"" What's She Eating Now?: Top 5 Things You Should Be a Food Snob About

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Top 5 Things You Should Be a Food Snob About

I like to think I am very open-minded when it comes to food. I do enjoy fine dining for sure, but some of the best things I have ever eaten include street food items that probably should have given me trichinosis. I revel in discovering great cheap eats and awesome dives. I also love finding delicious treats that hail from half way around the world whose name I need to repeat multiple times to get the pronunciation right, only I am sure to still get it wrong. And perhaps the best evidence of how unpretentious I am about food, I have an unabashed adoration of fish sticks.

All that said, there are some things I am not only a food snob about, but will go as far as to say you should be too.

  1. The absolute number one food offender in my book is the spicy tuna roll. Sushi is served raw my friends. This is so you can taste the delicate flavor of the fish unadorned by things as overpowering, inappropriate and uncouth as mayonnaise with attitude. Would you put ketchup on top of caviar? Furthermore, because this sauce is so intense, sushi chefs tend to use the worst left-over tendon-ridden odds and ends to make these rolls because it really doesn’t matter. You could mash up bits of sewer rat underneath that muck and not be able to tell the difference. The pain on the face of one of my favorite sushi chefs whenever he has to make one of those monstrosities is more heart tugging than a Save the Children commercial. While I don’t patronize his restaurant often, I applaud Sasabune’s Chef Takahashi for posting a sign on the wall that reads “No Spicy Tuna.”

  1. Next on my hit list is over cooked meat. An animal died so you could eat that, the least you can do in his honor is allow your food to retain some flavor so that he can look down at you from upstairs and think “Wow, look how delicious I am.” Overcooked meat, whatever its origin, all tastes the same. I defy you to tell the difference between well done beef, duck, lamb, prairie dog or whack-a-mole. If you simply do not enjoy a properly prepared medium rare piece of meat, please slide your plate over and order the vegetarian special.

  1. Bad pizza. It never fails to surprise me but there are people out there who eat this stuff, plastic-y layers of cheese on top of third tier store brand tomato sauce and all. I admit in some parts of the country people may not have many options but in New York City, the thin crust pizza capital of America, there is no excuse. Let’s remember, pizza is not health food. It’s loaded with high fat cheese and customarily served on top of white flour based dough. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t eat it, but that when you do you should love it. It should be amazing and comforting and never leave you with that “Wow, I really didn’t need to eat that” feeling. It should be worth every last calorie. Some people say “sex is like pizza, even when it’s bad it’s good.” I disagree, on both counts.

  1. Subway sandwiches. No self-respecting New Yorker should ever eat one of these. Ever. The New York deli sandwich is as old as that joke about a priest and a rabbi in a row boat. Put a different way, a New Yorker eating a Subway sandwich is like an Italian grabbing lunch at the Olive Garden. (Don’t get me started on chain restaurants!) I don’t care what the commercials say or the wonders Subway has done for Jared’s social calendar, the ingredients don’t taste fresh and no one there will take enough pride in his craft to deliver you a sandwich worth eating. One should buy lumber by the foot-long, not lunch.

  1. Ketchup on hotdogs. This mockery is simply un-American. Interestingly, ketchup on hotdogs is a hotly debated topic on the Internet; there are even books on the subject. But to me there is nothing to argue about. You’re either with us, or you put ketchup on hotdogs. There is even a Facebook group called Ketchup on Hotdogs with 19 nihilist fans flaunting their support for what is tantamount to food anarchy. For the greater public good, I hope the powers that be are keeping a watchful eye on these condiment extremists.

So there’s my Top 5. I am sure I have stirred the proverbial pot a bit so agree or disagree, let everyone hear it in the comments section. Just don’t do it while snacking on a slice of individually wrapped bright orange American Cheese.


  1. 1. I'm with you on Spicy Tuna as a concept. However, when placed in front of me, I will eat the shit out of one of those. And- it's no fair when they include it in a sushi dinner. I was at the very respectable (and very good) Kano Yama in the East Village last week, and my Sushi for 2 included a spicy salmon roll. Their choice, not mine. What was I going to do?

    2. A - fucking - men.

    3. My recent pizza pet peeve: when out of towners come in and tell me about the awful pizza they had "at some place in brooklyn or something" on their last visit. Let us be clear: The country's best pizza is in NYC. That doesn't mean that every establishment has NY's best pizza. Oh, and if your friends are taking you to shitty pizza places in the city, you need new friends.

    4. How bout the sickening smell that issues onto the street from every Subway shop? I think it comes from the bread. Freakin gag me. I'd rather go down into the 4/5/6 and take a big, lung-expanding whiff of a real subway.

    5. I don't much care for hot dogs, so maybe I don't have a right to weigh in here, but what's the problem with putting ketchup on them? I'll admit that as my tastes have matured I prefer mustard over ketchup in most circumstances, but I don't see why going for the red stuff on my dog would be heresy.

  2. Ketchup on a hot dog is communist

  3. Communist indeed. Besides passing secrets to the Soviets, I think one of the lesser charges that led to the Rosenbergs' execution was putting ketchup on a hotdog. Unfortunately, the espionage overshadowed their other crime, obscuring its heinousness and preventing many from learning a lesson from their misguided ways.

    But in all seriousness, in response to Amanda's query, why is this so wrong in the post-McCarthy era? Sort of like the answer to why do Jews break a glass at the end of a wedding ceremony, there are lots of explanations. Some as straight forward and along the lines of a mother telling a child "because I said so." Some more technical and having to do with the properties of ketchup itself. Specifically, manufacturers add a lot of sugar to tomatoes to make ketchup. This does two thing. First, it makes the condiment so sweet that it overpowers almost anything you put it on, rendering whatever its supposed to be accompanying really just a vehicle for ketchup. That's why a lot of parents put ketchup on various foods for their kids, enough of it and the kid will eat anything because it tastes like sweet ketchup, which may also explain why your tastes have evolved to mustard as you have matured. Second, because its sweet, it is not a proper flavor complement to the fat in a hot dog, so even applied modestly its just an incongruous pairing. And when people say "I just like it, so what?" they're probably just liking gobs of ketchup, not the actual combination.

    I have been living with one such heathen for years now. While he has embraced many aspects of capitalism after coming here from Romania in the 80s, this is one red habit I haven't been able to break him of. Or maybe its not that he's still secretly part communist, it's that he's still part little kid and just likes pools of ketchup on everything. I debate which is worse. Either way, for the love of all things holy, next time you're at a ball game, barbecue or famous July 4th eating contest, reach for the yellow stuff, and make America proud.

  4. Ketchup on an expensive Rib Eye steak is one thing but ketchup on a hot dog? Who cares? It's just cheap forced meat that should be covered up using any means available.

  5. My vote for worst pizza: Pizza Works on 91st and Lex.. It's been closed for years now but the bad pizza will live on in my mind. They had a sort of sweet sauce that tasted like it was Heinz 57. They did, however, have NEO-GEO when that meant something and a Ms. Pacman table top game. I give them props for that. Honorable mention: Famiglia Pizza on 96th and Amsterdam and at newark Airport.

  6. Thanks for the comments.... Will take them in order...

    If the hotdogs you are eating are just 'cheap forced meat' to you, not only stop putting ketchup on them, stop eating them all together. I believe in eating junk food and treats on occasion but it should be an indulgence. There is no point wasting calories on something that you think is so bad you need to drown it in ketchup. Save the daily allowance and blow it on some awesome nachos!

    And Eddie, I feel you on Pizza Works and Famiglia. I also think installing a Ms. Pacman table top is such a cheap trick to get people to buy your lousy excuse for New York pizza. They played dirty and in the end, the bad guys always get what they deserve.

  7. I'll give you the tuna thing (though i'm with amanda) and yes yes yes w/ hot dogs and subway, but pizza? PIZZA? You say tomato, i say tomahto, either way -- pizza is always underwhelming (and always misuses the lovely tomato). From the best pizza in NYC to the worst thing dominos can think up -- meh. I will never understand how anyone can get all worked up about pizza. Its gross. Its greasy. Its filling but then you feel sick. Its like having an argument about meatloaf or plain chicken breast. Its something your mom feeds you every night of your life for 15 years b/c its easy. Oh wait, is that just me.....?