Posts Tagged ‘Peter Howard’

USA Holiday Food Report – another view

Posted by Martin Field on 18 March 2012 in Food and Wine

Joe Fogarty, writing from Chicago. takes exception to Peter Howard’s USA Holiday Report.

I’m sorry – but only a little – to read of Chef Peter Howard‘s disappointment with the food in the U.S. Bad flavour combinations in Italian dishes? Dumping on Rachael Ray? Either he’s not telling us about the very wonderful meals he had during FIVE weeks of travel here, or he wasn’t trying very hard to find them.

No doubt, I could spend five weeks in Australia and find disappointment with the food. Are there no popular food show personalities on TV in Australia offering their twist on the vegemite sandwich?

And you know, a peanut butter, bacon and tomato sandwich sounds like something that might be pretty good, at least to an American palate. You know, the palate non-American foodies like to dismiss as unrefined?

And speaking of critics and criticism, I thought you’d find interesting the food blogosphere kerfuffle that happened here last week, since it involves Italian food of the kind that Howard’s description might fit.

Eighty-five year old Marilyn Hagerty writes the “Eat Beat” column for the Grand Forks Herald. Grand Forks is in North Dakota, a windswept town of about 70,000 souls on the prairie of the Upper Midwest. No one would consider it a culinary Mecca.

Recently, an Olive Garden restaurant opened there and Ms. Hagerty offered her impressions in this review: Long-awaited Olive Garden receives warm welcome.

(Background: The Olive Garden is a chain restaurant ubiquitous in the U.S.. For some Americans, especially in small and medium sized cities – and in lots of suburbs – it is the only Italian restaurant choice.)

Hagerty’s very earnest review of the restaurant went viral and lots of snarkologists were quick to make fun of it.

But then some people put Hagerty’s review in context. A fabulous sportswriter, Joe Posnanski, had this beautifully-written take on her review – The Olive Garden – and the discussion it engendered.

Hagerty made the national news. She did TV interviews. She is as delightful and forthright and sweet as you would expect an 85 year old five columns-a-week writer to be. And she’s no rube, either.

The funny thing is, it’s simply a report about the restaurant itself and the experience of eating there – except for the food.

A former editor of hers related that when Hagerty writes about the paint on the wall and the flower arrangements, you know the food isn’t very good.

It’s a subtle approach. Maybe food critics could take a lesson!

I invite Chef Howard to Chicago for a culinary exploration filled with interesting flavours, small portions, no Rachael Ray – and a trip to the Olive Garden, just for fun.

USA Holiday Report

Posted by Martin Field on 6 January 2012 in Food and Wine

Peter Howard reports on his recent trip to the USA

Hi Martin. We are back from the land of oversized portions of mostly confused flavour combinations in dishes. God, have they put a whole new spin on traditional Italian dishes.

Oh well, we got back home and fell on a lamb and shiraz dinner, boy was that good, oh, and a cup of tea, a little luxury that they simply do not get.

I loved your vivid description of working in a restaurant, boy, did you nail it, and what a shame more people in our position don’t do it. I once heard a well known person who was of influence during the ‘80s and ‘90s describing to a novice how a restaurant kitchen worked.

She said that the chefs all stopped to work on one table. When I explained to her how wrong she was, she got herself into a real bind. I do not miss people like her at all.

As one person we met in America said – when talking about food writers, “What gives them the right to talk to us like we know nothing when they evidently know less, and talk down to us?”

I watched Rachael Ray (hottest food TV person in the USA) and co-host show us how to make a proper peanut butter, tomato and bacon sandwich – no wonder it doesn’t get any better.

We had two memorable meals in the five week holiday. One of them being the home cooked Christmas lunch by an old school mate of mine (we went to school together 53 years ago). Roasted whole organic turkey and the trimmings…wonderful.

PS What was startling in America was the diminished amount of Australian wines on shelves and wine lists – brand loyalty? And Californian wines…so expensive, but must say very good, by and large.