Observations of the Random sort

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D.A. Ridgely
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Re: Observations of the Random sort

Post by D.A. Ridgely »

*shrug* I can get tomato sauces from stores that sell actual Italian products; it's more expensive and has a shorter shelf life, but a real Italian wouldn't turn his nose up at it.

That said, most Italians we knew when we lived there cooked their own sauce from scratch but bought ready-made pasta and, frankly, we're okay with Hunts original sauce. Americans tend to smother pasta with sauce; the Italians use just enough to give the pasta some flavor. Then, again, pasta's not the entree in an Italian meal.
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Warren
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Re: Observations of the Random sort

Post by Warren »

Hugh Akston wrote: 02 Sep 2020, 11:44
JasonL wrote: 02 Sep 2020, 10:48 I'm not sure which element of pasta sauce is doing the stomping.
Cooked tomatoes are the Urkel of food. Once they show up, it's the Cooked Tomatoes Show.
Nah, [protein] Parmesan is a balance of meat, sauce, cheese, and crust.
D.A. Ridgely wrote: 02 Sep 2020, 12:06 *shrug* I can get tomato sauces from stores that sell actual Italian products; it's more expensive and has a shorter shelf life, but a real Italian wouldn't turn his nose up at it.

That said, most Italians we knew when we lived there cooked their own sauce from scratch but bought ready-made pasta and, frankly, we're okay with Hunts original sauce. Americans tend to smother pasta with sauce; the Italians use just enough to give the pasta some flavor. Then, again, pasta's not the entree in an Italian meal.
I've been to Italy (Rome, Naples) and I've known a few Italian American families well enough to eat at their table. I'll take just about any can/jar of pasta sauce over their homemade "secret family recipe" sauce.

I like Italian cuisine, but like all other culinary schools, "authentic" is to be avoided.
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JasonL
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Re: Observations of the Random sort

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In the US, "authentic to be avoided" simply means "I need 4 extra cups of sugar per serving and I need to make sure everything remotely bitter has been relentlessly stomped out - it should basically taste either like ice cream or french fries".
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Re: Observations of the Random sort

Post by D.A. Ridgely »

Eating at an "Italian American" family dinner will probably be much better than Olive Garden but it's also not likely to be as good as a decent restaurant in Italy. Also, if the parts of Rome and Naples were tourist spots or, worse yet, U.S. Navy liberty locations, well, that's not exactly a fair representation, either.

Not all Italians, let alone Italian Americans are good cooks any more than all Southern women know how to make good fried chicken, all blue-collar men know how to fix a leaky sink, etc., etc. We probably didn't have a meal in Italian homes more than a half dozen times in the two years we lived there. Italians are, as a rule, very friendly in public and very private in private. But I was never taken by an Italian or, for that matter, a long-term American expat to an Italian restaurant where the food wasn't great. My comment about making their own sauce was based more in noting shopping habits and what the stores stocked than what actually goes on in the family kitchen. For that matter, Northern Italians lean more toward risottos and white sauce on pasta; tomato based sauce is more common in the south. *shrug*
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Warren
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Re: Observations of the Random sort

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JasonL wrote: 03 Sep 2020, 13:20 In the US, "authentic to be avoided" simply means "I need 4 extra cups of sugar per serving and I need to make sure everything remotely bitter has been relentlessly stomped out - it should basically taste either like ice cream or french fries".
That's not what I mean.
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Re: Observations of the Random sort

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D.A. Ridgely wrote: 03 Sep 2020, 15:28 Eating at an "Italian American" family dinner will probably be much better than Olive Garden but it's also not likely to be as good as a decent restaurant in Italy.
That is 100% not my experience.
D.A. Ridgely wrote: 03 Sep 2020, 15:28 Also, if the parts of Rome and Naples were tourist spots or, worse yet, U.S. Navy liberty locations, well, that's not exactly a fair representation, either.
Fair point.
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Number 6
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Re: Observations of the Random sort

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Warren wrote: 03 Sep 2020, 18:01
D.A. Ridgely wrote: 03 Sep 2020, 15:28 Eating at an "Italian American" family dinner will probably be much better than Olive Garden but it's also not likely to be as good as a decent restaurant in Italy.
That is 100% not my experience.
D.A. Ridgely wrote: 03 Sep 2020, 15:28 Also, if the parts of Rome and Naples were tourist spots or, worse yet, U.S. Navy liberty locations, well, that's not exactly a fair representation, either.
Fair point.
I remember being startled at how awful and overpriced food was in Rome. The same was true of Venice. The smaller towns in northern Italy, however, had quite a few wonderful restaurants, including, oddly enough, a very adequate sushi place in Saccile.
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Re: Observations of the Random sort

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When I spent a week in Tuscany, I had no bad meals. My parents spend like four days in Florence and said they had no good food while they were there, and I was baffled.

Then I went to Rome with them, and I understood. My mother put a lot of effort into only going to restaurants recommended by one of her four tourist guidebooks.
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Re: Observations of the Random sort

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Aside from the fact that Florence is the capital of Tuscany, which I know you knew, yeah, I can understand that. Americans on a short stay in Florence are going to spend most of their time at the Ufizzi, the Galleria, the Ponte Vecchio, the Duomo, etc., they take a day trip to Pisa to see the Tower and they likely don't get off the beaten tourist path. Florence and Venice (we lived in the Veneto) in high tourist season are terribly overcrowded, and Florence is incredibly noisy and not all that clean. As for restaurants, the Italians read those guide books, too.

I love Tuscany, more than the Veneto as far as that goes, because Florence *is* the Renaissance, but we'd always go off-season and even then stay in Siena. For whatever reason, it was just enough off that beaten track; rooms were cheaper and nicer and the restaurants mostly catered to Italians.

Same with Venice, which was literally just a half-hour train ride away. (Well, to Mestre, technically.) Off-season, especially at dawn or dusk, it's just a wonderful place to wander, sit and have drinks, etc. But restaurants were tricky; we were almost always better off eating in Padua or back in Vicenza. *shrug* And fwiw, I've never liked Rome. See the sights and leave asap would be my advice.
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Re: Observations of the Random sort

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I loved Tuscany. We were staying in Florence, but it was a choir tour so we were taking day trips to other towns to perform there. Every meal I had was good, and I got them all by, like, wandering into a random restaurant and it was great. But my parents went out of their way to find overcomplicated and overpriced tourist traps.

---

The clearest example of this was one night in Venice, when my sister wanted gelato. You'd think this would be easy, because if you're in Venice you can, like, close your eyes, spin around three times, and throw a rock, and it will hit a gelato shop by the third bounce.

But my mom's tour guide had called out this one particular gelato shop in Venice so we walked like half an hour to go stand in line there for twenty minutes so my sister could get gelato.

I guess the gelato was pretty good.
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Re: Observations of the Random sort

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The food was surprisingly good at, of all places, the highway rest areas “Autogrill”s. I did see in one of them an alcove where they had hung fresh made pasta, and thinking, ‘I doubt the Vince Lombardi rest area would ever do this ‘
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Re: Observations of the Random sort

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We ate ok in Rome as part of the tour package. I do remember the one evening we had on our own (because we flew in the day before the tour started) was kinda unremarkable, I think we may have just had pizza overlooking the Spanish steps.
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Re: Observations of the Random sort

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Rome is pretty notorious for tourist food. It's a general rule that areas of the highest tourist traffic have the worst food.
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Re: Observations of the Random sort

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The time I was in Italy we were there for a music festival in Spoleto, Cumbria, in the mountains north of Rome. So it was touristy but more local-touristy and for a certain sort of classical music fan. Since we were working we got a discount at certain places so that took the edge off the tourist prices, and the food was mostly to die for*. And because we had an apartment with a fridge we found a deli and had cheap sandwiches of those incredible italian meats and cheeses. There was a chinese place that was certainly... different... but it was set in a basement with lots of stone so we went there once in a while because it was one of the only cool spots on a hot day.

*(the festival itself was so poorly run (basically every Italian stereotype turned out to be true) and overworked/underpaid that by the end in July everyone swore never to return; but we had a theory that the food had special brain altering powers so by wintertime one has forgotten everything except how you need to go back for the food)
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Re: Observations of the Random sort

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Kolohe wrote: 03 Sep 2020, 23:05 We ate ok in Rome as part of the tour package. I do remember the one evening we had on our own (because we flew in the day before the tour started) was kinda unremarkable, I think we may have just had pizza overlooking the Spanish steps.
JasonL wrote: 04 Sep 2020, 10:17 Rome is pretty notorious for tourist food. It's a general rule that areas of the highest tourist traffic have the worst food.
Pretty much this. Near the Spanish Steps and the Forum were particularly awful. I noticed food prices dropped and quality rose as little as half a block from the main streets.
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Re: Observations of the Random sort

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JasonL wrote: 04 Sep 2020, 10:17 Rome is pretty notorious for tourist food. It's a general rule that areas of the highest tourist traffic have the worst food.
That's true everywhere popular, though. When you try to do a volume business, quality is almost inevitably the first thing to suffer, since you can't do the little stuff that really makes the food pop if you have to move on a fast pace.
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Re: Observations of the Random sort

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Aresen wrote: 04 Sep 2020, 11:14I noticed food prices dropped and quality rose as little as half a block from the main streets.
In college I did an econ term paper on the price of souvenirs on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. The same t-shirt cost considerably less if you went just one block away from key attractions.
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Re: Observations of the Random sort

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Thought: it's annoying enough to see people post memes, rants etc. comparing "wear a mask in light of covid" mandates to Nazi Germany, but far more annoying when these posts come from people who support Trump and his literally Nazi-esque actions, including but not limited to: concentration camps for people accused of no crimes except belonging to unpopular subgroups, and camp inmates include children; saying literal swastika-waving Jew-bashing Nazis were "very fine people," suggesting a federal registry of all Muslim citizens....
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Re: Observations of the Random sort

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The Caster Semenya ruling is pretty atrocious and should, theoretically, where anti-trans activists should rally in her favor. The argument that she’s a genetic freak doesn’t really hold water because that’s literally the definition of a dominant Olympic athlete.
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Re: Observations of the Random sort

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[Googles to see what Mo is talking about] Ugh, that is grossly unfair. She's enough of a woman that Saudi Arabia and other countries in that part of the world would treat her like a slutty toddler all her life; ergo IMO she's woman enough to compete as a woman. Besides, as Mo said, pretty much every Olympic athlete (except perhaps a couple of horseback riders, where IMO it's the horse doing the work) is a genetic freak in some way or other -- I recall reading Michael Phelps has unusually large hands and feet for a person his size, which help to paddle/propel him through the water more quickly than an identical person with "normal" size appendages; there's people from high-elevation countries who, compared to the majority of people at lower elevations, have freakishly high oxygen-absorption capabilities, which is necessary to live in low-oxygen elevations but gives them a BIG advantage when they're breathing at sea level ... shall they all be banned from the Olympics, too? I would say no.
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Re: Observations of the Random sort

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Jennifer wrote: 09 Sep 2020, 12:42 pretty much every Olympic athlete (except perhaps a couple of horseback riders, where IMO it's the horse doing the work)
I thought we were friends. :(
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Re: Observations of the Random sort

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Aresen wrote: 09 Sep 2020, 15:11
Jennifer wrote: 09 Sep 2020, 12:42 pretty much every Olympic athlete (except perhaps a couple of horseback riders, where IMO it's the horse doing the work)
I thought we were friends. :(
It would be more interesting if the horse was riding the person but then the Tijuana team would always win the gold.
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Re: Observations of the Random sort

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Aresen wrote: 09 Sep 2020, 15:11
Jennifer wrote: 09 Sep 2020, 12:42 pretty much every Olympic athlete (except perhaps a couple of horseback riders, where IMO it's the horse doing the work)
I thought we were friends. :(
Oh, I don't deny horseback riding and horse-handling is a skill, and one which I entirely lack; still, the fact is the best jockey in the world can't win a race with a lame horse, nor could the world's greatest polo player so much as enter the game with one. The only way to fairly and accurately determine which human is actually the "best horse racer" or "best polo player" or best other horse-based sportsman would be to somehow remove the "horse variable" entirely; say, if technology reached the point where we could make realistic robot/android horses, all programmed to have the exact same speed, strength, agility, reactions, "temperament," etc., then see which human jockey can win a race, when everybody is in effect riding "the same horse." That way, we'd know for certain any performance differences are due entirely to the skill of the human, and have nothing to do with that human having a better horse than everyone else.
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Re: Observations of the Random sort

Post by Eric the .5b »

I'll note that target shooting and curling are Olympic sports.
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Re: Observations of the Random sort

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Jennifer wrote: 09 Sep 2020, 12:42 I recall reading Michael Phelps has unusually large hands and feet for a person his size, which help to paddle/propel him through the water more quickly than an identical person with "normal" size appendages
IIRC he also has some kind of mutation that causes his muscles to generate much less lactic acid than most people's, which allows his muscles to continue working at higher efficiency for longer, or something like that.
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