Saturday, January 13, 2007

Sa-VOOOOR. Sa-VIEWer. SA-vyerrr.

Over the last year, I've gotten into cooking as a hobby, and no food enthusiast's kitchen is complete without a darn good knife, a decent cookbook, and an issue or two of Saveur magazine.

I cooked more when Joli was in town. It was probably the meals I cooked her - breakfasts of schmeared bagels and frittatas loaded with bacon, dinners of tender lamb and pan-seared artichoke hearts - that made her love me.

The Saveur 100 "Saveur magazine's annual list of favorite restaurants, food, drink, people, places and things" came in the mail this morning, and I'm puzzled by some of the selections for this year's list.

The kinds of things I really enjoy finding on the list are the little out-of-the way items, such as #72: chocolate caviar, which contain no actual fish eggs, only little nuggets of chocolate that spoon up in a similar way. Or the appreciation that they have for classics, literally - #69: the White Castle Classic hamburger, pictured, I'm almost certain, exactly as it was served from one of the restaurants.

But list items #31: White Foods, and #73: Ovens threw me off a bit.

I love mashed potatoes and milk just as much as the next guy, and I really don't know where we'd be without ovens (perhaps lost and cakeless?), but I didn't really think these items deserved praise this year more than, say, last year. I also feel like these items are just as deserving of places on this list as, say, crunchy food (who doesn't love crunchiness?) or hands (they're totally awesome), which is to say, perhaps not at all.

Giving recognition to these items is a lot like the commercial where we see a raft floating downstream, one paddler at each end of the vessel. They hit some rapids, and a six-pack is thrown from the craft. We zoom in and see someone reach into the water and grab the cans, held together with plastic rings and generically labeled "cola", and pull them back into the boat. Then the title card appears: Aluminum; keeping America strong.

What is the intent here? Is someone supposed to watch this commercial and say, "I need to get me some of that aluminum. Honey, we're going to the store!" I also do not think that the strength of America rests on the shoulders of aluminum.

I buy aluminum because it is wrapped around the cola. I do not go out in search of this metal. No amount of advertising will make me buy cola in cans rather than plastic; I drink what is available to me. Like ovens in kitchens, it's something I normally don't think about - a powerfully unmentionable non-issue.

Thank you, Saveur, for enriching my kitchen with the knowledge of the other 98 items. They are totally worth mentioning.

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