CURATED. In the last several years everything has become curated. It used to be that museums curated collections of say early Renaissance art or sculptures from early Etruscan times but now a days everything from the toiletries at the Courtyard by Marriott to the ice cubes at the latest trendy bar are “curated”. It’s time to stop misusing this word, give it back to the people it belongs to; museum curators, and use plain old English words to describe what we do in bathrooms and bars.
BUZZY. Last time I checked, the word “buzzy” might refer to the sounds of an insect flying around your head at night. But for some reason in the latest travel magazine parlance it means something like an “in place to be”. Now everything from a certain neighborhood in Bogota to a bar in Barcelona is “buzzy”! Please editors, get out the red pen and slash it from your upcoming articles.
BRINING IS OUT! Good cooking techniques are never out, unless of course someone at “The New York Times” decides they are. Will roasting or braising be “out” next year? I hope not. It’s time for Americans to stop following trends and recognize authenticity.
BOUTIQUE HOTEL. Can someone please find a new way to describe a small hotel with few services and quirky art stuck on the wall?! A boutique used to be a shop that sold unique women’s apparel. How and why did this simple word get stretched and mangled to include awful hotels all over the world? I think it’s time to think up some new adjectives to describe these institutions….maybe just use the star system of yore?
HIPSTER. While this group is not technically a food or travel trend, they seem so ubiquitous in the hospitality business that these folks actually a food trend! Perhaps I’m dating myself but when I was a kid, hippies were cool and unique: they wore their hair in all different ways, thought in odd ways and experimented in all sorts of things that made most of society very suspicious. But most of all they were politically active and cared about society and its ills. Contrary to this, hipsters all seem to look alike (how many dudes can wear the exact same beard), wear the same clothes ( if I see another plaid shirt I might freak out) and are studiously “trendy” from their bracelets to when they get married. In other words they are in no way “counterculture” and many of them seem less concerned with the world than in conforming to the latest style. Time for a re-think on this folks.
FERMENTING. Here we go again...The great Redzeppi, Emperor of gastronomy and Lord High Bishop of uber local has a new book on fermenting. Suddenly this ancient art, I think the Assyrians made beer at the dawn of civilization, is ultra cool. Why? Because the usual cavalcade of breathless food press is presently deeming it so. Okay, fermenting is great! I like beer, just like Judge Kavanaugh, I like pickles too and sauerkraut with my dogs. But please, just for once, let’s not make this into the “latest trend”!
CRAFT BEER. You know you’re really in trouble when things start being adopted by the corporate world. Craft beer is the ultimate marquis child of this phenomenon. Ask yourself, isn’t every beer made with some sort of “craft”? Even the most mainstream of beers are “created” by knowledgeable “craftspeople” to taste good. Or does adding eggnog or pumpkin spice to some weird concoction give it a higher level of class? I don’t think so. And what defines “craft” in the public’s mind? Corporate hype typically. Look no further than Sam Adams, perhaps one of the earliest “craft beers”. Is it no longer “crafty” since it long ago moved its massive breweries far from Boston or because it is now a major player in the beer market? I’ve got an idea, let’s just call it beer.
KITCHEN. Suddenly in the last couple of years I’ve noticed corporate chain restaurants incorporating the word “kitchen” into the name of their restaurants. One only has to spend a few days driving through the interstate suburban wasteland to see this hip new variety of marketing. Do the whiz kids of Madison Avenue really think they are hoodwinking the American public into believing there hundreds of outlets are really embracing “real” cooking in a real kitchen? Well maybe I shouldn’t ask this question, but to most folks it probably sounds kind of hip and cool while crunchy and authentic at the same time. The problem is, I can almost guarantee you that said “kitchen” is a bank of microwaves where one or two white boys oversees a flock of brown people defrosting processed food of the highest order created and shipped to the “kitchen” from a central “factory” commissary. Perhaps, they could rename these new joints something like “Factory and Bar” or Processed Food Defrosting Center and Craft Beer Lounge! Okay, maybe I’ll never get hired on Madison Avenue.
THE SWOOSH. For a number of years now the “swoosh” of some sort of usually vegetable purée, has become ubiquitous in restaurants and cafes trying hard to be hip and trendy. Some sort of fish or meat is frequently placed atop said swooosh and then this is often finished of with a minuscule drizzle of some sort of paste or oil. This paste or oil seems to always have an obscure name, that ninety five percent of the dining public has never heard of: but then, of course isn’t that the point? In most cases the protein perched on the swoosh is soft and when pushed into the swoosh the result is mushy combined with mushy and since there is no real sauce, result is a monochromatic mush pile! Please fellow Chefs, let’s start making sauces again that people like to eat and get rid of the swoosh!
DECONSTRUCTING Over the last decade we have witnessed the deconstruction of virtually every classic and well known dish in the international lexicon. We’ve sat through meals that showcased the ingredients of famous curries dried and resurrected before our eyes, desserts that were freeze dried, crumbled and carefully strewn across plates, even a gazpacho soup in which each ingredient was either dried or jello and one had the sublime pleasure of mixing it back together yourself! Enough with the cleverness; let’s just make a great curry, pavlova or soup and allow everyone to eat the food without pretense and theater.