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Exotic Cuisines and Those Who Try Too Hard

ZS hit the nail on the head. That is the formula for sucess for “exotic” (read: foreign) cuisines in America. There is only one 5 star Vietnamese restaurant I know of. It’s called Crustaceans located in Beverly Hills and SF. What makes it so special? I’ll never know. I’ve only heard people tell tales of their underground glass aquariums and how you can see fishes swimming below your feet as you walk through the entrance.

Once, I was watching a show on NBC on the weekend where Chuck Henry (remember him) would go to different restaurants and try different foods. And of course, to make it more interesting, he’d go into the kitchen and interview the cook and have him/her make him something.

Well, just my luck, today was the owner and founder of Crustacean. What delightful Vietnamese dish is she going to make today?

She made spring rolls and meatballs. What the? I have that all the time at home and don’t think it’s “special.” Dont’ get me wrong, it’s DELICIOUS, but I don’t imagine it being in a fru fru restaurant. I have to give them some credit though. They did little creative twists, like they put the meatballs inside mini french rolls so it looked like minature meatball sub sandwhiches. Creative. Normally I eat the meatballs in a bowl with some broth and I dip the bread in. They also drizzled fancy sauce on top in a nice design. What was this sauce? It’s just Siracha (sp?) aka Rooster Sauce!

The (white) American palette is so ignorant of foreign foods, that they think it’s just a treat to go try it. But with this curiousity, there is a fear. They think of all other countries as being dirty and backwards. So how do you fool them? You make a nice clean restaurant and you dumb down (white wash) your food. That is the recipe for success.

After seeing the lady from Crustacean cook, I reailzed that you simply cannot make certain cuisines fancy, no matter how hard you try. French food? Sure. American food? Yeah, to some extent. But Vietnamese food? Our foods are simple.

Do you know which cuisine has the ultimate example of not-gourmet-makeable? Mexican food. A Mexican comedian once said he realized growing up that Mexican food was the same ingredients recycled over and over. You take some sort of meat, cheese, corn or flour tortilla and you prepare it different ways.

Tostada
Burito
Taco
Taquitos
Nachos
Sopes

It’s ALL the same thing. I love it when I go to a “fancy” Mexican restaurant. No matter how you fancy up a taco, it’s still a taco. You can add lobster to your nachos, but they are still tortilla chips with cheese from a can. I think they should stop trying.

2 Responses to “Exotic Cuisines and Those Who Try Too Hard”


  • Funny. My post I got a lot of the ideas from you. I didn’t notice the Americans and cleanliness vs authenticity until you pointed it out. When you pointed it out, a lightbulb in my head went off.

  • Well, YOU are the one that posted first dude. I was writing a comment in response and then it turned into a novel, so I made it into a post on my blog instead. đŸ™‚

    And yup, I know I inspired you!

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