May 23, 2009

"Tell the chef to ditch the extra oil and substitute an extra sprinkle of herbs."

I have a love-hate relationship with the writing in women's magazines. I've read a lot of them — mainly, because for 2 years (before I went to law school) I had a job that required me to read all the women's magazines, month after month. I try not to let them upset me. I try to laugh. And often I do laugh. In fact, when I had that job — it was a day job, back when I fancied myself an artist — we laughed a lot. Everything seemed absurd. The most absurd thing I ever read was the idea that you could knit the string that bakeries tie around cake boxes into dishrags.

That quote up there is from a recent issue of some health/fitness magazine for women. The concern is that Chinese restaurants might put a lot of oil in their dishes, and the advice is to ask the waiter to "tell the chef to ditch the extra oil and substitute an extra sprinkle of herbs." Now, what I want you to do is: Next time you go to a Chinese restaurant, say that to the waiter: "tell the chef to ditch the extra oil and substitute an extra sprinkle of herbs." You must say that verbatim. You must use the words "ditch" and "sprinkle." Then come back here and tell me all about it.

It's not as silly as knitting bakery string into dishrags, but it's something that I'd nonetheless like to refer to as a bakery-string dishrag. It's just crazy women's magazine talk. No one in the history of the world has ever knitted a bakery-string dishrag. And no sane person would ever say to a Chinese waiter to "ditch" oil or add "an extra sprinkle of herbs." Unless they were on a mission from the Althouse blog. Please! It's so much easier than knitting a dishrag from saved string.

45 comments:

Seven Machos said...

I would love to do this. However, at the Chinese dive up the street, the woman who works the cash register (and often delivers!) speaks virtually no English.

Does it count if you are pretty sure the person hearing you won't understand what you say?

traditionalguy said...

That was hilarious. For more laughs, dig up Womens Magazines from 10 years ago and see the buzz words and the required Smart Living that the brightest women were all told to live up. Much of that advice is like Men's ties shapes which repeats itself in cycles of do this and then do the opposite every 5 years.

John Lynch said...

What is this, a Something Awful challenge?

What do we call the Althouse blogswarm? Alties? Housians? What?

Deirdre Mundy said...

Because, of course, if you're concerned about calories, you're going to be eating Chinese Takeout. ?!?!?!

My favorite was the article on "Weight Loss Secrets You Can Use" that featured a woman who lost 40 pounds in a year by giving up chocolate.

She HAD been eating an entire Whitman's sampler every day!!!!

Who needs a magazine to tell you that it's unhealthy to eat a pound of candy a day?

rhhardin said...

You'll be hungry again in 15 minutes without the extra oil.

traditionalguy said...

Oil adds some calories, but the fat content alone is meaningless for weight loss. But then again, the target audience doesn't think like that. The idea of food with little or no food content seems to appeal to some puritan guilt avoidance by rule keeping the old no fat rules from the 80s. Try steamed rice instead of flied rice.

Lem said...

I had eggplants at a Chinese Restaurant recently and they were phelpd in oil.

dbp said...

I think the idea behind the "advice" is that you can pretend the food is healthier and thus eat more of it. Even though you really know that the cook is going to make it exactly the same way as always.

dbp said...

Or possibly it is just put out there with hardly any rigorous thought.

Jason (the commenter) said...

This is going to end up being a cult isn't it? First Althouse will have us do crazy things to prove our loyalty, then she'll have us shave our heads and give her all of our worldly goods.

Cedarford said...

"Lem said...
I had eggplants at a Chinese Restaurant recently and they were phelpd in oil"

Ummm, I know what you mean. I "phelpd out" at today's neighborhood afternoon picnic. It was the whole pig barbecue, dandelion salad, 3 different homemade slaws, and the Thai barbecue and insistence we try several beer homebrews and trade our shrimp kebabs for some brownies and pie.

I can't even "swim it off", like Mike.
Put us in a pool right now and we'd just float around like days-old bloated bodies from the Tsunami.

paul a'barge said...

Oh dear. I'm laughing so hard I can hardly breathe. I think I just spit cherry diet Dr Pepper all over my monitor.

I just can't wait until the next time I'm in a Chinese restaurant. If I can speak without laughing I'll give this a run.

Maxine Weiss said...

EVERYONE:

Go over to MySpace and type "julietcapulet" under Username.

Then type "misinformations" as the Password....

.....and you'll be able to hack into my account and see all my fake friends !!!!

Cool, huh ?

Love,
Maxine

TitusisOnTheEndofThe Cape said...

I usually ask politely for some minor changes/additions to something that may be on my food at a restaurant.

For example I don't like onions. I hate onions. I always ask for any restaurant where a dish serves onions to please take them off.

I would never say ditch or sprinkle though. How pretentious.

I think it is fine to ask for minor changes to what you are being served and if you ask politely.

The drag queen bike parade is now takin place. They have Donna Summer's music blasting. Queens.

Was I one of the trolls everyone was talking about?

Seven Machos said...

Everybody loves you Titus, except for the people who don't, and even they love you in deep, dark secret places in the cockles of their hearts.

TitusisOnTheEndofThe Cape said...

I also ask for my meals without parsley. Parsley gets in your teeth and I don't like that. The last thing you want to be doing all night is trying to extract parsley from your teeth.

So I say no sprinkles of parsley please.

TitusisOnTheEndofThe Cape said...

Thanks Seven. Special hugs right back at ya.

Happy Holiday!

MamaM said...

How about wrapping a Christmas present in a used pillowcase purchased at Goodwill and tying it with a used necktie, to save on the cost and waste of wrapping paper? Old, used purses were also suggested as lovely ways to hide or wrap smaller gifts. Both "holiday tips" were included in an Associated Press article in our local paper 2 years ago as clever ways to save money and energy. I wondered if the writer had thought about how much more money and energy could be saved by using the paper her article was printed on and forgoing the trip to Goodwill?

rhhardin said...

Handyman project

1. Remove roof and temporarily set aside.

EnigmatiCore said...

I think we should all rock down to Electric Avenue.

And then we'll take it higher.

Dr. Alice said...

Ann: of course no one's going to knit that excess string into a dishrag. Why do that when you can roll it into balls and go for the World's Biggest Ball of String title?

I mean, I'm not the only one doing that, right?

Also, I would purely love to know what kind of job it is that pays you to read women's magazines. Can I apply for it?

knox said...

the idea that you could knit the string that bakeries tie around cake boxes into dishrags.

LOL!

But, hey, at least knitting is possible.

I've tried a couple Martha Stewart Living craft projects that simply do not work. I think they have a renegade, sadistic person on staff who comes up with but elegant and beautiful -- but impossible! -- projects just to drive its readers crazy. The shorter and simpler the instructions, the more impossible the project.

knox said...

"When buying your pastries, simply ask the baker to ditch the sprinkles and substitute extra string"

knox said...

Sorry for the multiple postings, but the subject of women's magazines is just such rich material. There could easily be a website like "Passive-aggressive Notes" or "Stuff White People Like" that features ridiculous women's mag content.

mrs whatsit said...

There is a connection between this post about women's magazines and the other post about why women supposedly aren't happy.

How happy would YOU be if somebody was always nagging you to bug the cook at the Chinese restaurant to substitute a sprinkle of herbs for some of the oil or to save up your used string so you could knit a dishrag? Hmm??

The solution, of course, is to ignore women's magazines.

nansealinks said...

If poor people in Africa did it , it would be and is art. I have seen old snippets of telephone wire strung and wound into traditional African princess armband pieces. They were on display in the indianapolis art museum.

So ann, would you laugh at those poor tribal people of call it art?

Ann Althouse said...

@knox Yeah, I was using my camera to capture content that struck me as absurd in the one magazine I picked up today. It would be easy to make this a regular feature here. I have 2 more posts to do from what I saw today.

former law student said...

There are cheap family-style Chinese restaurants that use an abundance of oil because oil makes things taste good.

AVOID SUCH RESTAURANTS.

But even in the best restaurant, the cook needs to use a lot of oil, because he is frying things. Stir-fry. You can order steamed dishes or claypots if you want to avoid oil.

The main absurdity is the "extra" sprinkle of herbs. Chinese cooking does just fine without any herbs at all. Cooks use sauces, not herbs. They do use a lot of ginger and garlic, but those are roots, and therefore spices, not herbs. The only herb I can think of is cilantro.

Jennifer said...

Of course, it's not called cilantro in a Chinese restaurant. Heung choy to most Chinese. Coriander to some. Chinese parsley in Hawaii. And Cilantro to the rest of us...

Big Mike said...

No one in the history of the world has ever knitted a bakery-string dishrag.

Mmmm. Wanna bet? My late aunt used to knit dishcloths from string and hand them out to nieces and nephews. She's been gone a number of years but we still have two that are hanging together (though barely, and mostly because they wound up not being used for a while). Whether she ever used the ultra-thin string that the bakeries around here tend to use, I don't know, but she grew up poor during the Depression so it's not beyond belief.

Jennifer said...

I love all the variously named things. I use mustard greens to make yatsumi zuke - a kind of japanese pickled vegetable. In Hawaii, I usually have to look for mizuna. In Oregon, I had to try to find mustard greens. Here in NC, I have to go to a Korean store and look for gai choy. All the same thing, of course.

El Presidente said...

I can't even get "No Broccoli"

Revenant said...

an extra sprinkle of herbs.

Your work is ingenious! Its quality work... and there are simply too many notes, that's all. Just cut a few, and it'll be perfect.

Peter V. Bella said...

You tell a chef that and he may come in to the dining room and tell you what you can do with your self. He may even throw a set of new batteries at you. Are these women who write these articles stone idiots?

Oh, and herbs do nothing to substitute for oil- as a trained cook and former personal chef, I think I know where of I speak. These are people who do not cook, have no basic food knowledge, and are spouting their ignorance.

Here is a better one. If you are a real ditz- when they ask you how you want your eggs, tell them one over easy and one scrambled. WHen the waitress gives you "the look", you can tell her you like your eggs like your ass and your brain.

Jeff with one 'f' said...

Oh, Christ- I used to work in a Chinese restaurant that did heavy lunch trade with businessmen in suits. One day a gentleman ordered some dish with NO, and I mean NO, msg. They waiter politely assured him that the cook would whip up a special batch with no msg.

I followed to the kitchen and watched as the old lady who owned the place took the order and nodded vigorously. Then she filled his plate with a serving from the same huge pot of moo shoo pork that everyone else was served with.

Rick Lee said...

One of my relatives used to constantly ask the waiter if the chef could substitute this for that and could that be a brown sauce instead of the other sauce?... and on and on... and he was so surprised when he was the only one at the table that didn't like his food.

reader_iam said...

Regarding string use:

Oh, I don't know. Given what people use in "found art," or even art not in that specific category, but hailed just the same, why ought this be so absurd?

(Not to mention a) some of the crafts I've seen over the past 8 years and b) some of the things my grandparents made do/of with--a handful of which survive today.)

reader_iam said...

P.S. I know personally know some one who collected the hair of favorite dogs to be used in the making of the sweater.

It's a big wide world out there, just chock full of people with different notions of what's absurd and what's not, is all I can say.

reader_iam said...

Also, a random thought which just popped to mind: When in fact, as some suggest, the people involved don't really understand English, what the hell difference does it make what idiom (current or no, hip or no, whatever) a clueless-or-not customer might choose to employ? Betcha those who DO understand English (even if customers don't think so) could tell tales.

(That said, I laughed, too--a lot--at the ditch'n'extra thang.

Until that random thought, anyway.)

rhhardin said...

You can make a lanyard out of cake box string, if you've been to camp.

Under two, over one.

Starting the box is the tricky part.

nansealinks said...

while I think this is more about the boss slipping some herb, I think it shows lack of creativity in thinking how this could possibly be of benefit to any woman.

Ann, iGnore your inner ridicule and think. Perhaps there is a woman who was caught in a relationship where her partner, male or female, would get angry and beat her or ridicule her if she spent money. Perhaps she was so creative to do such.

Poor ann, have you never known trouble and thought your way out of it through creaTivity?

Penny said...

I would have laughed at the bakery string potholder back in the day, but this is a VERY different day. There are now hundreds of people, primarily women, who have turned crafting into a family revenue stream. Spend an hour browsing randomly at Etsy and you will laugh no more. My fascination with Etsy led me to check out some of the blog spots for the people selling there, and as with other blogs, you follow a link from here to there to the next one. The creative and oft time artistic talent that is swelling up out there is astonishing.

Secondly, and even more importantly from my perspective, many of these women are now running cottage businesses from their homes while raising their families and making some money doing what they enjoy. Leave it to American ingenuity! Where one door closes, four more open up.

former law student said...

Starting the box is the tricky part.

This reminds me: when my sister was little, she asked my dad to hammer four nails into a spool. I think she used this to braid string. Does this sound familiar?

No one has yet made the obvious point that anyone who can afford to buy enough pastry to make a dishrag from the accumulated box string, can surely afford to buy several dishrags.

nansealinks said...

quite true former.

But years ago lots of things were not even put in bags. They just tied string around them and you carried such home. I remember those strings being rolled up in the junk drawer of our house. Note: we were not poor but we were polish.

Freeman Hunt said...

How about wrapping a Christmas present in a used pillowcase purchased at Goodwill and tying it with a used necktie, to save on the cost and waste of wrapping paper?

That's hilarious. Can you imagine receiving such a gift? Newspaper? Sure. Heck, even the shopping bag from the store where the gift was purchased. But some old pillowcase? With an old necktie wrapped around?! Tres weird.