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Ask the Profussor – Starting on the Right Foot

May 13, 2010

After playing catch-up a couple of weeks ago with two AskTP posts in short succession, I declared that I would do a better job in the future.  Well, the future is now.  And there have been some great comments over the past few weeks, as well as some burning questions that as of yet have remained unanswered.

For those who are relatively new to the FUSSYlittleBLOG, I try hard to answer all questions posted to the comments thread, emailed to my attention, posted on the FLB Facebook page, or sent to Twitter.  And while ideally I would answer these as they come in, invariably several of them slip through the cracks and get answered in this semi-regular feature.

Here we go.

Mr. Dave asked:
Have you ever checked out the above recipe for Ragu Alla Bolognese? It has been deemed by the Accademia Italiana della Cucina to be the “official” recipe. I made it a couple months ago, and it was really very good.

Thanks for sharing the “official” recipe.  It is very similar to the one I use, although Marcella’s has a slightly different order of operations and calls for a different cut of beef.  She wants you to use the coarsely ground neck end of the chuck.  It’s fattier.  How I love that woman.

This conversation really made me want to cook up a batch of this stuff, but it’s a winter food that you make a ton of and store in the freezer for hearty beefy pasta dishes all season long.  I’ll have to make a point of doing it next year.  It is so freaking good.

karenano wanted to know:
Do you know if the cornmeal from Italy has a higher protein content?

I have no idea.  Years ago I would search out the finest Italian cornmeal for my polenta.  And I have to say it was magnificent.  There were layers of flavor that I just don’t get from what I buy in bulk at the HWFC for a fraction of the price.  But part of learning to relax is letting go of the pursuit of occasional culinary bliss in exchange for everyday culinary pleasure.

mirdreams wondered:
Ah, but did you see Evil Dead the Musical? So very very funny to see that much fake blood live. And set to music.

No, I did not.  I only see musicals with my Nana.  We went to see Kiss of the Spider Woman together.  That may not have been such a good choice.  If they called the Evil Dead musical The Necronomicon, maybe I could have gotten Nana to go see it.  I don’t know, maybe I could have convinced her it was like Little Shop of Horrors.

slilly was curious:
Were you at least impressed by Cafe Capriccio’s restrained menu?

I thought I was until I ordered what I thought was the one hot appetizer and found out it was cold.  Who constructs a menu with no hot appetizer?  Who makes broccoli rabe and beans a cold dish?  Blech.  And I also thought it was kind of cheating to take a dish from their regular appetizer menu and pawn it off as an entrée during restaurant week.  But I’m not going to hold that against them.

The wine we ordered turned out to be lovely, and was the best part of the meal.  But we were initially steered to a Riesling.  I like Riesling, but when I’m in what is supposed to be a regional Italian restaurant, I want to get a correspondingly regional Italian wine.  I chose a Soave, and enjoyed the hell out of it, despite their thick and clunky wineglasses.

StanfordSteph had a very straightforward question that I have not been ignoring:
Does it matter what kind of peanut butter you use? Can I use natural PB?

Do you think I use artificial peanut butter?  Natural peanut butter is totally fine.  Anything is fine, actually.  The point of this recipe is that it is flexible like crazy.  Use sesame butter, cashew butter, almond butter, or even soybean butter.  Sometimes I add a bit of extra peanut oil, just because I’m not afraid of a little extra flavor-carrying fat.  And my peanut oil is super-delicious.

In other news, I was just informed by Mrs. Fussy that yesterday Young Master Fussy spontaneously commented on how much he likes the Trader Joe’s peanut butter.

AddiesDad offered to clarify his thoughts but needed more direction:
What exactly are you trying to wrap your head around: 1) broad menus so as not to offend? 2) seasonal requiring more effort and creativity? 3) the Capital District preferring bland/easy to replicate food? 4) or the lack of a strong connection to a regional cuisine?

There are a few things I want to understand more about this list.  But the one that completely knocks me off my chair is #1.  Specifically the part that reads, “So as not to offend.”

[Side note: Officially, Mrs. Fussy thinks I am crazy for needing clarification on this, since it is her opinion that menus offend me all the time.  But in my defense, I do not find them offensive, only disappointing.  I'll leave her notes in brackets below.]

I’m trying to figure out what could be offensive about a small menu.  What kind of person gets offended by a menu, period?  [YOU!!!!!!!!!!!  How can you even write that??????] What does it mean to be offended by food choices?  And where does this attitude come from?  [????!!!!!??????]

The only menu I think I was even remotely offended by was the one at the Cheesecake Factory with all the advertisements in it.  And then it wasn’t the menu per se, but rather the presence of advertising.

By the way, thank you for helping me work through this.

Kerosena implored:
There’s gotta be a better way to say it than Chicken with Barbeque Sauce. Grilled Chicken BBQ?

Given that most jarred barbecue sauce reflects a certain regional style, how about “KC Style Grilled Chicken”?

North Country Ramber, commenting for the first time, possibly unaware of “Ask the Profussor,” noted:
Fussy, isn’t he?

Why yes I am.

But I’m not the fussiest of my friends.  Not by a long shot.  You should meet Raf, for whom the original phrase FLB was coined.  Every now and again he’ll pop up here in the comments.  And every now and again I’ll bait him with something I know will get his goat.  Like the colossal failure that was his bacon fried rice.

One Comment leave one →
  1. AddiesDad permalink
    May 13, 2010 1:36 pm

    Ah, “offend” is the offensive part? Easy, I am never offended by a menu, only, like you, disappointed. What I meant to say is that a broad menu allows diners with a less adventurous palate to have copious options with which to please their myopic taste buds and sate their hunger for limited, easy to digest (figuratively and literally) menu items.

    A shorter, seasonal menu may “offend” people by: 1) not offering what they hunger for at that moment, and 2) using everyday culinary vocabulary that they may find offensive due to it’s foreign language nature and/or “exotic” ingredients. I have witnessed hissy fits in restaurants because mac and cheese is made with short ribs or gruyere instead of plain, orange cheddar.

    Perhaps offend was the wrong word, maybe scare or intimidate would have been better word choices.

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