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Be your best food critic and focus on who you see in the mirror

chancepoe Sep 5, 2011 11:30 PM

It is easy to point the finger at what is wrong with food, who represents it, and how in some ways it has become a sitting and watching rather than 'doing' activity. Yes these topics are up for debate...

Perhaps, if we band together and focus on what is great about food, like ummmm eating it and enjoying the experience with friends? The world, yes the World, would be a more peaceful place. Lets not judge the popularity of food networks, at least food has a voice, and today it can take you on vacation while your on the treadmill.

Food speaks a lanuage much like a smile..it is crosscultural and food is endemic in every culture. In fact, the US was built on agriculture, something we seem to forget. While there are many negative things I could expound upon in relation to that particular industry in general, I prefer to focus on the good. Community gardens, people banding together to recreate a sense of family based around a simple meal and the true tradition of being creative in the kitchen, taking risks and making mistakes...

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  1. s
    sueatmo RE: chancepoe Sep 6, 2011 06:17 PM

    ". . . food is endemic in every culture. , ." Ok, I guess it is.

    I agree that gathering around a table with good food and friends is a blessing to all who do it.

    1 Reply
    1. re: sueatmo
      chancepoe RE: sueatmo Sep 6, 2011 10:55 PM

      May we all count our blessings in every way possible...

    2. inaplasticcup RE: chancepoe Sep 6, 2011 08:38 PM

      Those are really nice ideas, chancepoe, but are you sure you're not the one looking for the bad instead of the good? There's lots of good, productive and positive discussion here.

      There's also negative discussion here. I for one feel some of the discussion in the negative is necessary in keeping this place grounded and real. CH is not a foodtopia, but I'm willing to bet that if you made a statistical analysis of it, there's as much of what it appears you consider to be *good* here as *bad*.

      1 Reply
      1. re: inaplasticcup
        chancepoe RE: inaplasticcup Sep 6, 2011 10:53 PM

        I agree... CH is a platform for all things food, not social change.. I adore the seamless effort to have a social community where we can be who we are, and stand for our foodtopia visions whatever they may be...

      2. ipsedixit RE: chancepoe Sep 6, 2011 09:03 PM

        Without the negative one cannot appreciate the positive.

        A necessary evil perhaps, you say? No. It's just necessary.

        9 Replies
        1. re: ipsedixit
          chancepoe RE: ipsedixit Sep 6, 2011 10:50 PM


          Last year I was in a meeting where I was posed a very important question. How is what you do "Entertaining"? At the time I was so passionately wrapped up in the intellect of the topic I did not have an answer. Today I do have an answer, what I do is no more entertaining than what you do. However, I do inherently believe that people who stick their neck out for food as a voice and personality are willing to take on the scrutiny of their craft. Yay them..

          We live in a county of abundant food and water, that is positive. I am not hungry. But believe me hunger is an issue and it is as endemic as food itself. In fact as I compose this reply I am cozy in my home with a full belly of fresh organic produce. Today we have amazing resources, a kick ass 'food based social network' where we can contemplate food related topics,, again a positive.
          We have options, we choose everyday to 'vote with our forks' about the nutrient density, and the future production of food in this country....

          A true social movement is not one of voice, but that of Action, again a positive..

          With that said, I will get down to the grit of my post, the air of 'negative' that may have come across. I could judge Paula, Saundra, that guy with the show about 'Drive-In's'(?), criticize the "Food Truck Race", and the ohhhh what is that show where they contestants are given shrimp, vanilla wafers, and watermelon to win the prize of the "Best"?
          Sure there is something wrong with those shows, they represent how we eat in America. Like it or not, they are extremely popular. Why? People who watch them can relate the content, and they are entertaining. I do not see this as a negative. It is however a paradigm we may want to consider changing?

          Ten years ago, okay 15 years ago, food did not have an applause or a boo, food just was something you went to Safeway to buy. PBS aside, culinary networking was left up to Julia Child, James Beard, and Jacque. They where risk takers, they brought passion and conviction to getting off the couch and into the kitchen, and resulted in people being inspired to take risks in the kitchen. My mother being one of the cult.

          Today however, 'we' are reinventing 'food inspiration', we are banding together and endorsing the wonderment of growing and understanding food as nutrients, we are also reconsidering what we eat, where we eat it, and who we share those meals with....

          Negative or positive perspectives about food or people who represent it are primarily based on people becoming more educated about what they eat and their connection to what is on their plate, another positive. Say that Paula's bacon cheddar mac is making the country fat, or Tony has a drinking problem, like it or not they are giving food a voice. I believe that voice deserves to be heard; at dinner, with friends on the bus, at a table, walking in the park, via an IM conversation..
          Respecting and understanding the wonderful delights that pass "over the lips and past the gums" is the beginning of a new rhyme for how we live and eat today, again a positive thing....

          *Paula is not making anyone fat but herself. Tony well, the man has created a boundless destiny for food..and to be honest, let him suffer the stomach ache, some of the shit he eats, Insane, right? I love them all, they all represent food, as do I... We are in it together...

          *in reference to the above mentioned

          1. re: chancepoe
            sueatmo RE: chancepoe Sep 7, 2011 07:43 AM

            Ten or 15 years ago there were restaurant critics, and cookbook creators, and others who did critique food. I remember an author, Perla Meyers who appeared on radio and told everyone that we should eat only seasonal produce. Very elitist for the time. Later she came out with another book and decided that is was OK to use frozen peas some of the time. (My apologies if I don't remember this completely. It has been a long time.) I also remember when I read that the only apples we could find in the store were Delicious and Rome Beauty. Where are the good old-fashioned apples with flavor? The complaints about that went on for several years, and then the stores started carrying a bigger variety of apples. We are still waiting for improvements in fresh tomatoes!

            At any rate our food has been a subject of controversy, dissatisfaction and movement for as long as I've been cooking, which is decades. So your central assumption is basically not true. However I do agree that too much negativity is tiring to everyone. But a lot of the controversies about our food supply have lead to some improvement.

            1. re: sueatmo
              chancepoe RE: sueatmo Sep 7, 2011 08:35 PM

              If we truly desire diversity I suppose we should consider growing our own strains of tomatoes? Perhaps trading them with our neighboring apple farmer? Oh if only it was so easy?
              Are you aquatinted with he lore of Johnny Appleseed? Apples where the Dionysus of American culture, from bitter to sweet they have evolved.. (Fermentation has a voice here, a topic I am brewing for a later post)...
              You are correct, history repeats itself.. What was once true became a myth, today we are proving these 'myths' to be true...
              As we move from tomato season into apple may we see to it each of us, that we consider the soil and the farmer from which these fruits come.. Perhaps giving less of a 'shit' about the finer details of what we did not dig, water, or grow ourselves?
              As I ponder your response, my first batch of fall pear butter is bubbling on the stove, and the last jar of salsa is down to a quarter cup...oh so so sad...
              Farewell tomato season, I am historically brokenhearted to see you go.. I didn't jar up enough this year, despite the fact that at one point I was drowning in explosion of color from green to yellow to deep red of various shapes and sizes all owning their own acid balance, with a dash of salt, fresh herbs, and the like, they became the drippings down my chin... Collectively between myself and my patrons we gobbled up the entire harvest....
              Sadly, my greed equates to the fact that I must face the colder days, and the fall harvest to come....carrots, beets, onions, garlic, radish, herbs, and beans to name a few....Come on in Fall, please leave your muddy boots at the door...
              Happy eating to you and the future of food...may the words we write and the seeds we plant be literal, or literally stewed, devoured, and savored for a new future of food and how we eat.

              1. re: chancepoe
                sueatmo RE: chancepoe Sep 8, 2011 03:29 PM

                Well I envy your garden, I truly do. I bought the last of the local peaches I'll probably get and I will miss them so! And I never did get really good tomatoes, but then I almost always never do. I need to find a kind backyard gardener to sell or give me some, next year.

                I too feel the pain of the summer's end, even though it has been a beastly summer, and we need rain right now really bad. I expect to find delicata squash in the market next week. I hope I'm right.

                1. re: sueatmo
                  chancepoe RE: sueatmo Sep 8, 2011 08:18 PM

                  Harvest meals and cooler shorter days are among us. Why not grow a few tomatoes yourself?

                  1. re: chancepoe
                    sueatmo RE: chancepoe Sep 10, 2011 05:29 PM

                    Because I live in the woods. Literally.

            2. re: chancepoe
              ipsedixit RE: chancepoe Sep 7, 2011 08:59 PM

              I seriously have no idea what your point is, or was, in this post.

              Probably my fault.

              1. re: ipsedixit
                chancepoe RE: ipsedixit Sep 7, 2011 09:06 PM

                Actually a very good question! I was thinking about this while I was mopping the kitchen floor tonight.
                My point is/ was this: watch less TV, be more objective and less judgmental, take what you need leave the rest. Plant a seed, cook your food, get to know your bioregion, what grows there and when, shake the hand that feeds you, be courageous... Stir a pot, oh the smiles that are cultivated via a meal be it simple or complex..

                1. re: chancepoe
                  MGZ RE: chancepoe Sep 8, 2011 07:24 AM

                  "Plant a seed, cook your food, get to know your bioregion, what grows there and when, shake the hand that feeds you, be courageous... Stir a pot, oh the smiles that are cultivated via a meal be it simple or complex.."

                  Laudable sentiments, certainly, but far from novel around here. Nevertheless, I am always glad to hear it from another voice.

          2. b
            beevod RE: chancepoe Sep 7, 2011 07:15 AM

            Deep stuff.

            1. o
              oldunc RE: chancepoe Sep 7, 2011 06:13 PM

              The relentless positivism of much food writing and reporting can get to the point where it stretches credulity- is there no boring food in Tuscany? Are all the taco carts really run by undiscovered geniuses? Do bad meals never happen to good cooks? The worst is the de rigueur part of tv cooking shows where the cook samples his own dish and gushes over how marvelous it is- you'd think a simple sense of shame...; do these people really have no criticism of how their dishes came out? Most good cooks I've known have been pretty severe self critics. I get a feeling a lot of the time that someone is trying to sell me something, though I'm not sure what, and that any pitfalls in a recipe or downsides of a process are being swept under the rug. Then again, gardening writers are worse.

              12 Replies
              1. re: oldunc
                cowboyardee RE: oldunc Sep 7, 2011 06:39 PM

                "The worst is the de rigueur part of tv cooking shows where the cook samples his own dish and gushes over how marvelous it is- you'd think a simple sense of shame...; do these people really have no criticism of how their dishes came out? Most good cooks I've known have been pretty severe self critics."
                That's a really cool point. I'd love to watch a show where the host really breaks down exactly how the food came out, what could have been better, what worked, what didn't, how he/she might adjust in the future. It would be my new favorite cooking show by that virtue alone.

                Unfortunately, I think that kind of thing is at odds with what the majority of viewers see as good cooking, or maybe just what they want from cooking shows. I think there's a notion that good cooking is a matter of just having the best recipe. TV shows give you recipes, and if the recipes are great, how could the food be anything but? - that's the logic. The notion that it's not the recipe exactly but how well you execute each step that makes good cooking - that idea would be almost revolutionary on today's food TV. Perhaps enough so to doom a new TV show.

                1. re: cowboyardee
                  Jacquilynne RE: cowboyardee Sep 8, 2011 06:38 AM

                  There's a show I've seen occasionally in Canada, where a couple of home cooks attempt recipes from a new cookbook and then, along with a guest chef, critique the results, talk about how easy or hard the recipes were to follow, etc. I've only caught it a handful of times, but I thought it was a pretty interesting concept for a show.

                  The hosts used to do a show called The Shopping Bags where they had real people test different products, so this was clearly an extension of that. I don't know what it was called or if it's even on the air anymore.

                  ETA Looked it up: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1505095/ Anna & Kristina's Grocery Bag.

                  1. re: Jacquilynne
                    chancepoe RE: Jacquilynne Sep 8, 2011 07:02 AM

                    Thank You, sounds interesting. I will check it out.

                    1. re: Jacquilynne
                      cowboyardee RE: Jacquilynne Sep 8, 2011 07:53 AM


                  2. re: oldunc
                    chancepoe RE: oldunc Sep 7, 2011 07:51 PM

                    Nice. I adore a well written point of view.
                    Your perspective is correct. I suppose If I was cooking on television I would also proclaim myself in delight of my own culinary masterpiece no matter how critical I am.. If it looks good, it must be delicious... Is that not the point?...to make our mouths water, to move us off the couch and to the market so that we may profess our own personal creation inspired by what we viewed?

                    1. re: oldunc
                      chancepoe RE: oldunc Sep 7, 2011 08:57 PM

                      Someone is trying to sell you something. I am sure your hunch is right on. Maybe they are selling a product worth considering?
                      Bad meals, like cut fingers happen to all cooks/chefs (title is up for debate).
                      I can only speak for myself. I would get somewhat tired of the three-ingredient meals in Tuscany.. You?Historically, a meal I will never forget is one I ate at a food cart in Mexico.. Never been so sick in my life! I spent days bent over a bucket on an isolated beach, enduring sweltering heat on a much anticipated surfing trip. Meanwhile my sick ass squinted and watched as my friends dropped perfect curls... painstakingly I hurled... Middle finger to Mexico food cart. Alas I overcame that experience, vegetarian style.
                      Professionally, as a gardener and a chef all I can say is that I love food, fresh food, any meal produced from my garden is the best meal I have ever created or eaten on that given day.. Perhaps my viewpoint is "the worst" squared? Perhaps I care enough about food that I am willing to involve myself passionately in both fields objectively?

                      1. re: chancepoe
                        oldunc RE: chancepoe Sep 8, 2011 09:36 AM

                        Not inconceivable, though all in all I think I'd rather take my chances with those who don't feel called upon to try to manipulate my thought processes.
                        As you say, you are expressing a viewpoint as opposed to a series of conclusions, which kind of contradicts the notion of objectivity.

                        1. re: oldunc
                          chancepoe RE: oldunc Sep 8, 2011 09:53 PM

                          Apologies if you feel that I have made any conclusions or contradictions that have offended you. I enjoyed reading your response very much and found it thought provoking.
                          Happy Eating

                          1. re: chancepoe
                            oldunc RE: chancepoe Sep 9, 2011 07:23 AM

                            I have no objection at all to your viewpoint; I am offended by the constant and ever increasing onslaught of advertising in day to day life, and I object to people in general, and those ostensibly acting as teachers in particular, of resorting to salesmanship as a central part of their presentation.

                        2. re: chancepoe
                          inaplasticcup RE: chancepoe Sep 8, 2011 03:36 PM

                          You've got me curious as to how as a professional gardener and chef, you also consider yourself an entertainer. Could you please explain?

                          1. re: inaplasticcup
                            chancepoe RE: inaplasticcup Sep 8, 2011 09:59 PM

                            Yes I am a professional chef, and a gardener..not a professional gardner.. At best I am a student of my practice. Last year I built a community garden. The project was the reverse of 'pave paradise' as the location of the garden is situated in the corner of a huge parking lot. And that is only the jest of it...
                            As for being an entertainer, I dare not say that either. I have been working on some projects that are directly involved with the entertainment business. Projects, that have resulted in a fair amount of stress and creative burnout... My only intention then, and now has been to 'walk my talk'. We will see where that hike takes me? The map is written in a language I have been struggling to interpret.

                            1. re: chancepoe
                              inaplasticcup RE: chancepoe Sep 8, 2011 10:08 PM

                              I see. Well best of luck to you, wherever your path leads. :)

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