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Sunday Night Special: Pork in Caramel Sauce & Pickled Bean Sprouts


While trolling the internet I used to save recipes I might seriously make in a word document ingeniously called recipes. I haven’t touched or updated it in years. But I was reminded of its existence on my hard drive after eating a pork tenderloin in caramel sauce at Silent H a few weekends ago.

The first recipe I ever added to my list was Mark Bittman’s take on this dish, beef tenderloin in carmelized sugar, from an October 30, 2002 New York Times. It was really easy and unbelievably good (quick enough for a Monday night—I’m fudging the category because I didn’t cook on Easter). I made it once. In an effort to strive for authenticity, I looked in a few Vietnamese cookbooks and online sources but I decided to stick with his version.

It appears that this recipe also can be found in his The Best Recipes of the World (click on Southeast Asia on the left menu), a book I had completely forgotten existed until literally about two hours ago when I decided to watch a taped version of Bittman’s new TV show that aired this weekend. I didn’t realize the show was a tie-in with this book. It was a fitting coincidence that I decided to crack out the ol’ carmelized meat recipe when I did.

I substituted semi-thick pork chops for the beef called for and just cooked the meat a little longer. I’ve never exactly pinned down umami but I imagine that this dish is teeming with it. The sauce would almost be too salty if it weren’t for the hefty dose of melted sugar, which turns everything gooey like a piquant fishy candy. That’s a good thing.

Beef Tenderloin in Caramelized Sugar

4 pieces filet mignon, each 1 inch thick
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup nam pla, or to taste
1 large onion, cut in half-moon slices
1 teaspoon black pepper, or more.

Put a 10-inch skillet over high heat. Wait a minute. Add meat, and brown on both sides. Turn off heat, and place steaks on plate.

A minute later, add sugar to pan, and turn heat to medium. Cook, gently shaking pan, until sugar liquefies and begins to bubble. Cook another minute until it darkens, then turn off heat. Mix nam pla with  1/2 cup water. Carefully add liquid, and turn heat to medium-high. Cook, stirring constantly, until caramel melts into liquid. Add onions, and cook, stirring, about 5 minutes. Stir in any liquid that has accumulated around meat.

Stir in black pepper, and return meat to pan. Cook over medium heat, turning meat once in a while, until it is done to your liking (about 5 to 8 minutes for medium-rare). Taste, and adjust seasoning, then serve, spooning onions and sauce over each steak.

Serves 4

As a side, I made an even simpler accompaniment of pickled bean sprouts from Nicole Routhier’s The Foods of Vietnam. I halved this recipe because as tasty as they are, you can only eat so many bean sprouts and they don’t keep well.

Pickled Bean Sprouts
Dưa Giá

1 pound fresh bean sprouts
1 bunch of scallions, cut into 2-inch long sections
1 tablespoon salt
½ cup white vinegar

Mix the bean sprouts and scallions in a large bowl.

Combine the salt, vinegar and 4 cups of water in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil. Cool until warm to the touch. Pour the brine over the bean sprout mixture. Marinate for at least 1 hour, or until ready to serve. Drain before serving.

Serves 4 to 6


I’m pleased to see the recent upswing of snacky Spanish options. While NYC hasn’t fully accepted full on Spanish cuisine, avant-garde or traditional, we love small plates. And oddly, small plates often equals small space. You have to be in the right frame of mind to brave Tia Pol or Casa Mono. Less distinguished places like Tasca and Ostia, nearly across the street from each other, have the potential to lighten the load though I’m not sure they deliver much wow.

Ostia_griled_sardinesI guess I want tapas to be more exciting. I’d like to see Basque pintxos, crazy combinations (cod and chocolate sauce, anyone?) piled on bread or crammed into tiny glasses and secured with a toothpick. Bar counters with options on display and up for grabs. But America’s tapas knowledge isn’t vast, there’s barely enough of a foundation to begin tweaking the familiar.

On an early weeknight, though an hour and a half past opening, Ostia was nearly empty. The feel stool occupiers looked like more of a happy hour crowd than diners. Of course, there are worse things than deeply discounted glasses of Tempranillo and freebie marinated artichokes. I don’t mind being verbally offered a couple choices of red or white upon asking, but others might find it odd not to be given a wine list by default.

Ostia_bacon_wrapped_datesWe were informed that the ham croquettes weren’t ready yet, which bummed me out. A replacement suggestion, bacon-wrapped dates, were obviously tasty. I still wanted a croquette, though. The grilled sardines a la plancha were creative with oily, sweet and bitter flavors. I’m not sure what the charred black orbs were, they looked like olives but tasted more like dried cherries. We also tried a chorizo cooked in beer and salsa picante, though the tart tomato sauce slightly overwhelmed the sausage. All the greatest hits were on offer including serrano ham displayed whole-legged, hoof-on.

Ostia_chorizo_salsa_picanteI wasn’t about to order the meat as much as I love it because I didn't want to take any chances on being disappointed. There’s a propensity in NYC to rough-up showcased, cured pig legs, resulting in short stubby hunks when they’re supposed to be paper thin and lengthy. Hand crafted only makes an impression when it’s done properly. I can’t figure out if shopkeepers don’t know better or if they enjoy manhandling the goods. Crudely sawing our Jamon Iberico with a 99-cent store pocket knife on our hotel bed was just as deft as anything I’ve witnessed around here. Maybe it’s pride that keeps people from just using a mechanical slicer.

No matter, I’m still happy to have more Spanish newcomers to choose from. I’ll just steer clear of the ham.

Ostia * 113 Seventh Ave. S., New York, NY

Surf Bar

Surf_bar_birthday_cake Surf Bar is a nearly neutral restaurant with nothing breathtaking or offensive to set it apart in my mind. Sure, there’s sand on the floor and more tchotchkes than an Applebee’s, plus the owner once threw down with Bobby Flay. No complaints or raves, I was merely there for a friend’s birthday, which I suppose was an improvement over last year’s Lazy Catfish strangeness. Molten cakes don't scream happy birthday to me, but it wasn't my celebration. I didn't even have a birthday party last year, which is probably why I'm so bitter now.

Surf_bar_clam_chowder_2I shared some clam strips, battered fried conch, had sip of clam chowder and ordered the lobster roll with fries for myself. Don’t tell anyone, but I’ve never had one of these iconic sandwiches so I can’t even weigh how it stacks up against the real deal. I don’t hang out at Pearl Oyster Bar or Mary’s Fish Camp, it’s not my thing. Minus a brief, long ago two-days in Boston, I’ve never set foot in New England. I don’t know the first thing about clam shacks and I’ve always been so turned off by the old-timey weather term n’or easter that it’s clouded my open-mindedness towards the region. Plus, I imagine the area being inhabited by a bunch of bespectacled, bow-tied Christopher Kimballs (yes,I know I just mentioned him the other day, but America’s Test Kitchen seems to always be on).

Surf_bar_lobster_rollMy lobster roll seemed correct, a simple to the point hot dog bun (not sure if it was buttered) stuffed with mayonnaise dressed chunks of lobster meat. There wasn’t any distracting celery tossed in. I liked it and didn’t think it was wildly priced at $14, though I swear I heard someone at the table complaining about the menu being expensive.

Then came the bar progression, who’s meeting up where and so on. I know I’m an out of touch cell phone-less crank but I still don’t understand the intermittent calling and texting that occurs when hanging out with large groups. Like you’re already with people, not to be all touchy-feelie, but why not live in the moment and enjoy where you are and who you are with rather than coordinating a nebulous near future. Ew, enough of that talk.

First, we went to weirdo nearly suburban, quiet-for-a-Saturday Hope Lounge. I’ve always used Nu Shooz to sum up what’s wrong with the youth of today, Williamsburg in particular, and like clockwork the DJ whipped out my favorite tune. Really. I’ve always thought if you’re going to embrace the silly poppy funky ‘80s, you may as well go whole hog with the decade and delve into ickiness like Mike and the Mechanics or Traveling Wilburys. (If you haven’t noticed, I’ve capitulated and now completely see the beauty of YouTube but Twitter I’m totally not getting. Why the hell would anyone care about what anyone else is doing capsulated in 140 characters or less? This is worse than Nu Shooz.)

Next was Larry Lawrence, where despite playing music from the here and now (Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, of course) was a jam-packed nightmare (though not completely fruitless because I found a treat out front, which I’ll get to in a minute). I ended up across the street at creatively named The Pub, an even weirder, emptier out-of-place bar than the first one, but when you’re drunk enough that playing with a gag gift plunger and watching an extended infomercial for the Sonic Blade on a big screen is a total blast, the surroundings cease mattering.

To some degree, that is. Even when I’m having fun I can only block out so much of the world around me. And I discovered this new level of wrongness seconds after stepping into Savalas. The sweet strains of "I’ve Got My Mind Set On You" blasted my ears. My eyes almost started bleeding watching kids bopping around to that atrocity (most definitely more disturbing than having a Say Anything poster in your dorm room in 2001  click on 7). That ubiquitous song and video didn’t please me when I was fifteen, and it hasn’t gotten better with age. It was my signal that I needed to call it a night.

Fried seafood plus seven drinks (over a span of five and a half hours in case you’re concerned about my health) plus George Harrison might look something like this:




A puzzling yet reassuring combination of chicken bone, pork chop bone and a pool of vomit, all inches from each other on Grand Street, between Roebling and Havemeyer. Sidewalk bones always cheer me up.

Surf Bar * 139 N. 6th St., Brooklyn, NY

Now That’s a Green Grocer


How come no one told me there were green Peeps this year? Non-vegetable green food is my passion. I liked Target’s red Peeps out of sheer novelty but red is not Easter. Sea foam green totally is.

Green_peeps_boxes_3I’m not one to get all wound up over supersizing but I’m pretty sure that single boxes were the norm when I was a kid. Now, you’re forced to buy three-packs that are tantalizingly cheap. Despite the $1.29 price on these, they were only 99-cents at CVS and probably elsewhere too. Fifteen Peeps for a buck seems like a bargain, though I discovered that a serving is five marshmallow chicks.

  Really, 140 calories of sugar and fluff is kind of benign in the scheme of things, especially considering I’m about to head out for a decadent Easter barrage at East Buffet. What’s more festive than all you can eat peking duck, crab legs and shrimp dumplings?


This is that birthday time of the year for me. There’s like a two-week period late March/early April when it feels like everyone’s getting a year older (and I can relax knowing I still have a few months ahead of me). Luckily, I only have to worry about special occasion dining for one of the celebrants. You can’t ignore your significant other special occasion dining duty. I never know what I’m going to get, some years it’s more of a blow out than others. 2006 I was taken out to Cookshop, a place I never would’ve picked on my own yet thoroughly enjoyed.

I rarely go for trendy (though whatever year it was that Spice Market opened I did choose it) so Morandi or Waverly Inn were wildly out of the question. Then there’s the stodge issue, Eleven Madison Park and The Modern have been hovering in mind for a while but the time never seems right for them. There are also an infinite number of likeable standards that I doubt I’ll ever get around to, from the Le Bernardins and Daniels to the Union Square Cafes and Crafts of the city. It’s too bad the reviews have been so mixed for Gordon Ramsey at the London because that’s one restaurant I was initially interested in for a splurge.

Instead, I went kind of random and picked Devi. Pretty and creative, though not over the top or ostentatious. I don’t dabble in haute Indian so it was refreshing in that regard. I’d been avoiding it because my former supervisor loved it and I couldn’t imagine how my tastes might overlap with a plastic surgerized, middle aged Jewish woman from suburban New Jersey. But we all have to let go at some point.

First, we stopped into nearby Flatiron Lounge. Just as the thought of Morandi gives me shivers, I have been shunning Death & Co. like, well Death, I guess. My one and only visit to Pegu Club predictably irked me, though I do love the concept of all these newfangled gin joints.

Flatiron_lounge_jack_rose Flatiron_lounge_jamaican_firefly

I started with a Jack Rose (applejack, grenadine and lime juice), then segued into a Jamaican Firefly (rum, ginger beer, lime juice), essentially a dark and stormy. It looks like James’s drink in the background is the same in both photos but it’s two pale colored cocktails, a corpse reviver #2 (gin, Cointreau, Lillet Blanc and lemon juice) and something made with pisco.

Devi_interiorAs we were escorted upstairs at Devi to a completely stand alone, enormously square table for two nowhere near any other diners in the room, I thought “this is a table.” No squeezing or sliding, nothing communal or stifling about it. You could wave your hands or kick about in any direction and not bump a soul. Space is relaxing as long as there’s not too much formality attached to the luxury. I’m still not sold on bar seating, as much as it’s hyped.

Continuing the cocktail theme, I had a Mumbai Margarita with silver tequila, elderflower, mango juice and cayenne powder. I would’ve kept up my mid-week drinking binge—I’m all for wine pairings with tasting menus, but James has less tolerance for alcohol, wine in particular, and it was his birthday dinner, after all. Halfway through the courses I had a glass of random Riesling. I didn’t see a wine list and I didn’t bother to ask (I was a little hesitant after James asked our waitress where the restaurant got its lime leaves for his twist on a gin & tonic made with cilantro. She got kind of flustered. He was just making small talk, which isn’t either or our fortes. Then she disappeared in the middle of our meal and camped out with a cell phone on a box or a stool in this pitch black storage area in the very back of the second floor. I only noticed because even though she was hidden in the dark, she was in directly in my line of vision. I could make out a white napkin that she seemed to be pressing to her face. There was definitely crying and quiet fighting going on but not in English so I couldn’t eavesdrop. We had a male waiter for the remaining part of our dinner).

You could make a perfectly respectable meal from a few dishes and a bottle of Kingfisher beer, but if I’ve never been to a restaurant I like to (though both times I’ve been to Ureña—James’s birthday dinner last year–we ordered a la carte) sample as many things as possible. At $60, the tasting menu is fairly priced. It’s not high luxury or fusion Indian either. There’s a good deal of tradition at work, with the addition of atypical ingredients and very layered flavors and spices. Possibly the most punch per square inch of food I’ve experienced in a while.

Let’s see how much I can recall from the procession (with the aid of their website, of course). This is where words will fail me and why the hardcore write tasting notes on the spot. I find playing with a camera distracting enough, juggling a notepad is too much for a recreational meal.

While this looks like falafel, I know that it is not. I guess I wasn’t amused because I can’t remember what it was.

Calcutta Jhaal Muri
rice puffs, red onions, chickpeas, green chilies, mustard oil, lemon juice

This was a crunchy mishmash like a chickpea fritter rolled in rice krispies. I think I know this blob better by the name bhelpuri, though that seems to be listed elsewhere on their menu.

Salmon Crab Cake
tomato chutney mayonnaise

After spending a chunk of time in Baltimore, James always picks crab cakes. We rarely share food and most definitely do not feed each other. Therefore, I didn’t taste these.


These stuffed breads (kulcha, I suspect) showed up after the first few dishes. I was torn between not wanting to ruin my appetite and wanting to eat warm cheese and spinach filled dough. Not surprisingly, by the close of our meal my half had been decimated.

Tandoori Quail
spicy fig chutney

I always forget how tiny quail is, yet I often order it if I see it. I was swayed by the fig component. The bed of fruity mash (that you can’t see in this picture) contained little gritty bits, just like a Fig Newton. That freaked me out as a child, but I’m OK with it now.

Hmm, James had the grilled scallops with roasted red pepper chutney, Manchurian cauliflower and spicy bitter-orange marmalade instead of the mini game bird but I seem to have missed my photo op.

Veal Liver & Brain Bruschetta
veal with quail egg and green chilies, liver with cinnamon, tomatoes and onions

I knew we’d split on this course. I’m like baby animals and gray matter? Bring it on. The liver was much more distinctly organ meaty than the brains, which were tempered by the little fried egg. More teeny quail product. I don’t know what James’s fish of the day was (no photo because it was even worse than the ones I've deemed fit for publishing).

Tandoori Prawn
eggplant pickle, crispy okra

The side pile was almost like a salad made of shoestring fries, using dried wisps of okra instead.

Tandoor-Grilled Lamb Chop
sweet & sour pear chutney, spiced potatoes

I wasn’t going for a bone poking you in the eye effect—I just seem to have zero mastery over my camera. I can’t not take photos but these moody, low light meals really don’t lend themselves to flashless photography. This dish exemplified the simple seeming yet million flavors at once approach. The meat was mild and creamy from the yogurt, the potatoes were hot, punchy, soft; the chutney crisp and bright.

Emperor's Morsel (Shahi Tukra)
crispy saffron bread pudding, cardamom cream, candied almonds

How do you turn down something called emperor’s morsel? I had the warm cardamom flavored bread pudding and James had pistachio kulfi. He was annoyed because he’d just had pistachio gelato at Bouchon the week before. I was like those are so not the same, plus I was sitting home bored in Brooklyn while he was in Napa Valley (not on some foodie pilgrimage–his sister lives in Santa Cruz and it was a family obligation) so I had zero sympathy. He could’ve just ordered the same as I did but has a thing against food duplication.

Pistachio Kulfi
Indian ice cream, candied pistachio, citrus soup

Devi * 8 E. 18th St., New York, NY

Sunday Night Special: Tartare, Ragout & Scaloppine

I don’t always document my Sunday dinners. I was too frazzled to write about tapas two Sundays ago where I mangled the aioli twice, or Hunan pork the Sunday before that. It was so simple that I didn’t even bother (plus, I’d already done a few Fuchsia Dunlop recipes recently and I wouldn’t want anyone thinking I was crazed).

This past Sunday James stepped up. He’s on some weird Jacques Pepin bender. Normally, James cooks stuff more like fried chicken, split pea and ham soup, pasta and sausage, huevos rancheros, American tacos, egg, bacon and cheese sandwiches (in fact, he’s making one right now and it’s 12:20am and that’s frustrating because the bacon smell has permeated the apartment, making me hungry, and we already ate my healthy spinach, white bean and tuna salad a few hours ago) and occasionally Thai basil chicken.

Fast Food My Way was recently added to the DVR queue. I’m starting to become a sucker for all the channel 21 shows. In fact, I just ordered the accompanying cookbook and Rick Bayless’s reissued Authentic Mexican. Maybe I’m just relieved to not be watching Food TV.

Because we don’t have the cookbook yet, James made the recipes from what he caught on TV. This was his deal, I just very lightly documented it. All the measurements are super approximate. And by the by, this may be fast food Pepin’s way but it took well over an hour to prepare in our apartment.

Salmon Tartare over Cauliflower Puree
1 lb salmon
2 tablespoons capers
¼ small red onion, chopped
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 hard boiled eggs, peeled and chopped
1 tablespoon chopped chives
½ tablespoon Tabasco sauce

Slice salmon into one-inch cubes salmon and toss with capers, vinegar, Tabasco and olive oil. Season to taste.

One head cauliflower
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons olive oil
½ small red onion, sliced

Boil cauliflower until soft, maybe five minutes. Mash with hand masher and mix with mustard, olive oil and onion. Salt to taste.

You’re supposed to have a ring mold for the puree and tartare and garnish with egg and chives. Tall food never happens in our house so we didn’t have the ring mold. A tuna can is too short.


Chickpea Ragout
1 white onion, chopped
2 plum tomatoes, chopped
1 serrano chile, chopped
2 scallions, chopped
1 can chickpeas, drained
1 cup chicken broth
2 tablespoons olive oil

Heat olive oil in pan. Cook onions until golden. Add scallions, tomato, chile, chickpeas, and chicken broth. Bring to boil, cover, then simmer for 15 minutes. Remove lid, let cook down a bit if it seems too soupy.

Jacques said to use a “luscious” tomato and his certainly fit the bill. That’s not happening in Brooklyn in April. Pale supermarket tomatoes had to suffice.

Pork Scaloppine
1 lb Pork loin or cutlet, cut into four
fresh bread crumbs from 4 slices of white bread
parmesan cheese
1/3 chopped onion
2 cups white mushrooms, sliced
½ cup white wine
olive oil

Pound pork rounds into thin cutlets. Mix crumbs and cheese. Coat pork in the mixture. Add butter and olive oil to a pan. Once hot, brown cutlets on both sides. Remove. Add onion, then mushrooms into the pan. Cook until they start to brown. Deglaze with white wine. Pour sauce atop pork cutlets and garnish with chives. Serve with ragout.


It’s not the prettiest looking plate but everything was very tasty and completely suitable for a Sunday night. I can’t say I’m crazy about The Tudors. I don’t really understand the recent appeal of cable historical melodramas (once you remove the rampant humping and explicit violence, that is). Though, that’s nothing compared to my other Sunday TV viewing fright: watching Christopher Kimball, blindfolded, taste testing low-fat mayonnaise with a spoon. Egads.

Double O


I finally got my damn macaron. I popped in Financier last Friday and was sad to see no pistachio/green cookies left. I had to choose among chocolate, lemon and raspberry. Pink seemed next best. I do see their appeal, there’s a pull between the light outer shell and the soft, moister interior. Kind of like a drumstick. I’d rather eat a piece of chicken, though poultry certainly isn’t as pretty.

Last night I was watching DVR’d Jacques Pepin doing macaroons, and yes, they were the macaron style, though he pronounced the double oo. But they weren’t smooth and preppy looking. His recipe created a big rustic chewy looking thing, simply filled with jam. And then he heavily dusted with cocoa powder. There seems to be no rhyme or reason to these things.


Saturday night, Fette Sau crossed my mind but I knew better. Williamsburg service tends to lack in the best of circumstances and opening weekend chaos might’ve turned my hair white(r) from stress and shock. It looks like I chose wisely.

Instead, I decided to have my patience tried at a Park Slope gastropub, thanks. I’m not clear why New Yorkers would find communal dining enticing. Communes equal love and sharing. Even innocent CSAs gives me the heebies. I don’t want to know my residential neighbors, anonymity is one of the few benefits to city dwelling. I definitely don’t want to sup with strangers.

Alchemy_beef_cheeksAt least the inch and a half that normally separates tiny square tables fools you into thinking you’re dining semi-privately. It wasn’t that I just didn’t want to sit wedged in the back corner of the restaurant, it was that I could barely fit into the back corner, even a medium adult would’ve had troubles. I was stuck between a wall and a Japanese girl, seething while unable to remove my jacket or use my right arm. We probably should’ve just refused the seat or eaten at the bar, which was more spacious but there was practically no way to extricate once squeezing in. And, well, I’m a culinary martyr.

Alchemy_beet_ravioliI wanted simple and good, and that’s pretty much what we got. The menu is brief, with about a handful each of appetizers and entrees. We split an order of beef cheeks, which were served atop creamy polenta and garnished with parsnip strips and a few stray red pickled slivers of something unidentifiable. Beets seem like the obvious guess, but I’m not sure.

Somehow, I ended up ordering a dish in a style I rarely touch: meat-less and pasta-based. They were trying to make a hippy out of me. Next thing you know I’ll start digging rice-filled burritos. Urgh. But the beet ravioli with wilted greens and a goat cheese sauce sounded appealing. The marcona almonds mentioned in the description could’ve played a more prominent role, though. The smooth richness needed some contrast.

Alchemy_guinness_toffee_puddingContinuing my beer theme (I managed to drink three Bluepoint Toasted Ales—after being given a bizarre moldy tasting version at Sheep Station, I now tend to order the brew when I see it on tap for comparison), we split a warm, puffy sticky toffee pudding made with Guinness. At least our dessert could be savored leisurely.

About thirty minutes after we arrived, the seating situation had loosened up. By 11pm we were the lone people remaining at one of the long tables. The front bar stools and spacious wooden booths were the only occupied space. I don’t think it’s a secret that weeknight dining has its advantages but leaving the house Saturday night shouldn’t be traumatizing either.

Alchemy_windowAh, which reminds me. Three of the four curtains covering the back windows were hung closed but the one nearest to us had been pulled open. I imagine they were intended to stay shut since the rear patch was filled with junk, a typically Brooklyn backyard. During the middle of our meal, James glanced out and got an eyeful of one of the male kitchen staff taking a leak. Classy. This photo isn’t an attempt to capture the deed, I’m just illustrating the scene of the crime.

Alchemy * 56 Fifth Ave., Brooklyn, NY

Getting Your Jollies

Joelstein Joel Stein is like a less wry Mo Rocca (I can’t help but mention at any mildly opportune moment that he sat directly in front of me en route to Chicago in February) laced with a touch of good ol’ fashioned Dave Berry. In a word, douchie. And apparently Time magazine has deemed him fit to write a food column. I hate voices of my supposed generation on any topic…but food? Really? It’s much better when they stick to two-liners on I Love the ‘80s.

Foreign fast food chains are a topic near and dear to my heart so I couldn’t help but peek at his first foray into culinary commentary, "The Hungry American." Uh, and maybe I’m misinterpreting his interpretation, but he seems to be of the mind that chains set up in America to try to appeal to us and get it all wrong. That might be the case if he were talking about Pret a Manger overdosing the U.S. with mayonnaise. Yet the examples he cites are California-centric, for one, but inaccurate since they are primarily restaurants catering to expatriates.

Jollyspag Minus the Jollibee burgers, this isn’t really “foreign American food.” I don’t think this Filipino chain is trying to entice the general public with gusto, and if they are then spaghetti topped with ketchup and sliced wieners is a charming yet off kilter business plan. I don’t know that the businesses in his commentary are trying to resell our culture back to us as much as that they’ve interpreted fast food for local audiences and are reaching out to immigrants who’ve settled in the U.S.

I don’t think Guatemalan Pollo Campero, at least in NYC, had made an effort to attract non-Central American customers. In fact, the one in Sunset Park went out of business for that very reason, the neighborhood was more Mexican and Puerto Rican and didn’t identify with the brand. Practically all cultures like fried chicken, we don’t own the concept.

And for Stein to posit that Beard Papa is interpreting donuts for Americans is insane. They’re not mimicking our fried dough, they’re making cream puffs. Japanese (and Asians in general) love French shit. I had great pastry in Hong Kong and Singapore.

And his conclusion is frighteningly self-revealing: “To them, it seems, we're a happy, efficient, fun bunch of guys, even if we act like total jerks when it suits us. They've figured it out: we're frat boys. And we like to eat like them.” Yikes. I wonder how those crazy Filipinos might re-create the beer bong, don’t you? And Nicaraguan jello shots? Just a matter of time.