I'm the The SeriousEater Formerly Known as LoCo I love food... eating it, cooking it, eating it, looking at it, eating it, reading about it, eating it, talking about it, eating it... detecting a theme here? I'm a recreational eater.

  • Location: Orange County, CA, USA & Bangkok, Thailand & Nashville, TN, USA (yes, all three... don't ask...)
  • Favorite foods: There are SO few foods I won't eat, and way too many foods that I love, so I'm not even going to try to come up with a list of favorites. That said, my husband and I do share an obsession with hamburgers that may border on psychosis...
  • Last bite on earth: Um... a perfectly prepared hamburger... I think... maybe... but then again... er... hm... let me get back to you on that one!

I did not sign up to receive spam from SE!

Actually, I've received two of these unsolicited emails in less than a week. Not only are they unsolicitied (e.g., I didn't ask to get them), but these "sponsored" emails do not pertain to Serious Eats--the information relates exclusively to the so-called sponsors--so they are SPAM by definition.

Semantics aside, however, I asked to receive the weekly roundup newsletter and the weekly recipe newsletter. That's two emails per week. Suddenly, I'm receiving four SE emails per week, and half of those are things I did not ask for and don't want to receive.

Finally, while most of us do understand the purpose of and need for advertising, SE may wish to consider the possible unintended consequences of this spam tactic. We'll use me as an example of what could happen:

Being a very busy person, I seldom have time to just pop in and check out the SE site... maybe once a month if I'm in search of something specific. Yet, I do end up visiting the site at least once a week. Why? Interesting newsletter links. However, my usual solution to sites that send excessive and/or unsolicited email is to unsubscribe completely. In the case of SE, this will undoubtedly result in my site visits going from 6-8 per month to 1-2 per month.

Since I'm probably not the only subscriber who would behave this way, I would suggest that SE do some number-crunching to ensure that any revenue gains associated with this email ad campaign are not offset by losses due to subscriber attrition. If it's profitable, and if you're OK with the image you're projecting, then I guess you've made the right decision.

Passive site-based advertising is one thing. Targeting my personal email inbox with unsolicited ads is another thing entirely.

Super Bowl Giveaway: 10-Pound Box of Pat LaFrieda Sliders

Over the years, we've learned that Super Bowl Sunday is the PERFECT day do anything that is normally overrun with crowds on the weekend. Local skiing? Check! Disneyland? Check! Zoo? Check! Museums? Check! Costco? Check! The mall? Check! Eateries that don't take reservations and have unbelievably long lines 24/7? Check!

I'll definitely be doing one of those things... :-D

Grace/prayer at a dinner party

My dad's idea of grace:

Thanks for the grub!
Yay god!

Now. Let's just eat, drink and be happy. And if you're not happy... well... then just drink until you are, dammit!

Unless you're dbcurrie's mom, that is :-p

Food Commercials? Which ones tempt you (or not) the most?

In-N-Out, In-N-Out, that's what a hamburger's all about... mmmmm...

Creative Lettuce Wrap Ideas

Lettuce wrap tacos and cheeseburgers are common in our house.

Pretty much anything you'd eat as an ordinary fork salad can be transformed into a hand-held salad (lettuce wrap). Cobb. Chicken Caesar. Chef. Crab Louie.

Personal fave is egg salad topped with tomatoes or roasted sunflower seeds.

Grace/prayer at a dinner party

Uncomfortable or offended by another person's method of giving thanks before a meal? Really? Is it being subjected to differing beliefs that make these people uncomfortable? What about weddings in churches or synagogues or mosques? Or funerals? Are they offensive, too?

Or is it just resentment at being expected to actually behave politely and respectfully toward a person whose opinion you disagree with?

Provided it's not proselytizing, or subversively criticizing a guest's differing beliefs (respect is a two-way street, after all), then it's certainly the prerogative of the thanks-giver to do so in whatever way he/she sees fit. Surely there are far worse things in life than to be subjected to people who care enough about you to invite you into their home, who generously share a meal they went to the trouble and expense of providing, who express gratitude for your company, and who give thanks for their good fortune.

When my MIL says grace before every meal in her home, she always begins with "O heavenly Father" and always closes with "In Jesus' precious name, amen". I do not share her beliefs, but I always participate in her prayer, because it's the part in the middle that counts -- she always includes these four major points, without fail:

1. gratitude for having her children and grandchildren with her;
2. thanks for the food we are about to enjoy;
3. a plea that the less fortunate be helped and protected; and
4. a request that her loved ones be kept healthy and safe.

Who can possibly complain about those sentiments?

I really couldn't care less if her "God" is the omnipotent, omniscient being described in her Bible, while my "god" is just shorthand for the scientific laws of the universe.

It's the message that counts.

Cook the Book: 'The Art of Eating Cookbook'

R.I.P., Gourmet... :-(

Yesterday, In-N-Out in Sydney for One-day Pop-up Event

Robyn, do you know if there's any way of finding out about these "POP-UP" events in advance? Mr Roux lives in Asia and only makes it to SoCal for In-N-Out once or twice a year... I'm thinking he'd seriously consider buying a plane ticket just to get a real Double-Double...

Challenge: Post Your Best Wing Recipe.

Wings are the best part of the chicken (well, maybe right up there with necks), and I just LOVE 'em pretty much any way they come.

That said, my favorite is still the classic Buffalo-style, fried naked and tossed with Frank's and butter.


Travelers: What's Your Favorite Airport Food?

Usually, whatever's being offered in the major carriers' first/business class lounges in Singapore, Hong Kong or Bangkok will be at least acceptable, if not downright tasty. Free booze doesn't hurt, either...

Where to eat in Nashville TN

Get a big ol' messy burger and the amazing onion rings at Fat Mo's (the chicken tenders are pretty good, too).

For classic southern "meat-and-three" go to Arnold's Country Kitchen (James Beard Award-winner).

Four Days in Manila Metro Area

@mad... wow! Thanks so much for all the suggestions! We especially appreciate the Alabang ideas since Mr. Roux travels there very frequently and has yet to find an eatery he really enjoys. In fact, in spite of his iron gut, he's actually gotten sick more than once after eating in Alabang restos, so he's a bit gun shy... hopefully one of these will prove to be a new favorite for him! We'll let you know!

Does anyone know of a place with really great American-style hamburgers in the Manila area? We try to eat burgers in every city we visit, but it's always challenging in Asia, as you don't know if you're going to get UK-style, Aussie-style, Japanese-style or the good ol' original USA-style!

Finally, if anybody has a suggestion or two for casual lunchtime food (blue jeans friendly, for just me when I'm on my own), preferably around Makati or Mandaluyong or the harbor, that would be really great!

Hong Kong for 2 days

Hi all... hoping to revive this thread...

I'm in Bangkok visiting my husband, and we're headed to Hong Kong for a romantic weekend to celebrate our anniversary. One nice place is good, but we also like street food and "secret" local joints.

Any other fabulous suggestions? We only have two days on the ground and want to be sure we get some amazing food!


Cook the Book: 'Coco'

Jacques Pepin has done so very much to make cooking accessible and fun. He's really humanized the image of the classically trained chef. And he's charming and adorable to boot!

And, although she's not a chef, I'd offer an honorary mention to Julia, because she unquestionably had the greatest INFLUENCE on foodieism and celebrity chefdom as we know them today.

Siem Reap Cambodia, where should I eat?

Oh, one other really, really important question:


In spite of all the cheap eats in these destinations you'll be amazed by the extremely high-end dining options in BKK, and of course everything in between.

Siem Reap Cambodia, where should I eat?

Bangkok. In what part of the city will you be staying? How long will you be there? Are you specifically looking for Thai food? There are about a bazillion places to eat, with cuisine from pretty much every place on earth. And that's not counting the wall-to-wall street vendors, open markets (touristy, but worth visiting), and the countless food courts in every mall, department store, shopping center, hospital... if you've never visited SE Asia, though, you need to understand that their food courts are nothing like those in the U.S. These actually serve good food for reasonable prices. They're a bit of an obsession in these parts. Eating is the national past-time in Thailand (right up there with shopping).

My husband has a colleague with a vacation home in Koh Tao. He loves to eat, so he should have some great recommendations. If you can wait a few days, I'll post them once we've connected.

Food Trends: Yea or Nay?

Pork belly, whether in its natural state or as bacon. It really doesn't have to be your signature ingredient. It doesn't have to appear in every single course. Especially if it's done badly. Which it usually is.

Chipotle chiles. I love spicy-hot food. I love chile peppers. I do not like chipotles. That's a personal thing, I know. But all of a sudden it seems they've replaced fresh chiles, fire-roasted chiles, chile paste. They're every-effin-place. Apparently because they're popular. Do not get.

The tendency toward smoking everything or adding smoke-flavored ingredients in general. And often using way too much of those ingredients to boot. Not everything is improved by them.

Truffles. Don't get me wrong. I absolutely ADORE truffles. But I want to be able to see them and taste them. If you add a pinch of ground up, inferior quality truffle, especially at the beginning of cooking, nobody will be able to taste it. You're either clueless, or you're just playing games, hopping on the food-trend bandwagon, and finding new ways of charging $35 a plate instead of $25. Please. Just don't.

Thank god the sundried tomato thing has died down.

induction cooktop

People who don't cook much or don't do elaborate cooking will probably appreciate the ease of use, ease of cleaning, safety (especially if they have small children or disabled family members), and measurable energy saving qualities. If they do need new pans, they can get a very nice starter set of Tramontina stainless at Wal-Mart for under $100, which should be recovered in energy costs savings.

I'm a huge fan of gas and have a big six-burner high-BTU stove here in Calif. In our Bangkok apartment we have induction, and I must say that although I'm not a fan of regular electric stoves, the induction is pretty neat. Of course, when we moved from the old apartment, we had to get a couple of new skillets because we had only aluminum non-stick, but it was a relatively minor inconvenience. They don't have to be expensive, just compatible (e.g., stainless steel, cast iron).

I've been thinking about buying one of the portable induction burners just for fun, because I love the way the pans are pretty much instantly fully heated.

Debunking the MSG myth

Monosodium glutamate is made from sugar. It is not made from soy.

In the U.S., foods containing MSG must explicitly list it on the ingredient label. It is not permitted to be lumped in under natural or artificial flavors. Other high glutamate flavorings (e.g., hydrolyzed proteins) must be listed by name. The names identify the source (e.g., soy, wheat).

Many foods that are high in glutamates are also high in histamines. There is evidence to suggest that histamine intolerance is mistakenly identified as glutamate sensitivity, usually due to self-diagnosis. Incidentally, soy is a high-histamine food.

The assertion that the body can distinguish between free glutamates isolated through sugar fermentation (as in MSG) versus those consumed through other natural sources makes no sense. Free glutamates are what they are. There is no molecular difference.

There have been many well-constructed double-blind placebo-controlled studies that clearly demonstrate that free glutamates, even at up to 200 times the normal amount consumed, do not cause reactions, even among those who claimed to have a sensitivity. Researchers agree that those who experienced reactions after eating may have reacted to something they consumed, but it wasn't MSG.

If you think you have some kind if a food sensitivity, intolerance or true allergy, get thee to an immunologist.

2 inch thick pork chop help...

If they are boneless, you can slice them horizontally to be only one-inch thick.

If they are bone-in:

1. Preheat oven to 275 degrees
2. Dry chops with paper towels and sprinkle about 1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt on each side of each chop (looks like a lot, but you're basically doing a dry brine)
3. Put chops on a wire rack on a rimmed baking sheet and let stand at room temp at least 40 minutes, or up to an hour
4. Season each side of each chop with fresh pepper
5. Put in oven and cook 30-40 minutes, until meat reaches 120-125 degrees
6. Heat a tablespoon or two of oil in a skillet over high heat until just beginning to smoke.
7. Add chops to skillet without crowding pan. Work in batches if needed.
8. Allow chops to sear without turning until nicely browned on first side, about 3-5 minutes (reduce heat if they start to burn).
9. Turn over and sear the other side another 3-4 minutes or until well browned and temperature reaches 140-145 degrees.
10. Remove to plate, tent with foil, allow to stand 10 minutes. Make a pan sauce while the meat rests.

You end up with nicely seared, juicy chops that aren't raw in the middle and aren't burned on the outside.

The Burger Lab's Top Ten Tips for Making Better Burgers

You should certainly do whatever you feel is safest when in comes to how you cook your burgers, but I do think that, in general, people tend to be notoriously poor estimators of risk. A little perspective:

  • Americans consume more than 8,000,000,000 pounds of ground beef annually -- if you're zero-challenged, that's eight BILLION lbs per year
  • There are approximately 110,000 cases of dangerous e.coli estimated annually in the U.S.
  • About 85% of those (or ~94,000) are believed to be acquired from food (and that's not just beef... could be raw spinach, tomatoes, scallions, strawberries... you get the picture)
  • Food-borne e. coli infections result in about 2,800 hospitalizations 78 deaths annually

Even if all e. coli cases were caused by ground beef, that's about one death per 100,000,000 pounds consumed. Interestingly, there was about one traffic fatality per 100,000,000 miles driven in the USA last year.

Personally, with approximately 9,000,000 cases of food-borne norovirus infection each year (50,000 hospitalizations, 300 deaths), I'd be far more concerned with who's cooking and serving my food than with how well-done it is.

School Lunches

@cybercita... hahahaha... I still remember the smell of the lunchroom, too! It was vile! A combination of old, soured milk and Pine-Sol... to this day, I can NOT abide the smell of Pine-Sol. And on those rare occasions when I actually set foot in a Starblechs, the overwhelming smell of old milk takes me instantly back to the fourth grade, and I want to run the other way. (I've never figured out why every SB on earth seems to smell this way, while none of the other coffee shops I patronize seem to have the problem.)

Cheeseburger Flowchart

Awesome. Almost perfect. I agree with pretty much everything except the banned cheddar cheese (seriously?), and the banned red onions (are you crazy?). Otherwise, excellent!

No Substitutions For You!

Reminds me of Jack Nicholson ordering a side of toast in the movie Five Easy Pieces... so funny...

Your "Poor Era" Eats

Other than the boxed powdered mac'n'cheese (blech), instant cocoa, and peanut butter (can no longer eat, sob), I still eat a lot of the things I (barely) subsisted on in my extremely poor young adulthood (really poor, as in, how can I buy food when I haven't figured out how I'm paying the rent).

  • Milk. It was pretty cheap. And a glass could stave off hunger pangs when there was no money for actual groceries.
  • Tap water.
  • Coffee (never bought it... just drank loads of the free stuff at work!)
  • Instant hot cocoa (see coffee above).
  • Plain canned tuna. Straight out of the can. Still love.
  • Eggs. And more eggs. And eggs again.
  • Cheese and saltine crackers (yes, it was the ultra-cheap plain-wrap cheddar or jack, back when you could get it for a fraction of the price per pound of even the cheapest meat... no, I don't buy that kind anymore, but I still love me some cheese and saltine crackers!)
  • Potatoes.
  • Cottage cheese (it was cheap and portable).
  • Pasta. Often naked pasta.
  • Rice.
  • Beans. Lots and lots of beans.
  • Homemade vegetable soup. Heavy on the "broth" light on the vegs.
  • Peanut butter and saltines. PB sandwiches. PB and celery. PB from a spoon.
  • Bananas. Remember when they were just about the cheapest fruit there was?

Four Days in Manila Metro Area

Hi all... I'm accompanying my husband on a business trip. We need...

1. Suitable place to entertain business associates, preferably in Makati (fine dining, not necessarily Filipino)

2. Better-quality places in the Mutinlupa City area (Alabang), for both casual meals (lunch) and business dinners

3. Lesser-known casual eateries (especially for lunches on my own)

We're interested first and foremost in finding places that just have really delicious food. It does not have to be be Filipino food. In fact, while it would be great to find a "gourmet" or "modern" Filipino resto, in general, my husband isn't a huge fan of the cuisine, so other options are appreciated... ;-)

Also, does anybody know whether the food court situation in Manila is comparable with other parts of Asia (e.g., Bangkok, Singapore, etc.)? I always have great luck in those, but not familiar with Philippines.

Thanks, SeriousEaters!

Do you know what's under your kitchen sink?

Today, I completely emptied the cabinet under the kitchen sink in order to replace my crappy builder's faucet with a taller, sexier, easier to clean model (YAY!). Naturally, having all that stuff spread out on the kitchen floor got me to wondering what's under other SeriousEaters' sinks... here's my inventory:

    • Bar Keeper's Friend (of course)
    • Baking soda in a cheese shaker for quick sink cleanups, scrubbing vegetables, etc.
    • Mineral oil for my chopping block
    • White vinegar in a re-used squirt-top bottle for cleaning my chopping block, removing water spots, general cleaning
    • Spray bottle of liquid laundry detergent mixed with ammonia and water (general purpose cleaner and degreaser)
    • Dawn Ultra dish detergent
    • Cascade Complete dishwasher powder (Costco size)
    • Two packs of exam gloves, medium for the females, large for the males (guess which one's still mostly full)
    • Carbonara for glass stovetops (great on my enameled stovetop)
    • Dish strainer (seldom used, but oh so handy when I need it)
    • Cutting board exclusively for raw meats
    • Plastic grocery sacks waiting to carry teenaged son's gigantic lunches to school, sending things home with other people, etc.
    • Long handled brush for the coffee pot, flower vases, and things even my tiny hands can't get into
    • Old soft toothbrushes for detailing
    • Plastic scrubbers (the kind that look like a wad of netting)
    • Garbage bin for non-recyclables (recycling bin has its own larger pull-out cabinet)
    • Box of plastic garbage liners
    • Ozium air sanitizer for when teenaged son fails to empty garbage bin, usually when it contains raw meat trimmings
    • And a strange, neon-orange flyswatter that I've never used (I think it was left as a "gift" by the builder... um, gee... thanks?)

So? Tell us what's under yours! (think of it as the foodies' version of snooping in the medicine cabinet )

Did you do Irish tonight? If so, what? Where? With whom?

Did you cook? Eat out? Dine at somebody else's house? Most importantly, what did you eat???

I made a big pot of colcannon (kale and leek version) served with a generous well of melted Kerrygold. Accompanied by pan-seared lamb loin chops topped with Guinness-glazed caramelized onions and Irish cheddar crumbles. Enjoyed it all at home with my two teens. Delicious!


"Hot in Talk" --- is it just me, or...?

Maybe I'm just misremembering or thinking of another site, but I could swear the "hot" list used to be comprised of most-discussed topics... the ones with high comment traffic.

Lately (maybe since the new layout?), I'm seeing lots of topics that have maybe one or two comments, and some of those barely discussed posts are more than a day old. Really? How "hot" could they be?

Also, whenever a brand new topic is posted, it seems to immediately show up on the "hot" list by default, even though it has zero comments. This is in addition to already being on the "latest topics" list.

Maybe topics are making the list based on the number of "views" regardless of the number of comments? Or maybe the selection logarithm got muddled? Or, as stated in the title, maybe it's just me ;-)

Anyway. The "latest" and "recently commented" tabs are perfect---would anyone else like to see SE make the "hot in talk" more, um... I don't know... "hot" maybe?

Therapeutic tedium... or hateful kitchen tasks I strangely enjoy

There are a number of kitchen tasks that many people (if not most) find incredibly tedious. We've discussed them here on SE before. But then there are those like me... the ones who actually find certain bits of tedium to be therapeutic. I've known people who loved doing dishes. Another was big on shelling walnuts. Even knew one who loved peeling potatoes and tomatoes and things like that. For me, the ones that quickly come to mind are...

  • snapping pounds and pounds of green beans
  • picking through dried beans
  • picking through the cooked poultry meat in order to return the bones and "nasty" bits back to the stock pot (this one's probably my favorite)
  • picking through crabmeat for bits of shell (hahaha... I think I see a theme here!)

So? C'mon.. tell us the kitchen "chore" YOU secretly find strangely therapeutic. Confession is good for the soul!


Chopped, Dressed, Do-Ahead Salads... Something Fabulous, Please!

For me, family gatherings tend to mean lots of buffet-style or potluck meals. There's always plenty of starch and fat and protein, but a seeming dearth of nutrition. I'm not counting the inevitable (store-bought) tray of withered veggies, or the (store-bought) "fresh" fruit bowl full of rock-hard melon, neither of which anybody actually ends up eating.

I need new ideas for salads or cold vegetable dishes that will "hold" well. Sure, there are things like coleslaw, tomato salad, three-bean salad, broccoli slaw... all things I make, and all terrific old-fashioned standards. But they get boring.

I want something more innovative... more uncommon... more, um... vegetabley (is that even a word?). Something pretty and appealing. Something that makes people go, "Wow! I need that recipe!" Something I don't end up carrying back home with me.

And, although it's not a deal-breaker, I'd love to find some that don't rely on mayo (to satisfy a couple of finicky eaters). Vinaigrette and sour cream are obvious options, but maybe you have other more exciting ideas?

Give me your fabulous ideas!


Any Good Experiences with Box Wines?

Forgive me if this has been discussed recently, but I've been absent from SE Talk for nearly a year (I'm the SE'er formerly known as LoCo)...

Now that my husband is living overseas, I've been faced more than once with an opened bottle of wine getting away from me and spoiling. I have no problem with the concept of boxed wine. Actually, I love the idea of both the economy and the long shelf-life, and I know it's becoming very popular outside of the USA. The selection is slowly improving, but mostly, finding REAL wine in a box is not yet that easy here in the States (sorry... no... I do not consider Almaden or Sutter Home to be real wines).

I've tried out a few over the past few months. At least one or two have been adequate, but the rest were, quite literally, can't-spit-it-out-fast-enough undrinkable. And I hate too many experiments that run over $25 apiece...

So I'm wondering if an brave SeriousEaters have been experimenting. And if so, have you found a box wine that's better than decent that you'd actually recommend?

Thanks in advance for your always interesting feedback!

Wine for $9: The Best Boxed Whites

If you're looking for better value in wine, you should consider looking inside the box. Don't just assume that all boxed wine is bad. We found a few to recommend. And unlike the bottle, which goes bad after a few days, the wine bag collapses as you drink and the liquid doesn't get exposed to oxygen, so the shelf life can last up to seven weeks. More