Evidently, the geographical confusion that has gripped college football has extended into the realm of condiments. Duke's Mayonaise, the beloved cultish secret of Southern cooks, is now available in parts of the South that are north of Canada! They are selling it -- openly -- in Pennsylvania! The new slogan is "the secret of great cooks." As a reasonably serious question, what happens when/if Duke's is available at supermarkets nationwide? What portion of the Duke's mystique lies where you cannot get it? The only intentionally regional brand that went national that comes to mind is Coors, and that's complicated b/c of Nazis and stuff.
In other regional news, regional supermarket chain Bi-Lo defines local like so. The Bi-Lo HQ is in Florida, and the chain's reach extends well beyond these states, but there is something reminiscent of the idea of the home counties in this notion. It's not as good as, you know, locally grown food, but better than trucking everything in from California.
I saw where there was a thing, via Eater, that Burger King would start offering poutine. Well, sorta, to judge from the picture. It's fries, gravy, and cheese curd -- bacon is really superflouous, and unless your name is Marcel Picard, don't fuck with a classic of late night drunk food. And the other one? With Angry Onions and Angry Sauce? I think BK tried something with an Angry Sauce stateside, and it understandably did not take. Because it inevitably reminds one of this. But, the bigger story is that this is not a story, inasmuch as McDonald's has been pushing poutine in La Belle Provence for years.
Er. Actually reading the press release indicates that Eater's lead of Burger King Selling Cheesy, Gravy-licious Poutine To Canadians was not the story, b/c it appears there is a Burger King Classic Poutine that antedates these poutine perversions. When you look at their former spokesmonarch, it's no surprise there were perversions.
A nice piece in the NYT about pickles, and how, back in the day, well-meaning social reformers tried to get immigrant kids to put down that pickle and pick up a wholesome bowl of creamed fish and applesauce:
Also, the eventual triumph of the dill pickle makes the Cod wonder if one might be able to map some sort of national gustatory aesthetic that marks the assimilation of various races. A dill pickle is unlikely to elicit shock and horror fom your lunchmates in the average American lunchroom, but it's not hard to find folks today who talk about kimchi the way they talked about pickles back in the day. Be patient, Korea!
A move to get DePaul University students to call for the institution to stop selling the Sabra brand of hummus, which is owned in part by an Israeli company, failed to get enough votes. A large majority of students who voted in the referendum backed the idea of kicking Sabra off campus, but DePaul requires referendums to have 1,500 voters to be considered valid, and not enough students voted to reach that threshold. DePaul's administration never said that the results of the vote would be followed, even if 1,500 students voted. Students for Justice in Palestine, which pushed for the vote, issued an open letter arguing that it had won a "landslide victory" -- even if the election lacked enough voters to count. The Chicago office of the American Jewish Congress issued a statement noting that "too few of DePaul’s 25,000 students cared enough even to vote."
Not sure if a Vincentian university in Chicago's boycott of hummus is the thing that will sort everything out in the Middle East, but the Cod confesses to being a tiny bit jealous of a school students who are this politically engaged.
This post is my way of honoring a commitment to my friend and colleague Bruce Twister, the only dude on the Early American grind with an actual alter ego, who had asked for pix of the Cookout packaging.
So, Cookout is the vaguely cultish East coast burger chain that is not Five Guys, though it is like Five Guys in the way it makes you lonely and dreaming of the West Coast. But it's a decent enough little burger. I had mine with bacon. It was tasty.
With a big but. The jams on the PA are from a Christian XM station. Whatever. If Chang wants to blast Pavement at you, well, we just covered that. If Cookout wants to bump Amy Grant, you can go to Wendy's if you don't like it. But. The packaging has slogans! With Bible verses! (Click to enlarge.) It's possible to be sort of nonplussed by this on a "I don't expect cheeseburgers when I go to a house of worship" level, but it's a little weirder than that, actually:
On the bag, "THANK YOU GOD FOR AMERICA." The supporting text is Proverbs 3:5-6. If you are rusty, that's
Keeneyed readers will notice that the texts supporting these claims have not that much to do with the text in all caps. Historically minded readers will be scratching their heads at this point, too. The King James Bible dropped in 1611, and the USA debuted in 1776, so a reference to the USA in 1611 would be like, oh, Travis McGee listening to a Marlins game on the deck of the Busted Flush. Impossible, in other words. Unless, America (or the USA -- same diff) is the place the Lord ordained for Christians way back in those demo versions of the KJV written in Hebrew and Aramaic. Well, maybe. In a week when food, politics and religion are getting tossed around a bit, it's worth considering. Other times, it might be, you know, a bit much, and a reason to hold out for the next Five Guys.
...he made the drive-thrus run on time.* Via the Awl, the McItaly Burger. Given that the Slow Food movement was born in Italy as a reaction to McD's hard not to see this as the equivalent of Ronald McDonald throwing down a teabagging** dunk on Carlo Petrini.
Lucca, in Tuscany, has banned
new ethnic restaurants from the town’s historic center. A city official
says the city is trying to protect local food. Others say officials are
discriminating against immigrants and fail to understand that modern
cooking involves cuisines and ingredients from around the world.
I can understand the impulse to want not to have kebab stands or whatever in the middle of your touristic gem, but this is napped in wrong sauce for a variety of reasons beyond simple racism. First, in a move worthy of Alice, the nameless official tries to grab the locovore mantle for political reasons. One could, conceivably, open a Thai restaurant in the city center, and with few exceptions, serve local produce and meats. The official wants to protect local culinary idioms, not local food.
More importantly, it's very difficult to conceive of where or how to draw the line. "Italian," as a principle of culinary inclusion or exclusion, is not useful. "Italy" was not a coherent state until relatively recently, and does not denote anything like a coherent culinary culture. Even in relatively provincial towns in America, there are Northern or Southern Italian influenced restaurants. Does a Sicilian dish get a pass, when an Alsatian does not? They have about the same relevance to Tuscan food. Even the tail end of the article DJ links to points to this confusion. My guess is the race of the proprietor will be the determining factor.
It was stupid before, and it's still stupid now. To use bigger words, it reflects a failure on the part of the Japanese to understand the difference between the nation and the state. Leaving aside troubling notions of sovereignty, (you can bet that plenty folk would have their tit in a wringer if the US sent cheeseburger inspectors overseas), it is foolish for the state to arrogate the power to regulate the culture of the nation to itself. The state works through coercive power (penal, financial), or its threat, while culture tends to work itself out through taste and the market. I'd argue, however, that the kind of regulatory power the state claims with AOC labeling of one kind or another is legit,
as it refers to products, rather than dishes, and there is at least a semblance of a subjective standard. Also, and I make the point in the earlier post, to presume a transnational Platonic form of sushi is to stifle the development of new indigenous forms. One might as well tell the finches to keep their beaks all the same, or send a delegation of English soccer officials to Sao Paulo to tell the kids to stop playing the jogo bonito quite so beautifully.