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“Intestines of what?”
November 17, 2008 8:14 PM   Subscribe


 
He's like a lost Tennenbaum (although I would expect a Tennenbaum to know what tripe is). I want a $25 dinner allowance.
posted by Frank Grimes at 8:21 PM on November 17, 2008 [9 favorites]


Um - so? He's not a real critic, apparently, he just wants to be one, eventually, maybe, so he carried a notebook with him when he went to a restaurant to eat, where he was spotted by the NYT food critic. Isn't that really about it?
posted by yhbc at 8:23 PM on November 17, 2008 [2 favorites]


Based on the headline alone I formed a complete visual image of how this kid would look. The picture matched it perfectly.

A fine story, though it felt more NYer Talk of the Town than NYT Dining. But whatever. I'm glad the kid likes to eat well. He should start a review site.
posted by Miko at 8:24 PM on November 17, 2008


The kitchen workers were so intrigued by the young adventurous eater that they sent out a bowl of complimentary tripe stew, which he enjoyed, although, he allowed, “It wasn’t my favorite.” He was a little surprised to learn, subsequently, that tripe was prepared stomach lining. His eyes went wide. “Intestines of what?” he asked.

Loved this article.
posted by mediareport at 8:24 PM on November 17, 2008


heh... i liked it, thanks!
posted by HuronBob at 8:25 PM on November 17, 2008


As someone who, at age 12, was still forced by my dad to eat off the childrens menu, I totally envy this kid!
posted by TungstenChef at 8:30 PM on November 17, 2008 [1 favorite]


Metafilter: real meat guys. Like butchers-slash-guys who would eat a lot of meat.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 8:30 PM on November 17, 2008 [7 favorites]


Isn't that really about it?

Its a charming human interest story, typical stuffed in on weekends and Mondays.

I applaud any kid who takes a passion to good food, my tastes were rather poor at that age.
posted by MiltonRandKalman at 8:30 PM on November 17, 2008


I wish I was such a brave eater at 12. I'm probably just about that brave now (I had tripe just a year or so ago!). But more than that, I'm impressed Mr. Fishman had the courage to go and eat at a restaurant by himself. That's a scary thing for a lot of people, and I don't understand why- I always enjoy it.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 8:41 PM on November 17, 2008 [3 favorites]


And meanwhile, a few blocks away, $25 feeds a family of four.
posted by ornate insect at 8:45 PM on November 17, 2008 [10 favorites]


11/17

Tried that new Greek place down the street. Macaroni and cheese was subpar. Peanut butter and jelly similarly deficient. I ordered a golden delicious jus but I believe I must have received a red delicious blend. Lack of RazR parking seriously undermines accessibility. Insiders say the place is packed on Fridays, so "get there early" or else the service can be "poop".
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 8:48 PM on November 17, 2008 [4 favorites]


And meanwhile, a few blocks away, $25 feeds a family of four.

...and your point is?
posted by TungstenChef at 8:49 PM on November 17, 2008 [14 favorites]


I love this kid!
posted by Maisie Jay at 8:54 PM on November 17, 2008


Cute, plus that restaurant couldn't buy publicity this good. Win all around!
posted by sbutler at 8:58 PM on November 17, 2008


And meanwhile, a few blocks away, $25 feeds a family of four.

Eating out someplace nice is one of the few responsible luxuries. He's not, presumably, buying a frozen Sysco dinner at Applebee's, nuked and served by minimum wage misery; he's supporting a local business that pays a reasonable wage to its employees and is far more likely to get its produce from local or sustainable sources than Key Foods or C-town. I sort of understand where you're coming from, but your disdain is misplaced.
posted by phooky at 9:03 PM on November 17, 2008 [30 favorites]


I feel so...gentrified reading this article. It was cutesy human-interest for sure, but now I feel like I should go get a cheap beer or something and talk about my disdain for financial speculators and the Republican party.
posted by aliceinreality at 9:11 PM on November 17, 2008 [3 favorites]


Though I do bet if a working class family had left their twelve-year old home alone and had rung up to suggest s/he get take-out (apparently a regular occurrence) it might not have been passed over with so little comment in the lede.
posted by Abiezer at 9:13 PM on November 17, 2008 [5 favorites]


...and your point is?

To clarify: I'm not at all arguing there's anything wrong with 12 year old foodie-sophisticates on the Upper West Side following Zagats and indulging their taste for high cuisine (although it seems like a lonely hobby if one dines alone). I was just making a Dickens-like juxtaposition about the crack in the social sidewalk that threatens, if the headlines are any indication, to swallow us whole.

Perhaps also learning about food another way, through international pot luck day at school (it is New York after all), or visiting more downscale, authentic, and ethnic cuisine might be an option for the Fishmans as well (for all I know they're also doing this)? A visit to a farm, learning where food comes from, learning to cook: such things would make dining out that much more pleasurable. But I'm not making a big stink here, just pointing out how removed such a hobby would seem to so many other kids. That's all.
posted by ornate insect at 9:15 PM on November 17, 2008 [2 favorites]


When I grow up, I want to be a figure skating judge, or a chicken inspector, or one of those guys who rates astronauts.
posted by fleetmouse at 9:17 PM on November 17, 2008 [6 favorites]


He was a little surprised to learn, subsequently, that tripe was prepared stomach lining. His eyes went wide. “Intestines of what?” he asked. (Somehow, that seemed to matter.)

Well it does if you're Jewish, or Muslim, or Hindu, or a pescetarian like Steve Jobs, but again, he'd know what tripe is, but he'd call it Windows.
posted by cjorgensen at 9:20 PM on November 17, 2008 [4 favorites]


...and indulging their taste for high cuisine

We likely have different standards, but I'd call it more than a stretch for $25/meal to be considered "high cuisine." That's only a little more than I pay at my favorite basement burger place for a dinner and a beer.
posted by god hates math at 9:25 PM on November 17, 2008 [1 favorite]


When I was 12, I skipped taking myself out to dinner and instead went right for getting myself to third base. Usually succeeded, too.
posted by Astro Zombie at 9:34 PM on November 17, 2008 [14 favorites]


I'd call it more than a stretch for $25/meal to be considered "high cuisine."

You're right; high cuisine would be $40 entrées or more and require a reservation. But from the article it sounds as if the restaurant is mid-range and that the kid found two items that would match his budget (and keep in mind that he cannot drink, so that substantially lessens his tab): David ordered a specialty of the restaurant, a prosciutto, as well as what the menu called una insalata di rucola e parmigiano. From the looks of the photo, he also ordered a coke.

Here's a Gothamist blurb on the recently opened restaurant itself:

Salumeria Rosi: The emphasis here is on cured meats from Parma, Italy, provided by Parmacotto, the Rosi family's cured and cooked meat business. Located on the Upper West Side, it's a little 25-seat cafe and take-out counter promising "an authentic Italian experience for the American market." Tuscan chef Cesare Casella has prepared a menu with dishes like Costine (spicy Tuscan spare ribs slow-cooked with tomatoes, rosemary and garlic); Peperoni Capp (Fire-roasted peppers marinated with anchovies and capers); and Sette Fagioli (Republic of Beans heirloom seven bean salad). Wine and cheese pairings are available, as is a Prosciutto di Parma, aged 36 months. You can also order full dinners to take home. 283 Amsterdam (between 73rd and 74th Streets), 212.877.4800.

It sounds like a restaurant where people are encouraged to order a number of small dishes instead of a main course, but I'm guessing with a glass of wine the average one person tab here is in the vicinity of $30 to $40?
posted by ornate insect at 9:42 PM on November 17, 2008


I will seriously feel like I'm successful as a mother if, upon being granted a $25 budget and the freedom of movement to choose a local restaurant, my twelve year old decides to go somewhere other than a taqueria or Fresh Choice.

I can't say for sure that it's tracking in that direction, but I get closer all the time. Kudos to David's parents for raising a kid who appreciates a good meal (AND for being cool enough to let him go out for dinner alone, even if he did need a ride home!). They're my new role models. And tomorrow I'm going to have my six year old read this article with me, in hopes that it plants a seed that bears tasty arugula six years down the road.
posted by padraigin at 9:48 PM on November 17, 2008 [2 favorites]


ornate insect, now you've done it. A lack of good Italian is all that I require to make this island paradise, and my stomach is growling.

I admire the kid, too, for having taste at that age. Hopefully he'll be able to "keep it real" and not become a food snob when he's older.
posted by maxwelton at 9:48 PM on November 17, 2008


Sounds tasty...cool kid.
posted by schyler523 at 9:50 PM on November 17, 2008


He'd make a real good chicken calmer.
posted by Manhasset at 9:56 PM on November 17, 2008


David doesn't recommend anything on the wine list.
posted by rageagainsttherobots at 9:57 PM on November 17, 2008 [2 favorites]


Bad choice kid, at Chuck E. Cheese $25 gets you a pizza, arcade tokens for 2 hours of Altered Beast, a ball pit, and a creepy life-size animatronic singing mouse that will scar you for life.
posted by naju at 10:13 PM on November 17, 2008 [8 favorites]


Anyone who eats tripe or offal is splendid in my book.
posted by ZaneJ. at 10:48 PM on November 17, 2008


Did anybody else find this excessively cloying, if not downright obnoxious?

"Ooh, lookit how quickly he learns to be upper-middle class. All by his little self!"

I dunno. I read the whole article, and it made my skin crawl a bit.
posted by bardic at 10:54 PM on November 17, 2008 [16 favorites]


Fun story. Sort of feel a little sorry for the kid dining out alone but impressed with his courage, intelligence and gumption. Glad he was loved by the people in the restaurant, they embraced him like a family.

Roberto Donna enrolled in professional cooking school at age 13, and he was working as an executive chef by age 16. 18 years later.
posted by nickyskye at 10:56 PM on November 17, 2008 [2 favorites]


Cute article.

I read in one of Pinker's books that there is a window during a child's development during which wathever he is fed by his parents he will like in the future. After the window closes, the child will absolutely HATE any food he did not try during that period. It takes a lifetime of experiences to learn to like new food. The book gives some brain development/evolution explanation you may not like, but the fact has been observed by many. Feed your children weird food!


Thanks to my father, who would turn a 2 hour road trip into a 10 hour adventure by stopping at every single little town to eat whatever the people there ate, no questions asked and my mother, who thought that being born the 5th child in a rural Mexican family was just an accident, what with her really being an Austrian proncess; by the age of 12 I knew that the Cervelle de Veau au Beurre Noir at the Le Cercle Français was almost as tasty as the Tacos de Sesos at the taco stand.
posted by dirty lies at 10:59 PM on November 17, 2008 [2 favorites]


The point of this article is the kid's initiative and devotion, not how much he paid for what where. I didn't have this kind of interest in or knowledge about ANYTHING when I was 12, and I wish I had. Why not admire the kid for his passion instead of focusing on where that passion is directed?
posted by showbiz_liz at 11:18 PM on November 17, 2008


"Initiative and devotion" to walk down the street to the new Italian joint that just opened up and mimic his parents' behavior?

Not that there's anything inherently wrong with that, but I'd be a lot more excited if a kid of mine wanted to take up piano or figure out a way to end poverty.

But like I said, I'm just not seeing anything remotely charming about this piece. It honestly made me feel a little bit icky, and I'm not completely sure why.

"Why not admire the kid for his passion instead of focusing on where that passion is directed?"

I was passionate about playing playing video games and reading comic books at his age. Where's my write-up in the NYT?
posted by bardic at 11:27 PM on November 17, 2008 [5 favorites]


I don't know who I admire more in this story - the young boy with a palate that he is working keenly to develop, the parents who are nurturing his talent, or the chef and staff in the restaurant who do not condescend to him because of his young age.

A sweet story (and mmm, the menu sounds wonderful too)
posted by seawallrunner at 11:34 PM on November 17, 2008 [2 favorites]


I don't think 'taking up piano' can really be counted as a non-privileged activity- I certainly couldn't afford it as a kid. But that's not really my point anyway. He isn't just some kid who likes to chow down on caviar; he's documenting his experiences and learning from them. He's teaching himself. And he's doing it all independently. Sure he could grow up and bust unions and spit on the poor or whatever, just like any child of the Asshole Rich caste could; but it seems to me that he's displaying a degree of thoughtfulness that could easily be put to other tasks, once he's not... you know... twelve.
posted by showbiz_liz at 11:40 PM on November 17, 2008


This kid's going to be infuckingsufferable by the time he's 20. Yikes.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 1:09 AM on November 18, 2008 [3 favorites]


A year before, he had been turned away from a half-empty restaurant in Montauk and told that it did not serve children unaccompanied by adults. “I was angry, but I didn’t show it,” he said. “What can you do?

The force is strong is this one.
posted by CautionToTheWind at 2:24 AM on November 18, 2008 [4 favorites]


There's something about this article that is solidly New York. The New York that makes my heart ache, the New York that so often transmogrifies into fiction.

Mind you, now that I'm not there anymore and I did not just walk by that restaurant a couple times before it opened, talking about it with my beloved and then noticing, with humor and some mild contempt for the absentee parents (hey we all twig to our own thing) that that restaurant is open finally, look there's some article about a kid eating there. Poor kid, we would have said. How's the food? Looks OK. I understand how people would not get this article - it's purely local interest.

Because sure, he had the gumption to go do it, (Why is the waitstaff being polite notable? ) but otherwise the story, in New York terms, is just not so impressive. Now, that kid I knew when I was 15 who stole his father's car and drove it down to Besonhurst to sell it to a chop shop (he got away with it)? Or that girl who dropped out of Stuyvesant to play in a punk band and live in a squat and a couple years later was "writing math-stuff" for Citibank?

Cute kid, makes me miss NYC - aside from that it would gall the crap out of me for all the above reasons.
posted by From Bklyn at 2:47 AM on November 18, 2008 [3 favorites]


I don't think 'taking up piano' can really be counted as a non-privileged activity- I certainly couldn't afford it as a kid.

I did; you just need to skip (or, depending on your budget, ration out) the expensive private lessons.

You can make do just fine with (1) a used Yamaha electric (no weighted action, shy side of 100$, endless free rap sounds), (2) cheap headphones, and (3) access to lesson books and sheet music, whether via the internet, or by library card + photocopier. I cannot exaggerate the advantages of playing all night without worrying about parents and neighbors.

Sure, it was a little like punching a plastic ribcage for years, hunched in the darkness like a ghoul Balboa... but after this you'll make Bosendorfers bleed like Apollo Creed.
posted by kid ichorous at 4:46 AM on November 18, 2008


This kid sounds like an American James/Lauren Harries. I predict a not-so-bright future in Reality TV.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 4:46 AM on November 18, 2008


This would be a lot more interesting if it actually focused on the kid's opinions of the food, and if he had a blog where we could read his writeups.

BTW, for the ultimate snarkish take on this story, check this.
posted by beagle at 5:16 AM on November 18, 2008


And meanwhile, a few blocks away, $25 feeds a family of four.

Um, not in that neighborhood.
posted by The Whelk at 6:09 AM on November 18, 2008


Nice post; the writeup is a little cloying, but the kid is great.

I was just making a Dickens-like juxtaposition about the crack in the social sidewalk that threatens, if the headlines are any indication, to swallow us whole.


And are you planning to include such Dickens-like juxtapositions in every thread in which any expenditures of any nonessential kind are mentioned?

It honestly made me feel a little bit icky, and I'm not completely sure why.

Please do let us know any time anything makes you feel a little bit icky. That's what we're here for.
posted by languagehat at 6:11 AM on November 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


BTW, for the ultimate snarkish take on this story, check this.
BTW, for a caustic, nasty rant about this story that will leave a bitter taste in your mouth, check this.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 6:13 AM on November 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


Privileged kid does privileged stuff. Yay. Also cutsy, bad writing. Even if I liked the subject I would never want to be in the same room with the writer. What do you want to bet that the writer is actually a friend of the family?
posted by Belle O'Cosity at 6:13 AM on November 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


beagle, I'm not sure on reading your link that the adult server who comments (about a named child who is online and quite likely to read the article)

"You'd think it would be tough to hate 12 year-olds. I hate David...with the white-hot passion of a thousand suns. And I don't even know him."

"What? Because the little terd knew what gelato was? Ugh."

"let's employ all the 12 year-old bullies at Fieldston to beat the living shit out of this nerd."

and then, with a really quite awesome lack of self-reflection or sense of irony, calls the child "the little shit" is so much snarky as just a complete asshole.
posted by jaduncan at 6:19 AM on November 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


Wow, some people need to chill out. I think he should be commended for taking that 25 dollars and enjoying a nice meal as well as developing his cultural experiences. He could have just taken that money and pissed it away on junk or gotten himself into trouble. Feel bad for anyone who can't see and appreciate that.
posted by scarello at 6:32 AM on November 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


I'd be really interested in *why* this story is making bardic (and me, kinda) feel icky.

For one, the story is really, really thin. 12 year old eats by himself? That's ...not very interesting. If it focused more on the things people are reacting positively to (Kid wants to be a food critic, is an adventurous eater, maybe follow him to various places, ask why, post some of his reviews, ect ect) then there would be more meat to it. But as it stands, it reads like covert ad copy for Salumeria Rosi and a desperate bid to fill space. So, that's icky.

The other thing is the horrible, fawning, cutesy-po tone. It's gushing and patronizing and insulting to the kid. It's very, very off putting.

And finally, for me, the thing that always gets my dander up about the NYT are all the assumptions made by the authors. Why is the wait staff being nice important? Why is it so shocking that a 12 year old could order from a menu in a nice place? Who are these people?

I think we've all just put tons more thought into this story than the author did.

disclosure, I am biased because Salumeria Rosi took over a space that had an excellent deli and small greasy spoon and with the rash of closings recently, I'm sure the neighborhood has hit the tipping point where all day-to-day services will vanish leaving only high-end shops and eateries like the bone-dry UES. Also, that Sardonic News ..thing is just vile.
posted by The Whelk at 6:38 AM on November 18, 2008 [3 favorites]


"he's supporting a local business that pays a reasonable wage to its employees and is far more likely to get its produce from local or sustainable sources than Key Foods or C-town"

I doubt very much that "nice" places pay anything more than prevailing wages. At least around here, they pay the same as generic chains.
posted by aerotive at 6:39 AM on November 18, 2008


Now a bit of a food snob (now eating mostly college cafeteria fare), I first tried Ris de Veaux around the age of this kid - although out with my family and not alone. Despite us not being really able to afford it, my mom always insisted that her kids would know what her idea of good food was. It wasn't the kind of thing we had all the time, but instead an exceptional treat.

I really look back and treasure those meals out with my mom and sister, not only because the food was excellent, but because it was a family experience that represented love and sacrifice on the part of my mother.

Next time I go back home, although I probably shouldn't spend the money, I think I'm gonna take my mom out for a nice meal.
posted by Muttoneer at 6:42 AM on November 18, 2008


I just felt sad that he clearly has to eat alone so often. At 12.
posted by Wilder at 6:51 AM on November 18, 2008


He's like a lost Tennenbaum

If I recall that movie correctly (which I enjoyed), most of the Tennenbaum kids grew up to be unhappy. Maybe some of the ick that people are feeling is that 12 year olds who have $25 dollars but have to eat alone, who prefer to order "adult" food, and who not just enjoy the food but place and think about the expierence in terms of work and career, are somehow missing out on actually being 12 years old. However, while the Tennenbaum characters were unhappy, they were interesting. I think the NYT article fails in capturing what makes the boy interesting and really could have been a much stronger article.
posted by Staggering Jack at 6:58 AM on November 18, 2008 [3 favorites]


Metafilter: we've all just put tons more thought into this story than the author did.
posted by mike3k at 7:14 AM on November 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


Joseph Gurl: "This kid's going to be infuckingsufferable by the time he's 20. Yikes."

Quick, someone get him a metafilter account!
posted by cjorgensen at 7:23 AM on November 18, 2008 [10 favorites]


That kid is my hero!
posted by fraxil at 7:39 AM on November 18, 2008


The kid knows what he wants and kudos go out to his parents for their support. Amazingly the restaurant didn't condescend to him [I loved the you gotta be out by 8 line]. Eating tripe at that age too is unreal. As a kid [Easter European parents] we had that for dinner often enough and I never liked it - took a pass. I didn't know where it came from and wasn't told till much later on. Brains, beef tongue, blood sausage were no problem. Today I enjoy tripe and have it occasionally, but I prefer potato pancakes with sour cream and dill. Ahh, that's comfort food.

The kid is getting an education like no school offers, frankly. As for dining alone, he's more adventurous than a lot of adults who wouldn't dare dine out alone, as if that's a bad thing.

Cool story, only in NYC¿ Pity.
posted by alicesshoe at 7:44 AM on November 18, 2008


I doubt very much that "nice" places pay anything more than prevailing wages. At least around here, they pay the same as generic chains.

Earlier in my life I maintained a long side career as a waitress, working in 4 different restaurants that tended toward the upscale/fine dining. After the first one I worked in, and after comparing notes with many of my peers, I learned to seek out the better workplaces. The better workplaces are reliably owner-operated; small-scale; buy from local distributors; have lower attrition and more 'career' staff; have more educated staff (and kitchen staff are likely to be more serious about their craft) are more flexible with your schedule; offer better wages and/or benefits such as vacation time; and draw a customer base more likely to spend better, thus driving up the bill and increasing the portion of income that comes from tips. Higher-priced meals and courses a la carte and a good wine list and well-stocked bar mean that the staff are making more money than the staff at Applebee's. Apart from the cash considerations, the places are just plain nicer. Working at a chain restaurant is a dramatically different experience - quick turnover, directives and training programs from corporate, less vetting of staff since the owner isn't around to care very much, less flexibility in scheduling, lower standards, poorer food quality, cheaper customers. I'm painting with a broad brush - there are a very few notable exceptions - but the information is basically true. Even where wages aren't much different, working conditions definitely are.

They are definitely not equivalent jobs. There's a reason that good restaurants can hire so selectively.
posted by Miko at 8:00 AM on November 18, 2008 [3 favorites]


And meanwhile, a few blocks away, $25 feeds a family of four.

Um, not in that neighborhood.


It's a block and a half away from Gray's. (Sidenote: When did they raise the recession special to $4.45?)

$25 bucks feeds a family of 5.618.
posted by SpiffyRob at 8:38 AM on November 18, 2008


On non-preview: That's $25 bucks dollars.
posted by SpiffyRob at 8:41 AM on November 18, 2008


Twelve is actually the best age to be introduced to tripe. It's fucking intestines, yo. I grew up in the Ozarks and not the UES, so for me it was scrambled eggs with calves brains that my grandfather served to me when I was twelve or so. Brains? Like a zombie? OM NOM NOM.

There is something very New York about the story. The writer glosses over the "child left alone for dinner again" angle and is a little cutesy-poo about the whole thing, but it's a nice snapshot of a melancholy but interesting moment.

Oh, and that Sardonic News link is horrid.
posted by Bookhouse at 8:53 AM on November 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


As someone who used to work as a winemaker, I can't think of anything more worthless to become than a critic. I don't say this because the wineries I was involved with got panned, quite the opposite was true, but rather I think critics get in the way of people truly enjoying things. We're apparently too busy to figure out what we like on our own, so we have a whole panoply of media to tell us what we are supposed to like. Even worse, they don't aim to educate, but rather they use language to obfuscate so they can keep their narrow grip of power. Their followers become like the Rush Limbaugh dittoheads, and regurgitate it over and over creating another layer of obfuscation, and the language becomes part of the culture. The really sad part is the critics rarely know much more than you do, and they certainly don't know what you yourself like. They only know what they think you are supposed to like.

Early on in my career I was bemoaning this to someone I respected in the business who had been a winemaker awhile, and had worked in France and America at some of the greatest wineries in both countries. He told me "that is the essential difference between France and America. When it comes to food, wine and sex, Americans want to talk and read endlessly about it. In France, they just enjoy it."

Kids will often grow out of what they want to be when they grow up. At this kids age I wanted to be a Jazz Saxophonist, but I grew out of that (mainly because I finally learned I wasn't very good). I'd rather see this kid want to become Mark Bittman than Zagat...
posted by Eekacat at 9:08 AM on November 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


And meanwhile, a few blocks away, $25 feeds a family of four.
posted by ornate insect at 5:45 AM on November 18 [12 favorites +] [!]


What a shocking and unexpected post.
posted by Zambrano at 9:40 AM on November 18, 2008


Is anyone else as amused by the picture as I am? I love how we can see a slight reflection of the photographer in the glass between us and David's table; it has this Dickensian quality to it -- noses pressed to the window of the restaurant, looking longingly at David's repast....
posted by Westringia F. at 9:46 AM on November 18, 2008


We're apparently too busy to figure out what we like on our own,

There's something like twelve to thirteen thousand restaurants in New York City.
posted by Bookhouse at 9:47 AM on November 18, 2008 [2 favorites]


Americans want to talk and read endlessly about it. In France, they just enjoy it

At the same time, Americans also love the democratic demystifier - the analytical/critical mind that serves as counterpoint to establishment critics, the person who can clarify and call bullshit on the obfuscating, 'impress-me' critic. Bittman fits this mold, as does Alton Brown, the Sterns, etc.

I think there's a fine line. Criticism has a useful purpose and is fun to engage in. For me, the question is one of inherent value. It's often easy to find inherent good value and quality in lowbrow or inexpensive or commonplace offerings, where high-end critics never look for it. It's easy, as well, to find disappointing, half-hearted, overpromoted goods packaged as 'upscale,' when the contents don't warrant it. Some critics and critically-minded people get distracted enough by the package that they give accolades to undeserving products and miss the very fine qualities of less smoothly pitched products.

So my favorite food and beverage minds are those who really focus on the taste qualities and craftsmanship, regardless of the class status associated with the food. Awesome proscuitto from a good salumeria IS awesome. But so is barbecue slow-smoked and sauced by someone who knows what they're doing. And so is my grandma making peach pie.

There is something to be said for the fact that a fancy, expensive restaurant is basically communicating an ambition statement. Judging whether they live up to the ambition is a worthwhile enough pursuit. Eating meals at which a table of four is going to run up a $10
posted by Miko at 9:50 AM on November 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


Maybe some of the ick that people are feeling is that 12 year olds who have $25 dollars but have to eat alone, who prefer to order "adult" food, and who not just enjoy the food but place and think about the expierence in terms of work and career, are somehow missing out on actually being 12 years old.

Most of my personal ick was at that unique combination of condescension and self-importance in the writer's tone - ain't he a speshuw wittuw guy? in one line, only in New York, people, we just flat-out piss refinement on the Upper West! in the next - but Staggering Jack's bang on the money for the balance of it.

Once, during a layover at Denver airport, my wife and I were sitting eating lunch on the concourse and saw this very stylish, affluent-looking couple walk by. A few strides behind was a boy of about ten. He was dressed head-to-toe in that sorta designer camo clothing that was big ca. 2005. And he was talking casually on a Bluetooth. Mrs. gompa and I turned to each other, and we swore right there that if our daughter, at ten, demanded a Bluetooth, we were signing up for a five-year course of developing-world field work or something.

A 12-year-old aspiring to write for Zagat's? Same category, no matter how adorably haute the scenery is.
posted by gompa at 9:52 AM on November 18, 2008 [2 favorites]


At 12 I wouldn't touch Campbell's Oxtail Soup with a bargepole and even putting the tip of my tongue on a spoon full of intestines?! No way! Like most kids my palate was geared to generic carbs, most of which I grew out of over the years. It's not that I couldn't tell what anything tasted like, it's that it never dawned on me at 12 to put tasting in perspective as an art form. Neat hearing about his notebook.

It's cool this kid takes his gustatory interest in the art of cuisine seriously. He's a food geek prodigy. I love that.
posted by nickyskye at 9:55 AM on November 18, 2008


I'm not sure I would have had a negative reaction to this article just reading it on its own, but in the print edition it was on the same page as these two articles.

Immediately to the right of the tripe-eating kid:
Girl Is Killed Outside Party in the Bronx
A 17-year-old girl was killed on Sunday morning when she was shot and then trampled outside a house party in the Bronx, the police said.
Below the tripe-eating kid:
Two Women Die in Queens Livery Crash
A man suspected in the beating death of a financial worker in Manhattan in 2006 now faces charges of vehicular manslaughter and drunken driving after a crash that killed the driver of a livery cab and her passenger early Sunday in Queens, the police said.
Kind of killed the "NYC is so dreamy and quirky" vibe.
posted by yarrow at 10:59 AM on November 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


For sites with registration required, could you please note this? thanks!
posted by noriyori at 11:19 AM on November 18, 2008


Good for the kid.
posted by fixedgear at 1:11 PM on November 18, 2008


At twelve I had an appetite like a plague of flesh eating locusts, so I'm just as happy I didn't have very refined tastes. My five year old nephew asks "could I have some olive oil and a little balsamic" when he's at a restaraunt and they bring butter out with the bread, so I suspect he'll be a food snob when he grows up.

I'm impressed that the kid brought a notebook, and that he followed through with a write-up. I agree that the writer could have done better, but maybe the better half of the article was cut out by the editor.

I'm a little surprised that people hate eating out alone. I know there is some social stigma, but when I really want to enjoy food, conversation gets in the way of that a little bit. The offsetting factor for a pure food critic is being able to exchange bites or get an opinion on the cooking technique of something you don't eat. Sometimes I want to try a restaraunt that my wife or friends will have no interest in.

Awesome proscuitto from a good salumeria IS awesome. But so is barbecue slow-smoked and sauced by someone who knows what they're doing

Agreed, and southern style BBQ needs food critics more than prosciutto crudo. I've never had a bad prosciutto, some is better than others, but quality difference is usually reflected in the purchase price. On the other hand, BBQ southern is hard to find on the west coast, and there is little to no price difference between awesome places like Drooling Dog BBQ and halfway decent chains like Armadillo Willy.
posted by BrotherCaine at 2:44 PM on November 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


Twelve years old and already a douche? The kids these days are starting their cycles younger and younger.
posted by ed at 4:05 PM on November 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


Starggering Jack writes "Maybe some of the ick that people are feeling is that 12 year olds who have $25 dollars but have to eat alone, who prefer to order 'adult' food, and who not just enjoy the food but place and think about the expierence in terms of work and career, are somehow missing out on actually being 12 years old."

Yup. This is definitely part of it. It's like the NYT/Upper West Side version of what a kid should be like, rather than what they tend to be. No doubt this kid is for real, but it just plays into so many assumptions that it's practically framed as far as I'm concerned.
posted by bardic at 4:25 PM on November 18, 2008


It's like the NYT/Upper West Side version of what a kid should be like, rather than what they tend to be.

Why should the kid be "what they tend to be"? Why shouldn't he just be him? And if who he is is informed by the part of NYC he grew up in, what's wrong with that? Is it inherently nobler to absorb the culinary preferences of Bed-Stuy or the East Village than those of the Upper West Side? I can understand being resentful of the Masters of the Universe, but 1) very few of them live on the UWS, and 2) don't take it out on a 12-year-old kid, for fuck's sake.
posted by languagehat at 4:41 PM on November 18, 2008 [2 favorites]


I still can't get over the people that think that $25 on a meal for one person, eating out, is somehow 'privileged'.

Have you eaten all out much? It's pretty hard to get a half decent meal for less than $25 (especially with a beer or two) for anything like that without sitting at plastic tables. And that includes chain restaurants, and I am especially considering bumfuck-nowhere places, not New York city. Unless, of course, the same people consider a main course and two beers also tantamount to 'privileged' living. As $25 is exactly the sum of the allowance my (openly tight wad*) company gives per night for food for the considerable number of times I have to eat out all over the US/Canada/Brazil/Spain. I have to watch what I order nearly every time to try and keep my drinks below the mark (I usually pay for the extra myself rather than eat the same/equivalent banal pasta dish over and over). Most restaurants have main courses pitched between $12-20, so you'll have to budget to get a drink (never mind a starter or desert) to stay within your $22 (plus 18% tip) budget. It really isn't that much money to spend on a meal in a restaurant. ANY restaurant.

$25 for one person on take out? Yes, that's a fortune. $25 total for a meal out as a treat (especially as it is also the kid's hobby)? That's really not that massive a sum just to eat like an adult.


*admittedly, I was the joint party in setting that limit, but we'll ignore that while I am bitching about it.
posted by Brockles at 5:32 PM on November 18, 2008


[[rolls eyes at Brockles]] This really depends on what you term a "restaurant," now doesn't it? And what it means to "eat like an adult."
posted by limeonaire at 6:01 PM on November 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


My distinction is "non plastic tables = close enough to a restaurant to be considered". I am including Applebees (before they screwed up their menu), Chillis, Texas Longhorn, Red Rooster and all those other nasty chain places that you see by the highway intersections.

If I was going to include 'proper' restaurants, I'd say $25 was cutting it a bit fine to get anything other than a main course and a coke, actually.
posted by Brockles at 6:04 PM on November 18, 2008


Sending the kid some cyber puppy for company.
posted by nickyskye at 6:18 PM on November 18, 2008


On the $25 issue - there's a huge differences between places where your total bill is $25, including drinks, and where your entree is $25. I got the impression that this place was in the latter category - that he spent $25 on the main plate. When you add alcohol and maybe a salad in a place like that, you're easily in the $40-50 ballpark for the total check, without tip. In a place where the entrees are $12-20, it's conceivable to have an entree and glass of wine/beer for $25. But not in a place where the entrees are $25, unless you drink water. And all that is before tip.

I eat out a lot and love it. But when I'm headed for a place with $20+ entrees, I'm planning ahead on that budget, knowing that for 2 people (adults) in a place with a $25 average entree, we're rarely getting out for less than $100. Two entrees, a cheaper bottle of wine from the list or maybe just one glass apiece, and maybe salads or a shared salad, and a 20% tip - not hard to do. That's $100 easy.

Mistaking the $25 entree price for a $25 total bill is a rookie mistake. Restuarants invented the upsell, after all.
posted by Miko at 6:26 PM on November 18, 2008


I am including Applebees (before they screwed up their menu), Chillis, Texas Longhorn, Red Rooster and all those other nasty chain places that you see by the highway intersections.

But compared to indie restuarants, those places are unforgivably overpriced, especially for the quality you're getting. I think it's a mistake to judge by them - their bread and butter is the quick fleecing of the business traveler or the dipping into the weekend \fund of the middle-wage American, nickel-and-diming your way to a fairly heavy bill.

Chain restuarants - those of the ''casual-theme" PJ McPootertoot's variety - are real ripoffs.
posted by Miko at 6:34 PM on November 18, 2008


On the $25 issue - there's a huge differences between places where your total bill is $25, including drinks, and where your entree is $25. I got the impression that this place was in the latter category - that he spent $25 on the main plate.

I seriously doubt it. This looks to be the kind of place that you order multiple small plates for a much cheaper price. Look at the picture in the article, I count 5 plates. You wouldn't, after all, order a giant heap of proscuitto...your mouth would feel like a desert after all that salt. A 12 year old kid could easily fill up on a few $7 plates and keep it under $25 in a place like that.
posted by TungstenChef at 6:39 PM on November 18, 2008


Ah, here we go.

there is a small, extended menu of pasta, salads, panini, spicy tuscan glazed ribs, etc. they seem to primarily be small plates and the price range for each plate (if my memory serves me correctly) is approximately $7 - $12. the choices seem interesting and well-varied.
posted by TungstenChef at 6:41 PM on November 18, 2008


But compared to indie restuarants, those places are unforgivably overpriced, especially for the quality you're getting. I think it's a mistake to judge by them - their bread and butter is the quick fleecing of the business traveler or the dipping into the weekend \fund of the middle-wage American, nickel-and-diming your way to a fairly heavy bill.

Er. Precisely why I scoffed at such a bill size being considered only within the scope of 'the privileged'. To suggest $25 is a lot for a meal is laughable in anything that can be called a restaurant (again, no plastic tables). At Indie places, you can hit $25 quite comfortable (for content and quality) but it still is by no means a lot of money for a meal.

Mistaking the $25 entree price for a $25 total bill is a rookie mistake. Restuarants invented the upsell, after all.

A rookie that can read, perhaps. The story quoted his budget as being $25. Not his marker for a main course. And I think you'll find that prostitutes are more likely to have invented the upsell, in many interpretations.
posted by Brockles at 6:56 PM on November 18, 2008


You wouldn't, after all, order a giant heap of proscuiiutto

That's crazy talk, of course I'd order a giant heap of prosciutto. You are typing gibberish man, there is a reason why the waiters and busboys bring you endless water refills. So that you can gorge on salty goodness.
posted by BrotherCaine at 7:06 PM on November 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


Gothamist:
Anyway, David Fishman is yesterday's news. Meet our new favorite pint-size food writer, Franklin, a Bronx pre-teen who last year became the official cafeteria critic at his middle school, CIS 339. His column, called “Franklin on Food,” ran as part of the school’s online newspaper, the indispensable 339 Hardline. Franklin's beat may not have covered the 'most hip places' in town, but it was distinguished by a stylistic brio that makes him sort of the Robert Sietsema to David Fishman's Danyelle Freeman.
posted by Miko at 8:27 PM on November 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


I think you'll find that prostitutes are more likely to have invented the upsell

I'd credit them with the a la carte menu.
posted by Miko at 8:28 PM on November 18, 2008 [1 favorite]


That's crazy talk, of course I'd order a giant heap of prosciutto. You are typing gibberish man, there is a reason why the waiters and busboys bring you endless water refills. So that you can gorge on salty goodness.

Lol, touche. I should know never to underestimate a lover of cured meats, ironically I typed that up in between stuffing a 10 lb batch of venison country sausage, and a 5 lb log o' venison summer sausage.
posted by TungstenChef at 8:53 PM on November 18, 2008


Miko
I was just coming in to post that. Franklin is some kind of genius:

"Today was an odd lunch. It was things that they don't serve a lot in school. They served mozzarella sticks, chili with beans with white rice on the side. They also served something totally new. It was coleslaw. Almost nobody ate it, but they stay give it out.

Shout out to the garbage for eating all the coleslaw.

If kids are not going to eat some types of food, why do they still give them?"


Shout out to the garbage for eating all the coleslaw. Oh man, I'm swooning here.

Generally I tend to save my classwarfare rage for people other than some mild kid who likes good chow.

Other Franklin Gems:

Low fat rice not so nice

Another day, another cold lunch for 808 (cry)(cry). Detention continues. If the three people that took the bean-baby confess, we won't have to take the cool lunch again.

Would it be cool if we had sea food in school? That is my only question. OK, I lied to you. I have another question. Do you like Pizza? I don't any more because I've had it so much in my life. I think teacher are trying to get at me for saying I don't like pizza everyday. Next week, one of my teachers told me that I am going to have two pizza parties. Yes, you just read that, 222222222222222222 pizza parties in one week all for me not liking pizza. I will go to the party just to be with people that I love, but I'm not going to the party to eat pizza.

Don't forget, fat people rock.
posted by Divine_Wino at 8:20 AM on November 19, 2008


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