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Random Food Questions Thread

Discussion in 'Social Life, Food & Drink, Travel' started by kwilkinson, Apr 8, 2010.

  1. Steve Plotnicki

    Steve Plotnicki Member

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    Growing up in a kosher home is pretty terrible in terms of learning how to be a diner. Not that being kosher is an automatic guarantee of food tasting bad - I found the kosher food in Israel to be quite tasty - it's the way kashruth is practiced in America. For some reason that escapes me, Jews want kosher food to mimic non-kosher food so they create silly things like beef fry for bacon, scallops made out of white fish and soy whip cream to put on non-dairy ice cream for dessert. Nothing can be more liberating for a young Jewish man more than Veal Parmigian or a cheese burger.
     


  2. mordecai

    mordecai Immoderator

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    +1, though I think the Sephardics don't have this problem as much.
     


  3. erictheobscure

    erictheobscure Senior member

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    Geez, one busy day of teaching and I miss a robust discussion.

    My two cents: cuisine seems so interesting because it seems a couple hundred years behind in terms of development as an artistic genre. The artisan/art divide, so old in lots of other media, seems still in the process of happening. I heard Jacques Pepin on NPR the other day and he waffled on this very issue (the chef is an artisan, not a chef; okay, the chef is an artist, but not on the order of Picasso). I think we're so far removed from a patronage model of art (and so plugged into a model of the artist as Romantic genius) that we have a hard time thinking about an artist catering to someone's demands. But this is precisely how a lot of the greatest artists did operate, and they had to negotiate the client's demands and the stuff they really wanted to do. I guess the added twist, though, is that restaurants are part of the hospitality industry, which is strictly speaking an oxymoron since absolute hospitality is supposed to be an open-ended gift. The customers are the clients, and yet they're partly putting themselves in the hands of their hosts. So I guess asking for substitutions isn't just a violation of the chef-as-artist (and a reminder that the customer is paying), it's also a violation of the fiction of the customer as guest of the chef-as-hospitable-host.

    (Aside: Didn't Nathan Myhrvold declare as a guest judge on Top Chef that cuisine has yet to go fully through a modernist movement? I actually think he's loosely correct, even though cuisine certainly exhibits the modernist high/low distinction. Eating food is such a powerful sensory experience that the kind of modernist experiments in difficulty and upsetting notions of beauty don't seem to have taken root quite as easily. I.e., going to look at "Piss Christ" is, regardless of your beliefs, still a lot more palatable than being served piss in your Montrachet.)
     
    Last edited: Jan 24, 2012


  4. KJT

    KJT Senior member

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    Nothing to add really, but thanks for the interesting posts. Great conversation.
     


  5. ehkay

    ehkay Senior member

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    +1. Was busy most of the day, and only followed a bit from my phone, but just finished reading everything. Good stuff.
     
    Last edited: Jan 24, 2012


  6. Teger

    Teger Senior member

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    as someone with an actual food allergy (if I eat a tree nut, I die) I'm firmly on the side of 'substitutions please'. definitely some interesting discussion here, but i think the fact that there are legitimate reasons for asking for substitutions above and beyond simple aesthetic taste does make it seem that comparing a meal to a painting isn't wholly applicable.

    to introduce another thought though: how about a restaurant that didn't ask diners their preference for how well done they want their meat?
     
    Last edited: Jan 24, 2012


  7. itsstillmatt

    itsstillmatt The Liberator Dubiously Honored

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    Does anybody ask how meat should be done anymore? I mean, they only have so many pots of warm water.
     


  8. Steve Plotnicki

    Steve Plotnicki Member

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    Well you have hit on the issue. Food, no matter how much it portends to be art, is also about sustenence. The most artistic meal I ever had was at Quique Dacosta's restaurant in Spain. http://oad.typepad.com/oa/2007/06/el_poblet_quiqu.html. It is the only dining experience I have ever had where sustenence was secondary to what the chef was presenting. But despite its lofty aspirations, eating the food was still part of the experience. For example, in order to enjoy the experience I had to be hungry. If I went when I was full, I wouldn't be able to enjoy it no matter how great the art was. But that also meant that the art was limited by the fact that whatever was being presented couldn;t make me want to vomit when I put it in my mouth. So no matter how much they bitch and no matter how hard they try, chefs will never escape this limitation and this is why cuisine is not the same as art.
     
    Last edited: Jan 24, 2012


  9. sygyzy

    sygyzy Senior member

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    Sang Yoon has never called his burger art. I don't know how you even concluded this? Maybe it has to do with the introduction of Picasso into this thread that has everyone confused.

    My late friend Cory did an interview with Sang and I have a copy of some of his notes which I'll quote. All rights reserved and all that to the original publication. Some of this made it in the article, some didn't.

    He goes on to talk about how the meat is a special mixture. I think a lot of people don't know about the meat composition. That's what makes the burger. It was actually illegal for them to produce.

     


  10. Rambo

    Rambo Senior member

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    Can we talk about something other than this douchebag and his burgers yet?
     


  11. Steve Plotnicki

    Steve Plotnicki Member

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    It would seem from that explanation that Sang Yoon was treating his burger as if it was art. Or a science project that wouldn't work if any of the components were changed. Bullshit. It's just a hamburger. A chef can't insist that a hamburger is something that can't be changed just because he decides to call a slice of tomato an "attribute." It's a f*cking slice of tomato.

    I said this earlier up in the thread but it might have been too nuanced so people missed it's signifigance [​IMG]. Art is a 2-way street. In order for something to be art, it needs to be presented as art and the people viewing it need to accept it as such. I don't see how something can have the aesthetic signifigance that Sang Yoon gives it in his response to your friend if the dining public are not willing to accept the way he is presenting it. That is why he should make substitutions. In the eyes of the diner, he is merely serving tasty food, not something that is so precious or important that it can't withstand being modified.
     
    Last edited: Jan 25, 2012


  12. b1os

    b1os Senior member

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    And here I go again: some people don't get that everyone has a different palate. Just because *he* likes something doesn't mean *every* customer will like it that way - or miss any ingredient they substitute. Most people aren't accustomed to blue cheese on burgers, some aren't to any cheese at all. They will probably like the new creation and probably not. I personally do not like blue cheese at all (at least none I've tried so far). Still, I'd try the burger with it first, just out of respect for the "creator" and more importantly because I like to try out new things. However I know that many people don't have a similar approach to things. They say they don't like zucchini yet they've never tried it out in their life. I understand what Yoon is doing, he sort of wants to educate people what a burger should taste like and to try out new things (not because he persuaded them but because he "forced" them!). What a burger should taste like in his opinion. ("If you take out any one part, I miss it") This is the point he doesn't want to understand.

    I would definitely allow substitutions (especially for health reasons). And be proud if people still chose my creation. Even if it's just popular in the press and because of the flock-behavior of people many will try it out sans substitutions - not because they want to try out something new but because they want to be part of another inner circle (yes, I've tried the new best burger in town... - how did it taste? - it's the best burger in town, duh!). But is this worse than forcing people to eat something? Yeah, obviously they can just leave. But this is not what a restaurant is there for in my opinion. Imagine a group of five people. Three absolutely want to have the blue cheese burger at Yoon's. The other two detest blue cheese. Solution? The three get their blue-cheese-burger and the other two get their burger without blue cheese. Everyone is happy, Yoon can be happy - he succeded in what he's there for!
    That the waiter says that one shall remove the blue cheese post-cooking makes complete nonsense of the whole policy.

    Either way, if the restaurant wasn't full every single night, he definitely would change his rules. So I guess Steve is right in that point.

    IMO this whole policy is just marketing. Look how much attention he gets just because of this stupid rule. Reminds me of the "all you can eat"-restaurants that charge you for leftovers.

    @sygyzy: And I always thought burger patties should be kept very simple. Maybe Yoon is doing it wrong?
     


  13. indesertum

    indesertum Senior member

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    i would imagine it's partly because once the chefs get in the rhythm of things asking for substitutions is not only a pain in the butt but occasionally gets miscommunicated and comes out wrong. they have more than enough business and decided it's fine if they lose some customers since they already have enough. same idea with cash only places.

    it probably wasn't intended as marketing, but it came out that way
     


  14. itsstillmatt

    itsstillmatt The Liberator Dubiously Honored

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    This issue isn't whether or not his hamburger is art, nor whether your line of demarcation for art is acceptable, it is whether chefs act like they deserve to be treated as artists. Perhaps I shouldn't even say "treated as artists" because most artists are doubling as waiters, waitresses, carpenters etc, not having retrospectives at MOMA, but these chefs want to be treated like important artists. As they say, it isn't the meat, it is the motion.

    They needn't say that their food is art to be seen as acting this way, sygyzy, so I am not sure how that is any real line of defense.
     


  15. shibbel

    shibbel Senior member

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    huh?
    

    [VIDEO][/VIDEO]
     


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