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"It’s like the whole slow-foods thing. I still don’t know what the heck that’s about. Food’s either good or it’s bad."
October 19, 2009 9:36 AM   Subscribe

"...it’s not a title, it’s a job. It’s a position in a kitchen. It comes from an old German word that means 'boss' or 'head of the shop.' In which case I am the chef of my operation, but it’s a production company. It’s not a kitchen, even though we do have a kitchen. That’s the closest thing to chef I am. All the good chefs that I know say that they are cooks employed as chef. All the people that say, 'I’m a chef,' generally aren’t. The good ones will say, 'I’m a cook.' Once people start saying, 'I’m Chef Bob!'—yeah, whatever. I’m Captain Kangaroo. Have a nice day". The Onion AV Club interviews Alton Brown.

The show's not for everyone, but the recipes sure are.
posted by peachfuzz (110 comments total) 26 users marked this as a favorite

 
I disagree, the show is for everyone.
posted by fuq at 9:37 AM on October 19, 2009 [16 favorites]


AVC: What happens if the show keeps going for another 10 years?

AB: We’re not gonna keep going for another 10 years; I’ll put a bullet in its head before that. I live in perpetual fear of staying on and not being able to maintain the quality. So we’ll do like Barney Miller. You’re probably not old enough to remember the show Barney Miller, but it was a great sitcom that quit at its high point because the producers couldn’t bear to let it slip. I’ll do the same thing. I do know that we’ll be making Good Eats until the end of next year. That’s for sure.


HAS NOT TURNED ON A TV IN OVER A DECADE

Pretty cool interview, though. I didn't realize Good Eats was even still on.
posted by DU at 9:44 AM on October 19, 2009


Yah, if there was ever a cooking show everyone could and should watch, Good Eats is it.
posted by GuyZero at 9:47 AM on October 19, 2009 [2 favorites]


Gotta love a nerd like Alton Brown! (I know I do!)
posted by too bad you're not me at 9:51 AM on October 19, 2009


I'm hoping even the first brigade of MetaFilter snark will have nothing unkind to say about Mr. Brown.
posted by xmutex at 9:53 AM on October 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


Good Eats combines cooking, science, history, and corny humor. Who is it not for? I am sad that they have dropped the "Ask Alton" segments from the last 3 dvd sets, though....
posted by GenjiandProust at 9:54 AM on October 19, 2009


Went to his presentation and book signing at the Smithsonian last week here in DC... just as funny, intelligent, and opinionated in person as he is on TV!

Gotta love the Alton...
posted by matty at 9:54 AM on October 19, 2009


I will eat at places, because I do have favorite places, but Chicago’s going to be especially dangerous. I used to live in Chicago in the late ’80s, and it’s my favorite town in America. I could spend days just walking restaurant to restaurant. Although I’m a little bit out of danger, because they closed Gold Coast Dogs on Hubbard Street a while ago, so I’m not as vulnerable as I might have been.

Huh, that's pretty surprising. I think of Gold Coast Dogs as OK but pretty middle-of-the-road. I think their fries are actually kinda bad.
posted by ignignokt at 9:55 AM on October 19, 2009


I just wanted to say thanks for posting this - I love Alton Brown and this was fun to read.
posted by ersatzkat at 9:57 AM on October 19, 2009


AB: I’ve completely reworked my food intake. I’ve lost 50 pounds since March. Badly needed. I’d gotten up to about 213 pounds, and I’m down around 165 right now, so I’m at fighting weight. .... I may never have a spoonful of ice cream for the rest of my life, for instance. There’ll be no chili cheese fries for me. So I don’t look at food the way I used to, because I used to eat everything, but now I’m highly restricted. ... . Fruit smoothies, canned sardines, and almonds make up about 90 percent of my intake.

I kind of wish the interviewer had followed up on that. I wonder if the remaining 90% of his intake are recipes he's working on for his show or books. And just how he was able to totally reshape what he ate when food was such a huge part of both his life and career.
posted by skynxnex at 9:58 AM on October 19, 2009 [4 favorites]


One of the coolest things about living here in Atlanta is the fact that I can actually go shop at a lot of the locations where he shoots his "Alton goes shopping for hardware/software" scenes. There's a restaurant supply place (that's also open to the public) near my home that he films at regularly, at least once a season. I haven't bought cookware in any other store since I saw it on Good Eats.
posted by deadmessenger at 9:59 AM on October 19, 2009


I had never seen an episode of Good Eats until last year, I think and I had no idea it had been on forever. This was around the time my wife started watching a lot of Food Network. Most of this stuff was real drivel, no offense to my wife, and I had trouble focusing on it for more than a few minutes.

Good Eats, though, that was something different. I seldom if ever cook anything more complicated than grilled cheese, but man, I love that show. Hell, I like it more for the random food trivia than any actual recipes, but that food trivia is so fascinating. If they do make it for another ten years, I'll be the guy trying to justify why the second episode on things to cook with mud was just as good as the first.

That said:
I think it’s made it harder, because I think that the foodie culture comes with a bit of snobism and elitism. It’s like the whole slow-foods thing. I still don’t know what the heck that’s about. Food’s either good or it’s bad. I think that anything that striates food or puts it into categories tends to intimidate people.

Yes, we wouldn't want elites striating things. That would be BAD.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 10:00 AM on October 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


GenjiandProust introduced me to Good Eats. What a great cooking show! It's pretty much the only such program that I will watch (and Julia Childs).
posted by Kattullus at 10:01 AM on October 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


As a general rule, I'm not a big follower or idolizer of celebrities. But I want to be friends with Alton Brown so bad.

Thanks for the post- I probably wouldn't have found this on my own.
posted by Shohn at 10:02 AM on October 19, 2009


Curry Chicken Pot Pie

Recipe courtesy Alton Brown
Show: Good Eats
Episode: Casserole Over

P.S.: Double the butter and liquid; Just put a piece of puff pastry over the top and omit the cutting circles with a biscuit cutter.
posted by mikelieman at 10:09 AM on October 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


Okay, I'll admit, I completely lost Alton here, what on Earth is he talking about?

Well, one of the things about the Internet and the culture that’s come out of the Internet is that it’s made people cluster into micro-communities. We’ve become hive-minded.
posted by Kattullus at 10:09 AM on October 19, 2009 [3 favorites]


I haven't watched Good Eats for years because I dropped the Food Network along with a lot of other crap channels, but I do miss it. The Good Eats Fan Page (which includes complete transcripts of every show) helps a lot. Check the indexes in the left margin to find a specific show by season, title or ingredient.

The parsnip show, with some YT video, is here.
posted by maudlin at 10:09 AM on October 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


Whoops! And here's Good Eats TV on YouTube.
posted by maudlin at 10:11 AM on October 19, 2009


This sentence had me google AB's stance on religion:
We don’t believe in the same religious aspects in this country anymore,

Apparently he belongs to a super-megga church in Atlanta. (last paragraph) The kind of church that likes to Baptize 240 people in one day. (And they're full dunkers, so you'd better hope the first 239 people have good hygiene...)

Damnit, this is worse then when I found out Beck was a Scientologist.
posted by fontophilic at 10:11 AM on October 19, 2009 [10 favorites]


Okay, I'll admit, I completely lost Alton here, what on Earth is he talking about?

Well, one of the things about the Internet and the culture that’s come out of the Internet is that it’s made people cluster into micro-communities. We’ve become hive-minded.


Are you disagreeing or genuinely confused? I'm having a hard time imagining the former, because it seems so obvious, but I'm also having a hard time believing the latter, because it seems so clear.
posted by DU at 10:12 AM on October 19, 2009


I fell in love with Alton Brown himself once when during his show on pomegranates, he first showed you how to make grenadine syrup -- and then shows you how to make a Tequila Sunrise. But that wasn't what did it -- it was when he finished his concoction and proudly held the drink up to the camera, and then, as he pointed at the swirly ameboid forms in the drink, he beamed and said, "It's like an Eagles concert in a glass!" I'm not even sure that makes sense, but I really don't care.

Then I fell in love with his production company during one of the "Feasting On Asphalt" series. I'm a big supporter of the idea of shining a spotlight on the little indy roadside food folk -- the other show that purportedly does it, Guy Viera, isn't anywhere near as much about the history and the journey for my taste, but Alton's FOA series was perfect. At some point, when he was in the midst of one of them, I sent an email to his production company with a link to a small local diner in Connecticut I'm fond of, with a message stating that if they ever did a show covering New England, this may be something to check out...

....I actually got an email back about 90 minutes later from one of the associate producers, thanking me for the link and remarking that it did look impressive -- no plans on a New England show yet, but I'd made them wonder...I'm under no illusions I'll have actually convinced them either way, but I'm just impressed that someone actually read my email and wrote a response rather than sending a canned "thank you for your interest, here's a link to our web site" email.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:15 AM on October 19, 2009


A few years ago Alton did an interview (asynchronously) with Slashdot.

It was a bit disappointing, honestly — he blew off a pretty interesting technical question concerning cooking in 2000F lava, basically accusing the guy of bullshitting and further insinuating that he must be on drugs. He wasn't.

(There was a thread here on Mefi about it, too.)

The technical explanation is fairly obvious once you accept (or just take on premise) that it's possible; the lava is very hot, but doesn't conduct heat well, so when you wrap the bird in moist leaves and then coat it in lava, the net result is roasting rather than incineration. I suspect it's still pretty dry, but it's edible.

The exchange was off-putting because as much as he fashions himself to be a bit of an amateur scientist, he blew off an interesting phenomena pretty quickly just because it didn't fit with his preconceived notions and extrapolation from personal experience in his oven.
posted by Kadin2048 at 10:15 AM on October 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


It's pretty incredible that with all the hundreds of cooking show on TV, that pretty much only Good Eats and America's Test Kitchen actually teach people how to cook. I learned more about real cooking from Alton than I did in 6-7 years of kitchen jobs. (Admittedly these were not very good restaurants.)

I had no idea that Alton Brown wrote, directed and conceived the show. Sometimes the show is a bit too silly for me, but I'm the kind of guy that would love to watch dry academic culinary lectures as long as they included the science behind the food. I own the first 6 seasons of the show and have never followed one of his recipes exactly, but I use the principle foundations everyday.
posted by Telf at 10:16 AM on October 19, 2009


DU, I think he was joking.
posted by Edgewise at 10:17 AM on October 19, 2009


Okay, one thing: In his show on espresso he did a great job of explaining the value of burr grinders (and grinding fresh), but he dismissed in that annoying way he dismisses things a whole raft of manual levers because "they can't provide 9 bars of pressure." First, they can; manual levers require some muscle but are absolutely up to the task (depending on the operator) of producing 9 bars. To some espresso aficionados, levers make for the best cup among home machines. Second, he dismissed the manual levers without mentioning that there is also an entire class of NON-manual levers (like my Elektra Leva) that are great home machines; they push with a spring that the lever cocks.

His milk steaming on that ep absolutely sucked. Sucked ass.

I know this is nit-picking (to non-lever enthusiasts at least) but reflects my annoyance with anybody who is revered as unremittingly as this guy. I like him and usually like watching him but have never encountered anybody who gets the accolades he does with none, ZERO, criticism, and that bugs.
posted by ethnomethodologist at 10:17 AM on October 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


Also, Shady Glen is awesome and Food Network should totally show it some love. (Unfortunately it'll probably be Guy Fieri instead of Alton Brown, because I don't think Feasting on Asphalt is being produced anymore...)
posted by Kadin2048 at 10:18 AM on October 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


DU: Are you disagreeing or genuinely confused? I'm having a hard time imagining the former, because it seems so obvious, but I'm also having a hard time believing the latter, because it seems so clear.

You know how some things are completely hilarious inside your head and then you write them down, chuckling to yourself as you do, and then you hit post and you get that tiny rush of "I made a funny!" and then you read what you wrote and realize that it isn't all that funny, and, in fact, barely comprehensible... well... that was one of those times.

Since the joke's dead already, I might as well dissect it. The joke was that I couldn't understand, on MetaFilter, how people clustered in internet communities.
posted by Kattullus at 10:18 AM on October 19, 2009 [2 favorites]


Okay, I'll admit, I completely lost Alton here, what on Earth is he talking about?

"Well, one of the things about the Internet and the culture that’s come out of the Internet is that it’s made people cluster into micro-communities. We’ve become hive-minded."


My hunch is that he means that we don't so much think of ourselves as belong to our real-life community any more, and instead we feel more of an allegiance to online communities. For example: people are less likely to participate in local elections or school bake sales or town fairs, but they would be ALL over local Metafilter Meetups or 4-Chan charity drives.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:18 AM on October 19, 2009 [2 favorites]


I may never have a spoonful of ice cream for the rest of my life, for instance.

I'm sorry, Alton. Your ice cream show gave me so much, and to read this makes me shed a tear.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 10:19 AM on October 19, 2009 [4 favorites]


AB: I may never have a spoonful of ice cream for the rest of my life, for instance.

WHADDA WHA?
posted by sararah at 10:20 AM on October 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


Heh, Ambrosia, I see we share the same incredulity at that statement.
posted by sararah at 10:21 AM on October 19, 2009


Thanks for posting this. Nobody has done more for cooking, especially for geeks, than Mr. Brown.

Alton will explain to you why your mom is wrong, and why her mom was wrong, in such a way that she will accept your answer when you explain Alton's reasoning to her.

I think the key to watching the show is to not follow his recipes or techniques too literally. Most of the time his recipes are merely ok, not great. His show isn’t about the recipes. He’s there to get you to think about why you’re doing things. A cookbook will tell you to chop up some carrots, celery, and onion and sauté it in some butter. End of story, on to the next step. Alton will tell you why you’re doing it so that the next time a recipe tells you to do it you have enough information to do it correctly, or adjust it to suite your tastes. After watching his show cookbooks started making a lot more sense, in the same way that knowing a bit about how a computer works makes manipulating windows with a mouse all that much easier.

You don’t have to follow his techniques to a T, nor should you. I don’t set up the ironing board when I make ravioli, but I do make sure I have enough counter space before I start. I haven’t made pulled pork with a cardboard box and a hotplate full of sawdust, but thanks to AB I know to do it slow and steady and I know what happens when the pork butt reaches the magic temperature and all that connective tissue melts away. I don’t cook my roast inside a flower pot but I do give it a heat blast at the end of cooking rather than at the beginning.

And my rib roast kicks ass, thanks to Mr. Brown.
posted by bondcliff at 10:23 AM on October 19, 2009 [3 favorites]


But, did you catch that 10th anniversary stage show? Pretty jump-the-shark-ish, imho.
posted by Thorzdad at 10:29 AM on October 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


So I don’t look at food the way I used to, because I used to eat everything, but now I’m highly restricted. ... . Fruit smoothies, canned sardines, and almonds make up about 90 percent of my intake.

This isn't normal behavior, either - I'm more and more inclined to think that the obesity epidemic is rooted in something deeper than questions of will-power and self-restraint. There should emphatically not be two modes - perpetual diet or perpetual overweight - that people are forced to chose between. There is something that's not working on an endocrinology or neurology level, and it's likely a contagion or a chemical agent (pollutant?) that's triggering it.
posted by Slap*Happy at 10:42 AM on October 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


Thorzdad: "But, did you catch that 10th anniversary stage show? Pretty jump-the-shark-ish, imho."

Agreed. It was painfully bad.
posted by boo_radley at 10:47 AM on October 19, 2009 [2 favorites]


ethnomethodologist: I know this is nit-picking (to non-lever enthusiasts at least) but reflects my annoyance with anybody who is revered as unremittingly as this guy.

It's a fair point, but none of the people I know who watch Brown take his stance as gospel. I have loaned a bunch of the DVDs to a friend who is a chef, and who happily watches them and complains to his wife about what Brown has to say. I am annoyed at how oftebn he is seduced by a cool gadget despite his "no unitaskers" rule -- I have been pitting olives with the edge of a chef's knife for years; I am unconvinced that an olive pitter is critical kitchen gear. And so on.
posted by GenjiandProust at 10:58 AM on October 19, 2009


The thing his talking about his personal food restrictions reminded me of something I read a long time ago, and I wish I could remember where, about how we could tell we had a problem with sex in the modern world because the media was full of sex and yet people were complaining about how they weren't getting any. Now, it seems obvious, we have to have some kind of problem with food when the media is full of food and yet even the people making these shows are talking about all the things they can't eat...
posted by larkspur at 10:59 AM on October 19, 2009 [2 favorites]


"It’s like the whole slow-foods thing. I still don’t know what the heck that’s about. Food’s either good or it’s bad."

I love watching Alton's show, but this is a disappointing callout in that it reveals that he hasn't even bothered to look into the Slow Food movement - a movement which basically takes as its founding principle the idea that "food's either good or it's bad" - but he's happy to slam it anyway. As he elaborates, he says he prefers his wife's home cooking over expensive restaurant dinners. That's exactly what Slow Food's about. He's reacting to a superficial impression - I'm just sorry he chose that particular wording as his straw man. On the other hand, it's kind of funny to read on as he describes the power of food shared in community, the sense of place and culture it conveys, its universality - essentially falling into exact line with its school of thought. Who's doing the striating again?
posted by Miko at 11:07 AM on October 19, 2009 [3 favorites]


I just want to chime in and say that I too love Good Eats.
posted by CitrusFreak12 at 11:09 AM on October 19, 2009


I swear by his basic 8:3:1:1 formula for rubs. I wonder if he's done something similar for BBQ sauce? I've yet to master the art of matching and complementing rubs and sauces.

Although his cardboard box smoker produced salmon that tasted depressingly like a cardboard box. Still, it spurred me into buying my own smoker!
posted by robocop is bleeding at 11:21 AM on October 19, 2009


But, did you catch that 10th anniversary stage show? Pretty jump-the-shark-ish, imho

I live in the ATL and I adore Alton, but word, word, wordy, word, word.

Cringe-worthy, and yet I watched the whole thing because there was NOTHING else on.

I alway hope that I'll run into Alton at the Kroger, or Publix or Whole Foods, but I never have. :-(

I have to say, that since I started making baked potatoes and steak the way that he advocates, that I don't order either of those things in restaurants any more.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 11:55 AM on October 19, 2009


I love watching Alton's show, but this is a disappointing callout in that it reveals that he hasn't even bothered to look into the Slow Food movement...

I agree with your comment, but I have to say in Alton's defense, "slow food" has the worst name since...ever. Not just because of the "slow" but also because it communicates nothing at all. The first time I heard it I was like...wha?
posted by DU at 11:59 AM on October 19, 2009


I have to say in Alton's defense, "slow food" has the worst name since...ever. Not just because of the "slow" but also because it communicates nothing at all.

Huh; I understood it right away. It's meant to mean "the opposite of 'fast food'," i.e., local and from-scratch stuff as opposed to highly processed, uniform, commercialized, franchised stuff that's the same no matter whether you get it in Istanbul or Topeka.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:05 PM on October 19, 2009


Huh, this guy has always rubbed me the wrong way, but I like most of his interview. I like to cook a lot, but I hate foodies and I can't fathom the slow food movement either (for a long time, I thought it was like the raw foodists, i.e. cooking nothing over 186 degrees or something).

I may never have a spoonful of ice cream for the rest of my life, for instance.

Kudos, sir. I'm going to try to join you (perhaps with the exception of stuff I make myself, um, for my daughter, yeah).

If someone who loves food as much as he does can give up all that crap, that's inspiring for me, who doesn't love food as much but still eats all that bad crap.
posted by mrgrimm at 12:19 PM on October 19, 2009


I’d still rather have my wife’s Thursday-night spaghetti than the fancy blah-blah-blah from the Charlie Trotter cookbook.

Guess what, Alton, your wife's spaghetti is probably slow food. Congratulations, now you know.
posted by birdie birdington at 12:42 PM on October 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


I really truly like Alton Brown, and I like his show, and I adore what he's trying to do. However, I have tried half a dozen of his recipes, and all of them have been complete, inedible failures.
posted by ErikaB at 12:43 PM on October 19, 2009


pretty much only Good Eats and America's Test Kitchen actually teach people how to cook

I agree, except that I'd add at least some of Jacques Pépin's shows to the list.
posted by gimonca at 12:45 PM on October 19, 2009


deadmessenger -

It always looked to me like he was in a Bed, Bath and Beyond or somesuch when he goes blender-shopping, is that not the case?
posted by madajb at 12:45 PM on October 19, 2009


Slow Food has the classic problem that reaction movements do: it defines itself in opposition to something, chooses a name and a marketing message to match that oppositional stance, and alienates a bunch of moderates it'd otherwise capture. Oh well! At least they're trying!
posted by Fraxas at 12:49 PM on October 19, 2009 [6 favorites]


I really dislike superficiality in regards to what fractures communities. The internet doesn't do it, hundreds of TV networks don't do it. Empty towns once full of jobs now in China do it, for instance.

On the, it can be argued, upside, bigger and better farming tools that allow kids to go off to college in the big cities instead of work the farm their whole lives does it.

But the internet? You're going to have to make a more compelling case than that people with weird obscure hobbies can find each other.
posted by birdie birdington at 12:50 PM on October 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


It's pretty incredible that with all the hundreds of cooking show on TV, that pretty much only Good Eats and America's Test Kitchen actually teach people how to cook.

Food Network used to have people who could cook, but weren't necessarily the best presenters.

They've gradually eased them out in favor of "Reality" TV and Cooking contests, etc.
Even the people they have that can still cook are wasted in things like that Bobby Flay Showdown bit.
posted by madajb at 12:50 PM on October 19, 2009


ErikaB: "[…] I have tried half a dozen of his recipes, and all of them have been complete, inedible failures."

I watch Good Eats more for the technique and for ideas than for the recipes themselves. I've used a few in pretty-close-to-unmodified form, but others are better as starting points than as something you should follow slavishly.

(Example: I tried his chili recipe and found the meat to be tough, the sauce gritty, and the process—involving a pressure cooker—to be a pain in the ass. But I have a modified version done in a Crock Pot using masa flour instead of tortillas that is really good, and I never would have come up with it myself.)

To me he's the opposite end of the spectrum from someone like Rachael Ray, who goes through a lot of recipes (many of which, IMO anyway, are pretty good), but doesn't really explain that much about why she's doing particular things. Because of this, Ray's show left me cold the few times I watched it; I felt like I could get the same thing just by going to the web site afterwards. But at least with Brown's show I usually feel like I've learned something that I can put to use (at least in conversation) at the end of it.
posted by Kadin2048 at 1:04 PM on October 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


HAS NOT TURNED ON A TV IN OVER A DECADE

Ah, but you're on the internet, with its YouTubes and Google Videos. Your lack of TV has been offset with another screen. Just saying.
posted by filthy light thief at 1:10 PM on October 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


I really truly like Alton Brown, and I like his show, and I adore what he's trying to do. However, I have tried half a dozen of his recipes, and all of them have been complete, inedible failures.

He's definitely more of a go-to for techniques than complete recipes. His stock technique is my standard now (minus his crazy-physics suggestion of using plastic tubing instead of straining, but only because I'm too lazy to obtain food grade tubing) and his baked potato method is superb, particularly if your goal is to have extra delicious skin on your spuds.

I find that in general, I have a short attention span for cooking shows and after a while the host will bug me no matter what their talents or schtick. So I haven't watched Alton in years but I have a soft spot for him, and his books are fun and readable. A new Alton Brown book will generally be more likely to spend time on my bedside nightstand than in my little lucite cookbook stand thing on the kitchen counter. It's the same with Nigella, some cookbooks are more for reading and the recipes are just a bonus.
posted by padraigin at 1:17 PM on October 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


"Slow Food" the movement is awesome. "Slow Food" the name makes me think of people who can happily talk about the percentage of cocoa in their dark chocolate for more than 15 seconds.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 1:25 PM on October 19, 2009 [2 favorites]


sssiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiittttttttttttttyyyyyyyyyyyyyy - eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiigggggggggggggghhhhhhhhhhhhttttttttttttt pppppppppppeeeeeeeeeeeerrrrrrrrrrrccccccccccceeeeeeeeeeeennnnnnnnnnnnttttttt
posted by GuyZero at 1:33 PM on October 19, 2009 [2 favorites]


+xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
posted by GuyZero at 1:33 PM on October 19, 2009


can't fathom the slow food movement either (for a long time, I thought it was like the raw foodists, i.e. cooking nothing over 186 degrees or something).

Whatever one's feelings about the name, it's not something that's impossible to research, not some great mystery which anyone - particularly someone who's an educated, highly paid food professional - can legitimately claim they are unable to 'get' or understand. I can't imagine saying "It's like that whole kosher thing, I still don't know what the heck that's about" or "It's like that whole vegan thing, I still don't know what the heck that's about". Before you feel you can comment on its role in contemporary attitudes toward food, you should know what it is. And it's easy enough to find out.
posted by Miko at 1:39 PM on October 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


"Slow Food" the movement is awesome. "Slow Food" the name makes me think of people who can happily talk about the percentage of cocoa in their dark chocolate for more than 15 seconds.

Fair point....now that you mention it, I do sometimes think Alton does get bogged down in "make sure that THIS is the cut of meat you get" and "get THAT style of salsa, because everything else sucks." To his credit, he does make a really good case for explaining why what he's calling for is better, and explaining how to get it when you're on a limited budget (Tenderloin beef at Costco? who knew?), but to the casual observer it can look like he's a little caught up in minutia, which can be intimidating.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:42 PM on October 19, 2009


Slow Food has the classic problem that reaction movements do: it defines itself in opposition to something, chooses a name and a marketing message to match that oppositional stance, and alienates a bunch of moderates it'd otherwise capture. Oh well! At least they're trying!

This would be believable if Slow Food wasn't already co-opted by moderates, wrapped up in plastic, and sold at the deli counter.
posted by birdie birdington at 1:55 PM on October 19, 2009


I'm so glad the dude lost weight. Sure, a diet of 90 percent fruit smoothies may seem extreme, but when your freakin' job requires you to eat food, you gotta pace yourself or you're not gonna be healthy.
posted by scrowdid at 1:55 PM on October 19, 2009


This would be believable if Slow Food wasn't already co-opted by moderates, wrapped up in plastic, and sold at the deli counter.

In what way do you mean?
posted by Miko at 1:56 PM on October 19, 2009


Or it could be Alton Brown is disdainful of the notion that delicious, home-cooked meals are some sort of political movement. I know I sure am.
posted by Slap*Happy at 2:02 PM on October 19, 2009 [2 favorites]


In what way do you mean?

I was thinking specifically of Whole Foods being one of the sponsors of Slow Food Nation. I'm not trying to get in a dig about WF. Just that it provides a slowish food shopping environment for moderates. So I find it hard to believe that moderates don't find Slow Food attractive. I think the evidence points to that they do.
posted by birdie birdington at 2:03 PM on October 19, 2009


Huh. I assumed Slow Food was about using a crockpot or something. Cooking food slowly. Yeah, that's a bad descriptor.
posted by team lowkey at 2:15 PM on October 19, 2009


Or it could be Alton Brown is disdainful of the notion that delicious, home-cooked meals are some sort of political movement. I know I sure am.

I wouldn't say it's entirely a political movement. I'd say it's a social movement of people who think we should all be able to eat delicious, home-cooked, good food. As it turns out, that statement does lead to some forms of political action, because the reasons our food isn't is all delicious and home-cooked are so often politically influenced. So I guess I'd ask you why you're disdainful of that notion?

provides a slowish food shopping environment for moderates.

Well, at best I think Whole Foods the company finds it advantageous to align themselves with the values associated with the Slow Food movement, and to expose itself to an audience interested in those values by sponsoring nonprofit events like Slow Food Nation. But I wouldn't go so far as to say they provide a truly 'slow' food shopping environment. I suppose in some ways they do - their attention to taste quality is pretty good when it comes to things like cheese and coffee, so I see why you say it's 'slow-ish' - but on the whole, Whole Foods is an outlet for industrially produced, packaged food utterly unconnected to its own region's food traditions or climate, like most other national chain grocery stores.

I would say that like a lot of branded entities, WF seeks to capitalize on cultural phenomena like Slow Food, but that's not really enough to make a claim that Slow Food has been "co-opted by moderates." Slow Food as both a set of organizations and a movement remains dedicated to a pretty clear, direct, simple idea that cotnains an implicit critical stance towards the business methods of all industrial food systems, including Whole Foods', while at the same time recognizing incremental improvements that may take place within that system.

What Alton Brown is trying to do with his show - encourage people to spend time cooking food in their own homes from whole ingredients of decent quality in order to create tasty meals that people will enjoy and attend to in order to add enjoyment to their lives - is exactly what Slow Food promotes. It's just odd to me to hear him try to set himself apart from those ideas, which makes me think he really hasn't informed himself about them.
posted by Miko at 2:22 PM on October 19, 2009 [2 favorites]


I find him an interesting mess of contradictions. He claims he makes the show just for himself but only chooses ingredients and techniques that "anybody can do," stresses the importance of food as a community-building activity and while simultaneously shitting on the slow food movement, teaches people how to cook the most delicious food they can but himself doesn't eat anything but fruit smoothies and sardines because of a weight problem. I love the show, but maybe this is all just evidence that there's a fundamental difference between the food you see on TV and the food you can actually eat, you know, every day.
posted by albrecht at 2:32 PM on October 19, 2009 [2 favorites]


I suspect that's because, after all is said and done, his motivation isn't promoting the making of good food at home to any special degree beyond any other classsical cooking show (excepting the obviously awful Semi-Homemade Sandra Lee's! Ew!!), it's teaching science and history and trivia and smartiness while we relate and salivate. That also explains why some or many of his recipes have whiz-bang appeal but don't actually taste good.

My main problem with the show is that, actually: it permits a mode of viewership which is completely divorced from any intent to do cooking. People can watch his show, become know-it-alls, and still not make their own bread, etc. It's kind of a gendered issue, too. Man cook does man food shows and gets a better crossover audience of men and women, cooks and non-cooks alike (while being a mite disparaging to recurring women characters in the early seasons, I might add). That's good TV, but not necessarily from a strictly foodie POV.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 2:33 PM on October 19, 2009 [3 favorites]


Miko, I don't necessarily disagree and I was most certainly being flippant, but it remains that I don't believe, unless it can be cited, that Slow Food is unattractive on its face to moderates.
posted by birdie birdington at 2:33 PM on October 19, 2009


There's a diner down the street from me that I'm pretty sure is into Slow Food. Not cheap and not very good, but they've definitely got the 'slow' part down.

Yes I think they probably could have branded their movement a bit better.
posted by Kadin2048 at 2:34 PM on October 19, 2009


The first time I heard the term "Slow Food" was in an episode of the cartoon Reboot and it made it much harder to take anything using the term seriously. Maybe it was the same for Alton (he certainly is nerdy enough to be a first-season Reboot fan).

And not using AdBlock, I have recently seen ads for The Next Iron Chef featuring Alton's face, which I find ironically hilarious because one of my all-time favorite Good Eats episodes was his parody of Iron Chef, "Scrap Iron Chef" (one of the episodes I took NO practical tips, methods or recipes from, except maybe how to use kimchee for sabotaging someone else's recipe).
posted by wendell at 2:44 PM on October 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


Alton Brown is so cool. He flies his own plane. He is awesome.
posted by hazyspring at 2:47 PM on October 19, 2009


I don't believe, unless it can be cited, that Slow Food is unattractive on its face to moderates.

Nor do I. In fact, it's not - it's pretty welcome stuff to all kinds of people. It was the 'co-opting' thing that confused me.
posted by Miko at 3:04 PM on October 19, 2009


It's a fair point, but none of the people I know who watch Brown take his stance as gospel.

I tore into him at a book signing for recommending yellow sauce on BBQ. That's beyond wrong.

He signed my copy of I'm Just Here For the Food "Yellow sauce rules!"

In person he has zero attitude. He had a horrible cold that night but signed 100 books and posed for pics for 3 hours.
posted by dw at 3:06 PM on October 19, 2009


My biggest problem with the whole Slow Food movement is that there's an inherent attitude that if you're not spending hours in the kitchen every day then you're deficient as a human. But when you're in a two-income household with a small child, it's well-nigh impossible to be Slow Food during the week. I'm happy just to be able to make Sunday dinner with a roast beast every once in a while.
posted by dw at 3:11 PM on October 19, 2009 [5 favorites]


The problem with slow food, I think, is not the food itself, it's the values behind it. Basically, it's a set of ideals that are very hard for poorer people to aspire to. So the whole thing becomes an exercise in attaining elevated social status. I think the point he's trying to make is that taking a lot of time to cook or prepare things doesn't make them necessarily taste better. It's mostly about making food preparation more difficult.

As a rule, I think it's best to stay away from anything that presents itself as a good marketing opportunity. It's a pretty sure sign you're being sold something shoddy.

I'm more concerned with Alton's dietary restrictions. I hope *that's* just a fad...
posted by chrisgregory at 3:30 PM on October 19, 2009 [3 favorites]


Food Network used to have people who could cook, but weren't necessarily the best presenters.

Nah, they could present fine, it's just that they did actual cooking. Food Network has really, really dumbed down the cooking level in their shows. (That's not such great English, but I'm pressing on.) Even Giada Di Laurentis, who was never anybody's idea of Thomas Keller, has simplified her more recent stuff. Barefoot Contessa's doing Barefoot Contessa Basics or something like that. I rarely watch their stuff because I feel like I don't learn anything. Also, have you noticed how quickly they cycle through chefs now? It's like VJs.

I understand why they do it --- the avergae American is the cooking equivalent of illiterate --- but if you actually like to cook there's just not much there besides good eats and the chick with the whacky hair on Saturday morning sometimes. (Secrets of a Restaurant Chef, I think?)

Although I am kind of into the Next Iron Chef show. I love skill-based reality shows, especially when the contestents are competant and the challenges difficult.
posted by Diablevert at 3:31 PM on October 19, 2009 [2 favorites]


Damnit, this is worse then when I found out Beck was a Scientologist.

I admit that, googling AB's church about a year back, I got pretty profoundly uneasy about being a filthy Kinsey 2 watching his show. Their approach to Christianity seems pretty anti-gay.

I'm not sure what it says about his faith in particular, though. I find it hard to believe anyone with a crap attitude about sexual diversity could've worked alongside Michael Stipe, for instance.
posted by fairytale of los angeles at 3:48 PM on October 19, 2009


I find it hard to believe anyone with a crap attitude about sexual diversity could've worked alongside Michael Stipe, for instance.

Or Ted Allen, for that matter. (Oh, that anniversary show....)
posted by IndigoJones at 4:21 PM on October 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


Fair point....now that you mention it, I do sometimes think Alton does get bogged down in "make sure that THIS is the cut of meat you get" and "get THAT style of salsa, because everything else sucks."

Oh I trust Alton. I just don't like or trust those assholes who are trying to turn chocolate into wine.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 4:26 PM on October 19, 2009


But, did you catch that 10th anniversary stage show? Pretty jump-the-shark-ish, imho.

For which read "absolutely god-awful dreadful". I love Good Eats; but hate Alton Brown's ongoing transformation into Food Network Personality.

The whole thing about Good Eats is that it's an alien island of weirdness amongst Food Network's bland sameness. For a long time that was reinforced by the fact that you never saw him outside the show.

That's kinda lost now that Alton is hosting Generic Food Network Shouty Competition Shows and appearing in the Generic Food Network Plastic Holiday Celebration Shows.

Also, he needs to stop saying "hi kids" to the camera during Iron Chef America. Patronizing wanker.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 4:28 PM on October 19, 2009 [2 favorites]


A few years back (on another website) there was a long thread about "Who is your favorite food network chef?" All the answers boiled down to about 3 things:

- The italian lady sure is pretty
- Rachel Ray is kind of do-able and/or incredibly annoying
- Alton Brown is a god
posted by and for no one at 5:28 PM on October 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


There's a great video seminar of a panel of Food Network people available for viewing at the Museum of TV and Radio Paley Center for Media in LA.

I was most surprised to learn that Alton didn't come from a science background; he professed that the reason why he got into cooking was to get girls. When he started his cooking show, the main focus was on the look of it - all the whizzbang effects and neat cinematographic tricks. I got the impression that the food (and food research for the geeky science bits) was really a secondary concern. Rightly or wrongly, I find I don't enjoy the show as much as I did before learning all that. Because I thought he was really a geek! But he's not! (I still think he's awesome, though).
posted by estherbester at 5:31 PM on October 19, 2009


Also, from the linked interview:

Every recipe has been redone and remastered and retested and recalculated. And in some cases just plain fixed. There were some that were just—you know, you do a recipe for TV, and you taste it and you test it eight times and it works four, then you go with it.

That kinda matches my experience cooking recipes from Good Eats: you expect them to be bulletproof reliable, and usually they are, but occasionally they're not.

Ditto America's Test Kitchen, whose recipes sometimes simply don't work in My Kitchen.

(Also: Kimball doesn't like spicy food. Which bugs me. And all the cooks on ATK are women and all the experts are men. Which also bugs me. I want to like ATK, really I do, but more often than not its homespun folksiness and oldfashioned patriarchy just freaks me the hell out.)
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 5:38 PM on October 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


(Oh, that anniversary show....)

OK, I don't want to defend that execrable show, but as someone who grew up in the near South, I can tell you it's exactly what you'd expect from a Southern boy trying to make a homage to the Southern Saturday cornpone variety show. I mean, music, puppets, weird demonstrations a la Letterman, all it was missing was Minnie Pearl.
posted by dw at 6:40 PM on October 19, 2009


>I'm more and more inclined to think that the obesity epidemic is rooted in something deeper than questions of will-power and self-restraint... There is something that's not working on an endocrinology or neurology level, and it's likely a contagion or a chemical agent (pollutant?) that's triggering it.

Not to derail, but I just read an article that addresses this. Apparently, there is something to the idea that exposure to certain chemicals might possibly be contributing to obesity. It's kind of long, but an interesting read.
posted by lexicakes at 7:14 PM on October 19, 2009


I just don't like or trust those assholes who are trying to turn chocolate into wine.

I know I'm an uncultured heathen, but I'd rather taste test chocolate over wine any day of the week and 3 times on Sunday.

(I usually can't do much higher than 70% if it's just chocolate. Fruit or other flavors make the higher percentages better though. Is that 15 seconds yet?)
posted by kmz at 7:54 PM on October 19, 2009


kmz: I know I'm an uncultured heathen, but I'd rather taste test chocolate over wine any day of the week and 3 times on Sunday.

Didn't Alton Brown talk about once that coffee and red wine were the most complex chemicals that people imbibed? Or something like that. My memory is very fuzzy on this.
posted by Kattullus at 8:19 PM on October 19, 2009


"It’s like the whole slow-foods thing. I still don’t know what the heck that’s about."

I think this statement has everything to do with the sentence that comes before it. To wit:

The problem with slow food, I think, is not the food itself, it's the values behind it. Basically, it's a set of ideals that are very hard for poorer people to aspire to. So the whole thing becomes an exercise in attaining elevated social status. I think the point he's trying to make is that taking a lot of time to cook or prepare things doesn't make them necessarily taste better. It's mostly about making food preparation more difficult.
posted by chrisgregory


I couldn't agree with this more--aside from the fact that generally, it's not about making the preparation more difficult, but the acquisition-- and the majority of restaurants I've cooked in have been self-professed slow food adherents.

I had the good fortune to meet and dine with Alton Brown when he judged a food competition I was assisting in. Totally cool guy. Very down to earth and personable, same dry humor in person.

And finally:
"No. Do you know why? Because it’s not a title, it’s a job. It’s a position in a kitchen. It comes from an old German word that means “boss” or “head of the shop.” In which case I am the chef of my operation, but it’s a production company. It’s not a kitchen, even though we do have a kitchen. That’s the closest thing to chef I am. All the good chefs that I know say that they are cooks employed as chef. All the people that say, “I’m a chef,” generally aren’t. The good ones will say, “I’m a cook.” Once people start saying, “I’m Chef Bob!”—yeah, whatever. I’m Captain Kangaroo. Have a nice day."

Hell-to-the-yeah. Having spent my entire adult life (and most of my adolescence) in professional kitchens, the coolest--and incidentally most talented--guys I've worked for have insisted on not being called "chef" by their cooks. I have found that most of us, when we finally get the title have to stop doing a lot of the actual cooking and more of the administrative and managerial type duties. I think it's probably that we miss being just good cooks that leads some of us to this conclusion.
posted by kaiseki at 9:00 PM on October 19, 2009 [3 favorites]


pretty much only Good Eats and America's Test Kitchen actually teach people how to cook

Yes, but only one of those programs is hosted by someone whom I do not want to strangle with his stupid fucking bowtie.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 10:12 PM on October 19, 2009 [5 favorites]


Nah, they could present fine, it's just that they did actual cooking.

Maybe, I remember a lot of looking down at the food rather than at the camera, long pauses while chopping vegetables, etc.
Certainly not bad, but not totally polished either.
It's been quite sometime though, so who knows.

Also, have you noticed how quickly they cycle through chefs now? It's like VJs.

To be honest, I've not really watched in quite a while. I did notice though, while home in the morning, that FoodTV doesn't start broadcasting until 9am here. Seems like they're missing a prime Breakfast show opportunity.
posted by madajb at 10:42 PM on October 19, 2009


I've loved Alton's show for a long time, but that interview just dampened my love for him some. I dunno, it is that whole populist "regular food for regular folk and not them elitist bastards" vibe I kind of got from it that just kind of smacks of anti-intellectualism. Combined with his slow-food slam, it leaves a bad taste in my mouth, and that isn't good eats.

I'll likely forgive him as the elitist bastards could get to you and perhaps he is just partly defined himself as not those guys.
posted by Bovine Love at 1:23 AM on October 20, 2009


<derail>Food Network Humor</derail> has some wonderful snark about Food TV and its personalities. They're a lot kinder towards Alton Brown than the rest.
posted by crataegus at 4:01 AM on October 20, 2009


I'm fortunate to know Alton a bit; I know him from the motorcycling world and I had a speaking part in the beef jerky episode of Good Eats.

He's really that smart. I used to work at the parts counter of a BMW motorcycle shop in Atlanta, and he was in shopping the day when the Compact Oxford English Dictionary I'd ordered from overstock.com arrived. We geeked out about language and dictionaries for a long time... long enough for all my co-workers to start rolling their eyes.

Later, on the set of Good Eats, I was incredibly impressed with his work. He writes, produces, and stars in the show - really it's a one-man-show with someone else holding the camera.
posted by workerant at 7:22 AM on October 20, 2009


The problem with slow food, I think, is not the food itself, it's the values behind it.

What do you think those values are?

Basically, it's a set of ideals that are very hard for poorer people to aspire to. So the whole thing becomes an exercise in attaining elevated social status.

Since I've been active in this movement, I've been astounded at the degree to which people who are somewhat anti-progressive on this point, but who are themselves well resources, hide behind the poor as a justification when making essentially lifestyle-based or political criticisms of the aims of the movement toward healthier, cleaner food which is accessible to everyone, improved food security, and smaller-scale food production - which is what Slow Food is about. There are certainly issues of food deserts and in urban and suburban areas there can be difficulty aspiring to some of these ideals. But the underlying structure of this problem is due to issues of urban planning and zoning, agricultural policy, and outscaling supply chains dependent on scarce resources. Those aren't really issues of 'elevated social status,' they're structural issues about organizing a society's food supply. Nothing about our present system is fair to the poor. People active in Slow Food are advocating for systemic changes that will improve these conditions for everyone, including the poor. They seek to do that politically, but also through a change in values - if we continue to value speed, push efficiency to the point of compromising humane animal husbandry and food contamination, expect convenience, and separate ourselves from the processes of food preparation which all humans of every class have been capable of engaging in for milennia, we'll continue to create the system we have.

I think the point he's trying to make is that taking a lot of time to cook or prepare things doesn't make them necessarily taste better. It's mostly about making food preparation more difficult.

Alton Brown is certainly into making food preparation more difficult. But that's not what Slow Food is about. There are definitely high-end restaurants which have an active Slow Food philosophy, but they're still high-end restaurants and they're going to compose dishes that way. But the ideas themselves are very simple, and extend just as naturally to a simple plate of beans. For $0.59, or less than 20 cents per person for a serving.
posted by Miko at 7:26 AM on October 20, 2009


set of ideals that are very hard for poorer people to aspire to

I think this is where the confusion arises. I'd make a distinction. Slow Food (the philosophy) has a set of ideals for the food systems we create as societies. People who believe in that set of ideals for the systems also tend to engage in small, local practices that support alternative food systems and improve the quality of their own food. But that second part is an outcome, not a directive, of the philosophy. Slow Food doesn't advocate that everyone adopt those practices, nor does it emphasize that it aim toward enhanced status. This movement was started by a bunch of socialists, for heaven's sake - they intended from the start to critique the 'status' values assigned to food, by assigning greater value to the products of peasant economies linked to regional history and local agriculture than to imported delicacies, food produced for maximum profit by globalized companies, and foodie-ism that constantly seeks the exotic and new. But their most basic assertion is that human beings shouldn't need status in order to have decent food - food of good quality should be available to everyone at all income levels. it's an idea that attacks the present class-stratified food system, rather than supports it.

But I think the confusion arises from those who look at consumer behaviors of people who care about good food. Their consumer choices arise from their interest in rebuilding a healthier food system - not the other way around. The movement is emphatically not a prescribed system of consumer choices, designed to be unavailable to poor people. The consumer choices are an outgrowth of raised awareness of the poor quality of most food available to most people, combined with a personal interest in practicing what you preach.
posted by Miko at 7:43 AM on October 20, 2009


I'm willing to accept Alton's occasional contradiction or awkward spell, because he's had such a profound impact on my daily life. Thanks almost entirely to techniques (and confidence and sense of adventure) I developed by watching Good Eats, my wife lists "you're an awesome cook" in the small list of traits I possess which turn her on.

He's like a culinary wingman. A chicken wingman?
posted by jake at 8:42 AM on October 20, 2009 [1 favorite]


I knew when my g/f bought me a "Will Cook for Sex" apron that not only had I found the right one, but that she understood food, cooking and me.
posted by Bovine Love at 9:45 AM on October 20, 2009


I enjoy watching AB's show and most of the recipes that I've tried worked out quite well. I also find the show entertaining in its own right, and the "Mr. Science" aspect especially educational.

Alton's 10-year-anniversary show, though, sucked (in my opinion).
posted by Man with Lantern at 9:54 AM on October 20, 2009


Alton will explain to you why your mom is wrong, and why her mom was wrong, in such a way that she will accept your answer when you explain Alton's reasoning to her.

Eh. My mom has been making awesome pies for decades now. I watched Alton's show about pies, and his extended explanation about piebirds, and I'm not convinced that piebirds are necessary for making explosion-proof pies, and I know my mom wouldn't be either.

He does an entertaining show, but I have a lot of skepticism about his techniques/suggestions. For example, the show about tuna where he declared the bloodline of tuna to be good for nothing and instructed viewers to throw it away (actually, when it's sauteed with soy sauce and a bit of sesame oil, it has a fantastic meaty flavor.)
posted by creepygirl at 3:12 PM on October 20, 2009


Also, he needs to stop saying "hi kids"

And work on the ums and ahs. I mean, really, the guy's been public speaking for decades. No excuses at this point.
posted by IndigoJones at 5:55 AM on October 21, 2009


I have a lot of skepticism about his techniques/suggestions

Me too. No question I've learned some things from the show, and been entertained, but when you consider that the format of the show absolutely depends on his having some McGyveresque, science-based, or mindblowing new tactic to share, it's bound to get unnecessarily gimmicky at times. The whole premise is 'zany guy takes obsessive science-geek approach to food,' so it has to deliver, even when there's really not that much to say. Pie birds, for instance - no, they're not needed. There are a lot of ways to vent a pie. I thin this gets back to Ambrosia Voyeur's point about the show - it's designed at least partially to appeal to males, and that "I'll tell you something you don't know and make you ever more clever in the kitchen" approach is one way of doing so.
posted by Miko at 9:08 AM on October 21, 2009


Calling the slow foods movement classist is like calling driving any car that costs more than $8000 elitist. The slow foods movement argues that people should use their money and time to aspire to healthier, tastier, and more sustainable meals.

Say what you will about economic inequality causing many causes and activities to keep out the poor, but that's just how life is. Not everyone can afford a hybrid, but that doesn't mean hybrids are inherently classist.
posted by mccarty.tim at 12:23 PM on October 21, 2009


Although sustainable can be more expensive, there is no reason why cheap food cannot be healthy and tasty. In fact, you can make really fantastically healthy and tasty food for very cheap; certainly cheaper then prepared junk foods. I know I often see comparisons where someone can eat at McDonalds or the like cheaper than they can make food at home, but these comparisons are inevitably wrong headed; they are only true if you are making the McDonalds meal at home. Particularly if you stay light on the meat and eat seasonally (i.e. whatever vegetables and fruit is cheap this week at the store), then you can easily eat for less the micky d's.
posted by Bovine Love at 1:48 PM on October 21, 2009 [1 favorite]


I never mean to trivialize issues of access to good food, having the money, time and household equipment to cook good food, etc. Those are very real issues that do affect the poor. However, I think it's primarily the people who are most aware that our current food system is lousy who are actually doing the work to change the food system in ways that will bring better food to more people. So I'm always confused when someone calls the food movement 'elitist,' because neither its origins nor its aims are elitist. And we do need mainstream, affluent people to change their values and purchasing decisions as part of any effort to reduce prices and bring better choices within reach of the working class. We have seen that happen already, for instance, with hybrid cars and with organic foods over the last 20 years. There may be a vanguard that's wealthy, but there are also a lot of people of very modest means, myself included, who not only care about issues that affect the poor but are working to advance systemic change that we hope will benefit everyone.

It really bothers me that somehow, the idea that poor people shouldn't have to eat crap tasteless processed food and hamburgers with ammonia-washed cowshit in them can seem 'elitist.'
posted by Miko at 2:01 PM on October 21, 2009


And work on the ums and ahs. I mean, really, the guy's been public speaking for decades. No excuses at this point.

Actually, this may be because he has to memorize all his lines every week rather than reading them off cue cards like other show hosts have done. (I think I read somewhere that he has some form of dyslexia, so he can't read off cue cards.) So that actually may BE an excuse after all...
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 2:21 PM on October 21, 2009


If he memorizes his lines, that should be all the more reason not to um and ah, surely? Stage actors don't um and ah. Not if they expect to get parts.
posted by IndigoJones at 6:44 AM on October 28, 2009


If he memorizes his lines, that should be all the more reason not to um and ah, surely? Stage actors don't um and ah.

Stage actors also have more than three days to memorize their lines. And, speaking from experience, they do indeed "um" and "ah" a lot while they're still unsteady with their memorization (as well as say "grarrrrrgh" and "fuck me" and "god DAMN it" and "oh, fuck -- EC, what the FUCK is my line again?").
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:27 AM on October 28, 2009


....I should probably clarify my above answer a bit: I have been a stage manager, and part of my job during rehearsals is to follow along in the script while the actors are rehearsing and feed them their lines if they forget. And the first few times the actors try rehearsing without scripts....I'm doing that a lot.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:29 AM on October 28, 2009


I bow to your greater experience, and thank you for your clarification and insight. I always like to see how things work from the inside.

Then again, he's not doing this stuff live. Give or take a take or two, he should be able to do it with the illusion of fluency. Hell, even I don't do the ah um in a prepared speech, and believe me I am no public speaker
posted by IndigoJones at 4:16 PM on October 29, 2009


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