MGZ's Profile

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Mastering the Art of Soviet Cooking

Hat's off!

Jan 25, 2015
MGZ in Food Media & News

Mastering the Art of Soviet Cooking

I had forgotten about that book. Thanks for reminding me. I think there was an NPR segment about it, but I'm not in a position to find the link now.

Jan 25, 2015
MGZ in Food Media & News

How do you like your tacos...crunchy or soft?

Upon reflection, I've decided it should definitely be "post-foodie".

Jan 24, 2015
MGZ in General Topics

What do you serve for drinks at dinner parties?

The Algonquin Round Table wouldn't've been sufficiently interesting.

I once endured a cousin's "Sober Wedding." The takeaway, (in addition to a meth-like coffee buzz) was learning I need not fear God, for even the eternal fires of Hell could not match such torture.

Fun aside, maybe you're correct. The problem is mine. The essentialness of intoxicants to turn a gathering from a meeting into a party may be limited to my own definition and experiences.

The thing is, I was diagnosed with an abnormally low boredom threshold when I was a child. Decades of therapy have helped some, as has a rigorous regime of reading, television, and institutional learning. But, sadly, there is no known cure and research monies have pretty much dried up since the NIH cuts in 2011. But, don't feel sad for me, I've discover an important, empirical truth: Just like food, other people talking about their kids is easier to digest with a glass of wine within reach.

I miss old school Chinese restaurants.

Staff only meals.

Seriously, however, one could make a very solid argument for the importance of those places in the evolution of the American culinary landscape and developing palate. Gateway restaurants, if you will.

Jan 23, 2015
MGZ in General Topics
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I miss old school Chinese restaurants.

Some things, I'm afraid, are just born of a time. In this case, a time when flagrant racism was so deeply woven into the fabric of society that everybody just played along and there was enough American steel between you, trees, and the other cars that the consumption of copious quantities of alcohol presented no contemplated threat to the suburban drive home.

Edit: That being said, the time might be right for a retro-approach to a truly throwback place. I'd go. The restaurant we were at last night has been there for decades, but it's a bit toned down from the stylized version in my mind's eye. http://littleszech.com/

Jan 23, 2015
MGZ in General Topics

I miss old school Chinese restaurants.

Color me disappointed. I thought we'd get a chance to wax romantically about bucket sized glasses of rum and fruit juices garnished with paper umbrellas and straws; garishly cliched and stereotyped wall decorations in dimly lit rooms; menus with Columns A and B; and pu pu platers on lay-z-susans with burning Sterno grills in the center.

We still got the kinda places you're looking for in Jersey. Just had dinner at one last night, as luck might have it. Text me if you guys get back to waitresses in red silk, cherry blossom dresses and chopsticks in their hair, ok?

Jan 23, 2015
MGZ in General Topics
1

How do you like your tacos...crunchy or soft?

You can trust me. I learned Spanish in a Brazilian rehab.

Jan 23, 2015
MGZ in General Topics
1

How do you like your tacos...crunchy or soft?

Bang. You got all of that one. Just take the trot and let the kayakers in McCovey Cove fight over the souvenir.

That's exactly the kind of thinking we need moving into the post-foodie world.* The Age of Knowledge is over. We all know everything all the time now, the next step is understanding. The future is for those who can comprehend, imagine, analyze, and, most importantly, get to synthesis. Knowing a recipe is irrelevant. Understanding its essence, deriving the underlying formula, are not.

Anyone who's ever lived off-campus in college could tell you that a "sandwich" is two or more edible things, one of which can be used to contain the other(s) in such a way as to permit consumption without having to first wash one of the dirty dishes in the sink.

"Dude, we got any thing to eat?"

"Umm, I don't know. I didn't finish the Lo Mein?"

"Jesus, this kitchen stinks. Hey! We still have the cabbage Krystal stole from the Farmer's Market at Halloween in here. Man,** how wasted was she?"

A sandwich is born. Microwaving optional.

But, this all really gets up to the more difficult question. If a sandwich is a sandwich, and, a Manwich is a meal, how come a taco just makes me hungry?

* Should that be "neo-foodie"?

** Forgive me if the dialogue is a bit dated. I am from the pre-"Bro" generation.

Jan 23, 2015
MGZ in General Topics

How do you like your tacos...crunchy or soft?

Eh, they all fit in the family of sandwichus mexicanii to me.

Jan 22, 2015
MGZ in General Topics
1

How do you like your tacos...crunchy or soft?

You're venturing dangerously close to "pick your favorite child" territory.

I don't wanna live in a world without both kinds of tacos - sometimes, even in the same meal.

Signs that someone is a GOOD cook

If it's any consolation, I didn't go with Lincoln Savings and Loan.

Jan 22, 2015
MGZ in General Topics

increase in sticklers on the Home Cooking Board?

Let he who's never been a bit of a bitch cast the first scone, you know?

Jan 22, 2015
MGZ in Site Talk
2

increase in sticklers on the Home Cooking Board?

Well, if the irony don't getcha the hypocrisy will . . . .

* * *

After reading over a hundred comments, there's not much more to say* than, "Say what you want, just be aware of how you're saying it." After all, when asked "How much do you want?" "None" is an appropriate answer. "Stick it up your ass, you stupid bastard" is not.

* Don't worry, I'll say more.

Jan 22, 2015
MGZ in Site Talk
2

Signs that someone is a GOOD cook

The guys at Enron* were pretty confident they'd reconciled their books too.

Kidding aside. We're all human. We all need to fudge our narratives a bit so as to sleep at night. I get it.

But, reconciling faith and reason, that's the big daddy of 'em all. Some real, "making kulebyaka for the Czar" kinda undertaking. Certainly tops the list of Sisyphusian syncretizing endeavors.

Me? I've never even tried to get past the Herculean harmonizing level: Milk and liquor; Taylor Swift and hope for the future of music; this subthread and the OP. Needless to say, I'm not doin' too good.

*Wow, an Enron reference. How damn old am I?

Jan 22, 2015
MGZ in General Topics
1

Would you shop at Walmart Neighborhood Market?

Sure. But, since the Godwin card's beggin' to be played, I'm gonna simply note that it was Hitler who personified the Nazi enemy, you know? It's not really a fashion thing, it's just that you gotta aim for the Bin Ladens in the world to motivate people.

Jan 21, 2015
MGZ in Chains

Would you shop at Walmart Neighborhood Market?

I once made a few bucks from a local restaurant owner by standing in a freezer, cutting the rotten parts off a roomful of potatoes. Nasty, stinky work. Thing about it was, when it was over, it was the potato that had the most maggots crawling on it that I talked about most.

Jan 21, 2015
MGZ in Chains

Intriguing supermarket typos

Last summer, my local Acme had Martin's Pot Rolls on sale. I was pretty tempted, but the bag I had at home was big enough to get us through the Holiday weekend.

Signs that someone is a GOOD cook

I looked up "fundamentalist scientist." All I found was a bunch of "See also" links to unicorns, tooth fairies, some guy named Sasquatch, and the Easter Bunny. Weird, huh?

What do you serve for drinks at dinner parties?

Interesting discussion. But, it makes me wonder. Can you fairly call something a "party" if there's no booze? I mean, let's face it, at that point, it's just a bunch of people sitting around having a bite while trying to figure out where to stop for a drink on the way home.

Anyway . . . .

Start with beer, wine, and seltzer. Add a couple four packs of good sodas, like Boylans or something. Maybe one root beer and one black cherry, depending upon the food served. Likewise, a bottle or two of 80 proof or higher stuff should be procured. As with the sodas, the flavors should be in line with the fare - tequila with tacos, bourbon with barbecue, that sorta thing.

Jan 20, 2015
MGZ in Not About Food
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What exactly do the spices cardamom and coriander taste like?

As I was saying four years ago, we've basically got universal agreement that tasting something is better than having it described. Hearing a song, viewing a painting, short of maybe smelling a fart, first person experience of sensory stimuli is superior to even the most detailed and accurate second person account. But, does that mean we shouldn't try to provide accounts for those who inquire? That we cannot provide some useful information to others through explanation?

Take the co-worker in your tale. While she may perhaps be limited in other taste experiences for comparisons or in basic vocabulary skills, her description is not without utility. There is a mild astringency to the taste of cardamom, so the notion that she may have equated that quality with certain mediciney mouthwashes is not too outlandish. For another co-worker, say, one who was out the day you brought in the cake or has celiac, the description provides some enlightenment. At a minimum, it conveys things like: the cake was not appreciated by everyone, it wasn't cloyingly sweet, it wasn't chocolate, etc. (And, for a blind co-worker, it's a hell of a lot more useful than the description I used to illustrate my hypothetical above.)

Jan 20, 2015
MGZ in General Topics

Am I the only one who doesn't brunch?

Oh, there's no law, but there has been a significant growth in the number of brunches that are AYCD or include one or two spirit laden quaffs. Such meals are priced accordingly, so not drinking there is kind of a waste of money. Nevertheless, should you ever find yourself at such a gathering, you're more than welcome to send your "freebies" to my table. I love my fellow 'hounds way too much to see them throwaway their hard-earned cash.

Jan 18, 2015
MGZ in General Topics

Salty Cuisines: Your thought?

I've been looking into Kazakh cuisine. It seems they do lots of great things with old horses. I'm game to explore it though. Apparently, to paraphrase the old joke, the food's not great, but at least it's really salty.

Jan 17, 2015
MGZ in General Topics

Have you ever reinvented the wheel?

Given that there's basically no such thing as a new "recipe" (there's a reason, after all, that they are not afforded copyright protection), all the wheels have pretty much been invented. Most things we're going to think are pretty unique are existing reinventions, but, like a kid just discovering "Seinfeld" in reruns, "it's new to me," after all. I was pretty damned psyched about my beer float experiments, only to be told about bars that were offering similar treats (but, I'm pretty sure those bastards regularly read my Chowhound posts).

The quest to be first to try something is still fun, in and of itself - though it may lead to weird combinations. I've never heard of anybody else making deep-fried liverwurst nuggets, but they weren't as tasty as I would've hoped, so maybe those who went before me simply kept the memory to themselves. Likewise, anybody who has experimented with super hot sauces in a martini might decide not to brag - lest they begin to lose friends.

There's lots of combinations of ingredients and techniques out there that I've neither heard of nor tried. And, damned if I don't still want to try 'em all. As with sex, I part ways with Captain Kirk on this, I don't see any reason to only "go where no man has gone before," so long as I get my turn to go.

Jan 17, 2015
MGZ in General Topics

Salty Cuisines: Your thought?

I'll agree that the sine qua non of barbecue is the slow cook with smoke (although there are direct heat exceptions in Texas). That's part of the reason why you would've been hard pressed to find it in NY or SF two decades ago. The magic of maintaining and modulating the fuel has been minimized today with the advent of electric and gas smokers. Hence, you can get barbecue in Brooklyn that's just as good as Bryant's.

But then the question is, is barbecue really that unique compared to, say, Montreal or pastrami? If the answer to that is to be found in the rub, we're really looking at a very minor deviation. Some great barbecue places only use salt & pepper. Sugar seems to be the most common addition. In the end, however, isn't it really like trying to say a hot dog's not a sausage?

Edit: sorry I'm posting from a phone. Waiting for a train to The City - tickets to Matisse. Your pho example is in line with where I was going. When do small changes add up to something "new"? Maybe we should start a new thread.

Salty Cuisines: Your thought?

This is going rather astray from the related subtopic of we were discussing - the US's primary contributions to world cuisine. Nevertheless, so as to minimize any misunderstandings of my posts, I'll simply note that after 20 years of making mountains of my own barbecue and traveling across much of the Country to explore the food, I'm not challenging any of its myths from a point of ignorance.

Jan 16, 2015
MGZ in General Topics

Salty Cuisines: Your thought?

It's a prehistoric practice. In tens of thousands of years, do you really think nobody got an internal temp of 190? Did adding paprika and sugar really change it that much. Beyond all that, even what we think of as barbecue originated in the Carribean.

Jan 15, 2015
MGZ in General Topics

Salty Cuisines: Your thought?

This all kinda begs the question, is there really anything distinctly "American" about barbecue (besides the sauces)? I mean, slow roasting meat with wood as the fuel is pretty ancient and universal, no? Does it really matter that pig became the animal of choice instead of goat or sheep?

Edit - By the way, the Borat Anthem thing was brilliant.

Jan 15, 2015
MGZ in General Topics

Salty Cuisines: Your thought?

Easy, Tiger. It seems you're reading words I ain't wrote. I like what I've referred to as American food. That being said, if you wanna list a few post-Colonial foods from the South that have been as relevant as those I listed, please do. I can't think of any, but maybe I'm missing something?

Jan 15, 2015
MGZ in General Topics

First time posters

Now you know where they got the money to pay for it.

Jan 15, 2015
MGZ in Site Talk
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