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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.

When Life Gives You Cans of Condensed Cream of Chicken Soup

buffalo wing soup

What looks like queso, contains no cheddar whatsoever and saved Super Bowl for someone rendered unable to gnaw on wings because of new not-fully-functional front teeth? Buffalo wing soup! (I did use fingers and plastic fork to de-meat two wings, but it took over ten minutes and was barely worth the effort.)

Initially I joked, but a quick search turned up an unbelievable number of Google hits, none surprisingly sponsored by Campbell’s. This is simply the first recipe that appears– to the rescue. You’re really just doctoring condensed cream of chicken soup with chicken, hot sauce, half-and-half and blue cheese until it resembles a liquid dip that tastes rich and vinegary. (And props to commenter AmberN who added a packet of ranch for “a little more flavor.”)

This crock-pot creation is actually less gross than it sounds or looks. In fact, I was microwaving leftovers (half a recipe still makes more than enough) in my office cafeteria and a young woman I’d never met before asked what smelled so “delish,” so there.

What I thought was an anomaly appears to have serious Buffalo roots. At the 2014 Buffalo Soupfest, there were no less than five variations on chicken wing soup, and it’s a regular menu item at a restaurant called Danny’s.


Things are bleak for the middle class, and could be made no clearer than the Darden brand examples given at the end of The New York Times’ recent report. Traffic is declining at Olive Garden where the average check is $16.50 (clearly, these people aren’t partaking in the chianti) where spending is up at Capital Grille and closer to $71.

Most notable to me, though, was how the company has re-branded its answer to Outback Steakhouse.

“LongHorn Steakhouse, another Darden chain, has been reworked to target a slightly more affluent crowd than Olive Garden, with décor intended to evoke a cattleman’s ranch instead of an Old West theme.”

The differences between Old West and ranch-style seem nuanced at best—at least to my untrained eyes. (For the record, the above photo is intended to be “a warm, relaxing atmosphere reminiscent of a Western rancher’s home.”)

Meanwhile, in the “Soviet-style dystopia” that is Sochi, there is a mall where the only open business is a “thriving” Cinnabon.  The real question is whether giant American cinnamon rolls qualify as middle-class in a Russian Olympic village.



Two Weeks in International Intrigue: Red Beans, Red Sauce, Spam

I posted no stray links last weekend because I knocked out a good portion of my front two teeth and somehow that kept me from posting online for a few days. These links must live.

Dairy Queen has recently expanded into Guyana, Taiwan and Vietnam. In Ho Chi Minh City you can have red bean and green teas flavors (not clear whether this is toppings or soft serve). Poland, Turkey, UAE, Kuwait and Jordan could be next.

Spam is suitable for gift-giving in South Korea.

It’s odd because we don’t have Jamie Oliver restaurants in the US, but Jamie’s Italian is all over the rest of the world. Next up, Stockholm.

Technomic rounds-up a slew of foreign restaurants opening in the US. I’ve been waiting for Bibigo, the bibimbap chain. Just Falafel may be the only UAE-based restaurant to make the unusual reverse journey and open here.

Subway is growing like crazy in the UK and Ireland, and will start serving breakfast.