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But what are people disagreeing with me about? Do they have evidence that the Mumbai taxi drivers are NOT huge noise polluters? That the starvation in Northern Kenya is NOT down to an incompetent and corrupt Govt? That Turkish restaurants couldn't be better and more developed than they are?

 

You see people do not wish to discuss the actual facts. It's that they can't deal with the discussion because of a notion in their own heads that to criticise poor or developing countries is "racist" and that people like me should not do it. And I will not desist because of that

 

But if they're disagreeing me because I am wrong, fine.

 

I wrote a long response yesterday that was eaten by Canadian internet, let me try and reproduce it.

 

First, there is some significant disagreement about the so called facts. In this thread you claimed it was next to impossible for good restaurants to exist in Istanbul and it was pointed out to you that this is wrong. In previous threads you've made similar dubious claims about south american cuisine. So, yes, there is factual disagreement.

 

Second, there is disagreement about the meaning you assign to facts, which can be divided further:

 

a. It seems like you extrapolate many global facts from the state of some Ethnic restaurants in London. As indicated before, it is perfectly possible that people in Adana are enjoying marvelous feasts of stews, salads and grilled game meats even if turkish restaurants in London are failing. There is hardly any relation between the two. One simple proof of that is that the state of restaurants in London changes with time, so if there's suddenly a wave of immigration from peru and someone opens a high-end peruvian restaurant, you would suddently claim that peruvian cuisine has improved. Further evidence is offered by geographic variability - some (not good, imho) Greek restaurants in nyc are impossible to book (e.g. Pylos) while in London they're part of history. Behemoth also adds that while Lebanese restauarnts are better in London (and Paris, and to a degree in nyc although there are very few), she enjoys Turkish restaurants better in Germany.

 

b. as pointed out by LML, Wilf and others, you've created an equation between a certain form of restaurants and the cuisine of a country, an equation that has been pretty obviously wrong in most places, although is becoming more correct with westernization.

 

 

Most surprisingly, none of this means that anyone is disagreeing with you about the statement that dining out in Turkey is in general a good experience, but that's not really what you seemed to be arguing, yet you claim that people should discuss that and only that.

 

Finally, you state that people use the "why do you say bad things about X where things aren't so great at home?" argument. But really there's another way to see this, as I've tried to establish with my US dining example. It's trivial to write the most horrible things about Americans, their culture in general, their misunderstanding of personal space, loudness, entitlement, and of course how they pat themselves on the back because they finally have a couple of ok restaurants and in a way. I imagine if you wrote such a message it would have a similar effect to the ones about Mumbai, etc., although I don't dispute that some people are quicker to respond when you speak about certain cultures.

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I wrote a long response yesterday that was eaten by Canadian internet, let me try and reproduce it.

 

First, there is some significant disagreement about the so called facts. In this thread you claimed it was next to impossible for good restaurants to exist in Istanbul and it was pointed out to you that this is wrong. In previous threads you've made similar dubious claims about south american cuisine. So, yes, there is factual disagreement.

 

Second, there is disagreement about the meaning you assign to facts, which can be divided further:

 

a. It seems like you extrapolate many global facts from the state of some Ethnic restaurants in London. As indicated before, it is perfectly possible that people in Adana are enjoying marvelous feasts of stews, salads and grilled game meats even if turkish restaurants in London are failing. There is hardly any relation between the two. One simple proof of that is that the state of restaurants in London changes with time, so if there's suddenly a wave of immigration from peru and someone opens a high-end peruvian restaurant, you would suddently claim that peruvian cuisine has improved. Further evidence is offered by geographic variability - some (not good, imho) Greek restaurants in nyc are impossible to book (e.g. Pylos) while in London they're part of history. Behemoth also adds that while Lebanese restauarnts are better in London (and Paris, and to a degree in nyc although there are very few), she enjoys Turkish restaurants better in Germany.

 

b. as pointed out by LML, Wilf and others, you've created an equation between a certain form of restaurants and the cuisine of a country, an equation that has been pretty obviously wrong in most places, although is becoming more correct with westernization.

Most surprisingly, none of this means that anyone is disagreeing with you about the statement that dining out in Turkey is in general a good experience, but that's not really what you seemed to be arguing, yet you claim that people should discuss that and only that.

 

Finally, you state that people use the "why do you say bad things about X where things aren't so great at home?" argument. But really there's another way to see this, as I've tried to establish with my US dining example. It's trivial to write the most horrible things about Americans, their culture in general, their misunderstanding of personal space, loudness, entitlement, and of course how they pat themselves on the back because they finally have a couple of ok restaurants and in a way. I imagine if you wrote such a message it would have a similar effect to the ones about Mumbai, etc., although I don't dispute that some people are quicker to respond when you speak about certain cultures.

 

I really don't know where to start with this post. Firstly I have never said anywhere on the thread that it was "next to impossible for good restaurants to exist in Istanbul". In fact I said that it was clear from Mariani's article that good restaurants (good being aspirational and original) did indeed exist in Istanbul.

 

Secondly I didn't even say that it was next to impossible for good restaurants to exist in Turkey. I wouldn't have said that because I believe that it is possible for good restaurants to exist anywhere. However I am interested in the factors that govern where they exist and where they don't. And I said that in my visits to Turkey "good" restaurants (ie. restaurants interested in serving more dynamic and ambitious food than the norm) had generally escaped me.

 

Thirdly,as for this oft repeated mantra that the restaurants in a country may be ordinary or poor but the cusine of that country may be fine, I have not disputed that. What I HAVE said is that if the very best that the cuisine has to offer is not available for people to eat then the cuisine remains mired because there isn't the public interest needed to create the discourse needed to drive it forward. The place where I am most familiar with this problem is Pakistan, where my wife's very wealthy connections all have private cooks cooking fantastic Pakistani food, or they go to private clubs to eat where only the mega wealthy go. When they DO go out to eat in public retaurants it is usually for a slummy experience to make a change-pizza, or bog standard Chinese, or a burger. Thus the cuisine would develop if a greater distribution of wealth meant the emergence of a class that was wealthy enough to dine out in restaurants but not so rich that they could afford toi employ private cooks. For this reason thriving restaurant culture is usually a measure of a society where wealth is more equitably distributed rather than where it resides in the hands of the mega rich few.

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I think most of that last paragraph makes sense to me, but this is interesting:

 

"the cuisine remains mired because there isn't the public interest needed to create the discourse needed to drive it forward"

 

Mired from whose viewpoint, I wonder?

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For this reason thriving restaurant culture is usually a measure of a society where wealth is more equitably distributed rather than where it resides in the hands of the mega rich few.

 

That's not quite what Gini thinks:

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:World_M...coefficient.png

 

edit: however, I would easily agree that a cuisine can only develop if there is a significant number of people who are above basic sustenance level.

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Sorry, but I need you to explain what that map is saying.

 

 

 

I think most of that last paragraph makes sense to me, but this is interesting:

 

"the cuisine remains mired because there isn't the public interest needed to create the discourse needed to drive it forward"

 

Mired from whose viewpoint, I wonder?

 

Mired from my viewpoint. If you want to know whether the Turks in Turkey think their cusine is mired you'll have to ask them

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I am not entirely sure myself, but I could see that France and India were the same color, which I take it is a problem for the equity=restaurants theory.

 

Mired from my viewpoint. If you want to know whether the Turks in Turkey think their cusine is mired you'll have to ask them

 

Yes, that's fine. But it doesn't drive the proposition that the Turks ought to develop their cuisine. Only the narrower proposition that Tuckers would be happier if the Turks did so.

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I am not entirely sure myself, but I could see that France and India were the same color, which I take it is a problem for the equity=restaurants theory.

Yes, that's fine. But it doesn't drive the proposition that the Turks ought to develop their cuisine. Only the narrower proposition that Tuckers would be happier if the Turks did so.

 

I don't know about India outside Mumbai and Delhi. But what you have in those cities is exactly what I said. An ever increasing class of people with disposable income who cannot afford a private cook. Also you have an emerging entertainment and fashion industry, especially in Mumbai, which is creating a class of young people with money who can afford a private cook but also who want to go out and enjoy themselves. And they want to do that in bars and restaurants.

 

It's not a question of whether Turks "ought" to devlop their restaurant cuisine. They may be totally happy with it as it is it is. But you could say the same about Outer Mongolian Yak cuisine. If we are going to have a meaningful discussion about cuisines and restaurants then that discussion has to be based on something-like our experiences and opinions and judgements. If all we can ever say is-well the Turks are happy with their cuisine so that's that, well then I don't see a basis for conversation.

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And I'll tell you another country that has developed an excellent restaurant culture virtually from scratch in the last few years-The Republic of Ireland

 

(I notice no-one has attempted to come back on this issue)

 

Ok, I seem to be one of the few people on the board who agrees with the thrust of Tuckerman's points on this topic but, sorry Tony, I need to call you out on this.

 

Ireland does not have an excellent restaurant culture. In fact, Ireland has a lousy restaurant culture. Irish people, in general, do not give a damn about food. A booming economy has brought a huge glut of restaurants onto the market and certainly it is easier to get a decent meal now then it was 20 years ago. But the move has been from a breathtakinly atrocious restaurant culture to a pretty bad and very overpriced restaurant culture. There is no historical tradition of valuing decent food in Ireland (partly because all our decent food was stolen by the Brits for 700 years? :lol: ). There are 4 Michelin stars in the entire country (population 4 million), this is not unfair by any means. That's 11 less than San Sebastian (population 180,000).

 

And don't let me hear anyone say - ah but forget Michelin - what about all those great, friendly Irish eateries serving up traditional, wholesome food. Ireland doesn't have traditional food - there's no such thing as an Irish restaurant. Name an Irish dish? Irish stew. Name another? :lol: And the standard of other cuisines prepared in Ireland is rubbish. I've never had a decent Italian meal in Ireland.

 

Of course there are some decent restaurants in Ireland, if you have a look on eG I posted the details of all of my favourite places in Dublin when I first moved over here but, on the whole, the restaurant culture is appalling.

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I defer to your greater knowledge Ian. I haven't been to Ireland myself. I was basing my assumption on a number of articles I've read and TV pieces I've seen about how thriving the restaurant scene in Ireland has become over the last 10 years. If you know it's all poor quality, then fair enough. :lol:

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It's not a question of whether Turks "ought" to devlop their restaurant cuisine. They may be totally happy with it as it is it is. But you could say the same about Outer Mongolian Yak cuisine. If we are going to have a meaningful discussion about cuisines and restaurants then that discussion has to be based on something-like our experiences and opinions and judgements. If all we can ever say is-well the Turks are happy with their cuisine so that's that, well then I don't see a basis for conversation.

 

True, true, we have common ground here. If the cuisine in Turkey was at the famous yak level, we can all sit around and condemn it. What I was getting at, however, was that it doesn't necessarily follow from the absence of the kinds of restaurants prized by people "like us" that a cuisine is at the yak level. Broader criteria are required. This is why I keep referring back to Spain, where there was excellent cuisine before the arrival (abomination, as LML views it) of "restaurant culture".

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Actually I've never said, that the cuisine in Turkey is poor. But that's not the point. The point is the basis for discussing any cuisine has to be that you experience it at whatever level you do and then you make judgement calls about what you have experienced. It's no different for French cuisine. The basis for the conversation is the variety of opinion. Or that people who have greater knowledge of you correct your impressions (as Ian just did re Ireland) and educate you because they know more than you.

 

But if you take the line-well the Turks like their cuisine so who are you to diss it-then you have no basis for a conversation.

 

Edit: I wonder how many people will come on here to defend Irish cuisine from Ian's assault on the grounds of "well the Irish like it" :lol:

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I just said I agreed with you about the last point (pre-edit).

 

"(T)he basis for discussing any cuisine has to be that you experience it at whatever level you do and then you make judgement calls about what you have experienced>"

 

Of course, What else? But if the sole criterion you apply to that experience is whether it fits the (relatively new) concept of a prospering "restaurant culture" whicb appeals to international diners, and displays the full panoply of innovative kitchen techniques, "ingredient-driven" menus and a media-friendly chef, then prepare for the criterion to be challenged.

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