Recent Comments

Re: “At the Art Institute's new exhibit "Art and Appetite," you are what you paint yourself eating

It was intriguing to me that the Lilly Martin Spencer painting you mention may actually have featured the artist as the only model -- and only person -- in the picture. Traditionally, and aside from announced self-portraits, the artist is off to the side, part of a group, almost unrecognizable. As (if memory serves) the only female artist in this exhibit, and certainly one of the very few female artists in the history of world art, Spenser was being seductively aggressive by placing herself in the foreground.

I plan to go back to this show; it was good on a lot of levels. In addition to the "art as attitude" dimension, it was also fascinating as a chronicle of evolving food technology. The "logo" pic from the exhibition shows oranges wrapped in paper, reflecting a technology that made it possible to transport fresh oranges to Chicago (and elsewhere) from warmer climates without bruising.

4 likes, 0 dislikes
Posted by David Hammond on 11/11/2013 at 1:06 PM

Re: “Wasabi wastes a veteran's skills

Torotorotoro!, as I mentioned, I’m friends with Rob, and he and I have discussed this. I looked over his Wasabi receipts and found that he’d been to your place on three occasions. On one receipt, the item in question is indicated to be “Waygu aburi,” but Rob reported that the menu board listed this item as “Kobe aburi.” The distinction on the receipt seems to indicate some recognition that there is a difference, and indeed there is. There’s an easy fix for this if a restaurant wants to avoid any appearance of impropriety: instead of putting the word “Kobe” on the menu, put “Waygu”…a fine meat, though unfortunately not so fine as Kobe. In an upcoming Sun-Times Food Detective column, I will be addressing problematic food words like “Kobe.”

2 likes, 4 dislikes
Posted by David Hammond on 03/11/2011 at 2:11 PM

Re: “Wasabi wastes a veteran's skills

This is a very emotional discussion, so I enter it with hesitation, but I am interested in one of Lopata’s points: “A special listed as Kobe aburi (glazed, lightly seared beef nigiri) was an annoying example of socially acceptable fraud. (In April 2010, it became illegal to import true Kobe beef from Japan.)”

Torotorotoro! – whose pride in Wasabi is apparent in her response (would that all servers could be so passionate about their restaurants) – says “It is real Wagyu, and it does not matter where the cow was born, it's still the same cow treated to the same standards.”

As I’m sure the food enthusiasts in this thread are well aware, names of some foods (Champagne, Stilton, Columbian coffee, etc.) are protected. To be called “Kobe,” a piece of beef has to conform to very strictly defined standards, and it’s difficult to support the position that it doesn’t matter where the beef comes from. Such terminological looseness enables places with less integrity to use surimi as the main ingredient in “crab” rolls and domesticated mushrooms in dishes that are listed on the menu as being made of “wild mushrooms.” As consumers and people who enjoy good food, I think we have a right to call bullshit when products are mislabeled or words knowingly misapplied.

I’ve never been to Wasabi, so I am not in any way being critical of their food but simply of the widespread practice of labeling a food product something it is not.

Full disclosure: I’m a friend of Pigmon’s and a moderator at LTHForum.com, which is, undeniably and much like Pigmon, a source for some of the most critical and insightful thinking about food in Chicago.

1 like, 5 dislikes
Posted by David Hammond on 03/05/2011 at 3:15 AM

Re: “Wasabi wastes a veteran's skills

This is a very emotional thread, so I enter it with hesitation, but I am interested in one of Lopata’s points: “A special listed as Kobe aburi (glazed, lightly seared beef nigiri) was an annoying example of socially acceptable fraud. (In April 2010, it became illegal to import true Kobe beef from Japan.)”

Torotorotoro! – whose pride in Wasabi is apparent in her response (would that all servers could be so passionate about their restaurants) – says “It is real Wagyu, and it does not matter where the cow was born, it's still the same cow treated to the same standards.”

As I’m sure the food enthusiasts in this thread are well aware, names of some foods (Champagne, Stilton, Columbian coffee, etc.) are protected. To be called “Kobe,” a piece of beef has to conform to very strictly defined standards, and it’s difficult to support the position that it doesn’t matter where the beef comes from. Such terminological looseness enables places with less integrity to use surimi as the main ingredient in “crab” rolls and domesticated mushrooms in dishes that are listed on the menu as being made of “wild mushrooms.” As consumers and people who enjoy good food, I think we have a right to call bullshit when products are mislabeled or words knowingly misapplied.

I’ve never been to Wasabi, so I am not in any way being critical of their food but simply of the larger and widespread practice of labeling a food product something it is not.

Full disclosure: I’m a friend of Pigmon’s and a moderator at LTHForum.com, which is, undeniably and much like Pigmon, a source for some of the most critical and insightful thinking about food in Chicago.

2 likes, 4 dislikes
Posted by David Hammond on 03/05/2011 at 3:09 AM

Re: “The Mexican Hot Dog Moves On Up

Yes, words that sound like "frontier" mean essentially "border" in several Romance languages, but I sensed that Dona Blanca repeated that word with a hopefulness that suggested the more optimistic meaning. However, we were also discussing the challenges she faced, and in that sense "border" (something that contains and may even keep people out) might be more appropriate.

So, I'm going to ask to have it interpreted both ways. Appreciate the comment.

Posted by David Hammond on 10/02/2009 at 6:30 AM

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