Tag Archives: food

An ode to bad beers

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The bar’s shipment of PBR had not arrived, and I really didn’t know what to order. And they didn’t have Coors Original, either. So the top two beers I am most likely to drink were not options.*

*I know these beverage choices could not sound more hipster, but I promise I was drinking PBR before I knew any hipsters did. …AND I also realize that saying you did something before someone else or being in hipster denial are the most hipster traits one can possess. Damn it. 

Resultantly, on Wednesday night, I spent a solid minute looking at a list of beers that might as well have been written in Farsi because I knew nothing about the selection in front of me. I settled on what may have been a seasonal Sam Adams beer but pretty much just wanted to tell the waitress to pour anything of amber tint in a glass (except for the famous Sochi water) and I’d be happy. And I got to thinking, (and when I get to thinking, I often get to writing sprawling blog posts, so here we are): I have no clue how to differentiate beers and I don’t even have a preference for different tastes. Continue reading

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Being in India

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The car accident was actually the perfect welcome to India. About ten or fifteen of us, fresh off the plane and jetlagged from twenty hours of travel, boarded a bus for a ninety minute ride from the Kochi Airport to the hotel in Thrissur. It was inescapable to not quickly notice that we would experience an eventful ride. Continue reading

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Subway or No Way

All Subway “sandwich artists” employ one of two very precise techniques for slathering mayonnaise (NOT Miracle Whip) on their god-awful sandwiches. Their choice is dependent on the utensils available at the respective restaurants. Some Subways carry the plastic spatula. The artists at these establishments dip this rectangular piece of plastic into a square-ish receptacle – also made of plastic – twirl the spatula until it is sufficiently coated in mayo and then splotch the mayo back and forth on the sandwich in a motion almost entirely unlike one used by Monet as he applied a final touch to his canvas, searching for a perfect measure of abstraction.

Other Subway restaurants store the mayonnaise in a canister similar to the type used for ketchup and mustard. These canisters are opaque, the better to prevent customers from seeing the yellow, solidified state the mayonnaise has reached while it has lingered away from refrigeration for several hours. The artists squeeze the mayonnaise out and in a fluid motion they zig-zag it over and over and over again atop the cold cuts. Though the strategies involve markedly different skill sets, each leads to the same frustrating, invariable conclusion, which is a mayonnaise-soaking so deep and thick that a small rodent could drown on that piece of nine-grain honey oat bread.

I imagine the sandwich artists are trained how to spread mayonnaise during orientation when they are newly hired. Some middle-manager on a video tutorial probably says, “Remember kid. You can never give someone enough mayonnaise.” After taking a few minutes to display a good mayonnaise-drenching, the middle-manager, I suspect, must also train the newbie employees to accept the look on the face they are bound to see from the customer whose sandwich has been dampened, which is, invariably, a look of resignation.

I haven’t been to Subway in a long time. Continue reading

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A True “College” Bar

“College” has a bar, and it is named KAM’s – all caps, just like R.E.M. and UNICEF. KAM’s is located in Champaign, Ill., on Daniel Street, across from some University of Illinois Greek residences, the Psychology building and hopefully not far from the local hospital. It smells like the inside of a shot glass filled to the brim with Jaeger, tobacco, vomit and lowered expectations, which I guess smell a little bit like Sears. Continue reading

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Guy Fieri vs. Adam Richman

This is the story of two men.

The first guy travels the country. He unearths culinary treasures, shedding light on overlooked food joints in the nooks and crannies of America. He spouts off quirky and energetic instant-reviews. And as you might expect, he’s slightly overweight.

The second guy… well, he also travels the country. He also unearths culinary treasures, shedding light on overlooked food joints in the nooks and crannies of America. He also spouts off quirky and energetic instant-reviews. And yep, he’s a little chubby.

As you probably guessed. The first guy is Guy Fieri from “Diners, Drive-ins and Dives” on the Food Network.

And the second is, of course, Adam Richman from “Man vs. Food” on the Travel Channel.

So yes, this is the story of two men.

But really, this is journey to the heart of this question:

Why is it so enjoyable to watch too hefty dudes grub extremely unhealthy (and greasy) comfort food?

Yes. You probably know the premise of each show. “Diners, Drive-ins and Dives” (which premiered in 2007) features stars Fieri in a one-man roadtrip to find America’s best (well) diners, drive-ins and dives.

He “traverses” the country in a Chevy Camaro convertible, searching for places that serve American classics (hamburgers, hot dogs, fried food, etc.) He finds places with unbelievable dishes and menus, a hole-in-the-wall place that combined Chinese and Mexican food comes to mind. He finds regional specialties and eclectic restauranteurs and, somehow, we get a little slice of Americana along the way.

But there’s a method to his quest. The food must be gourmet… and from scratch.

And that’s where the show finds its voice.

Fieri will watch the chefs, cooks and restaurant proprietors prepare their best dishes. He will watch them throw flour and salt and garlic powder into the pot. He will watch them fry hot dogs. He will watch them craft together the best chili recipe a person could imagine.

This is the part of the show that sucks you in*. And this is where we will begin to answer the question. I first saw Triple D (its nickname) when I was a senior in college. I would sit on the couch, mesmerized by the combinations, my mouth watering at the high-definition images of fatty goodness. Why is this show so entertaining? My roommates would wonder the same thing. Perhaps the answer is simple. At least, it could be. Because if you’ve ever watched the show, you know what I’m talking about. There’s really only one reaction you can have, and it’s usually some derivative of this:

“Dude, that’s looks SO GOOD…”

Of course, Fieri will sample the food, and throw in some (presumably) canned review.*

*He generally goes with these old staples. If somebody is cooking something on in a boiling pot, every ingredient is getting “tossed into the pool. If the dish is getting a little spicy, you’ll hear, “Oh, brother, we’re going to flavor town.” And otherwise, most dishes are considered “money.” 

Some other classic Guy quotes: 1. “Holy Moly, Stromboli.”  2. “This is bananas, and bananas is good.”

So yes, perhaps this subject is not worthy of such nuanced thinking. Food is good. Deece restaurant food is ever better. People love food. Thus, people love watching the food being made.

But this is the part where we get to the story of the second guy.

I can remember when I saw the first commercial promo for “Man vs. Food”. The premise was simple. Adam Richman* travels the country, seeking out the country’s toughest eating challenges.

*So just who is Adam Richman? Well, if you listen to the show’s opening you know this:

“He’s no competive eater. Just a regular guy with a serious appetite.”

Turns out Richman is really an actor who has appeared in such shows as “Guiding Light” and “Joan of Arcadia”. He actually graduated from Yale’s drama school – so there’s that. 

Right now, as I’m writing this, Richman is eating a 190-pound cheeseburger. Yea. 190 pounds! Yea. Not sure what the point is. But they also added 10 pounds of cheese. Four pounds of  bacon. Three heads of lettuce. About 25 tomatoes. And about 100 pickle slices. He’s not eating it by himself, of course. There’s a group of like 40 people — including members of the band KISS, a group of high school football players and a bunch of construction workers — and even they couldn’t take it down. You know the first thought that popped into my head? America.

So yes, I always associated “Man vs. Food” with “Triple D”.  And I’ve always associated Guy with Adam.

There are differences, of course. I could be wrong, but it did seem like the first few episodes of “Man vs. Food” were centered around the Eating Challenges. They paid little attention to how the food was prepared. The show still had great ratings.

But it seemed to lack the voice that carried “Diners, Drive-ins and Dives”. Of course, it is interesting to watch Richman attempt to eat truckloads of food. But it’s safe to say that the novelty could wear off fast.

Thus, Richman began to mimic Fieri, and the show basically became a copy of Triple D — with a food challenge at the end.

And yet, it works… and it’s still entertaining.

So here’s the question again. Why do we love Richman? Why do we feel the need to watch Fieri do the same thing every week? Does it say something about America’s relationship with food? Does it provide a subtext into the discussion of Obesity? Am I just filibustering by throwing out unanswerable questions because I have no answers?

Perhaps.

But you know what? The food looks SO GOOD.

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