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Ask the Profussor – Welcome New Peeps

October 21, 2009

Not only has it been almost a month since the last AskTP but it has been a very busy month.  There was the misguided Deli Days in which we picked up a few new and active readers.  Most recently, I was lucky enough to be asked to participate in All Over Albany’s 2009 Tournament of Pizza as a judge.  And it seems as if that announcement has brought a few new readers over to the FLB as well.

Welcome.  I hope you all stick around for a while, and jump into the conversation wherever you see fit.  Feel free to be as fussy as you like.  You are among friends.

For those who are new, every so often I catch up on reader questions that for some reason or another were left unanswered.  If you have a question, and no one else can help, and if you can find him, maybe you can ask…the Profussor.

[Cue music and roll sequence of custom minivan driving through Albany]

Mr. Dave is the big winner this time with two questions in AskTP.  I don’t know if that’s good because he’s been an active participant, or bad because perhaps I’ve been ignoring him.  Luckily, Mr. Dave seems to be a good sport.  He’d better be, because I assume he is well armed.

Let’s answer his questions first.  K?

Mr. Dave wondered, “Is it weird that I kind of don’t like pizza? Of any sort?

Growing up I had a friend who said he was allergic to pizza.  He wasn’t.  In reality, he just didn’t like it.  But he was so tired of taking flack from his peers for not liking everyone’s favorite food that he just fabricated a boldfaced lie.

People don’t like all kinds of things.  And I think that is fine.  Taste is subjective.  Some people just do not like delicious.

It’s the people who will not try anything beyond their comfort zone that really throw me for a loop.  There are people who will not eat a bite of certain cuisines just on principle.  That drives me batty.

Mr. Dave also asked, “Did you know that Fritos are vegan?

I did my due diligence, and like you said Fritos are only corn, corn oil and salt.  My thought is that vegans whose concern is primarily animal welfare, are also concerned with the environment and sustainable agriculture.

Given that corn is among the more heavily GMO-dominated crops, I’m guessing those Fritos contain some of that special corn that cannot be sold without a label in other countries.

So my guess is that not a lot of vegans are going to be hopping onto that Fritos train.

After reading How to Serve Vegans Jennifer wanted to know, “Did you mean the title to read the way it does?

NY Deli Man got it right.  I was thinking about the Twilight Zone episode when I wrote my title.  To be fair, it still does have to do with eating people.  And no, I do not advocate it.

But other animals that are raised on diets of vegetables are mighty tasty.  Sure, grass-fed and finished beef may be leaner than its feedlot cousins (which are fed all manner of non-vegetable matter – but I’m not going to go into it now when I’m full of pizza).  You just need to adjust your cooking methods.

Still, if I were in a plane wreck.  And it was a matter of survival?
I’d probably go for the vegan.

NY Deli Man asked a reader named Irisira, “How could someone not like apples.? I understand not liking Macs, but disliking Cortland/Empire/Gala and Fugi?

I actually went apple picking with a fellow who is allergic to raw apples.  Apparently once they are cooked, the enzyme that causes the problem is deactivated somehow.  Perhaps Irisira’s friend is like that?

Or maybe they have just never had a good apple.

In my 30s, I rediscovered pears.  As I thought about pears, I couldn’t remember eating any as I child.  So, I called up my mother to confront her about why she kept me away from something this delicious.  Her answer was that I was never happy with them.  The pears she bought were either underripe or mealy, and eventually she just gave up on buying the fruit for me.  Which was certainly fair enough.

Otis, as if on cue, wrote, “OK, so… we are well beyond 24 hours after the event and not a peep about how it went down. Not all of could make it to UofA to enjoy the celery tonic and cider donuts, unfortunately. Can we have a report please?

I thought you’d never ask.  Actually, given my promise not to write about deli for a while, I needed someone to ask the question so I could give my report.

Turnout was very good.  The room was full, but everyone who came was able to find a seat.  Professor Merwin was an engaging lecturer, and there was some moderate back and forth between the audience and the podium.

Ultimately it was an academic discussion of the deli as a cultural institution and less about the food per se.  Although I was particularly interested in how the first American Jewish Delis were a very special treat, where the food was consumed in small portions.  The modern deli was more an evolution from the original migration in the 1880s to the golden age of deli between 1920s and 1940s.

He also mentioned people’s spiritual connection with the food.  I lost the exact citation, but behind the counter at Ben’s Best in Queens was described as “the holiest of holies.”  And there was another story of a deli owner in Boston who told of patrons coming in hooked up to medical equipment who haven’t eaten deli for years but want one last taste before they die.

It made me think of Mr. Sunshine who opts for a lean cut.  Maybe he can learn from this, and order a juicy cut of pastrami now, while he can still thoroughly enjoy it.

Speaking of Mr. Sunshine, I ran into his Bitter Lemon soda at Oliver’s on Colvin.  Just let me know when you are having cocktails, and I’ll bring some over.

For the rest of you, keep those questions coming.

One Comment leave one →
  1. Ellen Whitby permalink
    October 21, 2009 11:18 pm

    It’s such a pleasure to read this. Almost makes up for the lack of face-to-face, but only almost.

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