Everybody Loves Romano Beans

Recently on Twitter, someone named @Bobby Tweeted: “The worst writing online is those quirky 17-paragraph preambles recipe bloggers post before telling you what to put in your fuckin lasagna.”

You might think that a Tweet like this (which has over 12,000 likes and 3,000 RTs) might enrage someone like me who spent over a decade of my life writing quirky seventeen-paragraph preambles before telling people what to put in their f-ing lasagna, but actually, I totally agree with this Tweet. In fact, this Tweet speaks to why I kind of gave up food blogging two years ago. The writing seemed besides the point; I was just becoming a resource for recipes rather than a person whose words mattered. In a screenplay or a script for a TV show, every word matters; in fact, sometimes you get into hour-long discussions with producers or actors about one or two words that you feel strongly about. So when the writing on food blogs started to feel disposable, I lost interest. What’s the point of writing on here if no one really cares about what you’re saying?

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Just So You Know, Food Arrives When It’s Ready

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There’s a new restaurant trend afoot, one that takes the form of a casual, shoulder-shrug of a sentence, usually uttered by a server after he or she takes your order. It’s the sentence in the title of this post: “Just so you know, food arrives when it’s ready.”

It’s a sentence I heard last night at Alimento, a terrific new restaurant in Silverlake where I had some of the best pasta dishes of my life (more on those in a moment). It’s a sentence I heard last week at Republique with my parents, when they were here for Craig’s premiere. It’s a sentence we also heard at Bar Ama, where we went for lunch with both of our families (pictured above) after scoping out our secret wedding venue downtown. It’s a sentence that didn’t really bother me at first or even, really, grab my attention; but now that it’s becoming more and more common, it’s making me wonder: what’s it all about? And who does this really benefit: the restaurant or the diner?

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FOMIM: Fear of Missing Important Meals (While Traveling)

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It’s a very privileged problem to have, let’s acknowledge that out of the gate. Most people in this world who are worrying about food are worrying about how to get enough on to the table, not how to eat the very best the world has to offer while flitting about. Again, let me be the first to file this post under “Privileged People Problems” or “Problems That Are Not Very Serious In The Grand Scheme of Things.”

That said, I leave for Europe in one week and I’m starting to feel overwhelmed by all the “shoulds” floating across my screen. “Oh you’re going to Paris, you should go to Pierre Hermé,” says one person. “Skip Pierre Hermé,” says another person. “You should go to Jacques Genin.” It’s almost like I’m studying for the S.A.T.s and pretty soon I’m going to be in a gray little room with my #2 pencil, guessing C when I don’t know the answer, instead of strolling carefree around Europe, letting the day unfold in ways that might take be surprise. This is what it’s like being a Type A food person planning a trip.

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When Good Restaurants Go Bad

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The first sign was the asparagus. It’s December here in New York and on the breakfast menu at Untitled at the Whitney, a Danny Meyer restaurant which we frequent whenever we’re in the city, there’s an asparagus omelette. “Asparagus in December?” I asked and then Tweeted something about it, prompting a sarcastic response from the very funny Twitter personage BoobsRadley: “Outraged!” Ok, ok, maybe it’s not something to be outraged about, but it is a sign that something’s a little off, especially when a restaurant’s proprietor is at the helm of such season-oriented restaurants as Gramercy Tavern and Union Square Cafe.

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Food Crimes: Soft on Soft Sandwiches

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Turkey and cheese is a sandwich staple for many people in this universe except I’m not one of those people. That’s because the idea of biting into soft turkey while also biting down on soft cheese totally skeeves me out. Soft on soft is absolutely the worst offense a sandwich maker can commit next to using mayonnaise but that’s a totally different conversation so let’s not get sidetracked. Let’s talk about the sandwich you see above.

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Salad on the Same Plate as Dinner

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There are three kinds of people in this world: people who eat salad before dinner, people who eat salad after dinner (aka: the French) and the strangest group of all, people who eat salad on the same plate as dinner.

I grew up in a “salad before dinner” family. On those rare occasions when we’d eat at home, mom would toss together some iceberg lettuce, sliced red onion, and cucumbers with Seven Seasons red wine vinaigrette and serve it up in white bowls. There was a ritual to all this, a sense of structure that echoed the structure we’d find when we went out to dinner. The Olive Garden did it this way. So did T.G.I. Friday’s.

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Down With Communal Tables!

[Image via I’m Only Here For The Food]

At long last, after weeks of waiting, we’re going to that great restaurant everyone’s been talking up. We’ve pinched pennies, we’ve cleared calendars, we’ve read the reviews online and the menu and strategized endlessly about how and what we’ll order. Only: this place doesn’t take reservations, so we’re showing up early and hoping for the best. Here comes the hostess now, she says she can seat us right away. We follow her past tiny tables, where pitying eyes peer at us over elongated menus, to an extended piece of wood surrounded by chairs and covered with half-finished plates and half-sipped glasses of wine that all reverberate with the noise of countless voices chattering at high speed. This, we soon learn, is the dreaded communal table and before we can express our willingness to wait for a two-top or a four-top or any top that’s not a communal-top, the hostess drops the menus and flees.

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