It may be Shark Week on The Discovery Channel, but for me it feels like snark week. I seem to be doing some serious complaining…
I love French toast, but most times when I order it in a restaurant they have ruined it. On the heels of my post about the excellent food you can get in fine restaurants, comes a lament about the simple dishes I love, but are regularly ruined by The type of restaurants most of us visit on a more regular basis than those that cost a fortune and require the type of planning I seem challenged to undertake.
I have already railed against what passes for Spaghetti Carbonara in 98% of Italian restaurants. This is not a fancy dish, but a simple peasant dish, inexpensive to prepare, and rarely found cooked properly. French toast is another travesty in most establishments. In French it is called pain perdu which means lost bread, and is an allusion to the state of the bread after it has soaked overnight in a royale (a custard base of cream and eggs). So often I get bread that has been dipped in an egg mixture for about ten seconds, and then put on the flat top and griddled. If you’re lucky they’ve used a generous amount of butter to create a crispy outside, but even that can’t make up for the dry, pallid bread that is revealed once you cut into it.
Training is not the only thing that causes me to be annoyed by the bastardization of food, but it helps… Anyone who knows me will either stop reading here, or roll their eyes when I mention margaritas. Why, oh why when I order a margarita do I need to ask my server for salt in order to get my glass rimmed with it? Any bartender’s manual will direct the margarita maker to salt the rim, it is the proper garnish, and if I don’t have to request triple sec, or tequila I should not have to request salt! If you’d like your drink without salt, I support you in your preference, however, the onus is on those who eschew salt, not those of us who want the drink as it was created, and meant to be consumed!
I do not like my meatballs made with soy product, I do not want my maple syrup to be made from high fructose corn syrup, please hold the cream in my carbonara, and my fettuccine alfredo! Onion rings should not be made of chopped onion puree formed into rings— I can get those in the freezer section of my grocer. I understand you don’t want to soak the french toast overnight, but how about a few minutes? I’ll wait.
Some of the issue is cost, but much of it is that it is easier to get pre-made, frozen product than to make food in-house. The first time I went to a commercial food show I was appalled at what I found, and I realized one could easily run a restaurant and never actually cook anything, as long as you could re-heat, fry and microwave. The appeal of this from the owners’ perspective is that it ensures consistency, if not quality. They can hire cooks with little to no skill, and salaries to match. And the saddest part is that it is much less costly to make real food than to buy it already made.
People, we need to start demanding quality! Please, when you go out, choose a place where they make their food. If you’re not sure, then ask. If their macaroni and cheese tastes just like the stuff you had last week somewhere else, it probably is. American’s have developed a palate for mediocre food, we allow our food to be ruined, and some people have been so brainwashed, they don’t even notice. Please take a stand for good food! Patronize places where there is an actual cook who actually cooks, Don’t do it for me, do it for your children!