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Publisher’s Weekly, in early review of my new book, The Elements of Cooking, criticized it for being Francocentric—it should have been called The Elements of French Cooking, the unsigned reviewer wrote, and dismissed its lack of a broader world view (read the review on the amazon page here).  I first read this review upon returning from Chicago where I’d attended a weekend celebrating the 20th Anniversary of Charlie Trotter’s eponymous restaurant.  Trotter had invited a stellar group of internationally renowned chefs who flew in from across the globe—Pierre Hermé (Paris), Thomas Keller (California), Ferran Adria (Spain), Daniel Boulud (New York), Tetsuya Wakuda (Australia) and England’s Heston Blumenthal (photo courtesy of Charlie Trotter’s, and that’s the excellent David Myers, left, of Sona and Comme Ça in L.A., a veteran of Trotters who was invited in to prepare the canapés at a reception preceding the dinner). At a dinner a couple nights earlier hosted by Trotter, Adria told me that this was a historic occasion, to have this group of chefs together.

Few would deny that on a list of the top ten chefs of the world, these seven chefs have a rightful a place.  What was historic, though, Adria said, was that only one of them worked in France (Hermé, perhaps the world’s most reknowned patissier).

“Twenty years ago,” I asked, “most of them would be French?”

Adria said, “All of them.  Ten years ago.”

This gathering of chefs did indeed represent a fairly global portrait of the chef.  Not insignificantly, they’d all arrived to celebrate a chef who had taken the French approach to fine dining and translated it into a distinctly American-global idiom.  And perhaps it was no surprise that Arthur Lubow had also flown in for the celebrations, the journalist who four years ago, in an 8,000 word cover story on Adria in The New York Times Sunday Magazine pronounced the death of French Cuisine (the final words of the article are from a Spanish chef: “It’s a great shame what has happened in France, because we love the French people and we learned there. Twenty years ago, everybody went to France. Today they go there to learn what not to do.”).

It’s understandable for non-French folks to rejoice at the end of French supremacy in all things cuisine, which has had a pretty good run of, what, half a millennium?  The article and the death were embraced with glee, a big raspberry to those old fashioned, jingoistic French farts.  The PW reviewer of my book was surely amongst them, implying that something with a French bias was somehow wrong.

I don’t want to make guesses at the reason for this anti-French bias, nor do I mean to imply that an anti-French bias is wrong.  Eric Ripert, the Frenchman who co-owns and runs the Michelin three-star, New York Times four-star, restaurant Le Bernardin, told me on numerous occasions how the hidebound nature of the French chef and the culinary mandates of French haute cuisine shut down the imagination and innovation of young chefs.  Indeed, it’s unlikely that someone like Adria or Blumenthal or, in the United States, Wylie Dufresne (he did the canapés at a party for the chefs at Trotter’s house) or Grant Achatz, two of this countries most notable practitioners of the avant garde, could come out of such a culture.  These chefs are a large part of why the world dining scene has never been more exciting.Hestonthomas

But we cannot say that we’re beyond the French, or that the French influence is past and we’re on to newer and better times in the kitchen, that the king is dead and the wall has been torn down.  The child, non-French innovators, has not slain the father.  The fact is, for whatever historical and sociological reasons, French cuisine became the bedrock of all western cuisine, and more important, it gave us a common language.  The language of the kitchen is French-based.  Just as, say, English is the language used for communication between international pilots and air traffic controllers.

It was in French kitchens that the fundamentals of cooking were first named and codified.  It may be American, but it is called our cuisine.  The American chefs who compose our brigades still cut mirepoix as part of their daily mise en place, and the avant garde and cutting edge chefs cook sous vide.  And perhaps one of the most celebrated American restaurants ever, The French Laundry, explicitly looks to France for both its inspirations and innovation as well as to the culinary fundamentals that did not begin in France but that were given meaningful terminology there. (I  love the above shot of the Francophilic Keller regarding avant gardist Blumenthal’s seascape while listening to the sea sounds on the ipod.  Chicago Tribune photo by E. Jason Wambsgans; copyright Chicago Tribune.)

In a restaurant culture perpetually seeking the next new thing, we need always remember where we came from and what our common language is.  Because if we don’t have a common language, then we have no way of communicating, and we are isolated with our innovations and discoveries, we have no voice.

I wrote my version of Strunk and White for the kitchen in order to name and describe all the terms a cook needs to know in the kitchen, whether that cook is in a home or working grill station on a Saturday night.  And yes, it could very well be called The Elements of French Cooking, I suppose—but I would argue with that anonymous reviewer.  This is its strength not a weakness.  That is why The French Laundry after 13 years remains an innovator in gastronomy.  Because Keller, and now Corey Lee and his brigade acknowledge daily a culinary heritage all cooks in the Western world share. Bon Appetit.

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302 Wonderful responses to “Unapologetic Francophilia”

  • Steven Morehead

    P.S.
    sometimes you NEED Foie (the credits) and sometimes you don’t (Star Wars)
    I’m sorry some duck might be getting hurt somewhere maybe. Then again I think the moonshine in my cupboard makes up for it.

  • mike pardus

    Steve- You said “Would you leave out the cure and give us all botulism and a different taste? ” …..which led me to believe that you associate the flavor of confit with the inhibition of botulism. The flavor of pastrami lies primarily in the nitrites and smoke, not the pepper – I could just as well used canadian bacon as an example. You seem to have a good knowledge of these things, excuse my assumption otherwise. I have found that Paula Wolfert’s recipe – calling for temp of 190F – works really well.

    BTW – for those who do not have your background – “Confit” means to preserve. Not only duck in it’s fat, but goose, pork, and other proteins…also, anything else by other means – “confiture de frambois” would be “raspberry preserves” in English; and candied orange peel would also be refered to as “confit”.

    FB – I don’t know you, you don’t know me. It should go without saying that you don’t need anyones approval to hold your beliefs…I only suggest that you observe first hand before you close your mind and attempt to sway others. If you have observed, I respect your right to have a dramatically different opinon than I and will ask for your well informed opinion to debate mine and try to change it. If you have not, then I reserve the right to call you on being uninformed. Please don’t make this personal…not in MR’s house.

  • parkbench

    Dang, been gone for a couple of days and missed (and will skip most of) the usual foie gras debate. Meh.

    More worrisome was a conversation at my mother’s dinner table. She was very upset that her annual Honeybaked ham did not have the usual sugary crunchy glaze, which seemed instead to have broken down in a mass of goop at the bottom of the bag it came in. Hey, mom likes Honeybaked — and there is no debate in her house. Commentary and advice from me is not welcomed at a time like this.

    However, my brother had a not very helpful suggestion: Next year, let’s get a Smithfield ham! They TORCH the glaze on! I chose not to expound upon Smithfield pork at the dinner table, for reasons you all know.

    Oh, no. I will, right now, begin seeking out and saving up for next year’s holiday ham and force it upon the family if necessary.

    Happy new year to my fellow Ruhlmanistas.

    –parkbench

  • faustianbargain

    to mike pardus: i have been doing this for a while now and i have no interest in converting foie gras lovers to some kind of anti-foie gras brigade.

    if you are going to ‘defend’ foie gras, let it be with facts. it doesnt do well to maim the names of the chefs who have chosen to remove foie gras from their menus. like trotter and puck and others have done.

    yet…i seldom hear a voice of reason defending foie gras. the only reason to oppose the ban of foie gras should be that the govt does not have the right to legislate the food choices of its people. it shouldnt be about vegans or vegetarians or trotter or puck or whomever. and i oppose the ban of foie gras. i dont support the methods of its production, but i do oppose the ban of a product.

    i see a web of PR efforts launched to promote foie gras. sonoma with their artisan(tm) foie gras and hudson..well..you get the idea. it is quite obvious and their efforts are transparent…frankly, it amuses me. however.. it would do the PR companies well to silence the shrill voices that we hear in the webworld about foie gras.

    it is ridiculous to bring up battery chickens everytime(which you did with your first comment to me) foie gras is criticised. the logic of the argument is appalling. while on one hand, people frown upon battery chicken and cow hell, there is another parallel prose in stilted language that claims that ‘foie gras ducks’ live a better life than ‘battery chicken’.

    how can the breeding of sterile ducks that never migrate be “natural”? of course not..foie gras is NOT the ‘natural’ byproduct of raising poultry. not if it comes from ducks that are bred in barns and fed in sheds. i am not going to explain how i judge those who eat battery chicken or foie gras, but the former is a budget issue and the latter one of hedonism/tastebuds. while the former is shamed, the latter is feted as a gourmet. i call bullshit on this.

    even if foie gras production is broadcast to the entire eating public of this world in the most honest way, it will still not earn a lot of support. why? simply because only a small percentage of the population can stomach what is being fattened for them. it is best to accept this and move on to one’s foie gras course rather than try to beat down those who refuse to eat what is unnatural and cruel for them.

    to shame those who express beliefs of compassion to animals and choose to be vegans/vegetarians is a travesty. to glorify the consumption of meat with dubious justifications of a duck’s wellbeing in a foie farm and comparing its life to that of a battery cage chicken is perverse. to spread lies about chefs like trotter who refuse to toe some kind of cheffy line of obedience is simply cheap and tacky.

    when you stand shoulder to shoulder with those who rely on libel to defend the consumption of foie gras, your argument is diluted with lies.

    when bourdain shows the foie gras farm footage on television, it holds very little credibility because this is a person who has rabidly defended foie gras and ruthlessly insulted those with eating habits different from his own. in my opinion, he is no different from animal rights activists who rely on shocking publicity stunts to drive home a point.

    when bob delgrosso puts up a video on his blog, it holds very little value considering the other nasty things has had to say about vegans, vegetarians and animal rights activist earlier in the very same blog. and when you appear with him, you are tainted by the shadow of his words and verbal histrionics.

    on the other hand, there is derrick(of obsessionwithfood blog) and another person whose name slips my memory but his blog is in blogspot and he goes by the handle, “drvino” who present a pretty objective view of their visits to the foie gras farms. but here is the deal, these people report and dont try to dictate ‘who’ has to think ‘what’ to come to their personal food decision….you are guilty of that too, i am afraid.

    when michael ruhlman trashes vegans in an manner that is undignified and unbecoming of a decent person, his opinion on foie gras is biased.

    and then there is the group of headbangers who amplify and spread some very virulently unpleasant biases against those who dont support foie gras.

    and yes, this is ruhlman’s house and i am sure he knows how to block me if he wants to..afterall, this blog is his face and i am sure he is very well aware of what is being allowed to be visible. altho’ frankly, as he doesnt have a problem with trotter or puck being called names, i am guessing he shouldnt have a problem with someone defending them.

    to morehead: some of us are ok with the lack of opening credits…as were most of us with godfather and citizen kane before star wars ep.4.

    eventually(especially after a new hope), many movies did away with the opening credits. it didnt ruin the movies..crappy story lines and acid tripping editing did, but the lack of opening credits is yet to kill a movie. i support the right of directors who choose to run the opening credits and i doubt if anyone would boycott a movie because of the lack of opening credit or if he becomes a ‘terrible’ movie because of it.

  • Tags

    FB – Don’t stop, keep going. People need to see the kind of logic that drives PETA et ilk. You do a fine job of showing what happens when emotions take control and throw a temper tantrum.

    That is my guess as to why MR allows this to proceed. Like any tantrum, it spends itself but leaves a reminder of why one needs to struggle with one’s initial urges.

  • ruhlman

    steven,

    in my experience, confit done sous vide is not appreciably different in taste and texture from traditional. what is different is that the temp is regulated, it requires considerably less duck fat, and doesn’t take up the oven for 10 hours.

  • mike pardus

    Some comments on FB’s post above:

    “if you are going to ‘defend’ foie gras, let it be with facts”

    -The fact is that I have seen foie production and commercial poultry production. Foie production is more humane -period. Judging by your response, may we assume that you have not? If you have seen both and would like to discuss how you come to an alternative opinion I will listen.

    “it doesnt do well to maim the names of the chefs who have chosen to remove foie gras from their menus”
    – I have re-read my posts. I have not maimed anyone’s name or derided their choices.

    “It shouldnt be about vegans or vegetarians or trotter or puck or whomever. and i oppose the ban of foie gras. i dont support the methods of its production”

    – The only reason I find acceptable to oppose foie production is if you are morally opposed to killing all animals for food – I can’t argue with your morality, but I think it’s reasonable for you to accept that mine is different.

    “it is ridiculous to bring up battery chickens everytime(which you did with your first comment to me) foie gras is criticised. the logic of the argument is appalling. while on one hand, people frown upon battery chicken and cow hell, there is another parallel prose in stilted language that claims that ‘foie gras ducks’ live a better life than ‘battery chicken’.”

    – Again, if you are opposed to all animal husbandry for human consumption, I can’t tell you that you are wrong – just different from me. On the otherhand, if you accept that animals die for our food – and if you consume them yourself- how is it poor logic to point out that while most animals are tortured before slaughter, foie ducks are treated respectfully?The logical conclusion, therefore, is that the support of foie production is the support of humane treatment of animals. To accept factory production but advocate against foie is to advocate against humane animal husbandry. If you can dispassionately expain how this is flawed logic, I will listen.

    “how can the breeding of sterile ducks that never migrate be “natural”? of course not..foie gras is NOT the ‘natural’ byproduct of raising poultry”
    -No animal husbandry is “natural”…hunting and gathering is “natural”. Domestication of plants and animals developed so that you and I could have time discussing issues like this instead of tracking wild birds in the snow.

    “not if it comes from ducks that are bred in barns and fed in sheds”
    – all commercial poultry is raised indoors, how does this make foie different/worse than others?

    ” i am not going to explain how i judge those who eat battery chicken or foie gras but the former is a budget issue and the latter one of hedonism/tastebuds while the former is shamed, the latter is feted as a gourmet. i call bullshit on this”
    – I hope that I am not giving anyone the impression that I have the right to judge anyone else, but your comfort in placing yourself in judgement is another issue altogether. The false economy of factory produced food is becoming more apparent every day. To eat 99 cent/# poultry is an extreme and historically unprecedented luxury which is unlikely to be sustainable for much longer. That virtually every home in the US has 2 television sets and highspeed internet access, that every teenager – regardless of househld income – has a multi-media cell phone is a direct function of the torture of billions of factory raised animals supplying cheap protein to everyone. I prefer to spend my money on good tasting food raised humanely, others prefer to pay less for cruely raised animals and buy toys. Where’s the bullshit now?

    “even if foie gras production is broadcast to the entire eating public of this world in the most honest way, it will still not earn a lot of support. why? simply because only a small percentage of the population can stomach what is being fattened for them”
    – I have watched self professed omnivores faint at the sight and smell of factory processing and seen the same people – the very same individuals – enjoy and learn from a visit to a foie farm. If both processes were broadcast side by side the stomachs would be turning toward foie gras.

    “to shame those who express beliefs of compassion to animals and choose to be vegans/vegetarians is a travesty”
    – My comments in past posts will show that I have complete respect for a vegan’s beliefs and accept their right to express them, I only ask for similar respect and acceptance. Please point specifically to the travesty I am guilty of.

    ” to glorify the consumption of meat with dubious justifications of a duck’s wellbeing in a foie farm and comparing its life to that of a battery cage chicken is perverse”
    – Perverse? How so? See above on accecptance of animals as food and relative cruelty.

    ” to spread lies about chefs like trotter who refuse to toe some kind of cheffy line of obedience is simply cheap and tacky”
    – I have clearly not lied about anyone, nor – looking back at what I have written – do I find my behavior here cheap or tacky. Again, please point to specific examples so that I can be more self aware.

    “when you stand shoulder to shoulder with those who rely on libel to defend the consumption of foie gras, your argument is diluted with lies”
    – I have stood shoulder to shoulder with no one here, I have merely suggested that in order to be credible in this debate one should either have a firm moral position on consuming animals at all OR have first hand experiance observing methods of production.

    “when bourdain shows the foie gras farm footage on television, it holds very little credibility because this is a person who has rabidly defended foie gras and ruthlessly insulted those with eating habits different from his own. in my opinion, he is no different from animal rights activists who rely on shocking publicity stunts to drive home a point”
    – I can understand how you can feel this way. Anthony makes his living being extreme. Those of us who agree with him find him amusing, those who do not usually find him appalling.

    “when bob delgrosso puts up a video on his blog, it holds very little value considering the other nasty things has had to say about vegans, vegetarians and animal rights activist earlier in the very same blog. and when you appear with him, you are tainted by the shadow of his words and verbal histrionics”
    – Robert, on the other hand is a usually very thoughtful and tempered – he certainly does his homework and knows what he’s talking about. I have not read everything he has written here, but if I’m to be “tainted”, I’m ok being so with DelGrosso’s words. I find your use of the word “histrionics” in this context ironic and amusing.

    ” these people report and dont try to dictate ‘who’ has to think ‘what’ to come to their personal food decision…you are guilty of that too, i am afraid”
    – I have not dictated to anyone what they should think or how to come to personal decisions. I have offered the opinion that people engaging in public debate should be as well informed as possible and suggested that those who are not should become more informed before entering the discussion.

    “when michael ruhlman trashes vegans in an manner that is undignified and unbecoming of a decent person, his opinion on foie gras is biased”
    – And the part about “pink panties on altenate months” and the personal reference to my age qualifies you to declare who maintains dignity and decency? And sets the tone of your argument as unbiased? Once again, your logic eludes me.

    “and yes, this is ruhlman’s house and i am sure he knows how to block me if he wants to..afterall, this blog is his face and i am sure he is very well aware of what is being allowed to be visible. altho’ frankly, as he doesnt have a problem with trotter or puck being called names, i am guessing he shouldnt have a problem with someone defending them”
    – My comment was directed to you out of respect for my friend’s site. I will especially not respond – in my friend’s house – to your personal jabs. If I am indeed older than your mother, I will simply attribute your comments to your immaturity.

  • mike pardus

    Just bored, no one to cook for for a few days, and procrastinating about sheetrocking my daughter’s bedroom…..

    Don’t worry, I won’t have THAT much time to waste again for a while.

  • lux

    I have an opinion on this issue but I’m going to keep my mouth shut, because I’m really tired of the pro/anti foie yelling.

    Like gun control, abortion, and US Presidential politics, whether or not foie gras is cruel is one of those issues where people come in with their minds already made up. Nobody is going to change their position from an Internet flame-fest, they’re just going to sling mud and reinforce their current beliefs.

    I’m not playing that game, either in MR’s house or elsewhere.

  • Claudia

    Ditto, Lux. Why are we even rehashing the foie issue – yet again? And why are we having to reiterate the manners issue again? Didn’t this board begin with unapologetic culinary Francophilia?

    Good luck with the sheetrocking, Chef Pardus, and Happy New Year – Michael, Bob Del G, Tags, Parkbench, Faust, and everyone else. Let’s just be glad we not only have plenty of food, but also plenty of food choices – and the freedom to express our food opinions. Civilly.

  • Skawt

    To be honest, I don’t care how they’re treated as long as the resulting food isn’t poisonous. Given the choice, I prefer to buy meats and produce that do not originate from the conglomerates like ConAgra.

    Maddox said it best: “For every anymal you don’t eat, I’m going to eat three.” Accompanied by a picture of a cooking pot containing a toucan, a koala and a monkey. Yum!

    I have tried fois, and to be honest I don’t really like it. I never really acquired a taste for fat on that scale in terms of flavor. As my first chef instructor always said, “fat means flavor”. I’m just not one of those people where I can eat something where fat is the only flavor.

    PETA fanatics are absolutely ridiculous. They scream and gnash their teeth and spend so much energy on subjects that should really be low on the priority list. Global warming, eventual depletion of oil, AIDS, widespread hunger, lack of proper medical facilities in third world countries, etc. But of course, people don’t matter to them, they’re only interested in the cute fuzzy animals. Step over a poor homeless wretch in order to throw paint on someone wearing fur.

    You know what? You get the right to complain about fois gras when waterfowl get the right to vote. Until then, blow it out your ass.

  • kevin

    I see what you guys mean about FB, I don’t know what his/her bargain was but clearly he/she got screwed just like Faust.

  • Bob delGrosso

    FaustainBargain

    You know better than to write that kind of stuff about me. Please cease and desist or take me up on my months earlier request to address me directly with your real name via email.

  • mike pardus

    Hey Skawt – If you live anywhere near New Paltz, NY. I’d like to buy you a couple of beers…and a burger…and some grilled rabbit….and a couple of quail…hell, I’d cook you a gawdam kitten if that’s what you wanted to wash down with the beer. I haven’t had a good belly laugh all week. Thanks

  • laika

    I’m reading The Elements of Cooking with great interest, it’s one of two things I got for christmas that I’m going through right now (“Pork & Sons” is the other) and one funny thing that I noticed almost right away is that, in the essay on stock, in the tribute to veal stock, it reads “our celebrity chefs, if they include a veal stock recipe, tend to bury it in the back of their big, beautiful books.” Which is funny, because the celebrity chef who wrote the introduction to The Elements of Cooking has a veal stock recipe (complete with a long tribute and anecdote about how they’re cooking stock all the time, on every free burner at les halles) front and center in his Les Halles Cookbook.

    The Elements of Cooking is terrific so far, thanks awfully for doing such a good job on it.

    best,
    laika

  • faustianbargain

    #1: it is not about whether you approve of the foie gras farms in the united states. it is about whether those who think that is a cruel production have the right to hold that view without ridicule or shame.

    why is this a difficult concept to grasp. remember how it upsets foie gras lovers when they were told that foie gras will be banned. its the same logic. dont tell people that their deeply help beliefs deserve to be mocked.

    #2. re maiming and deriding, it was the general tone of the people who support foie gras production in this blog and elsewhere.

    #3. you said:”The only reason I find acceptable to oppose foie production is if you are morally opposed to killing all animals for food – I can’t argue with your morality, but I think it’s reasonable for you to accept that mine is different.”

    agreed! but the people who oppose your point of view is miniscule compared to the vast majority who quietly accept a life without foie gras. in this are included many vegans and vegetarians..even trotter and puck. the amount of vitriol directed towards these people is unacceptable.

    if legislatively, they try to ban a practice that they consider cruel, let the foie gras camp spend similar currency on their efforts. trotter, for example, did it through the action of refraining from cooking foie gras. he didnt do it through protests or namecalling.

    #3. a lot of people eat fish, but wont eat meat. some have chicken, but wont have beef. some will eat organic, free range eggs, but not the eggs from battery chicken. some will consume only locally produced meat and vegetables and fruits. there has to be NO uniformity or need to conform. individuality is a fascinating concept. you should contemplate on that rather than trying to decide if those who debate foie gras have similar opinion on battery chicken. the two have NOTHING in common.

    the much derided ‘peta and its ilk’ have also opposed battery chicken. even before it became popular or fashionable to reject battery raised chicken, it was these very animal activists groups who opposed battery chicken. how do you think the public awareness for the dismal conditions in the majority of american farms came to be known? think about that!

    #4. btw, who do you think you are to tell people what their food choices should be or shouldnt be..why they should oppose foie gras and still consume battery chicken? it doesnt feel good, does it..when someone tells you that you are scum for eating foie gras, the outrage you feel is not dissimilar to how you judge other people’s eating choices.

    #5. it seems to me that people who dictate that the other camp must be vegan or nothing else! are intent to create a black and white world…where you want activists and apathetic viewers. clearly divided camps..but just two camps! so it becomes easier for you to brand the inconvenient ones as the ‘rabid animal rights terrorists’.

    and you think the moderate ones should disappear..that there should be a ‘left and a right’…’black and white’..’all or nothing’.

    #6. the problem with battery chicken and badly raised food in this country is that there is no way to identity the source and method of production of the food that is produced. when you go to a restaurant..when you pick up meat from the grocery store..people cannot afford mortgages, how do you expect them to identity which meat is ethically tainted?

    there is product A whose origins are murky. there is product B whose origins are squeaky clean and visible. there is product C whose origins are tainted and deemed cruel by many.

    think of product A as battery chicken, product B as ethically and ‘humanely’ raised meat and product C as foie gras. the average consumer can outright reject product C and outright embrace product B. unless, they know about product A, how can they make a choice?

    #7. earlier, you mentioned that you are ok with those who are vegans and those who dont use animal products at all. there are people in this very blog audience who were part of a post about ‘humane slaughter’..it has to do with chris cosentino’s pictorial presentation at a slaughterhouse. i myself argued that there is nothing ‘humane’ about slaughter. meat is food…and there is no point dressing it up as ‘humane’ or ‘inhumane’. in that context, there is very little difference between us except that you are a lot more intolerant than i am. i call murder, murder and hope that talking incessantly about it will allow others to see murder as it is and our existence which involves making such choices. you, on the other hand, think that it is ok to murder and that there is no room for moral choices.

    thats the funny thing about choices. our choices are defined by our needs. some of us need more than others, obviously. that need, inherently, is not ‘wrong’ if it seen from a individualistic point of view. on the other hand, there are some human universals…including empathy,anthropomorphisation, violence proscribed etc which are all directly responsible for a natural revulsion towards the production process of foie gras. even in a hunt or a kill…or slaughter, we are swift to separate the life from the carcass. to fatten a creature and to lead it to its death causes extreme discomfort to many people…regardless of their opinion or knowledge level about battery chicken. when you judge that, you are question human nature.

    why do we disapprove of incest..why do feel jealousy…why are we afraid of death…why are children afraid of loud noises..why are women natural caregivers than men..there may be exceptions, but these are human universal..as is the instinctive disgust towards the idea that an animal is experiencing ‘seeming’ discomfort to die for one’s meal. i am sure the same sentiment will rear its head if one is shown images and footage of battery raised chicken or slaughter.

    on the other hand, it will convert a lot of meat eaters to vegetarians and vegans. which is what ‘peta and its ilk’ have been doing for years.

    #8. re the comments about how ‘natural’ foie gras is..it relates to an earlier comment by tags who said that foie gras is natural. no its not. its a breeding program. to whitewash it as a ‘natural’ byproduct of a migrating bird is a lie. it doesnt happen. we make it happen. its true that animal husbandry was developed to make consumption of food easier, but to use the term ‘natural’ as a point of argument to sell the foie gras agenda is a blatant slap on the face of all thinking people with more than half an ounce of intelligence.

    #9 re the point on ‘bullshit’ about spending between ‘luxury goods’ and ‘battery chicken’, do you think that these people who buy 99c chicken while having two televisions in their house will ever buy foie gras or lose sleep over its ban. in fact, i dont think those who eat lip smackin’ 99c chikin for dinner even care about foie gras or its production or its ban. to keep bringing up battery chicken and its consumers in a discussion about foie gras and its ban is completely irrelevant.

    if 99c chicken is a luxury that isnt sustainable anymore, it only strengthens my theory that there is way too much meat consumption in this country and its about time less animals are bred and slaughtered for the table. somehow, i have a feeling that you wont agree with me here.

    #10. you said: “I have watched self professed omnivores faint at the sight and smell of factory processing and seen the same people – the very same individuals – enjoy and learn from a visit to a foie farm. If both processes were broadcast side by side the stomachs would be turning toward foie gras.”

    really? do we have a name or a face or a voice of such an omnivore? people say this all the time..yet, i have never met even one person like you mention. when you say ‘sight and smell of factory processing’, what do you mean? were they shown how the ducks are being processed. its interesting, isnt it..how one who is upset by the blood and gore of chicken is relishing the processing of a foie gras duck!

    #11. my last post was a general reply to the earlier comments here..including the lies about trotter. anything specific directed towards you comes from the single statement about your involvement with bob delgrosso in the video you linked to in his blog. in which, i believe you appear. why should i trust your opinion when you are clearly associated with someone whose opinions are tarnished with bias?

    #12. you said: “And the part about “pink panties on altenate months” and the personal reference to my age qualifies you to declare who maintains dignity and decency? And sets the tone of your argument as unbiased? Once again, your logic eludes me. ”

    once again, i sincerely apologise about my unforgivably rude first comment to you.

    re your age, i googled you and after seeing you had 35 years of experience in the field, i wasnt going to trash talk to someone who is about as old or older than my mother. i respect age. if you are offended by it, i am sorry because it wasnt intended to insult you. it is one of the promises that i try to keep. if i didnt see the ’35 years of experience'(leading to a vague calculation of your age), i certainly wouldnt have apologised for my appalling language. i dont necessarily respect your views. i certainly dont know if you are someone who i can respect as a person. but i’d rather back off after a certain point.

    #13, i think this discussion amuses ‘ruhlman and his kin’. considering the immaturity of certain pro foie gras arguments, i am simply repaying with similar currency.

  • faustianbargain

    skawt said: “You know what? You get the right to complain about fois gras when waterfowl get the right to vote. Until then, blow it out your ass.”

    to which mike pardus replied: “Hey Skawt – If you live anywhere near New Paltz, NY. I’d like to buy you a couple of beers…and a burger…and some grilled rabbit….and a couple of quail…hell, I’d cook you a gawdam kitten if that’s what you wanted to wash down with the beer. I haven’t had a good belly laugh all week. Thanks”

    and to think that some people complain about immaturity levels.

    to skwat: children dont vote..are you ok with incest or child abuse? is it too much complaining?

  • mike pardus

    Ok, really quick, and then I promise not to keep this ball rolling.

    “if i didnt see the ’35 years of experience'(leading to a vague calculation of your age), i certainly wouldnt have apologised for my appalling language”

    – so, by your own rules, it would therefore be acceptable for me to use appalling language toward you without apology….

    which leads me to

    “and to think that some people complain about immaturity levels”

    – it was funny, the way Bourdain’s bluster is funny, the way the 3 Stooges are funny…..it was the completely unexpected and outrageous punch-line that made me laugh…..and, because of my years, I don’t have to be apologetic. See, we agree on something after all. Enjoy your weekend.

  • Vincent

    Wow – WTF?

    Hope everyone has a great new year – I find myself giggling through some of these posts.

    “pink panties on altenate months” had me peeing a bit in my pants – twice. Some people have to chill and choose their battles. Most food issues in this country could USE the passion shown in these posts…the discussion could be progressive, sincerely.

  • mike pardus

    Oh, shit, one more thing…..You’re completely right about the Kids/Voting thing too….bad choice for skawt to use that analogy without qualifiction, I knew you were going to nail him on that one…

  • Claudia

    While he might have been victimized, at least Pardus isn’t wearing pink Spock panties, Vincent (!) (At least, I don’t think so. Nawwwwww. Not a Brooklyn boy!)

    For those to whom it might apply, take your pink panties OFF your head, and put ’em back on your younger sexually dichotomous sibling, fer chrissakes! It’s cutting off the blood to your brain!

  • Skawt

    The difference between children and waterfowl is that children can grow up to vote, while waterfowl grow up and STILL GET EATEN.

    Yeah, comparing fois with incest and child abuse? I recommend considering Car Sagan’s Baloney Detection Kit:

    http://users.tpg.com.au/users/tps-seti/baloney.html

    Look up “Excluded Middle” and “Straw Man”. We’re talking about food animals, not sentient beings. Although some people raise children that could only barely qualify as sentient, but that’s a whole other kettle of fish.

    Chef Pardus:

    Lux and I will actually be in the New Paltz area in June. I would be happy to look you up then while we’re in town.

  • Skawt

    Chef Pardus:

    Oh, as for apologies: I’m sorry you’re old.

    (Turned 42 2 weeks ago. I’m catching up!)

  • luis

    laika, I agree that the “Elements of Cooking” is an outstanding good read about cooking and some of the terms and techniques that elevates anyone’s game in the kitchen.

    I do think someday Ruhlman will look at his work and decide to update and expand on it. Some of the terms and definitions leave me in a lurch. ie; Shocking? for one. What I mean is that I think this book is bigger than what is in print as of now. This book deserves to be updated every few years. Don’t you think?

  • mike pardus

    Skawt – June, huh? Cool……Maybe we can coax DelGrosso to come up….might have to keep the exact location secret, though….PETA would love to get us all in the same building together, I’m sure.

    PS – I’m 50….started cooking for cash at 15 – hence the 35 years. Still have a juvenile streak a mile wide though….line cook mentality, hard to shake.

  • Skawt

    Chef Pardus:

    While I am definitely not a vegetarian, I would have some trouble eating animals I consider pets – such as cats, dogs and fluffy bunnies. On the other hand, chicken and ducks have ugly feet, so they are on the “GET IN MAH BELLY” list in my house. Pigs are sometimes cute, but they’re also fat and slow and have it coming – I don’t trust their piggy little eyes. Lamb? Ever see what they look like after they’ve been sheared? Like little four-legged grandmas. Yick.

    If you have any pull with Bob delG to get him to show up, that would be cool – although previous attempts by other list members to get him to go to NYC met with no success. he sure is liking life on the farm. I think he should change his name to Oliver Douglas and make sausages out of Arnold the pig.

  • ntsc

    ‘skawt said: “You know what? You get the right to complain about fois gras when waterfowl get the right to vote. Until then, blow it out your ass.”

    to which mike pardus replied: “Hey Skawt – If you live anywhere near New Paltz, NY. I’d like to buy you a couple of beers…and a burger…and some grilled rabbit….and a couple of quail…hell, I’d cook you a gawdam kitten if that’s what you wanted to wash down with the beer. I haven’t had a good belly laugh all week. Thanks”

    and to think that some people complain about immaturity levels.

    to skwat: children dont vote..are you ok with incest or child abuse? is it too much complaining?

    Posted by: faustianbargain | December 28, 2007 at 07:46 PM ‘

    Ahhhh – children.

    I think Jonathan Swift had the solution there and one FB’s parents could have put to good use.

    Chef Pardus, are you still teaching and live around New Paltz or are you at a resturant there?

  • ntsc

    If the owner of this site would come up with a way for us to comment directly on his books, I wouldn’t have to post this in the middle of a diatribe on the joys of fois gras, which I love.

    I hung my second fresh salted ham to dry cure yesterday, a la Charcutire ‘Dry Cured Ham’. Next year perhaps I’ll see if I can buy it from del Grasso. Last year’s was Shoprite special, but still pretty good for a first attemp. Not at the level of what we get at the local cheese shop, but still 12 lbs net of dry cured ham for under $30 is not to be sneezed at. This one will be not quite $75 net.

  • ntsc

    “why is this a difficult concept to grasp. remember how it upsets foie gras lovers when they were told that foie gras will be banned. its the same logic. dont tell people that their deeply help beliefs deserve to be mocked.”

    A deeply held belief which is wrong deserves to be mocked, held up to ridicule, slandered and ignored.

    Attempting logic with such is to no avail because it is a matter of belief and evidence to the contrary will be of no use.

    Why is it wrong to mock somebody who insists that the earth is flat?

  • Nic Heckett

    Skawt – Pigs, fat and slow? You now have a job, come out to Black Oak Holler Farm and help us load pigs! You get to chase them on the steep slopes. They will make you feel fat and slow! Only way to catch them is with a bag of food.

  • Tags

    I talked to “Bob delGrosso” and he’s pissed that you gave away his real name.

    So he will not be joining you in June. He did say that Arnold was delicious, though.

  • Skawt

    Nic:

    You’re not feeding them enough. Ask Ruhlman; the more pork belly, the better. Feed them until they can’t move. Then all you have to do is roll them.

    Besides, if they didn’t want to get eaten, they shouldn’t have decided to be so damned tasty.

  • Tags

    And catching pigs should be easy for me, seeing as how I resemble a bag of food.

  • Skawt

    Tags:

    Bob gives away his own name here and everywhere else. Now if only he’d give away some of that pancetta…

  • Tags

    So, I guess you’ll be calling him “Ollie” from now on, then.

    The pancetta should be ready in June. (he forgave you already)

  • Nic Heckett

    You’re not feeding them enough. Ask Ruhlman; the more pork belly, the better. Feed them until they can’t move. Then all you have to do is roll them.

    They are plenty fat. They still move pretty well. A 300 lb porker charging full tilt up an Appalachian mountainside is a sight to behold.

  • brad

    The day After I ate at El Bulli, I had the distinct pleasure to eat at a small french restaurant in carrsaconne France. I had a simple cassoulet made by a 90 year old french woman.

    Whose food was “better”…I’ll never know for sure. Both soulful and magic. I love everything about french food, and the french ways of approaching it. You can’t unexplode a bomb. The french culinary influence is now part of our DNA and it will never disappear…thank God.

  • brad

    The day After I ate at El Bulli, I had the distinct pleasure to eat at a small french restaurant in carrsaconne France. I had a simple cassoulet made by a 90 year old french woman.

    Whose food was “better”…I’ll never know for sure. Both soulful and magic. I love everything about french food, and the french ways of approaching it. You can’t unexplode a bomb. The french culinary influence is now part of our DNA and it will never disappear…thank God.

  • Nic Heckett

    thanks tags – we were happy, not quite ready for prime time and I would have been glad to hold off a year before the publicity, but Jane Black is great and we couldn’t say no. Glad to see Heath Putnam’s woolypigs.com get some copy also. Best pork in the Seattle area, look for him at the Farmer’s Market there.

  • Vincent

    Correction – I have fully pissed myself at the thought of Foie Gras-nistas marching down main street in thier “Pink Spock Panties”! Caludia – my “victim of soikumstance” remark to pardus was due to his stooges reference, not that I think he was victimized. If a certain pink spock panty wearing person wants to challenge a guy from brooklyn that works with sharp knives all day, said person is probably a dipshit!

  • mike pardus

    ntsc – I still teach at the CIA….best job I can imagine, I certainly couldn’t have spared all that time if I actually WORKED for a living these days. and….btw – if y’all could stop calling me “Chef”, I’d appreciate it. I guess I am one, but I barely have any callouses on my hands anymore, I feel fraudulant accepting the title in front of people who actually do work for a living.

  • Skawt

    Some guy named Mike Pardus:

    It’s a habit I picked up in school when I was at CCA – all of the chef instructors were addressed as “Chef”. I use it as a term of respect, since I chose not to go into the culinary field as a profession. I decided to stick with being a network system administrator instead.

    You get to sit and screw around on the internet a lot more this way.

  • lux

    @Nic: better to have good press at any time than bad or no press when the timing is ‘right’.

  • ntsc

    I’ve done about 8 Saturday courses and a boot camp at CIA, the instructors are called Chef. what would you like to be called?

    I’ve taught at the college level, it is hard work, especially with students who want to learn. Fun but hard.

    We inventoried the stock freezer today and my wife is downstairs making pea soup with some ham we had in there. I spent the morning canning veal stock.

  • mike pardus

    Yeah, I ‘ve gotten used to it at work, that’s what we’re all called and it does come in handy. I know it’s usually meant as a term of respect, but The student’s joke is “the shortest distance between two points is “YES,CHEF”….I certainly prefer it to “Professor Pardus”….which really makes me squirm around PhDs…..

    “Mike” is fine, “Pardus” works too. Thanks for asking.

  • laika

    luis, i totally agree, in re: updates. just as sous vide mightn’t’ve warranted a mention had the book been written twenty years ago, I’m certain that many topics will merit inclusion, expansion, revision or further explanation as time goes on. shocking, for what it’s worth, is when you plunge parcooked or cooked foods into an ice bath to arrest cooking immediately. i do it particularly with things like broccoli rabe, which I’ll parcook, shock & then sautée to finish, but it’s got all sorts of useful applications. probably it’s just something you’re already doing w/o knowing there was a name for it.

    best!
    laika

  • luis

    laika, I agree with you 100%. I think Ruhlman will see it that way too. My point about shocking is that the term as many others are lacking in specifics. Specifically shocking veggies or hardboiled eggs are two different things that will require a specific time duration. None of this is really covered in the book. My point is that shocking is a technique and NOT! a mere definition. So as a technique Ruhlmans definition falls short of giving me the detailed explanation I really really want and need… but it’s a starting point and there is the internet for me to drill into this “term”/”technique” and find out more about it. I just can’t wait to see a bigger more detailed follow up of the elements.
    Happy new year to you and all! I have a pretty good idea of the type of cooking I will be doing in 08 and I can’t wait to scrub my recipe database of 07’s recipes and point it in the direction of the future. Like “Remi” said when its dad asked him where he was headed… I am headed to the future I hope..he said.

  • luis

    Hey gang.. speaking of the future, If you donned a hooka mask and some goggles and zipped up in a scuba suit and went into a big immersion blender set at the right temperature..?

    It would seem like a back into the womb adventure. But naaaaaaahhh.. they would probably just end up pulling you out for supper and shocked you with a cold shower.

  • mike pardus

    “Shocking”….should have been cross referenced with “Blanching” (blanching was crossed with shocking, but not the other way around). I think that we assumed a level of knowledge/experiance among readers that we should not have – i have to be very careful of this when I am teaching – easy for me to assume that because it seems simple and self evident to ME that a brief explanation will suffice for my students. You cook what ever it is – broccoli rabe, egg, pasta, shrimp – until it is cooked to your specification for a particular need (par-cooked, half cooked, JUST cooked…)and then immediately remove from the cooking liquid and plunge it into ice water to arrest the cooking. Leave it in the ice water until it is COLD to the touch and then remove and hold cold/cool until you need to use or reheat it. A hard bolied egg would simpley be peeled and used for deviled aggs, for example….par-cooked broccoli rabe would be sauteed in hot oil to complete the cooking.

    It’s not the same thing, exactly, but worth noting that roasting seeds and nuts will over cook if allowed to brown perfectly and THEN removed from the heat source and left in the hot pan they were roasted in. Obviously you cant plunge them into ice water, but you should have a cool metal pan on which to spread them out so that they can cool quickly without over browning – in effect, “shocking” them to quickly arrest the cooking and color change before it goes too far. I hope this helps clarify….

  • Tags

    Maybe Michael could put in an errata file for each of his books in the “View my complete list of books” link. A simple text file should do the trick.

    Of course, this can wait until he hires an intern.

  • nondiregol

    …okay, I’m the evil bastard who want’s to frog march trotter but I didn’t know that Faust and Pardus would build the story into Moby Dick. “Call me Ishmael.”

  • bob

    I’m thrilled to be making a trip up to Seattle’s U district market on the 19th to buy as much Wooly pig from Heath Putnam as I can fit in my car and keep cold. I was looking for some dinner suggestions, as I will be staying overnite. I believe he’s selling fairly young hogs this time around…6-8 months mmmmmmmmmmmmm!

  • luis

    Mike, thank you for clarifying this term. Still I read your explanation and I can not help but think, that there is a art to cooking that defies terms and techniques. For instance the last thing I want is shocked cold hard boiled eggs… gimme the hot crappy green slime hard boiled eggs anytime.
    This is NOT! a simple issue to me. Now I know you get perfect eggs the way ruhlman suggests and now I wonder about the temperature of the shocked eggs and I wonder if reheating them doesn’t just negate the whole process… just me.. I guess.

  • bob

    Mike,
    You speak to a subject that I think is invaluable to home cooks, and often taken for granted in restaurants. That is the ability to control heat. Blanching/ shocking. Toasting seeds, spices, or nuts, then removing them to a cold pan to quickly cool. Pan searing, oven roasting. And even carry over cooking techniques. There is so much stuff that falls under this topic.
    Nik,
    Hi,I will say hi to Heath, and hope to bring pics of his product.

  • mike pardus

    luis – thanks for pinning me down to exactly what you need. You don’t have to shock hard boiled eggs until they are cold if your intent is to eat them hot, for that matter, I think trying to reheat them would make them worse. The reason for dropping them into ice water is to arrest the cooking – if you want to use them cold AND to facilitate ease of peeling. Someone else is going to have to weigh in to explain that one(why they’re easier to peel – I can look it up, but there’s sheetrock calling my name….) Just curious….do you really like HOT HOT hard bolied eggs? If so, I guess that you could forgo the shocking, forget about peeling and simply crack ’em in half with a knife and spoon out the perfectly cooked center. To cook them – start in room temp water, put in a handful of salt (why? I dont know that either – old cook’s tale, maybe? some sort of chemistry – delGrosso, where are you?) cover the pot, bring to a full boil and then remove pot from heat, keeping lid on, water and eggs in. Set timer for 10 minutes.when timer goes off either shock or consume eggs immedietly.Remember – you ARE NOT boiling them for 10 mimutes, you’re letting them sit in very hot water for 10 minutes. I did it this morning so we’d have a snack to eat while skiing. That’s why I like ’em cold – they travel well in your pocket – even peeled(in a zip lock bag, external pocket of parka, not your Levis).

    I hope that this is detailed and specific enough….and anyone who can tell us why the salt and the shocking seems to make peeling easier – please inform….

  • Laika

    what I’ve always heard, about salting water, is that in addition to imparting whatever seasoning it does, it also changes the boiling point of water, bringing it to the boil faster..

  • Bob delGrosso

    Mike

    Re: hard boiled eggs and “shocking”

    Hard boiled eggs are submerged in ice water, buried in snow, placed in a blast freezer or in some way shocked (an unfortunate sounding word that conveys very little information about what is actually going on when hot food is cooled rapidly) to stop the egg from cooking and keep it from turning green.

    Heat and pressure (and all energy and matter really) will flow from where they are most concentrated to where their concentration is less. In a hot egg submerged in ice water, the heat and pressure flows rapidly from the inside of the egg to the cold water outside.

    Well done egg yolks (and hard boiled=well done) give off sulphide gas that if left to hang around combines with iron molecules in the yolks to form iron sulfide which is a funky green color. Shocking the eggs sends the gas flying out so that it cannot combine with iron.

    I suppose you could achieve the same effect by putting your hard boiled eggs in a vacuum chamber but, well, that’s not very practical.

  • Bob delGrosso

    Laika

    That’s not true.

    The opposite happens, salt makes the water take longer to boil. Almost everything that dissolves in water raises the boiling temp and the freezing temp.

  • Ms.Anthrope

    Having a small egg factory by way of 5 hens, I have an answer for you (well, the ladies AND Alton Brown)!
    A fresh egg is damned near impossible to peel. The reason being the shell membranes are very attached to the albumen in the egg white. As the egg ages, the albumen breaks down and will release from the membrane somewhat easier.
    I have not tried the salt water trick but I HAVE tried different aged eggs and found about two weeks is about right for peeling. Seeing I can rarely keep eggs around for two weeks, maybe I’ll give the salt a try and see if that works. My guess is it hastens the breakdown of the albumen.

  • mike pardus

    OK, BdG – just a layperson probably getting in over his head….help me out on the salt thing – is it possible that the salt is able to permeate the shell (it is porous, I know that) and denature the outer albumin layer quickly enough (within 10 minutes?) to facilitate ease of peeling in a fresh egg? 2 out of the 3 I peeled this morning were easy, the 3rd – not so much, but not a disaster either ( they were store boght, at least a week in my frige).

    Thoughts?

    Also – we add vinegar to easter eggs when we color them, does this just help the dye set or does it make them easier to peel also?….Albumin is alkalin….acid denatures proteins….any correlation?

  • Nathalie

    Hello Mike Pardus,

    interesting question this salt no salt in water for boiling eggs. Found this…

    On Food and Cooking- Harold McGee, super short version.

    Cooking eggs= coagulation.

    Salt and acid accelerate coagulation, as does water temperature, should not exceed the boiling point (consider elevation), and affect PH.

    Peelability is affected by the PH of the egg white, and so by the egg’s freshness. Egg PH below 8.9 the membranes adhere to albumen. Fresh egg PH 8.0, eggs at 3 days refrigeration PH around 9.2.

    Vinegar in dye- sets color, and produces an even coating. The chemistry behind this can be found with any search about acetic acid, and its various uses in the textile and food industries.

    Warning- the search for why acetic acid affects dyes will lead you down a very long rabbit hole.

    Cheers, and Happy New Year everyone!

  • mike pardus

    OK, then, new experiment …..will adding baking soda (sodium biconbonate) to the cooking water facilitate ease of egg peeling in hard boiled eggs? Without noticably altering flavor?

  • Bob delGrosso

    Mike et al

    No answers only hypotheses

    I’m not sure if there is much salt penetration when the egg is in hot salted water, but salt dissolved in cool water will penetrate egg shells. Point is that I’m not sure that the rules that apply to shucked eggs cooked in salted water also apply to eggs in shells.

    If there is any effect, perhaps salted water enhances the loss of water from the egg, thereby reducing the net size of the albumen. A smaller tighter, albumen will be further from the shell thus making it easier to peel.

    Another reason (in addition to the info cited by MsAnthrope and Nathalie) that an old egg is easier to peel than a fresh egg is that the older one has less water.

    For what it’s worth, I don’t add salt to water to hard or soft boil eggs.

    I don’t think that baking soda added to hot water would make the egg easier to peel. However, letting the eggs sit in warm/cool alkaline water before cooking just might do the trick. Although the final product might taste pretty funky.

    Finally, I believe that the vinegar that is used for dying eggs is added to etch the shell and make it more permeable to the dye.

  • Claudia

    Chef Pardus, I’m afraid the name “Michael” is already taken on this blog, as is “Mr. Softy Palms” (!) If you’re uncomfotable with Chef, are you OK with Mike or Michael P, just as we have Bob D and Bob T, and Claudia (Nashville) as opposed to just Claudia (me)? Welcome to the blog, by the way – however bumpy an intro that might have been (!)

  • cathelou

    And I thought making the eggs “easier to peel” just meant cooling them so they wouldn’t be too hot! Thanks for the info!

  • Nathalie

    Bonjour Mike Pardus,

    saw something about using bicarbonate… nicely drawn conclusion. That said, rumours are that you may encounter an unpleasant soapy flavor.

    Look forward to your test results.

  • mike pardus

    I’m not uncomfortable with “chef”….I just feel that a lot of others posting here might deserve the title more than I…by virtue or their long hours and meta carpel calouses – also, you don’t work for me, and we’re learning togehter from each other – I’m not the “Chef” here. call me what ever you like….”MP” is how I would sign most e-mail, “pardus” works – fairly uncommon name….call me anything you like…I’ve been called “scum” recently and thought it a badge of honor because of who decreed it….so, I guess “scum” would be OK too. “Mr. Softy Palms???” sounds like a handle for “an alternative life style” web site….I just said that I’d lost my calouses, not my gender preference.

    Yes, excess alkaine will result in a soapy flavor in baked goods…it needs to be tested in Boiled Eggs. I’m going to test it in the morning…I’m thinking that the key may be to establish a ratio of Soda to water which allows for ease of peeing without altering flavor. I’m also going to try pricking a pin hole ni the top of the egg before boiling – to acelerate the alkaline intake.

    Do you have any idea how difficult it is to type at 3:00 AM on New Years day and make sence???? Don’t look for results beofre 4:00 pm……

  • mike pardus

    Before turning all of your eggs in to Nog, try this at home and see if your results match mine….here’s what I did:

    Using newly purcheased XL eggs with a “use by date” of Feb 1.

    two seperate pots each with 1 qt cool tap water.
    Pot “a” had 1 Tablespoon Baking soda added, pot “b” 1 TBSP kosher salt
    Put both pots on high flame at same time – both reached full boil within a few seconds of each other.
    When boil was reached heat was turned off and pots were covered for 10 minutes.
    After 10 minutes both pots were drained of hot water, egg left in, and pots each filled with cool tap water again.
    Eggs allowed to sit in cool water for 1 minute.
    Eggs were then shelled.

    Both eggs peeled with ease – no noticable difference.
    Whites were firm, yolks pleasing yellow.
    egg “a” had a slightly deeper yellow yolk and slightly more firm white, flavor was good – although there was a very slight “baking soda” taste (hard to tell if it would have been noticable in a blind taste or if I was just imagining it)

    Tasted with 2 former CIA students….mutual consensus was that there was no decernible difference between the two eggs and that if we had not known we would not have noticed even the slight differences in yolk color or white texture.

    hmmmmmm…..need to find some low pH hen fresh eggs to play with next and see if the soda makes a difference there…

    Happy New Year y’all……

  • Ms.Anthrope

    My girls are on “low production” this time of year but I still find an egg now and then. Next one that I find, I’ll try the Baking Soda and let you know.
    BTW-I have been told that putting a little vinegar in the water when poaching an egg will keep the whites more cohesive. However, my experience is it makes them kind of rubbery and grainy. Am I doing something wrong or am I just being picky?

  • mike pardus

    The acid in the poaching liquid helps to “set” the whites around the yolks – denature’s the proteins and keeps them from just floating away. Funny, my friends and I were tag-team cooking this morning, I put the water on the fire for poached eggs and then got caught up in the pH experiment before adding vinegar to the water. Chris stepped in to poach the eggs – figuring that the water was ready to go – and exlaimed – “What the f*** is wrong with these eggs?”……the whites were flying away from the yolks, leaving nicely poached, but essentially naked, yolks floating in the hot water…fixed it with a dash of vnegar and just had a few extra yolks on each plate.

    Tags – yeah, panthera pardus….I don’t know if it’s a good thing or a bad thing…does some remote branch of my family turn into large carnivorous felines at the full moon?…….I don’t know, but the “Spots”we’re related to have only one “t”.

  • Skawt

    Pardus:

    Aside from all of the other good info, one thing I picked up in school was the quality of eggs based on age. The older an egg gets, the less round and high the dome of the yolk will be when you crack it open onto a plate.

    For the most part, as long as the egg isn’t rotten, it’s just fine. Properly refrigerated, the egg has a very long shelf life. But if you’re going for presentation – and this includes fried and poached eggs – you really want to use as fresh as possible to maintain a firm, round yolk. For hard-boiled, we’ve seen that the higher the pH the easier they are to peel. And with age, the eggs release moisture (water), the albumen breaks down, and the pH level rises.

    I don’t know how CIA handles the teaching of food science, but I’m sure the curriculum there covers the basics of the egg:

    Grade AA = viscous, clingy white; high, firm yolk, perfect shell.
    Grade A = thin, liquid thick white; round, firm yolk
    Grade B = no thick white, flat yolk

    (Fresh eggs in the market are almost always AA, and degrade approximately one level per week.)

    The hydrogen sulfide in the white will get pushed into the yolk creating ferric sulfide, and turns the outside of the yolk green. This is a direct result of cooking the eggs too fast. This is probably why the best method is to boil water, take it off the heat and put eggs in for 10 minutes. That method I’ve known for a long time – way before cooking school. I’m pretty sure I picked that one up from my mother or grandmother.

    Adding salt or acid (vinegar) to the cooking water will coagulate the white seeping out of a cracked egg (and why you use vinegar when poaching).

    Oh, and when you’re whisking egg whites for a foam/meringue/etc, you want the egg white protein to be completely denatured – through the use of cream of tartar, whipping in a raw copper bowl, adding salt, physical agitation, or using older eggs.

    So, fresh eggs aren’t always the best for everything.

  • Bob delGrosso

    Ms.Anthrope

    What you may be doing wrong is a) using too much vinegar b) heating the eggs too much c) heating the eggs for too long. Try one -not all- of the following. If one doesn’t work, try another.

    1) reducing the amount of vinegar
    2) lower the cooking temp
    3) reduce the cooking time.

    Oh, and make sure your eggs are always at the same temp before you cook them. If they are warm one day and cold the next, they are going to cook differently.

    If I may wax philosophical for a moment. Many negative cooking outcomes can be traced to inconsistent methodologies.

    One day the cook leaves a roast out on the countertop for an hour or so before cooking while on another day he pulls it from the fridge and slams it right into to oven. The pre-warmed roast cooked to 125-130, carried over to 140 is evenly rare while the other roast shows a ring of well done on the outside and lens of rare in the middle.

    One day he lets the roast rest in front an open window and finds that it only carries over to 130 and on another day he shoves it into a corner and it carries to 150.

    Point is that it is not good enough to only focus on the quality of ingredients or the steps that one follows while constructing a recipe. It’s also important to focus on the totality of the cooking (And eating!) environment and to be aware of things like internal and surface temperatures of foods prior to, during and following cooking.

    I may be stating the obvious here, and I certainly mean no condescension, but when you take cooking seriously, it gets very very interesting and very very challenging.

  • faustianbargain

    i see that there has been some meaningful discussion about food amidst the rah-rah-FG tosh. i feel compelled to address a few points directed towards me…

    1. to vincent who said: “If a certain pink spock panty wearing person wants to challenge a guy from brooklyn that works with sharp knives all day, said person is probably a dipshit!”

    this is not the smartest innuendo to be throwing around online. you wouldnt do it for yourself, why would you suggest that for someone else. refrain.

    2. to ntsc who said: “A deeply held belief which is wrong deserves to be mocked, held up to ridicule, slandered and ignored.”

    ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ is relative. especially when it is tied to emotional issues. there are millions of people whose deeply held beliefs re food..most of them are personal some of them are religious and moral. mock them at your own peril.

    those who mock vegetarians and vegans shouldnt complain about animal activists protesting against what you put on your plates and into your stomachs.

    also, ntsc quipped: “I think Jonathan Swift had the solution there and one FB’s parents could have put to good use.”

    my parents were vegetarians and we were not irish or poor. also, we are a family of brilliant cooks, if i may say so myself..having come from a culture that knows food through cooking and sharing, we were also agriculturists..which means that we progressed beyond hunting and gathering and slaugtering in the longer timeline..we could cultivate and farm and grow our food.

    on the other hand, i am sure you wount be averse to cook your own…as w.c.fields would have told you…parboil them for seven hours. even the toughest specimen will come out tender. good luck!

    finally to skwat who said:

    “The difference between children and waterfowl is that children can grow up to vote, while waterfowl grow up and STILL GET EATEN.

    Yeah, comparing fois with incest and child abuse? I recommend considering Car Sagan’s Baloney Detection Ki[SNIP] …”

    skwat, if thats the case, why all this fashionable outrage about battery chicken then? chicken dont vote, afterall..is there a difference for you if they are caged or free range? do you care if your beef comes from a four legged beast standing on its own feces and feasts on corn mush or one that grazes the pasture and is grass fed.

    animals have the right to live naturally and die naturally. the animals that we rear to provide us with our food, hide, eggs etc deserve to live as naturally as possible as long as they are alive. barns and cages are not natural. sheds, milking machines and hormones are not natural. force feeding through a rubber tube is certainly not natural. it is not about being a vegan and expressing moral outrage. it is about being *anyone*..omnivore, herbivore, vegan, whatever..and expressing moral outrage about how animals are being treated unnaturally. nobody can get to choose who can express moral outrage or who cannot..as mike pardus has unwisely opined earlier.

    what exactly is wrong with certain people’s decision to consider foie gras production cruel and they refrain from consuming it. even if they are not vegan. the issue is not whether or not foie gras should be banned or made illegal. the issue is about certain opinions that might as well have come from thick pillocks(not that i am saying its YOU..might as well be..but *i* am not saying that)..opinions that seem to assert that just because some people dont find foie gras production uncomfortable, they ARE right and only they are right. at this point, you are the exact twin of animal rights activists of the worst kind. i hold you(and your ilk) with the same contempt.

    there is no comparison between fois(sic) and incest/child abuse…there was a comparison between the rights of those who vote and those who dont. please dont change track and complain about that there is a false comparison.

    my transmission is over..continue with the regular programming. i doubt if i’ll be checking this thread anymore… so, to all… have a good year. let’s hope this one is better than 2007 in more ways than one.

  • Tags

    Jerry Mullane from Pig Daddy’s Barbecue told me about a friend who tried his smoked turkey and raved about it. The friend said his daughter had a big catering business, so he gave him another turkey for her to try.

    When she tried the turkey, she said “this is nothing special.”

    Maybe it had something to do with Jerry’s friend putting the turkey in the freezer before Thanksgiving and serving it for Christmas dinner.

  • Tags

    The FG discussion isn’t about having a right to believe it’s wrong. It’s about ham-handed animal activists trying to get it outlawed.

    And I’ll try to say it a little slower this time, FB, since it hasn’t gotten through to you yet.

    The momentum and political capital PETA gained from highlighting the factory farm abuses is being frittered away chasing a red herring down a rathole against humanely grown FG, because FG is a soft target. Wars are not won by picking battles against irrelevant or unimportant units of your enemy’s army.

  • faustianbargain

    tags said: ”

    The FG discussion isn’t about having a right to believe it’s wrong. It’s about ham-handed animal activists trying to get it outlawed.

    And I’ll try to say it a little slower this time, FB, since it hasn’t gotten through to you yet.

    The momentum and political capital PETA gained from highlighting the factory farm abuses is being frittered away chasing a red herring down a rathole against humanely grown FG, because FG is a soft target. Wars are not won by picking battles against irrelevant or unimportant units of your enemy’s army.”

    tags, thank you for saying that…and slowly too!! now that you have made it crystal clear, let me summarise what you have graciously allowed me to understand wrt what to expect in future foie gras discussions:

    1. individuals(not PETA, the organisation) who are not particularly vegan(includes vegetarians and omnivores too) can abstain and criticise the production methods of foie gras farms.

    2. individuals who have never supported PETA(e.g. chef charlie trotter) or any other animal rights activist group, militant or otherwise, will NOT have their name dragged in the mud or blamed wrongly and maliciously for the legislative actions taken against the sale of foie gras in certain states.

    3. anyone has the right to disagree that foie gras is not ‘humanely’ produced regardless of whether or not they have worked in a farm force feeding ducks or watched a duck running towards the feeding tubes in mythical France. just as anyone has the right to argue that TWaT(tm), The War on Terror, is not making the world a better place regardless of whether or not they have chosen to be a career military person or just as anyone can condemn slavery regardless of whether or not they have had ancestors who have been enslaved or just as anyone who hasnt been the victim of domestic violence can be enraged by it.

    have a good 2008.

  • kevin

    You’re all puppies. I’m 54 and began cooking when I was six (Jello, admittedly, but at six making lime Jello is pretty cool), and I’ve cooked ever since — these days I get paid to cook and to write about it.

    So youngsters, speaking from my huge wealth of wrinkles and spreading gut, when cooking the only thing that ultimately matters is flavor. And in my experience food that is raised well — whether squash, veal, or duck livers — tastes better. The difference isn’t huge in any single case, but over time it becomes noticable.

  • lux

    Geeze FB, way to take a perfectly nice conversation about eggs and completely derail it.

    Can we get back to the previous topic?

  • Skawt

    FB:

    If you continue to post in this thread after saying “goodbye”, I am going to respond to every one of your posts with this:

    “my transmission is over..continue with the regular programming. i doubt if i’ll be checking this thread anymore… so, to all… have a good year. let’s hope this one is better than 2007 in more ways than one.”

    However, you posted again, making you a liar. Add to that the ad hominmem attacks against people. Really, deliberately misspelling my handle? That’s childish. Being petulant, insulting and rude is not the way to sway people to your side. It’s just annoying everyone.

    Your credibility, if any, is now gone. Please go away. Forever.

  • Tags

    The way I see it, FB is right on all three points…

    she and others should be allowed to make reasonable rebuttals…

    individuals who have not singlehandedly caused foie to be outlawed should not be vilified (I do think they should be mildly reprimanded if they play a supporting “aid & comfort” role)…

    anyone has a right to disagree that foie is not humanely processed…

    I see her latest post as a breakthrough in what appeared to me as just head-butting on her part, but she really does make some good points. The one that struck home with me was that animal-rights activists were the ones who exposed factory farming as a sham.

    I also did some research on Sea Shepherd, and discovered that the ships they were attacking were ostensibly doing “research” on whales but were actually harvesting meat and blubber as if the current ban had never been in place.

    With all the duplicity out there, I can understand the frustration of people trying to change what they see as evil.

    What we need to realize, is that there are people who foment frustration so that they can point to their detractors and say “see, they’re nuts!”

    All the more reason to be reasonable in your disagreements, resisting the nasty words, refining your arguments.

  • faustianbargain

    skawt..surely, you jest? ‘deliberately misspelling handle?’ i am tempted now, but i shall resist.

    tags..thanks. a more civilised discussion about foie gras can take place elsewhere and amongst those who want to discuss it if false information can be stemmed at origin.`

    i dont see foie gras as ‘evil’..its more ‘disagreeable’ to me. and it is easier to explain why to those who care if arguments such as ‘chef trotter helped ban fg in chicago’ or ‘only vegans have a right to criticise foie gras’ etc are nipped at the bud. these statements must die. there are a dozen plus blogs on the net that celebrate foie gras and where they record the joy of preparing one…you wont find me commenting there.

    anyone who comes to ruhlman.com or the egullet thread where bourdain offered trotter as a sacrificial lamb at the altar of foie gras come with a preconceived notion..that is also false.

    on a slightly different note…on the whale hunting…let this not be done in the name of science. there is nothing new we can learn by killing these magnificent creatures. it is hideous, perverse and obscene to invite science to be part of this massacre.

    i would certainly extend an invitation to you when reasonable discussions take place elsewhere online about these issues if you are interested. and i mean this in the most non-evangelical way. take care.

  • Skawt

    FB:

    “my transmission is over..continue with the regular programming. i doubt if i’ll be checking this thread anymore… so, to all… have a good year. let’s hope this one is better than 2007 in more ways than one.”

  • Skawt

    Thanks for proving me right.

    “my transmission is over..continue with the regular programming. i doubt if i’ll be checking this thread anymore…”