What’s Cooking in That Egg Spoon? A Bite-Size Culture War
March 26, 2018 4:24 PM   Subscribe

She Likes Her Eggs Cooked Over a Fire. He Might Not: When the chef Alice Waters used an iron egg spoon on “60 Minutes,” she touched off a tempest that still resounds with charges of elitism and sexism. (SLNYT by Kim Severson)
posted by crazy with stars (232 comments total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
 
Bourdain is such an ass.
posted by Homo neanderthalensis at 4:27 PM on March 26, 2018 [21 favorites]


I feel I was a little flippant- yeah ok, an egg spoon is silly- and Waters does sometimes come across as entirely out of touch- but there is pretty much no way to make me firmer on your side than to be attacked by Bourdain. And I agree very strongly with the point made in the article that immersion circulator type anovo crap is MUCH more out of touch and expensive and a silly toy than an iron cooking spoon, but because one is coded as “male” and one is coded as “female”, one is the darling of the cooking world, while Bourdain makes fun of an iron cooking implement where all you need to use it is an egg and fire.

Bleh.
posted by Homo neanderthalensis at 4:40 PM on March 26, 2018 [17 favorites]


I am annoyed by both Waters and Bourdain, so I think my foodie-annoyance is gender-neutral.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 4:41 PM on March 26, 2018 [20 favorites]


all you need to use it is an egg and fire

It has to be a fresh egg, though.

SORRY, I'LL SEE MYSELF OUT.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 4:47 PM on March 26, 2018 [14 favorites]


All of these methods of cooking an egg are clearly inferior to the Egg Master.
posted by egypturnash at 4:47 PM on March 26, 2018 [32 favorites]


amélie
posted by theodolite at 4:48 PM on March 26, 2018 [24 favorites]


One of my last straws with Bourdain was when he was doing an SF-based episode and he was all assholish towards Waters, with a lot of attitude about how stupid all the local based vegetable stuff was when all the cool people knew that a steak and cocktail were the true awesomeness. And then not long after I was watching an episode where he was at a cooking competition -- all male of course -- in Japan where chefs were gathering stuff from the woods, and he was all deferential and admiring. There were other contributing factors, but that was when I said 'yeah, I don't need this shit.'
posted by tavella at 4:48 PM on March 26, 2018 [57 favorites]


“She’s Pol Pot in a muumuu,” he was reported to have said at a New York food festival shortly afterward. “I saw her on ‘60 Minutes.’ She used six cords of wood to cook one egg for Lesley Stahl.”

So Bourdain is indeed a complete ass but I had to laugh and wonder how serious he was because six cords of wood is a farcically large amount of wood.

Also these spoons are kind of silly but are they sillier than the hundreds of ridiculous things that male chefs have done? No way. I'd take an egg cooked on a spoon over some hairy dude bouncing salt off his forearms.
posted by GuyZero at 4:49 PM on March 26, 2018 [26 favorites]


For what it's worth, what seems over-the-top about an egg spoon is not the actual egg spoon. It's that cooking an egg with an egg spoon requires that you have an open fire in your kitchen. I would say that it's a rare household that has a kitchen fireplace just for cooking eggs.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 4:49 PM on March 26, 2018 [11 favorites]


Came for the Amelie and was not disappointed. This laserdisc is gigantic!
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 4:51 PM on March 26, 2018 [10 favorites]


Pffft I could do this over a gas burner! Or a grill in the back! Or a bonfire at the beach! There is no requirement for a dedicated hearth- all you need is a flame.
posted by Homo neanderthalensis at 4:52 PM on March 26, 2018 [13 favorites]


Does it have to be a kitchen fireplace, though? Couldn't it just be a regular fireplace? Is there something about a living room fireplace that precludes making the occasional egg or rarebit?
posted by muddgirl at 4:52 PM on March 26, 2018 [7 favorites]


t's that cooking an egg with an egg spoon requires that you have an open fire in your kitchen

and 768 cubic feet of hardwood
posted by GuyZero at 4:53 PM on March 26, 2018 [30 favorites]


I think what's also silly is the implication that egg cooked via spoon over a wood fire is a normal everyday homey occurrence. Which itself is pretty gendered (everyday cooking vs cheffery, I mean). I think the whole thing is ridiculous but am also now trying to figure out the best way to cook eggs over the fire the next time I go camping. Mmm, eggs.
posted by quaking fajita at 4:54 PM on March 26, 2018 [8 favorites]


I mean, yeah, I guess you could use the living room fireplace. But are you really going to build a fire in the fireplace to cook an egg?

On the other hand, it definitely sounds like a thing to try next time you go camping. I bet you could even rig up something that didn't cost $250.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 4:55 PM on March 26, 2018


FFS.

Both the $300 sous vide device AND the $250 egg spoon are precious and elitist.
posted by MissySedai at 4:56 PM on March 26, 2018 [73 favorites]


I think the whole thing is ridiculous but am also now trying to figure out the best way to cook eggs over the fire the next time I go camping. Mmm, eggs.

Cast iron fry pan.

Cook an entire package of bacon in the pan. Remove bacon, do not remove fat.

Crack six eggs into the bacon fat. Cook to desired doneness.
posted by GuyZero at 4:56 PM on March 26, 2018 [68 favorites]


Yeah, the Anova is a lot cheaper than an indoor open fire and actually produces results that are very different that what you can get with just about any other cooking method.

The egg spoon seems like something the "Frugalwoods" couple would use to cook breakfast for Tim "Tyranny of Convenience" Wu.
posted by Ralston McTodd at 4:57 PM on March 26, 2018 [7 favorites]


Does the egg spoon just cook eggs? I mean, everyone has their own single-use-kitchen-gadget that they love because it's exactly what they want it to do, but a thing that only cooks eggs and costs $250 is something I'm going to make fun of.
posted by 23skidoo at 4:57 PM on March 26, 2018 [12 favorites]


If it takes a gender war over egg preparation for rich people to wipe each other out, I'm all for it.

Dibs on the spoon.
posted by klanawa at 4:57 PM on March 26, 2018 [33 favorites]


It's just a very small frying pan with a very long handle, right? Like the cast iron frying pan my mother (and my grandmother, and my great-grandmother) has cooked eggs in all my life? Except… smaller?

Oh, and over a wood fire. Like when I'm camping? Cooking stuff over a wood fire is one of the nicer parts of camping, I'll admit.

It does seem a bit silly. But then, celebrity chefs are constantly doing silly things.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 4:58 PM on March 26, 2018 [13 favorites]


why is the egg spoon coded as female? is it just because Alice Waters made it a thing?

anything involving OPEN FIRE and HAND-FORGED usually registers as male nonsense pretentiousness to me
posted by prize bull octorok at 4:58 PM on March 26, 2018 [66 favorites]


Both the $300 sous vide device AND the $250 egg spoon are precious and elitist.

Oh no doubt! But the egg trick can be done in an old pan that costs you 5 bucks at a thrift store, sous vide cannot. Also one is made fun of by big men in cooking, and one is celebrated as the height of cuisine. That’s the problem.
posted by Homo neanderthalensis at 4:58 PM on March 26, 2018 [5 favorites]


The real question is, at which end of the egg do they crack the shell?
posted by Quackles at 4:58 PM on March 26, 2018 [8 favorites]


The Frugalwoodses totally own a $250 hand-forged egg spoon. You totally know they do.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 4:59 PM on March 26, 2018 [12 favorites]


GuyZero has it right. First you make the bacon, then you make the eggs in the bacon fat, then you pour the bacon fat on the fire and watch it all burn.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 4:59 PM on March 26, 2018 [2 favorites]


The open fire and the hearth is coded as female. The hearth or focus was the domain of the goddess Hestia or Vesta in Greek/Roman culture. At least in the Western world, cooking over a fire was considered female for 4,000+ years.
posted by Homo neanderthalensis at 4:59 PM on March 26, 2018 [10 favorites]


Seems like a shitty way to cook an egg to me. I want it done over the lowest heat possible, just to set the white and leave the yolk as runny as possible.

It's the having chickens and knowing what a really good egg tastes like that is far more important.
posted by opsin at 5:00 PM on March 26, 2018 [10 favorites]


I think the whole thing is ridiculous but am also now trying to figure out the best way to cook eggs over the fire the next time I go camping. Mmm, eggs.

I have an itty bitty cast iron skillet that I cook breakfast in outside when we fell like playing with fire. It was $2 at a yard sale. Probably wasn't hand forged by artisanal tinkers or whatever, but it gets the job done nicely and didn't require a personal loan to buy it.
posted by MissySedai at 5:00 PM on March 26, 2018 [7 favorites]


How big does the open flame in your kitchen have to be for it to make a proper spoon egg? Because I have totally made s'mores by roasting marshmallows over a single tealight candle.
posted by nicebookrack at 5:02 PM on March 26, 2018 [9 favorites]


that spoon looks like something that would be great for cooking things and a campfire or bonfire, and a hell of a lot lighter than a cast-iron pan. though $250 is a hell of a lot to pay for cookware, is it so much to pay for a hand-made item? i bet you'll be able to get mass-produced version made in china for $20 in no time. probably won't work as nicely for heat dispersion, but... it'll only be $20.
posted by lapolla at 5:03 PM on March 26, 2018 [2 favorites]


Yeah, seems like a tiny cast iron pan would do the job. No need to pay $250 for it.
posted by praemunire at 5:03 PM on March 26, 2018 [1 favorite]


(oh, and? itty-bitty pan has a short handle. curious to see if the length of the handle makes it less burn-y to use.)
posted by lapolla at 5:04 PM on March 26, 2018


This egg spoon looks like a nicer version of a pie iron. I could totally understand someone wanting a nicer pie iron, especially if it was hand made in America by an actual blacksmith.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 5:05 PM on March 26, 2018 [14 favorites]


But the egg trick can be done in an old pan that costs you 5 bucks at a thrift store, sous vide cannot.

You can do sous vide with a ziplock bag, a foam cooler, a thermometer, and a kettle/pot. So, I guess you can spend $15 at a thrift store instead of $5? Not sure if that's that big of a difference?
posted by delicious-luncheon at 5:05 PM on March 26, 2018 [7 favorites]


I have a tiny $5 Lodge cast iron skillet that's about the size of one egg and I do this all the time in my wood stove because I'm inherently too lazy to go in the kitchen where it's cold and stand at the stove to tend an egg when I could sit by my nice warm already made fire and make food there. I love it when my laziness makes me cool.
posted by elsietheeel at 5:05 PM on March 26, 2018 [49 favorites]


The open fire and the hearth is coded as female. The hearth or focus was the domain of the goddess Hestia or Vesta in Greek/Roman culture. At least in the Western world, cooking over a fire was considered female for 4,000+ years.
I don't think that cooking over an open fire is particularly coded female in contemporary America, though. If anything, the closest analog is grilling, which is definitely coded male.

I think that Bourdain is sexist as hell, and I'm sure that a lot of anti-Waters sentiment is misogynistic. But I saw that 60 Minutes segment when it came out, and I found it pretty infuriating. Was that the one where she swore that families making $30,000 a year in the Midwest could eat only local, seasonal food if they just sought out farmers who used greenhouses? She's an influential food person, and I'm sure she's an amazing chef, but she's annoying when she gets into prescriptive mode, because she's confused about the realities of other people's lives.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 5:06 PM on March 26, 2018 [38 favorites]


I'm trying to work out how that egg spoon is different from most Chinese ladles. $250 seems about 10 times what it should cost.
posted by N-stoff at 5:09 PM on March 26, 2018 [13 favorites]


hot take: fetishization of rustic/high-tech/conspicuously high-effort cooking methods is boring as fuck and indicates that fetishizer is rich enough to have lots of money and free time, and should be eaten when the revolution comes
posted by scose at 5:11 PM on March 26, 2018 [12 favorites]


I'm trying to work out how that egg spoon is different from most Chinese ladles.

That ladle was not hand-forged in berkeley by the daughter of one of the richest chefs in America.
posted by GuyZero at 5:13 PM on March 26, 2018 [10 favorites]


I mean...just put the egg in the frying pan you already own?

(Wanders off confused)
posted by Salamander at 5:15 PM on March 26, 2018 [15 favorites]


Sounds like a nice way to cook an egg. Eggs are great. Cook your eggs however. In a special forged spoon that you hold over an inside fire? Great! On an overheated engine block while cracking open some cold ones with the boys? Mmm, delicious! In a cup in a microwave while watching infomercials on late-night television? Yummo! Emptied directly into boiling water because oh god who cares? Spesh! All scrambled up in leftover bacon fat and then you add some shit from the garden, some herbs and shit? Paleoriffic! Inside an even bigger egg, inside a bird, on a massive solar array? Inceptioniddlyumptious! On a...in an oven, on a pizza tray, covered in gravy? Fuck it, go for it! With friction from rolling it vigorously back and forth in your hands for hours and hours? Yes! All the ways are good! Fuck you Bourdain!
posted by turbid dahlia at 5:16 PM on March 26, 2018 [34 favorites]


Woah, my bad, the spoons are forged in Alameda by Shawn Lovell and are merely sold by one of the Ms Waters. So feel good about supporting artisanal Americans craftspeople here.
posted by GuyZero at 5:17 PM on March 26, 2018 [4 favorites]


I bet you could cook an egg on a metal pizza peel as long as you kept your arms really steady.
posted by nicebookrack at 5:19 PM on March 26, 2018 [2 favorites]


And as a shout-out to all the Bay Area people, please digress into discussing the class implications of stuff made in Alameda vs Berkeley. Because it's 10 miles by land and 28 million miles by socio-economic mobility.
posted by GuyZero at 5:20 PM on March 26, 2018 [17 favorites]


Hey by the way if you want a really good cooking fire, here's one way to do it:

Get three logs, about 8"-12" diameter, and three rocks, all about the same size and a little bigger than the logs. (Rocks are optional but highly recommended.) Arrange the logs in a sort of star formation, with a little space at the center. Build a small (small) fire in this space, feeding sticks in as you go until you have some nice coals on the ends of the logs. Once your fire is well-established, put in your rocks, near the center, alternating rock-log-rock-log-rock-log. Set your pot on the rocks, and cook!

You have to keep feeding the fire from time to time by poking sticks into the center space, but once it's been going for a couple of hours most of the heat comes from the deep beds of coals on the ends of the logs. Your logs will gradually be consumed, but they'll last for days (this is a working fire, not an entertainment fire) and as they get eaten up you just gradually turn them and move them inward, replacing them when they get used up. You can adjust the heat of your fire by moving the logs closer together or farther apart; closer together and they will heat each other and burn faster and hotter, farther apart and they will cool down.

Generally, come morning you will still have some live coals in your logs from the night before. (YMMV if all you have are conifers; like most fires this works best with hardwood.) This greatly eases the task of getting the fire going in the morning for breakfast. Also, when you're not using your fire just pull the logs apart and stop feeding it. It'll die down to almost nothing, but will be easy to revive when you want it again.

This style of fire is not well suited to the typical American one-night camping experience, where you have a nice big fire and sit around it and look at it and talk. If you want to cook food day in day out though, three meals a day, it's a real winner.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 5:20 PM on March 26, 2018 [43 favorites]


Let the lady make an egg in a spoon if she wants. It ought to be possible for a person, even a relatively famous person, to do a thing and not have it be construed as a political act. She never claimed to be curing world hunger or solving the obesity epidemic with spoon eggs.
posted by killdevil at 5:22 PM on March 26, 2018 [12 favorites]


she's confused about the realities of other people's lives

Today I watched a video on Youtube where Gordon Ramsay shows you how to cook on a budget. At first I thought it was a joke, because the first segment is lamb steaks.

Back to the topic, though ... after reading some of the comments in this thread, I wonder if the point isn't getting lost a bit. It's not that Waters doesn't deserve some criticism - it's that male chefs don't get criticized to nearly the same degree, or in the same way, for similar things. When this double-standard is pointed out, the response is always to back up the legitimacy of the initial criticism. That's not the point, though. The double-standard is the point. How can we get back to addressing the double-standard?

This plays out in all sorts of contexts, not just cheffery.
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 5:23 PM on March 26, 2018 [52 favorites]


I don't like how the article conflates the idea of a generic egg spoon, and Ms. Singer's egg spoon which is a precious fancy version that is intentionally created as a work of art, not mass produced at the lowest cost.
posted by politikitty at 5:23 PM on March 26, 2018 [7 favorites]


But the egg trick can be done in an old pan that costs you 5 bucks at a thrift store, sous vide cannot.

My Omichen used to do this thing where she'd seal a roast or steak or piece of fish in a heavy duty zipper bag with all the seasonings and such that she wanted, put it in a stock pot of water, and pop a thermometer in. She grew up in the Depression and said her Mama used to do that to get cheap cuts of meat super tender.

Lo, it's exactly how Martha Stewart suggests sous vide cooking.
posted by MissySedai at 5:25 PM on March 26, 2018 [13 favorites]


What did her mama do during the 1930s in lieu of a ziplock bag? I'm genuinely curious.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 5:29 PM on March 26, 2018 [11 favorites]


The real question is, at which end of the egg do they crack the shell?

I was hoping for some serious soft-boiled egg drama. I'm not entirely disappointed.
posted by GenderNullPointerException at 5:34 PM on March 26, 2018


What did her mama do during the 1930s in lieu of a ziplock bag? I'm genuinely curious.

She wrapped it in layers of greased paper, tied with string.
posted by MissySedai at 5:34 PM on March 26, 2018 [23 favorites]


I know a fair number of people who have at least a small fire indoors every cold night. Quite a lot of them have chickens, too. Some of them live like this because they're money-rich and some because they're money-poor, but they all like good food, so.

I am going to investigate the plausibly food-safe approximately egg-holding metal implements next time I'm there and borrow a welding glove (from a sweet little old lady, would annoy Bourdain as soon as she spoke).
posted by clew at 5:36 PM on March 26, 2018 [7 favorites]


The original spoon was forged by Angelo Garro . Kitchen tour.
posted by Ideefixe at 5:37 PM on March 26, 2018 [3 favorites]


It ought to be possible for a person, even a relatively famous person, to do a thing and not have it be construed as a political act.
She definitely sees herself as an activist, though, and the 60 Minutes piece was about her advocacy for the slow food movement.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 5:38 PM on March 26, 2018 [4 favorites]


from a sweet little old lady, would annoy Bourdain as soon as she spoke

Maybe not.
posted by primalux at 5:39 PM on March 26, 2018 [4 favorites]


It ought to be possible for a person, even a relatively famous person, to do a thing and not have it be construed as a political act.

oh my lol

oh, my very, very lol
posted by Sebmojo at 5:39 PM on March 26, 2018 [2 favorites]


Because it's 10 miles by land and 28 million miles by socio-economic mobility.

His metal shop is in Alameda. I'm sure he doesn't live there himself.

Of course, the original spoon was forged in San Francisco. So...
posted by elsietheeel at 5:40 PM on March 26, 2018 [2 favorites]


This egg spoon looks like a nicer version of a pie iron.

That's what I was thinking of, too. Campfire breakfast pies FTW! Also works with the fireplace or Franklin stove.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 5:41 PM on March 26, 2018


His metal shop is in Alameda. I'm sure he doesn't live there himself.

Her.

And don't spoil my tale-of-two-cities narrative with your pedestrian zoning minutiae.
posted by GuyZero at 5:42 PM on March 26, 2018 [10 favorites]


His metal shop is in Alameda. I'm sure he doesn't live there himself.
Her. She's definitely a her. And a lot of her stuff is gorgeous.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 5:43 PM on March 26, 2018 [16 favorites]


I have an itty bitty cast iron skillet that I cook breakfast in outside when we fell like playing with fire. It was $2 at a yard sale. Probably wasn't hand forged by artisanal tinkers or whatever, but it gets the job done nicely and didn't require a personal loan to buy it.

Here's a PSA coupled with what might be a little-known fact about cast iron: All of the early- to mid-century cast iron makers manufactured a little one-egg cast iron skillet. They're 5" or 6" in diameter, and they're perfect for a single fried egg. For whatever reason, collectors don't like them. This means you can get them for cheap, even when they're made by a really collectible company. Don't pay more for a logo, though. They're all the same. And if it's marked "Made in the USA," put it back: It was made after 1960.
posted by mudpuppie at 5:43 PM on March 26, 2018 [33 favorites]


Remove bacon, do not remove fat.

Uh, how do you pull off that trick?
posted by leotrotsky at 5:44 PM on March 26, 2018


Uh, how do you pull off that trick?

Let us now introduce you to the magic of the slotted spoon.
posted by mudpuppie at 5:45 PM on March 26, 2018 [13 favorites]


I live in Alameda. I go past her shop many times a week. Her instagram says she lives in Berkeley.
posted by primalux at 5:46 PM on March 26, 2018 [2 favorites]


Oooof, it hurts that the article makes a point of the feminist intersection and how Fanny Singer sought out a local female blacksmith, but we still default to him.
posted by politikitty at 5:46 PM on March 26, 2018 [31 favorites]


Pair of chopsticks would work just fine, I would imagine. (Re: bacon.) No need for special utensils (unless you don't normally use chopsticks, in which case I guess they are still special utensils...)
posted by inconstant at 5:47 PM on March 26, 2018 [5 favorites]


a little one-egg cast iron skillet. They're 5" or 6" in diameter, and they're perfect for a single fried egg.

Also perfect for a one-person buckler or crumble or pie, and very pleasing to some possessive instinct to get a *whole one* for dessert. probably already passé in restaurants too cool for me
posted by clew at 5:54 PM on March 26, 2018 [8 favorites]


The Permanent Collection's spoon is now sold out!

Also, on the subject of Bourdain, one of his favorite naughty words is tr*nny.
posted by lilies.lilies at 6:04 PM on March 26, 2018


Not worth the energy to argue about. If you want to cook an egg in a spoon over a fire, have at it.
posted by KleenexMakesaVeryGoodHat at 6:09 PM on March 26, 2018 [4 favorites]


If Alice Waters wants to indulge herself in a fancy spoon to cook an egg, she's earned it. People will buy $250 egg spoons because they have too much money. Fuck if I care. Building a fire to cook 1 egg is kind of silly and I find it especially so because it is still March and it was a cold winter, and I only have enough wood for a few more days. I won't freeze, the furnace works, just not in the living room, but reading that part kind of got to me.

The world of chefs and fancy food is male-dominated, women are routinely harassed, it's all kinds of not okay. I have a hard time thinking that sous vide vs egg spoons is a valid microcosm of the sexism in Big Foodie.

If you can read “Waters looked playfully into my eyes and said: ‘I’m going to have to make you the Egg,’” he wrote in The New York Times Magazine in 2012. “‘It’ll take a few minutes. Is that O.K.? I have to build a fire.’” and not snicker, well, blah blah, something.
posted by theora55 at 6:11 PM on March 26, 2018 [9 favorites]


Her. As someone with a generally male-coded first name I should know better than to assume that a Shawn would be a him.
posted by elsietheeel at 6:15 PM on March 26, 2018


Some of that metalwork really is beautiful.

It's okay to have beautiful, impractical things. It really is. There are sound reasons to criticize Alice Waters, but her owning such a thing is not one of them, unless we want to go after the entire middle class and above, too.
posted by praemunire at 6:16 PM on March 26, 2018 [10 favorites]


why is the egg spoon coded as female?

It's because the spoon is like a womb and the egg is like an egg. It's symbolic, just like the rollie represents male power.
posted by betweenthebars at 6:18 PM on March 26, 2018 [6 favorites]


Building a fire to cook 1 egg is kind of silly and I find it especially so because it is still March and it was a cold winter, and I only have enough wood for a few more days.

Seriously. I bought two cords at the start of winter and ran out in the middle of a cold snap about six weeks ago. The wood stove in my living room is my only source of heat and it regularly gets in the low 20s at night here. I got another cord delivered a few days after I ran out and I'm already a third of the way through it and it needs to last the rest of the winter and spring. Last year it continued to snow into June. I've begun to get even more stingy with my fires. Building one just to cook an egg... luxury.
posted by elsietheeel at 6:21 PM on March 26, 2018 [5 favorites]


Seems like a shitty way to cook an egg to me. I want it done over the lowest heat possible, just to set the white and leave the yolk as runny as possible.

That's just like, your opinion, man.

The egg spoon creates a crispier fried egg, which is similar to fried eggs in Thailand. Having grown up on that style of fried egg, I happen to think it's tasty and not shitty at all.
posted by FJT at 6:41 PM on March 26, 2018 [19 favorites]


Dang that egg looks tasty, FJT. Haven't had one like that in a while.
posted by praemunire at 6:45 PM on March 26, 2018 [1 favorite]


Fah. Anthony Bourdain. He's exactly what you'd get if an evil witch gave a midlife crisis human form.
posted by faineg at 6:49 PM on March 26, 2018 [16 favorites]


> "Remove bacon, do not remove fat."

Uh, how do you pull off that trick?


Wait, how do you not pull off that trick? When you're done cooking bacon do you just, like, tip the whole skillet towards the plate and let the bacon and grease both slide out and pool there?
posted by komara at 6:51 PM on March 26, 2018 [14 favorites]


Hey, that Thai method is exactly how my former-Army-cook-Midwest-German-farmer’s son dad would fry eggs growing up. Except he would use bacon grease instead of vegetable oil. Frankly, eggs fried in anything besides bacon grease just doesn’t taste right. And a serious grind of black pepper over the whole works.
posted by Big Al 8000 at 6:55 PM on March 26, 2018 [2 favorites]


So, that lady’s egg spoon is carbon steel, not cast iron. I thought of the Chinese ladle, as well, but that steel is probably too thin when you’re sticking it on hot coals like the picture shows.
posted by Big Al 8000 at 6:57 PM on March 26, 2018 [1 favorite]


I’m a dude with a sous vide and I want an egg spoon.

Bite me.
posted by Big Al 8000 at 6:59 PM on March 26, 2018 [5 favorites]


Huh. When camping, I'll sometimes cook an egg in a Sierra Cup over either a lightweight gas camp stove or an open fire, and it works fine. I've also hard boiled eggs in individual paper cups full of water, stuck right in the campfire, which takes way too long. I'm really not tempted to do that at home, though, since I have a gas stove and a nice non-stick pan that work great.

I mean, however you like your eggs, go for it, I guess.
posted by The World Famous at 7:10 PM on March 26, 2018


I was not the least bit interested in owning a ridiculous egg spoon until I read the article and found out it’s being handcrafted on my tiny island. Now it’s hyper-local and I want one!

I don’t camp and my stove is electric, so its easy to resist, though.
posted by greermahoney at 7:21 PM on March 26, 2018 [1 favorite]


"Remove bacon, do not remove fat."

Uh, how do you pull off that trick?

Wait, how do you not pull off that trick?


Possibly the questioner is thinking of the fat still attached to the bacon, rather than the liquid fat in the pan?
posted by greermahoney at 7:25 PM on March 26, 2018 [7 favorites]


I’m a dude with a sous vide and I want an egg spoon.

A real dude would have had to Google "sous vide" like I did.
posted by klanawa at 7:29 PM on March 26, 2018 [2 favorites]


I won't lie, I'd love to have a long handled skillet for using inside the wood stove instead of my welding gloves and tiny skillet. And I'd rather put my welding gloves to their proper use by making myself a long handled skillet. Man, I really need to learn welding and smithing and metalwork.
posted by elsietheeel at 7:30 PM on March 26, 2018


Frying an egg: the new beanplating.
posted by Halloween Jack at 7:39 PM on March 26, 2018 [2 favorites]


Nope, I still don't understand food or drink culture, or the gendering thereof.
posted by alexlaw at 7:44 PM on March 26, 2018 [1 favorite]


I feel like Nancy from the NYT comments spoke for me: Let me make my attitude about cooking over a fire that looks as though it wants to cook me, cooking with a so-called "hand-forged iron egg spoon," clear...I would spend the rest of my life on canned soups before I touched a designer egg spoon.

I am not about to be a woman of 1800s.

posted by TwoStride at 7:53 PM on March 26, 2018 [2 favorites]


When Alice Waters' daughter went to Yale, she got one residential college's dining hall to implement a year-round local food menu. Students reportedly got sick of beeing fed squash all the time.

Anyhow, soft-boiled is the best way to prepare an egg. Don't @ me.
posted by cichlid ceilidh at 8:15 PM on March 26, 2018


charges of elitism and sexism

Or rustic minimalism, but actual charges would be for violating open wood-burning restrictions in most populated areas. Meanwhile, Korean BBQ is going mainstream, featuring table-top cooking with scissors, then rolling your own in lettuce for oversize bites on demand.
posted by Brian B. at 8:27 PM on March 26, 2018 [1 favorite]


This whole argument is getting old. For the people complaining about someone who buys a $250 artisanal egg spoon, what should they spend their money on? What’s better than supporting a skilled independent craftsperson? It’s not a $250 purse made in China, it’s not a company doing a huge markup on mass produced frying pan, etc. It’s a real, independent person, making a thing. That’s valuable.

This seems like the flip side of the anti intellectual streak running through this country. People are seeing all spending the same regardless of where it goes and having a little extra income beyond bare subsistence is some kind of sin. I work hard and am fortunate enough to make decent money and in exchange I immediately turn around and put it in the hands of independent artisans. That includes buying guitars, hand forged carbon steel skillets, handmade bowls and plates and a lot of my clothes are even made by seamstresses I know. I like that these things exist and I want them to keep existing and I want trades and crafts to be viable career options. The fact that I get joy using these things is also a benefit. But mostly I want to do my part.

I consider it a social responsibility to support these people if you have the means. If it’s all $30 Walmart cookware sets made by people who just don’t care we’ve lost something as a society. I’m not going to judge your $30 cookware set, I get it.

My wife and I are currently planning a house and we’re planning to have the ability to cook over a live fire in the kitchen. It’s the only way we can get some of the results we want and we love cooking and entertaining. Other people can outfit their home theater exactly the way they want it and it’s also fine. But one of those seems to be socially acceptable and the other isn’t.

Anyway I get similar results frying my eggs to be really crispy in a (cheap) wok. I’m not buying one of these because I can spend the money on something I’d get far more use out of, but I’m not going to begrudge someone else getting one.
posted by mikesch at 8:42 PM on March 26, 2018 [30 favorites]


hot take: fetishization of rustic/high-tech/conspicuously high-effort cooking methods is boring as fuck and indicates that fetishizer is rich enough to have lots of money and free time, and should be eaten when the revolution comes

Can we use our Instant Pots to cook them? Because push silly your egg spoons and sous vide devices all you want, the IP is perfect for aged/tough protein (like Bourdain or Waters).
posted by The Toad at 8:47 PM on March 26, 2018 [3 favorites]


But are you really going to build a fire in the fireplace to cook an egg?--ArbitraryAndCapricious

I was genuinely confused by this question.

It is a cold day, and you have a nice fire in the fireplace. So you go get your egg spoon and sit in front of the warm fire and cook yourself a tasty egg.

It is like a chicken or egg question: which comes first? In this case, the fire comes first. You might not build a fire to cook an egg, but why not cook an egg on an already existing fire?
posted by eye of newt at 8:48 PM on March 26, 2018 [9 favorites]


If I weren't raising two kids I intend to send to college someday, I might -- *might* -- buy one of those egg spoons and hang it in my kitchen. You know. Like art. Because they are made by a badass woman artisan and I'm all about that.

I mean, I paid $250+ for a 3.5 qt La Creuset mass-produced (hopefully) in France, so why not this? I appreciate a well-crafted tool. Even if it is a lowly egg spoon.

As for Bourdain. Boy. He sure does pick his battles, doesn't he? So let me get this straight. Keller and Ripert can be fussy about ingredients and techniques, but if it's Waters doing it, she's suddenly a Communist human rights disaster? Got it.
posted by offalark at 8:53 PM on March 26, 2018 [17 favorites]


Yeah, I am puzzled by this too, eye of newt. No one's building a fire to cook a single egg. But plenty of people have a fire in the morning already. I can think of several off the top of my head - maybe not every morning, but a lot of winter mornings - and if I had a working fireplace or kitchen woodstove in my house, I'd be one of them. Once you've got a fire you naturally look for things to cook over it.

There's seriously no legitimate reason to harass someone over this.
posted by Miko at 8:54 PM on March 26, 2018 [4 favorites]


This Bourdain/Waters rivalry is one that bugs me a little bit, because I like both of their philosophies and they both have legitimate points towards and ethos that doesn't necessarily have to contradict each other. This argument and rivalry between them is larger than the egg spoon and has been going on for quite a long time.

I own a copy of 'The Art of Simple Food' and it has value. It is just what it says: simple, easy, relatively simple dishes that are tasty. You don't have to cruise a farmers market to get the best produce to make the dishes in her book, and the chapter on 'how to build a pantry' was invaluable to my home-ecconomic-cooking career. Her ethos of fresh food cooked simply can be a powerful force. Bourdain gives her a lot of flack for her elitist tendencies, and they might be there. Bourdain is right; the farmers market isn't going to feed the middle class (let alone the working class), but that shouldn't stand in opposition to quality and technique for middle and working class cookery.

As far as shit-talking sousvide, I'll fight everyone who argues that they're not amazing, flexible, increasingly useful tools for high-quality home cookery. You can pick up a shitty, perfectly servicable one for $50, and you can cook all sorts of things with it without needing a vacuum sealer. Eggs can be sublime with them. You can also make Creme Brule (or skip the brule, and you've got yourself some bomb-ass custard) in mason jars. Perfectly cooked pumpkin pies. Little baby quiches (best breakfast!). Best duck confit ever. Beans and legumes sous vide are also super dreamy. You also don't need a vac sealer to get something close enough. If you add in a pat of butter or a bit of oil to whatever you're sealing, you can use regular freezer zip lock bags and the Archimedes Principle just as easily.

Since they're relatively newly accessible to the normal human, we don't have a great framework for "how do I use this" like we do for a slowcooker or pressure cookers (which are also highly underutilized by everyone). Modernist techniques have value, sous vide being one of them. They haven't had enough time to trickle down into the common kitchen yet, but they will. I mean, once kids figure out that not only can you do whip-its, but make cake with a whipping siphon and a microwave, every college kid will have one in their dorm.
posted by furnace.heart at 9:01 PM on March 26, 2018 [11 favorites]


For the people complaining about someone who buys a $250 artisanal egg spoon, what should they spend their money on?

Whatever they want, but I think it's human nature to think that Certain Things are worth spending money on while Other Things are not worth spending money on.
posted by 23skidoo at 9:05 PM on March 26, 2018 [2 favorites]


Building [a fire] just to cook an egg... luxury.

When I was growing up, we had to wait for sunny summer days to cook our eggs on the sidewalk!!
posted by Greg_Ace at 9:09 PM on March 26, 2018 [5 favorites]


$500 to make a lousy cup of coffee!
$180 for a knife?! They have the same thing at Target for 14 dollars!
$250 for a glorified egg beater?!
$1600 for a barbecue grill? What's wrong with a Hibachi?
$60 for a wine opener? I'll just use this old screwdriver thanks!
$105? Totally reasonable for this turkey fryer you might actually use once a year or maybe never!

There is absolutely no non-culture-war reason to hate on Waters for this. Food and cooking is her life's passion and her career. She's done more to change the way people in this country eat than almost any other single individual. And to attack her for a fucking spoon, something simple that she can see, admire, use and enjoy every day, is just incredibly petty. It's okay to spend money we have on things we love to use and look at. And anyway, is that breakfast really any more obnoxious than Bourdain's precious Brazilian Ju Jitsu morning acai bowl? How many people who love to attack Waters have walls of thousand-dollar guitars, garages full of power tools and recreational vehicles, or closets stuffed with craft supplies? Screw 'em. Enjoy your egg, Alice.
posted by Miko at 9:14 PM on March 26, 2018 [32 favorites]


It seems like the egg spoon itself is a bit of a ridiculous luxury, but at the same time it feels really subversive. How often, as a woman, are you supposed to be making a single egg and making a single egg nicely? Cooking for one, no matter how you're doing it, tends to be coded as very self-indulgent. Or does this egg spoon scale more easily to serving a bunch of people at once than it seems like it would?
posted by Sequence at 9:17 PM on March 26, 2018 [11 favorites]


and 768 cubic feet of hardwood

Or a small handful of twigs.
posted by flabdablet at 9:22 PM on March 26, 2018 [3 favorites]


> Homo neanderthalensis:
"I feel I was a little flippant- yeah ok, an egg spoon is silly- and Waters does sometimes come across as entirely out of touch- but there is pretty much no way to make me firmer on your side than to be attacked by Bourdain. And I agree very strongly with the point made in the article that immersion circulator type anovo crap is MUCH more out of touch and expensive and a silly toy than an iron cooking spoon, but because one is coded as “male” and one is coded as “female”, one is the darling of the cooking world, while Bourdain makes fun of an iron cooking implement where all you need to use it is an egg and fire.

Bleh."


I will disagree on the sous vide. I have seen much more than just eggs (and yes, eggs too) done via sous vide. Seeing as you can get into sous vide for much less than an egg spoon, it strikes me as a little less out fof touch. Plus, because of cook times and such, an immersion cooker can be a really handy time-shifting tool for busy people.
posted by Samizdata at 9:51 PM on March 26, 2018 [2 favorites]


> lilies.lilies:
"The Permanent Collection's spoon is now sold out!

Also, on the subject of Bourdain, one of his favorite naughty words is tr*nny."


Okay, THAT IS crap.
posted by Samizdata at 9:57 PM on March 26, 2018 [2 favorites]


Alice Waters is a national treasure and I will brook no criticism of her.

That said, Bourdain is a clever fuck and “pol pot in a mumu” made me chuckle.
posted by mr_roboto at 10:08 PM on March 26, 2018 [1 favorite]


My egg spoon was forged from the heart of a dying star.

It’s too heavy to lift. Also, horribly radioactive.
posted by um at 10:12 PM on March 26, 2018 [8 favorites]


Look, if Alice Waters wants to cook an egg on a 250 dollar spoon, more power to her. What I don't like is the commercialistic / voyeuristic aspect of her talking about it... AND that is the same tone of voice that turned me off Bordain and his food travels. These are luxuries that most people will not experience.

I've met Waters before while I was cooking. She was a lovely person in every way. I can tell you that if this is something which she is still talking about, then yes, there is something to it. In fact, I can get that I can look at that picture and taste part of it - the infusion of the smoke... The slight umami of the cast iron... just a delicate amouny or salt and pepper... truly, it is a wondrous experience...

And I bet I can recreate a lot of the same taste and enjoyment should i feel so inclined with a certain style of cookware... personally, I'm going to prefer stoneware to metal at that temperature and get more of a woodfired shired egg - but that is personal preference to the nuance.

Likewise, Bordain, he's a Dick, but also one of my first culinary heroes... and maybe that lets me feel like I should let him have a bit more dickish room... but not really this time. His point is sound, his delivery and target are both poorly picked. Chef Alice Waters has earned her title with her talent and that has afforded her the occasional right to dabble in overly pretentious cookware.

So.

I don't think of this as Bordain grinding his axe because she is a woman... he's grinding it because they both have beef. I can't justify it beyond that.

In summation, the culinary world is a land of contrasts...
posted by Nanukthedog at 10:17 PM on March 26, 2018 [7 favorites]


I keep Art of Simple Food next to my dinner table (and Volume II on my phone), and I also have a Arduino-based sous vide setup. I made a shiitake-stuffed turkey breast cooked at 58º C for dinner today. Later this week I'm going to use AoSF's recipes for fruit galettes. I also want this egg spoon, because I've been practicing fried eggs using Jose Andres' method all week, and now hearing how Alice Waters does it, it makes perfect sense because the smoke and added heat from the wood are even better.

I feel like the worst thing about this article is that it didn't do enough to contextualize the issue. Like, how did Waters come up with this idea in the first place? Jose Andres' egg recipe for example was inspired by a Diego Velázquez painting, etc., and took him years to work out. And from her books it's clear that she makes grilling over coals and/or wood an important slow food skill to learn. Meanwhile, Bourdain is being peevish but he seems to believe there's a difference between what pro chefs do versus what's sensible for day-to-day home cooking, and that chefs on national tv have a responsibility to not be implicitly elitist or classist.

But those are just the surface questions and the piece could have avoided being complicit in manufacturing a controversy by more thorough journalism and putting issues in context e.g. global food security and food quality and food labor, what various people today are doing about it, etc. Like a piece on critically looking at Alice Waters' actual influence (as opposed to stated/accepted ideological beliefs) versus organic food supply, that would be a great long-form journalistic topic.
posted by polymodus at 10:36 PM on March 26, 2018 [3 favorites]


This is totally something my mom would love, so it makes me feel sad that people are taking a dig at it so much. I think it’s cool and nifty, and while typically I’d laugh at a “$250 egg spoon”, I also think it’s important to support independent workers doing things that they love, especially before Wal-Mart and others screw it up.
posted by gucci mane at 11:36 PM on March 26, 2018 [2 favorites]


quaking fajita: "am also now trying to figure out the best way to cook eggs over the fire the next time I go camping."

Slice large navel orange in half along the equator. Scoop out the edible bits being careful to not damage the rind. Crack egg in one half; place other half back in place; wrap in aluminum foil; cook for 5-10 minutes depending on heat of your fire. I suppose one could use gold foil if you want to spend $250.

turbid dahlia: "On an overheated engine block while cracking open some cold ones with the boys?"

Wait is this a thing? Cause I don't currently have a car with an engine amiable to cooking things on the manifold but I'd arrange access to one to try this.

Miko: "$60 for a wine opener? I'll just use this old screwdriver thanks! "

Pshaw; budget wine drinkers buy boxes.
posted by Mitheral at 11:46 PM on March 26, 2018 [1 favorite]


The "six cords of wood" also has me ROFL. Even six cut logs is likely overkill.

For visual enlightenment, here is a single cord of wood. Note that it's stacked three rows deep. 4 feet high, 8 feet long, and 4 feet deep. For all y'all metric types, it's just over three and a half cubic meters. Or, just over a meter high, two and a half meters long, and another big meter deep.

Agreed that it's a beautiful egg spoon. Over here we have special crepe skillets, among other things. As for eggs, œufs à la coque (soft-boiled eggs) are very popular, and you can find wee casserole dishes for making œufs cocottes (literally "casserole eggs").
posted by fraula at 12:38 AM on March 27, 2018 [1 favorite]


I tried frying an egg over the fire once or twice, but all I had was this little pan that was made in a factory somewhere, and the egg always came out tasting mechanical and soulless. Maybe if I can save up for one of these hand-forged pans I'll give it another try.
posted by straight at 1:17 AM on March 27, 2018


I'd really love to have a fireplace in my kitchen, and also I'd love to cook more over fire. Ages ago, I had little portable grill that I would take to a park nearby, but it was stolen while cooling down in the yard of our building.

It's fair enough that Bourdain disagrees with Waters, though I don't get the passion, why can't there be room for both approaches? But his actual comment is sexist and stupid. He'd be the first to cook an egg in a spoon if it was happening in some village in Cambodia. Actually, if he lived where you can have an open fireplace in your kitchen, I bet he'd have that spoon.

Alice Waters is rich, but so is Bourdain, and they both live the lives of rich people. I don't think she is more clueless than he is about how normal people cook and eat, (and neither are as clueless as Gordon Ramsay. That was hilarious!)
posted by mumimor at 1:46 AM on March 27, 2018 [6 favorites]


Alice Waters is rich, but so is Bourdain, and they both live the lives of rich people. I don't think she is more clueless than he is about how normal people cook and eat,
They're probably equally clueless, but in really different ways. Bourdain is driven by anxious masculinity. He fetishizes working-class and peasant cultures because he believes that they're tougher and more masculine than the upper-middle-class milieu that produced him. He needs to protect serious cooking as a male domain, because if there were a place for women (and especially soft-spoken, non-overtly-competitive women like Alice Waters), then he wouldn't be able to reassure himself that he's really manly because of his dominance in that tough, macho realm. He likes the cooking of certain working-class and peasant cultures, because appropriating those cultures makes him feel like he has access to the masculinity that they represent to him. So Bourdain seems to respect some working-class people and their food, but it's only in the service of his pathetic little ego. And that's not real respect at all.

Waters, on the other hand, is a true believer. She truly believes that her way of cooking produces tastier, healthier, more environmentally-friendly food, which is almost certainly true. She also truly believes that it is available to everyone, and people who don't eat and cook like her are just making poor decisions. And in that, she is very wrong. In the 60 Minutes piece, Leslie Stahl asks her whether everyone can afford $4-a-pound farmer's market grapes, and Waters says it's a matter of priorities and invokes people who prioritize owning two pairs of Nike sneakers over buying nourishing food. She's literally using the same argument as people who claim that Millennials can't buy houses because they spend all their money on avocado toast. She's literally saying the same thing as right-wing jerks who say that poor people wouldn't need food stamps if they didn't spend their money on iPhones. But she can't just admit that it's not possible for everyone to eat like her, because she's a true believer. If she said "look, I get that not everyone is rich and lives in Berkeley, so do the best you can on your budget, given the constraints of your local circumstances," she would be a lot less annoying. But she's actively proselytizing and advocating public policy based on a really flawed view of people's choices and constraints, and that's always going to be galling.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 4:01 AM on March 27, 2018 [50 favorites]


You can do sous vide with a ziplock bag, a foam cooler, a thermometer, and a kettle/pot.

No. You won't get get good results without watching it yourself the entire time, and not even then for situations where you need a very precise temperature range. With practice you could probably get decent results on cheap cuts of meat if you're willing to watch the pot come to a boil and settle, depending on how reliable your heat source is. Might be interesting to try in a crock pot, although a crock pot with a user settable temp (other than low/high) isn't going to be that much cheaper that the cheaper sous vide ovens.

I code sous vide ovens as a middle class convenience device more than a high status device, since what it does is produce really impressive results off of minimal labor. And sure, its origins prior to being a consumer product are in high-ish status restaurants. Now days their price is the same realm as your instapot and air fryer, which mefi seems to code as middle class and split between "nice convenience item" and "wasteful consumer item."
posted by MillMan at 4:16 AM on March 27, 2018 [1 favorite]


The egg spoon slowly moved into the mainstream

Wait, really? Can we get a show of hands of how many pull out their egg spoon every morning?
posted by snofoam at 4:25 AM on March 27, 2018


I think this article is missing context. Go back and watch the 09 interview. She says some pretty tone deaf elitist things, and egg spoon just became a vector to respond to that.
posted by JPD at 4:36 AM on March 27, 2018 [5 favorites]


No one's building a fire to cook a single egg.

This is literally what the subject of the article is described as doing, in the article. Which act seems eminently mockable to me, though perhaps my judgement is colored by living in a place where having a working fireplace (let alone a separate kitchen fireplace) would literally take hedge-fund-type money.
posted by enn at 4:40 AM on March 27, 2018 [1 favorite]


Boy, imagine how this thread would have gone if she had cooked a plate of beans over the fire!
posted by briank at 4:52 AM on March 27, 2018 [6 favorites]


then you pour the bacon fat on the fire and watch it all burn

This is a joke, right? That is what you dip your bread in, it is delicious. Or at least feed it to your dog, or something - those are precious calories!
posted by Meatbomb at 4:59 AM on March 27, 2018 [3 favorites]


This is literally what the subject of the article is described as doing, in the article.
I actually wonder if part of the divide on Waters is that some people take for granted that she's a purist and instinctively translate everything she says into more-realistic form, in which case she seems great, and other people take her at face value, in which case she seems totally mockable. So we're kind of talking past each other, because the first group can't understand why people insist on pretending that Waters is advocating these silly, extreme things, while the second group can't understand why the first group doesn't acknowledge that a lot of what Waters says is silly and extreme.

None of that has much to do with Bourdain, though, who just hates feminine women who intrude on his boyzone.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 5:00 AM on March 27, 2018 [4 favorites]


someone needs to turn the foodie car around
posted by thelonius at 5:48 AM on March 27, 2018


Bourdain is driven by anxious masculinity.

The second half of Bourdain's career is basically him going to a restaurant, ordering food, and posturing like it's some sort of macho adventure. A restaurant's whole business model is that they will serve you. You don't need a leather jacket. It's not bushwhacking.
posted by hydrophonic at 5:48 AM on March 27, 2018 [24 favorites]


perhaps my judgement is colored by living in a place where having a working fireplace (let alone a separate kitchen fireplace) would literally take hedge-fund-type money.

Oh that's another thing. I confess I didn't read the article (NYTimes), but did the egg cooking happen recently and in Berkeley? If so, was it a Spare the Air day or does Alice Waters not have to worry about things like that?
posted by elsietheeel at 6:18 AM on March 27, 2018 [2 favorites]


$60 for a wine opener? I'll just use this old screwdriver thanks!

My understanding of the Rabbit, from people I know who love wine and open lots of wine bottles, is that it's not worth the $60 for a couple reasons- 1) it doesn't work great and it can be easy to mess up, and 2) other less expensive options exist which work great and are harder to mess up. Sure, don't open a wine bottle with a screwdriver, but if someone says "$60 for a wine opener? I'll just use this $5 waiter's wine key", that's an opinion worth listening to. Not everyone who poo-poos expensive kitchen gadgets is unaware of what quality kitchen gadgets look like.
posted by 23skidoo at 6:37 AM on March 27, 2018 [2 favorites]


after reading some of the comments in this thread, I wonder if the point isn't getting lost a bit. It's not that Waters doesn't deserve some criticism - it's that male chefs don't get criticized to nearly the same degree, or in the same way, for similar things.

ok so strongly fuck Mark Bittman and his stupid fucking elitism and his Joy of Cooking alternative where most of the recipes are worse and/or more time-consuming than the original Joy of Cooking that people are only buying because of fake elitist bullshit
posted by runt at 6:49 AM on March 27, 2018 [2 favorites]


I can't believe this is now a thing. I mean, we've been doing this for decades.

You can buy this long-handled egg skillet at most outdoor gear stores or camping departments in the big box stores.

Oh, and prior to this blowing up, they sold for $10-$14 - but they're still way cheaper than a hand-forged one-of-a-kind.
posted by Lunaloon at 6:50 AM on March 27, 2018 [4 favorites]


What a bizarre thing to get worked up about, either way.

I wonder if the $25 hand-forged ladle from Jas. Townsend & Son would work just as well as the hand-forged $250 one.
posted by fimbulvetr at 6:52 AM on March 27, 2018 [2 favorites]


They're probably equally clueless, but in really different ways. Bourdain is driven by anxious masculinity.
...
Waters, on the other hand, is a true believer.
I don't disagree with these assessments of both Bourdain and Waters, but I think that their respective cluelessnesses are very similar--I don't think that Bourdain is any less a true believer in machismo than Waters is in a sort of rustic simplicity, I think they they're both un-self-aware and uncritical about their own beliefs.
posted by pykrete jungle at 6:55 AM on March 27, 2018 [4 favorites]


people are only buying because of fake elitist bullshit

Well, that's not why we bought his cookbook. We bought it because it's a large volume of vegetarian recipes, and it's written well.
posted by hydrophonic at 6:56 AM on March 27, 2018 [3 favorites]


is that breakfast really any more obnoxious than Bourdain's precious Brazilian Ju Jitsu morning acai bowl?

Broudain's wife is a BJJ practitioner and, from what I recall, there was some episode on some show where he went to Rio and very proudly described her as being incredibly badass. I remember a scene where he somewhat drunkenly started rambling about how people would mistake her as timid and vulnerable and him as macho and strong but this was completely wrong and what a stupid assumption that was
posted by runt at 6:56 AM on March 27, 2018 [6 favorites]


Oh hey thanks Lunaloon, I just added that to my Amazon wishlist. Maybe by the time my birthday rolls around I can put the ol' welding gloves back in the garage where they belong and put that skillet next to my pie iron.
posted by elsietheeel at 6:56 AM on March 27, 2018


most of the recipes are worse and/or more time-consuming than the original Joy of Cooking

i had to hunt pretty aggressively in several used bookshops to find a copy of the actual original Joy of Cooking. they 'revised' it in the 90s and the end result was dreadful -- it had the same sorts of problems as the bittman volume, but also left me feeling betrayed since i thought i knew what i was getting. they revised it again in 2006, and that volume was a bit better, but still not the same.
posted by halation at 6:56 AM on March 27, 2018 [1 favorite]


from what I recall, his wife is a BJJ practitioner and the one episode where he went to Rio

Ex-wife, I believe. Bourdain is currently dating Asia Argento and is very vocal in the Time's Up movement lately.
posted by elsietheeel at 6:58 AM on March 27, 2018 [5 favorites]


Uh. I was reading this on mobile when I woke up, and spent a good part of the morning imagining what kind of a contraption a "egg spoon" would be. There were things that could be used as medieval weapon / torture device. Like a ball-shaped mould you could crack a egg on and put on the fire, or alternatively put on the fire and crack someone's egg with extreme prejudice.
I was disappointed to find out it's like the aluminum egg pan my mom had from the mid 70s to the late aughts (when the rivets broke), only with a big-ass handle, made out of iron and priced like a good cookware set.

The whole "celebrity chef" thing, when combined to this kind of wealth inequality, confuses the living shit out of me.
posted by lmfsilva at 7:00 AM on March 27, 2018 [3 favorites]


and is very vocal in the Time's Up movement lately.
Fascinating! Has he talked about sexual harassment and assault in the restaurant industry?
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 7:01 AM on March 27, 2018 [1 favorite]


He has! He spoke out against Batali when that dropped and he was on Trevor Noah a several weeks ago talking about it.
posted by elsietheeel at 7:02 AM on March 27, 2018 [3 favorites]


ArbitraryAndCapricious, looks like yes
“There are a lot of chefs still walking around who came up through that system,” Bourdain said. “Éric Ripert talked about how he used to be that guy. Then one day he realized, look, I’m miserable and everybody working with me is miserable. This is just not f—ing working. And took a hard look at themselves. But the system itself, from the very beginning, was abusive, was male-dominated and cruel beyond imagining.”
to be clear, I'm not a Bourdain supporter. I think his masculinity is somewhat toxic and his working class voyeurism problematically ingrains certain assumptions we have about 'hard labor' and 'poverty' - but I also don't think he's even close to being the worst shithead in the business. something about him makes me think he's unsure enough about his stances on certain things that he's open to criticism unlike the Bittmans, Pollans, and Waters of the world who have resisted any and all criticism of their classism and ethnocentrism
posted by runt at 7:05 AM on March 27, 2018 [6 favorites]


The piece could have avoided being complicit in manufacturing a controversy by more thorough journalism and putting issues in context e.g. global food security and food quality and food labor, what various people today are doing about it, etc.

yeah but there are already a million articles about Waters that deal with this. That's the professional space she's spent her life in and if anything, that's what most of the journalism about her is about. I think the thing is, if we're talking about what you enjoy for breakfast, is that always the time to widen the lens this much and use it as a lever to call out hypocrisy, or something? If this article were about a stained glass maker who likes to purchase precious antique bottles to smash and make into their art, would that be a time to talk about globalization and mass manufacturing and self-indulgence and out-of-touchness? Because for Waters, it's pretty much the same thing. This is her work and it's work that she lives. Yes, food issues are important (I'm the first to say that, it's part of my career) but do we actually always have to talk about social issues around food every single time we talk about food itself? Every time?

It will always be interesting to me how people tend to read food choices as much more morally charged than other forms of consumption, and are willing to go to a critical, judgmental, near-Puritanical place about them. I am not sure yet what's going on with that (there is a deep, difficult and fascinating cultural history project there), but it's visible in every outrage-filter piece about some extravagant tasting menu or Williams-Sonoma ingredient. We see using and caring about food as somehow different and more open for attack than we do using or caring about clothing, houses, vehicles, or anything else. And without doubt, a lot of it is about gender.

I've met Waters too, my activism makes me part of her wider tribe. She is really precious and highly unrealistic about how adaptable her choices are to everyone else. She is indeed tone-deaf. But she's also poetic, creative, and visionary, a good philanthropist, and responsible for fueling a school gardens movement making a difference for a lot of kids. She's a lot of cockeyed things but 'self-indulgent' isn't really one of them, to be honest - she works her ass off. If she wants to have a precious morning egg, she's earned it.
posted by Miko at 7:11 AM on March 27, 2018 [13 favorites]


I've met Waters too, my activism makes me part of her wider tribe. She is really precious and highly unrealistic about how adaptable her choices are to everyone else. She is indeed tone-deaf. But she's also poetic, creative, and visionary, a good philanthropist, and responsible for fueling a school gardens movement making a difference for a lot of kids. She's a lot of cockeyed things but 'self-indulgent' isn't really one of them, to be honest - she works her ass off. If she wants to have a precious morning egg, she's earned it.

this is I think the crux of the issue here.
posted by JPD at 7:16 AM on March 27, 2018


but do we actually always have to talk about social issues around food every single time we talk about food itself? Every time?

I mean, what's the global malnutrition rate? when's the last time your 'wider Waters tribe' talked about food deserts or the manufacture and economics of food? environmental justice? that Flint still doesn't have clean drinking water?

the part about foodie culture that seems so appalling to me is just how much of a white, middle-class bubble it is, how separated and demarcated, how mystically above poverty it is. something that is a basic, fundamental human right, one which is denied pervasively and systemically, right in your very own neighborhood and all these foodie people can talk about is how to best cook an egg to bring out the subtle nuances of flavor?

it reminds me of Seattle and Portland, their insipid whiteness, while painting themselves in the color of progressivism through the cultural capital of being foodies or environmentally conscious while at the same time perpetuating some of the worst, most racist outcomes that happens in supposedly more assbackwards cities and not those precious utopias. the colorblind classism of their hypocrisy is galling; I'd have an imperfect shithead admitting that he's an imperfect shithead than someone who thinks they are above all of it, who believes their own ethics to be unimpeachable. because, at the very least, you can work with the former
posted by runt at 7:19 AM on March 27, 2018 [3 favorites]


Alice Waters' Edible Schoolyards project and her eventual teamwork with Delaine frigging Eastin on school gardens was ultimately not sustainable in our greater public school system and was, in a way, a step backwards. Here's an article from The Atlantic about it - Cultivating Failure.

It’s the state’s Department of Education that is to blame for allowing these gardens to hijack the curricula of so many schools. But although garden-based curricula are advanced as a means of redressing a wide spectrum of poverty’s ills, the animating spirit behind them is impossible to separate from the haute-bourgeois predilections of the Alice Waters fan club, as best expressed in one of her most oft-repeated philosophies: “Gardens help students to learn the pleasure of physical work.” Does the immigrant farm worker dream that his child will learn to enjoy manual labor, or that his child will be freed from it?

While the gardens did get children to try more vegetables, there are other ways to do that besides manual labor. And not all schools had the space, money, or time to have gardens. The ones that did had gardens? None of them had ones large enough to provide the school with its entire fruit and vegetable supply; and even if they did? There are health code regulations to consider.
posted by elsietheeel at 7:51 AM on March 27, 2018 [1 favorite]


I'm too exhausted to have this culture war but can I just say that Camino in Oakland is one of my favorite restaurants in the Bay Area? They cook almost everything over live fire. Grilled meats of course but also sauteed vegetables and roasted potatoes and all sorts of other delicious things. It's a remarkably awkward way to cook, a wood fire, particularly in a fancy restaurant. But the great thing is it requires a lot of attention from the line, each cook carefully tending just one or two dishes at a time. Everything comes out beautifully done. Love that place.

And yes, the owners came up through Chez Panisse. As did 3/4 of the chefs in the Bay Area. Bourdain picking a fight with Alice Waters is the stupidest fucking thing ever; she is the heart and soul of high end restaurant chefs in Northern California. I ate in Bourdain's French Bistro in NY once, or at least his name is still on the menu somewhere. They managed to fuck up steak frites.
posted by Nelson at 7:52 AM on March 27, 2018 [4 favorites]


One of the worst aspects of the California Ideology is the trickle down logic of consumption. Artisans do a thing which instills 'others' (somehow, this is supposed to equals 7 billion people on the planet) with a new knowledge that quality of life can be better. It's an elitist and self-serving argument, in the context of global inequality. It's also anti-science and anti-evidence based policy.

It's not a contradiction to point out that I am an elitist in some sense. I see the NYTimes egg spoon photo and I get what a brilliant thing it means in terms of culinary technique and culinary history. But both Waters and the article are at fault for failing to establish that framing and context. And for failing to challenge their own presuppositions. The consequence is neoliberal appropriation.

Alice Waters was a profound influence on my interest in food and cooking. I happen to think that at some point, one has to master one's heroes. But it's really beside the point, which is to not forget that it's journalism's fucking job to keep talking about these issues.
posted by polymodus at 7:57 AM on March 27, 2018 [1 favorite]


Hold off on building your breakfast fires; the egg spoon is currently out of stock.
posted by JanetLand at 8:07 AM on March 27, 2018


Having recently visited Cambodia and heard from survivors about the awful shit that's happened there and the intense suffering they've endured, I'll just say that any privileged white asshole invoking Pol Pot to make a sick burn on someone else about frivolous luxury cooking methods needs to fuck right off forever.
posted by under_petticoat_rule at 8:09 AM on March 27, 2018 [18 favorites]


when's the last time your 'wider Waters tribe' talked about food deserts or the manufacture and economics of food?

Slow Food USA? The urban gardens movement? This is basically all we talk about.
posted by Miko at 8:30 AM on March 27, 2018 [9 favorites]


elsietheeel: " The ones that did had gardens? None of them had ones large enough to provide the school with its entire fruit and vegetable supply; and even if they did? There are health code regulations to consider."

What kind of heath code regulation could a school garden run afoul of?
posted by Mitheral at 8:31 AM on March 27, 2018


but do we actually always have to talk about social issues around food every single time we talk about food itself? Every time?

Metafilter: Every. Time.
posted by Greg_Ace at 8:44 AM on March 27, 2018 [8 favorites]


There are food safety protocols that have to be followed, so it adds to the time and money that has to be spent by the district, rather than just buying prepared produce. Garden to cafeteria is a nice idea but it can be really difficult to manage.
posted by elsietheeel at 8:45 AM on March 27, 2018 [1 favorite]


the part about foodie culture that seems so appalling to me is just how much of a white, middle-class bubble it is

I have encountered this perception a lot and I have begun to push back on it, because it is a privileged perspective. People who are immersed in white media culture see this end of the world of food activism and assume that is all there is. What I find they tend to be much less informed about is the incredible amount of activism and food interest in communities of color, poor communities, etc. Once you begin to get involved in hunger issues, urban gardening, food sovereignty, nutrition and food access programming, and public-health-based programs, you will find there is a tremendous amount of energy around food quality and food culture in non-white, non-middle-class populations. The marginalization of these issues and people and groups, their omission from discussion in dominant-culture media, and their assumed separation of from "foodie culture" is a product of applying the narrow lens of white privilege, not an indication that that activism doesn't exist.
posted by Miko at 8:49 AM on March 27, 2018 [14 favorites]


Slow Food USA? The urban gardens movement? This is basically all we talk about.

Slow Food USA proponents have created these lush little 'farmer's markets' in my city that sell produce at 4x the price of a normal grocery. you're lucky if you can find one that's 3X EBT and is public transportation accessible and even then it's buying you far less calories than a normal trip to the store

even the urban gardens here are unsustainable projects. you can't have urban gardens if you don't have space. and you don't have space if all of these white, middle-class gentrifiers who love 'slow foods' and 'urban gardens' keep displacing lower-income residents from their own homes and raising the rent on everybody else with their horrible looking, LEEDs-certified modern McMansions

the path to getting rid of inequity is most definitely not via Slow Foods or urban gardens; all that shit is as much a white, middle-class pipe dream as building bike lanes or walking paths in cities which only serve to raise the quality of life of the rich and comfortable
posted by runt at 8:51 AM on March 27, 2018 [4 favorites]


Alice Waters' Edible Schoolyards project and her eventual teamwork with Delaine frigging Eastin on school gardens was ultimately not sustainable in our greater public school system and was, in a way, a step backwards

Yes, and, its prominence and the media coverage she was able to leverage using her positioning sparked thousands of both Edible Schoolyard programs and independently managed school garden programs across the country and around the world, and today, we are beginning to see vocational-agricultural garden/farm schools in city centers. Here is USDA school garden research.
posted by Miko at 8:53 AM on March 27, 2018 [3 favorites]


today, we are beginning to see vocational-agricultural garden/farm schools in city centers

Well it's a few days early, but ¡Sí, se puede!
posted by elsietheeel at 9:00 AM on March 27, 2018


[Couple deleted. I know we can give and address criticisms of Waters without telling each other to fuck off.]
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 9:03 AM on March 27, 2018 [4 favorites]


their assumed separation of from "foodie culture"

food culture as produced by Alice Waters is also very different from food culture that comes from a black diaspora or, for that matter, Chinese/Vietnamese/Lao/etc diasporas

food culture is important, I won't deny that. but foodie culture, the kind that only very recently started not giving me shit for eating 'exotic' but is now reactively obsessed with gatekeeping (ie authenticity) while denying the way immigrants like me have survived in this country for so long, shitting on 'Americanized Chinese food' for example, is completely antithetical to the culture of food that I know

foodie culture is white and middle-class and prefers a white-owned taqueria with six dollar tacos with 'locally sourced ingredients' rather than a supermecado that also happens to serve tacos and is immigrant owned. you write as if in some perfect simulacra of white American culture, that foodie-ism is some noble, diverse pursuit and not just the same old appropriative, neoliberal-driven selfishness that white America is so keenly fond of, backed by, and proponents of

if Alice Waters were to kindly donate half of her TV fortune to fixing basic, human rights needs, to give them freely and without strings to activist groups instead of advising that people by $250 iron spoons produced by white artisans for their nuanced, cage-free, egg flavors, great, you won't find me complaining. but short of that, it's puffery masquerading as a fix

[Couple deleted. I know we can give and address criticisms of Waters without telling each other to fuck off.]

if someone wants to assume that I'm white and have white privilege then they can fuck off, thanks, it has nothing to do with Alice Waters
posted by runt at 9:11 AM on March 27, 2018 [8 favorites]


I mean, what's the global malnutrition rate? when's the last time your 'wider Waters tribe' talked about food deserts or the manufacture and economics of food? environmental justice? that Flint still doesn't have clean drinking water?

See, the thing is, it may feel really good to yell at Alice Waters about these things, but whether or not she cooks an egg on a spoon over a fire has nothing to do with them, and, frankly, little anything else she does does either. Do not be fooled by the neoliberal game in which individual consumption is made to bear the responsibility and moral burden for huge systemic problems. Alice Waters could shop for Chez Panisse only at the terrifying Farmer Jack of my youth and it wouldn't give Flint clean water. Unrealistic as she often can be--I agree with the "idealistic but un-self-aware" assessment offered above--I don't think she's under the impression that she's offering a cure for global malnutrition, either.

(Also, observationally, 65-70% of the people who use the bike lanes in my neighborhood are delivery guys. Reducing the danger of their jobs seems like a worthwhile endeavor.)
posted by praemunire at 9:18 AM on March 27, 2018 [12 favorites]


individual consumption

Alice Waters is not 'individual consumption', she's a famous critic who believes her foodieism is the path to solving world hunger and advances, to a large audience, the idea that "people buy Bronx grapes and nourish themselves instead of purchasing Nikes, two pairs" because truly that will solve the epidemic of hunger and malnutrition in our lower-SES communities

I mean, do poor people really need iPhones, amirite?
posted by runt at 9:22 AM on March 27, 2018


Once you begin to get involved in hunger issues, urban gardening, food sovereignty, nutrition and food access programming, and public-health-based programs, you will find there is a tremendous amount of energy around food quality and food culture in non-white, non-middle-class populations.

The urban gardens you see around NYC come from a movement started by local activists who literally seed-bombed vacant lots in poor neighborhoods (at the time) like the LES and Harlem. The communities have been fighting to preserve them from development ever since.
posted by praemunire at 9:25 AM on March 27, 2018 [10 favorites]


I think it's fair to point out that communities of color have long expressed a lot of frustration that Alice Waters and celebrity chefs of her ilk have been hailed as the "founders" of these kind of movements, and that erases the longstanding traditions and practices of nonwhite communities. So you have a forum in Detroit that notes that Edna Lewis was doing farm-to-table stuff before (chef and restaurateur) Alice Waters even got out of bed (more on Edna Lewis here); or chefs calling out that farm-to-table sometimes elides the actual labor part of it; or more on the the problem of The Whiteness of Artisinal Food Craft Culture that, again, completely neglects the racial history of such traditions; or young Black farmers telling Mark Bittman not to speak for them.
posted by TwoStride at 9:27 AM on March 27, 2018 [12 favorites]


Wow this is a heated thread. All I really care about, as a poor, southern* lesbian, is the female blacksmith.

*Too poor to afford a fireplace or fancy equipment, and southern in that I have a mixed race family whose mom's lineage grew up on farms, and pretty confident and content with how I cook eggs, thanks to my heritage
posted by FirstMateKate at 9:35 AM on March 27, 2018 [5 favorites]


The elitism thing about gardens is funny to me, because in the middle-class neighborhood where I grew up, my family was weird for having a backyard garden. We had it because my father, who grew up rural poor, was used to having one, and fresh vegetables are tasty. The only people I knew who didn't side eye us a bit for it were immigrant households in our neighborhood (who thought "aah, the zucchini has all come ripe at once, please take some off of our hands," was a perfectly normal neighborly interaction.)

As far as I can tell, the nation went through a phase when a sign of prosperity was not having to supplement your food supply with a garden. So it was a status thing not to do it. And once the aversion faded, people who started gardening though they'd invented it, and were doing a status display of having the leisure time to do it as a hobby. I see the same thing as with the hipster knitting thing. Nobody was impressed with the home-knitted sweater I wore as a kid; they were impressed with the imported cashmere sweaters the more affluent girls wore. Now we have yarn-bombing and the like. Meanwhile the people who used to get sneered at for their home-cooked bag lunches and home-knitted mittens are now in a place where they only wish they had the space and time to farm and knit. It's weird.
posted by Karmakaze at 9:38 AM on March 27, 2018 [15 favorites]


Look, if I'm being really honest: If I had the chance to have food made by either Chef Alice Waters or Chef Anthony Bordain and Chef Waters asked me to cut a cord of lumber from the Prometheus Tree for a fire... I WOULD REALLY HAVE TO THINK ABOUT IT. Ethics hasn't had one of her eggs. Also, it would make the spoon seem cheap in comparison...

But, if I had to have one of them feed me bugs, I'd pick Chef Bordain every day.
posted by Nanukthedog at 9:43 AM on March 27, 2018 [1 favorite]


I think it's fair to point out that communities of color have long expressed a lot of frustration that Alice Waters and celebrity chefs of her ilk have been hailed as the "founders" of these kind of movements, and that erases the longstanding traditions and practices of nonwhite communities

Absolutely. And that's what I see as one of the problems of this kind of journalism. For every stupid "culture war" piece about a white lady and a white man and how precious their cooking is, there is a piece we are not reading about the actual longtime work and production of other kinds of people who are actively improving the food system. The distinction between "foodie culture" and "food culture" may bear weight, but the narrative - widespread in the white-dominated media universe - that concern with the sourcing, quality, access, respect for, or understanding of food is a white activity is a narrative that only serves to support white supremacy. It tends to omit or tokenize food activism by everyone else.
posted by Miko at 9:44 AM on March 27, 2018 [9 favorites]


I feel like this is not the feminism/elitism hill I want to die on, but I get why other people are peeved.

I think beyond toxic masculinity (which I agree he does suffer from), Bourdain shows some really obvious class anxiety (I personally find it a little endearing though paternalistic). His pattern is to ridicule luxury, unless it's produced by minorities. In one of his shows, when he visited Peru, he hanged out with a clearly wealthy family (who kind of looked like a bunch of stuck up assholes to anyone aware of peruvian culture). I appreciated that he was very polite and kind during his visit, but he seemed clearly more comfortable when he left their fancy beach house and visited with indigenous people and ate their simple food. I think in his mind, he's willing to give elitism a pass when it's minorities involved, which I don't agree with. At the same time, I don't expect some rando from the developed world to understand the nuances of every developing country, and I think his attitude comes from a place I can't entirely fault.

The egg spoon is absolutely a luxury and it can sound pretty stupid and downright offensive to people who have seen poverty (which Bourdain has seen first hand). Where he fails, (like many victims of toxic masculinity do) is in discounting the emotional needs of people. It's human nature to seek things that are aesthetically and philosophically pleasing (how the spoon was made, the idea of cooking your eggie in a open flame, the idealized return to nature lifestyle). People have a right to spend their money the way they please. I have a $30 handmade wooden spoon I bought through etsy and it's one of my treasures. It gives me so much joy.

If anything, Bourdain reminds me of those young men in college who are hardcore lefties and somehow took this to mean you can't have anything nice and you can't enjoy anything ever until after the class revolution (these guys are common in latin america). The sad part is most of those guys learn about nuance and life enjoyment wayyyy before they reach Bourdain's age. Bourdain never got the memo.
posted by Tarumba at 10:05 AM on March 27, 2018 [9 favorites]


> elsietheeel:
"There are food safety protocols that have to be followed, so it adds to the time and money that has to be spent by the district, rather than just buying prepared produce. Garden to cafeteria is a nice idea but it can be really difficult to manage."

That's interesting. We have a local, well, not soup kitchen, but an organization to feed the unfortunate, and they are expanding their garden program which is used in the food they serve.
posted by Samizdata at 10:14 AM on March 27, 2018 [1 favorite]


In our inner city school district, we have a huge school garden program, and it does a lot of good. I cooked for one of the schools for an event, and I was really impressed by their work. It's amazing to send out the kids for onions and carrots and whatever and cook a meal with them. My own daughter, at an other school, loved the garden days more than anything, since she is not bookish. The gardens don't provide the lunches, another organization does that. They have the ambition of going 100% organic, but they also prioritize prices (we pay a small amount for school lunch. The poorest families can get huge reductions up to 100% without anyone at school knowing). I think they've reach 90% organic at this point. While I agree that Alice Waters is in many ways an idealist and not entirely realistic, I also think that some people give up too quickly. I think it was genius of our school district to have an ambition but not promise 100% all at once, because it was engaging for all citizens; everyone wants better quality for their kids, but only a few want fanatical ideals.
posted by mumimor at 10:31 AM on March 27, 2018 [7 favorites]


Alice Waters is not 'individual consumption', she's a famous critic

You are literally criticizing how she makes her breakfast.

the idea that "people buy Bronx grapes and nourish themselves instead of purchasing Nikes, two pairs"

So, you notice how I specifically said she was unrealistic and un-self-aware? That is dumb and offensive stuff to have said, no doubt. Nonetheless, an egg spoon or lack thereof isn't going to do a damn thing about global malnutrition or even food deserts in LA. Picking individual scapegoats isn't going to solve any of these problems and has a tendency to set up an unattainable standard of purity in individual consumption which, in my opinion, drives people to disengage.
posted by praemunire at 10:44 AM on March 27, 2018 [3 favorites]


Before I was priced out of living in the Bay Area entirely, my last living space was an 11x12' room in Alameda, with a dorm fridge and a microwave (which cost me as much as a Midwest mortgage on a nice house). No kitchen available, just shared toilets and showers down the hall.
I learned that one can make pretty fluffy scrambled eggs in a microwave: just beat 2 eggs in a mug with a little water.

I am (sadly) not surprised about the sexism on display, but I wonder if part of the hostility is not that cooking over an open fire, with an anvil-forged pan, is coded female at all, but is considered a male domain (grilling, blacksmithing), and the sexist male foodies are reacting to women inhabiting a space they want to gatekeep? I don't really know tbh, gendered stuff in my culture (I grew up in the US) has always been a confusing territory to me.
posted by ethical_caligula at 10:49 AM on March 27, 2018 [3 favorites]


Yeah, our communally-owned building putting in a garden in the lot next door that we rehabbed was definitely deemed super-crunchy at the time. It's funny to see newcomers in roughly the same area priding themselves for having one.
posted by praemunire at 10:49 AM on March 27, 2018 [1 favorite]


I used to work for a school gardening program, and one of the cutest stories I heard from a participating teacher was the time she left her first graders to wash the harvested leaf lettuce. When she came back, she found that they were wringing out each washed leaf and spreading it out to dry.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 10:50 AM on March 27, 2018 [4 favorites]


I am not interested in doing a commercial for Slow Food, though for me it's been an important vehicle for learning and activism. These are programs our local Slow Food group supports and they are not focused on the economic elite. SF chapters are all different (the idea is to support hyperlocal community needs, so no two are the same), and that does mean that some, particularly older ones, serve the interests of the affluent only. That gave the groups a bad reputation in the past. But that has really changed and the national organization is a long way from that in its priority setting.

In any case, I think people who care about food have at least the potential to largely overlap with other people who care about food. Articles like this do a good job of convincing us we're on opposite sides. That's what culture wars do and why they're an effective neoliberal tool. It would be great to never read another one like it, and instead read about projects in which people who believe what these two article subjects presumably believe at the bottom of their hearts: every human being has the right to have and enjoy good food of their choosing.
posted by Miko at 11:29 AM on March 27, 2018 [4 favorites]


not long after I was watching an episode where he was at a cooking competition -- all male of course -- in Japan where chefs were gathering stuff from the woods, and he was all deferential and admiring

That would be my biggest complaint about Bourdain. It's not that he's an "asshole," it's that his whole act seems completely phony (which is ironic, since he tries to be so "authentic.")

... speaking of eggs, did you know that hens are only required 67 square INCHES of living space? That's less than a standard sheet of paper. Just saying ...

Inside Ohio's Largest Egg Factory Farm
posted by mrgrimm at 11:39 AM on March 27, 2018


You are literally criticizing how she makes her breakfast.

I am criticizing that she has written to a large audience that this is the best way to make an egg, jesus

is it really that hard to understand the difference between you, a private individual, having a bougie spoon and me not wanting to die on the hill of criticizing you because society is probably better off with you having a $10 egg spoon and $140 in a local charity and Alice Waters, noted food critic, loving on a large platform her $150 breakfast spoon to an audience of consumers, an incident that then gets covered in The New York Times? this is such very basic media literacy that I very much know you have. and it seems as if you're selectively not applying this literacy here because Alice Waters is some darling of yours

I don't give a shit what your bougie hobbies are, that's not worth my time, that's an individual stance that has a 0.00000001% impact on society and culture. Alice Waters talks to thousands of people every time she speaks. they listen. it has an impact, a large one, and contributes to larger culture and functions as a part of the system of celebrity worship and consumerism and is thus deserving of criticism
posted by runt at 11:55 AM on March 27, 2018 [5 favorites]


Articles like this do a good job of convincing us we're on opposite sides. That's what culture wars do and why they're an effective neoliberal tool.

it's not articles, it's personal experience that we're on different sides. I can count on one hand the number of white, middle-class foodies who have been part of local, black-led activism in Atlanta, particularly the kind that focuses on food security

meanwhile, the Yelp reviews for foodie establishments are innumerable. I don't need a NYT article telling me observations that I'm living right now
posted by runt at 12:01 PM on March 27, 2018 [1 favorite]


... speaking of eggs, did you know that hens are only required 67 square INCHES of living space? That's less than a standard sheet of paper. Just saying ...

As much as possible I vote with my dollars on this. When I buy eggs or dairy I buy from individual farms or dairies I trust. I don't buy grocery store meat and only shop at trusted butcher shops or get meat from the farmers directly.

It's easy to go vegan and just say "I'm not consuming any animal products" but at that point you've opted completely out of the system and your dollars don't count, since they've lost you as a customer no matter what. And that's fine as a personal ethical choice if that's your thing. Consuming animal products isn't going to stop because of individuals opting out.

If enough people vote with their dollars and only buy humanely produced animal products I believe it can send a message that things need to change. My contribution is a drop in the bucket but if enough people shift then broader changes are possible. If producers like Marin Sun farms succeed and are profitable hopefully others see that it's a path they can take.
posted by mikesch at 12:05 PM on March 27, 2018 [2 favorites]


Alice Waters doesn't need to be a darling of any of us for the hypocrisy of Bourdain criticizing her to be frustrating. She's out of touch and she's also impacted the way we eat in indelible, wonderful ways. The same can be said of Bourdain. People are more than one thing! They can do a great deal of good while being really pretentious! They can also be treated through an unfair, misogynist lens while still being just plain wrong at times, like Waters' often making tone-deaf comments about priorities.

We can get lost for days in deciding how those with influence should wield it to our particular ideals. Runt, to say that Alice Waters should use her platform to talk about what you think she should talk about while ignoring the fact that Bourdain actually has a greater platform — a TV show, books, being the go-to "bad boy" for "down to earth" opinions on everything food-related — seems to be playing into what we're talking about here. We have different expectations for what it's okay for women to care about compared to men, different ideas about responsibility to their audience.
posted by the thorn bushes have roses at 12:28 PM on March 27, 2018 [9 favorites]


to say that Alice Waters should use her platform to talk about what you think she should talk about while ignoring the fact that Bourdain actually has a greater platform — a TV show, books, being the go-to "bad boy" for "down to earth" opinions on everything food-related

Yup, he's had 3 major shows at this point and while he's covered the rust belt and poverty I don't recall him ever commenting on food deserts, even the ones in his own backyard. He'll cover Red Rooster in Harlem but to my recollection there's not even a passing mention to food insecurity or SNAP and how many are dependent on it. He does cover this somewhat when he's in other countries but fails to address it in a positive way here.

Yes, we can complain about Waters but she's trying to make a difference, even if it's occasionally misguided. Bourdain has a platform to shine a light on food security issues in this country and it's given just a passing mention, if any. Complain about her cooking an egg if you want, but the greater sin is having the platform to address how many kids in your own city, the one you call home, are dependent on school lunches for proper nutrition and how bad they have it during summer vacations.

I'd rather live in Waters' ideal world of sufficient fresh food for all at affordable prices than Bourdain's gawking at the poor while doing nothing constructive to try to help.
posted by mikesch at 12:49 PM on March 27, 2018 [4 favorites]


> I have an itty bitty cast iron skillet that I cook breakfast in outside when we fell like playing with fire. It was $2 at a yard sale

Oooh aren't you la-de-da? Here's how I cooked an egg while camping this weekend.
posted by The corpse in the library at 12:49 PM on March 27, 2018 [5 favorites]


Runt, to say that Alice Waters should use her platform to talk about what you think she should talk about while ignoring the fact that Bourdain actually has a greater platform — a TV show, books, being the go-to "bad boy" for "down to earth" opinions on everything food-related — seems to be playing into what we're talking about here. We have different expectations for what it's okay for women to care about compared to men, different ideas about responsibility to their audience.

this regular practice of employing white feminism in order to obviate and avoid issues of inequity is astounding to me

what makes you think I have a high opinion of Bourdain? if he were hawking a $150 spoon and Alice Waters criticized him for being out of touch and bougie as fuck and not the progressive icon he made himself out to be, I'd be here dissecting his entire endeavor

instead, it happens that the subject is Alice Waters and the criticism, which is not incorrect, is coming from a hypocrite

she's also impacted the way we eat in indelible, wonderful ways

she's impacted white American middle-class households in semi-positive ways. she has had virtually no impact in my lower-SES Chinese-American background. I couldn't give more than a single shit that she's taught middle-class white America that their cooking habits were terrible especially since they've been and are still Othering the fuck out of the veggie-heavy food I've eaten my entire life

be cognizant of your positionality and stop centering white experiences in America
posted by runt at 1:01 PM on March 27, 2018 [7 favorites]


Runt, the subject is Alice Waters and Anthony Bourdain and you are only focusing on one of them. Repeatedly. I am curious why you are doing so when Othering is a thing that Bourdain specializes in.
posted by the thorn bushes have roses at 1:09 PM on March 27, 2018 [5 favorites]


this is what you dip your bread in

No, this is what you fry your bread in. Now you have bacon, eggs, and toast a la lard.
posted by linux at 1:45 PM on March 27, 2018


My wife and I are currently planning a house and we’re planning to have the ability to cook over a live fire in the kitchen. It’s the only way we can get some of the results we want and we love cooking and entertaining. Other people can outfit their home theater exactly the way they want it and it’s also fine. But one of those seems to be socially acceptable and the other isn’t.

I envy you! And I hope you're not planning this in a city, the current trend is to build more & more restrictive rules regarding particle emissions of fireplaces to reduce smog in cities, I own 3 fireplaces that are now illegal. Unless you live in isolation, its also a relatively bad idea because fireplaces are not good for air quality. My SO used to live in a small isolated village north of the province and they had massive smog incidents because everybody used wood for heating.
posted by WaterAndPixels at 1:47 PM on March 27, 2018


this is such very basic media literacy that I very much know you have. and it seems as if you're selectively not applying this literacy here because Alice Waters is some darling of yours

She's certainly not. One of my specializations is consumer protection and nothing drives me nuts more than the "why don't poor people just spend their money better, then they wouldn't have financial problems"-type statements, into which group I'd definitely put what she said. Her ideals are badly marred by her refusal to acknowledge the very real constraints that prevent even most people who could afford it, let alone most people generally, from following them. I think that's understandable in an 18-year-old, but sad in a woman of her age.

Hyperfixating on anyone's individual consumption is still hyperfixating on individual consumption and in 95% of examples is a waste of time. Consider that you are spending time being angry about Alice Waters's egg spoon in the name of Flint while there is a company, right now, paying pennies for fresh water it's drawing from reserves not too far from Flint for retail resale. Consider that Whole Foods is violently anti-union, meaning that low-level employees would struggle to feed their families from the stores they stock, which actually pressure them to conform to their notions of "wellness." Consider how much global malnutrition is a legacy of colonialist looting and ongoing imperialist intervention destabilizing governments. Alice Waters is a moderately wealthy restaurateur, she's not the size of an atom in this universe.
posted by praemunire at 1:58 PM on March 27, 2018 [5 favorites]


Alice Waters is not hawking a $250 egg spoon.

She was showing off a technique that she pulled from Walter Rubin's book about the history of hearth cooking. She had hers made by a local blacksmith, but she wasn't saying that the tool needed to be artisinal. Then Bourdain attacked her for being precious for cooking an egg in a hearth.

If it was a dude cooking over a charcoal grill or campfire, it would have not received the same treatment. Bourdain travels to exotic locales and endorses similar cooking techniques all the time. He finds it precious because it's a woman playing with fire, like an animal trying to be people. It's hiding behind legitimate food politics to make a gendered dig in an industry that is still struggling with sexism.

It was only after this dustup that her daughter decided to work with a different local blacksmith to sell on her website of precious fancy things at a price point comparable to everything else in her shop.
posted by politikitty at 2:57 PM on March 27, 2018 [9 favorites]


Hyperfixating on anyone's individual consumption is still hyperfixating on individual consumption and in 95% of examples is a waste of time.
What you and I eat for breakfast is individual consumption. What Alice Waters eats for breakfast in the presence of a journalist who is writing or filming a story about her breakfast-eating habits? That's not individual consumption. This piece was marketing for her daughter's luxury-item website, which is where the $250 egg spoons are sold. It's an advertisement, which the New York Times agreed to run in exchange for access to a celebrity. (And in a lot of ways, that blurring of editorial and advertising is a bigger problem than anything about anyone's breakfast.)
Alice Waters is not hawking a $250 egg spoon.
Her daughter is, on a website that was linked in the article.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 2:58 PM on March 27, 2018 [6 favorites]


It was only after this dustup that her daughter decided to work with a different local blacksmith to sell on her website of precious fancy things at a price point comparable to everything else in her shop.

It's almost like I knew that. But the Bourdain comments happened in 2009, over 8 years before her daughter decided to make the eggspoon as a feminist piece to highlight sexism in male dominated industries among the #MeToo movement.
posted by politikitty at 3:04 PM on March 27, 2018 [3 favorites]


that one "side" of the egg spoon debate basically consists of some dumb comments Bourdain made in 2009 doesn't really undercut that the entire point of the article was to direct you to the place where you can buy $250 egg spoons
posted by prize bull octorok at 3:15 PM on March 27, 2018 [5 favorites]


and god bless you if you want or already own a $250 egg spoon but if we can't dunk on people for being overly precious about The One True Way to prepare some basic food unit, why are we even on the internet
posted by prize bull octorok at 3:17 PM on March 27, 2018 [2 favorites]


Oh one thing I think almost all of us can agree on is that artisanal $250 egg spoons are eye-rolling even if you want one (I know I do, irrationally) and that the NYTimes is painfully full of classist bullshit with occasional sublime content. Much like Alice Waters herself. Much like Anthony Bourdain. Much like us all. Land of contrasts, yada yada yada.
posted by the thorn bushes have roses at 3:18 PM on March 27, 2018


I don't want a $250 egg spoon, but I would really love one of Shawn Lovell's chandeliers, which probably cost approximately my annual income. If I won the lottery, I would have a lot of ridiculously expensive handcrafted decor in my house.
over 8 years before her daughter decided to make the eggspoon as a feminist piece to highlight sexism in male dominated industries among the #MeToo movement.
No. I just find this really objectionable. #MeToo is about exposing everyday sexual violence. It is not about selling luxury items to rich people, and it shouldn't be coopted for that purpose.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 3:23 PM on March 27, 2018 [11 favorites]


Oh, I'll definitely eye-roll at the idea of actually using one as an eggspoon.

But it was created in response to the sexist comments as a statement piece. It's functional political art; created and priced as such - down to earmarking some of the profits to non-profits.

There are class implications, sure. But the article is quite self-aware that the story behind the spoon is more universal than the spoon itself.

And I'll have to disagree with that assessment of #MeToo. At this point, it encompasses multiple discussions about gender - consent, power imbalances, sexual violence. But it definitely includes a wider discussion about how all men perpetuate sexual harassment in the workplace, even if they aren't committing sexual violence.
posted by politikitty at 3:53 PM on March 27, 2018 [1 favorite]




Runt, the subject is Alice Waters and Anthony Bourdain and you are only focusing on one of them. Repeatedly. I am curious why you are doing so when Othering is a thing that Bourdain specializes in.

which. one. is. the. person. hawking. the. spooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooon!!!

*hits head on desk*
posted by runt at 4:03 PM on March 27, 2018


a fellow organizer and friend of mine just commented today about a talk he was in where people claimed that the city of Atlanta's solution to food deserts should be hydroponic systems in people's homes and more farmers markets in poor neighborhoods

to quote: "These people are so out of touch. The local and organic movements are elitist nonsense."

y'all want to sing the praises of your TV darlings, fine - it's still elitism and it's still complicit in white supremacy. how you want to resolve that cognitive dissonance is your emotional labor to bear, not anybody else's
posted by runt at 4:14 PM on March 27, 2018 [1 favorite]


Yup, local slow foodie shit is a harmful ideology that values the ability to conspicuously consume "ethically" over providing nutrition and flavor in a manner that is accessible to most people. I say this as a person who spends plenty of time foraging for wild ingredients, it's a hobby not a viable means of producing food for the masses.
posted by Ferreous at 4:18 PM on March 27, 2018 [1 favorite]


To clarify, I don't think the idea of local food is inherently bad, but it's the same as something like molecular gastronomy; a fun thing that can be a means of expression and produce great food but is not a paradigm that can support day to day living for anyone not of means.
posted by Ferreous at 4:22 PM on March 27, 2018


runt, if you want to keep assuming everyone here is up Alice Waters' ass, I dunno...I don't get it. Your friend's quote about the elitism of the local/organic movements is echoed by many comments in this thread.
posted by the thorn bushes have roses at 5:18 PM on March 27, 2018 [6 favorites]


GuyZero has it right. First you make the bacon, then you make the eggs in the bacon fat, then you pour the bacon fat on the fire and watch it all burn.

Don't be silly - that's a big waste! pour it off into a jar, let any burnt bits float to the top and scrape them off - then save in the fridge/freezer for other cooking (like Ginger snaps). That's true economical cooking.

I had the chance to hear Alice Waters talk. She's yet another clueless upper middle class foodie who thinks poor people have time and/or money. You need at least one of those to eat well; most poor people have neither.

But she's no worse than the rest of them - useless, all.

Except Delia Smith, who doesn't claim anything except to teach basic cooking. Her Complete Cooking Course is perfect for any one who wants to know how to make basic British staples (eg roast beef).
posted by jb at 5:44 PM on March 27, 2018 [1 favorite]


Wait what. Burnt bacon bits in gingersnaps? The cookies? Is this good?
posted by The corpse in the library at 5:49 PM on March 27, 2018


I read it as you strain off the burnt bacon bits, discard those, and then use the lard to replace whatever fat is in your gingersnap recipe. But either way sounds...mmm, pretty good, if you have homemade molasses!
posted by the thorn bushes have roses at 6:03 PM on March 27, 2018 [1 favorite]


People, this discussion proceeds no further until we have resolved the bacon fat question.
posted by um at 6:58 PM on March 27, 2018 [2 favorites]


So, I just checked and the Joy of Cooking my wife and I received at our wedding is the apparently-awful 1996 edition.

Someone should have told me before I wasted the last 19 years of my life making delicious food with it.

Also, thanks to Lunaloon for the link to the long-handled egg skillet!
posted by Big Al 8000 at 7:01 PM on March 27, 2018


People, this discussion proceeds no further until we have resolved the bacon fat question.

Is it too late to change my answer? From worst-case to best-case:

1) If no other options exist, feed bacon fat to dog. Drizzle over kibble, or whatevs;
2) If frying not viable, dip raw bread into warm grease in lieu of butter;
3) Fry bread in bacon grease;
4) Make smalec!!!
posted by Meatbomb at 8:26 PM on March 27, 2018


Mark Bittman

I have Bittman's book of taxi drivers' recipes. It's fun. He seems, sadly, to have contributed to a particular mindset among some dudes about cooking that makes me want to tear HIS hair out, though. It may not be fair of me, but there it is.

I've been cooking for 35 years. I'm pretty good at it. So when some dude who only just figured out how to make a grilled cheese sandwich tells me I'm doing it wrong, Bittman's way is The One True Way...well, I'm sick of hearing his name, and I prefer Omichen's and Miss Julia's ways, thankyouverymuchgetthefuckoutofmykitchen.

Here's how I cooked an egg while camping this weekend

That is a fantastic campstove, and one my clumsy ass would doubtless end up knocking over. Then I would be eggless and sad.
posted by MissySedai at 8:49 PM on March 27, 2018 [2 favorites]


if Alice Waters were to kindly donate half of her TV fortune to fixing basic, human rights needs, to give them freely and without strings to activist groups instead of advising that people by $250 iron spoons produced by white artisans for their nuanced, cage-free, egg flavors, great, you won't find me complaining. but short of that, it's puffery masquerading as a fix

Alice Waters isn't really on TV?... There was a 60 Minutes episode and a PBS Special AFAIK. She's not a television chef. She donates time and money to her foundation, the Edible Schoolyard Project. I honestly don't thinks she gives a shit if people buy her daughter's 250 dollar egg spoons. Is she the ideal food activist? Not at all, but there is no denying that here in Oakland school gardens are a big deal. Food justice organizations have been working in this community for years, with local farmers' markets and CSAs promoting social justice and healthy food. Is this all because of Alice Waters? Of course not, but you can bet that the Edible Schoolyard idea (ultimately successful or not) made it easier for some of these sorts of programs to gain visibility when they were just beginning. Activists have long talked about food deserts, self sufficiency, foodways of the marginalized, and urban gardens. Alice Waters wasn't needed but she was helpful in the way a celebrity chef can be. Is she also a sheltered, privileged, problematic person? Absolutely. But she's not insincere, she's not in it for the celebrity, or you know, the puffery. She genuinely believes kids growing and eating their own food in school is important.

Honestly it's pretty fucking depressing to hear people repeat the same old shit about farmers markets and healthy eating being just a thing for white people. Maybe you need to pay a visit to Oakland where food has always been personal and political.
posted by oneirodynia at 9:31 PM on March 27, 2018 [10 favorites]


Make smalec!!!

HOLY CRAP I AM SOLD

Seriously that sounds ambrosial.
posted by Greg_Ace at 9:42 PM on March 27, 2018 [1 favorite]


If no other options exist, feed bacon fat to dog. Drizzle over kibble, or whatevs;

King the Amazing Colossal Chocolate Lab loved bacon grease on kibbles. He liked it on his pancakes, too.

You know, I bet you could come up with other uses for the egg spoon. Especially if you're a family of one or two with a fireplace or woodstove. Seems like it'd be good for something like hoecakes, maybe.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 9:44 PM on March 27, 2018


I'm very confused by the farmers markets in the US based on the comments here. Are they some kind of rarefied thing in the US? My market certainly has white people going to it but it also has plenty of people from all over the world going to it. There's nothing particularly rarefied about it really maybe the odd weird hippie selling his homegrown health product but they are in the minority. Its not an only "organic" kind of market but most of the sellers are local-ish. Our market is centrally located on the main bus lines, the food is mostly cheaper then a grocery store and I've seen people easily buying enough food for their week. I don't think we're particularly unique - two of the neighbouring communities have similarly large weekend markets. Is this not a thing in the US?
posted by Ashwagandha at 10:15 PM on March 27, 2018 [2 favorites]


Oh for fuck's sake I value both Waters and Bourdain AND think they're both being ridiculous on this topic.
posted by desuetude at 10:22 PM on March 27, 2018


It's not depressing.

The popularity of Farmers’ markets is on the rise; in Canada there are 425 farmers’ markets, with over 130 in Ontario alone (Feagan, Morris, & Krug, 2004). Farmers’ markets provide high quality, local produce and are often considered an environmentally sustainable food practice (Taxel, 2003; King 2008). United States studies have scrutinized farmers’ markets as exlusionary white spaces that are not equitably accessible, but similar Canadian studies are rare. A case study at the Wychwood Artscape Barns, located in an economically and culturally diverse neighbourhood, in Toronto Ontario has been conducted. Demographics surveys of patrons were compared with existing demographic data; interviews were conducted to discover who shops at the market and for what reasons; results were analyzed using whiteness theory. Results were consistent with U.S. studies – Wychwood Farmers’ Market patrons were white, high income, individuals with university educations; these individuals shop at the market disproportionally to the demographic data. - Googled a 2010 thesis abstract.

The five largest landowners in America, all white, own more rural land than all of black America combined. / This tiny group, a band that would fit comfortably in any mid-size sedan, owns more than nine million acres while all of the African American population combined, over 40 million people, own just eight million acres. / The most recent report released by the United States Department of Agriculture, Who Owns the Land, offers these statistics and more as it exposes America’s massive disparity in land ownership. - 2016, inequality.org

People are valid to be concerned and critical and even complaining about this. It's tokenism, cherrypicking, and decontextualizing to hold up Oakland as a basis for evidence that the problems are over. Far from it. There's no need to counter with an accusation of 'reverse frustration' given the fuller picture.
posted by polymodus at 11:05 PM on March 27, 2018 [3 favorites]


To those who are claiming that organic, seasonal local produce is not an option for feeding all people: I mentioned above that our school district offers exactly that, with income-based pricing (and even the full price is very reasonable). Parents order the food from home, or from the local library if you don't have a computer or phone. You can order two weeks ahead, or up till 7AM the day your child is eating. There are always halal and vegan options, and the food in general reflects that many minorities live here. When a large school district like ours chooses to do something like this, it is a question of priorities, but not on the individual level.
After the school food program has been a success, the same principles have been adopted by the services that provide food for the elderly* and at hospitals, and now the scale is so large that farmers are turning organic, and organic produce is becoming more available and cheap. Most big chain stores here have stopped selling eggs from caged hens, because the demand was so small. This is in a country where big agriculture has a big say in national politics, and they keep on using the arguments of scale used here as well: that you can't feed everyone on organic produce and free range animals. But it turns out you really can, if there is a sufficient political will and economic pressure.
All of this started with food idealists like Alice Waters, so I don't want to discount her or any others. They inspire and without their visions, nothing would happen. But for the change to happen, you need to vote in local politicians who will move beyond the individual idealism or even local activism, and they need to hire smart professionals who can scale up.
I think our city was also inspired by some Italian cities that have done the same. It can be done.


*10 years ago my grandmother was offered food from the public kitchen and it was just horrible fatty variations of slurry, so I ended up cooking for her freezer. Now, my mother gets delicious hot meals she enjoys, always with dessert, again at income-based fair prices.
posted by mumimor at 12:16 AM on March 28, 2018 [1 favorite]


there is no denying that here in Oakland school gardens are a big deal. Food justice organizations have been working in this community for years, with local farmers' markets and CSAs promoting social justice and healthy food. Is this all because of Alice Waters? Of course not,

you realize you and I are talking about the same thing, that white, middle-class foodies claiming the slow food movement / etc and worship at the altar of Pollan, Bittman, and Waters need to be cognizant and recognize that marginalized communities have been doing this shit for years and to get out of their shell, and oftentimes the progressive cultural capital that Pollan, Bittman, and Waters provide acts as cover for their complete and utter inaction in these spaces

like I plainly stated before, I care more about the audience of the above and their takeaway more than the individuals themselves. if they're hawking a $250 spoon while pretending to be sincerely doing a good thing, they're misguided. but their fans showing up in organizing spaces proposing expensive, unrealistic locavore projects, demanding that we listen to them because if only we understood how wrong our theory of food justice was - that's a problem of white supremacy

because there's a food justice program that is rooted in a Blank Panther ideology that is anti-police, anti-state, and pro-black; and then there's 'food justice' of the white and middle class rooted in a Waters/Bittman/Pollan ideology that has received no shortage of criticism from the proponents of an intersectional food justice program, and which is most assuredly not anti-police and anti-state and also happens to be one of the most appallingly white-centered spaces to brand itself as 'activism'

don't get it fucking confused that Alice Waters has done anything for the movement but make it harder to organize in the space in the same way that white, middle-class pussy hatters have been co-opting radical, PoC-led community spaces since Trump was elected. that it took the Parkland kids to bring about a truly intersectional space in the ways that the Women's March failed says a lot about how outmoded people like Alice Waters and all of her followers are
posted by runt at 8:17 AM on March 28, 2018 [4 favorites]


It's also kind of interesting how if you bring up school gardens, a lot of people manage to remember Alice Waters' name. Not a lot of people, not even the ones working in school nutrition programs, know the connection between the federal School Breakfast Program and the Black Panthers.
posted by elsietheeel at 8:34 AM on March 28, 2018 [4 favorites]


People are valid to be concerned and critical and even complaining about this. It's tokenism, cherrypicking, and decontextualizing to hold up Oakland as a basis for evidence that the problems are over. Far from it.

Where in my comment does it say that problems are far from over? Where is my comment do I say people shouldn't be complaining? I said I'm tired of people acting like there's only one kind of farmer's market, only one kind of "foodie" that cares about school gardens and local produce. That's absolutely not true. No doubt there are other food justice orgs all over the country doing this but I only highlighted Oakland ones because I live here and I see them and they have been around for years.

but their fans showing up in organizing spaces proposing expensive, unrealistic locavore projects, demanding that we listen to them because if only we understood how wrong our theory of food justice was - that's a problem of white supremacy

Who in this thread is doing this? I haven't seen anyone here hold up Alice Waters as the be-all and end-all of food activism. She's most assuredly not. But when you encourage the FLOTUS to put in a White House vegetable garden you assuredly bring some light to the ideas of people on the ground.
posted by oneirodynia at 8:48 AM on March 28, 2018 [1 favorite]


Our market is centrally located on the main bus lines, the food is mostly cheaper then a grocery store and I've seen people easily buying enough food for their week.

Those markets exist in some medium size cities in the US (like, my mom still buys sweet corn that way when she can, not for price reasons but because that's where the fresh corn is) but in bigger cities the cost of transportation and the cost of land are such that the direct-to-consumer markets are kind of premium just because everything in the big cities is.

I can't speak for other big cities, but in DC one standing market is in a neighborhood that has been fancy for decades and the longstanding wholesale market is becoming expensive condos and apartments block by block. There are a number of weekly "farmer's markets" in various neighborhoods, but the one near the White House is full of expensive prepared foods and only the most photogenic of vegetables, the one by my wife's office is where Chef José Andrés can often be seen buying stuff for his restaurants, and the one in my neighborhood is in financial trouble because of a new rule for how the fees are calculated. Even the classic weekly market at Dupont Circle (which has been there longer than I've lived in DC) has more vendors offering prepared foods and coffee and kombucha than fresh produce.

Even without price pressure, our neighborhood market is seldom cheaper than the grocery store, often much more expensive, and only sometimes actually better. From personal experience: market tomatoes are always better than the grocery store, squash is about 50/50 but usually cheaper at the supermarket, and peaches are often both better and cheaper at the supermarket. Our supermarket also tags local produce as such, so I can pay $4/lb for Pennsylvania squash at the market, or I can pay $1.49/lb for it at Safeway. If I can track the season right and hit the market when ALL THE PEACHES have ripened all at once then maybe that will work out better than Safeway, but the last time I did that they were watery and dull, while the Safeway peaches (with the "LOCAL" tag) were literally the best ones I'd ever bought.
posted by fedward at 8:49 AM on March 28, 2018 [3 favorites]


I'm very confused by the farmers markets in the US based on the comments here. Are they some kind of rarefied thing in the US? [...] Is this not a thing in the US?

It is a thing in the US, but not like how you describe. There are tons of farmers markets around our neighborhood each week, starting about this time of year on until late fall. Typically, farmers markets here (Portland Oregon and the PNW in general are my only direct experience) are comprised of smallholder farms that specialize in higher quality produce, often but not exclusively organic certified produce at that.

I've spoken directly to the price of kale locally around here as an example over on the green before. But I can usually find roughly the same quality produce at ethnic markets or greengrocers for half-or-less the price I could find them at a local farmers market. There are a couple exceptions here, but they're all usually specialty items (truffles and other foraged mushrooms are the biggest notable exceptions). $20 goes righteously further at my local mega mart (who actually contracts with some of the larger local farms in the area for much of their seasonal produce) than it does at a farmers market.

A caveat to this is if you're into canning or preserving, you can get steep discounts from vendors for buying in bulk.

We're pretty solidly middle class, and it would break us in half to shop at a farmers market exclusively for our produce intake, even in-season.
posted by furnace.heart at 8:51 AM on March 28, 2018 [2 favorites]


I haven't seen anyone here hold up Alice Waters as the be-all and end-all of food activism.

were you aware that Alice Waters' audience might include people beyond the confines of the internet, many of whom congregate around food justice efforts that are elitist and racist
posted by runt at 9:02 AM on March 28, 2018


Of course! But I am talking about the discussion here, based on the article above. My comments were specifically addressing the fact that Waters is not a TV chef; donates to her foundation, The Edible Schoolyard; has brought visibility to some issues regardless of how anyone feels about the woman herself; and that farmers markets are not just for middle class white people (as many people on Metafilter have expressed for years and continue to do so).
posted by oneirodynia at 9:12 AM on March 28, 2018 [2 favorites]


were you aware that Alice Waters' audience might include people beyond the confines of the internet, many of whom congregate around food justice efforts that are elitist and racist

Nobody is disagreeing with you. Those people are not currently reading this thread. You're continuing argue about something that everyone else is agreeing is settled. I'm not sure what else you're hoping to get other than agreement at this point.
posted by mikesch at 9:15 AM on March 28, 2018 [3 favorites]


the problematic portion is 'brought visibility' with specific regard to the kinds of visibility, the reaction of the audience to these issues, and the lack of any kind of built-in accountability to existing food justice efforts, particularly those that focus on oppressed communities

here's the thing about movement space: it's inclusive and it's wonderful and it needs all the help. but it's also a space riven with power - and once those with massive amounts of privilege enter those spaces and start applying for the same grants, appealing to the same city/county council members, shopping for the same urban lots, then it's not wonderful and it's not helpful

does this make sense?
posted by runt at 9:16 AM on March 28, 2018 [2 favorites]


It makes sense but that's not anywhere in the comment of yours I was responding to. I have no disagreement with any of that.

I have to go to work where there are no computers, so I am out.
posted by oneirodynia at 9:38 AM on March 28, 2018


As an Alton Brown fanatic I look down on the "egg spoon" for being a dreaded UNITASKER. A Sous vide system can cook dozens of proteins but the egg spoons can't even cook other types of eggs because the size would be off.
posted by Megafly at 12:19 PM on March 28, 2018 [1 favorite]


Yes, Alton Brown would burn down six cords of hardwood and then crack the egg in a standard metal mixing bowl and place it into the fire with welding gloves. Then he'd lecture you for 8 minuted while it cooked on chicken breeds.
posted by GuyZero at 1:02 PM on March 28, 2018 [2 favorites]


I think you'd get a lesson on egg sizes and the difference they make in baking. Or the difference between factory farmed and free range and all the various things in between (why is this yolk more yellow than this one?).
posted by elsietheeel at 1:06 PM on March 28, 2018 [1 favorite]


I'm still horrified that he'd be cooking on chicken breeds.
posted by TwoStride at 1:13 PM on March 28, 2018 [2 favorites]


Some breeds burn hotter and longer than others.
posted by Greg_Ace at 1:46 PM on March 28, 2018 [3 favorites]


Where in my comment does it say that problems are far from over? Where is my comment do I say people shouldn't be complaining?

In:

Honestly it's pretty fucking depressing to hear people repeat the same old shit about farmers markets and healthy eating being just a thing for white people. Maybe you need to pay a visit to Oakland where food has always been personal and political.

AFAIU, "people repeat the same old shit" = complaining about something. I had also said that this was an example of reverse racism, if the reaction is to be depressed or frustrated that "people" (Who? Which people? The Asian Americans in this thread?) are repeating the "shit" that's an example of white privilege.

I'd had thought I was pretty clear, in context of the two references I mentioned. I thought they would clarify the generalities meant by such people, in contrast to your description of things that are indeed and technically "absolutely not true".

In your response, you didn't address those quotes I referenced, and then ignored the last thing I had said, as I notice you skipped the last sentence in quoted my personal remark, thus decontextualizing my meaning as well.
posted by polymodus at 10:27 PM on March 29, 2018


I think the egg spoon would be a lovely thing to have if you do the kind of entertaining where everyone hangs around an open kitchen and participates in cooking. $250 for a small pan is a lot, but it's apt to have a fairly low cost per use unless you ruin it somehow. Almost every page of the Williams and Sonoma catalog must have something that's a bigger waste of money.

I went to a book signing of Bourdain's years ago and he was very nice. In person he had sort of a persnickety way of talking and I felt like in another life he would have been a high school English teacher. More recently I find most of what he says, and writes, incredibly random. It's almost like he's trying to sound as extreme as possible without risking any actual offense.
posted by BibiRose at 4:55 PM on April 2, 2018


Has anyone else been imagining trying to run an egg-and-spoon race with one of these?

Get a torch-bearer to run beside you, and breakfast's ready at the finish line.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 8:40 AM on April 3, 2018 [3 favorites]


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