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Lies They Feed Us: "Wild," "Crab," Etc.

Lies They Feed Us: "Wild," "Crab," Etc.
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  • Lies They Feed Us: "Wild," "Crab," Etc.

    Post #1 - August 10th, 2005, 9:36 am
    Post #1 - August 10th, 2005, 9:36 am Post #1 - August 10th, 2005, 9:36 am
    Lies They Feed Us: “Wild,” “Crab,” Related Untruths

    Sitting down at Emilio’s Lincoln Park the other night, my eye was caught by Setas al Porto, described in telegraphic menuese as “wild mushrooms in Port.” Ever since a formative early adolescent experience with Laetiporous sulphureous, I lust for the wild ‘shroom, but when I got the platter, I found I had received only the domesticated Portobello (basically a button mushroom with a growth disorder) and shitake (pretty but pedestrian). Calling these cultivated fungi “wild” seems to me to be a lie, an out-and-out untruth, a calculated deception – unless there’s a generally accepted definition of “wild” that I don’t know about. To me, a wild mushroom has an earthy depth and tang I’ve never encountered in farm-raised cousins, and although I regularly eat the cultivated variety, I’m irked when I’m sold them disguised as their woodland betters.

    Such untruths are very common in the food biz, and a most common one is found at restaurants that still advertise “crab” when they mean Krab, which is unpardonable. I am amazed that some sushi joints that serve otherwise tasty real fish will try to sneak this seafood sausage, masquerading as actual crustacean, into a roll or a bowl of chirashi. And when you call such menu “mistakes” to the server’s attention, they look surprised like, “gee, yeah, you might be right; maybe that’s not real crab but just an artificially colored and textured surimi stump.”

    Don’t get me started on “fresh” fish in the freezer cabinet, “freshly brewed” coffee out of vending machines, and the like. At least with these widely recognized and accepted deceptive practices, there is no presumption that we’re too stupid not to realize that we’re being deceived.

    Hammond
    Last edited by David Hammond on August 10th, 2005, 1:20 pm, edited 8 times in total.
    “We all have to stand before the kitchen gods.” Chef Jacob Sahaya Kumar Aruni
  • Post #2 - August 10th, 2005, 9:55 am
    Post #2 - August 10th, 2005, 9:55 am Post #2 - August 10th, 2005, 9:55 am
    Hammond,

    I'm with you, but I want to observe that America's love affair with crab seems to be fairly unique among Western countries (why is that? barnacles and whelks, sure, but crabs no way??) and also will add that certain absolutely fantastic seafood specialists in Chicago throw in surimi with otherwise wholly legit crustaceans. Las Islas Marias, eg. I don't know why.
  • Post #3 - August 10th, 2005, 10:48 am
    Post #3 - August 10th, 2005, 10:48 am Post #3 - August 10th, 2005, 10:48 am
    Frankly, I'd find krab inexcusable in sushi, but possibly preferable in moderately-priced seafood salads and such -- consistency of quality is tough with real crab.

    Case in point: The Vegas Bellagio buffet, a $34 extravaganza, had thoroughly mediocre "King" crab legs, pre-split. They were waterlogged, flavorless and stringy. Most people ate 'em like crazy, but I took one or two, and just kinda picked them over.

    Meanwhile, 48 hours later, my mother served ones from Dominick's that were precooked, then tossed on the grill to heat up, and they were wonderful.

    Surimi would be inferior to the latter, but better than the former. For a crab-and-cucumber salad, or one in mayo, krab sounds just fine to me.
  • Post #4 - August 10th, 2005, 11:12 am
    Post #4 - August 10th, 2005, 11:12 am Post #4 - August 10th, 2005, 11:12 am
    The Spanish, at least, have a thing for crabs. There's the famed centolla of Galicia, but also I saw in several markets in very remote parts of the interior lively little river crabs that were being snatched up. One vendor told me they go to a soup, as there's not much meat. Made me wish I had a kitchen.
  • Post #5 - August 10th, 2005, 12:04 pm
    Post #5 - August 10th, 2005, 12:04 pm Post #5 - August 10th, 2005, 12:04 pm
    David,

    I'm with you. This kind of stuff incenses me.

    I would also add to the list "Vidalia" onions. I don't know how many times I'm at a produce market (or even a farmer's market) that bills their Texas Sweet onions or Michigan onions as "Vidalia". I'm not saying they're necessarily better or worse, but they ain't Vidalia. Call them what they are. Educate the public about the different options.

    The same goes for "Kobe" beef which is actually Wagu. Although, it is now more common to see Kobe-style on a menu.

    Best,
    Michael
  • Post #6 - August 10th, 2005, 12:11 pm
    Post #6 - August 10th, 2005, 12:11 pm Post #6 - August 10th, 2005, 12:11 pm
    eatchicago wrote: I'm not saying they're necessarily better or worse, but they ain't Vidalia. Call them what they are. Educate the public about the different options.


    What surprises me is that the people of Vidalia don't come after these "other onions." More then likely, they don't have the name registered or otherwise protected.

    Hammond
    “We all have to stand before the kitchen gods.” Chef Jacob Sahaya Kumar Aruni
  • Post #7 - August 10th, 2005, 12:16 pm
    Post #7 - August 10th, 2005, 12:16 pm Post #7 - August 10th, 2005, 12:16 pm
    David Hammond wrote:
    eatchicago wrote: I'm not saying they're necessarily better or worse, but they ain't Vidalia. Call them what they are. Educate the public about the different options.


    What surprises me is that the people of Vidalia don't come after these "other onions." More then likely, they don't have the name registered or otherwise protected.


    I don't think the problem is with the farmers of the "other onions". They are putting the proper stickers/labels on their merchandise. The problem exists with the markets when they're writing their signs with magic markers to put above the bins. I don't think there are enough people in Vidalia to chase after all these places.

    Best,
    Michael
  • Post #8 - August 10th, 2005, 12:21 pm
    Post #8 - August 10th, 2005, 12:21 pm Post #8 - August 10th, 2005, 12:21 pm
    eatchicago wrote:
    David Hammond wrote:
    eatchicago wrote: I'm not saying they're necessarily better or worse, but they ain't Vidalia. Call them what they are. Educate the public about the different options.


    What surprises me is that the people of Vidalia don't come after these "other onions." More then likely, they don't have the name registered or otherwise protected.


    I don't think the problem is with the farmers of the "other onions". They are putting the proper stickers/labels on their merchandise. The problem exists with the markets when they're writing their signs with magic markers to put above the bins. I don't think there are enough people in Vidalia to chase after all these places.

    Best,
    Michael


    Well, what do you know, Vidalia does have a mark on the name:

    "Many food producers have begun to rely on trademark law as a means of protecting geographic designations. For example, the State of Georgia utilized state trademark law to develop and protect a niche market for Vidalia onions. In 1986, the state enacted the Vidalia Onion Trademark Act,[181] authorizing the Georgia Commission of Agriculture to establish a trademark for term "Vidalia onion." All onion producers seeking to use this term on their labels must apply to the state for a license and the state will not issue a license to anyone outside a 20-county production area delineated in the Vidalia Onion Trademark Act. In 2000, Georgia amended the Vidalia Onion Trademark Act, authorizing the Commissioner of Agriculture to create, protect, and charge royalties or licensing fees on a trademark for use on Vidalia onions and related products."

    Also of interest on the Harvard Law site is the larger article: LEGAL STRATEGIES TO ADDRESS THE MISREPRESENTATION OF VERMONT MAPLE SYRUP, at http://leda.law.harvard.edu/leda/data/605/Gold_au_redacted.html
    “We all have to stand before the kitchen gods.” Chef Jacob Sahaya Kumar Aruni
  • Post #9 - August 10th, 2005, 12:24 pm
    Post #9 - August 10th, 2005, 12:24 pm Post #9 - August 10th, 2005, 12:24 pm
    And Smithfield Ham must come from within the one county in VA.
  • Post #10 - August 10th, 2005, 1:29 pm
    Post #10 - August 10th, 2005, 1:29 pm Post #10 - August 10th, 2005, 1:29 pm
    Having just done some teeth-on experimentation with the country hams of VA and NC, I was interested in what makes a Smithfield different. A Virginia statute defines it as a ham that is made from a pig raised in the peanut belt area of VA and NC that is processed and cured in the town of Smithfield.

    Interestingly, the hog no longer has to be peanut-fed, according to Wikpedia. So a peanut-fed country ham from nearby Ivor, VA is not a Smithfield, while perhaps a lesser ham from Smithfield is.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Smithfield_ham
  • Post #11 - August 10th, 2005, 1:48 pm
    Post #11 - August 10th, 2005, 1:48 pm Post #11 - August 10th, 2005, 1:48 pm
    The hams from Smithfield, Virginia, are the famous ones of course, but Smithfield, North Carolina, also produces hams (coincidence? hmm...):

    http://www.southernseason.com/prod.asp?id=5303

    You can read all about what we missed at this year's Ham & Yam festival in Smithfield, NC:

    http://www.clevelandpost.com/news/2005050500786.html
  • Post #12 - August 10th, 2005, 4:35 pm
    Post #12 - August 10th, 2005, 4:35 pm Post #12 - August 10th, 2005, 4:35 pm
    JeffB wrote:Interestingly, the hog no longer has to be peanut-fed, according to Wikpedia. So a peanut-fed country ham from nearby Ivor, VA is not a Smithfield, while perhaps a lesser ham from Smithfield is.


    Pig Perfect by Peter Kaminsky.
    # 14-15
    A country ham, full of the complex flavors developed in the course of aging, is one of the glories of American cuisine. Actually, "faded glories" would be more accurate, because the days of the small farmer or service-station owner having a few home-cured hams to sell are pretty much gone. So are the "real" Smithfield hams that once upon a time were fattened on peanuts and left to hang for a year. Today, by Virginia stature, "Genuine Smithfield hams are hereby defined to be hams processed, treated, smoked, aged, cured by the long-cure, dry salt method of cure and aged for a minimum period of six months; such six-month period to commence when the green pork is first introduced to dry salt, all such salting, processing, treating, smoking, curing and aging is to be done within the corporate limits of the town of Smithfield, Virginia." Six months, in my opinion, is barely---actually, not even close to----enough time to make a great ham.

    Also gone, it would seem, are all the hog farmers in eastern North Carolina who used to hog down their peanut fields (i.e., let the pigs their pigs out in the fields to finish the harvest of nuts and greens). A hundred phone calls had turned up exactly zero farmers who fed their pigs the old fashioned way.

    --

    This weekend in Michigan one of the BBQ guys from Virginia is bringing a ham he made that has been curing for 10-years. He calls it Virginia Prosciutto.

    I'll try to take a picture before the whole thing disappears. :)

    Enjoy,
    Gary
    Sauce on the side, always, implied, axiomatic..........never a doubt, BBQ sauce without.

    Low & Slow
  • Post #13 - August 11th, 2005, 12:01 am
    Post #13 - August 11th, 2005, 12:01 am Post #13 - August 11th, 2005, 12:01 am
    David Hammond wrote:At least with these widely recognized and accepted deceptive practices, there is no presumption that we’re too stupid not to realize that we’re being deceived.

    "Best food in town!"
  • Post #14 - August 11th, 2005, 12:23 am
    Post #14 - August 11th, 2005, 12:23 am Post #14 - August 11th, 2005, 12:23 am
    Diver scallops :lol:

    :twisted:
  • Post #15 - August 11th, 2005, 8:48 am
    Post #15 - August 11th, 2005, 8:48 am Post #15 - August 11th, 2005, 8:48 am
    A slightly different sort of falsehood, which deserves mention in the context of the discussion of ham above, is the despicable practice of injecting hams (and other things) with liquids. The third of a pound* of sliced ham one buys exudes a watery substance in its little baggie and, by the time one gets home, the slices are all but swimming. Without the injected liquid, what would the 'third of a pound' of ham actually have weighed?

    Of course, at a gourmet shop or salumeria, if one buys imported jambon de Paris or prosciutto cotto, the ham is not soggy and for this reason –– and others –– tastes so much the better.

    Why do they perpetrate this form of fraud? Give me just the ham, sans l'eau saline, and charge what you feel the need to charge for it.

    Antonius

    * Yes, another problem is finding someone who works at a deli counter who actually knows what such a phrase means. :roll:
    Alle Nerven exzitiert von dem gewürzten Wein -- Anwandlung von Todesahndungen -- Doppeltgänger --
    - aus dem Tagebuch E.T.A. Hoffmanns, 6. Januar 1804.
    ________
    Na sir is na seachain an cath.
  • Post #16 - August 11th, 2005, 9:04 am
    Post #16 - August 11th, 2005, 9:04 am Post #16 - August 11th, 2005, 9:04 am
    Antonius wrote:Without the injected liquid, what would the 'third of a pound' of ham actually have weighed?


    Quite often, I'll find myself at Marketplace on Oakton, or some other similar market with the desire to buy a pork tenderloin. Most of the time, what you find are the injected varieties in plastic tube-like containers and they barely resemble actual pork.

    I'll go up to the butcher and ask for a "natural" tenderloin. Sometimes, they'll bring me one of the injected packages that I just turned my nose up at, and I'll have to explain that I want one that was cut from a pig and not treated in any liquid. Sometimes this is a big hassle for them, sometimes not. I should just stick with real butchers.

    It makes me think that the much of the shopping public has never really seen a "natural" pork tenderloin.

    Best,
    Michael
  • Post #17 - August 11th, 2005, 11:07 am
    Post #17 - August 11th, 2005, 11:07 am Post #17 - August 11th, 2005, 11:07 am
    "Look, Honey, let's get some of those special imported tomatoes and make some Puttanesca tonight..."
    _______


    ___La Mariola Gioconda___
    ____ di San Marzano ____

    ***Prodotto Genuino di Prima Qualità! ***
    *****Pomodori Tipo Italiano!! *****


    ................................Grown and Packaged in Blossomendrot, Illinois........................






    Another Fine Food Product of Antonocorp



    Antonius
    Alle Nerven exzitiert von dem gewürzten Wein -- Anwandlung von Todesahndungen -- Doppeltgänger --
    - aus dem Tagebuch E.T.A. Hoffmanns, 6. Januar 1804.
    ________
    Na sir is na seachain an cath.
  • Post #18 - August 11th, 2005, 4:06 pm
    Post #18 - August 11th, 2005, 4:06 pm Post #18 - August 11th, 2005, 4:06 pm
    LAZ wrote:
    David Hammond wrote:At least with these widely recognized and accepted deceptive practices, there is no presumption that we’re too stupid not to realize that we’re being deceived.

    "Best food in town!"


    "Home of the..."

    "The Original..."
    “We all have to stand before the kitchen gods.” Chef Jacob Sahaya Kumar Aruni
  • Post #19 - August 31st, 2005, 10:47 pm
    Post #19 - August 31st, 2005, 10:47 pm Post #19 - August 31st, 2005, 10:47 pm
    David, I'm glad you started this thread because I've long been troubled by menu misrepresentation. This includes Prime Rib which in most restaurants is a choice or select grade of beef. In fact, Prime Rib should be prime grade or else the cut is merely a standing rib roast.

    Dover sole is also an abused term as virtually none of the fish sold as such on menus is really Dover sole.

    By the way, why is this thread under non-food chat--aren't we talking about food? Wouldn't Shopping and Cooking or Eating Out be more appropriate?
  • Post #20 - August 31st, 2005, 11:16 pm
    Post #20 - August 31st, 2005, 11:16 pm Post #20 - August 31st, 2005, 11:16 pm
    Prime is an unregulated term. If you want USDA prime, look for something specified as "USDA Prime".

    I always assume the meat is choice or worse unless they either explicitly say USDA Prime or it's a place I know serves only prime.

    But I don't think "Prime Rib" is a problem. Just like it's fine to say "Prime Cuts of Meat" at a butcher. Calling Prime Rib Prime Rib if it's choice meat is like calling Domino's pizza. It's not really pizza, but everyone knows what you mean.
    Ed Fisher
    my chicago food photos

    RIP LTH.
  • Post #21 - September 1st, 2005, 5:19 am
    Post #21 - September 1st, 2005, 5:19 am Post #21 - September 1st, 2005, 5:19 am
    gleam wrote:But I don't think "Prime Rib" is a problem. Just like it's fine to say "Prime Cuts of Meat" at a butcher. Calling Prime Rib Prime Rib if it's choice meat is like calling Domino's pizza. It's not really pizza, but everyone knows what you mean.

    Ed,

    TheCalifornia BBQ Association addresses this very issue. No, not Domino's pizza, the prime rib/no johnny there is no santa claus clause. :)

    Me, I had my first hunk of bone-in Prime Rib long before I was ever aware of the USDA or meat grades, to me it simply a particular cut of meat.

    Enjoy,
    Gary
    Sauce on the side, always, implied, axiomatic..........never a doubt, BBQ sauce without.

    Low & Slow
  • Post #22 - September 1st, 2005, 8:44 am
    Post #22 - September 1st, 2005, 8:44 am Post #22 - September 1st, 2005, 8:44 am
    Jesper wrote:By the way, why is this thread under non-food chat--aren't we talking about food?


    Well, yes, I guess, but the implication is that food is just one area where we're consistently bamboozled, shanghaied, bushwacked, way laid and befuddled by heartless hucksters who pad their pockets by relying on our numb, bovine gullibility.

    David “Trust No One Over 7” Hammond
    “We all have to stand before the kitchen gods.” Chef Jacob Sahaya Kumar Aruni
  • Post #23 - September 1st, 2005, 10:14 am
    Post #23 - September 1st, 2005, 10:14 am Post #23 - September 1st, 2005, 10:14 am
    gleam wrote:But I don't think "Prime Rib" is a problem. Just like it's fine to say "Prime Cuts of Meat" at a butcher. Calling Prime Rib Prime Rib if it's choice meat is like calling Domino's pizza. It's not really pizza, but everyone knows what you mean.


    Agreed. Just like when I order a Porterhouse I don't expect to be served the domicile of someone that carries luggage for the railroad. :)
  • Post #24 - September 1st, 2005, 10:29 am
    Post #24 - September 1st, 2005, 10:29 am Post #24 - September 1st, 2005, 10:29 am
    So many of these instances involve not merely a clean deception, but a slippery slope or technologically elasticated truth stretched ever closer to a breaking point that is harder and harder to identify.

    At what point, in this world of partially prepared or processed foods and individual ingredients is something "home made?"

    Working backwards, if the diner opens a can of soup and heats it for you, then it's not home made. If they boil a chicken for stock and add fresh vegetables and seasoning it is. But if they use a soup base to which they add real, fresh vegetables that they saute and season themselves?

    When an entree or pasta comes with "grilled vegetables" - I tend to assume that those veggies were grilled in this particular kitchen. Yet packaging technology is such that restaurants can purches frozen grilled veggies. The grill marks are real. The texture is not too bad. But the veggies were grilled long ago in a galaxy far, far away.

    Subway's bread is indeed "fresh baked" - but God knows where or when the dough was created and proofed.

    And what about ownership of nomenclature. Who decides what is or is not Champagne, feta, prosciutto, etc. If the EU decides that anyone can make feta, then is all that cheese - some cow, some sheep - from any country on earth really feta?

    Etc.

    Someone dial up the epistemology hotline.
    "Strange how potent cheap music is."
  • Post #25 - September 1st, 2005, 10:31 am
    Post #25 - September 1st, 2005, 10:31 am Post #25 - September 1st, 2005, 10:31 am
    Kman wrote:
    gleam wrote:But I don't think "Prime Rib" is a problem. Just like it's fine to say "Prime Cuts of Meat" at a butcher. Calling Prime Rib Prime Rib if it's choice meat is like calling Domino's pizza. It's not really pizza, but everyone knows what you mean.


    Agreed. Just like when I order a Porterhouse I don't expect to be served the domicile of someone that carries luggage for the railroad. :)


    And that's why I was so disappointed after I ordered the strip steak at Carson's.

    David "But you can call me T-Bone" Hammond
    “We all have to stand before the kitchen gods.” Chef Jacob Sahaya Kumar Aruni
  • Post #26 - September 1st, 2005, 10:50 am
    Post #26 - September 1st, 2005, 10:50 am Post #26 - September 1st, 2005, 10:50 am
    mrbarolo wrote:So many of these instances involve not merely a clean deception, but a slippery slope or technologically elasticated truth stretched ever closer to a breaking point that is harder and harder to identify.


    It's tough to make a clean distinction between some of these practices. As when you ask a wait person if the fish is fresh, and they say "Oh, yes," and then you ask, "You mean "not frozen?" and they respond, "Well...it was frozen."

    It's Orwellian. You hear the lie repeated so many times that you stop making the distinction between what's true and what's simply common parlance that began, in many cases, with the clear attempt to deceive. Repetition lulls us into accepting -- even expecting -- that what we're getting is not what it's supposed to be...so who, finally, cares?

    David "War is Peace" Hammond
    “We all have to stand before the kitchen gods.” Chef Jacob Sahaya Kumar Aruni
  • Post #27 - September 1st, 2005, 3:35 pm
    Post #27 - September 1st, 2005, 3:35 pm Post #27 - September 1st, 2005, 3:35 pm
    The prime ribs of beef are the first four moving forward from the rear of the beast, which is how the cut would appear in a beef fore quarter. These ribs are not underlaid by any blade bone. All cattle have prime ribs. Theoretically, one could cut a prime rib roast from a superannuated bull. I doubt that anyone would want to eat that in any form except baloney. There are good reasons why old bulls were called baloney bulls--the meat is too stong flavored and tough for much of anything else.

    The amount of bull meat around is a lot less than 50 years ago. The big reason is the spread of artificial insemination in dairy cattle, so one bull can supply semen for vastly more cows. Dairy farmers switched readily to artificial insemination because they could get along without any bulls on the farm. Anyone who has been at around Holstein bulls at all knows why one would rather have them far away.
  • Post #28 - September 1st, 2005, 11:18 pm
    Post #28 - September 1st, 2005, 11:18 pm Post #28 - September 1st, 2005, 11:18 pm
    Gary, thanks for your reference on prime rib from CBBQA. It seems to me the key issue of this thread is that there are no legal standards for restaurant menu descriptions or labeling. The formerly similarly chaotic situation in labeling of retail food products has produced a spate of laws regarding "Truth in Labeling", which cover such things as what can be called organic, wild, juice, low fat, etc, etc. Even in this arena, however, there continue to be terms that are used for marketing that are unregulated and have no substantive meaning. One example I encountered recently was at a supermarket meat counter where the meat is primarily choice grade, but all the packaging and signage say top choice. I asked the butcher what the difference was between choice and top choice. His simple answer was "nothing, but top choice sounds better".
  • Post #29 - September 2nd, 2005, 7:30 am
    Post #29 - September 2nd, 2005, 7:30 am Post #29 - September 2nd, 2005, 7:30 am
    mrbarolo wrote:At what point, in this world of partially prepared or processed foods and individual ingredients is something "home made?"

    Working backwards, if the diner opens a can of soup and heats it for you, then it's not home made. If they boil a chicken for stock and add fresh vegetables and seasoning it is. But if they use a soup base to which they add real, fresh vegetables that they saute and season themselves?

    By my standards, nothing made in a restaurant is "homemade." Homemade means made from scratch by someone in his or her own home.

    So, if Joe's Diner is serving "Mama's homemade apple pie," it should be made by his mother in her home kitchen (which, one hopes, is certified for commercial cookery). If Joe means -- as he typically does -- that the pie is made according to his mom's recipe by his pastry cook in the diner kitchen, then the designation ought to be "house-made." And that term doesn't apply if what the cook does is spoon canned filling into frozen pie crust and bake it.
  • Post #30 - September 2nd, 2005, 8:04 am
    Post #30 - September 2nd, 2005, 8:04 am Post #30 - September 2nd, 2005, 8:04 am
    LAZ wrote:
    mrbarolo wrote:At what point, in this world of partially prepared or processed foods and individual ingredients is something "home made?"

    Working backwards, if the diner opens a can of soup and heats it for you, then it's not home made. If they boil a chicken for stock and add fresh vegetables and seasoning it is. But if they use a soup base to which they add real, fresh vegetables that they saute and season themselves?

    By my standards, nothing made in a restaurant is "homemade." Homemade means made from scratch by someone in his or her own home.


    I tend to accept the term "homemade from a restaurant if the item in question is usually not made by restaurants themselves. Things like ice cream and corned beef immediately come to mind. If a restaurant or ice cream parlor is making their own ice cream, I'm perfectly happy if they call it "homemade".

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