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Posts tagged ‘unpalatable’

Course Thirteen: A Palette Cleanser

I may have retired Palate Patrol 2014 but that doesn’t mean the abuse has abated.

In fact, it may be getting worse. If you’re of the ilk that not only writes parodies of Noma’s stint in Japan but gets paid to publish such humor in The New Yorker, impeccable grammar would seem to be a given.

From the (since corrected) imaginary East Village walk-up tasting menu:

Course Six: A shot of tequila.

To be consumed by chef, staff, and diners. Should act as a palette cleanser and a sedative and reduce grumbling from the kitchen about having agreed to make this meal in the first place.

Now on to 2015, where there are anti-bone broth bots protecting stock’s good name.

Heart and Palette

Thankfully, I stumbled upon a palate problem right before the end of the month. I was starting to get concerned that 2014 had turned itself around. #blessed

Also, there is a new venue called Pinot’s Palette in Staten Island. I would like to hold the borough responsible for that name, but it’s a national chain and actually involves painting.


Palate Patrol 2014

I’m not even close to being a grammarian and would fail deeply as a copyeditor (my persnickety background comes from the library sciences, the most unscientific of all sciences–and wildly fluctuating self-esteem bolstered by others’ mishaps). I’ve caught myself saying literally for emphasis, and pre-hoarding barrage in pop culture, often mixed up hoardes and hoards. And really, does anyone really care about the difference between hardy and hearty?

But the rampant abuse of palate/palette/pallet is reaching epidemic proportions and can no longer go unchecked. It’s not enough to note a few errant examples on Twitter or verbally in passing. I must begin collecting and archiving  for future generations, though I don’t plan on going out of my way to be offended. Examples will likely only stem from my casual RSS’ing and social media skimming.


How Foodspotting, the book, was born.

“When Alexa Andrzejewski traveled to Japan and Korea in 2009, she was rather hungry. It wasn’t one specific dish she had her heart and palette set on, however, but rather a roving buffet of local delicacies.”


Joshua David Stein likes his words. And sometimes–often actually–I like his words too. Which makes this passage (now corrected) in his review of M. Wells Steakhouse in The Observer all the more egregious.

As for those doomed fishies in the concrete trough, they became the truite en bleu ($30). Guests able to stomach ordering a real-time execution would witness them plucked from the pool, clubbed over the head, then gutted, bathed in vinegar and poached in a court bouillon. They arrive at the table Sinatra-eye-blue, with heads unnaturally bent, looking as sad and poetic as an Enrique Metinides photograph. But fresher fish you’ll not find, nor flesh more yielding to fork or pleasing to palette.


A restaurant named Palates opened in Bushwick. This is actually not misuse since it’s meant to be a double entendre; it just sounds funny.



In the late ‘90s I had a fantasy of writing a photo-driven book about candy bars, obscure and beloved, maybe with behind the scenes factory shots. It would be called Wunderbar and it would be awesome. At least it was in my mind, but publishing was a mystery to me (it still is, frankly). I didn’t even know where to begin. Obviously, crowd-sourcing and provide-me-with-content tumblrs were an unheard of concept at the time. Even Food Network’s Unwrapped hadn’t yet aired.

My go-nowhere concept faded from memory until 2004 when Steve Almond’s Candyfreak: A Journey through the Chocolate Underbelly of America, a kind of memoir, kind of a love letter to the little guys, came out. Ah, so this is how it’s done. Or rather, one way to do it. The same year Nigel Slater’s Toast, a memoir with candy-centric leanings, was also published.

I read Candyfreak at the time (it just now occurred to me to read Toast—I’ll put a library hold on it shortly) but as with many things in life, half-a-decade later and I’d completely forgotten how it was written or any details beyond the overall topic. I’ve been giving another once over as a refresher.

All was good until I reached page 135. In describing the Goo Goo Cluster factory thusly, “Joanne led me through the warehouse, gingerly stepping over palettes on the ground.” I had two gut reactions. It was exciting to see my bugaboo word in this context because it’s the one usage you never see mangled because it’s rarely used at all. But I’m fairly certain he meant pallets not palettes.

I tried to put the homophonal transgression out of my mind and focus on the story, but on the very next page I was sucker punched again!

The same was true of ABC Fruit Chomps. They tasted funny. But they tasted funny because my palette has come to define Starbursts as the standard of normalcy when it comes to fruit chews.

Once you spy a palate abomination, there’s no way of unseeing it or forgetting it. Two in two pages? And then in the next-to-last chapter, the crime occurred again, as if to make sure I was really paying attention until the very end. Oh, I was.

The American palette is accustomed, by this time, to chocolate and peanut butter. We think nothing of the combination, in part because both substances melt at the same temperature.

No! This was particularly painful because the candy being discussed, Abba-Zabba, is easily one of my favorite candy bars (why did I never see the green apple limited edition!?). I remained defeated for the final 18 pages.

The only salvation was seeing that quaint last-decade oddity, an appendix of websites with unwieldy URLs like and, attempting to capture the ephemeral in print.

Olive Garden Mash-Up

Cheddar-Bay-Biscuits I heard about the combo Olive Garden/Red Lobster and thought of Das Racist a little bit, but mostly about how much better Cheddar Bay Biscuits are than unlimited breadsticks.

I don’t care for either extreme: ew, chain restaurants or ew, you’re an elitist. No side wins. I’m really just happy that Gawker’s singled-out commenter spelled palate correctly (which is more than I can say for a non-food blog I regularly hate-read and sometimes feel dirty about that just used pallet for a range of colors).

What’s still not clear, is how having two chain restaurants in one building is any more of an economic stimulator than placing them near each other or even in the same parking lot. Bonefish Grill, Cheeseburger in Paradise and Carrabba’s have been doing the mash-up style for some time, though I’ve never seen a three-in-one.

Inexcusably Unpalatable

Even though I don’t know many who are as crazed about Asian food and chain restaurants as I am. And despite my traveling 70 miles to Cherry Hill, NJ to make a frakking video (which I just deleted from YouTube, so don’t even bother) about Pei Wei for their Blog Asia contest, I didn’t genuinely think I would make it to the final five (oh my, another BSG reference). Perkiness and enthusiasm will always triumph and I have neither.

I so wanted 2011 to be about understanding rather than judging. For a while I’ve been pondering what makes a person American-Idol-contestant confident in their average abilities? Were they loved too much as a baby? Was the part of their hypothalamus that regulates self-awareness damaged? Maybe they’re just really positive and try hard. There’s something to be said for that. I’m also grappling with stereotypes/archetypes, some represented by these contest finalists. It’s too easy to make fun of stay-at-home mommies, do-gooder Christians, tiny Asian girls who eat like pigs,  mavericks and Yelpers, so I won’t.

But I am still going to have to put Pei Wei and their parent company P.F. Chang’s on my shit list. It’s not that I  have a problem with crimes against Chinese food. In fact, I openly embrace them—crab rangoon, sweet and sour pork, even egg foo young—I will eat you all.

But crimes against the English language?! No, never. I cannot patronize a company that lets contest-winners use the phrase, “sophisticated foodie palette.” Fuck understanding; 2011 is going to have to be about tough love. From now on I will be on palette patrol (what that entails, I’m not sure yet).  If you’ve made it to adulthood without mastering middle-school grammar, then someone needs to help you. Ignorance is not bliss for the public subjected to palate abuse.


This is a palate. Technically, it’s the roof of your mouth not your tongue, but we associate the word with taste. Someone with a discriminating one would hopefully know how to spell it.


This is a palette. It can mean a few things, but commonly designates a wooden board where an artist places and mixes paint. It can also be used to describe a range of colors–or even flavors. A chef may employ a palette of spices but you’ll taste them with your so-called palate.


This is a pallet and has little reason to show up in anything written about food unless you’re talking about Sysco or Costco.

I don’t mind running the risk of becoming a crotchety fuddy-duddy clinging to outmoded concepts (such as eighth-grade reading levels) like an old-guard food writer who won’t leave Manhattan (or one of those Twitter scolds). You can keep your copious exclamation points, yummies, to die fors, nom noms, melts in your mouths and best-I’ve-ever-eaten hyperbole, but you must get your homophones in check. It’s no longer optional. And when $10,000 and a trip to Asia are at stake–or should I say steak–it’s no longer harmless.

Photos from bohone and Getty Images