          1. re: DougRisk

                                                                                                                            How about a radish Tatin? (ICA battle radish Apr 17)

                                                                                                                          2. re: darklyglimmer

                                                                                                                            And illegal in my state:

                                                                                                                            http://www.fl-seafood.com/industry/mi...

                                                                                                                            "Species of seafood cannot be substituted for one another, and must be accurately and truthfully promoted.

                                                                                                                            Seafood must be sold using its correct species name as specified by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's HACCP Guide.

                                                                                                                            Failure to accurately and truthfully identify food items for sale, such as undisclosed substitution of one type of fish for another, is a violation of Florida law.

                                                                                                                            Violators are subject to penalties of up to $1,000 per occurrence, and license suspension or revocation."

                                                                                                                            It's also something of a staple of local tv news investigative journalism to do these kinds of restaurant checks for popular FL fish species and see who's trying to slip the Vietnamese catfish to diners in place of something more expensive.

                                                                                                                            The last time I checked the state database, the most common fine issued for this was not the expected Vietnamese catfish in place of the much more expensive grouper, but instead involved restaurants calling it crab when it was really krab/surimi.

                                                                                                                            1. re: beachmouse

                                                                                                                              Or the muddle with langoustines. I have eaten things called langoustines here for quite a while and enjoy them quite a lot. But to this day, I am not sure which, if any of the ones I have eaten have been true langoustines, versus South American Crayfish (what Long John Silver likes to use for thier "lobster bites"). The fact that they are usually only obtainable here either pre cooked or pre processed (I'm not 100% sure the langoustine is even found in NA waters, they may ALL live on the European side.) the only time I was sure (becuse they were the kind that still had the front half) I balked at the price (paying $40 lb for pre boiled fish of which 1/2 the body weight was not going to be edible seemed a lot to me). I tend to think the raw (frozen) ones were legit, but I haven seen those since colledge (back when they were basically $1 more than a bag of frozen shrimp) every after I thnk has been crayfish.

                                                                                                                              1. re: beachmouse

                                                                                                                                Those darned Prescriptivists.

                                                                                                                      4. re: jmckee

                                                                                                                        Not sure if you are replying to my post or the OP (who actually stated that they knew anchovies were not part of the original recipe) but just thought I'd say, I know.

                                                                                                                        But, it was the best cesar I'd ever had and it is how I'd have it again.

                                                                                                                      5. Shrimp de Jonghe. A specialty of Chicago, is a casserole of whole peeled shrimp blanketed in soft, garlicky, sherry-laced bread crumbs. It can be served as an appetizer or a main course.

                                                                                                                        Originated in the late 19th or early 20th century at DeJonghe's Hotel and Restaurant, 12 E. Monroe St. (1899-1923).The recipe has been attributed to the owners, brothers Henri, Pierre and Charles DeJonghe, Belgian immigrants who came to Chicago to run a restaurant at the World's Columbian Exposition, or their chef, Emil Zehr.

                                                                                                                        12 Replies
                                                                                                                        1. re: luganrn

                                                                                                                          Was it ever common in mainstream restaurants?

                                                                                                                          1. re: paulj

                                                                                                                            Sorry. Probably not. I wrote Chicago, so that says it all.
                                                                                                                            I assume that shrimp scampi comes close. Just no shell on the tails.
                                                                                                                            You don't know what you're missing. Same for the rest of the country.

                                                                                                                            1. re: luganrn

                                                                                                                              I lived in Chicago for about 20 years, but never heard of it. Besides the namesake restaurant, what places served it?

                                                                                                                              1. re: paulj

                                                                                                                                I am in the process of compiling a list of restaurants that serve shrimp dejonghe. Hang in there.

                                                                                                                                1. re: luganrn

                                                                                                                                  I was in and out of Chicago with family in the 70s and 80s and remember it from then, has it fallen off menus since?

                                                                                                                                  1. re: buttertart

                                                                                                                                    It has been a challenge finding it on line, but rest assured it is still there. I am compiling a list of restaurants that carry it but have taken a break due to the holiday weekend.

                                                                                                                                    1. re: luganrn

                                                                                                                                      Here:

                                                                                                                                      http://chicago.menupages.com/restaura...

                                                                                                                                      Menupages' "find a food" search is a wonderful thing.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: small h

                                                                                                                                        Thanks. That is useful when it works and the few I looked at did have it. I was going through www.diningchicago.com and looking through every restaurant menu, which was not only time consuming but distracting.
                                                                                                                                        But there are more. Holy Mackerel!, for instance. And many in the suburbs also, like Port Edward in Algonquin.
                                                                                                                                        Sigh... makes me wish I lived in the area again.

                                                                                                                                  2. re: luganrn

                                                                                                                                    Hugo's Frog Bar on Rush Street features Shrimp de Jonghe and I saw on chowhound's Chicago board that the dish is very good at Calo, in Andersonville

                                                                                                                                    1. re: Querencia

                                                                                                                                      The shrimp de jonghe at Hugo's is totally authentic, its the same as I remember the great continental retaurants served it back in the early 80's.

                                                                                                                                      Also, the newly renovated Cafe La Cave probably also has it on their menu...and of course they still do the best Steak Diane tableside prep anywhere in the US.

                                                                                                                            2. re: luganrn

                                                                                                                              Hey, I'm originally from the Chicago area and lived there until I was 39. I didn't know Shrimp de Jonghe was native to the area or that it was difficult to find in other areas of the country. ( I guess I never paid much attention to where I ate it.) Growing up, it seemed like a pretty standard menu item for upscale restaurants.

                                                                                                                              Lugarn suggested that it was like shrimp scampi. I disagree. Totally different, except that they're both shrimp and starch dishes.

                                                                                                                              It is delicious, if made right. However, I've got say that I stopped ordering Shrimp de Jonghe except once a year or so, when I was in the Chicago area--come to think of it. I did so to see if I had found a place that made it right--very rare. As Lugarn suggested, it is one of those dishes, like Caesar salad, which is rarely made correctly. The recipe is full of preparation pitfalls and is subject to economizing by restaurants.

                                                                                                                              The breadcrumbs must be crunchy, which comes from being fried in butter, but they don't come out that way if the restaurant uses too much butter or too little butter. Ditto the amount of sherry used on the shrimp, which is ultimately absorbed by the breadcrumbs. Even if the crunchiness of the breadcrumbs is there, the duration of the crunchiness is brief. Like pizza crust, you need to eat it fast before it "soggifies."

                                                                                                                              Another problem is the amount of garlic used--or perhaps, how much the garlic is cooked. The breadcrumbs readily absorb the butter and garlic and a common mistake is the use so much garlic that it takes your head off. The garlic seems to intensify in the bread crumbs. (And this comes from a guy whose usual attitude is that you can never have too much garlic, but maybe you can, in a dish with flavor as subtle as shrimp.)

                                                                                                                              Another problem is overcooked shrimp. Most restaurants use boiled shrimp and then briefly saute them with the garlic. Unfortunately, often this extra cooking sends the shrimp from the "just right" stage to overcooked and stringy.

                                                                                                                              The last problem is that the recipe calls for large, peeled shrimp. Many restaurants want to keep the price down, so what you get is a boatload of garlicky, buttery breadcrumbs (usually without enough sherry taste) and about three shrimp. The ratio of breadcrumbs to shrimp is way off. The shrimp should be the showcase of the dish with garlic, butter, sherry and breadcrumbs as flavor and texture enhancers.

                                                                                                                              Thanks for the remarks, Luganrn. I never realized it, but I rarely see this dish on the menu here in Florida or elsewhere, except Chicago. I just never noticed it before.

                                                                                                                              1. re: gfr1111

                                                                                                                                I compared it to shrimp scampi as a distant cousin to the dish. I wouldn't accept it as a substitute. Wiki has a recipe for it when you look up shrimp dejonghe and I tried it. There are a few others on line and what I did was make my own version according to taste. I also abhor the truckload of breadcrumbs in the original recipe. Some restaurants do it nicely, like Taste of Italy in Cal. City. I use much less but serve some on the side, so they are crunchy. I've toyed with the idea of using panko but haven't done that yet. I do like a lot of butter in mine but I don't pour all of it in at once. I also serve extra on the side, with the garlic and sherry already incorporated. I serve French/Italian loaf pieces along with it to sop up the extra butter. I use raw jumbo shrimp,no shells whatsoever, 6 to a serving and line them into au gratin dishes after dipping them into the melted butter mixture. I pour a little more of the butter on them, then I sprinkle some of the bread crumb mixture, that includes parmesan. I bake them at 350 for 30 minutes. The shrimp have never come out rubbery, and it is not laden with bread crumbs that soak up all the butter. But like I said, I have extra garlic sherry butter sauce and extra bread crumbs with parmesan, parsley, s/p on the side along with the bread. And then there's the wine.....

                                                                                                                            3. Butter Chicken: Far from the saccharine sweet, cream loaded abomination found at buffet's across countries, the original version was nothing more than Tandoori Chicken, chicken fat, tomatoes and butter. It was, and is at most authentic places, a spicy hearty dish that was created by cooks looking for a meal from the days left-overs. The 'story' is pasted below:
                                                                                                                              http://www.hindustantimes.com/Delhi-s...

                                                                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                                                                              1. re: meatnveg

                                                                                                                                Yes! I had never tasted butter chicken until I was in Delhi for the first time a few months ago, and was blown away by the rich intensity of it. I've been trying in vain to find a version even half as good since I got back. I did, however, find a recipe that looks promising. Now I just have to find the time to make it.

                                                                                                                              2. Lemon meringue pie has disappeared from restaurant menus. Bought lemon pie, forget it. Homemade, people faint with joy. I don't understand why it has become unfashionable.

                                                                                                                                1. Mai Tais, no it's not a fruit juice laden drink.
                                                                                                                                  Cobb Salad This may be my favorite part of Disneyworld, having a Cobb at the Brown Derby
                                                                                                                                  Daiquiris - No strained honey! No slushy!
                                                                                                                                  Hurricanes
                                                                                                                                  Caesar Salad

                                                                                                                                  But I wil say that I love anchovies in an otherwise traditional Caesar salad.

                                                                                                                                  I'm also fortunate in that I live somewhere (SF) and can get all of the cocktails above served to me in their proper fashion. And I can get a decent caesar too; Cobb not so much.

                                                                                                                                  Extra points for you if you can tell me where the strained honey reference is from ;)

                                                                                                                                  14 Replies
                                                                                                                                  1. re: cosmogrrl

                                                                                                                                    Winnie the Pooh?

                                                                                                                                    1. re: Passadumkeg

                                                                                                                                      Nope. It played a part in a 50' technicolor movie. There was derision towards certain people who used strained honey to sweeten their Daiquiris.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: cosmogrrl

                                                                                                                                        Auntie Mame?

                                                                                                                                        1. re: luganrn

                                                                                                                                          Ding ding ding! We've got a winner! :D

                                                                                                                                          1. re: cosmogrrl

                                                                                                                                            LOL I'm just showing my age. Shhhhhhhh!

                                                                                                                                            1. re: luganrn

                                                                                                                                              Rosalyn Russell?

                                                                                                                                              1. re: Passadumkeg

                                                                                                                                                Beats Carol Channing. I may be mistaken (being young and all back then), but seem to recall her doing a dinner theater production of the musical in 1981 or so. Aaack.

                                                                                                                                                1. re: alanbarnes

                                                                                                                                                  Oh, ab, just when I thought it wasn't possible to love you more than I already do.

                                                                                                                                                  I still have fond memories of my high school production of Auntie Mame (the straight play, not Mame, the musical).

                                                                                                                                                2. re: Passadumkeg

                                                                                                                                                  Yep. Rosalind Russel. There is no other IMHO. To keep this on a food topic, anyone remember the Pickled rattlesnake? "try the striped ones Mumsy, they're Spicey!!". Or the vile recipe for canapes involving tuna, clam juice, and peanut butter put through a meat grinder? This was supposed to go with the famed daiquiris. I'd still like to know what a Flaming Mame is (went with the pickled rattlesnake).

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: cosmogrrl

                                                                                                                                                    I saw it in Radio City Music Hall w/ a routine of the Rockettes, in the 50's!

                                                                                                                                                3. re: luganrn

                                                                                                                                                  They still show it on TMC and PBS. It's a classic. Age doesn't come into it. My friends and I have stolen many a quote from it, and were all 30-40.

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: cosmogrrl

                                                                                                                                                    :) It's real campy.

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: cosmogrrl

                                                                                                                                                      The book it's based on is even more fun.

                                                                                                                                                4. re: luganrn

                                                                                                                                                  Don't forget the tuna appetizer to go with it - tuna, clam juice and peanut butter, if I remember right.

                                                                                                                                          2. I'm disappointed that it's so hard to find "classic" dishes. Every restaurant tries to put a "signature" on their meals. I understand why, I just don't appreciate it. Every prime rib has some overwhelming "rub" on it. Herbed to death. You can't get a decent Coquille St Jacques because the line cooks don't know enough to not cook them 'til they bounce like Superballs. What happened to Chateaubriand served tableside? or nice salads done the same way, for that matter. Beef Wellington (or any savory thing served in a pastry shell). When I want a simple classic meal, I want it as it was meant to be ... not personified and ruined, covered in some strange fusion salsa, or poured out of a pouch and microwaved. I suppose my expectations are just too high ... and we don't live in a large enough metro area to be able to find a non-chain restaurant where there might be a chance of real chefs being in residence. Alas. As it is, if I want simple clean food, I just have to do it myself. Sometimes I'd like to have it served to me too though!

                                                                                                                                            3 Replies
                                                                                                                                            1. re: exotec

                                                                                                                                              Sigh... as they say..."Variety is the spice of life."..........

                                                                                                                                              1. re: luganrn

                                                                                                                                                I think you've captured the intended spirit of this thread - not so much different regional versions of something (like clam chowder, where everyone will defend their version as definitive), or minor quibbles about ingredients (anchovies vs Worcestershire), but a high quality, classic dish that either gets badly prepared or "modernized" to the point of being unrecognizable.

                                                                                                                                                1. re: tastesgoodwhatisit

                                                                                                                                                  Exactly, tastesgoodwhatisit. Additionally, it's recipes that become altered to the detriment of the original recipe because it is cheaper to prepare it that way, faster to prepare it that way, or easier to prepare it that way. Thus, to use our on-going popular example from this thread, it's Caesar salad, consisting of iceberg lettuce, a bottled "Caesar" dressing, and some mild, preshredded white cheese on top. It's a salad, but it isn't a Caesar because it left out every single element of a Caesar salad: wrong lettuce, wrong type of dressing, wrong type of cheese, no croutons, no Worcestershire sauce, no garlic. It's Caesar salad for those who don't know (or, perhaps, don't like) what a Caesar salad is. In brief, it's a "Caesar" salad for people who like Velveeta Cheese. It's a "Caesar" salad for restaurateurs looking at front end cost and ignoring the back end of potential repeat business. It's a "Caesar" salad for chefs who don't care about the quality of what they serve.

                                                                                                                                                  Not every recipe substitutes or adulterates every single ingredient, the way I have observed sometimes occurs with Caesar salad. For example, most margaritas still have tequila, but sweet and sour mix has been substituted for the lime, and triple sec (a less costly alternative) has been substituted for the intense orange-flavored Coinbtreau or Grand Marnier.

                                                                                                                                            2. I read that the original actually did not have anchovies in the dressing or anywhere else. It had Worcestershire sauce. The eggs were also coddled eggs.

                                                                                                                                              1. I miss Mai Tai's and Crab Imperial..and a real Cobb Salad!!!

                                                                                                                                                1. Chile (chilli) is now a bean stew w/ hardly any chile.