Those quick to jump on the “latest thing” need to do some deeper investigation.
I’m tired of talking about trends, but then, I’m tired anyway, so here we go. Do you think, though, that we could come up with a new word for this discussion? “Infatuations” is too long, I suppose, and “meme” is too Twittery. Not “fads,” I suppose. Fashions? Mass hysteria? Media-mediated groupthink? Never mind.
There is a substantial number of people who specialize in the epidemiology of aesthetics, believe it or not. Among them, there is general agreement that a “fad” is a very different thing from a “trend.” The former are widespread and have a short lifespan (hula-hoops, Asian flu); the latter move more slowly and become, eventually, part of everyday life (compact fluorescents, bubonic plague). By this understanding, the Atkins diet was a fad, thank goodness, and we may once more eat bread. The Buffalo-wing diet, however, appears to be with us to stay.
A burger chain pairs with craft breweries and creates a meaningful and cost-effective publicity stunt. Why aren’t you doing something like this?
Let’s start with the obvious: I don’t mind a junket. When I am accidentally elected to Congress through a ballot misprint, I will spend most of my days in my office smoking cigars, reading cookbooks, and accepting invitations to fact-finding tours of Aruba, Bonaire and Curaçao. I already have the justification in place—they’re called the ABC Islands, and in order to promote alphabetic understanding and literacy in the early grades, which will allow all of our children an equal chance at the American Dream…et cetera.
If I need to spell it out for you, perhaps you should join me and refresh your skills.
When it comes to food, the cost of standardization is greatness. But evidence suggests that sometimes good is, in fact, good enough.
So here’s the professional chef sitting down to dinner: lasagna from Trader Joe’s, focaccia from the Target bakery, salad from a bag and Kraft Italian dressing. Sorry, that’s “Zesty Italian”—at my age, zest is tough to remember.
In a general-circulation newspaper, this scene might be portrayed with a bit of irony or cynicism. I am reminded at the beginning of every semester that the world of foodservice is largely misunderstood: new students come in ready to save the planet by establishing an empire of 19 scratch kitchens, one in every major capital and two in orbit, where their worshipful terrified minions incarnate their seraphic visions into semi-divine matter with sauce. They will never eat a commercial hot dog, they will buy only cage-free quinoa, and they will wear clogs made from hollowed cassava roots.
They’ll find out.
With high turnover in foodservice, its tough to maintain a “culture” within a business.
I cleaned out part of the garage this afternoon, which got me thinking about clutter, which got me thinking about restaurants, which got me thinking about the Charlie Awards. We just saw the second convening of this annual celebration of the Twin Cities’ food culture (have we done it long enough that I can start calling it the “Chucks”?), and I spent another Monday after the event explaining to my students what Charlie’s was and why the award is named for the place. It was just like last year: when I was done talking about it, they wanted to quit school and go to work there. I suppose I should be grateful that it’s closed; my dean keeps an eye on my enrollment.
But back to my garage.
The Charlie Awards are coming up, and again I’ve let Sue Zellickson steamroll me into bringing a team of student cooks. Such a tiny woman to wield so much force—but then, if you know anything about heavy equipment, you know it’s more the size of the roller than the size of the controller. So once again, I get to oversee a couple thousand appetizers.
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