Tuesday, September 16, 2008

This Town Needs An Enema

That was what Jack Nicholson's character, The Joker, said about Gotham in the first of the "modern" Batman movies.  Besides being a pretty good line, it also describes how I feel about commentary, dialogue, criticism (positive and negative), or the utter lack thereof on the food and beverage scene in and around my own fair city of Sioux Falls.  So, I decided it was time to do something about it and enter the 21st Century by authoring my own blog.

Who am I?  Well, this idea wouldn't work if I told you.  After all, I eat, drink, or shop at the places we are going to discuss.  Like the profile says I like to eat, drink, and cook.  I love food culture.  I love the politics of food.  I live in Sioux Falls, but I travel a little bit.  When I know I am going to travel somewhere- be it Rapid City, Denver, Minneapolis, San Francisco, Dallas (TX, that is), Atlanta, Washington D.C., or Pierre, I immediately think about where we can go eat at the destination.  I think about the wines I cannot get here in SD, or ingredients, or equipment, or whatever.  I like to talk about my food experiences with other people who like food and I like to hear their stories, too.  I like to think that I not only have a sense of taste, but also a palate.  I like to think there as much beauty in a good hot beef sandwich made with white bread, real mashed potatoes  and that oh so tasty gravy  made and served at the livestock sale barn in Philip as there is in an amuse bouche prepared by Thomas Keller at The French Laundry.  Actually, I know there is.

Oh, and before I forget to say so, I am not a wine snob.  (Even though I think I can hold my own in a blind tasting.)  Wine is not something that one masters- one merely becomes a better student of wine than one's fellows.  Wine is a journey, not a destination.  I also believe that one can love and care about beer, coffee, tea, mineral water, and other beverages without being unfaithful to one's palate or one's self.

Why do this?  Because, like I said above, this town needs an enema.  There are other outlets, MSM and not-so-MSM that contain reviews of eating and drinking establishments.  These range from publications one might have to pay for, the Argus Leader comes to mind, or publications that are given away free- by the entrances to grocery stores, restaurants, bars, etc.  The information and commentaries in these various publications runs from "Chamber of Commerce" reviews to sarcastic creative writing experiments gone bad.  It simply strikes me that most of these people either don't know what they are talking about (Can you really take an Argus food review seriously when the reviewer orders steaks done more than medium?) or don't particularly care- they are just writing.  Well, thanks to years of experience with food and writing, I do know what I am talking about and I do care.  And I think it's time to slice through the restaurant spotlight of the week articles and get to the bone marrow.

Here are some of the things I think about, practically daily, and some thoughts that are probably going to be topics for discussion in the near future.
  • If Hy Vee can build grocery palaces, why can't they bake a decent loaf of French bread? (And don't start patting yourself on the back, Sunshine, because yours ain't that hot, either.)
  • Is it time for South Dakota to ban smoking in public indoor spaces- like bars and restaurants?
  • What restaurants offer good values on wines?
  • What is the hottest dining or drinking establishment these days?
  • Which locations seem to have the best service and which ones seem to be staffed by the hopelessly inept or the dangerously psychotic?
  • Where I ate on my summer vacation.
  • Why anyone serious about food should blow a house payment on a meal sometime.
  • Why you don't have to blow a house payment to have an outstanding dining experience.
  • Has the Food Network gone the way of MTV?  Remember when MTV played music videos?  Remember when Food TV had cooking shows on?
  • Whatever else strikes my fancy.
I hope people will join me in this journey.  The internet will provide us with a table that is always big enough for all, but all must use their manners.  Taste may be subjective, but decorum is not. No jabbing with forks.  No feet on the table.  No foul language.  

Pull up a chair, pour yourself a glass.  Bon Appetite!

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