Oh!
October 22, 2019 7:54 AM   Subscribe

What's the Difference is a mailing list and archive run by Brette Warshaw. Each issue explores the difference between similar things: tomatoes; eggs; pasta; uncooked flesh; salts; Catholic places of worship; law enforcement officers; sandwiches; wetness falling from the sky; Broccolis; and many more
posted by dobbs (15 comments total) 36 users marked this as a favorite
 
The current first item in the blog is an article on the differences among peerage titles, and as a lifelong reader of English historical romance novels, I had to read it, just to make sure we agreed on how things worked. Everything appeared correct and I even learned a thing or two I didn't already know.
posted by jacquilynne at 8:03 AM on October 22, 2019 [1 favorite]


TIL about three kinds of broccoli I never knew existed and now I'm hungry, Thanks, Brette Warshaw!
posted by hat_eater at 8:10 AM on October 22, 2019 [1 favorite]


The tomato one is okay, but doesn't do a great job of explaining the difference between hybrid and heirloom tomatoes or separating that difference from the difference between grocery store tomatoes and tomatoes grown on a small scale and harvested when ripe. Based on this article, you might not realize that you could grow hybrid tomatoes in your own garden that would be juicy and delicious and maybe not that different from heirloom varieties.
posted by Redstart at 8:54 AM on October 22, 2019 [1 favorite]


Broccolini is actually a registered trademark.
posted by schoolgirl report at 9:51 AM on October 22, 2019 [1 favorite]


Thank you! Fascinating. Subscribed.
posted by rednikki at 10:41 AM on October 22, 2019


this is so good.
posted by millipede at 10:47 AM on October 22, 2019


The current first item in the blog is an article on the differences among peerage titles

Do Men Ever Visit Boston?
posted by The Underpants Monster at 10:59 AM on October 22, 2019 [2 favorites]


> The tomato one is okay, but doesn't do a great job of explaining the difference between hybrid and heirloom tomatoes or separating that difference from the difference between grocery store tomatoes and tomatoes grown on a small scale and harvested when ripe. Based on this article, you might not realize that you could grow hybrid tomatoes in your own garden that would be juicy and delicious and maybe not that different from heirloom varieties.

Yeah, that tomato one is a mess. Lots of factually-true information organized into inaccurate and confusing conclusions. Why are grocery-store tomatoes so bad? Because they are hybrid cultivars bred for shipping durability. Truth.

But the article actually starts out by defining tomatoes as one of two two types, heirloom and hybrid. Then they define heirloom tomatoes as on "the other side of the spectrum" from hybrid tomatoes (WTF spectrum is this?) with a definition that bungles the significance of open pollination in a way that sort of implies that heirlooms are never intentional crossbreeds.

And then they move on to additional categories--beefsteak, plum, cherry, grape, and cocktail tomatoes -- but after mentioning that beefsteak can be either hybrid or heirloom, they abandon that allegedly all-important distinction along with any remaining interest in using accurate terminology. Cherry, grape, and cocktail tomatoes aren't "baby" tomatoes. They're full-grown, just smaller. "Cocktail tomato" has no agreed-upon criteria; it's just a marketing term used by seed catalogues and nurseries for various types of cherry or grape tomatoes. And certainly they aren't the only kind grown hydroponically.
posted by desuetude at 11:00 AM on October 22, 2019 [3 favorites]


circumvent to globe

I know these words. But not together.
posted by Splunge at 11:13 AM on October 22, 2019


I am very bothered by the fact that they got through the entire grits vs. polenta article without ever mentioning hominy. Sure, not all grits is hominy grits, but it seems relevant to mention!
posted by duien at 5:09 PM on October 22, 2019 [1 favorite]


Hominy is grits?
All of 'em!
posted by The Underpants Monster at 6:16 PM on October 22, 2019 [1 favorite]


I skimmed a few. I get the idea that they’re produced on a strict time budget, so kind of a blog of listicles of factoids. There are worse things on the internet...
posted by Gilgamesh's Chauffeur at 8:18 PM on October 22, 2019


I get the idea that they’re produced on a strict time budget, so kind of a blog of listicles of factoids.

Perhaps. It seems like someone's personal project, though – not a for-profit endeavor. (For example, there don't seem to be any ads on the site, or even trackers.)

The terse factoid format reads to me like a stylistic choice – it appeals to a certain kind of pedantic nerd (raises hand) who cares about the legalistic distinctions between terms and categories, not in digressions or broader cultural/historical context (at least, not in this particular moment). It's a blog meant to scratch that particular itch – nothing more, nothing less. (And sometimes that kind of knowledge is exactly what I need in order to approach that broader context effectively.)

I think it's fairly neat. I've thought about making something similar for terms such as "whole grain", "multi-grain", "sprouted grain", etc. – I've noticed that a lot of people are confused by these categories.
posted by escape from the potato planet at 4:00 AM on October 25, 2019


On tomatoes:

- “Sun gold” is sungold and is an F1 hybrid, so by their definition not heirloom.
- Heirloom is a specifically American turn of phrase. It may have a definition but it’s a definition that would overlap with the other categories; I would personally consider it to be a marketing term, though (the plants sitting just outside claim to be heirloom beefsteaks).
- The taste and quality of store bought cheap tomatoes is probably down to breeding for durability and yield, yes, but they aren’t universally picked green and It has nothing to do with whether they breed true or are hybrid.

So, to summarise, bollocks.
posted by How much is that froggie in the window at 12:32 AM on October 26, 2019


> The terse factoid format reads to me like a stylistic choice – it appeals to a certain kind of pedantic nerd (raises hand) who cares about the legalistic distinctions between terms and categories, not in digressions or broader cultural/historical context (at least, not in this particular moment). It's a blog meant to scratch that particular itch – nothing more, nothing less. (And sometimes that kind of knowledge is exactly what I need in order to approach that broader context effectively.)

Unfortunate that it's inaccurate about terminology and distinctions, though...
posted by desuetude at 6:46 AM on October 28, 2019


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