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Ethnic foods you're supposed to like (but hate)

Discussion in 'Social Life, Food & Drink, Travel' started by SField, Jun 24, 2009.

  1. The Snob

    The Snob Well-Known Member

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    I was just guessing, seeing as the only palatable chinese food I've had were by cooks with good training. And sorry, but that looks a hell of a lot better than almost anything I've ever seen, in most of China and in every major chinatown in the US and Canada. I don't really think you know what the reality of Chinese food is. As for knife skills required in Chinese cooking; I've almost never seen anything worthy of praise. Japanese sushi chefs in general will have a far higher level of technique. Chinese food requires very little skill at all, since most of it is a pile of stir fried or boiled mess. If you couldn't replicate what you saw there then it's more of a comment on your inexperience with a knife than anything else (and I'm not saying that's a fault). Regardless, I think we can agree to disagree. You love Chinese food - lovely. I don't, whatever.
    No I think it's more accurate that you don't know what the reality of Chinese food is. Having actually had food from a peasant farmer's kitchen and in those various restaurants all over China in those various cities and all over the place from street vendors and Chinese fast food establishments (I think I included a nice array of mid-high and low in my photos), I am pretty comfortable I know what the reality of Chinese food is. Regardless, you are correct. I won't be able to convince you of anything. Just noting that your statements are totally absurd. "Whatever".
     
  2. SField

    SField Well-Known Member

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    No I think it's more accurate that you don't know what the reality of Chinese food is. Having actually had food from a peasant farmer's kitchen and in those various restaurants all over China in those various cities and all over the place from street vendors and Chinese fast food establishments (I think I included a nice array of mid-high and low in my photos), I am pretty comfortable I know what the reality of Chinese food is.

    Regardless, you are correct. I won't be able to convince you of anything. Just noting that your statements are totally absurd. "Whatever".


    No, I just don't think you have a terribly good palate nor any kind of good basis for comparison. Just like I said with Matador (mexico), I've been to many places in China, several of them places you'd never have access to since I went with chefs. Cooking has been my livelihood and probably my primary area of expertise, and many of travel far more extensively in search of good food than someone like you ever would. My opinions are not born of ignorance, but rather of distaste for this type of food. I think that someone who has lived in america and eaten trashy food would think that Chinese food is special, but if you've actually made food your life and understand it on a higher level than the average person, then you may not think so. I certainly have a huge appreciation for Asian flavors, and there isn't a chef worth a shit on this planet who doesn't think a lot about east asia in his or her cooking.

    I'm happy for you that you like the food you ate on farms in provincial China. I have, and none of it struck me as particularly good, especially next to the food I found in the meditarranean regions and even the kind of things farmers would eat in Patagonia. In fact, these experiences with Chinese farmers disgusted me. Not as people themselves, but as far as their practices. I've also seen many a restaurant in a few provinces, and have been absolutely horrified by what many of the restaurants there do. So again, this isn't a matter of an unfavorable opinion rendered by a lack of exposure.
     
  3. The Snob

    The Snob Well-Known Member

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    No, I just don't think you have a terribly good palate nor any kind of good basis for comparison. Just like I said with Matador (mexico), I've been to many places in China, several of them places you'd never have access to since I went with chefs. Cooking has been my livelihood and probably my primary area of expertise, and many of travel far more extensively in search of good food than someone like you ever would. My opinions are not born of ignorance, but rather of distaste for this type of food. I think that someone who has lived in america and eaten trashy food would think that Chinese food is special, but if you've actually made food your life and understand it on a higher level than the average person, then you may not think so. I certainly have a huge appreciation for Asian flavors, and there isn't a chef worth a shit on this planet who doesn't think a lot about east asia in his or her cooking. I'm happy for you that you like the food you ate on farms in provincial China. I have, and none of it struck me as particularly good, especially next to the food I found in the meditarranean regions and even the kind of things farmers would eat in Patagonia. In fact, these experiences with Chinese farmers disgusted me. Not as people themselves, but as far as their practices. I've also seen many a restaurant in a few provinces, and have been absolutely horrified by what many of the restaurants there do. So again, this isn't a matter of an unfavorable opinion rendered by a lack of exposure.
    What, because I like Chinese food and don't have knife skills you assume I'm some kind of ignorant American who has no palate? Sorry buddy, you're not alone in your touring of the world for the sake of food. Even though I'm not a chef, as I've made plain by my admittance to not having any knife skills in the kitchen (although I do make a killer rack of lamb and apple pie), I am a huge foodie. Everywhere I've been--this includes the Mediterranean, Patagonia, all over Asia, etc.--I make it a point to experience its food culture. This includes eating at a street level and as many of the top-rated American restaurants I can afford. Considering how much diversity there is in Chinese cuisine with a lot of it being very similar to other foods you claim to like (Korean, Japanese, SEAsian, etc), I am just astounded that you call summarize Chinese cooking with "slop". And seriously, if you are in the food industry and visited all these restaurants, I am amazed that you consider those photos I took to be somehow out of the ordinary. Makes me doubt your story all together actually.
     
  4. SField

    SField Well-Known Member

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    What, because I like Chinese food and don't have knife skills you assume I'm some kind of ignorant American who has no palate? Sorry buddy, you're not alone in your touring of the world for the sake of food. Even though I'm not a chef, as I've made plain by my admittance to not having any knife skills in the kitchen (although I do make a killer rack of lamb and apple pie), I am a huge foodie. Everywhere I've been--this includes the Mediterranean, Patagonia, all over Asia, etc.--I make it a point to experience its food culture. This includes eating at a street level and as many of the top-rated American restaurants I can afford.

    Considering how much diversity there is in Chinese cuisine with a lot of it being very similar to other foods you claim to like (Korean, Japanese, SEAsian, etc), I am just astounded that you call summarize Chinese cooking with "slop".

    And seriously, if you are in the food industry and visited all these restaurants, I am amazed that you consider those photos I took to be somehow out of the ordinary. Makes me doubt your story all together actually.


    Yea, anyway. I'm sure you're right up there with Tony Bourdain. Like I said, agree to disagree.
     
  5. clee1982

    clee1982 Well-Known Member

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    No, I just don't think you have a terribly good palate nor any kind of good basis for comparison. Just like I said with Matador (mexico), I've been to many places in China, several of them places you'd never have access to since I went with chefs. Cooking has been my livelihood and probably my primary area of expertise, and many of travel far more extensively in search of good food than someone like you ever would. My opinions are not born of ignorance, but rather of distaste for this type of food. I think that someone who has lived in america and eaten trashy food would think that Chinese food is special, but if you've actually made food your life and understand it on a higher level than the average person, then you may not think so. I certainly have a huge appreciation for Asian flavors, and there isn't a chef worth a shit on this planet who doesn't think a lot about east asia in his or her cooking.

    I'm happy for you that you like the food you ate on farms in provincial China. I have, and none of it struck me as particularly good, especially next to the food I found in the meditarranean regions and even the kind of things farmers would eat in Patagonia. In fact, these experiences with Chinese farmers disgusted me. Not as people themselves, but as far as their practices. I've also seen many a restaurant in a few provinces, and have been absolutely horrified by what many of the restaurants there do. So again, this isn't a matter of an unfavorable opinion rendered by a lack of exposure.


    well, you probably haven't tried enough then..., kind remind me of a friend of my who ditch French food based on whatever experience he has. Whatever your description of chinese food is at best limited. Put out a simple example, tell me how does the Southern Chinese food guys (high end ones) prepare a simple dish such as cabbage with tofu in your observation (sure there are tons of ways, so just take the most elaborate ones). I am curious to hear your response.
     
  6. SField

    SField Well-Known Member

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    well, you probably haven't tried enough then..., kind remind me of a friend of my who ditch French food based on whatever experience he has. Whatever your description of chinese food is at best limited. Put out a simple example, tell me how does the Southern Chinese food guys (high end ones) prepare a simple dish such as cabbage with tofu in your observation (sure there are tons of ways, so just take the most elaborate ones). I am curious to hear your response.

    Like I've said multiple times, I'm sure I just haven't had good enough food. I haven't said it isn't out there, but frankly if I'm comparing it to all the great food available in Tokyo, Paris, London and New York, it doesn't stack up. When I go to eat I want to experience something fantastic, I want great flavors, great product and perfect execution. This isn't something I often experience with Chinese food.

    As for cabbage and tofu... I mean seriously, chopping up some cabbage and sweating (and effectively boiling - a part of chinese food and other asian varieties that I hate) it with a few aromatics and spices with some tofu (if you're lucky they've taken the time to marinate it) and thickened with ghastly corn starch isn't terribly impressive. I was in a suburb of chicago and was taken to a korean place that does a lot of dumplings. I had a few steamed dumplings with tofu and kimchi which I found nice, but tofu has never been a favorite of mine. I think I've had at least 50 different kinds of mapo tofu and never liked it very much either.
     
  7. SField

    SField Well-Known Member

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    On that note, ambiance and good clientele can do so much for a restaurant. You'll never see me in those overly trendy restaurants filled with douchebags. They totally ruin the experience.


    I think unless the douchebags are doing something to your food, you shouldn't let them ruin it for you. If a place is noisy, and not the type of noisy you get in a buzzing dining room, I can see a loud table with annoying conversations getting in the way, but for the most part good food always keeps my attention, and the quality of your company also matters.
     
  8. The Snob

    The Snob Well-Known Member

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    Yea, anyway. I'm sure you're right up there with Tony Bourdain. Like I said, agree to disagree.
    I'm certainly no Bourdain, but there is no disagreement; merely education needed. I posted the photos. You claimed that my photos were like from uppity places and exhibited french technique. I countered that that is kind of run of the mill middle class city restaurant fair (and in the case of some photos, cheap street fair) I had in China and that the techniques illustrated were classically chinese. What else can I say? Shrug. Admittedly, the one dragon sliced meatball looking thing was a higher end restaurant, but still, it was in a city in central China (no french training there) that hardly sees tourists and certainly nothing that would compare to anything you've apparently had in some fancy restaurants in HK or Singapore.
     
  9. SField

    SField Well-Known Member

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    I'm certainly no Bourdain, but there is no disagreement; merely education needed.

    I posted the photos. You claimed that my photos were like from uppity places and exhibited french technique. I countered that that is kind of run of the mill middle class city restaurant fair (and in the case of some photos, cheap street fair) I had in China and that the techniques illustrated were classically chinese. What else can I say? Shrug.

    Admittedly, the one dragon sliced meatball looking thing was a higher end restaurant, but still, it was in a city in central China (no french training there) that would hardly sees tourists and certainly nothing that would compare to anything you've apparently had in some fancy restaurants in HK or Singapore.


    That plate and the one directly beneath and to the right of it immediately caught my eye as something that is at least slightly elevated from general fare. In the case of the dragon, that's something the French stopped doing in the early part of the 20th century, thank god.

    Should I have been more specific? Probably, but I didn't see this turning into your crusade again someone not liking chinese food. In light of a very recent binging on Chinese food in the United States, at the urging of a friend from Singapore and his Chinese girlfriend, I've kind of been a little pissed about what I've been made to eat, and that has led me to paint in broad strokes, largely for my own entertainment.

    Part of the point is that a lot of Chinese food, in many strata, save for what you might find in Taiwan or in the more well heeled urban locales will often be overcooked and seriously oversauced. I find it too salty, lacking in balance of flavors, and again, quite often, little care and attention is given to presentation and produce, which is almost always lacking (especially if you compare to what a typical Japanese person would find acceptable). As for the rest of what you post, it is typically ham fisted fare, but at the same time I'm also projecting my viewpoint that really great Chinese food is most likely going to be found in Hong Kong, perhaps Singapore etc... with classically trained chefs (that take into account flavor, proper cooking methods - in the case of chinese food, not boiling food, and good produce). If I'm going to be talking about really great food (which is always my concern), that is going to be my opinion, and is shared by countless Chinese (both nationals and ex-pat) chefs who are in search of really great food. I'm sorry you don't agree.
     
  10. Bellum

    Bellum Well-Known Member

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    Well the reason people go nuts for Sushi is for a few reasons.

    Firstly, a good Sushi experience will have a skilled person giving you a variety of rolls and guaging your reactions to what they give you. The product has to be rather fresh, so people also get excited about that.


    rolls? rolls?? wtf
     
  11. SField

    SField Well-Known Member

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    rolls? rolls?? wtf

    jesus christ you know what I mean... sashimi, nigiri, inari... I'm so sorry I didn't call it makisushi.
     
  12. LabelKing

    LabelKing Well-Known Member

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    That plate and the one directly beneath and to the right of it immediately caught my eye as something that is at least slightly elevated from general fare. In the case of the dragon, that's something the French stopped doing in the early part of the 20th century, thank god.


    No love for artifice?
     
  13. SField

    SField Well-Known Member

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    No love for artifice?

    Sure, but not if it's cheesy.
     
  14. Tokyo Slim

    Tokyo Slim Well-Known Member

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    There's nothing quite as pathetically ghastly as a "foodie" dick measuring contest. Bourdain would have spit beer in your eyes, flipped you all the bird, and left by now.

    [​IMG]
     
  15. SField

    SField Well-Known Member

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    There's nothing quite as pathetically ghastly as a "foodie" dick measuring contest. Bourdain would have spit beer in your eyes, flipped you all the bird, and left by now.

    [​IMG]


    This isn't a contest at all.
     
  16. The Snob

    The Snob Well-Known Member

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    That plate and the one directly beneath and to the right of it immediately caught my eye as something that is at least slightly elevated from general fare. In the case of the dragon, that's something the French stopped doing in the early part of the 20th century, thank god. Should I have been more specific? Probably, but I didn't see this turning into your crusade again someone not liking chinese food. In light of a very recent binging on Chinese food in the United States, at the urging of a friend from Singapore and his Chinese girlfriend, I've kind of been a little pissed about what I've been made to eat, and that has led me to paint in broad strokes, largely for my own entertainment. Part of the point is that a lot of Chinese food, in many strata, save for what you might find in Taiwan or in the more well heeled urban locales will often be overcooked and seriously oversauced. I find it too salty, lacking in balance of flavors, and again, quite often, little care and attention is given to presentation and produce, which is almost always lacking (especially if you compare to what a typical Japanese person would find acceptable). As for the rest of what you post, it is typically ham fisted fare, but at the same time I'm also projecting my viewpoint that really great Chinese food is most likely going to be found in Hong Kong, perhaps Singapore etc... with classically trained chefs (that take into account flavor, proper cooking methods - in the case of chinese food, not boiling food, and good produce). If I'm going to be talking about really great food (which is always my concern), that is going to be my opinion, and is shared by countless Chinese (both nationals and ex-pat) chefs who are in search of really great food. I'm sorry you don't agree.
    In the US (and most of North America save a few gems in suburban Vancouver and Toronto), Ive never had Chinese food I've cared to have again and your claims against it are true, but that has definitely not been my experience in Asia. Anyway you went on to claim this was your experience in China as well which I just think is patently false; granted, I have no idea where you ate but that was no where close to my experience of middle-class restaurant food nor in any way representative of "the reality of Chinese food". Not to mention just how outright offensive you were. Cheesy as the plating may be, it's what they do. And it certainly isn't slop covered in oil or oversauced with no attention paid to the ingredients. And that steamed fish dish I had in various incarnations pretty at every large meal I ate in China. It's nothing extraordinary in terms of Chinese cuisine.
     
  17. SField

    SField Well-Known Member

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    In the US (and most of North America save a few gems in suburban Vancouver and Toronto), Ive never had Chinese food I've cared to have again and your claims against it are true, but that has definitely not been my experience in Asia.

    Anyway you went on to claim this was your experience in China as well which I just think is patently false; granted, I have no idea where you ate but that was no where close to my experience of middle-class restaurant food nor in any way representative of "the reality of Chinese food". Not to mention just how outright offensive you were.

    Cheesy as the plating may be, it's what they do. And it certainly isn't slop covered in oil or oversauced with no attention paid to the ingredients. And that steamed fish dish I had in various incarnations pretty at every large meal I ate in China. It's nothing extraordinary in terms of Chinese cuisine.


    Right, I'm sorry for having stated my opinions so offensively. I'm glad you agree that Chinese food on this continent is not particularly special. Although I often have fun on this website poking fun and arguing over the internet, I cannot really say that continuing this exchange will do anything for either of us. You are entitled to your opinions, and I to mine. My background and training are predominantly French, so whenever I taste food, I bring that bias and set of gastronomic priorities along with me. I like to think that I can be objective and not let my euro-centric predisposition get in the way of how I evaluate food, but there are just some things that my taste cannot abide. I'm not saying that I am loath to eat Chinese food, or that I don't that as average food for an average day goes, that it is bad. I think the variety in any Chinese provincial diet is still superior to the average American diet (though I've never been an absolute proponent or defender of American food culture).

    However, you have to remember that the lense through which I evaluate food might be different from yours. Even though my arrogance inclines me to say that it is superior or better, I know that not everyone cares about high standards in food like I do. For most people, something that is relatively tasty is good enough. Nevertheless, if I am to compare what I've spoken about to what I really think is truly special, then it is likely to fall short.

    When I started the thread I thought it would more or less be in jest, and as much as I love food I don't care enough to get in a fight about it unless I'm working a kitchen and my standards aren't being met. Obviously my strong opinions and standards (and again, not superior, just differently oriented), are not agreeable with most people's. So in closing I'll say again that while I don't agree with you, I hope you'll understand that it's very possible that we don't even care about the same things in food, and so us arguing about it is pointless. I should have been more clear about this throughout the thread, that I don't always look for the same things that other people do. This problem is precisely why a lot of my Chinese friends (and a few really great Mexican cooks I know), always have anywhere from harmless fights to almost fatal encounters with their families over their basic native foods. My future father in law, a Russian, has really gotten into it with me about food, because there's just some things we don't see eye to eye on. He thinks of it in a more utilitarian way, but thankfully his mother (who is part french), understands me a little better, so the dynamic on this issue is still pretty uncomplicated.
     
  18. VKK3450

    VKK3450 Well-Known Member

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    A number of chefs I've known have absolutely crap pallettes (not helped by smoking / drinking / killing taste buds). Most chefs merely replicate the creations of others, and while they may employ "proper" technique and know what the dish should taste like (in order to consistently perpare it), they dont necessarily appreciate the food.

    While some enter the industry out of appreciation and passion for food, many look at it as a paying gig. They dont create anything original and are little more than line cooks.

    K
     
  19. SField

    SField Well-Known Member

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    A number of chefs I've known have absolutely crap pallettes (not helped by smoking / drinking / killing taste buds). Most chefs merely replicate the creations of others, and while they may employ "proper" technique and know what the dish should taste like (in order to consistently perpare it), they dont necessarily appreciate the food.

    While some enter the industry out of appreciation and passion for food, many look at it as a paying gig. They dont create anything original and are little more than line cooks.

    K


    Eh any chef with a shitty palate is not tasting his food and isn't a good chef, sorry.
     
  20. VKK3450

    VKK3450 Well-Known Member

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    Eh any chef with a shitty palate is not tasting his food and isn't a good chef, sorry.

    I didn't say they were good chefs. In fact, I would venture that most working chefs are not good, but rather just assembly workers who crank out someone elses dishes.

    K

    (I dont limit the use to head / exec / etc chef here)
     

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