Even they get tired of fried eggs, hamburgers, and greasy coffee
March 28, 2007 7:01 AM   Subscribe

My favorite entree is the salmon sandwich on foccacia bread. Water is served with a slice of cucumber which is very refreshing. Which profession dines out the most? Whose judgements can be counted on for honesty and straightforwardness? The truckers'.
posted by ardgedee (60 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
They could sure use a search feature on that site.
posted by Mister_A at 7:12 AM on March 28, 2007

I'm confused -- are the reviews supposed to be by truckers? They seem to be written by locals.
posted by escabeche at 7:13 AM on March 28, 2007

Yeah, this is a cool idea but the reviews don't seem to be written by truckers, for the most part.
posted by OmieWise at 7:19 AM on March 28, 2007

The best sauce ? Hunger :)
posted by elpapacito at 7:25 AM on March 28, 2007 [2 favorites]

How dare you refer to "expediters" as "truckers"?
posted by phoffmann at 7:25 AM on March 28, 2007

These reviews are just lifted from chefmoz.org.
posted by rxrfrx at 7:38 AM on March 28, 2007 [2 favorites]

And as you order your foie gras, be sure and tell the waiter... Large Marge sent ya!
posted by miss lynnster at 7:42 AM on March 28, 2007 [1 favorite]

My favorite lot lizard gecko-mistress of the open wilds is Illumina. Her tantric charms are sure to assauge the weary fretted brow of all journeying cargo-masters. Exotic incense fills your sleeper with rich odours of the far East, while full karmic massage arouses your chakra points like a four tone air horn during rush hour on the Turnpike.
posted by CynicalKnight at 7:42 AM on March 28, 2007 [4 favorites]

They should just drive their trucks and leave the higher art of cuisine critique to others.

Like, say, a tire manufacturer or an oil company.
posted by hal9k at 7:43 AM on March 28, 2007

That's a shame, I was excited to read reviews by truckers... It's definitely just a copy of chefmoz.org.
posted by mmoncur at 7:43 AM on March 28, 2007

These ain't truckers.

Oh. What everybody else said. Delete me now pls.
posted by sacre_bleu at 8:10 AM on March 28, 2007

I enjoy eating breakfast, lunch, and also sometimes dinner at the Country Cafe. The food is always fresh and usually large in quantity. Service is friendly.

Great. Food in large quantities. And what does the "also sometimes dinner" mean? Does that mean sometimes dinner is not enjoyable? Or does it mean this reviewer eats dinner there less often then they eat breakfast and lunch? I'm guessing the former because below the review it says "Recommended Dishes: Breakfast, Lunch" which I take to mean eggs and sandwiches, OK but anything more difficult and you are taking your chances.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 8:22 AM on March 28, 2007

I've always said ... easiest way to find the best Peking Duck in town is to look for all the Chinese truck drivers.
posted by RavinDave at 8:27 AM on March 28, 2007

Or the Chinese duck strivers.
posted by escabeche at 8:29 AM on March 28, 2007 [3 favorites]

My favorite entree is the salmon sandwich on foccacia bread

Why do Americans use 'entree' to mean the main course? This is weird language.
posted by Goofyy at 8:45 AM on March 28, 2007 [1 favorite]

Umm, 'cause we do? Why did a British teenage girl staying at our house cause general merriment by asking to be "knocked up" in the morning? As the beer ads used to say, "Why ask why?"
posted by pax digita at 9:38 AM on March 28, 2007

'Cuz we Americans are weird people. And because rebelling from the British is basic instinct for us even when it makes no sense. Duh.
posted by miss lynnster at 9:42 AM on March 28, 2007

en·trée or en·tree (ŏn'trā, ŏn-trā') pronunciation

1. The main dish of a meal.
2. A dish served in formal dining immediately before the main course or between two principal courses.
1. The act of entering.
2. The power, permission, or liberty to enter; admittance.

[French entrée, from Old French entree. See entry.]
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 9:48 AM on March 28, 2007

Gee SLG, how clever of you to copy a dictionary entry. And this proves what, exactly, other than that you don't seem to realize that an entry is a beginning, which is what makes our American use seem odd.

Personally, I don't recall having heard the word used before one of the frozen-dinner (TV-dinners!) companies started using it back in the 60's some time. But I was still a kid then, so couldn't say.
posted by Goofyy at 10:14 AM on March 28, 2007

I think he provided the definition to show that our use of Entree to mean the main course has become the first listed definition in the describing dictionary. I think your tv dinners observation is a pretty good place. I mean, who eats frozen dinners before their real dinners? So if a that's your meal and the commercials call it an entree then...violia. Excuse my lack of accents in both those words.
posted by Brainy at 10:39 AM on March 28, 2007

So if a that's your meal
Apparently, I have been playing too much Mario 64 on the Wii V.C. Stupid Lava level.
posted by Brainy at 10:43 AM on March 28, 2007 [1 favorite]

When a set of pronounced syllables means something different to two people, there is obviously something wrong with the world.
posted by tehloki at 11:09 AM on March 28, 2007

Why do Americans use 'entree' to mean the main course?

Why do Americans use "blue" to refer to electromagnetic radiation of about 475nm wavelength? Why do they call some canids "dogs" and others "foxes"?
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 11:11 AM on March 28, 2007 [2 favorites]

...AAAAAaaaaanyway, for those who need the context, when I was a kid, the scuttlebutt according to Dad, who spent a lot of time traveling himself, was that the "truck stops" -- fuel and creature-feature facilities for long-distance large trucking -- had the best food, although I doubt this was ever true; truckers driving "eighteen-wheelers" were always forced due to contraints of time and the inconvenient immensity of their vehicles (20 m long, weighing well far in excess of 10 t) to frequent these places, which had typical American diner-type cuisine at best. But knowing a lot of these truckers through conversations on CB channel 19, I wonder how many of them have heard of foccacia bread and would bother to -- or even could -- write a review like the one quoted in the FPP. Most people who are that articulate would be dissatisfied with the working environment of long-haul over-the-road trucking, to put it mildly.

I'd like to see a trucker go through the evolution of parking his "big rig" for a casual meal at this place, for instance. The meal would definitely be different and good, but the driver would probably lose a couple of hours' drive time -- precious lost productivity -- getting parked somewhere a few blocks away (maybe the Food Lion's lot three blocks away) and having to drive several miles through town each way between I-20 or I-26 and the restaurant, located in the heart of Columbia.
posted by pax digita at 11:12 AM on March 28, 2007

From Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary:


Entr'ee \En`tr['e]e"\, n. [F. See Entry.] 1. A coming in, or entrance; hence, freedom of access; permission or right to enter; as, to have the entr['e]e of a house.

2. (Cookery) In French usage, a dish served at the beginning of dinner to give zest to the appetite; in English usage, a side dish, served with a joint, or between the courses, as a cutlet, scalloped oysters, etc.
posted by tadellin at 11:39 AM on March 28, 2007

Great. Food in large quantities.

Hey, if a little of something is good, a lot of something is better. Rule #1 of life.
posted by jonmc at 11:53 AM on March 28, 2007 [1 favorite]

Hey, if a little of something is good, a lot of something is better. Rule #1 of life.
posted by jonmc at 1:53 PM on March 28

A friend of mine says that of the 50,000 users on MeFi, you're the only one he can identify with. Yours is the only screename he is convinced there is an actual person behind.

Goofyy, you're straining at gnats, but when looking at your profile it made me wonder if East London, South Africa is one place or two.
posted by Ynoxas at 12:38 PM on March 28, 2007 [1 favorite]

I don't know, I wouldn't tell anyone how to speak, but it is pretty weird that we've borrowed the French word for appetizer and use it to mean main course. (Not wrong, but definitely weird.)
posted by moss at 1:09 PM on March 28, 2007

Some of the info is out of date, too, sadly.

I was all geared up to go to a new sushi joint here in Chandler and when I phoned them, the number was disconnected. That's when I realized the reviews were from 2003. :(
posted by darkstar at 1:11 PM on March 28, 2007

Yours is the only screename he is convinced there is an actual person behind.

Tell your friend that I know for a fact that the rest are real, too. Unless of course mathowie and jessamyn hired actors to fool me.

(also, my only experience with truckstop food was in Brunswick, Georgia. I ordered chipped beef on toast. It was cold, so it tasted nasty.)
posted by jonmc at 1:19 PM on March 28, 2007

[insert your favorite George Carlin "why do we [a] in a [b] and [x] in a [y]" joke here]
posted by davejay at 1:32 PM on March 28, 2007

Yeah, it would be cool to have a site of actual diner reviews by truckers.

But really, I just sort of felt like I had to comment in this thread.
posted by roll truck roll at 3:34 PM on March 28, 2007

Gee SLG, how clever of you to copy a dictionary entry. And this proves what, exactly, other than that you don't seem to realize that an entry is a beginning, which is what makes our American use seem odd.

Well, Buddy, since you seemed a bit befuddled by perfectly acceptable usage, I thought I would help you out. The English language is so rich precisely because it borrows so heavily from other languages and it evolves.

Great. Food in large quantities.

Hey, if a little of something is good, a lot of something is better. Rule #1 of life.

No, I personally don't ascribe to that belief. If a glass of wine is good, it doesn't mean a vat is better or if a few tablespoons of Hollandaise sauce over your asparagus is good it doesn't mean a gallon would be better.

All kidding aside, there is a attitude among certain people in the South that think vast quantities is more important than good quality. My in-laws, for example, love The Golden Corral which is all you can eat buffet for one low, low price. Think the food is good there?

By the way, the Cafeteria is alive and well in Raleigh. Myself, I would prefer to go out once a month and dine in style rather than go out three times a week and eat at the K&W Cafeteria. But knock yourself out Jon-- eat all the Salisbury steak and tapioca pudding you want.

And, yes, the old "Truckers Know The Best Places To Eat" meme was floating around in the 70's right about the time that CB radios took off. They were The Knights of The Road and Good Old Boys. Mostly thought they were just fat, blue collar workers with hemorrhoids who stopped popping Tums and uppers just long enough to flirt with Doreen and her thick ankles and beehive hairdo in the hopes that she would slip them another serving of Banana Cream Pie.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 3:53 PM on March 28, 2007

Zing! Jonmc totally got p4wned for saying he likes food.
posted by roll truck roll at 4:09 PM on March 28, 2007

Solopsist's guide to truckstop cuisine: There isn't any.

Pilot truckstops all have fast-food franchises in them, usually Mickie-D or Subway. That's all there is there, other than overpriced convenience store fare.

Flying J- Avoid the buffet. The rest of the food is probably Denny's quality, with big-ass-sized portions.

Petro- Their Iron Skillet restaurants were about the best of the bunch when I drove; and that's not really saying much.

TA - Country Kitchen restaurants; probably the best breakfast buffet around in the larger locations.

Never buy anything else in a truck stop: it's all ridiculously overpriced.
posted by pjern at 4:31 PM on March 28, 2007

phoffman: I doubt anyone here knows/cares about the difference.
posted by pjern at 4:33 PM on March 28, 2007

So us blue collar workers can't be epicures, Secret Life of Gravy?
posted by Eekacat at 5:06 PM on March 28, 2007

My husband is a blue collar worker and I would say he is an epicure.

However, when he is at work with an hour for lunch and $5.00 in his pocket and fast food franchises the only eateries within 10 minutes, he doesn't have a lot of great choices (which is why I always send his food.) What I mean to say is you can ask "What's better, the burrito at the Gas 'n Go or the biscuits and gravy at the Kuntry Kitchen?" but you won't be getting any great insights of where to eat. Just as asking Truckers-- who must dine speedily and modestly at truckstop diners right off the interstate-- isn't going to yield any great little hidden bistros.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 6:54 PM on March 28, 2007

Secret Life of Gravy, I hate to say this, but when I look back over your comments, they kind of make me cringe.

After your unflattering assessment of blue collar workers, it made me sad to see you refer to your husband as one. And then, in the very same comment, I read your unflattering assessment of his family...

Frankly, I want to buy him a steak at the Golden Corral.
posted by roll truck roll at 7:39 PM on March 28, 2007

The English language is so rich precisely because it borrows so heavily from other languages and it evolves.

Don't tell me that in addition to being quick to stereotype and dripping with smugness, you're also oblivious? The word 'entree' is hardly unrelated to position, and the main course is not exactly the 'early' stage of a meal. What if a dialect were to take the italian word "forte" and meant it, when applied to horse-riding, to mean 'steady your pace'? Let me guess, any remark on the subject would have you shooting a supercilious look at the person puzzling over the matter. The unexamined life, ah!—the best worth living.
posted by Firas at 12:51 AM on March 29, 2007

I don't get the need for this patronizing kerfluffle over the word entree. Some words just don't make sense when they are taken into other cultures. That's not rare. It can be stupid, but it's not rare. It's also not something any Mefite organized, so why on Earth would you bother insulting eachother over it? Or am I totally missing something?
posted by miss lynnster at 1:28 AM on March 29, 2007

(She started it!)

I do have a more reflective comment to make, albeit a bit navel-gazing. Methinks—well, I'll have to think about this, but at least if I'm pressed on the spot to come up with how I deal with food—I think I must be the only person in the world who doesn't actually come away from dish X feeling like it's a revelation over dish Y.

Like, the Hercule Poirot thing of licking your lips as you walk out of a restaurant and having an affection-gasm at the thought of returning just seems rather alien to me.

It's not really a philosophy of aesthetics at play, because I do think there is such a thing as good art/craft/design and bad taste etc.—and it's not an aesthetic choice per se either (ie. it's not like I default to favouring the hearty common preparations over fancy ones, in cuisine or in anything else)—it's just that I don't think about this stuff much.

So, for example, I'd read these rave ratings about an Indian restaurant, and go to it, and—well, what d'ya know? It's just Indian food. I guess the intensity of pleasure I get from eating something nominally carefully concocted and deemed good isn't all that variant from something microwaved or slapped together from leftovers. Like, I can obviously taste the difference between something I like and something I don't, but it doesn't really register on a post-experience satisfaction index. Or perhaps it does coz I've written in the past about whether something I ate was good or bad (self-link) so it's just a matter of paying attention.

Hmm. Do you see what I mean in general though? Like, once I've swallowed something, it doesn't exactly linger in my sensory memory like a good novel does.

Does everyone else slam their pedals of critical discretion and summon all their cognitive capacity of articulate judgement when chewing something? Do I have to turn in my 'cultured beyond cro-magnon' card? Must I jettison Whole Foods and consign myself to Wal-Mart? Or can my poor, deprived gustatory development be saved with more attention to these matters? O noez!
posted by Firas at 2:07 AM on March 29, 2007

Like, once I've swallowed something, it doesn't exactly linger in my sensory memory like a good novel does.

You are not alone. The amount of time, money, and just sheer effort put into eating is amazing to me. No matter how skillfully prepared, wonderfully presented, or amazingly flavorful, you'll need to eat again in a few hours.

I see someone work for HOURS over a meal, being incredibly painstaking and careful, agonizing over every little detail.

Then it is eaten, and soon excreted.

And yes, good food is good when you eat it, but I'm much like you, I don't reminisce and savor a previous meal later. Now, if it were good, I might look forward to eating it AGAIN, but at that point, I'm looking forward to the sensation again, not really reflecting or enjoying the previous one.

Some people are really into cooking and food. Some people are REALLY REALLY into it. Me, I sometimes wish I could take a nutrient pill that would satiate hunger and provide proper nutrition, because most of the things I "like" to eat are not good for me. And sometimes eating and the prep and cleanup take up significant amounts of time. I'd prefer to have my nutrient pill 6 days a week, and then maybe have actual food splurged one day.

Put another way, and more to Firas' point, I may get a nice pizza, and really like the pizza... but 20 minutes later I'm no longer thinking about the pizza. Once I get hungry again, I may think of the pizza again if there is some still remaining, or in a few days I may consider getting it again when I am hungry... but for me (and I'm ONLY speaking for myself), the work exerted for cooking and preparation RARELY merit the reward.

A foodie friend of mine says he starts thinking about dinner as soon as he has finished lunch. I start thinking about dinner when it starts getting dark and I'm getting hungry. It literally does not enter my mind before then.
posted by Ynoxas at 7:41 AM on March 29, 2007

Oh God, the entree discussion again. Anyway, if you're interested in the answer and not just taking the piss out of Americans, this guy says that in the traditional French menu, the main course was a roast. The entrée (which was not the first course either) was an introduction to the roast, and the types of foods served as entrées are today served as main courses.
The English useage bears more resemblance to the traditional one, in terms of the formal/social/ritual aspects of hosting a dinner, whereas, since modern mains are rarely roasts, the American useage bears more resemblance to the food which was traditionally served for this course.
posted by grouse at 7:47 AM on March 29, 2007

After your unflattering assessment of blue collar workers, it made me sad to see you refer to your husband as one. And then, in the very same comment, I read your unflattering assessment of his family...

Frankly, I want to buy him a steak at the Golden Corral.

Oh mi god. First of all, he would absolutely refuse your offer of a meal at the Golden Corral-- I have never eaten there myself, but he loathes the place and hates the fact that his family thinks it is so great. Second he would be the first to admit he is a blue collar worker-- there is nothing wrong with that.

My use of the term "blue collar" as a qualifier for truckers was to remind people that they don't have a whole lot of money to spend on their meals. The term "truck stop" by its very definition is a place that serves cheap, fast meals. Not exactly the creme de la creme. Perhaps back before the interstates were built, truckers did learn of a few hidden gems during their cross country travels but these days I'm guessing the main information they can tell us is where to find the cleanest restrooms.

(She started it!)
Oh for fucks sake. Goofy berates us Americans for using a word in its perfectly acceptable definition and I started it by pointing out it has a standard, dictionary meaning? Grow up. What in hell did you think was going to happen that we, as a nation, would smack ourselves in the forehead and suddenly cry out "Oh gosh, we have been using that word wrong all this time! Boy are we dumb-- and Goofy is so right!"
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 8:34 AM on March 29, 2007

I may get a nice pizza, and really like the pizza... but 20 minutes later I'm no longer thinking about the pizza.

Exactly! And I think a bit of my turned-off-ness is related to a sort of value-for-money aspect. Like, why did I just pay $40 for something that just disappeared down my throat? And yes, value-for-time when it comes to cooking/washing etc. (although I'd count my laziness when it comes to doing dishes as separate from my current lack of culinary enthusiasm, I bet one of these things could change without affecting the other.)

Also, SLoG, I'd like to pre-emptively apologize for my name-calling above, it was unwarranted; I do realize that your demographic generalizations have weight to them.
posted by Firas at 8:42 AM on March 29, 2007

(I always have bad timing like that.)

Also, I think you're taking Goofy's riffing too much to heart. Relax!
posted by Firas at 8:44 AM on March 29, 2007

I'm actually always amazed by people who don't think that food is a really big deal. After all it's central to human experience, expresses the huge diversity in human cultures, provides a sensual experience that unites every sense we have, and can be adapted to almost any level of involvement and artistic expression. It's a fundamental, like language.

But, ultimately, to each his or her own. Some people think spending $40 on a video game is money well spent, some think $40 million for a painting is not too much. The ephemeral nature of a good meal (only in the sense of the actual eating, memory makes meals live much longer) is no universal argument against spending time and money on it, it's only a personal argument, and as such, not particularly persuasive, especially considering all of the ways that food and its preparation and consumption expand our horizons and affirm our humanity.
posted by OmieWise at 9:20 AM on March 29, 2007

OmieWise: You're right of course that food is central to the human experience, but so is breathing, and so is going to the bathroom. Both are satisfying, in their own way, but neither has been elevated to the level of food worship, which I would argue is stronger today than at any point in history (in the west, naturally), due to abundance.

Not very long ago, the vast majority of people had to expend significant effort just to have SOMETHING to eat. You were exceedingly happy the tomato harvest was strong, and you didn't worry that you didn't have fresh shade-grown Italian hand-picked basil quite so much.

And be sure to understand, I'm not condemning it. For people who like it, hey, knock yourself out. I'm just speaking from my POV. I like a nice plate of spaghetti, but for god's sake, don't spend 7 hours on the sauce. Crack open some Prego and let's spend 6.5 hours doing something fun together.

(Yes, I also understand some people consider it "fun" as well as functional. Again, just my POV, YMMV, offer invalid in New Mexico, batteries not included, side effects include dizziness, spotting, or increased risk of suicide, doll does not actually talk or dance, some accessories shown optional, screen image simulated.)
posted by Ynoxas at 12:01 PM on March 29, 2007

I like a nice plate of spaghetti, but for god's sake, don't spend 7 hours on the sauce. Crack open some Prego

I'm entirely sure that Prego and "a nice plate of spaghetti" have nothing to do with each other.
posted by rxrfrx at 12:28 PM on March 29, 2007

You're right of course that food is central to the human
experience, but so is breathing, and so is going to the bathroom.

Well, sure, and I think people should also spend time doing the things they love. But breathing and shitting don't really comprise culture and art the way food does. You're comparing eating with shitting, which is, I understand, the way you see it, but if you want to understand why people spend so long at it, you should compare it with some form of the plastic arts.

As an aside, I think your historical argument is weak. Of course the material aspects of life now shape what people do now, but the process of cooking meals which exceed physical needs is thousands of years old. And it's precisely the variability in food availability which makes food preparation so indicative of cultural proclivities. It's also that same variability which has shaped a lot of the rituals around food. (Hell, even our word for payment for a job done "salary" encompasses the way in which eating is crucially about exceeding physical requirements. My point is that your point about history is 180 degrees from correct: it's the long history of food, and the
human pursuit of good tastes, which makes it so interesting now. Or so it seems to me.
posted by OmieWise at 3:23 PM on March 29, 2007

And even though grouse's reference to roast meat resolves the lingering doubts in my mind about the phrase 'served with a joint', I actually think the entrée discussion would be more appealing if the participants smoked a little more weed. Hey, why don't you all sit down to a cutlet, scalloped oysters, and the like? (You know, food in large quantities?) You can finish arguing over the rightness or wrongness of arbitrary signifiers later ...

And for the record, a good dish does linger in my sensory memory and subtly but detectably enrich my life long after my bowel transit time has elapsed. That said, I have other things to do in my life, too, and sometimes it drives me crazy that I have to stop every few hours and stuff more bulky fuel into my tiny tank. There's a place for both perspectives.
posted by eritain at 2:42 AM on March 30, 2007

OmieWise: Let's not get crazy... I'm not directly comparing eating with shitting... I'm just pointing out that breathing is every bit as important as eating, but for some reason it has not been elevated to the point of high culture, as you point out.

If someone were spending several hours a day trying to insure their air was properly nuanced and layered, with multiple subtle sensations and delicate characteristics, you'd think they were off their rocker.

And your comment about historic food is only correct if you consider the top 0.1% of people. Historically, vast hordes of people were desperate for anything to eat, much less gourmet meals.

What I'm trying to point out is that the extreme treatment given food in the west is somewhat recent, historically speaking. As recently as the 1800's, many people in America were still subsistence farmers.

Even as recently as 100 years ago, people in the US were just being introduced to what bananas are, something today we hardly consider to be exotic or difficult to obtain. In fact, I argue that bananas should in fact be free. I think their value has dropped below what it is worth to meter out the cost. $0.39 for a POUND of bananas? Take what you want.

The foods prepared today by middle-class families would rival great banquets put on by the wealthy in bygone eras.

That's all I'm trying to say.

rxrfrx: See, attitudes like that are exactly why people who aren't ruled by what goes in their gullet get aggravated. Prego would have seemed masterful to most people 75 years ago, and even today, would be a delight of previous unknown joy to a giant slice of the world's population.

For people who WANT to spend all day on a dish, again, that is your business, do what you want. But, understand that food fetishism in America in the last 10 years or so has approached the level of a cult. You have people buying Mediterranean sea salt for $27 because it's "better".

But again, I stress, your mileage may vary, and I'm only speaking for myself. I'm not trying to push my viewpoint on anyone. I like to ride motorcycles, an activity many people think is absurd and frivolous, and I admit a motorcycle would pay for a lot of shakers of sea salt.
posted by Ynoxas at 7:53 AM on March 30, 2007

I don't know. At the end of the day, you decide what you're going to take seriously and what you're not. I take theatre, music, and literature very seriously. Food, not so much. And I don't know shit about visual art.

I've met very accomplished artists who think that Billy Collins is the greatest living poet. Or musicians whose favorite movie is Armageddon. So I'm pretty easy on myself for not knowing the difference between a $9 bottle of wine and a $200 bottle.

The same defenses of food as an artform could be given for an higher appreciation of any artform. Everything has been around for thousands of years.

What really blows my mind is the idea some people have that you can "ruin" your favorite food by eating better food. i.e., Once you order falafel in Williamsburg, you'll never be able to have it at home again. That's crazy talk, as far as I'm concerned. I know I'm ordering cheap, mediocre food. That doesn't make it inedible.
posted by roll truck roll at 9:00 AM on March 30, 2007

OmieWise: Oh, sure. I'm all for a culture of discrimination around things, as long as it doesn't entirely devolve into abstruse ivory-tower intellectualism or reflexive hipper-than-thou judgementalism. Such ecosystems always have enough intelligent people around who're only too happy to stick a pin into solipsistic bubbles, so neither is much of a concern.

For example, I'm all for obsessive wine criticism, but am deeply skeptical of oenophiles who don't subscribe ultimately to the "well, in the end you should drink what you like because enjoyment is what's important" point of view.

You seem to have grabbed the wrong end of the stick in terms of what I'm saying ("universal argument"), I'm not against foodie culture—I think it's great and I'm into niche enthusiasm and subject-level geekery.

Quite the opposite: I'm just wondering whether my inability to automatically deal with food in that matter is a sort of aesthetic deficiency; so it's more of an insecure ponderance than a slamming of anything.

Then again, I don't obsess much about paintings and don't really think of that as a problem, just a lack of inclination, so I guess it's ok.

rxrfrx: see, it's exactly this cloying elitism that gets my goat (and what I referred to as reflexive judgementalism.) It's especially sinister because it ties into socioeconomic issues.

American commerce and culture seem especially good at introducing people to frankly commodity items (tea, juice, bedsheets) and producing sneering fuckwitted fetishism around them.

I find it a bit weird to be making this argument because in general I don't identify myself as anti-intellectual (like I said, I'm all for refinement, judgement and associated criticism) but I do identify myself as against excessive snobbery, especially the kind with a malicious 'my tastes make me a better person than you' undertone (cf. Bourdieu's Distinction.)
posted by Firas at 9:41 AM on March 30, 2007

Please don't deride my opinion as "cloying elitism." If something tastes bad, I'm gonna say so. I don't see the need to waste time with the "in my opinion"s and "if you asked me"s.

But really, if you're going to admit that you don't deal with food in the context of "this food is better than this one, and this stuff is just bland syrup that basically constitutes a scam on the consumer" then you shouldn't criticize my judgments of this type. Clearly, I have performed the analysis necessary to make these statements, and you haven't, by your own admission.
posted by rxrfrx at 8:13 AM on March 31, 2007

Opinions, not okay. Opinions with lots of extra words in them, okay. Check.
posted by roll truck roll at 12:03 PM on March 31, 2007

I really enjoy good food, and have been blessed to have experienced it in some of the finer establishments in the world. And I value the contribution that chefs, great and small alike, make to our culture.

But as someone who has also lived in developing regions of the world, I've also gained something of a perspective on how the developed West - deep down into the middle class - has crafted a snobbisme about food in the past 10-20 years.

So I have to say I generally agree with what Ynoxas and Firas have said just above, regarding the fetishization of food. It is frankly an embarrassment of riches to see friends of mine wax rhapsodic about special Williams Sonoma this or imported that or JUST the right way to braise something else.

I mean, I do recall when Julia Child was pretty much the only one talking in these terms in the US 30 years ago. Then 20 years ago, there were perhaps 3 or 4 well-known chefs of star quality known to the average middle-class household. Now there's a whole cable network devoted to cooking and I find some of my pals talking like Cordon Bleu graduates in snobbish tones about how you will ruin, RUIN a dish if you don't do thus and so...

It's wild to see how this has taken hold in our culture. Everyone has to have their diversions, though, I guess.
posted by darkstar at 11:49 PM on April 1, 2007

I'm still not sure how this can be made out to be a binary system of Williams-Sonoma Overpriced Assholes vs. Jars of Prego. They both suck. More specifically, I'd say that good food is usually "ethnic" in the US because that is the sort of food that has soul, tradition, and context, and is likely to be made by someone who cares about these things. "Foodie" culture and FoodTV and mass-market high-fructose corn syrup-based bad condiments are equally vapid in contrast to food that is actually good and actually makes sense to family, as opposed to corporate, culture.
posted by rxrfrx at 3:40 AM on April 2, 2007

I'll drink to that.
posted by Firas at 4:29 AM on April 2, 2007

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