Jump to content


Photo

Manducatis


  • Please log in to reply
244 replies to this topic

#181 Wilfrid

Wilfrid

    Advanced Member

  • Admin
  • PipPipPip
  • 86,553 posts

Posted 17 November 2011 - 04:20 PM

Doesn't northern European gentile food pretty much suck too?


If I had to spend the rest of my life eating a Northern European diet or a Mediterranean diet, I'd choose the former. I know I'm in the minority. Pass the lobscouse.

#182 Anthony Bonner

Anthony Bonner

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 14,306 posts

Posted 17 November 2011 - 04:41 PM


Doesn't northern European gentile food pretty much suck too?


If I had to spend the rest of my life eating a Northern European diet or a Mediterranean diet, I'd choose the former. I know I'm in the minority. Pass the lobscouse.

oh so Hanseatic food.

"This is a battle of who blinks first, and we've cut off our eyelids"


#183 Sneakeater

Sneakeater

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 64,537 posts

Posted 17 November 2011 - 05:03 PM

Now off the menu at Berlyn, I have to point out.
Bar Loser

MF Old

#184 rozrapp

rozrapp

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 1,952 posts

Posted 17 November 2011 - 05:30 PM

And the fact that few people want to boil a flanken at home?


Kosher flanken actually makes the most delicious short ribs.

#185 Steve R.

Steve R.

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 6,978 posts

Posted 17 November 2011 - 06:45 PM

But there's a large, somewhat overlapping, group of people who have a genuine liking for food which wouldn't meet your implied benchmark, because it's culturally or historically engaging.

Actually, there's a fricking immense, somewhat overlapping group of people who have a genuine liking for food that wouldn't meet Sneak's implied benchmark simply because their benchmark is much, much lower. It has nothing to do with culture or history or even nostalgia. They eat at Lanza, etc., because they actually enjoy the food. They really enjoy it. And, they quite possibly (probably) would go to Babbo or Del Posto and say, "well, it might be better than Lanza, but at these prices? Who needs this?" And they'd probably be very happy to go with their families or friends to Lanza every now and then for their entire lives, but they can no longer afford to live on 7th Street between 1st and A on a retired construction worker's pension, and Lanza's rent is about to get jacked 600% because the hipster "Mittel-European"* pastrami guy just found another round of financing from one of his 1% wall street buddies who wants to be in the restaurant business.

*And can we admit that Mittel-European food, while fine, is only worth paying for due to history, culture and nostalgia?



He means Jewish food.

I agree with Stone, although Lanza's is the wrong example. I don't think anyone would like the food there (of course, I never went back, so maybe there has been a miraculous improvement).


And, as Wilf said elsewhere, we think that Sneak actually agrees with the thrust of this as well (& Lanza really is the wrong example). As far as I know, you actually enjoyed the food at New Corners (Eyetalian in Dyker Hts, Bklyn) and at Ukranian in our meals together there, didnt you Sneak?

This space available… contact owner.


#186 Wilfrid

Wilfrid

    Advanced Member

  • Admin
  • PipPipPip
  • 86,553 posts

Posted 17 November 2011 - 06:46 PM

I hope nobody is going to diss the Ukrainian National Home restaurant.

#187 Sneakeater

Sneakeater

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 64,537 posts

Posted 17 November 2011 - 07:19 PM

And, as Wilf said elsewhere, we think that Sneak actually agrees with the thrust of this as well (& Lanza really is the wrong example). As far as I know, you actually enjoyed the food at New Corners (Eyetalian in Dyker Hts, Bklyn) and at Ukranian in our meals together there, didnt you Sneak?


I'm going to write some lengthy explanation later, when I get some time, but the answer is: RIGHT.
Bar Loser

MF Old

#188 Sneakeater

Sneakeater

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 64,537 posts

Posted 17 November 2011 - 10:29 PM

OK, since I haven't succeeded in making myself clear (mainly because of overreaction), let me try again.

I am not dissing restaurants that serve "home" cooking. I am not dissing simple, traditional food. I am not dissing Cheap Eats.

My complaint with the VNY post -- and this isn't the first one -- is its lack of discrimination. No, not really: it applies standards to restaurants, but those standards have nothing to do with food quality. Not, not just that: while doing so, it spits in the face of standards having to do with food quality, as if caring about food quality (or really any kind of quality) is effete and even immoral. That's where I get my back up. It's not that I'm dissing them. It's that they're dissing me.

Wilfrid stumbled onto what I've been trying to say when he noted that Lanza's is a "bad example" for them. That's my point: they don't care about "good" or "bad". Look at their list of mourned "lost" Red Sauce restaurants: most of them simply sucked. The VNY guys don't care, because they don't care about food quality AT ALL. They don't purport to discriminate between good old Red Sauce places and bad old Red Sauce places, because food quality is alien to their conception. They just care that the place is old.

Despite what Stone thinks, that doesn't make them "salt of the earth" types whom food snobs like me should respect because they're attuned to simpler, more salubrious values than I am. Not at all. Their not caring about food quality isn't any better than Graydon Carter's recently acknowledged not caring about food quality.

It's like, Stone tries to portray me as some effete snob who will prefer any expensive new restaurant to any cheap old restaurant. But as Steve pointed out, that's just not true. I like cheap traditional restaurants -- when they're good. The problem here is, in fact, the opposite of what Stone says: it's not that I'll privilege any expensive new restaurant over any cheap old one -- it's that the VNY guys will privilege any cheap old restaurant over any expensive new one. I'm not the one indulging in prejudice. They are.

But that isn't even the point. If they had just stopped at mourning bad restaurants, then their preferences wouldn't be any of my concern. But they don't stop there. They deride restaurants that try to be good, that hire qualified chefs and use good ingredients.* They imply there's something pretentious about that, that trying to be good makes a place too big for its britches. That viewpoint is pretty widely held in America. I hate it. I refuse to believe that caring about quality, in any endeavor, is wrong.

That's why I think Stone was wrong when he said that the analogy for what these guys like is rap (vs. opera), not Josh Groban (vs. quality opera). Rap is an alternative music form, with its own alternative set of musical criteria. But it's still competing as music. Rap fans still distinguish between good rap music and bad rap music. The VNY guys, in contrast, don't distinguish between good old placees and bad old places. To them, quality is not only irrelevant. Quality is immoral.

Let's let Josh Groban rest for a minute and sub in Andrea Bocelli. It's fine for people to listen to Andrea Bocelli. It's fine for them to like him. If people have a good time listening to Andrea Bocelli -- or eating at Lanza's -- then they should go right ahead. But the minute the Andrea Bocelli fans start criticizing the Opera Establishment for privileging a singer's ability to stay on pitch, and to shade his voice in order to characterize the emotion he's trying to convey (rather than sounding the same all the time), over a blind man's compelling back story, I'll start pushing back.

I think people misconstrued me when I talked about being "a tourist in your own city." Dave Cook doesn't scour the boroughs for "authentic" New York experiences. He looks for "authentic" Liaoning or Gansu (or whatever) experiences. The VNY guys claim to be looking for "authentic" New York experiences. But by that they don't mean the things that actual New Yorkers do -- in fact, that's what they're trying to stamp out. Rather, they mean the things that actual New Yorkers used to do, but don't any more (because of ethnic or economic changes); they're looking for the same kind of touristic "New York" experience as your visiting Midwestern friends who insist on going to Little Italy despite your protestations that no one from New York actually eats there any more. To the extent you can call Dave Cook a "tourist" in New York, he's what you might call an external tourist, looking for experiences from other places. The VNY guys are looking for what you might call "internal" New York experiences -- but only from the New York of before they were born. They ignore the real New York that they live in -- ignore the fact that, as New Yorkers, they create the "authentic" New York. Instead, they act like tourists, looking for characteristic experiences in the places locals have stopped going.
__________________________________________________________________
* This is not to say that a restaurant can't be good WITHOUT a credentialed chef and top ingredients. But it's certainly a way to be good. It doesn't matter, though, because the VNY guys don't care about quality anyway.
Bar Loser

MF Old

#189 Wilfrid

Wilfrid

    Advanced Member

  • Admin
  • PipPipPip
  • 86,553 posts

Posted 18 November 2011 - 04:01 PM

Not much to quibble with there, as it's all very sensible; and thanks for taking the time. I will throw a couple of spanners in, as is my wont:

1. There isn't one set of standards when it comes to "food quality." I think we all know we're not discussing outliers where the food is simply foul or toxic, but places where Sneak would see much room for improvement in ingredients and execution. It is the case (as Stone emphasized upthread) that a significant segment of diners score food on a different scale than Sneak (just taking him as a representative of another segment).

For me, this isn't a trivial point. It's not so much that it's germane to this discussion: it's germane to countless discussions where people have insisted that traditional home cooking can be improved by being tweaked up. One example from the past: fish and chips. Forget cod or haddock, use a finer fish like turbot. Hold the vinegar, offer a fresh lemon for squeezing. A buttery potato puree is better than "chips." And as for the batter...

You see how it goes. I do want to hold the line that evaluating cooking is not reducible to "best ingredients in the best preparation." You lose a world of food that way.

2. "They deride restaurants that try to be good, that hire qualified chefs and use good ingredients.* They imply there's something pretentious about that, that trying to be good makes a place too big for its britches." I wish that applied only to the VNY crowd. It seems to me to be epidemic among younger chefs, people who write about food in this city, and many diners. Please insert a rant about eating in garages, drinking our of jam jars and publishing meatball cookbooks.

The tragedy is that chefs who do no better are having to go along with this nonsense to do business.

#190 Sneakeater

Sneakeater

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 64,537 posts

Posted 18 November 2011 - 04:22 PM

1. There isn't one set of standards when it comes to "food quality." I think we all know we're not discussing outliers where the food is simply foul or toxic, but places where Sneak would see much room for improvement in ingredients and execution. It is the case (as Stone emphasized upthread) that a significant segment of diners score food on a different scale than Sneak (just taking him as a representative of another segment).

For me, this isn't a trivial point. It's not so much that it's germane to this discussion: it's germane to countless discussions where people have insisted that traditional home cooking can be improved by being tweaked up. One example from the past: fish and chips. Forget cod or haddock, use a finer fish like turbot. Hold the vinegar, offer a fresh lemon for squeezing. A buttery potato puree is better than "chips." And as for the batter...

You see how it goes. I do want to hold the line that evaluating cooking is not reducible to "best ingredients in the best preparation." You lose a world of food that way.


I just want to emphasize that I see this point -- and agree with it. It's not what I'm saying. I hope that's clear.

I agree that not all "basic" food can be "improved" by using better ingredients and heightened technique (although some can). And I'd further add that, even if it can be so "improved", it doesn't render the original basic version any less good, in and of itself.

BUT (of course) to say that is NOT to say that all "basic" food is good. There are good "basic" places and bad ones. I think the people enjoying Lanza's are enjoying it because it's cheap, or it seems cool to be there. I don't think they're really enjoying the food. There are other old skool Red Sauce places where they could be.

Robert Sietsema just made an apt comment in a new Voice blog post about the 10 whackiest restaurants in New York dining history. One of the restaurants he talks about is an old Village Red Sauce place where patrons were encouraged to sing opera for their fellow diners. Sietsema -- hardly a food snob -- noted that the food wasn't much: "even an average cook [could] do better at home." We all know that Sietsema has found Red Sauce places he likes.

Going back to the first point, I want to retell a story that I'm sure Steve R. has already told here. One night, he, Ginny, Rich, Peggy, and I went out to Colandrea's New Corner in some obscure outlying section of Dyker Heights in Brooklyn. As far as I was concerned, this place was Red Sauce Heaven: I loved it. At some point, someone at the table asked our waitress where they sourced the excellent Mozzarella cheese. (Don't worry: I'm sure no one used the verb "source".) She looked puzzled for a moment, and then gave us the name and address of a supermarket up the street.
Bar Loser

MF Old

#191 Wilfrid

Wilfrid

    Advanced Member

  • Admin
  • PipPipPip
  • 86,553 posts

Posted 18 November 2011 - 05:29 PM

I suppose you are too snobbish to even imagine that a supermarket might have a mozzarella program. :P

#192 Steve R.

Steve R.

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 6,978 posts

Posted 18 November 2011 - 06:31 PM

I suppose you are too snobbish to even imagine that a supermarket might have a mozzarella program. :P


I was so embarassed. I mean, it was right next to the Velveeta that I always get at that supermarket... cant believe I didnt notice it.

This space available… contact owner.


#193 Sneakeater

Sneakeater

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 64,537 posts

Posted 18 November 2011 - 06:34 PM

Not much to quibble with there, as it's all very sensible; and thanks for taking the time. I will throw a couple of spanners in, as is my wont:

1. There isn't one set of standards when it comes to "food quality." I think we all know we're not discussing outliers where the food is simply foul or toxic, but places where Sneak would see much room for improvement in ingredients and execution. It is the case (as Stone emphasized upthread) that a significant segment of diners score food on a different scale than Sneak (just taking him as a representative of another segment).

For me, this isn't a trivial point. It's not so much that it's germane to this discussion: it's germane to countless discussions where people have insisted that traditional home cooking can be improved by being tweaked up. One example from the past: fish and chips. Forget cod or haddock, use a finer fish like turbot. Hold the vinegar, offer a fresh lemon for squeezing. A buttery potato puree is better than "chips." And as for the batter...

You see how it goes. I do want to hold the line that evaluating cooking is not reducible to "best ingredients in the best preparation." You lose a world of food that way.


This is really the issue with Coppellia, right?
Bar Loser

MF Old

#194 Wilfrid

Wilfrid

    Advanced Member

  • Admin
  • PipPipPip
  • 86,553 posts

Posted 18 November 2011 - 06:37 PM

Maybe, but I am not going until they can serve me a drink.

#195 Sneakeater

Sneakeater

    Advanced Member

  • Members
  • PipPipPip
  • 64,537 posts

Posted 13 December 2011 - 05:51 PM

Apparently yuppie places are OK if they're remote enough in time.
Bar Loser

MF Old