Saturday 31 July 2021

You Are What You Eat 15 (In Quotes)

“Imaginative food, beautifully presented” is a compliment. But what’s wrong with classic food, plainly presented? The American phrase “gussied up” is useful. Or “gourmet up the pot roast”, as Carrie Snodgress was urged to do in Diary of a Mad Housewife. (She probably added sherry, cream and a sprinkling of chives.)

Consider yourself too good for normal meals because you read the recipes in The Guardian? Then you’ll love these needlessly complicated versions of basic food. (Daily Mash)

The term “elevated” is bandied about a lot. It's used repeatedly on cooking reality shows. On those series, a contestant prepares a popular, common dish, and is told that it needs to be “elevated.” The term means that a hamburger or a taco might be “elevated” by using a more expensive and tricky to prepare cut of meat, or a rarer cheese, a specially made sauce, and perhaps the design and look of the meal may be different and fancier than all of the standard versions of the foodstuff. Chris Chan

My husband and I are planning a lovely weeklong staycation with his relatives—eight adults in total. My mother-in-law loves having meals together and usually makes the food, but she’s a terrible cook, bless her. She tries, and we get by with basic staples like tacos and prepackaged lasagna. But I really love good food, so it’s a real shame to do that for a week. ... To add to the issue, if I offer even light advice like, “I bet that some fresh basil would be amazing in this delicious tomato soup,” even when my mother-in-law welcomes the change, the rest of the dinner guests make comments like, “Oh, there Wendy goes again, wanting to make things fancy! She can’t just leave it alone,” which really dampens the mood. My husband loves my food and is very supportive of me, but if I let him, he would unleash. Am I destined to eat boring basics in exciting food cities? (Writer-in to Dear Prudie,

My daughter Bella has a great playgroup that meets once a week after school. We were really lucky to get into this group. The girls come from some of the wealthiest families at the school, and since our family is more working class, we love that Bella is able to see how the other side lives and maybe even look for something to aspire to one day. So far Bella has had so much fun with all the girls. But last week I got a nasty email from one of the mothers. I sent some homemade cookies and store-bought veggies and dip for the snack last week, and apparently this was not up to snuff! The mothers said that my vegetables were clearly not homegrown and organic and that they could taste the pesticides and preservatives on them. They asked if I knew that ranch dip is high in cholesterol and saturated fat which leads to heart disease. I was in tears reading this email. Their assumption that I had no idea how to feed my daughter was so insulting. I emailed them back saying that I was unsure what particular brands of veggies, dip and baking items to buy, and received another email suggesting I start a garden. Prudie, we live in an apartment complex. I am unsure how to respond. I really, really want my daughter to be happy and have friends with the right values and aspirations. But I have no idea how to make these women happy. I went to the farmers’ market an hour away last weekend to look for some appropriate items to send for next week, but the market was so expensive. I don’t want my daughter to get kicked out of this playgroup, especially now that she’s so happy. How can I handle these clean-food moms? (Writer-in to Dear Prudie at

When I was studying quinoa in early 2000s rural Ecuador, it was often considered a peasant food. 'Inferior', 'backward', even 'unhealthy'. Today in the West the exact same food is considered aspirational, fancy and thus innately healthy. (James Wong @Botanygeek)

David Brent’s spiritual home is a Harvester restaurant west of the M25. (Will Hodgkinson)

In the most deprived parts of London the kids rush to the local takeaway shop (normally chicken shop due to price) after school to get their dinner. They’ve been given £1-2 a day to get something as they know they are not getting anything at home. Their parents both work two jobs and don’t have time to shop or cook. (@cjbearcpfc)

More here, and links to the rest.

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