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    Greg and Beth

    the political and personal musings of two
    mountaineers living in west-central Florida
     
    Regional Food Meme Comment
    Gregory Morris, 12/8/09 10:33:57 am
    After reading LabRat's essay, Chris's short novel, Uncleís brief comments, I figured I'd throw in my $0.02. I was born in the northernmost southern state, or the southernmost northern state, depending on who you ask. West Virginia is split between northern and southern sensibilities. For instance, it is unsweet tea in the northern counties, and sweet tea in the southern ones. Some counties are more likely to say "soda", while others say "pop". WV doesnít have the deep culinary roots of states like Texas or South Carolina. Most of the "regional" WV dishes I can think of involve wild game, ramps, and no well-defined recipe.

    I now reside in Florida, where the cuisine seems to be a mix of Cuba, New York, and Florida Cracker. The only good barbeque (bbq/bar-b-que/etc) joints to be found in Florida are run by people who moved here from somewhere else. The only native Florida cuisine that would almost qualify as barbeque is the smoked mullet (which you have to try.) We eat lots of seafood, and most seafood benefits from being cooked over fire.

    Since I donít have the roots required to enter the holy war on behalf of any particular region, Iíll just discuss my personal opinions, which are 100% correct and authoritative.

    Barbecue - Meat cooked using fire/hot coals/smoke. I've tried many types of regional Barbecue and they are all good. I like it: dry, with vinegar-based sauce, mustard-based sauce, or tomato-based sauce. Just give me smoky, tender, flavorful animal flesh. Chris mentioned a number of types of meat, but failed to list some other legitimate barbecue candidates: possum, raccoon, and squirrel.

    Hot Dogs are good if they are cheap and crappy budget dogs, or expensive all-beef fancy-shmancy kosher dogs. Regardless of the type of dog, they are best enjoyed at a baseball game. You put Heinz ketchup, yellow mustard and sweet pickle relish on hotdogs. You don't put chili on hot dogs, but you can put "hot dog sauce" on them, which is basically the same thing. Bratwurst (and similar wursts/sausages) are fantastic, but donít belong at baseball games. It is OK to put sauerkraut on a bratwurst, but never on a hot dog. Tofu dogs are only good for practical jokes.

    Tea - Uncle says iced tea should be sweet with lemon. While I don't mind sweet tea, you can always sweeten it yourself, but you cannot un-sweeten it. Of course, you can't get cold tea to dissolve as much sugar as freshly brewed tea, which is why some correctly made sweet tea can be made potent enough to kill any diabetics within a 30 foot radius. I normally drink unsweet tea.

    Pizza - Chicago style pizza sucks because you can't fold it right, and it is hard to eat without a fork. This is proof that nothing good has ever come out of Chicago. New York style pizza should be well done and the crust must be crispy (or ideally burnt.) It should be cooked in a brick oven at 700-900F until the crust develops a fine layer of carbon. Nearly all toppings are acceptable, but tomato sauce and mozzarella cheese are not optional.

    Chili
    Beans - I don't mind beans in my chili, but I could go either way on that one. "Real" chili clearly doesn't have beans, but there's no reason you can't add beans if you like 'em. Just don't over-do it. Of course, when I enter chili into a chili cook-off, there are no beans in it. Sometimes Iíll serve beans on the side.
    Meat - Many people are under the false impression that ground beef is sufficient to fulfill the meat requirement in chili. This is a tragic mistake. Chili should have real chunks of meat, which still have the texture of the animal it came from. In fact, Iíd argue that ground meat is optional. I usually use ground sirloin and pork, in addition to chunks of beef (if not both beef and pork.) Wild game is also acceptable and encouraged. Lamb is ok in moderation, when combined with other meats, but too much will make your chili gamey. Sausage-type meat is also OK if you use the right sausage (i.e. Ė chorizo, andouille, etc.)
    Misc
    • Chili should be a little sweet, but only a little (acceptable sweeteners: tomato paste, sweet chili paste, brown sugar.)
    • Chili should be spicy, but it shouldn't be so spicy that you shit fire for the next week.
    • There are no birds in chili.
    • Corn in chili is stupid, but I'll eat it anyway.
    • Many people make picadillo and call it chili. They are idiots.
    • There is no such thing as white chili (tasty soup, but it ain't chili), vegetarian chili (also tasty, but not chili) or Cincinnati chili (which is an abomination before the eyes of God.)



    [Comments are closed after a month.]

    Regional Food Meme
    Nick, 12/8/09 11:11:28 am
    Addendum to the pizza bit.

    Ideally (although not by necessity), the New York style pizza should be made by someone from New Jersey or New York City, where they worked tossing proper pizzas as a teenager. Also, a real pizza is no smaller than 16 inches in diameter.

    It must be reiterated that Chicago style cheesy-tomato-slop-in-a-pie-crust is not pizza for the reasons mentioned by my brother above.
    Regional Food Meme
    Gregory Morris, 12/8/09 11:16:16 am
    Yes. I think it goes without saying that correct dough handling is a must.
    Regional Food Meme
    Nick, 12/8/09 11:21:04 am
    Also, "You put Heinz ketchup..." on hot dogs, it is entirely unnecessary qualification. Merely saying ketchup would suffice as there is only one kind.
    Regional Food Meme
    name, 12/8/09 10:17:09 pm
    "smoked mullet"

    That sounds really gross.
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