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When do you correct incorrect pronunciation?

I would correct someone whom I know closely - for his/her benefit - but wouldn't otherwise bother; it is hard to do so without appearing to be a pedant or, worse, someone who thinks that knowing a token word or two is a mark of distinction and sophistication (e.g. the absurdity of pronouncing and mispronouncing Moet)

May 07, 2013
mugen in Not About Food

Are Bananas As Bad For You As Cookies?

Formula for generating traffic: subject that will appeal to dieters whose strategy essentially consists of 'find magic bullet; do not adjust eating; do not exercise'; analysis that is misleading or stupid, because it was calculated to produce an apparently paradoxical headline, and so induce readers to click on the article; and cute infographic to package the misinformation, because, hell, we all know that dieters of that kind really do struggle with whole words.

Apr 16, 2013
mugen in Food Media & News

How can people not recognize badly corked wine?

The sorts of descriptions that are typically used for TCA are wet cardboard or wool, mould or must.

I've only smelled one bottle that was certainly tainted with Brett, and it smelled exactly like Band-aids to me (it was amusing at the time, and a quick Google confirms that 4-ethylphenol was the culprit; confirmation that I'm not mad makes it doubly awesome).

Faults are never ideal, but I wouldn't be overly concerned by them. For one, the incidence should be markedly lower than it once was (better hygiene, transport and storage, Stelvin closures, etc). More importantly, why not allow intuitive taste and smell be the ultimate arbiters in all cases, whether the wine is faulty or not? If you like it, it doesn't matter that it might be faulty. If you don't like it, being able to recognize a fault might assist in deciding whether to try other wines from that winemaker, but it doesn't seem crucial to an average drinker's enjoyment of wine - I have the impression that many of those who have actively trained themselves to recognize faults have done so more to demonstrate their erudition and palate than to enhance their enjoyment of wine.

Apr 16, 2013
mugen in Wine

Anthony Bourdain - Parts Unknown Premiere (Myanmar)

Is it the same Anthony Bourdain formula of "visit developing world; glibly make some platitudinous observations; end with trite Anthony Bourdain phrase like 'we did good' (pull the string: he has another 9!); roll credits"?

Apr 15, 2013
mugen in Food Media & News

French Fries, Serious Discussion

Lists of ingredients like that are often an inevitable prerequisite to producing consistent products on an industrial scale. The essential question is, 'should you be concerned?'.

You should be concerned about the potential, as lists of ingredients expand, for some of those ingredients to have adverse effects on health. That is not a new thing, though: numerous natural foods have that potential: almonds, cherries, rhubarb, and various root vegetables come to mind. We scarcely even consider those, because the methods of preparation are so well-established or the food so common that there is either no real risk or the risk is practically ignored.

If there are novel ingredients in an industrial product, the fact that a chemical does not have a common name has absolutely no bearing on its effects on human physiology. All that it does denote is that the chemical isn't sufficiently widely used by domestic cooks for it to have been given a simpler name, as in the (facile) example of sodium bicarbonate, which amicably introduces itself as 'baking soda'.

Almost everything that we do to prepare food involves some kind of complex chemical or thermal manipulation; when we mix flour, water and salt, we are manipulating proteins into a gluten gel to hold gelatinized starches, but it is no less an exercise in chemistry because we have felt our way to it over the course of thousands of years and now simply call it 'making bread dough'.

The irony is that the additives that are feared are subjected to greater, more methodical scrutiny than natural foods, some of which might fail to be accepted (as the primal food morons like to suggest, sugar - with its proclivity to satanic rituals and eating new-born infants - might be considered a toxin if assessed as a novel ingredient).

I don't think, then, that the additives per se represent the greatest concern. The greater concern for me is why they have been used in the first place: was it really necessary to produce a cut sandwich that could survive for 14 days in an airport fridge and nuclear winter; was it really necessary that every crisp should have identical sizes, colors, distributions of flavoring, and resistance to the tooth?

Additives go more to the disfunctional (or, perhaps, ultra-functional) state of eating in the West than they do risks to our collective health.

Apr 13, 2013
mugen in General Topics
2

Last Meal in Paris before heading to the Airport?

It's the age of irony; why don't you join in: McDonalds.

Apr 13, 2013
mugen in France

I'm bored of my roast chicken.

There is only so much that can be done with intensively/industrially-raised chicken. Divert your efforts away from the method of preparation to the ingredient itself: try and find the local equivalent of Bresse chicken. It might rock your world.

Apr 13, 2013
mugen in Home Cooking

Cute Speak?

Prescription of language is a hard thing to propound: it necessarily has to be prescription of the language at some point in time, which arbitrarily concedes all of the development of the language prior to that point and refuses all development after it; where the more recent of the changes prior to the arbitrary point represent permissible departures from earlier rules, though departures from earlier rules are abhorred after the arbitrary point.

Even 'Proper', 'Oxford' or 'Queen's' English is still a horrible (for the poor student) confusion of Germanic, Norman and Norse languages; no doubt many of the words and much of the grammar in proper modern English were considered radical or vulgar when they emerged.

That said, I can't help feeling that the language has not advanced much since standardisation began, in two respects that would be fundamental if I were trying to design a language: its regularity and its capacity to express and communicate complex information. Much of the development seems to be not structural development of the language, but merely new nouns/verbs to describe new things/concepts (nonce words); or simply irregularities (for novelty or from ignorance) that don't actually improve the precision or communicative power of the language.

It would be interesting to study the rate of change in the language, as used for serious, expressive writing; against the rate of change in it, as used in colloquy. My hunch is that the language has been relatively stagnant since standardisation at the high end, while speech has progressed a great deal, but as a kind of transient noise that doesn't really measurably increase the power of the language - full of sound and fury, but signifying nothing, so to speak.

tl;dr ignorant, speculative ramblings.

Apr 10, 2013
mugen in Not About Food
1

Cute Speak?

fyi, malapropism is (from memory - i feel as though i'd be cheating to refer to a dictionary - so excuse any minor errors) some sort of absurd victorian invention that was created from the name of a character of a play/book (the name is ultimately referable to latin) and the addition of the -ism suffix. i say this only because it's about the worst possible choice of word to use to correct solecisms.

Apr 09, 2013
mugen in Not About Food

Does anyone put salt in their coffee to cut bitterness?

Not common in the West, but Asian cultures (e.g. India) may salt tea and coffee. It does act in that way (though ideally the coffee should have been better prepared in the first place) - add it like sugar, and add to taste.

Incidentally, let me tell you about the time that I was in Kashmir and some crazy old muslim guy took me around the old town all day; introduced me to all of his friends; took me to the mosque so that I could stand in defence of the West in fleeting arguments as we moved from group to group; invited me back to his home, where his bizarrely enthusiastic (in the Indian hand-holding, innocently bro-love sense that is slightly awkward in the West) son showed me his watercolor paintings and argued metaphysics and global politics; (all this, he hinted lated in the night, because it was ramadan and he was discharging an islamic duty to infidels, and that he loathed me as being such ...); and then finally served heavily salted tea ... well salted tea was just too much, and I bailed the fuck out the next morning.

Apr 07, 2013
mugen in General Topics

US meat industry renames cuts

The revised nomenclature emerged after two years of consumer research, which found that the labels on packages of fresh cuts of pork and beef are confusing to shoppers ...

If it does, the lowly "pork chop" will be gone. Instead, grocery retailers could be stocking stacks of "porterhouse chops," "ribeye chops" and "New York chops." The pork butt - which actually comes from shoulder meat - will be called a Boston roast.

Haha oh wow. I'm sure that shoppers will be far less confused when even the small degree of knowledge of cuts that they had managed to acquire becomes redundant, through the replacement of 350 names with ones that are even more inscrutable in helpfully indicating geographical locations and methods of cooking rather than the part of the animal from which they come.

Apr 05, 2013
mugen in Food Media & News
1

Spending too much on groceries? ..and how to embrace the frugal lifestyle

$25 per week sounds a little austere.

There can be merit in frugality; equally it can be merely meanly parsimonious or ascetic - Dante placed the misers with the profligate in hell.

Ultimately, it's a personal choice, and I wouldn't disturb you in the life that you've chosen. For me, though, and in recognition of that we only have one life to live, the choice to live a life more expansive than subsisting on discarded food in rented vans is not one that I can criticise.

Apr 05, 2013
mugen in General Topics
1

Can I make this cake without sour cream?

A few thoughts on low-fat yoghurt:

- It will have a much higher moisture content than sour cream. As the only real source of liquid other than eggs, perhaps you'll need to reduce the quantity, so that the batter doesn't become too wet, or cook the cake for longer
- It won't produce the same texture. Without the fat, the crumb will probably be lighter and certainly less moist
- The pH of the mixture will need to be adjusted, because the yoghurt will almost certainly be less acidic than the sour cream. Perhaps omit the additional baking soda, which is presumably there to counter-act the acidity of the sour cream.

That said, I'm not a baker, it is a bit speculative, and I'm sure it'll be tasty no matter you use.

Apr 05, 2013
mugen in Home Cooking

Is confit unhealthy?

The bastards: not only do they understand fat, but they have learned restraint. Definitely something that my little mind can't comprehend. It experiences something tasty and screams PUT MORE IN FACE NOW.

Apr 05, 2013
mugen in General Topics

Is confit unhealthy?

I think that we'd have to have a substantial component of French genetic material to ever really understand the appeal, glory and nuances of fat. I like some fat, but not in the amounts that the French classically use; to me, it's excessive, cloying, and coats the palate. I don't think that I'll ever really understand what it is that is meant to be so sublime in pata negra (when served in the style that has only the tiniest sliver of meat), pork belly, etc.

Apr 05, 2013
mugen in General Topics

Is confit unhealthy?

Not least because anachronym isn't a word.

It is redundant as a means of preservation, but it still has some use: when the cook actually intends to infuse food with the flavour of a fat.

Apr 05, 2013
mugen in General Topics

Is confit unhealthy?

It's hard to think of how something that is immersed in fat could end up having less fat than something that is only coated and then roasted - it works in the case of frying, because the pressure of the evaporating moisture prevents the oil from penetrating the interior of the food, but confits are typically made at lower temperatures.

Imparting the flavour of the fat is actually the primary reason to make a confit, given that it's no longer necessary as a means of preserving foods. If you're trying to avoid absorbing or tasting the fat, then another low-temperature method (ghetto waterbath) or twice-baked/sauteed (though the essence is often said to be in the duck fat) would be better.

Apr 05, 2013
mugen in General Topics

Matcha Green Tea Powder---what brand? where to buy? what to do with it?

Have you considered grinding it yourself? I'm not sure about the practicalities (i.e. achieving a sufficiently fine grind, buying the correct type of gyokuro, etc), but that would be my first thought if looking for optimal quality: it would allow you to ensure that the source tea is of high quality and to have matcha that is as fresh as possible (grinding, when it increases the surface area that is exposed to oxygen, presumably increases the rate of oxidisation by hundreds or thousands of times).

Apr 03, 2013
mugen in General Topics
1

What do you eat when you are angry?

Angry-exercise, then weed, then comfort food, then comedy shows. The angry-exercise is essential to vent some of the rage, and to obviate the risk of over-eating, which would only compound the rage.

Apr 03, 2013
mugen in General Topics

What cookbooks have you bought recently, or are you lusting after? March 2013 edition! [old]

Modernist Cuisine, to slowly peruse.

Mar 27, 2013
mugen in Home Cooking

Does Seattle have it's own cool coffee place like Intelligensia or Blue Bottle?

Industrial chic, converted warehouses, beards and flannelette shirts aren't as cool when you notice that every coffee house is doing it, with minor variations on the theme - the hipster uniform has too many forms of conscious and inadvertent irony to dissect - still, they're earnest, charming and turn out good coffee, and that's the most important thing.

Feb 01, 2013
mugen in Greater Seattle

Pho 2000 in San Francisco: Breakfast of Champions

Condiments at the side? Everywhere I saw locals in Vietnam (at local joints across the south), everyone dumped herbs, chilli, lime, soy and fish sauce straight into the broth. Much less than I did, but all the same ... Am I missing some rule of etiquette?

Jan 31, 2013
mugen in San Francisco Bay Area

Chinese Cuisine Gets Its Closeup With Documentary ‘A Bite of China’

The point is that I had expected the shows to dispel that view of Chinese cooking, and in fact they served only to confirm it - with the exception of the food from Xinjiang.

Jan 30, 2013
mugen in Food Media & News

How about retailers (restaurants, stores etc.) being allowed to charge cc users the cc fee's

I think that the problem is more that the issuers are taking a relatively large proportion of the value of transactions, and the ultimate bearers of that impost are consumers, as the cost is passed through by merchants in the form of higher prices.

It is especially bad for consumers who elect to use debit cards or cash, because they're effectively forced to subsidise those who use credit cards.

Given that the merchant fee is incorporated into prices but the overwhelming majority of merchants, the rational strategy is not to pay with cash; it is to pay using credit card - because you'll be paying for it anyway - and to take advantage of the interest-free period and rewards programmes, to off-set the cost.

Even then, it will only be a partial off-set: the value of the interest-free period is (average balance outstanding)*(cost of funding)*(average days interest-free)/365. Throwing some basic numbers into it (e.g. cash rate of 1 or 2% and average days of 27, or half of a 55-day interest free period), the value of the interest free period is probably something like 0.15%, whereas merchants are probably incorporating something like 1-2% into prices to recover the merchant fees.

It's actually a brilliant business - taking a clip of innumerable billions of dollars of transactions, without the consumer noticing or with the consumer actually thinking that he's gained something (e.g. interest-free periods) - and it's only likely to become more pervasive.

Cash is only sensible if merchants use this as the prompt to actually reduce all prices (by excluding fees), then only charge the surcharge to those who use cards. That's not likely to happen, so might as well give in and take out a low-fee platinum card, to at least recover as much of the cost as you can.

Jan 29, 2013
mugen in Not About Food

How about retailers (restaurants, stores etc.) being allowed to charge cc users the cc fee's

Square's trying to enter the market; I would expect it to be relatively cheap. Very roughly, I think Amex charges 3-5% and Visa 0.5-2.0%.

Jan 29, 2013
mugen in Not About Food

Chinese Cuisine Gets Its Closeup With Documentary ‘A Bite of China’

I flicked through it and have also recently watched 4 episodes of 'Exploring China: A Culinary Adventure', in which Ken Hom and Ching-He Huang toured China to demonstrate the basics of each of the regional cuisines.

Can't say that either have changed my impression that Chinese cuisine consists of producing a few variants of stodge (slimy, encased in steamed dough, overcooked, drowned in oil, drowned in sauce, gelatinous, and fermented are a few that come to mind) using all of about 5 cooking techniques - with a bit of cruelty to animals, ecologically-destructive practices, and ridiculous superstitions to season it.

No troll, and I'm willing, by way of demonstration, to put together screenshots of all the food from any episode of the documentary to prove my point. I've attached a preview, because this is the revolting boiling cauldron of beef and lamp (?) livers that happened to be visible when I closed the Youtube tab.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=...

Jan 29, 2013
mugen in Food Media & News

How important are pretty labels?

To me, the first label is distinctive and suggests a small, artisanal vineyard - though, in strictness, labelling by hand implies only that only a small number of bottles were produced, and that has no necessary bearing on quality. The second would be inconspicuous on a shelf lined with other bottles.

It is generally accepted that labels and price affect perceived quality. When I buy, I either know in advance the bottle that I want, or I have something in mind for variety/region/price and then guess between the bottles based on whatever other information is available (alcohol content, technical information, stylistic description, etc). I don't think that labelling would often affect the decision as to which bottle I buy - because I'm conscious that it's irrelevant - but a good label probably goes some way towards improving my expectations before I've opened it.

Jan 28, 2013
mugen in Wine

Photo Etiquette

if the locals aren't, then just chill and enjoy the food, rather than worrying about whether you've perfectly memorialised it with photos of it.

Jan 28, 2013
mugen in Japan

Photo Etiquette

I think that it's fair to summarise the food photography threads as that it's controversial in the States. In Japan, I'd expect a greater sense of etiquette to prevail, but the best guide is what the locals are doing. If they're not taking photographs, then you shouldn't either.

Or do - because remember: you're the most important person there (couldn't resist ...)

Jan 28, 2013
mugen in Japan

Tim Tams and other Australian foods in NY?

I can post you some ... for a price ...

Jan 28, 2013
mugen in Manhattan