June 26, 2006

"Tell me what you eat and I will tell you what you are."

Wrote Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin, quoted by foodie Kelly Alexander in TNR. She's riffing on a cookbook -- published two years ago -- that collects various recipes from politicians, and she purports to be especially stunned that Dick Cheney served up a dopey chicken casserole recipe.

Someone's writing a cookbook collecting recipes from bloggers. I got a request to contribute that I'm told many prominent bloggers have already responded to. So I guess we'll be seeing a book that will give us the opportunity to blab about what these characters are.

But, presumably, Brillat-Savarin wanted to know what people actually ate, not what they'd want displayed next to their name in a cookbook. We need to reframe the quote: Tell me what you want me to think you eat and I will tell you what you want me to think you are. Or maybe: If you want to tell me what you supposedly eat and I will know that you care what I think you are.

34 comments:

Anthony said...

1) Get package of brats and an onion.
2) Get a 12-pack of mid-range beer
3) Pour beer over brats and sliced onions and cook in a saucepan for 20 minutes
4) While consuming some of the beer
5) Grill brats over open flame
6) While consuming some of the beer
7) Put brats back into beer and simmer until ready to eat

Serve with whatever other junk you have on hand and continue swilling the beer.

No, I didn't grow up in Wisconsin or anything. . . .

Ricardo said...

You seem hungry today (food as a topic in many threads). Did you miss breakfast, or is it just time for some food-blogging?

reader_iam said...

I can't decide whether the tone of the article is more snotty or more weird.

In any case, it seems a bit out of touch if the author has never heard of or met rich people who "eat poor or middle class" and vice versa. (Or, more to the point, people who don't eat just one way.)

Hmm.

Weird AND snotty.

David said...

Iron Chef made that it's tagline over 10 years ago.

Ruth Anne Adams said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
bill said...

Iron Chef made that it's tagline over 10 years ago.

Obviously, Iron Chef needs to sue Brillat-Savarin for plagiarism.

Even sadder, Brillat-Savarin isn't a chef, he's a lawyer.

Ann Althouse said...

Ruth Anne: That's from a cookbook! You can't just steal the recipes from someone's cookbook and present them as yours. My recipe is: buy Marcella Hazan's cookbook.

Tim Sisk said...

I wonder what she would make of Mississippi Democrats' annual "beans and greens" fund-raising dinners.

And for you non-Southern types that green beans, butter beans, turnip (or mustard or collard or mixture of all the above) greens served up with a pone of cornbread (and probably includes such staples as purple-hulled peas, as well).

Atticus said...

I thought "snotty" was just part of being a foodie. Especially for those who don't mind being called a foodie. The rest of us just enjoy good food.

Goatwhacker said...

I can't decide whether the tone of the article is more snotty or more weird.

I think the predominant tone is snotty. I would think when submitting a recipe you'd want to choose one with wide appeal and relatively affordable.

tiggeril said...

Wouldn't he be slapped for being all elitist if he'd put in a recipe for something with foie gras and caviar?

RogerA said...

Tim: your post reminds me that there is nothing better than southern cuisine; plus it is simple to cook with a never-fail recipe: if its young fry it in bacon drippings, and if its old, boil it

Tim Sisk said...

rogera: lol

And I'm fat enough to prove it.

Maxine Weiss said...

It's true. Recipes are copyright-able.

Even a basic grilled-cheese sandwich, of the most basic....

...could be copyrighted.

Anyway, ...
...real men don't eat quiche!

And not gooseberry pie nor capons either.

Spareribs and saurkraut....now that's macho!

Peace, Maxine

Elizabeth said...

Snotty writing is not good food writing. I'll take MFK Fisher and Calvin Trillin over any "foodie" writer.

bearbee said...

Snotty definitely snotty.........

Warren Buffet eats at Dairy Queen and lives in the house he bought in 1958 for $31,000. However lunching with Warren can be ... uh pricey

Cheney was born in Lincoln, NE and raised in Wyoming. Presumably his parents having gone through the depression imparted the down-to-earth midwest values of thrift and hard work to their children (although one wonders about the thrift part given this administration flagrant lack of fiscal discipline) .

Beside the authoritative Amazon.com shows chicken casserole under GOURMET . 'Nuff said....

Christy said...

Tim, those green beans are cooked up with fat back until there isn't a crunch left in them, aren't they?

Elizabeth, I would have said M.F.K. Fisher was the ultimate foodie writer. She did, after all, a translation of The Physiology of Taste: Or, Meditations on Transcendental Gastronomy
by Brillat-Savarin and quotes him liberally in her other work.

jvgordon said...

My understanding, and I have never researched this, is that recipes are in fact not copyrightable. Perhaps the specific word choice is, but not the recipe as a set of instructions, because they are an algorithim, and algorithims are not copyrightable. If it was new and non-obvious, perhaps some sort of patent protection might be available.

RogerA said...

Christy--Nothing in the south is served al dente--esp greens (OK--pork rinds dont count)

Tim Sisk said...

Christy: Assuming Southern Democrats eat them the same as the rest of the South, then that would be a yes, even though I've never been to a "beans and greens" fundraiser. (I've never been to a Republican fundraiser either, I'm not the type to contribute to political groups.)

But technically speaking, they aren't "green beans" but "snap beans".

And rogera don't forget about the "crunch" of "cracklin' bread".

Tim Sisk said...

While Southern fare isn't often as exacting as foodies would prefer, a real Southern snob would not only know the difference between "black-eyed peas" and "purple hulled peas" but have a preference for the latter.

And also would know what is meant by "pot liquor"...

Maxine Weiss said...

Tim, I'm a died-in-the-wool Yankee, but I think pot likker (what a term!).....

...just means pan drippings.

You know the term ...to "de-glaze" a pan....to combine all the drippings and bits and add in a bit of stock and flour to thicken....

...and you have a nice sauce or glaze.

It's just basically where you scrape the pan and get all those nice drippings, and bits of goodness, and toxic teflon peelings....

off-the-pan.

Teflon = Death.

Stainless steal, always!

Hope that answers your question, Tim.

Peace, Maxine

Maxine Weiss said...

We need to find out if President Reagan's chef used teflon pans in the White House kitchen.

Peace, Maxine

Tim Sisk said...

Maxine: Nice try, but no deglazing here.

Should I reveal what pot liquo (likker) in the South wait a little longer?)

Tim Sisk said...

Ok, here's the answer...

What is pot liquor?

Growing up in our house meant you poured the liquid from the boiled green or peas (the pot!) over your cornbread in a bowl.

Humble fare and probably not beloved by foodies unless it somehow came into vogue like peasant fare did some years ago. (There was a time that garlic was considered by foodies to be a peasant seasoning.)

If the html formatting doesn't work, just google "what is pot liquor?" and you'll get the answer.

Maxine Weiss said...

No forget the pot stuff, Tim, with my attention span....we've moved on..

..to Hoppin' John!

Also, I don't understand the Southern passion for white corn meal. I like the bright yellow stuff. Much more colorful!

And then the whole dressing vs stuffing thing. Although I think dressing is more moist than dry stuffing.

Maybe I'm not such the Yankee I'd thought.

Peace, Maxine

bill said...

Maxine, dressing is the same as stuffing, except the dressing is baked in a pan and the stuffing is stuffed in something. Don't think it's a regional thing.

It is much easier to kill your guests with stuffing, just in case you're interested. Take the Thanksgiving turkey. Stuffing increases the mass of the bird, requiring a longer cooking time. If you only cook the turkey to the correct temperature, then the stuffing is undercooked and is full of raw turkey juice greatly increasing your risk of dying from food poisoning. So you have to cook until the stuffing is done, meaning you've overcooked the turkey. No one dies, then again no one ever wants to come back for dinner.

Recommendation: cook as dressing, then poor the finished pan juices over it before serving for that extra stuffing flavor.

Stuffing game hens or pork chops is fine as you're dealing with a much smaller mass and it's easier to control.

Elizabeth said...

Christy, I should clarify: Fischer's tone and love of the stories about food are in contrast to this reviewer, who I found snotty. I don't see Fischer as elitist or snobbish.

Elizabeth said...

In this region, south Louisiana, we add little red potatoes to the snap beans and fatback. Nice! And we use yellow cornmeal. Are you thinking of hominy, for grits, Maxine?

Wickedpinto said...

Just made me think of the fact that when I die, I want to be the secret ingredient on Iron Chef. It will be a challenge, for them since my liver will be next to useless, except, MAYBE as a chilled cocktail.

Paco Wové said...

"...cook as dressing, then poor the finished pan juices over it before serving for that extra stuffing flavor."

Pfft. Reminder to self: never eat turkey at Bill's house.

If you're not willing to take some risks, you don't deserve real stuffing flavor.

bill said...

No idea what you mean by risks, I see it as the simple avoidance of salmonella. Perhaps you would prefer a filipino stew made with pigs blood? Or a foie gras milkshake? Excellent food without risking death.

Paco, if you ate at my house--and don't expect that to happen--the turkey kicks ass. But don't expect either stuffing or dressing, can't stand the stuff. And no marshmallows on the sweet potatoes. The food is already dead, why embarass it further?

Christy said...

I grew up on pinto beans and cornbread, of course with the pinto beans poured over the crumbled cornbread on the plate.

Fisher certainly wasn't a snob. She was the most sensual of food writers. Okay, a non sequitor, but one has to say it when talking about M.F.K. Fisher.

reader_iam said...

Ruth Riechl's books are cool, too. Food and more. Not snotty. Very funny. Neat walk through the larger time and culture as well.

I recommend them, starting with "Tender at the Bone."