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Food Snobbery Selected Entries (Page 3)

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.

Carl SontheimerSontheimer, Carl. M.I.T.-trained engineer and compulsive tinkerer (1914-98) whose love of cooking and eating resulted, after a prosperous career in electronics, in a second act as the inventor of the Cuisinart food processor (which was actually a licensed, modified version of an industrial blender he found in France, Le Magimix). Though perceived as dubious fad gadget upon its introduction in the early 1970s, the Cuisinart took off when the media-savvy Sontheimer demo’d his gizmo for JULIA CHILD and JAMES BEARD, who pronounced it nothing less than a seismic development in the annals of home cookery. Thus did Cuisinarts become the coveted objects of elbows-out department-store wrangles in the mid-’70s, and did Sontheimer come to enjoy an odd sort of kitchen-implement celebrity not repeated until George Foreman came along.

Southern Foodways Alliance. Folksy food society devoted to preserving the cooking, food writing, and tumid-gothic atmosphere of the kitchens of the American south. As its early-R.E.M.-album-title-like name implies, the Alliance is altogether more friendly and laid back than the similarly missioned SLOW FOOD movement, devoting itself to such charmingly breezy undertakings as a Pimento Cheese Competition and an oral history of Papa KayJoe’s Bar-B-Que in Centerville, Tennessee.

Stone FruitStone fruit. The large-pitted fruits of the prunus genus, among them peaches, plums, nectarines, apricots and cherries; exalted by Fruit Snobs for their sensual juiciness and delicacy as compared to hardier fruits like apples and pears. The received Snob wisdom is that most Americans have never properly experienced stone fruits in their ideal ungassed, unshipped, unhybridized state, in which they are so succulent and dribbly that eating them qualifies as an erotic experience.

In the tumid fullness of the August night, we feasted on just-picked white peaches, the most luscious of stone fruits, their effluvia streaming down our heaving, perspiring chests.

Taste memory. Evocative phrase, coined by JAMES BEARD in his 1964 memoir, Delights and Prejudices, to describe the ability to recall in intense detail a flavor experience from the past, often in order to compare it to one currently being experienced.

Jim’s taste memory was such that I could put a ramekin full of butter in front of him, he’d take a generous lick of it from his finger, and say “Definitely Shawano County, Wisconsin—too nutty to be Oconto County.”

-top Restaurant-lingo suffix denoting the number of guests that can be accomodated at a specific table, e.g., a two-top for two diners, a four-top for four diners. Used by Snobs to sound knowing and insidery.

I’ll call Wolf on his private line and see if he can get us a four-top at Spago.

Wagyu. Marketing term for richly marbled beef that comes from the same cattle as Kobe beef but costs somewhat less. Though both Kobe and Wagyu beef come from the Wagyu bull (the word Wagyu simply means “Japanese cattle”), Kobe beef must come from cattle actually raised in Kobe, in accordance with severe, A.O.C.-like production strictures, whereas Waygu beef can come from cattle raised in the United States. Snobs, though they consider certified Kobe beef a vulgar folly for expense-account schmucks, are more kindly disposed towards Wagyu, and are keen to flaunt their knowledge that the beef is best served Japanese-style—sliced thinly and either quickly seared or served raw, sashimi-style—rather than cooked as a slab in the broiler.

Walk-in. Refrigerated closet that serves as a restaurant’s major cold-storage area. Because a walk-in must maintain a temperature no higher than 41˚ F, it is imperative that its door not be kept open too long—a source of major tension and histrionic screaming among amped-up kitchen staff during busy periods.

Get the fuck out of the walk-in before my goat’s milk goes to shit!

Well-edited. Voguish restaurant-critic adjective used to describe a thoughtfully brief bill of fare (e.g. a wine list or selection of entrees) at a bistro, usually of the tiny, charmingly rusticated variety.

We finished the last of the Condrieu with some pungent Pont-l’Evêque from the frommagier-owner’s well-edited cheese list.

Zingerman’s. Funky gourmet-foods emporium in Ann Arbor, Michigan, that began its life in 1982 as a boomerized Jewish deli but has since morphed into a lifestyle arbiter for midwestern alterna-folks. Beloved for its ARTISANAL and traditional goods, its exuberant, stonerish sense of graphic design, and the steadfast refusal of its rumpled, Ben & Jerry-ish founders, Ari Weinzweig and Paul Saginaw, to open new locations in other cities, Zingerman’s has thrived by expanding into an interrelated chain of local businesses, including Zingerman’s Bakehouse, Zingerman’s Creamery, Zingerman’s Roadhouse (a restaurant), Zingerman’s Mail Order, and even a groovy business-management school, ZingTrain.

Got this awesome Sicilian fig jam at Zingerman’s; Ari is a frickin’ food-finding genius.

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