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Capn_Birdseye
January 6th, 2008, 02:05 PM
Its often been said that the US & the UK are two countries separated by a common language, (although I would sometimes dispute the "common language" phrase), but it's interesting how our cultural differences sometimes show up in the smallest of ways.

We were having a meal in a restaurant the other day and when one of our party had finished his meal the waiter immediately took his plate away. In the UK this would be deemed to be bad manners, as all plates are usually removed when the last person has finished his/her meal.

Why can't waiters understand the word "water" with a properly pronounced "t"?

BenL
January 6th, 2008, 02:25 PM
I think the UK is pretty much anomalous in the removing of plates at a restaurant issue. Your second point is just about accents - I find a New England or New York accent easier to understand and probably closer to mine than a strong Scottish or Welsh accent.

lofter1
January 6th, 2008, 02:39 PM
We were having a meal in a restaurant the other day and when one of our party had finished his meal the waiter immediately took his plate away. In the UK this would be deemed to be bad manners

That's just plain bad manners -- not to mention bad service -- anywhere you might be.

It makes the others feel that they need to eat faster.

Of course in the USA most restaurants want to turn over the tables ASAP. Not sure of the industry standard, but I think if a guest is at a table more than ~ 45 minutes then the restaurant manager would just as soon get you going and out the door, no matter the bad manners.

Alonzo-ny
January 6th, 2008, 03:49 PM
I also hate the way americans cant understand water when pronounced properly.

Fabrizio
January 6th, 2008, 04:07 PM
The correct pronounciation is "wooder".

Capn_Birdseye
January 7th, 2008, 04:48 AM
Don't get me wrong, I think waiter service in the US is streets ahead of what we have in the UK - maybe something to do with the tipping system, but I don't mind paying for good service.

I suppose what I was referring to is more to do with differences in social etiquette than cultural differences. Another example, the use of the knife & fork when eating a meal.

I notice that many Americans use the fork in their left hand to vertically stab the meat, hold it down while they cut it with the knife in their right hand. They then put the knife down and transfer the fork to their right hand and eat solely with the fork.
Not being picky but to an English person brought up on how to use both the knife & fork to eat a meal it just seems strange and somehow unwieldy.

I do like the way that waiters bring water automatically to the table - a practice that we should adopt in the UK.

Another issue, boxing up food to take home! Why serve such huge portions in the first place? It just seems odd to see people walking out of restaurants carrying boxes of uneaten food!

The quality of food in American restaurants is superb compared to that generally found UK restaurants.

zupermaus
January 7th, 2008, 05:55 AM
yep Ive heard the put-down-the-fork thing is expected in restaurants in the States, the Brit way of just chowing down with both hands using the knife n fork isn't regarded as great manners.

Another thing, Americans dont sign their credit cards, Brits are completely anal about doing so, as not signing it could easily surmount to c/card fraud as we have no photo IDs and only double check via the signature. Anyone finding your card could conceivably sign their own name onto it and use it fraudulently as their own in UK.
Whereas in US signing the card would actually open doors to fraudsters copying your signature.... er which just as applies in UK I suppose.

Thgis is a bit of a weird thing to notice, but Americans have good handwriting, the beautifully done, almost Victorian era type, not like tha barely legible never-have-guessed-we-invented-the-language scrawl Brits tend toward, or the big looped fat lettered baby writing of teenagers.

Another thing in US they dont hug or kiss too often as greetings, especially among men - a handshake will do. It used to be the same in UK but then we got all continental, along with those cafe thingymajigs and edible food, and we started kissing our good womenfolk the quick once over and hugging our mates. It still hasnt reached the stage of southern France or Mediterranean mind, where even men have to kiss each other up to 4x (left right left right) as due course.

Americans are more friendly I find and easy to get into conversation as strangers.

Capn_Birdseye
January 7th, 2008, 11:37 AM
What surprised me was that Americans don't yet have "chip & pin" for credit cards - it seems rather old-fashioned being handed a long receipt to sign.

I bought a new laptop, (half the price of same model in UK), and was asked for ID, which was common practice in the UK years ago!

Returning to the use of a knife & fork, I cannot see how using both to properly to eat a meal can be construed as, to quote zupermaus, "the Brit way of just chowing down with both hands using the knife n fork isn't regarded as great manners." I think the British way of using a knife & fork is more refined and good mannerly.

On the question of manners, I would agree with zupermaus, the majority of Americans I've met are very well mannered and polite - its a pleasant change to the uncouth behaviour of British yobs and chavs!

I was pulled up sharp with a reality check when I got back to England. I went to PC World to buy an adaptor for my new laptop and asked a nearby assistant. She replied yawning, and obviously bored, "dunno if we've got them, if we have they'll be over there" - pointing in the general direction of the other half of the store! Oh for the excellent service you get in the US!

Fabrizio
January 7th, 2008, 12:00 PM
In the west, the Italians were the first to eat with knife and fork.

And in Italy, they are used as the Captain describes.

---

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fork_etiquette

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fork

Interesting article:

http://www.geocities.com/rationalargumentator/Dining_Etiquette.html


---

ZippyTheChimp
January 7th, 2008, 12:17 PM
Besides my Italian grandparents, left-handedness is predominant in my family. So we never did the fork switch thing.

I remember thinking it was odd when I was little and saw it done in a restaurant. I assumed it was because most people are right handed, and weren't comfortable using the left hand. Living in a right handed world, lefties are usually more adept at using the opposite hand.

I still think it's silly and a pain in the ass to switch the fork. I don't see it as much now.

Capn_Birdseye
January 8th, 2008, 09:04 AM
I like the way that customers in US coffee shops dispose of their rubbish at the end of a visit instead of just leaving it for others to clear up. How many times have you visited a coffee shop in the UK to find almost every table littered with used cups, plates, uneaten food, etc? It happens often.

I suppose the trade-off is that we often use proper china crockery whereas its paper cups & plates in the US.

Why do Americans have such a fascination with muffins??? A nice slice of sultana & cherry fruit cake is much more appealing.

Having tried croissants from a number of US supermarkets, I would vote Safeways my favourites. Lovely warmed up and served with a pot of Raspberry preserve.

Fabrizio
January 8th, 2008, 09:19 AM
Proper China Crockery

Ninjahedge
January 8th, 2008, 09:38 AM
It all depends on where you go and who you meet.

Your store example is also found in the states in going to places liek Home Depot after they have moved the "you will like us" staff out of the store about a year after opening and driving out all the local hardware stores.

As for the fork-and-knife thing? It all depends. Mostly on how fast you are eating, and what setting it is in. I have seen people at steakhouses dig in with both, but the slower people eat, the more they slice a piece or two off, switch and eat with the right while the left either goes in the lap or is used for gesturing, getting a drink, etc.

I have not only cut several pieces, but swapped BOTH knife and fork to try to use the knife as a "pusher" sometimes. I feel uncomfortable using my left to scoop, although sticking pieces of meat with the left is no problem...

I never really thought of either as being good or bad manners.

As for "Water", the accent, Jersey or Brooklyn/LI, is "Waddah", not "wooder". Sowhen an Englishman asks for "Wohtah" some people may not understand. If they, as is the case in most NYC restaurants, do not speak english as their first language, "Agua" might be better to ask for. (Did I spell that right? ;))

Now, writing? Mine SUCKS! The only thing I have is decent printing from doing drafting in igh School. I barely remember my script!And the kids are getting worse, with texting and computers. So maybe you were just lucky ni finding someone with good handwriting Captain.

Capn_Birdseye
January 8th, 2008, 10:53 AM
As for the fork-and-knife thing? It all depends. Mostly on how fast you are eating, and what setting it is in. I have seen people at steakhouses dig in with both, but the slower people eat, the more they slice a piece or two off, switch and eat with the right while the left either goes in the lap or is used for gesturing, getting a drink, etc.

I have not only cut several pieces, but swapped BOTH knife and fork to try to use the knife as a "pusher" sometimes. I feel uncomfortable using my left to scoop, although sticking pieces of meat with the left is no problem...

I never really thought of either as being good or bad manners.


Interesting comments Ninja. I don't really think speed of eating dictates the use of knife & fork or even the setting. Most English people eat slowly using both implements simultaneously, sometimes putting down both the knife & fork to digest or take a rest. The meat and/or vegetables are cut with the knife in the right hand then a small portion is placed on the back of the fork and placed into the mouth. It is considered bad manners to shovel it in on the flat of the fork. Reaching for a glass whilst holding a fork full of food is also not considered good manners, a glass is often sipped when both the fork & knife are placed at 45 degrees on the plate.
Americans eat very differently, and often eat with a mouth full of food.

ZippyTheChimp
January 8th, 2008, 11:08 AM
To send a message that you don't want to be rushed through a meal:

Always turn away the waiter when first asked if you are ready to order.

Capn_Birdseye
January 8th, 2008, 11:19 AM
To send a message that you don't want to be rushed through a meal:

Always turn away the waiter when first asked if you are ready to order.
Good point Zippy. I noticed in many of the restaurants I visited that the waiter would quickly come to the table with the menus, (fine), but be back before we had a chance to look at what we might like to eat. We then took longer on purpose. Also applies to the wine list.

Fabrizio
January 8th, 2008, 12:38 PM
(visibly irritated)

The proper pronounciation is "wooder".

American English was codified in Philadelphia under Benjamin Franklin.

Proper American English is still spoken in Philly, S.Jersey, and Baltimore....jus axe John Wooders.

----


http://media.www.dailypennsylvanian.com/media/storage/paper882/news/2005/02/22/Opinion/Dont-Drink.The.Wooder-2149012.shtml

Ninjahedge
January 8th, 2008, 02:59 PM
Interesting comments Ninja. I don't really think speed of eating dictates the use of knife & fork or even the setting.

I was talking about in the US, not worldwide.. ;)


Most English people eat slowly using both implements simultaneously, sometimes putting down both the knife & fork to digest or take a rest. The meat and/or vegetables are cut with the knife in the right hand then a small portion is placed on the back of the fork and placed into the mouth.

How is it placed on the back of the fork without "shoveling" it? Do you spear it with a knife? Do you only eat foods that can be picked up by jabbing with a fork? What about snow peas or rice? Spinach? Flat or leafy veggies that do not lend well to poking or scooping?


It is considered bad manners to shovel it in on the flat of the fork. Reaching for a glass whilst holding a fork full of food is also not considered good manners, a glass is often sipped when both the fork & knife are placed at 45 degrees on the plate.

It all depends. I have seen people still have their hand on the fork while reaching for the class, but they rarely, if ever, have both in transit.

As for placing them at 45 degrees, sometimes that is difficult if you have a full plate (at the beginning of a meal).

Americans eat very differently, and often eat with a mouth full of food.

Stereotype. Do they also talk with this mouthful of food? How gauche!

Give Americans a little credit, they have manners as well, but it all depends on your definition of them.

Eat with a Asian family that does not believe they need to close their mouths when chewing, but take great care as to other household standards. To each their own.

But back to "mouthful of food". The gourmands may be ones to cater more to that particular venue, but I, myself, have a tendency to have an empty mouth full of words more often than food.

Go figure.

Ninjahedge
January 8th, 2008, 03:07 PM
(visibly irritated)

The proper pronounciation is "wooder".

American English was codified in Philadelphia under Benjamin Franklin.

Proper American English is still spoken in Philly, S.Jersey, and Baltimore....jus axe John Wooders.

----


http://media.www.dailypennsylvanian.com/media/storage/paper882/news/2005/02/22/Opinion/Dont-Drink.The.Wooder-2149012.shtml

I have always pronounced it, and heard it pronounced on the flat-accented Midwestern English newscasters as "Wahter" with the "ah" being soft.

I have no idea if you are being serious, but I have not seen in any dictionary marking the pronunciation of "water" as having an "ooo" (ghostly verbiage) or "wood" (as in a plank of) in it.

OT, sort of, what language do you see becoming the world standard? English is the mutt language based off of the Queens English and adopting many international colloquialisms. It is also easily broken down into 26 letters to pronounce most sounds able to be made, so it is a bit easier to use as a modern language than the individual character languages of Asian origins (although I believe they have a "shorthand" for each in this day and age).

Chinese may be the next based on numbers and world position, but India is not too far behind (although not anywhere near the military/cultural influence that China now controls).

The only other I can think of is Spanish. But since it is in the gradually diminishing European division, would it have enough to usurp English and still prevail over Chinese?

Fabrizio
January 8th, 2008, 05:02 PM
I have not seen in any dictionary marking the pronunciation of "water" as having an "ooo"

Oh? I think you should keep looking.

-----

World language?

In 10 years we'll all be speaking Chinese. Fluently. Maybe not understanding it... but we'll all be speaking it.

Although I must admit, I'm still rooting for Esperanto.

Capn_Birdseye
January 8th, 2008, 05:15 PM
How is it placed on the back of the fork without "shoveling" it? Do you spear it with a knife? Do you only eat foods that can be picked up by jabbing with a fork? What about snow peas or rice? Spinach? Flat or leafy veggies that do not lend well to poking or scooping?

Some interesting info:

http://www.woodlands-junior.kent.sch.uk/customs/questions/index.html

http://www.woodlands-junior.kent.sch.uk/customs/behaviour.html

Ninjahedge
January 9th, 2008, 11:06 AM
If you put your knife down, you can turn your fork over. It's correct to change hands when you do this, too, so if you are right handed you would switch and eat with the fork in your right hand

I also find it ironic that it is considered polite to "squash" your peas onto your fork. I would find that rather childish.....

http://www.m-w.com/dictionary/water

Water.

Look at the pronunciation symbols at the bottom.

So fab, tell me, what English dialect has Water being pronounced as Wood-er?

As for Chinese being a world language, I don't know. It is not easily adaptable to teh information age (since typesets and other things are not condusive to an individual word based linguistic system). I think that is the only big thing holding it back.

I am not saying that I do not think it will be, but I am wondering if is can jump that hurdle to make it so everyone speaks Mandarin (not Cantonese or any other dialect)....

Capn_Birdseye
January 9th, 2008, 11:47 AM
I also find it ironic that it is considered polite to "squash" your peas onto your fork. I would find that rather childish.....
Anymore "childish" than mashed potatoes? We have a delicacy here called "mushy peas", wouldn't touch it myself but it's a favourite dish up North.

Ninjahedge
January 10th, 2008, 03:19 PM
Anymore "childish" than mashed potatoes? We have a delicacy here called "mushy peas", wouldn't touch it myself but it's a favourite dish up North.

Depends on when you mash them.

My father (because of dentures) would mash his food on his plate in front of us. It was quite gross (he does it a bit less now with the dentures now screwed into his jawbone).

I am not saying that mashed peas, in and of themselves, are gross, but mashing them ONTO a fork seems rather gauche.

I guess every culture has their own idiosyncracies. Trick is, trying to observe what you can while around others so that nobody is grossed out/offended. Other trick is to let go a bit yourself so that YOU (third person, or is this second person...?) do not take an elbow on the table so seriously.

Luca
January 11th, 2008, 06:02 AM
Cultural differences (and other wild, sweeping generalizations)

Better in the UK (for me):
- people apologize even if YOU bump into THEM
- people don’t take themselves, their little foibles, their place of employment, their flag, their town etc., etc. so damn seriously
- people have a deep respect for history
- London can do full-on lux better than anywhere else

Better in the US (again…for me):
- people aren’t afraid to talk to relative strangers and be friendly
- people have a great sense of optimism and possibility
- small-town civic mindedness without stultifying conformism
- NYC can do “out there” better than anywhere else

and since I can’t leave my own country out…

Better in Italy (ditto):
- people have a very strong sense of familial duty
- people show an innate sense of and respect for quality in all things
- people are able to love their country deeply without having to believe that everyone else’s is sh!t
- Rome can do a perfect day in spring better than anywhere else

Fabrizio
January 11th, 2008, 07:36 AM
"London can do full-on lux better than anywhere else"

Could you explain this further? I'm interested to hear your reasons.

IMHO no one does that better than Paris.

And the Italian version of full-luxe is wonderful also. Perhaps it is more essential and "tasteful" than the French.

I love the chic-nonchalance of the luxe shopping streets in Rome and Milan. The discrete luxe of Torino.

In any case, I think the sensuality required is with the French and Italians... not with the Anglos.

( BTW: no one does full-out pomp like the Vatican... tops the British crown.)

zupermaus
January 11th, 2008, 11:35 AM
in the UK services is much the same as anywhere else, but luxury can be pretty over the top BUT without any decadent garishness, which puts it into another level itself. For example for a discreet tip of £5 (read: entry fee) ladies who lunch can use the poshest loos about, complete with glass of champagne, solid gold, marble and more gold fittings, perfumes on tap and unique-in-the-world soaps blah blah blah. The thing is a homeless woman could walk in and the height of discretion would still be used, she would not be treated any different (provided she paid). Thats the difference. the height of manners is, conceivably is if noone knows the manners, then you should copy them. That I think is the true meaning of the word, if someone walking in on a dinner eats with his hands, you should, according to the books, put down you knives and forks and eat with your hands too so they are not embarrassed. (of course thsi doesnt happen but you catch the drift).

Ive had the opportunity to attend some royal dinners and garden parties believe it or not (as an employee), and what they put on is pretty amazing so far as the Royal Household budget allows without drawing criticism.

Each of the thousands of guests are given $120 Xmas puddings, and personally handed over, by the Queen, a silver Xmas present too (this year it was champagne flutes and a silver tray). They are then treated to a party within the palatial settings, complete with entertainers (from Victorian jugglers to fire breathers to human works of art), royal brass bands or orchestras, $200 million paintings on the walls, fine food, aged wines and champagnes and every alcoholic beverage on tap with waiters constantly filling your glasses. The plates you eat off at some events took 7 master craftsmen to make, are 300 years old and valued at $40,000 a piece, the mosaic table in the corner took 23 years to make, the flower displays (that employ an entire department) are checked by the Queen, and needless to say the food is superlative -these details without shouting it out and you'd barely notice.

Dress code is tux and ballgowns, or national dress whether it be a single lion skin, a raffia wrap or a kimono. At some stage the Royal family come in and do the meet and greet with the crowd, then retire along with marching, kilted bagpipe players from Royal Scotland. At some stage women turn up (rather like a royal version of the shots cowgirls) with endless trays of shots and the mood visibly ups an ante, the floor is cleared and -get this- becomes a dancefloor with tuxedoed DJ and pretty much a minor sound and light show. I never thought Id go disco pogo within a palace, but I did.

The thing is these guests are merely employees, not guests of State (where its even more lavish,- but definitely no disco) or ambassadors -whether they be toilet cleaners or ticket sellers (moi), and yep, along with the free flow of alcohol people pass out and let their hair down just like any party. People vomit, they even get into arguments, get carried out on stretchers you name it, yet the staff and even the Royals if ever present ( I know personally of one woman's claim to fame being she was passed out in the corner of the room while the Queen was doing her mingling) are the height of discretion and politeness throughout. Noone is told off or looked down upon, security as absolutely invisible. That I think is the difference. You could do the same event in many places round the world but people would be dragged out all the time.

..except maybe Tokyo. a nondescript piece of sushi, beautifully presented, can be the work of 45 years experience from the 'cooks' in merely washing, cutting, presenting.

Luca
January 12th, 2008, 01:29 PM
I'll try to explain myself, though I think Zupertmaus did a darn good job.

These days, at least, if you're talking lux (and that may very well not be the same thing as style...) then anywhere/everywhere you will have top-top-top notch things / drink / clothes / food.

The difference, therefore, is in the setting and the service. London can do a whole big street / palace of just such polished/trimmed (in the lux sense) appearance that I've seen anywhere else. Also, while day-to-day service in London is o-so, the only other place where they can do 18th-century-style service in my experience is Vienna, but the town itself is just that little bit scruffier (relatively speaking) and a lot poorer.

London has: many urban settings of all pre WW2 buildings nicely maintained and scrubbed / beautifully maintained greenery / traditions+livery+pomp / a large number of obscenely wealthy punters and an obscene number of merely wealthy ones / an unbelievable number of businessmen / pros catering to it all.

Lots of other places have some of these elements, but none all these to
the same extent. Paris and NYC can do lux VERY well. :) Just not as consistently well as London, IMHO.

Fabrizio
January 12th, 2008, 06:50 PM
Well yes I agree if you are talking about where luxury is most ubiquitous.

I interpreted "does full-on lux best" as whose VERSION of luxe is best. And for that my taste is with France or Italy.

Clothing, food, homes, autos, production of fine things, craftsmanship, taste, etc.

----

One thing that I love about Tuscany is that you can go to the most out-of-the-way places, non-tourist places and find the best restaurant, the best pastry shop, coffee bar, baker, clothing store, great butcher, modern design furniture store etc. A level of sophistication for nice things among simple people that is very high. Nice things, craftsmanship and good design is important to them.

I'm happy to hear that the Royals give such great parties though.


----

Luca
January 14th, 2008, 09:57 AM
Hang on, if you're talking about quality of life / production for the masses then, yes, Italy is absolutely tops. I think that is a point many proponents of non-culianry-culture world cities like NYC, London, etc. find hard to wrap their head around... The fact that while the top 5% of restuarants there may be world class, the average is still...Sbarro... Converely, in Italy, France and (to a lessere extent) Spain, the chunky middle of the distribution is just so high quality./

Ninjahedge
January 15th, 2008, 10:09 AM
The average in NYC is CERTAINLY not Sbarro Luca.

Nor is it Cali Pizza, The Olive Garden, TGIF, Applebees or any other chain.

That would be the avearge amongst people who are not familiar with the city and go to whatever they are familiar with. Many a time I have told people not to go to Subway (eat sh*t [/company song]) they still go, but does that represent the Italian and Jewish delis still here in the city?

It is one thing I notice very strongly when driving through the suburbs is the paucity of original eateries that are worth more than the $5.99 chinese lunch special. It is really a shame. There are some, but they are hard to find and gradually losing to the two divergent fronts, mass commercialized "everyday" eateried (from Red Lobster to the Outback) to the posh eateries like Mt Fugi where most diners will run you $100 a head (and no, that is not THE most posh, it is just an example).

All the working class small eateries that you can find in places like Italy are very hard to find the furtehr you get out of the city, and they are, sadly, not too easily found in the city either.

So I do not think it is the Lux or Pomp, but definitely the working class quality eatery that is what is missing here, and in decent supply in Italy. :(

MidtownGuy
January 15th, 2008, 10:36 AM
Every week it seems I notice another one of those quality, individual places
dissappear and a chain taking over. Working class people depend almost on entirely on chain food now in many neighborhoods.

In five years Manhattan will be virtually indistinguishable from the American suburbs in terms of the offerings.

Yes, there will be the odd shop surviving on some sidestreet somewhere but overwhelmingly the city is becoming a study in repetition. The walks to find those quality places are becoming longer and more inconvenient.

In the past 2 years I have been cooking more than I ever did in all my years of living in New York. Not because I like cooking, but because it is the only way to get quality anymore without spending a fortune on food or getting on a train.

I remember when Subway sandwich shops first started appearing, the quality wasn't bad... but since they've built their virtual monopoly on many streets, quality has plummeted and prices have risen. Now, the people working in there just throw the sandwiches together like dog food. They all suck.

Ninjahedge
January 15th, 2008, 12:07 PM
it is the only way to get quality anymore without spending a fortune

That's my point too. You can get quality, but akin to Little Italy becoming Micro Italy (tourist), it is hard to find that smaller shop that will get you a good dinner for less than $20 a head.

You can still find Indian/turkish/pakistani food, and a good deal of Chinatown Asian for little cash, but even they are starting to move up, and unfortunately out.

I am not looking for a dive where the roaches add "character" and an occasional crunchy bit in your salad, but since when is Dominos considered good enough to serve pizza in Manhattan? It just is not right. :(

Luca
January 16th, 2008, 03:21 AM
Ninja and MT Guy. I don’t think we essentially disagree that strongly.

I’ll give a couple of examples. The last time I was in NYC (too logn ago, 2005… I ate a Babbo, among other places. Superb, but hardly the average NYC eatery and not something my wallet or waistline could afford for each single meal. A tourist will often find all the “wrong” places. But whenever I ate at some ‘normal’ local eatery, be it a basic diner for breakfast, or a Latin-American place for a quick lunch, I was not very impressed. London, which I know much, much better, can be the same. I would say that in London (and would guess in NYC, but it’s a guess), I would find sub-5% of eating establishments ‘good’ to ‘excellent’, about 10-15% ‘ok’ and the rest from ‘poor’ tom ‘abysmal’.

We Italians are picky about food, though. Even ethnic food once they’ve been exposed to the proper stuff (think about the difference between a good, authentic Mexican restaurant and your basic Tex-Mex place… yeech!).

I’ll tell where I was direly disappointed in the food. Miami. Jeez, really, really bad (again, on average. There are good places but $$$$. The ‘everyday’ places were just dire. I’ve had better breakfasts at Denny’s…).

Fabrizio
January 16th, 2008, 04:43 AM
What is ashame in the US is eating on the road. Once you are out of the big cities it is a disaster.

I visit my brother in the States. I go to a diner type place on a highway for an American breakfast.

It is a farming area. Pure country-side. And rather wealthy.

Breakfast? Scrambled eggs, that I later found out are from a pre-prepared egg-liquid, sold in cartons to the food "industry". Milk, in those little plastic containers. Butter (?), in those little plastic containers. Jam, in those little plastic containers. Sausages that tasted like nothing. Coffee that tasted like nothing. Orange juice from a carton. Toast from slices of pre-sliced bread.

Fine, I guess, if you are an astronaut, but otherwise it is absolute poverty.

Of course there is no surprise here. And this is just one example. Certainly, I know what to expect and I don't even think about it or complain. But it is amazing: in the country-side, one would expect a simple diner to showcase the area's produce etc. But no... there is simply no desire, no pride, no understanding of the pleasure.

Surely good, simple, eating places exist and I have sampled them, but most of the offerings on the road are like the above.

GQ_Homme
January 16th, 2008, 08:46 AM
Fabrizio, sadly your breakfast experience would be considered 'good eating' by many in the US. Quality in food has gone to the pits in favor of ease and quickness of preparation in households and in restaurant establishments

lofter1
January 16th, 2008, 09:27 AM
... eating on the road ... is a disaster ...

Fine, I guess, if you are an astronaut ...

Thank you for that ^

After reading the "White House" thread I needed a good laugh ;)

Ninjahedge
January 16th, 2008, 09:35 AM
Fab, GQ, the difference would probably be in this.

Almost EVERYBODY in the US can get that level of food now.

That same mediocre quality (all made as close to the minimum possible quality w/o getting below it) foodstuff is the very thing that made it so our bottom line does not get stuck eating potatoes, cabbage, rice and beans.

Unfortunately, that cost and mass production, combined with free market, capitalism, and cultural ignorance has driven out most of our diversity into the upper echelon of both quality and price.

Finding a good cheap Italian place in NYC, and surrounding areas, used to be easy. But with the influx of ignorant suburbanites that think that the Olive Garden is somehow Italian because they serve pasta and have vaguely Brooklyn sounding people on their commercials, these places have been pushed out, in almost a Wal-Mart fashion, to the "eclectic" genres of food consumption.

I think that that may be the key to the loss of our diversity, is the infamous melting pot. Our ease of travel from one area to another, our lack of social identity. When you homogenize a bunch of different ingredients together, sometimes all you end up with is Mayonnaise.

Europe may have had an advantage with being, although smaller, harder to mix when they were setting down roots. Greece was not an immigrant nation with a bunch of people moving in from all over eventually trying to fit in with the natives. It had its own nationality and pride and worked to keep it.

I think this initial rooting has made some food genres more well defined and resolute than what they are in the states.


One final thing. Look at what kids eat. I have seen so many tots running around who will only eat hot-dog slices, cheerios, and chicken fingers. I know that is what you start them off on, and gradually expose them to more tastes and flavors, but I think this is a pretty good reflection of what humans are like in general. We will stay with what we know, and what we are comfortable unless we are exposed and "broadened" to other tastes.

If not, we get our over-sugared sodas and pasta sauces, over salted chips and soups, and overly fatty entrées and sides at our restaurants. Hell, we even have a huge market for overly-caffeinated piss-water!

Exposing kids to different foods that are not readily available is hard, harder if the PARENTS have never really been exposed to it. These kids are very difficult to open up once they become adults. They are familiar with their Domino's, Red Lobsters, Denny's. They then move into areas like NYC, and the free market follows them.

It is a shame, but without another immigration wave (I know we have had some, but not akin to the Ellis Island days), I am afraid that the US, in general, is Mayonnaise.

Luca
January 18th, 2008, 09:51 AM
Fab, GQ, the difference would probably be in this.
Almost EVERYBODY in the US can get that level of food now.


I may be misinterpreting your statement; if so, ignore my rejoinder.

One of the retorts to the accusation of excessive industrialization/ commodification of culinary experience (and others as well…) in the US is often that this makes it much more affordable and therefore egalitarian. “It’s all very well jabbering on about Pain Poilane but who can afford that stuff, etc.”

But that’s specious.
It is not the case that Italian and French working class people go without food due to higher food standards. They may consume fewer pounds of (hyper-processed, hormone-injected, water-bloated) ground beef. But that’s not a bad thing. I submit to you that there is almost no one (other than seriously dysfunctional folk) who, in the US or Europe cannot “afford” 2/2.5K of calories a day, even with relatively decent fresh produce. Other things may be out of their reach, but not that.

Ninjahedge
January 21st, 2008, 03:36 PM
Close Luca, but not quite what I was saying.

I believe that a slightly higher standard is more widely available. You CAN get lobster even if you are less fortunate (it just is not very GOOD lobster).

Our poor have the dubious priveledge of having the "best" cheap food available. The poor mans sirloin rather than a well done brassiole......

Luca
January 23rd, 2008, 08:34 AM
Close Luca, but not quite what I was saying.

I believe that a slightly higher standard is more widely available. You CAN get lobster even if you are less fortunate (it just is not very GOOD lobster).

Our poor have the dubious priveledge of having the "best" cheap food available. The poor mans sirloin rather than a well done brassiole......

I think I DO understand what you are saying but I disagree with it in point of fact.

"the poor man's Sirloin" is available in Europe too. It's not QUITE as cheap or QUITE as nasty.

BTW, since Lobsters aaren't 'procesed/farmed food' in my experience in the US they are EXCELLENT. Maybe not always properly cooked but that's easily fixed.

I think on the food thing, the US is moving in our direction, even if it IS a very top-down, trickle-down an gradual process.

You'll get there :p

Hek, I keep hearin' about 'artesanal cheeses' in the US.... All they had back in the 1980s was wax blocks of varying shades of yellow/orange. :eek:

Capn_Birdseye
January 24th, 2008, 05:55 AM
Hek, I keep hearin' about 'artesanal cheeses' in the US.... All they had back in the 1980s was wax blocks of varying shades of yellow/orange. :eek:
I was very impressed recently by the variety of cheeses in a Wild Oats store and also by the interest and knowledge shown by the assistant.
One of my particular favourites is vintage Canadian Cheddar, matured for two years, or a ripe piece of unpasteurised French Brie, the former with a nice pint of ale and the latter with a nice glass of Merlot.
Talking about cheeses ....

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M8k5K0guf4s&feature=related

Luca
January 24th, 2008, 08:51 AM
Well, Britain's closer to the GREAT CAPITALS OF SACRED CHEESE (France and Italy, in that order).

I mean, very recently I tried M&S' Asiago and I can tell you the average deli (salumeria) in Italy would not have as good :eek: . Both M&S and Tesco now carry top-of-the-line, needs-no-condiment-whatsoever Mozzarella di Bufala. :)

Now if only I can get decent Fontina... :(

BTW, if you like French cheese, Aurora (http://www.aurora-restaurant.com/)(restaurant on Liverpool St.) has a killer cheese trolley. Also Pearl (http://www.pearl-restaurant.com/), on High Holborn. :cool:

NYatKNIGHT
January 24th, 2008, 11:55 AM
I get excellent Italian fontina across the street. As for artisan cheeses, big fan of Cowgirl Creamery (http://www.cowgirlcreamery.com/). America is definitely getting a lot better at cheese. Either foreign or domestic, I'm increasingly happy with our cheese selection in New York.

http://www.citidex.com/2253.htm

Capn_Birdseye
January 24th, 2008, 12:10 PM
NYatKNIGHT, if you get the opportunity try a piece of mature blue Stilton, (the King of Cheeses), lovely with a few walnuts and a couple glasses of vintage port. Also some St Agur blue veined creamy cheese from Auvergne, France, with crackers and a glass of red wine. Both make a delicious snack or a final after-dinner cheese course, you won't be disappointed.

NYatKNIGHT
January 24th, 2008, 12:26 PM
NYatKNIGHT, if you get the opportunity try a piece of mature blue Stilton, (the King of Cheeses), lovely with a few walnuts and a couple glasses of vintage port. Also some St Agur blue veined creamy cheese from Auvergne, France, with crackers and a glass of red wine. Both make a delicious snack or a final after-dinner cheese course, you won't be disappointed.

I trust your judgement then - I love the Stilton, got some at home right now. I'll have to look for the St. Agur. Thanks!

Meerkat
January 24th, 2008, 01:23 PM
^ If you can get some, try some Shropshire blue. Very nice.

http://www.artisanalcheese.com/prodinfo.asp?number=10497

NYatKNIGHT
January 24th, 2008, 02:09 PM
Mmmmmmm! :)

Ninjahedge
January 24th, 2008, 02:12 PM
http://epicurious.blogs.com/features__editor/images/2007/10/04/wallacecheese_7.jpg

CHEESE Grommit!

http://www.digitaldreammachine.com/blogimages/ddm/WallaceGromitPhoto01.jpg

Meerkat
January 27th, 2008, 05:35 AM
^Here's the man!! A Wensleydale fan like myself:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wensleydale_cheese

I could eat cheese all day. In fact i'm going to buy some this afternoon after reading these posts.