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Fancy Food is Overrated
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Bekbeka



Joined: 17 Mar 2005
Posts: 108
Location: France

PostPosted: Tue Jan 24, 2006 10:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I don'tr really want to get involved in this debate, but saying that and having just returned from a 4 hour lunch at a very good restaurant in Paris (courtesey of a friend - not as bad as it sounds), I do have to come down on the side of - no, not overrated. True, I wouldn't choose to spend my present food budget that way, but it was a truly amazing experience that I will always remember - and the food was a big part of it, as was the company and the wonderful service & atmosphere. One of the three great meals of my life.
I am all for taking the pretention out of food - which is what the 'fancy' label seems to be about - but not for taking the occasion out of meals. In the end, most casual meals eaten will blend into one unless there is something distinguishing them - and a lovely atmosphere, service and food are some ways of doing that. Think about how many Friday night meals you can remember over the last five years - and I guarantee you that most of those will be when some special effort was taken or when you ate something or somewhere special, instead of the ordinary.
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Rainey



Joined: 29 Sep 2004
Posts: 2498
Location: Los Angeles, California, USA

PostPosted: Tue Jan 24, 2006 10:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Euridice wrote:
Probably I'm a bit too harsh because of the hardcore Italian in me speaking. Sorry for that! Wink
Italian cooking is really easy and simple, and I'm really tired to see dishes drenched in cream, wine sauces, "reduction" this and "jelly" that being called "Italian". (Here in Italy, we don't even know what Alfredo sauce is, for example!)


How interesting! The Italian food I know is from second generation Italian families who emigrated to New York State on the east coast of the US. I was young and simply knew it tasted great. I didn't ask about the authenticity.

Of course, now, I think that's an important question. Not because people can't adapt, innovate and incorporate new things that become available and also delicous, but because 1) when things are rooted in the traditional they build on it in ways that make sense and bring new light to it, 2) because that way we're able to preserve what's wonderful and new and inspirational to many of us whatever our cultures of origin, and 3) because that way we can find our way back to our origins.

Once upon a time here, we opined that the Sugar Pies of eastern Canada probably became the Pecan Pies of the southeastern US as a result of the migration of the Arcadians. The pies are so very similar in concept even though the sugar available in Canada was maple and the sugar of the southeast was cane sugar & molasses. And pecans, of course, were widely available in the south but rarely in the colder climate of Canada. I think such links tell us about ourselves and our history just as the roots of language do.

I hope you'll stick around and teach us more about authentic Italian food. And I hope we'll have something to offer about our foods and even our interpretations (being all some of us know) of Italian things.

BTW, how many different "Italian" foods or cooking traditions would you say there are? Because, clearly there must be big differences in Northern and Southern Italian cooking just as there are big differences in the climates and growing/herding possibilities.

I hope you'll share! And welcome!
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isis



Joined: 13 Jan 2006
Posts: 35
Location: Ontario Canada

PostPosted: Wed Jan 25, 2006 1:40 am    Post subject: overated food Reply with quote

I wish chefs were over paid cause I would have retired by now in a nice little villa in France.

Food is food and can be from heaven or from the coal pits of hell but it's all good. You like what you like and frequent where you wanna eat. I have to agree that some restaurants in the fancy part of town are over priced and you pay for the snob value. Having said that I have worked in high class restaurants and you are paying for the service and the experience of the chef to bring you something totally delightful to sample. Being passionate about what I do brings me great pride to present something very lovely and made with care from my kitchen.
But knowing the true value of food costs it makes me cringe at the price tags on a lot of menus.

Oh and I love a good corn dog once in a while.

Isis
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villacollinette



Joined: 07 Dec 2005
Posts: 62
Location: Antibes, France

PostPosted: Thu Jan 26, 2006 6:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Oooh, I've held off as long as I could, but now I just have to jump in with my two cents' worth. Of course some of the truly posh restaurants are expensive. This is not about the price of the food, it's about the ambiance. Someone mentioned Alain Ducasse earlier in the thread. If you haven't already, take a second to check out this link (click on the 360 deg virtual tour):

http://www.alain-ducasse.com/public_us/louis_xv/fr_atmosphere.htm

That is a lot of the reason you're paying so much! That kind of ambiance doesn't come cheap -- it's not just about the food, it's the whole experience. And when the food doesn't measure up, it is disappointing, but again, the food is only part of the equation.

I do think that elegance, glamor and refinement have a definite place in our world. When I was in Japan, I was fortunate enough to have a friend who was studying tea ceremony. She invited me to her house, where I was outfitted in a yukata (the summer version of a kimono) and seated in a hideously uncomfortable fashion to watch a highly stylized ritual that ended with me being presented with what was essentially a cup of instant tea and some overly sweet little candies. Said this way, you would think it was a worthless experience, but really, it wasn't ABOUT the tea. The tea is just the occasion around which this whole tradition has grown. Women can spend years learning all the ins and outs of the ceremony -- just the right angle to hold the little whisk you use to mix the tea and the water, just the right way to stand up, etc. This is an extreme version of style without much substance, but this is something that has survived for centuries there and continues to thrive since that sort of style, elegance and grace has a real place in the world.

I am particularly passionate on this subject since I have two small children at home and very rarely get to appreciate nice food served in a ceremonious fashion. I can cook a fabulous meal, but if the girls are awake, it's hard to concentrate on it long enough to really appreciate it. So going someplace where someone else does the work, the food is served with style, flair and ceremony, and the surroundings are gracious and elegant sounds like HEAVEN. Would I do it every day? Never in a million years. But as an occasion? It's unbeatable.
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HotnSpicy



Joined: 22 Jan 2006
Posts: 3

PostPosted: Fri Jan 27, 2006 4:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've enjoyed reading everyone's thoughts but have to say that living with John has taught me that variety is the spice. He is fortunate enough to have had a very nice career that afforded him the opportunity to travel and eat across the US and then some...I can tell you that pleasing him isn't difficult as long as it is tasty food and he won't tell you he would rather one over the other...I think what he would tell you is that it takes both to please and satisfy his palate,...I can tell you that I have seen him salivate knowing that he was going to soon have a sausage and peppers sandwich from a vendor in front of Fenway Park or dream about a meal he is going to eat at the most elegant that NY has to offer or even at some touristy place like the space needle in Seattle...In essence what I am trying to say is that it is not only about food or atmosphere or price etc its about what feels right or good or what feeds the soul at that particular moment...

He was a fan of a gourmet program that aired in the Boston area while we lived there...most of the reviews were OK ...the show was really kind of hokey...and nothing to rave about but we watched it every week and If we just happened to be in need of something to do on a Saturday we might drive 60 or 120 miles to try out the lobster rolls or the hot dogs that had been given a thumbs up...and I guarantee you that if he was traveling on a business trip he would make sure that his itinerary included the best restaurant in town...I have seen time and time again on the Food Network programs where they are visiting great renouned resturants or little eating establishments that specialize in something like "loose meat sandwiches" to the house salad at Canlis or a mile high sandwich or $25 dollar Hamburger at a deli in NY or a white castle...etc etc and he has eaten at them all and he can give you details of what it was like to eat there and what the food was like...I can tell you hat the variety of both or even better, all those places and the ones in between are what makes fine dining...
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climbeyalex



Joined: 22 Nov 2005
Posts: 92

PostPosted: Sun Jan 29, 2006 1:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I belong to the deli lot. My partner and I have tried, believe me, to have dinner at one of those fancy places, but for some reason, even with wonderful ambience and all, we cannot make a meal stretch out past an hour. We're more of the eat and go kind of people. We love good food, our last visit to Hong Kong's Mid levels resulted in many meals spent in the tiny eateries seeking out local roast meats, mexican food, new york deli food (the cheesesteak hoagie was awesome), a chippy, some italian resturant and we love this really authetic homestyle japanese resturant near our apartment. But good food only goes that far for us, it's food, it awesome, we love it and that's the end of it. I like elegance and can appreciate it, unfortunately, I can only appreciate fancy schmancy food to a certain extent and it's not very far. BUT I think McDonalds and the likes of it are just not food, they're highly processed brown and yellow things.
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Last edited by climbeyalex on Mon Feb 07, 2011 12:28 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Donna



Joined: 14 Oct 2005
Posts: 827
Location: Oakland, CA

PostPosted: Mon Jan 30, 2006 6:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

After reading what everyone has to say on this subject, it seems clear to me that no matter WHAT you are eating or WHERE you are eating that the enjoyment of food is a reaction to a fairly complex chemistry: not only the what & where but who you are with & what your expectations are. It seems to me that there are so many appetites to be sated by a meal - visual, taste, hunger satisfaction, emotional triggers, intellectual curiosity (for those of us who like to deconstruct restaurant meals), companionship (or solitude!) - and the best meals fulfill all those things. It's definitely food for thought! Wink
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Donna



Joined: 14 Oct 2005
Posts: 827
Location: Oakland, CA

PostPosted: Mon Jan 30, 2006 6:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

And - we can count on Sarape to provide that food for thought!

How was your first week of leisure, Sarape?
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David



Joined: 30 Sep 2004
Posts: 1855
Location: Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

PostPosted: Mon Jan 30, 2006 8:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

About a week late I know but I'm off for a while, just popped in to work and see what my friends here are chatting about--anyway---Sarape---LIVERWURST IS NOT FOIE GRAS!
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FoodSciGeek



Joined: 19 Aug 2005
Posts: 143
Location: Vancouver

PostPosted: Wed Feb 01, 2006 6:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The attached link takes you to an article on female chefs in the restaurant business and I think settles once and for all the question are chefs paid too much...absolutely not! It gives an interesting perspective on the atmosphere of a restaurant kitchen. I don't know how accurate it is, but based on my interaction with chefs who have left the restaurant business to work in product development, it's not far off.

http://www.suntimes.com/output/news/cst-nws-femalechefs29.html
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Judy



Joined: 29 Sep 2004
Posts: 1196
Location: buried under a pile of books somewhere in Adelaide, South Australia

PostPosted: Wed Feb 01, 2006 7:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Excellent article, thanks for the link, FSG.

I think they should just all leave and become nurses - same terrible hours, I haul around similar or heavier weights at times, have to put up with whinging patients/workmates/doctors but the pay's great, the work is (generally) very rewarding and I work when I want and take time off when I want.
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Chicago Bear



Joined: 02 May 2005
Posts: 240
Location: Chicago

PostPosted: Wed Feb 01, 2006 4:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

FSG, I appreciated the link too, but for a different reason. There are some references to Chicago restaurants with women chefs, and my wife and I are going to make it a point to patronize them. Va Pensiero is one of our favorite restaurants in Evanston, and we were sad when Peggy Ryan sold it six years ago. I hadn't realized it was to spend more time with her family. This might be controversial, but I believe that women have a much more difficult time combining careers with motherhood because of their built-in nurturing instincts. In the law, I've seen very capable women attorneys struggle with their feelings, sometimes denying that they have them, and then sometimes jumping in the other direction by opting out of their careers. At the dawn of feminism in the law--which I wholeheartedly supported because my first wife was a lawyer--it was fashionable to say that men and women were alike and should be treated the same. Well, men and women are not alike, and providing equal opportunities to women should not mean that we should pretend that they're just like men.
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FoodSciGeek



Joined: 19 Aug 2005
Posts: 143
Location: Vancouver

PostPosted: Wed Feb 01, 2006 8:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Glad to hear you're planning to patronize the restaurants in the article. I'm at that age where a lot of my friends and family are going through the balancing act of family and career. I'm reminded of a quote attributed to Gloria Steinem, "I have yet to hear a man ask for advice on how to combine marriage and a career". I don't know if that still holds entirely, but it still seems that the burden of balance falls on the women.
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jenjen



Joined: 06 Nov 2004
Posts: 268
Location: Melbourne Australia

PostPosted: Wed Feb 01, 2006 10:33 pm    Post subject: BALANCE Reply with quote

Spot on FoodSciGeek, it is all about balance.

Chicago Bear, As the years have gone by I have found more and more women in the workplace who have chosen not to have children. Not all of us have the mothering urge that you speak of! Clearly those who do need to create a balance between work and family. My friend of 5'1" owned and cooked in her 2 star michelan restaurant in Lyon. As she got older the physical pressure started taking its toll and she needed to adjust her work/family hours accordingly. Clearly most women do not have the physical strength of their male counterparts.

In Australia we have a shortage of cooks and chefs, (maybe some time we can have a separate thread on the definition of both) so if a life down under appeals, visit your nearest Aussie enbassy where you will be welcomed with open arms (and a stamped visa) Laughing Cool Laughing
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Chicago Bear



Joined: 02 May 2005
Posts: 240
Location: Chicago

PostPosted: Wed Feb 01, 2006 10:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

JenJen, thanks for the insight. I think that I was assuming that nurturing is as ingrained in women as watching sports and farting is for men. And it's comforting to know that jobs are available down under if my firm goes under, which I don't expect....but then, I didn't expect to get hit by a car either.
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