Food Snobbery Selected Entries (Page 2)
NOTE: Given the complexities and interconnectedness of the Snob universe, cross-references between entries are common and are spelled out in CAPITAL LETTERS for easy identification.
Garland. Venerable manufacturer of commercial kitchen ranges, grills, and ovens that, like the SUB-ZERO/WOLF company, has transitioned into making home products. Still, some Kitchen Snobs, in emulation of JULIA CHILD, who bought a restaurant-grade Model 182 Garland Range in 1956 (now on display at the Smithsonian Institute), insist on buying the company’s commercial units, even though their heat output—up to 60,000 BTUs—is scarily hot unless a dedicated cooling and ventilation system is in place.
Grass-fed beef. Beef from cattle who have been allowed to roam and graze in pastureland rather than mill about in pens, awash in their own filth and fed a species-inappropriate diet of grain and drugs; the rare menu qualifier (see also DAYBOAT and FARMSTEAD) that has actual nutritional import. The argument for grass-fed beef is that it’s not only better for the welfare of the animals, who, as ruminants, are not equipped with the appropriate enzymes and bacteria to fully digest grain, but also better for human consumers, since the beef is lower in “bad” fats and higher in “good” fats than normal beef, and it’s not loaded with the antibiotics that evil agribusiness ranchers shoot up their livestock with in order to overcome the liver abscesses the cattle develop from trying to digest grain.
Heirloom. Term describing produce grown from non-hybridized, ages-old seed stock, which is often literally passed down from one generation of a farming family to the next. Like their furniture equivalents, heirloom fruits and vegetables are usually gnarled, fragile, idiosyncratically attractive, expensive when sold, and worth the money.
Heritage Turkey. Wattled-fowl equivalent of HEIRLOOM produce, denoting old-line indigenous breeds of turkeys that have approached extinction during the tyrannical, Butterball-fueled reign of the big-breasted hybrid freak known in the poultry industry as the Large White. Propelled by such organizations as SLOW FOOD, heritage turkeys, with such J. Crew-catalog names as Bourbon Red, Standard Bronze, Narragansett, and Jersey Buff, have been reintroduced in limited quantities to the market.
Humboldt Fog. Marvellously complex ARTISANAL goat cheese with a center layer of vegetable ash, produced by Cypress Grove, a Northern California company run by the earth-mama-ish Mary Keehn. At once accessible and rarified, Humboldt Fog is a common entry point for novice Cheese Snobs.
Jamon Ibérico di Bellota. Deep-red, staggeringly expensive ham (selling for upwards of $70 a pound) made from acorn-fed pigs raised on Spain’s Iberian peninsula. Described by those who have tasted it as the orgasmic apotheosis of what pig-eating can entail, Jamon Ibérico has engendered an outright Snob frenzy with the news that the U.S.D.A. has approved its import into the United States as of the middle of 2008—thereby making possible (at a steep price) an experience previously restricted to rich tourists on vacation in Spain and naughty U.S. chefs who’ve smuggled a ham or two through customs. In the reprehensible world of hedge-fund-underwritten Food Snobbery, people are paying three to four figures to reserve their own hams for 2008-09 delivery.
KitchenAid stand mixer. Bulbous, heavyweight counter appliance coveted by Snobs for its appealingly retro appearance and industrial-strength mixing abilities. Manufactured since World War I, the KitchenAid is ideal for dough-kneading and even meat-grinding (with the appropriate attachment). Still, its sheer power and bulkiness can be intimidating to newlywed gift recipients, for whom the mixer all too often becomes an attractive dust magnet.
Live-fire grilling. Outdoor grilling over charcoal or wood; the only way to grill for Snobs, to whom fancy $5,000 gas grills with ignition buttons, griddles, and warming drawers are anathema, the wretched province of overprosperous sun-belt Republicans. Many Snobs concede, however, that the cylindrical “chimney starter” has been a worthwhile innovation.
McGee, Harold. Food-science god and author of the Snob must-read On Food & Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen, which was published in 1984 and revised in 2004; declared “the most important person alive writing about food” by Bill (Heat) Buford. McGee’s friendly, conversational tone has engaged chefs and home cooks who want to understand the chemistry of foods and cooking (e.g., why kneading elongates gluten strands, why chili peppers are hot). Still, the unwieldiness and information overload of the volume scares off many casual cooks, for whom the book is the gastronomical equivalent of Stephen Hawking’s unit-shifting but seldom read A Brief History of Time. The Snob community couldn’t believe its luck when McGee started blogging on his curiouscook.com site in 2006.
Mise en place. Fancy French term for doing all one’s food prep before actually cooking—chopping, measuring, arranging, cleaning up, and so on. Especially Snobworthy when shortened to meez and used as a verb.
Newtown Pippin. Homely, tart, green-skinned HEIRLOOM apple variety native to the Long Island section of New York State. An ideal apple for baking and cider-making, the Newtown Pippin is also upheld by righteous SLOW FOOD people as one of the historical gems that was nearly rendered extinct by the evil, Frankenfruit-favoring hybridizers of agribusiness.
Omakase. Immoderately priced Japanese tasting menu. Roughly translated as “trust in me,” omakase usually involves a succession of small dishes devised by the chef as deliberate series of processions: from cool to hot, mild to assertive, raw to cooked. Often prepared and eaten right at a sushi bar, the omakase meal, with its triple-digit price tag, businessman demographic, and strange air of simultaneous intimacy and awkwardness between host and guest, is the closest gastronomical approximation of the escort-john experience.
Point, Fernand. Proudly rotund French chef (1897-55) who, as the visionary behind La Pyramide, a restaurant in the old Roman settlement of Vienne, rejected the strictures of ESCOFFIER and, in his manifesto, Ma Gastronomie, encouraged French chefs to develop their own vocabulary, earning him the James Brown-ish sobriquet “the godfather of nouvelle cuisine.” Frequently namechecked by such current godheads as THOMAS KELLER, ALAIN DUCASSE, and Paul Bocuse, the latter of whom actually trained under Point.
Purslane. Low-spreading plant with fleshy, succulent, wedge-shaped leaves. Better known as a nuisance weed until FORAGERS and American-cuisine builder-uppers like Larry Forgione repositioned it as a salad green, beloved for its light, vaguely lemony flavor.
Reefer. Professional-kitchen shorthand for “refrigerator,” employed to giggly effect by in-the-know Snobs. (1903).
Romanesco. Broccoli-cauliflower hybrid with gorgeous, pale-green geometric florets. A quirky alternative to the cruceriferous vegetables normally plopped on plates to give people their vitamins, romanesco is frequently confused by novice Snobs with the sauce ROMESCO, which has nothing to do with it.
Sand dab. Small flatfish unique to the Pacific Ocean. A favorite of JAMES BEARD, who in his native Oregon dusted them with flour and fried them whole, sand dabs are cherished especially by smug Californians who like to lord their region’s culinary superiority over others (and who dismiss the larger Atlantic fish passed off as a sand dab as a variety of plaice).
Slider. Miniature hamburger originally popular at the low-rent White Castle chain, traditionally eaten in great quantities. Lately repopularized as a ROADFOOD-style binge snack for slumming Snobs, or, at certain fine-dining restaurants, as a bit of postmodern menu whimsy.