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How & when is food passé

ashleyd's picture

This came up on another thread where I posted a foam recipe and several people said that foam either was, or they wished it was, passé. That set me thinking, how does food become passé, how do we know? Does the chef lose a Michelin star or get downgraded in the guides? Do people stop going to restaurants that serve it? Does it not appear on menus or never get ordered if it does? Do people s****** when it appears? What level are we talking at, high-end or local favourite?


We've all seen new techiques and ingredients arrive, exotic fruits and vegetables, deconstruction, oversize plates/undersize portions, wagyu beef, goji berries etc. etc., and of course when they do arrive they're overused and everywhere. Then the novelty wears off and they get absorbed into the mainstream where they are used to provide variety and depth to a menu, not just provide the "latest thing" to the jaded regular diners at expensive eateries in large metropolitan towns.


So is foam passé? I don't think so, I dine out a fair bit at mid to high end eateries and it is still used to add texture to dishes (not always very well, but that's a different discussion) at most of them. You might as well say that shrimp cocktail is passé as it has been around for ever and yet still it appears, sometimes cunningly disguised, on restaurant menus around the world. What are your views?



Age is unimportant unless you’re a cheese.

Age is unimportant unless you’re a cheese.

Englishmaid's picture

(post #36228, reply #1 of 64)

Hi Ashley,


I never did the foam thing so for me it hasn't become passe I just haven't caught up with it yet !! I saw Michel Roux produce a perfect cheese souffle on TV this morning and it was fabulous, although one could argue that cheese souffle is very 1970s !  This week we ate in a  very good restaurant where I ordered a starter of gnocchi with blue cheese . It was horribly dissapointing . Little lumps of fried pasta with odd bits of cheese scattered over. What I really wanted was a dish like I've eaten in the Piazza Navona . Creamy cheese sauce ladled over tender little dumplings . Classic dishes will never date but without flair and experimentaion food will never move forward either -it's all in the interpretation . 


Passe foods I can live without - eggs mayonaisse, grilled grapefruit, tinned fruit salad trifle, black forest gateaux, prawns marie rose, those exploding space sweeties from the 80's.


Passe foods I cannot live without - duck a l'orange , treacle pudding, apple and balckberry pie with chocolate ice cream, chicken chasseur, sherbet dibdabs.

SallyBR1's picture

(post #36228, reply #2 of 64)

That is a very interesting question - I think for the most part this passe' thing has to do with over-use.

every single party at some point had those cocktail shrimp, or fondue (remember? - now it seems that fondue is back "in" )

I don t have a problem with foam - I enjoyed it very much the first time I had it in Paris - it was surprising, the texture was pleasing to me, unexpected - I actually loved it.

then the foam was a bit over-used, and lost its appeal - but now I think we get to a happy average. It is used sometimes, and when used well - great! I would love to be a guest at your table - I think you have gastronomical good sense.

that's all it takes. A good cook, like a great chef, has good sense and will be able to pull off a fantastic meal even with "passe' " dishes

Research is to see what everybody has seen and to think what nobody else has thought.

Albert Szent-Gyorgyi

(through MadMom, March 2008).
Jillsifer's picture

(post #36228, reply #3 of 64)

We joke that a food's moment in the sun is over when it appears at Jack-in-the-Box (you're familiar? A really, REALLY horrible fast-food chain that could screw up a glass of water--worse than McDonald's, if you can imagine it). It happened to croissants in the . . . ummmm . . . mid-80s, I think. Americans "discovered" croissants in a big way, and they kept moving down the status chain until finally they appeared at Jack-in-the-Box and the glitterati abandoned them entirely. We can now buy croissants in multiple dozens, VERY cheaply, at Costco. (And they're not bad, but they're no longer quite "the thing" with the uppity-uppers.)


And although the explanation is lighthearted and playful, I think there's some truth to it, at least here. Once a food trend/fad is adopted by lower-end chains and/or fast-food emporia, it's time for a new trend. (This is extreme, of course, and I realize that you're talking about a loftier layer, but I still think once it's been imitated ad nauseam, it's kind of over.)


I wonder if the trendsetters think, perhaps unconsciously, that they don't want to eat, or love, a food to which Joe Sixpack has easy, daily access? If there's a certain class consciousness there?


But over in some bohemian attic, an enterprising cultural maverick will revive many trends--we're having a local resurgence of 1950s/early 1960s trends with the accompanying mid-century visual aesthetic. SoCal people are chomping down a LOT of rumaki these days--or at least talking about it.



 


 


I've never been a millionaire, but I just know I'd be darling at it.


Edited 8/2/2008 1:30 pm by Jillsifer

Christmas is the season for kindling the fire of hospitality in the hall, the genial flame of charity in the heart.

-- Washington Irving

PeterDurand's picture

(post #36228, reply #4 of 64)

<I wonder if the trendsetters think, perhaps unconsciously, that they don't want to eat, or love, a food to which Joe Sixpack has easy, daily access? If there's a certain class consciousness there?>

I think you hit the nail on the head with that. Spare me from food snobs.

Cheers,

Peter

 


Better life through Zoodles and poutine...
Jean's picture

(post #36228, reply #5 of 64)

ROFL!



Laughter is an instant vacation. Milton Berle



http://www.thebreastcancersite.com/

A  clear conscience is usually the sign of a bad memory.
http://www.thebreastcancersite.com/
help to provide free mammograms for women in need
gmunger's picture

(post #36228, reply #15 of 64)

Your reply caused me to wonder.....is the slow food "movement" perhaps, in some ways, seeking to make food trends themselves passe?

 


We are truly what we eat, and too many people are fast, cheap and easy. Who owns your food owns you, and it is unwise to let that power rest in the hands of a very few wealthy corporations.

 

We are truly what we eat, and too many people are fast, cheap and easy. Who owns your food owns you, and it is unwise to let that power rest in the hands of a very few wealthy corporations.
PeterDurand's picture

(post #36228, reply #18 of 64)

Wouldn't that be nice?

 


Better life through Zoodles and poutine...

roz's picture

(post #36228, reply #6 of 64)

I agree with Jillsifer. Remember when, way back, bread, simple bread was a whole grain product? Then it became white bread (pan to you) and everybody wanted sliced white bread? Now some people want whole grain bread. I really think it is a class issue. Not to take your question on another thread, but look at the whole 'organic' phenomenon. That has gone through many permutations over the years. Hippie to yuppie to Food Banks!

I don't eat in restaurants very often, and when I do they certainly aren't high end, but if the food is fresh, beautifully presented, foam or no foam, if it IS passe, I really wouldn't care. Sometimes, passe is fun! Just don't prepare food in an uninspired manner. Treat it with respect.

Be impeccable with your word. Don't take anything personally. Don't make assumptions. Do your best. Don Miguel Ruiz
Marcia's picture

(post #36228, reply #7 of 64)

Jill, I believe, is quite correct. I was going to post pretty much the same thing, but not nearly as gracefully as she put it.

ashleyd's picture

(post #36228, reply #8 of 64)

I think Jill has a valid point, but I'm not sure that is answers the whole question. As far as I'm aware none of the things I mentioned has yet reach Jack-in-the-box, but are still deemed by some to be passé, so there has to be more to it.


Age is unimportant unless you’re a cheese.

Age is unimportant unless you’re a cheese.

Dashx's picture

(post #36228, reply #9 of 64)

I recently was given pounds of leeks. So much, that I needed to be creative in how I used them. I remembered a leek terrine recipe from the 60's or 70's from Sunset Magazine. I embellished by adding some fresh peas and a small hint of mint. It was a hit at a get together. A couple of people were old enough to have remembered this type of dish from their younger days, and said, wow, why don't we make this kind of stuff anymore?

I think part of it is it's human nature to want things "...more, better, different...". We get bored easily, we want to be entertained by whatever is in front of us at any given moment. We want to be seen as "in", not "out". (quite a few people commented on the terrine, "what is that?" with an emphasis on the that, in a not-so-polite way. So I guess some form of manners are passé, too. lol))

Tasty food, made with care and presented in a tasteful manner will never be passé.

Heather's picture

(post #36228, reply #10 of 64)

If you find foam on your food at Jack-in-the-Box, run away very very fast! LOL

Marcia's picture

(post #36228, reply #11 of 64)

I don't think foods have to get to the very low level of Jack-In-the-Box to be considered passe. When any mid-level restaurant starts serving them, they're over, which certainly doesn't mean they should never be made or served if you enjoy them.

Sorry, I'm unable to make an accent, whether acute, grave or other, with my computer.


Edited 8/2/2008 6:57 pm ET by Marcia

whatscooking's picture

(post #36228, reply #12 of 64)

I don't think foam is passe' yet.  There's a really edgy chef names Graham Elliot Bowles doing some interesting stuff with foam here in Chicago.  He's got a buffalo chicken appetizer that he deconstucts and tops with Budweiser Foam.  And this guy is a totally respected and serious chef (with a young attitude (F&W winner and all that stuff))  I've got a reservation for next week and I can't wait!  I don't think Grant Achatz has stopped playing around with foam yet either and he is on the cutting edge.  It may be nearing the end of its play but it is not there yet;  just MHO 

Keep a green tree in your heart and
perhaps a singing bird will come
- Chinese proverb

Chicago-style deep-dish:  "Pizza for people who just aren't fat enough"
Anthony Bourdain
http://theoutdatedkitchen.blogspot.com/

shoechick's picture

(post #36228, reply #13 of 64)

We don't eat and I certainly don't cook to be "in"  I cook and eat what we like, whether it's mac and cheese a fondue or hell, I've never done a foam, so how can that possibly be "passe".  I hope I don't ever cook the latest and the greatest "in" thing, I prefer the classics, and that includes what I like, not what I think I "should" be cooking.  Our new years menu is always a fondue, I hope that never goes away, it would be sad.  Just because someone deems fondue as "passe" who cares!! we like it.  Ashley, I'd love to eat your blue cheese foam anytime :)  And dammit, I'm having Croissants for breakfast ;)


The World is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.  ~St. Augustine


Edited 8/2/2008 10:29 pm by Shoechick

The World is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.  ~St. Augustine

Syrah's picture

(post #36228, reply #14 of 64)

I think sometimes food gets a fad status.. the only one that really springs to mind that I've witnessed was the balsamic phase. It was literally EVERYWHERE, and not always done well or appropriately. I quite enjoy it in its place, but there was a stage where it was cliche.

Apparently Tiramisu has had it's day too.. and while I'd never order it out (too disappointing!), I love my version. It's Simon's birthday dessert today actually.

Certain things are reflections of our changing tastes. I consider over cooked meat and vegetables to be passe.

I believe in champagne...

"Life is not easy for any of us. But what of that? We must have perseverance and, above all, confidence in ourselves. We must believe that we are gifted for something, and that this thing, at whatever cost, must be obtained." -Marie Curie

Heather's picture

(post #36228, reply #16 of 64)

We are now in the chipotle phase--may it soon end.

Syrah's picture

(post #36228, reply #17 of 64)

Not here. We can't even buy them unless it's from the USA store down in Melbourne.

I can't think of what phase we're in right now.

I believe in champagne...

"Life is not easy for any of us. But what of that? We must have perseverance and, above all, confidence in ourselves. We must believe that we are gifted for something, and that this thing, at whatever cost, must be obtained." -Marie Curie

Heather's picture

(post #36228, reply #19 of 64)

They are in everything here, although certainly not so much in the restaurants that serve foams. ; )

On a tangent: I read the other day that Australia has surpassed the US as the fattest nation in the world--I find that really hard to believe. Are you seeing more overweight people?

Syrah's picture

(post #36228, reply #23 of 64)

I think the statistic is flawed.. but if we aren't there, we have to be close.

I noticed that for the first time ever, our tomato sauce (as in ketchup) has glucose syrup in it and was over 20% sugar. I had to switch brands to one that was just tomatoes, sugar, salt and acidity regulator.

Is it bad that I just finished a serving of Tiramisu for breakfast?

I believe in champagne...

"Life is not easy for any of us. But what of that? We must have perseverance and, above all, confidence in ourselves. We must believe that we are gifted for something, and that this thing, at whatever cost, must be obtained." -Marie Curie

Jean's picture

(post #36228, reply #24 of 64)

And you worry about sugar in your ketchup? LOL



Laughter is an instant vacation. Milton Berle



http://www.thebreastcancersite.com/

A  clear conscience is usually the sign of a bad memory.
http://www.thebreastcancersite.com/
help to provide free mammograms for women in need
Syrah's picture

(post #36228, reply #27 of 64)

Technically, it means pick me up, and the caffeine does that. Also it has a protein via the calcium component, which is very good for breakfast food. So.... tiramisu = perfect breakfast food.


I only use one quarter of a cup of sugar in the whole batch of tiramisu; and I'd wager that's less than the tomato sauce.


Also, I don't eat tomato sauce, as I find it revolting. I only buy it for my darling husband. :)


ETA, technically I worry about all the sugar and fake ingredients being added to manufactured food. I have two rules, the ingredients must be prounouncable without a science degree; and have no more than three syllables or be something that my grandmother would recognise as food.


I believe in champagne...


Edited 8/3/2008 10:15 pm by Syrah

"Life is not easy for any of us. But what of that? We must have perseverance and, above all, confidence in ourselves. We must believe that we are gifted for something, and that this thing, at whatever cost, must be obtained." -Marie Curie

Marcia's picture

(post #36228, reply #28 of 64)

I buy Heinz organic ketchup, which uses cane sugar and I think it tastes like the ketchup of my youth. It's possible that it's my imagination, but maybe it's not.

Heather's picture

(post #36228, reply #25 of 64)

>>Is it bad that I just finished a serving of Tiramisu for breakfast? <<

Only if you put ketchup on it!

deb479's picture

(post #36228, reply #26 of 64)

I guess I've been asleep. What the heck is "foam" in cooking?

ashleyd's picture

(post #36228, reply #31 of 64)

What the heck is "foam" in cooking?


Foam is where you take one or more of the (liquid) constituents of a dish and turn it into a foam by either whisking it hard or injecting gas into it using a foamer (similar to the old style soda syphons which used a gas capsule to put the fizz into your seltzer). The end result varies depending on what you want to achieve, from a decorative froth to a thick mousse as a major part of the dish. The one that started this discussion was a blue cheese foam used as an appetizer but I've also used it to make a "cappucino" of mushroom soup, among other things. The soup particularly gets rave reviews.



Age is unimportant unless you’re a cheese.

Age is unimportant unless you’re a cheese.

deb479's picture

(post #36228, reply #48 of 64)

Thanks!

gmunger's picture

(post #36228, reply #32 of 64)

I thought Tiramisu was so 80's. But for breakfast? I sense a whole new trend is upon us.

 


We are truly what we eat, and too many people are fast, cheap and easy. Who owns your food owns you, and it is unwise to let that power rest in the hands of a very few wealthy corporations.

 

We are truly what we eat, and too many people are fast, cheap and easy. Who owns your food owns you, and it is unwise to let that power rest in the hands of a very few wealthy corporations.
PeterDurand's picture

(post #36228, reply #33 of 64)

<But for breakfast?>

You have not experienced the full meaning of the joys of life until you have eaten Zoodles combined with blue cheese, chipolte Tabasco, Brussels sprouts and egg whites, heated up and then topped with the egg yolks you have set aside. For breakfast.

Cheers,

Peter

 
Better life through Zoodles and poutine...


Edited 8/4/2008 1:21 pm by PeterDurand

ashleyd's picture

(post #36228, reply #34 of 64)

Sandra said she thought I'd enjoy working in the kitchen with you. Now I'm not so sure!


Age is unimportant unless you’re a cheese.

Age is unimportant unless you’re a cheese.