Thursday, March 27, 2008

Coffee, grain-fed beef, and quality vs. quantity (scroll to March 26, 2008 entry)

The Jesus has posted about the American view of good food versus truly "good" food. This resonated with me as I've been to Italy a few times - the ice cream tastes better, the coffee tastes better, the cheese tastes better, the pasta tastes better, the meat tastes better. Everything...even the water. While Europe itself is becoming more Americanized, which is a shame, they still have a knack for making great food, but it's not necessarily in the recipe. It's really in the ingredients - Jesus' point on grain-fed beef, for example. Instead of making good food for the sake of good food, we try to make as much food as possible for the masses, who don't know anything about what makes up good food. Oh, and we are given the privilege of all these choices, so we end up paying a lot more for Starbucks than Dunkin' Donuts. Not only do Americans consume way too much coffee (look at the sizes), we're charged too much for the crap they swill. In Italy, coffee is meant to be enjoyed in a small cup, or maybe a larger one if mixed with milk. In America, part of the reason we eat crap is because we're so used to eating way too much food at all three meals, so companies know they can get away with reducing quality by using preservatives and taking the moisture out of food to make it last longer, enriching it with all sorts of disgusting things that don't belong in our food - corn syrup, anyone?

One interesting experience of mine in Italy was when I was with my cousins and grandparents on a night out to dinner. Suffice it to say, we likely ended up embarrassing my grandparents to a ridiculous degree. My grandparents invited two friends of theirs out for pizza. In Italy, lunch is the big meal, and dinner is a more casual affair - pizza, for example (but like everything else, it's more healthy, tastes better, and far less is consumed in their culture). There we are, myself and two or three of my cousins, ordering individual pizzas and tearing into them with forks and knives - sucking down Coke at the same time - and eating the pizza by crude slice after crude slice - by hand! The two guests of ours were slowly eating their pizza, one bite at a time, with a fork.

This reminds me of a random Sopranos line - Tony telling AJ to slow down, and not gulp the champagne - "hey, slow down - you have to savor it. It's important." If David Chase was really the artist everyone wishes he wasn't (who really liked that ending to the show anyway?), could this be seen as a critique on Americans? Probably - I know I see it.

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