Life's too short to eat bad food - Me

Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic - Arthur C. Clarke

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

The Spice Shelf

Variety's the very spice of life, That gives it all its flavour. - William Cowper
Spice Rack 009

The Spice Shelf is a random selection from amongst the useless potpourri that inhabit my skull.

One of the adjustments I had to make when I first made Buffalo my home, more jarring than adjusting to the needless insertion of the article “the” before route numbers,  was comprehending that it was a far more Catholic place then any place I had lived before. This is not said in judgment, but rather as an observation of reality. News of the Church lives on the front page of the newspaper, and the Friday Fish Fry has achieved totemic proportions.

Because of this, I thought that the availability of seafood locally would be spectacular - particularly during the season of Lent. I was wrong.

CaptureWhen I was introduced to the Broadway Market it was no longer the market that many remembered (I am not sure to this day that it ever was what many remembered). The seafood at other markets has gone from bad to worse – boneless, skinless, and tasteless.

CapdtureA microcosm of this state of affairs could be found in this ad for Tops supermarkets. In a section labelled “Fresh Seafood Savings for Lent” you will find frozen cooked shrimp, frozen squid rings and scallops, smoked salmon and surimi – the infamous processed fish product. The only thing fresh in this entire section are little neck clams.

A couple of weeks later more of the same. But, this time no fresh seafood at all. A reflection of the overall situation.

This is a truly sad state of affairs.

Among my notes for future blog posts was the cryptic phrase “seven”. I had no recollection of what it meant. It was my wife who puzzled out why I had made that notation – it’s a reference to the seemingly constant appearance of the rating 7 out of 10 Plates in Andrew Galarneau’s restaurant reviews for the Buffalo News. Before I had a chance to comment on this, Andrew did so himself. I need to add nothing to that.

I would like to point out that if he is correct that his predecessor orders farewell tour has limited his choices for places to review, that result has been nothing but good for the Western New York dining public. Whether the upshot of his precursor’s plans, or the product of his own predilections, recent reviews have delved more deeply into the breadth of local offerings.

In addition to his glowing review of a local ethnic restaurant and a national chain steakhouse (which I previously discussed) recent offerings have included an old standards reborn, ethnic choices from India, my favorite pho joint and a pizzeria attached to a gas station.

That’s the way to do it.

A Newton contains fig stuff, surrounded by a "cookie". It is neither strawberry, raspberry nor blueberry. It is not whole grain. If you do change the content and the cookie, call it something else – a Kepler or a Brahe perhaps? How about a Copernicus? Anything but a Newton.

Don’t get me started on a Snickers.

I use a Garlic Press. I have for about 30 years. Deal with it.

Julia Pot
The AARP has an ad touting the fact that “Julia Child became a famous chef at age 51.” I adore Julia, but she was never a “chef”. The title of her first show “The French Chef” was chosen by the production team as easy to remember and short enough for a newspaper’s TV listing. What she thought of this title at the beginning is unclear, but later she distanced herself from its use.

I have a particular respect for titles and honorifics. There are several that I have earned that I no longer use by choice. My admission to the Bar permits me to put Esq. after my name, but I haven’t done that since I ceased practicing in 1994. I am also entitled to call myself Dr. Harris; I was hooded and presented with a doctoral degree which lies gathering dust in my garage.

The only time I make reference to my status is when it might be helpful in resolving a dispute or achieving a personal result. You can read that as when I need to shove it in somebody’s face.

Chef is an honorific that has a specific meaning, representing someone who has achieved a position of responsibility in a restaurant type kitchen. A television personality is not a chef. A graduate of culinary school is not a chef either. A person who is a very skilled cook is not a chef. I am technically entitled to call myself “chef”, but I choose not to. Not by my turn in the kitchen. Being eligible for a title is not the same as having truly earned it.

I call myself a cook, an honorable title. Certainly good enough for me. And for Julia.

I think people should taste maple syrup the way they do wine. A sip of Grade B has so many layers of flavor – spice like vanilla and nutmeg – notes of grass. You will never choose anything other than that beautiful “B”. Beyond that, the flavors vary from producer to producer, influenced by terrior and methods of production.

Unlike other some food bloggers I don’t often get offers for freebies. They tend to go to people who might couponactually write about them (and I might if it was something worth sharing). People like, well let’s call them Mr. and Mrs. X, who get Perry’s ice cream delivered to their doorstep and never think to invite other more lowly bloggers over to share in the bounty.

But, if you do send me a coupon for free something, it might help if it hasn’t expired before it arrived.

CaptdureSpeaking of Tops, they recently announced the introduction of something called “Great O” ground beef. In this product the omega-3 content of the call is enhanced by a diet including flaxseeds. This is ridiculous for so many reasons and . . .   Stop. Please, just stop.

Have you ever noticed that “blog” is an anagram of “Bolg”?

Thinking about this stuff can sure make one feel like an Orc.


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Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.
- Arthur C. Clarke

Life's too short to eat bad food -