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Forum: Editors/Reviewers Hangout

Editor complaints

Crumbly Writer

So, in order to generate some discussion here, what are your most common complaints about authors? Are they things they should know? Their refusal to change obvious errors, or their obnoxious attitudes. (Please, feel free to curse me if you feel it warrants it).

In essence, what should we authors and your fellow editors know about the author/editor experience?

Arquillius

@Crumbly Writer

Well my thoughts are that an editor, as well as authors initially at least, are there to make sure spelling, grammar and of course plot holes are not a problem

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@Arquillius

Since no other editors are volunteering ...

Editors have to walk a very delicate tightrope. Only part of their job is yielding a red crayon, the rest is babysitting pouty authors. The editor will correct errors, and either the author won't see it, won't understand the rules, or is afraid it'll impact the story. At that point, it's up to the editor to gently nudge the belligerent author until he can see why it's wrong.

It's a delicate dance. There are style difference, different approaches, and what the author is trying to achieve.

Replies:   Lumpy
Lumpy

@Crumbly Writer

Man, I must be the opposite of a pouty author. My editors find MOUNTAINS of mistakes. Lots of red ink, but I have only had an issue with 1 change, and that was because the wording changed the intent scene.

Otherwise, I just follow my editors suggestions. Weather the grammatically ones, the ones where they suggest a scene is confusing, or when they see something that is flat out wrong, research wise (usually because of their particular knowledge set they know more about)

Ernest Bywater
Updated:

@Crumbly Writer

I done editing for several authors until my health required I pass them on to another editor (edit to fix wrong word). As both an editor and an author my idea of what the editor should do is to identify and point out the following:

1. Typos;

2. Grammar problems;

3. Wording that isn't clear;

4. Perceived plot holes and short falls;

5. Identification mistakes (ie name and character changes that don't make sense);

6. To suggest changes to correct the above;

7. To discuss items raised above with the author if they wish to.

In all cases, from both sides of the fence, I regard editorial changes as only recommendations to the author for them to look at and consider.

As an author, when I see an editor consistently marking the same thing as requiring work and I disagree I'll enter into a dialogue with them as to why we disagree. The biggest issue I've had with editors is one whose education caused him to be very excessive with the commas to the point they were breaking sentences up and hindering reading instead of helping (seems to be an issue with the education system in one part of the US because I notice the same issue with a number of authors raised in that area). The worst aspect was he kept wanting to remove the Oxford commas at the same time. We've come to an agreement he won't do anything about commas at all. Another editor has a big issue with contractions, but has learned to live with them because I won't remove them. In both cases we had lengthy email discussion on the pros and cons and the whys.

Replies:   sejintenej  bondsman
sejintenej

@Ernest Bywater

Interesting and deep follow-up.
I would have thought that 1 to 3 and 5 to 7 could be done by any reasonably educated robot. (OK, I personally might have a problem with US spelling and American Football terminology). My understanding up to now has been that an editor has the skill to suggest basic changes to improve a story - moving sentences around, replacing words etc. possibly explaining his/her reasons with those above items 1 to 5 being a side job only. Also he/she should be able to check (or at least query) technical possibilities (like the author who wanted a 300 mile twisty road to be traversed by car in two hours). I see it as a big and very responsible job. Every author has his or her style - it is for an editor to learn that style and go along with it as far as possible without wasting an author's time in argument. I'm looking forward to seeing other authors' takes on the matter.

Incidentally, I've just reread a multichapter story which is totally riddled with spell-check (ouch) mis-spellings along the lines of which for witch; editor required

Ernest Bywater

@sejintenej

Some organisations split up editorial duties along the lines you mention, and some don't. Some editors don't do everything I mention above. That's simply what i do and what I look for in an editor. However, every editor should help the author to create a more polished and easier to read story by the time they're finished.

One person I did some editing for a few years back got very angry with me because I tried to make a point by asking him what he meant every time he used a six syllable word when two two syllable words would have done the job better. I had tried to speak to him about showing off his education by using the big fancy words, but it never sank in until I was sending him an email for a definition and usage meaning for almost every paragraph. Then he got the message many readers would be leaving a story unfinished if they had to have a dictionary beside them while reading it. The good thing was he let me have my way with making a lot of word choice changes to one story and reposted it. The scores and download rates went up very fast with the new version.

So, my position is a little different to some, but the aim is the same. A cleaner and nicer story for the readers is the aim of both the editor and the author. The author has final say about what they want, but the editor has to recommend changes for the areas the author should be looking at.

With my editors I often take what they suggest, but other times I do something totally different. However, in both cases the fact they highlighted the area means I have to look at it with a critical eye.

As to style, editorial suggestions should never get to the point they override the author's style. If they do I'd be having a good look at the original story and what the editor is suggesting, because either the story was total trash or the editor is going overboard.

richardshagrin

Just to put another cat among the pigeons. At what point do changes by editors reach co-author status? Or do they never?

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Ernest Bywater

@richardshagrin

Co-author and editor are two very different duties. Where I've been a co-author I had a heavy involvement in the development of the plot and the characters as well as writing the story. While editing doesn't involved the actual plot and story development at all. Co-author helps build the story, editor helps polish it.

Crumbly Writer

@sejintenej

Incidentally, I've just reread a multichapter story which is totally riddled with spell-check (ouch) mis-spellings along the lines of which for witch; editor required

As witnessed by a couple comments here, those types of typos is probably more emblematic of foreign writers (for whom English is their non-native language). It often frequently marks newbies who haven't felt their first efforts justified finding editors.

Along Ernest's lines, the best editors are those who put in the extra effort. Frequently, they'll read the entire story/chapter for their own pleasure, then reread it for plot holes, then reread it again for typos (though those typically get market in each pass as well), and maybe a final time for the awkward or confusing sentences (where simply marking is fine, but suggesting alternatives is more helpful).

Obviously, few amateur editors go to quite so much trouble, and even if they do, after that many passes, they start reading for what they expect, rather than what's actually on the paper/page.

More typically, you'll get one editor who does typos, one who does punctuation, and one who'll point out technical information about the story (though realistically, they'll each mark whichever typos they see along the way).

Ernest, your example (about the author using too big of words) exemplifies the communication ('babying') of authors to get them to see what's right in front of their faces. Chances are, that author probably spoke like that, so he thought you were trying to get him to change his speaking/writing style, but you were emphasizing how much more work reading the story was with the larger, more eccentric words were.

Richard, regarding the line between editor and co-editor, that line is Never crossed. An editor, by definition, will never be a co-author since he didn't write the story. However, your meaning is clear, there's a difference between suggesting changes, and trying to do it the way you (the editor) wants it done.

That's why the communication between author and editor is SO important. There's the point you identify the problems, and then there's the point the author can't see it, and you've got to guide him to the realization he has a problem. That's the tricky bit. However, in almost all cases, editors are reluctant to put ANY words in the authors mouth, so they not only won't suggest phrasing changes, or shifting phrases to other locations, but they won't even flag the difficult to understand sections. That's a more important distinction, but for that, you really need decent alpha and beta-readers, who read the story for pleasure, but will tell you which sections worked, which didn't and why.

Replies:   Lumpy
Lumpy

@Crumbly Writer

I must have hit the lottery when it comes to editors because all the things you are talking about happens. I have read some accounts of authors having trouble with their editors and I haven't run across that.

Besides fixing the dump-truck load of errors in every chapter, they have pointed out when I am the amount of sub-plots were getting out of hands, when a scene might need this or that to make it clearer and have done research when some I introduce something that might be problematic (technology existing before it should, something to working the way it should etc. - often with helpful research links), and more

Honestly, I can't say enough good things about the guys who edit for me.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@Lumpy

I must have hit the lottery when it comes to editors because all the things you are talking about happens. I have read some accounts of authors having trouble with their editors and I haven't run across that.

I must say, I've never been dissatisfied with an editor, and the vast majority of my editors are gleamed from my readers. They each do different things, and focus on different areas, but each works seriously on the book. (Of course, that might be because I pre-evaluate editors before I ask them to join my team (reviewing suggestions for how well they fit, instead of simply accepting what they say. Once I trust their edits (or at least know their weaknesses), I can relax and accept their changes).

bondsman

@Ernest Bywater

Though Crumbly started this thread I'm going to key off Earnest's post as a point of departure. I'm writing this primarily aimed at new authors or those who haven't tried using an editor as yet.

For starters (this is partly in jest) authors read your notes to yourself, and double and triple check things before you post. In the lines below Ernest apparently caught an error - "done" vs perhaps "have done" or since he likes the vernacular "I've done" or even "I've edited...". Wrote himself a note to edit the post to fix a wrong word, and then promptly hit send. :)

"I done editing for several authors until my health required I pass them on to another editor (edit to fix wrong word). As both an editor and an author my idea of what the editor should do is to identify and point out the following:"

Secondly, taking Ernest's last comment (in the post I'm replying to) first. "In all cases, from both sides of the fence, I regard editorial changes as only recommendations to the author for them to look at and consider."

I've read comments from many authors who say they don't use editors because they fear they'll change their story. Well, in the areas that are usually talked about here on the SOL forums you have the final control over changes that are made, or not made - unless you cede posting responsibility to someone else. And, by the way, editors can be fired.

Staying with the bottom up approach - "To discuss items raised above with the author if they wish to."

Authors - definitely discuss changes suggested by your editor(s) with them if you don't agree, you may be missing the point of why the editor made the change.

Editors - try to explain why you made the change so the author understands what needs to change.

Those two items fit right into a couple of Ernest's points - 3 and 4.

From here on I'll depart from Ernest's list and go to some pet peeves as an editor and reader and at the end some broader suggestions.

Authors - I won't try to define style but it isn't an excuse for bad grammar and spelling in narrative.

- Don't use "spell checkers interfere with my writing" as an excuse for not using them. If using them interferes with your writing run the checker after you've finished writing. I see that excuse as just that, an excuse from an author too lazy, or cocksure, to do what needs to be done. Else where it's been pointed out that you might want to turn off automatic spell correction. I completely agree with that, and while I'm at it don't accept any grammar checker's suggestion as gospel, but don't totally ignore them either. Case in point, Word's grammar checker isn't terribly good at questions, it often sees simple declarative sentences as questions. I've seen enough story with oddly placed question marks to get the impression that some authors blindly follow Word's suggestions in this area.

Before this gets too long, a few more suggestions. I think it's best to finish and preferably finish editing a story even if you plan to post only a chapter or two a week. It helps to keep you from falling into the trap of writhing your way into a corner that you can't escape from with out going back and altering already published chapters. If you use the pressure of having set up an expectation in the reader of seeing X chapters per week, substitute your editor for the reader to provide the pressure. If for some reason that won't work, definitely try to stay several chapters ahead of your posting schedule. That allows time for the unexpected illness, accident, computer failure, etc to be handled without disappointing your readers. (And to fix errors that are a bit late in coming.)

Pay particular attention to your "blurb". Much has been said lately in other threads about assigning proper codes, I concur with those. Further, as a reader, I rarely even look at a story with spelling and grammar errors in the blurb. To me, it's a strong indication of more to come in the story.

Enough for now. Perhaps more later as things occur to me.

One final, and narrow point, like Ernest I like and use the "Oxford comma". It prevents confusion and as a matter of consistency should be used through out the document.

Crumbly Writer
Updated:

@bondsman

Glad to be hearing from editors (since that's what I was requesting).

The point about establishing communication and trust between writers and editors was one I was trying to suggest.

About spelling checkers, I use multiple spelling checkers, however, like many people, I've turned off WORD's grammar checker as being too unreliable. The spell checker isn't bad (not the best, but reasonable), but the grammar checker seems wrong more often than it's right (by a wide margin). I've heard other authors comment repeatedly about this too. Using it ends up having you chasing your tail for no real benefit. I'd rather rely on my editors to correct my grammar, as I trust their advice.

Typos in blurbs virtually guarantees that no one will read your story (except for really short stroke stories!). As such, after I've gone over it several times, I always have my editors review it for me. The blurb is more important than the opening line/paragraph for building trust between author and reader.

I'll admit, I'm not a fan of the Oxford Comma. One, I'm an American, and two, I dislike putting a pause in the final list item. Commas are interpreted by most readers as denoting a pause (when reading, most people pause at each comma). Thus I like the 'sound' of the story with a minimum of such pauses. (I know it's a lousy excuse, but I think avoiding the Oxford comma makes the story read better, and once readers expect it of you, it's not as obtrusive as it is when read in isolation.) My editors and I argue about it a fair amount.

Thanks for your opinion, Bondsman. I appreciate it, and you offer excellent advice (which authors need to hear).

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Ernest Bywater

@Crumbly Writer

I dislike putting a pause in the final list item.


I get a newsletter from a website called This is True which copies on odd news items with some commentary to encourage people to think. In a recent one they had a story about a US teacher who got into trouble for teaching the importance of the Oxford Comma to her students by using an image off the Internet to demonstrate how it's use can change the meaning of the sentence. Linsk below ares to the image then the site itself:

https://hostedimages-cdn.aweber-static.com/MjI3NzU1/original/f7e5a8c02699491592badbff05f4030c.jpeg

http://www.thisistrue.com

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@Ernest Bywater

I've seen those before, but I don't believe in 'absolute' rules for commas. Like much in fiction writing, you've got guidelines, and then writers use what works. If the meaning is impaired, then you use whatever you need to clarify the sentence. Often, I'll avoid commas which are correctly used because it screws up the reading/pace/rhythm of the sentence. But that doesn't mean I NEVER use commas under any circumstances. The Oxford commas works well when the last item in a list contrasts with the other items listed, then it needs a pause, but when you're simply listing items in no apparent order, it seems odd to pause for each item when they're all equally important.

But then, I was raised without Oxford commas, or at least in a 'mixed environment' of alternating use in different stories.

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Ernest Bywater

@Crumbly Writer

CW,

The key to everything in writing is clarity in expressing your message I use the Oxford Comma a lot because I find it does add clarity to the message I'm making. I've seen cases where the comma can cause some confusion, but seen far more cases where the lack of the comma leave the reading it to wonder what the heck it is the author is trying to say.

Ernest

richardshagrin

I agree, here on SOL clarity in message communication is a virtue. There are some organizations, like corporations, government bureaus, and learned papers like those for a PhD dissertation where clarity is not a virtue much praised. You want to get the bad news in writing but not well understood by the reader. A lost battle is a setback. Casualties can cover a few killed or millions slaughtered. Authors need to know what they want to do before they decide how to express the information to particular audiences. Truth can be obscured if necessary to get what you want. Writing is a weapon. Use it skillfully. Be economical with your resources, including truth, when the truth will not set you free but impeach you.

This message is brought to you by Pessimistic Persons Incorporated.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@richardshagrin

Well, Ernest & Richard, I'll be submitting my next book to a professional editor soon, and I expect it to come up (as it usually does with new editors). If it looks like it's causing problems, I'll change it. But so far, it hasn't caused problems. Again, the first few chapters in a story is for setting style and creating universes. Once you do, as long as you don't screw it up, readers will keep with whatever rules (including grammar rules) that you set up.

For now, since I haven't had many (ANY) complaints, I'll assume it's not a problem (with it causing a problem).

lumberlung

Correct grammar, syntax, and spelling aren't optional. If your goal is to post stories online at sites like this (and there's nothing wrong with that), or if your goal is to self-publish an ebook, you can do whatever you want. However, if and when you ever work with a real publisher and professional editors, these are things that are simply not up for debate.

Ernest Bywater makes a good point with the image he provides demonstrating why the serial comma is indispensable. The serial comma has always been part of American syntax, but it is used in AP style. Because newspapers were once the most commonly read media in the US (other than the Bible, the punctuation of which is archaic), people sometimes assume American English doesn't use the serial comma. AP style omits many grammatical and syntactical conventions in exchange for ease of reading. A good reporter won't write a sentence that would be confused by its lack of a serial comma. Remember, newspapers are written for an audience with a fourth grader's reading skills.

Commas do not indicate a pause. They never have. Commas indicate the separation of clauses and sentence elements, especially when they diverge from standard sentence order (noun predicate indirect object direct object). We vary sentence structure when we write. If we didn't, our prose would be dull and limpid. That variation is enable by punctuation - commas in particular.

One thing that sets the pace of writing - tbh - is whether it's well written. If a reader has to stare at a sentence to puzzle out its meaning, you've failed. A writer never wants the reader to become aware of the fact that she or he is reading (in the technical sense). You want the reader focused on your story. Take a look at a seriously good writer's prose and note that the writer doesn't mess around with grammatical conventions. A good writer masters grammatical conventions so that she or he can accomplish, with proper usage, the things that some writers aim to accomplish by violating the fundamentals of grammar.

Sentence length, paragraph length, and the density of text on a page control the pace of writing. If there is more white space resulting from dialogue or frequent paragraph breaks, the reader feels as if the book is moving more quickly because the reading is moving more quickly. Short sentences accomplish the same thing. A long sentence takes our brains longer to parse. Even if it's a nanosecond of difference, our brains are capable of registering that. People think Hemingway is all about shot, rapid sentences, and he does use them frequently. But, if you read a lot of Hemingway and pay close attention, you'll see that he'll have long stretches of short sentences (that depict action) followed by stretches of long sentences where the character becomes less active and observes what's around him or her, which is usually a metaphor that Hemingway wants us to deconstruct.

Action moves quickly. Exposition moves slowly. Description moves slowly. Narrative summary moves slowly. Flashbacks somehow manage to move slower than just slowly.

This is not my most common complaint about authors, but, if this comment thread were representative of the authors with whom I worked, the largest complaint would be that they think basic line edits are optional. They're not. You're going to have an editor in your face who wants to cut two hundred pages out of your novel. That's what you save your fight for. If you get on an editor about a comma that belongs where a comma belongs, you'll be laughed out of the building as a ignorant and arrogant prima donna, and after you get back to your agent's office, you'll be lucky if the interns don't throw you out of a window for making trouble.

When I edit a piece freelance, it's the author's decision to accept the changes that I've made or to reverse them. But if I've been hired for what called "basic copyediting," the author is going to find it pretty darn difficult to replicate the bad grammar, the awful punctuation, and the misspelled words exactly as they were before submission. Don't pretend bad grammar is intentional. Let editors help you. That is what they volunteer their time for (or what you pay them for).

In his defense of the serial comma, bondsman notes that it should be handled consistently throughout a manuscript, and he's right. The problem with writers who are above proper grammar is that they may monkey with conventions in one chapter and, three chapters down the line, present a similar section of narrative with a different set of imaginary punctuation rules. The vast majority of writers who violate the rules of grammar and syntax - by far - do so inconsistently, and when the reader picks up on the inconsistency, the reader begins to doubt your competence and intent. The entire reason that languages have grammar is so that we have one primary method of expressing language. We don't have to remember a language we invented or modified, and a reader doesn't have to figure it out.

bondsman is also correct when he notes that there is an enormous difference between grammar, syntax, and punctuation and what we term "style" (which is not to be conflated with "voice"). A good editor will help you find your style and voice and make them more prominent and audible in your text. The editor's first step toward doing that is cleaning up your messy grammar.

Replies:   Dominions Son
Dominions Son

@lumberlung

In his defense of the serial comma, bondsman notes that it should be handled consistently throughout a manuscript, and he's right.


1 Long rants don't work well on forums like this.

2 Who or what is bondsman?

3 Both the sentences where bondsman is mentioned read like it should be a proper noun but it is left uncapitalized in both.

Replies:   Bondi Beach
Bondi Beach
Updated:

@Dominions Son


2 Who or what is bondsman?

3 Both the sentences where bondsman is mentioned read like it should be a proper noun but it is left uncapitalized in both.


bondsman (as he writes it) made a couple of contributions earlier to this discussion. Search for the string and you'll find them.

bb

Replies:   richardshagrin
richardshagrin
Updated:

@Bondi Beach

Stile--an arrangement of steps that allows people but not animals to climb over a fence or wall.

Not at all like grammar, syntax, or punctuation, or like voice.

Most authors with more than one field have their own stile.

Replies:   Bondi Beach
Bondi Beach

@richardshagrin

Most authors with more than one field have their own stile.


I'm still puzzling over the scene I read recently where the guy took her breast out but the brasserie remained in place. Unless he was Hannibal Lector I'm guessing the girl left that brasserie along with her breast, but who knows?

And I'm sure they made it to the nearest stile OK.

bb

(It's not a stile. It's a fetish.)

Replies:   Switch Blayde
Switch Blayde

@Bondi Beach

the guy took her breast out but the brasserie remained in place.


I would guess that was taking her breast out of the cup.

sejintenej
Updated:

@bondsman


One final, and narrow point, like Ernest I like and use the "Oxford comma". It prevents confusion and as a matter of consistency should be used through out the document.


I've just looked up the definition of this which is that it is the style used by the Oxford University Press (well respected). However, in school, that was banned and we had to use what you seem to call The Associated Press Stylebook use of commas. I can see that occasionally the Oxford Comma can avoid ambiguity (which an author should recognise and deal with) but this has to be a cultural difference like jam and jelly

richardshagrin
Updated:

@sejintenej

Not just fruit spread. Maple syrup, multiple kinds of honey (orange blossom, ummm), various other kind of toppings with a wide variety of flavoring, mostly with a sugar base. Chocolate, marshmallow, some Asians like fish sauce (which may also be the base for Worcestershire Sauce). Nutela? Not to mention a wide variety of salad dressings, mayonnaise and variations like Miracle Whip.

Whips and Chains, the thread is moving toward BDSM.
Cheese Whiz!

Replies:   Bondi Beach
Bondi Beach

@richardshagrin

Whips and Chains, the thread is moving toward BDSM.
Cheese Whiz!


I'm sure Ernest will agree that Vegemite is a prime candidate for happy BDSM. When it's not being used to patch radiator leaks, that is.

(Nice riff, BTW.)

bb

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Ernest Bywater

@Bondi Beach

I'm sure Ernest will agree that Vegemite is a prime candidate for happy BDSM


Especially if you're toasting them, because Vegemite is best on hot toast.

Replies:   ustourist
awnlee jawking

@sejintenej

If you study both sides of the argument, you'll find examples where the Oxford comma clarifies meaning and examples where it ambiguates. As a Brit I was taught not to use it, but since starting to write in earnest I use it to prevent ambiguity.

When proofreading or editing I accept the author's choice, although I point out situations where the alternative would be better.

AJ

ustourist

@Ernest Bywater

Ernest
Since it is difficult to find in the USA in either Vegemite or Marmite form, maybe you could explain to the unenlightened what the taste is like.
(And the gourmet delight they are missing)

I sure as hell can't describe it ! Amazing isn't really much help to anyone, even if accurate.

Ernest Bywater

@ustourist

I sure as hell can't describe it !


Neither can I, it's like trying to describe a blue sky to someone born blind. However, it is for sale in the USA

https://www.simplyoz.com/

http://www.worldmarket.com/product/vegemite.do

http://www.aussieproducts.com/vegemite.asp

are some I quickly found on the Internet.

I will say it is salty.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Bondi Beach

@ustourist

I sure as hell can't describe it ! Amazing isn't really much help to anyone, even if accurate.


"Yuck!" is what my kids said on their first taste (at ages 4 and 8, more or less). Apparently it helps if you started really really young. Like in the womb.

bb

Ernest Bywater

@Bondi Beach

"Yuck!" is what my kids said on their first taste


Many people say the same thing on their first taste of many food - even pizza, spaghetti, oysters, venison, caviare, and many other foods regularly get such responses on the first taste.

ustourist

@Bondi Beach

I think the advert for Marmite in Britain is something like "You love it or you hate it" though since I never watch TV when I am there I can't be sure of the exact term used. It is fairly accurate though, there probably aren't many 'undecided' people who have tried it.

If introducing a child to it I would suggest thinning it down 50:50 with butter though, to ease back a little on the taste.

One of the essential food groups with a single entry!

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Ernest Bywater

@ustourist

"You love it or you hate it"


That about sums it up. I even know one person who tells people - "It's very good for you, so why do you expect it to taste very nice? Nothing good really tastes nice!" I laughed every time I heard her say that.

It does have a high nutritional value. Some people can eat it straight off the knife or by the spoon, but most people will spread it on toast or bread, most with butter on the bread or toast first. Having the butter makes it taste a lot different, as well.

I used to work at a place where we had a lot of US people here on exchange duty, and they usually went off their nut about the taste of Vegemite. I got so fed up with one bunch I put them down by saying, "I don't get it! You bitch about the taste of Vegemite, but do crazy things like putting peanut butter and raspberry jam on the same sandwich!" Everyone else in the Mess Bar laughed at that one for a long time, especially the Canadians on exchange duty.

richardshagrin

@Ernest Bywater

I think Elvis Presley liked peanut butter and (sliced) banana sandwiches. It comes in two formulations, smooth and with chopped peanuts. Very few people like both.

Replies:   Dominions Son
Dominions Son

@richardshagrin

It comes in two formulations, smooth and with chopped peanuts.


You can also get it with honey mixed in http://www.walmart.com/ip/Skippy-Natural-Creamy-Peanut-Butter-Spread-with-Honey-40-oz/38360209

With chocolate mixed in http://www.walmart.com/ip/Peanut-Butter-Co.-Dark-Chocolate-Dreams-Peanut-Butter-16-Oz/10451573

Even Peanut Butter & Jelly in one jar http://www.walmart.com/ip/Smucker-39-s-Grape-Stripes-Goober-Peanut-Butter-Jelly-18-Oz/10308082

Bondi Beach

@Ernest Bywater

"I don't get it! You bitch about the taste of Vegemite, but do crazy things like putting peanut butter and raspberry jam on the same sandwich!"


Mate, you are playing with fire here. What you just described is a PBJ, a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. The PBJ sits in the U.S. pantheon along with apple pie, Elvis Presley, motherhood, and automatic weapons.

bb

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Ernest Bywater

@Bondi Beach

Mate, you are playing with fire here. What you just described is a PBJ


Ayep, I knew that when I spoke to him, and when I posted it here.

Another odd thing is: I know lots of people, from many countries, who enjoy peanut butter sandwiches - both smooth and crunchy. However, a few of them put salt on the peanut butter after they spread it. I know some people who see that and get sick at the idea of salting a peanut butter sandwich, mind you, these same people won't even consider eating a peanut unless it has salt on it - if you can figure out that mix of attitudes, let me know, because I never could.

Replies:   Dominions Son
Dominions Son

@Ernest Bywater

I know some people who see that and get sick at the idea of salting a peanut butter sandwich, mind you, these same people won't even consider eating a peanut unless it has salt on it


Peanut butter already has salt in it. If you look at a Jar of Smuckers or one of other old style of peanut butter that isn't homogenized so you need to stir it, there are only two ingredients: peanuts, salt.

On the other hand, some people need more salt than others, my mother sometimes has to take salt tablets when it gets hot during the summer to avoid dehydration.

Some of it comes from the food police telling everyone to reduce salt intake, never mind the fact that genuinely 0 salt diet would be fatal.

The other part from the fact that extra salt is being added. If you gave some of those same people unsalted or lightly salted peanuts I doubt it would even occur to them to actually add extra salt.

Replies:   sejintenej
sejintenej
Updated:

@Dominions Son


On the other hand, some people need more salt than others, my mother sometimes has to take salt tablets when it gets hot during the summer to avoid dehydration.


I always wonder about this - perspiration/seat is not just NaCl (common salt) but a mix of various chemical compounds called salts. By taking NaCl tablets she is changing the proportional mix of necessary chemicals - something which proper rehyrators try to correct. Over here we have al alternative product called LoSalt which I think is Potassium Chloride KCl

You simply cannot, in this day and age, cut out salt entirely. It is such a good preservative and dessicator you need it and it is in most pre-prepared foods from your Parma Ham and its equivalent to Smoked Salmon to bacon to common breakfast cereals, pastry, cheese, spreads, some butter and bread

In your mother's case I would suggest that you look at rehydration drinks in place of salt tablets.

I know it is against your culture but good strong (4 - 5%ABV) beer is excellent and we used it to actually stop people sweating even when competing in the tropics - Everglades August was a nice balmy climate after that.

richardshagrin

@sejintenej

I guess its a little old fashioned. Not the drink. But once upon a time, Horses Sweat, Men Perspire, and Ladies Glow. And Southern ladies wore nylons or silk stockings, girdles and hats. And outer clothing, too. And gloves. My wife was a Florida Belle. Not the phone company.

Replies:   sejintenej
sejintenej

@richardshagrin

LOL. Over here it is men who sweat, ladies perspire and one never mentions corsets. As for nylons, those were what made US GIs so unpopular here.

More seriously we used to play rugby and cricket (like baseball but even more long and boring) in mid afternoon upcountry in West Africa, even in the rainy season - good thing you couldn't sweat.

This summer I was working outdoors clearing hedges without shade when it was over 122°f - 50°C but only slight (say 60%) humidity without any problem - that is what the tropics did to my body

Dominions Son

@sejintenej

I always wonder about this - perspiration/seat is not just NaCl (common salt) but a mix of various chemical compounds called salts. By taking NaCl tablets she is changing the proportional mix of necessary chemicals - something which proper rehyrators try to correct.


As I under stand, the salt tablets were recommended by her doctor long before the demonization of salt got started.

The point of the salt tablets isn't replacing salt lost in sweat. The point is that by increasing the amount of salt in the body, you reduce the rate of water loss through sweat, respiration and waste excretion.

In your mother's case I would suggest that you look at rehydration drinks in place of salt tablets.


Not as practical as you think in my mother's case. My mother is small, she missed qualifying as a midget/dwarf (or what ever the politically correct term is these days) by only a few inches. She couldn't handle drinking that much. It would make her sick.

Crumbly Writer

@Ernest Bywater

Re: the comments about Vegemite:

I will say it is salty.

So are "Mountain Oysters" (a regional favorite in the Appalachians), but that doesn't accurately describe what the hell they are.

Replies:   ustourist
ustourist

@Crumbly Writer

If tourists knew what they were they probably wouldn't eat them!
I am not aware that they have a UK name and don't know of them being sold there at all, but most other countries seem to have a variation of some sort.
Round here they are known as Rocky Mountain oysters , calf fries or cowboy caviar.

Replies:   Dominions Son
Dominions Son

@ustourist

Rocky Mountain oysters


For those who don't know "Rocky Mountain oysters" are bull testicles

Switch Blayde

My father was a butcher and he once told me sweetbread was cow's brain. I always thought the idea of eating brain was so gross they had to camouflage the name.

But I just looked up sweetbread. They didn't even mention brain. But my hypothesis is correct after reading what sweetbread is. This is from wikipedia:

Sweetbreads or ris are culinary names for the thymus (also called throat, gullet, or neck sweetbread) or the pancreas (also called heart, stomach, or belly sweetbread), especially of calf (ris de veau) and lamb (ris d'agneau), and, less commonly, of beef and pork.[1] Various other glands used as food may also be called "sweetbreads," including the parotid gland ("cheek" or "ear" sweetbread), the sublingual glands ("tongue" sweetbreads or "throat bread"), and testicles (cf. Rocky Mountain oyster, prairie oyster, or lamb fries).[2][3] The "heart" sweetbreads are more spherical in shape, and surrounded symmetrically by the "throat" sweetbreads, which are more cylindrical in shape.


Gross! (and I'm a big meat eater)

ustourist

@Switch Blayde

I was always taught that sweetbread was made from offal, which is a shorter description.
Better still are faggots, which are offal, primarily liver, kidney or heart, and exceptionally tasty.

You also want to try tripe, which is cow, sheep or pig stomach, as a popular 'local' dish in east London - or was until east London became overrun by immigrants who won't touch pig or cow produce and killed it off as a regional dish.

If you ever go to the UK be sure to remember the difference between Mincemeat (used in mince pies, which is basically fruit), and Minced Meat (also known as mince), which is known here as ground beef.

Crumbly Writer

@Switch Blayde

My father was a butcher and he once told me sweetbread was cow's brain. I always thought the idea of eating brain was so gross they had to camouflage the name.

But I just looked up sweetbread. They didn't even mention brain. But my hypothesis is correct after reading what sweetbread is.

I personally love sweetbreads. I discovered it by visiting local eateries (and avoiding those with English menus) and ordering the strangest looking dishes I saw. In that case, it was pig's brains in Madrid. They also serve fetal pig, which is an unborn pig fetus cooked in it's mother's belly. A horrifying image, but a wonderful taste sensation!

The biggest issue with sweetbreads is that they're very dry, so you need to drink a lot while eating it. They'll suck all the moisture out of your mouth, even when they're prepared in a rich creamy sauce.

By the way, I've never seen "Sweetbread" used to refer to other offal dishes.

Peter_H

@ustourist

re: vegemite/marmite flavour -- imagine slightly liquefied stock cubes, mixed with an equal amount of brewer's yeast flakes, then heated to a point barely this side of turning into charcoal with just a hint of tar and you have the flavour of vegemite/marmite.

All it takes is for somebody to open a jar across the table from me and I get into paroxysms of uncontrollable coughing. The mere smell, never mind flavour, does plausibly explain why so many Kiwis and Aussies seem to have little sense of taste left when it comes to producing nice food in the kitchen.
That stuff is just brutal.

Ernest Bywater

@Peter_H

That stuff is just brutal.


Yeah, almost as bad as ketchup or Worcestershire Sauce.

Joe_Bondi_Beach
Updated:

@Peter_H


The mere smell, never mind flavour, does plausibly explain why so many Kiwis and Aussies seem to have little sense of taste left when it comes to producing nice food in the kitchen.


I have a feeling you haven't eaten in a top-flight Sydney restaurant recently. When I lived there food was great, and I understand it's gotten even better in the years since.

However, I once asked a long-time resident what Sydney food had been like in the 1970s. Her answer: Boring.

ADD: Now, about meat pies. Haute cuisine they may not be, but there are few things more delicious-not to mention heart-stopping, artery-clogging and fattening, so we won't.

bb

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Ernest Bywater

@Joe_Bondi_Beach

However, I once asked a long-time resident what Sydney food had been like in the 1970s. Her answer: Boring.


In Sydney in the 1960s and early to mid 1970s just about anywhere you went had various types of meet pies, sausage rolls, pasties, and some had hot dogs, fish and chip shops, milk bar cafes who served steak and chips were around too. KFC, Pizza Hut, and McDonalds were moving in but had very few stores in the early 1970s. IF you knew where to go you could get a decent pizza, Italian food, and Chinese food. By the late 1970s just about every shopping centre had Chinese, Italian, and Vietnamese restaurants as well as kebabs, decent pizzerias, some franchise pizza or hamburger company, KFC, on top of everything in the earlier list. Today many small shopping areas that used to boast multiple restaurants are now lucky to have two places you can eat out in (and that includes take-away stores), because the smaller shopping centres are all dying out, and have been for the last decade or so.

Replies:   Joe_Bondi_Beach
Joe_Bondi_Beach

@Ernest Bywater

By the late 1970s just about every shopping centre had Chinese, Italian, and Vietnamese restaurants


Well, right-IF you knew where to go. I remember a Chinese restaurant somewhere in the Southern Highlands, Bowral maybe, that tasted like the 1950s.

bb

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@Joe_Bondi_Beach

Well, right-IF you knew where to go. I remember a Chinese restaurant somewhere in the Southern Highlands, Bowral maybe, that tasted like the 1950s.

Tell you what, I'll be by next weekend. You can put me up and show me around, and I'll return your courtesy by griping about your customs and insulting your heritage (and a good time will be had by all!).

Replies:   Joe_Bondi_Beach
Joe_Bondi_Beach

@Crumbly Writer

See my reply to Peter H, above. "Top-flight Sydney restaurants," etc. Mediocre ethnic restaurants in the interior are hardly news. And, as Ernest pointed out, you need to know where to go. True everywhere, I think.

bb

Peter_H

In metropolitan areas in Auckland and Wellington you can find great eateries. If you go out into rural and small town New Zealand ... lets just say that I see one restaurant fail after another. About the only eateries that do well are fish and chips shops.

After Robert Heinlein visited NZ in the 50s he's supposed to have said "New Zealand has the finest foods in the world, and all the worst cooks". There are lots of people here now who can cook, but on the other hand ... many who can't.

Even small town Australia seems to do one hell of a lot better for culinary delights going on my visit in 2013.

richardshagrin

With some exceptions, good food is what you are used to. Sometimes it is a big step from what Mother used to make. Up or down. Down when its done by a school or university cafeteria. Hopefully up when its by your new wife, particularly after she gets more experience. Some ethnic restaurants are more likely to have meals that appeal to you, with dishes you can recognize. I'd suggest French, but you may not like snails or frog legs. Italian although there are several (lots?) of geographically different Italian cuisines, and it may be easier to cook bad Italian food (ruin noodles, some sauces) than almost any other. I don't have much history with Thai or Vietnamese, or any other highly spiced or fish sauce based foods. Its definitely not what either Mother or Wife fixed. For those that like it its definitely what they like. Marmite might fit into the specialty cuisine niche for lots of people. And some who post here swear by it, and others swear at it. Good food is what you like, and what appeals to you when you eat it. I don't think much about raw fish. Or raw meat. Its what you are used to. The quality of restaurants seems to depend on how much competition they face. Lots of restaurants go out of business. Its hard to be on your A game every day, every meal. Satisfied customers tell a couple of friends. Unsatisfied ones tell everybody.

Crumbly Writer

@richardshagrin

My best food memories involved walking into a new place (often an ethnic restaurant in a foreign country, which are often interesting), and ordering things I don't recognize. If you go in without expectations, you're more open to being surprised by new taste sensations. However, now that I'm hooked up 24/7 to an insulin pump, I've got to count everything I eat, so I'm no longer allowed to experiment on new foods.

I also love walking into trendy Sushi restaurants, and saying "Surprise me". (It gives bored chef's a chance to experiment, or feature their best offerings.)

Finally, in terms of how rough restaurants have it, the problem locally is that we have some very nice restaurants, but it's a seasonal community, which means their staff is continually turning over. So you never know, from one year to the next, whether a favorite restaurant will be any good or will suddenly turn bland. That's (and tax evasion where they're forcibly shut down) ruins more restaurants than anything else I know.

Replies:   Bondi Beach  sejintenej
Bondi Beach

@Crumbly Writer

My best food memories involved walking into a new place (often an ethnic restaurant in a foreign country, which are often interesting),


If you're coming from the U.S., I'm having fun wondering what "an ethnic restaurant in a foreign country" might be--a French restaurant in Saigon? a MacDonald's in Moscow? an Indian restaurant in, well, almost anywhere outside India? The old Bourbon and Beefsteak in King's Cross in Sydney?

bb

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
sandpiper

My daughter was in Chengdu, China, for two and a half years. An exotic, ethnic restaurant there is a Burger King, Kentucky Fried Chicken, or, amazingly, a Hooter's. The problem with the last is that it translates to Chinese as something like "owl restaurant" and completely misses the joke, even though the waitresses are dressed, well, like Hooter's waitresses.

sejintenej
Updated:

@richardshagrin

Richard. I do think you are being a bit simplistic in your description of national cuisines. In France I have never eaten frogs legs and have only seen them on the menu once. I have seen snails a bit more regularly but the only ones I have had were bulots - giant sea snails which came as a tiny part of a seafood entrée. Not again, thanks. I find French cuisine very localised and our local speciality (thanks to the castle besieging of the Aragonese and Earl of Leicester) is a bean stew called Cassoulet. Bean stew French? Yes - it isz very very similar to the Brazilian national dish of Feijuada. With Escoffier at 800 pages abd Pattaprat at 1000 pages how can anyone define "French" cuisine? The same goes for Brazilian and Italian. As for comments about Sydney, they have The Icebergs on Bondi beach and a Japanese whose name I forget who is a wow in central Sydney. Cuisine is now international with Brits in Singapore and Hong Kong and Chinese in Stockholm. Raw fish? p l e a s e! Never has smoked salmon? I gave a dozen guests home cured Swedish Gravad Lax yesterday and they couldn't get enough. There is an entire South American cuisine based on "cooking" fish with citrus juices. Never had raw beef or tuna which has had only the sides seared? There is a whole world out there.

.

sejintenej
Updated:

@Crumbly Writer


My best food memories involved walking into a new place (often an ethnic restaurant in a foreign country, which are often interesting), and ordering things I don't recognize. If you go in without expectations, you're more open to being surprised by new taste sensations.


Ditto. Staying at a good hotel in Hong Kong I asked the Maitre'd where she ate. Next evening the wife and I went in there just as the maitre'd and other staff were leaving; it was Vietnamese and she ordered for us. I have no idea what we had but it was one of the best meals I have had.

Perv Otaku

Re: Sweetbreads and all that, back in the day no part of a butchered animal was left to waste. Nowadays we can be a little more selective. I expect a lot of those organs and things end up as bologna and hot dogs.

Replies:   richardshagrin
richardshagrin

@Perv Otaku

Hamburger? All Beef doesn't mean it used to be steaks or roasts. They can scrape bones a lot closer than a butcher in a butcher shop can, and find some use for the fragments.

Replies:   Switch Blayde
Crumbly Writer

@Bondi Beach

If you're coming from the U.S., I'm having fun wondering what "an ethnic restaurant in a foreign country" might be--a French restaurant in Saigon? a MacDonald's in Moscow? an Indian restaurant in, well, almost anywhere outside India? The old Bourbon and Beefsteak in King's Cross in Sydney?

Those are exactly what i mean (aside from the McDonald's, as they don't vary a great deal from country to country). But a Chinese or an Indian dish from America will taste very different than one in Belgium, as each country puts it's own culinary stamp on it. Heck, most Chinese won't even eat American Chinese food, as the Americans prefer fried entries while the Chinese prefer steamed. It's the variations in established tastes that intrigue me, and how each country makes foreign dishes palatable to their own tastes.

Replies:   sejintenej
Switch Blayde

@richardshagrin

All Beef doesn't mean it used to be steaks or roasts.


It's my understanding that "all beef" means it came from a cow (vs, say, containing soy). It could be any part of the cow -- eyeballs, ears, etc.

Replies:   Dominions Son
Dominions Son
Updated:

@Switch Blayde


It could be any part of the cow -- eyeballs, ears, etc.


If it's hamburger, as opposed to chopped steak or ground sirloin, you are best off assuming in contains every part of the steer*. I have even occasionally found bone chips in hamburger.

*Cow technically refers specifically to a female bovine. Cows are never slaughtered for beef. Cows are used for milk production and/or breading, bulls are used for breading and rodeos. Nearly all beef comes from steers, which are castrated male bovines. Castration both makes them more docile and affects muscle / fat development, improving the quality of the meat.

**Sorry, my mom was raised on a farm.

Switch Blayde

@Dominions Son

If it's hamburger, as opposed to chopped steak or ground sirloin, you are best off assuming in contains every part of the steer*.


My father was a butcher. He said what he can't sell goes into hamburger meat. What doesn't go into hamburgers goes into hot dogs. And what they won't even put in hot dogs goes into bologna.

Bon appetit.

Bondi Beach

@Dominions Son

Cows are used for milk production and/or breading, bulls are used for breading and rodeos.


So, how many loaves does it take to bread a cow?

bb

Replies:   Dominions Son
Dominions Son

@Bondi Beach

So, how many loaves does it take to bread a cow?


10 :-P

sejintenej

@Crumbly Writer

Those are exactly what i mean (aside from the McDonald's, as they don't vary a great deal from country to country). But a Chinese or an Indian dish from America will taste very different than one in Belgium, as each country puts it's own culinary stamp on it. Heck, most Chinese won't even eat American Chinese food, as the Americans prefer fried entries while the Chinese prefer steamed.

I disagree with you on that. McD in France is not bad but in the UK I will no longer even enter because of their product.
As for Chinese, Viet, Japanese, Indian there are often two different types in foreign countries - those which vary the dishes for the perceived local taste and those which are true to their origins. I have eaten in London with a Singapore Chinese who reckon Lee Ho Fook is real Chinese (?Cantonese, but I am not an expert) and I am told that one of the best Chinese restaurants anywhere is located in Sydney. My local "Chinese/Vietnamese" and "Indian" are really yeuch and the local English place isn't too good either.

Replies:   ustourist  tppm  Ernest Bywater
ustourist

@sejintenej

You also have another problem with ethnic food outlets as they aren't necessarily run by the ethnicity you expect. I seem to recall seeing some time ago that most "Indian" restaurants in the UK were actually staffed by Bangladeshis, and most fish and chip shops seem to be run by Chinese. Apart from the southern states, how many "Mexican" food outlets are run by Mexicans?....and how many Americans believe that Taco Bell is authentic Mexican or Olive Garden is authentic Italian. I would guess quite a few. The fish and chips sold in the US that I have sampled has a different type of batter and is fried at lower temperatures, so to a Brit it frequently tastes disgusting - the Chinese do a better job at it, though their (the Chinese chippies) chips tend to be soggy and they can't make a good chip butty!

tppm

@sejintenej

McD in France is not bad but in the UK I will no longer even enter because of their product.


A few years ago McDonald's announced, in America, that their restaurants in India made their hamburgers with mutton and goat, because the Muslims won't eat pork and the Hindus won't eat beef.

Ernest Bywater

@sejintenej

McD in France is not bad but in the UK I will no longer even enter because of their product.


For quite a few decades McDonalds has had a policy of the ingredients being bought locally so the food is local produce. By locally they mean the cheapest source they can find in the country with a good regular supply. Since the cattle in different countries can have a slightly different taste depending on the breed and what they graze on there usually is a difference in the taste of the meat - but the sauces tend to hide most of it. You also get a difference in taste by the variations in the other ingredients.

Replies:   sejintenej
Dominions Son

@ustourist

and how many Americans believe that Taco Bell is authentic Mexican


I don't know anyone who thinks Taco Bell is authentic food, much less authentic Mexican food.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
richardshagrin

@ustourist

In Seattle there is a chain of "Mexican" restaurants called Azteca. It is owned and partially staffed with people who started out as Mexican before they came to the US. Its vaguely Tex-Mex, which is not very Mexican, spicing is not very Mexican at all. Of course Mexican Food is like American Food. What part of the country are you trying to copy? You don't need to have tortillas to be Mexican Food.

sejintenej

@Ernest Bywater

For quite a few decades McDonalds has had a policy of the ingredients being bought locally so the food is local produce.

In the UK I have the choice between a very thin often soggy bun with an even thinner bit of "meat" and a fresh bun twice as thick with a thicker patty and better (IMHO) fillers which is cheaper and comes with unlimited drinks. Guess which I choose. In France I order from a McD in-store computer which offers six languages and by the time I get to the spotlessly clean counter the food (up to the UK competition standard) is waiting for me. Also there is a far wider choice including decent coffee, macarons and other sweetmeats ....

Replies:   ustourist
sejintenej

@ustourist

You also have another problem with ethnic food outlets as they aren't necessarily run by the ethnicity you expect. I seem to recall seeing some time ago that most "Indian" restaurants in the UK were actually staffed by Bangladeshis, and most fish and chip shops seem to be run by Chinese.

Bangladeshis and Pakistanis - very possibly. However I wouldn't agree about MOST chippies being run by Chinese. Our local Chinese does do fish and chips as a sideline to (horrible) Chinese but our local fish and chip shop (like many many others) is run by second and third generation Brits with no apparent oriental features.
As for your comments about US chips I wonder if they use Yukon potatoes instead of Maris Piper or equivalent. That could make a massive difference. Also (IMHO) the best chips / fries are triple cooked which commercial outfits generally do not do.

ustourist

@sejintenej

and other sweetmeats

Now we are circling back towards the thread half way down about sweetbread (being meat) and complicating it with sweetmeat (being confectionery). No wonder some of the colonials get confused.

Replies:   richardshagrin
richardshagrin
Updated:

@ustourist

Another confusing issue is "Chips". In the USA chips are thin and mostly fried, salted and come from a store in a bag. Unless they are computer chips.

I think in England they are Crisps. French Fries are what we call Chips. Briefly, Freedom Fries, when we didn't like the French. Deep fried in hot oil strips of potato, often the Idaho kind. Thickness varies by establishment. The thick ones are sometimes called steak fries.

Two (or more) great nations, separated by a single language.

Replies:   Dominions Son
Dominions Son

@richardshagrin

In the USA chips are thin and mostly fried, salted and come from a store in a bag. Unless they are computer chips.


American chips are also full cross sections of the potato cut across the width. As opposed to strips cut along the length of the potato.

The thick ones are sometimes called steak fries.


The biggest thickest ones have a triangular cross section and are called potato wedges.

I'm waiting for some enterprising chef to throw a hole potato in a deep fryer.

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Ernest Bywater

@Dominions Son

we've been doing that for decades as an alternative way of doing baked potatoes.

Replies:   Dominions Son
Dominions Son

@Ernest Bywater

we've been doing that for decades as an alternative way of doing baked potatoes.


Interesting. Haven't seen it anywhere in the US. Normal deep fryer or broasted?

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Ernest Bywater
Updated:

@Dominions Son

When doing a roast with baked vegetable the traditional method is to put the potatoes and carrots (either whole or cut in half) in the cooking pan with the meat when it's part cooked and cook it all in the oven. However, if you have a small oven or want more potatoes and carrots cooked than you can do that way you wait a little longer then put the whole or half potatoes and carrots in the deep fryer and cook them that way - once cooked they taste the same regardless of which method you used.

Another way of cooking potatoes is to slice them in segments a quarter to a half inch in thickness, but the full width of the potato and deep fry them. They come out very much like potato wedges in taste, but are discs of potato. If you dip the disc in batter and deep fry them they come out like potato scallops.

Also, traditional fried chips have quarter inch thick cross sections, although many now do the much thinner chips like some people call shoe-string chips.

typo edit

Dominions Son

@Ernest Bywater

When doing a roast with baked vegetable the traditional method is to put the potatoes and carrots (either whole or cut in half) in the cooking pan with the meat when it's part cooked and cook it all in the oven. However, if you have a small oven or want more potatoes and carrots cooked than you can do that way you wait a little longer then put the whole or half potatoes and carrots in the deep fryer and cook them that way - once cooked they taste the same regardless of which method you used.


Interesting. What is generally served in the US as a "baked potato" is baked dry, separate from any roast. If only one oven is available they may be placed in the same oven as a roast, but will not be in the pan with the roast. If done separately, they are typically baked at a higher temperature than what is normally used for roasting meat.

Replies:   sejintenej
ustourist

@Ernest Bywater

I know traditional methods can vary region to region, but we never roasted carrots. I will have to try that next time.
Did you open the oven up every so often to baste the potatoes with the meat fat?
(and for that matter, did you baste the carrots?)

IIRC chips/crisps were created by a French chef slicing the spuds very thin, so it is somewhat ironic that English chips are now known as French fries, not the crisps.

Dominions Son
Updated:

@ustourist


I know traditional methods can vary region to region, but we never roasted carrots. I will have to try that next time.


I am not aware of anyone in the US roasting or baking carrots except as a garnish to a meat roast.


Did you open the oven up every so often to baste the potatoes with the meat fat?


No. what part of "baked dry" did you not understand? They are baked in the skin, Some just bake them bare, but some, including most restaurants bake them wrapped in aluminum foil.

Typically the skin is sliced open along one side and the potato squeezed slightly to open it up, then butter and/or sour cream is added by the person eating the potato. The flesh is then scooped out of the skin with a fork or spoon for eating.

Replies:   ustourist
sejintenej
Updated:

@Ernest Bywater


When doing a roast with baked vegetable the traditional method is to put the potatoes and carrots (either whole or cut in half) in the cooking pan with the meat when it's part cooked and cook it all in the oven.


So far as the spuds are concerned, cut them in odd shapes - you want plenty of sharp edges/corners, then parboil them (in boiling water until they just start to get soft), pour the water out and let the remaining water disappear as steam. Then shake vigorously so you get the edges slightly broken. Then cook in your lard, oil or fat until almost cooked at say 180°. Baste well occasionally. At this stage you can freeze them, leave them in the fridge at 4° for up to 3 days or go to stage three which is to cook in oil at 220° or hotter. This latter finishes a Maillard reaction(gives the brown colour and the crispness on the edges) which gives you the taste. Baste if needed - this stage is pretty quick

sejintenej

@ustourist

I know traditional methods can vary region to region, but we never roasted carrots. I will have to try that next time.

I no longer roast carrots (though I used to). I cut them into batons about quarter inch thick and a couple of inches long. Boil in water until they are nearly done, pour the water out and add a pat of butter and continue to cook. The remaining water will evaporate and the carrots are served covered in the butter. The family much prefer that way.

ustourist

@Dominions Son


No. what part of "baked dry" did you not understand?


The message was addressed to Ernest.
What part of @ do you not understand?

sejintenej

@Dominions Son

Interesting. What is generally served in the US as a "baked potato" is baked dry, separate from any roast.

In the UK we do the same (with or without the aluminium foil). The potatoes chosen are generally the biggest available (for roasting you can use smaller spuds) and of a suitable floury variety. We use all sorts of fillings from baked beans to cheese to curry to whatever you dream up.

tppm
Updated:

@ustourist


IIRC chips/crisps were created by a French chef slicing the spuds very thin, so it is somewhat ironic that English chips are now known as French fries, not the crisps.


Saratoga Springs, NY chef George Crum, a half African, half Native American, in the 1890s. One of their gilded age mogul customers kept sending his fired potatoes back complaining that they were too thick, until Mr. Crum, in exasperation, got his razor and shaved them. Those the customer accepted, and they became an item on the resort's menu.

Replies:   ustourist
ustourist

@tppm

Thanks for that. I wonder if there are two (or more) versions of how they came to be created - though that does seem to be much more specific than what I originally heard, so more likely to be accurate. Whoever it was, I am pleased they did create them though. :)
When I lived in the UT/NV border area, there was a café there that didn't sell fries because passing trade was too low to have them ready made, so chips were offered as the option with a burger. I haven't met that anywhere else, but it makes sense as a practical alternative.

Dominions Son
Updated:

@ustourist


somewhat ironic that English chips are now known as French fries


My understanding is that french fries get there name not from where french fries were invented, but from the fact that the method of hand cutting vegetables into long thing strips (goes back much further than french fries themselves) is called frenching.

http://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-frenched-food.htm

A french fry is a frenched potato that has been deep fried.

Ernest Bywater

@ustourist

I know traditional methods can vary region to region, but we never roasted carrots.


The method I was taught, and often seen used in other homes, is you have a dish with two inch sides, you put about an inch or so of water in it with the lump of meat to roast, put the lot in the oven on a medium to high setting until the meat is half cooked while frequently checking and turning the meat over. Then you add the potatoes and carrots in what is now about a half an inch of water, they can be either just washed and cooked in their skins or peeled, whole or cut in half. Continue to regularly check the meat and turn it over, turning the vegetables at the same time; some people will use a spoon to pour some of the water and meat juices over the meat and the vegetables. Keep up until cooked. Some people will leave the carrots out until the potatoes are half cooked - a lot depends on personal tastes and how cooked you want them.

If you want to cook faster you start the meat at a medium setting and switch to a high setting when half cooked, and cook the vegetables in a deep fryer, the carrots don't go in until the potatoes are half cooked.

I've also seen people cook a roast the same way without having any water in the dish. Having the water in the dish with the meat results in a much more moist roast than if you just put the meat in the dish.

..............

Down here chips are, as I said earlier, a quarter to half inch in cross section, only the very thin ones of about an eight of an inch or less which some people call shoe-string chips are called French Fries by us, that started with the McDonalds invasion.

Replies:   Dominions Son
Dominions Son
Updated:

@Ernest Bywater


The method I was taught, and often seen used in other homes, is you have a dish with two inch sides, you put about an inch or so of water in it with the lump of meat to roast, put the lot in the oven on a medium to high setting until the meat is half cooked while frequently checking and turning the meat over.


That sort of cooking is done in the US, but the potatoes used are almost always the round red potatoes and are served as "roasted potatoes". Roasted potatoes are generally pealed before roasting.

"Baked potatoes" are baked dry. separate from any meat. Generally either russet potatoes or the newer variety called Yukon Gold potatoes are used for baking.

Another potato dish in the US, don't know if it's known elsewhere is the twice backed potato. For a twice baked potato you bake a potato as above then gut it in half length wise. Scoop the flesh out of the potato skin. Mash the flesh, mix it with cheese (usually but not always cheddar) and other ingredients. put the mix back in the skin and bake it again.

Crumbly Writer

@Dominions Son

Taco bell uses a "meat paste", rather than anything resembling real meat. However, even in Texas, where authentic mexican food is available everywhere, and is incredibly cheap, Taco Bell remains popular.

Replies:   Dominions Son  ustourist
Crumbly Writer

With all this active discussion about foods, why doesn't SOL feature any decent food porn stories?

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Ernest Bywater

@Crumbly Writer

why doesn't SOL feature any decent food porn stories?


Could it be because most people are fucking chicken and not chicken fuckers?

Replies:   samuelmichaels
samuelmichaels
Updated:

@Ernest Bywater


why doesn't SOL feature any decent food porn stories?



Could it be because most people are fucking chicken and not chicken fuckers?


Now that was funny.

Dominions Son

@Crumbly Writer

However, even in Texas, where authentic mexican food is available everywhere, and is incredibly cheap, Taco Bell remains popular.


I'm up in Wisconsin. There are a few Taco Bells around here, but in my neck of the woods it's not going to make anyone's list of top ten fast food places.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
ustourist

@Crumbly Writer

However, even in Texas, where authentic mexican food is available everywhere, and is incredibly cheap, Taco Bell remains popular.


That is for medical reasons - Taco Bell is cheaper than a laxative....
Though in my city (only 2 cafes and not a fast food outlet in sight) the 'authentic Mexican' cuisine source is from 4th generation Hispanics who still consider themselves Mexican although I know some have never been over the border.

richardshagrin

Tex-Mex is Mexican food the same way American Chinese food is Chinese. Stuff gets adapted for what customers will come back and buy. Pizza isn't very Italian, the way its done in the US, but its sold in "Italian" restaurants. In part, US restaurants can't buy the real spices and other ingredients restaurants in the Home Country use. I am not sure local US health departments would let them use some of them if they could.

Crumbly Writer

@Dominions Son

There are a few Taco Bells around here, but in my neck of the woods it's not going to make anyone's list of top ten fast food places.

I'll be honest. I eat in Taco Bell fairly often, but it's not for their food. It's mostly based on the unlimited self-serve drinks, and the smaller portions. I can drop in, eat just as much as I want, refill my drink, and get out again.

By the way, what the hell happened to the initial topic? I can understand thread drift, but this is extreme. Ever since the topic of food was raised, I haven't seen a single comment regarding editors.

Replies:   richardshagrin
richardshagrin

@Crumbly Writer

Food is interesting, tasty, sometimes even fun (play with your food). Editors and reviewers are old, crotchety, and boring. Are you really surprised we would talk about food rather than editors, etc.

I met John W. Campbell, Jr. editor of Analog Science Fact/Fiction (they used an arrow sort of diagram on the cover, it might have meant and) which used to be Astounding Science Fiction when it was really good and has so many stories by Robert Heinlein they had to say one was by Anson McDonald. He was old and crotchety and not much fun. In 1970 in Heidelberg, West Germany at a World Science Fiction convention. Now Poul Anderson's daughter, she was young and beautiful and lots of fun. Her mother asked me and lots of other young men to stop following her around, she was too young for us. I haven't been to many science fiction conventions, but I think that was the best I have been to. At another one I met Isaac Asimov who probably qualifies as an editor. He was old. Older than me at the time, younger than I am now, and a dirty old man. Not physically, he had bathed and everything, but he was lots more interested in pretty young girls than Science Fiction, as far as I could tell.

So, we are discussing editors, are you happy?

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@richardshagrin

So, we are discussing editors, are you happy?

Yep! That's enough to satisfy me. You can resume your food-porn discussions (Note: that's food-porn as in gun-porn, not chicken-salad fucking).

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Crumbly Writer

On a separate note, one of my editors finally weighed in on my professional editor issues, stating that's why he maintains a 'minimal impact' approach to editing (leaving an author's language without rephrasing things).

(I didn't update him on what was happening with the story, feeling my regular editors were getting disillusioned with my talk about hiring a professional.)

Thinking about it, I pointed out that the issue wasn't the changes to the text, but the lack of communication. It had been a couple years since we first communicated and she performed a sample edit. When I paid her and submitted my story, she took it and said "I'll get back to you in a couple months", and I never heard from her again until she was finished.

If she'd given me a couple edited chapters for feedback, or at least asked questions where there were issues (like whether the story was 3rd person limited or 3rd person omni), she wouldn't have felt obligated to strip out most of my minor characters from the story, or to remove entire story threads.

I'm not opposed to hiring professional editors, but I don't think I'll ever sign off on someone taking my story and hiding in their dark, dank basement until they're finished. I want to know what they're doing so I can yank them back if they get too carried away. A simple mistake is fine, however, when you compound it over and over, it quickly becomes a catastrophe!

Ernest Bywater

@Crumbly Writer

that's food-porn as in gun-porn


Is that where you describe a cordon bleu meal just before someone comes in and shoots it when aiming at the table up while trying to kill the main character?

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