Pepsi Blue Dot EDU? December 2, 2013 6:27 PM   Subscribe

Has anyone else noticed the weird attention that this AskMe about a small liberal arts college in Iowa has attracted? I get that everyone is welcome to pay their $5 to sign up and say their piece, but it smells a little like astroturf to me.

All these people, with usernames mostly in the same format (firstname dot lastname, or similar, nobody is "OperaFan4Lyfe" or anything), chiming in to give glowing reviews of this school. All written in sort of the same tone, mentioning the standard college brochure talking points to SEO perfection.

You'd think that SOMEONE would sign up and give some pros and cons, or mention something about the school that isn't admissions department boilerplate. "I love that I was able to major in opera and also walk onto the football team", "While the music program is awesome, it can be difficult to find housing off-campus," "The voice department Halloween party is legendary!", "Even though campus can be kind of dead on weekends, the music department is really tight knit," and the like. I can see how it's unlikely that someone would pay to join and badmouth the school, and I'm not expecting that, but what's going on in there just feels weird and astroturfy and not really in the spirit of Ask Metafilter.

Does anyone else have thoughts about this? Is there an official policy on astroturfing?
posted by Sara C. to Etiquette/Policy at 6:27 PM (960 comments total) 17 users marked this as a favorite

I loved Simpson College! It was better than cats. I'm going to see it again and again.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 6:36 PM on December 2, 2013 [66 favorites]


I don't know if it was a set-up or totally responsive but dayum, that's is astroturfing if I've ever seen it.
posted by griphus at 6:36 PM on December 2, 2013 [5 favorites]


(Oh, hm, the OP is a long-time user so it's most likely responsive.)
posted by griphus at 6:37 PM on December 2, 2013


I dunno if I would call this astroturfing.

I totally get your icky feeling about this, but isn't it also sort of ideal when people with firsthand knowledge of the topic (in this case, people who have participated in the musical programs at Simpson College) chime in with advice and their experiences?
posted by lalex at 6:37 PM on December 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


To be more clear, I think of astroturfing as when commenters pretend to be disinterested observers with no particular personal investment. The people in that thread have been pretty clear about their attachments to the college.
posted by lalex at 6:39 PM on December 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


It's weird as hell, yes. I don't believe I've seen this sort of response before (it totally looks like an email went around saying "Hey go say something nice on this site!) and I'm not totally sure what to make of it. They're not breaking any rules - they're all disclosing their involvement - but it reads really weird. And is frankly terribly unconvincing, by my lights. Very much a case of "protesting too much."

I'm inclined to let it go for the moment with nothing but a serious eyebrow hoist. My colleagues will no doubt also have thoughts.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 6:40 PM on December 2, 2013 [6 favorites]


All these people, with usernames mostly in the same format (firstname dot lastname, or similar

Yes, that Sara C., veeeeeeery suspicious.

More seriously, there are a bunch of one-answer users there.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 6:40 PM on December 2, 2013 [9 favorites]


I love that this is the first google image result for OperaFan4Lyfe.
posted by mannequito at 6:40 PM on December 2, 2013 [5 favorites]


That's INSANE. Eight people showing up to pimp a liberal arts college? (1), they're not paying those people enough, and (2) they shouldn't be doing that shit here.
posted by Curious Artificer at 6:40 PM on December 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


This is not astroturfing at all. People at Simpson found out that there was an Ask thread about their obscure college, in which a bunch of people gave reasons not to go there, and they signed up for accounts in order to make the case for their college. Nothing fake or disingenuous about it.
posted by escabeche at 6:41 PM on December 2, 2013 [33 favorites]


D'oh!
posted by XMLicious at 6:42 PM on December 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


as long as the IP suggests it's not the same person
posted by edgeways at 6:42 PM on December 2, 2013 [6 favorites]


The people in that thread have been pretty clear about their attachments to the college.

That's a really good point. I generally consider astroturfing to be 'hey let's pile positive opinions into this thread' but I guess that's sort of ignoring the impetus (i.e. getting paid or otherwise rewarded to do so), which is an important part of the whole astroturfing-is-inherently-bad thing. I guess these people just really like their college enough to pay to rep it on AskMe.

This is probably the fastest I have ever changed my mind about something if that is what just happened.
posted by griphus at 6:44 PM on December 2, 2013


Sampson College is a non stop thrill ride. I laughed, I cried, it became a part of me.
posted by bongo_x at 6:45 PM on December 2, 2013 [13 favorites]


I think the part that seems weird is that it's not, like, a collection of people who work there who were also students or somehow involved in that department, it's a collection of people who all disclose their connection to the school but not to *each other*, when there is clearly some connection there, so if they're all collectively not saying how it is they came to that thread simultaneously, it makes me wonder what else they're not saying.
posted by Sequence at 6:45 PM on December 2, 2013 [10 favorites]


I agree with escabeche, this seems within the norm for a specialized program at a small school. I think these people are exactly who they say they are, and they're recent students (etc) who have agreed to contact prospective students who have questions about the program.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 6:46 PM on December 2, 2013 [4 favorites]


"WE EAT BABIES," revealed in shocking followup
posted by elizardbits at 6:47 PM on December 2, 2013 [18 favorites]


The first decade of Simpson College was pretty great, but lately it's really got in a rut.
posted by octobersurprise at 6:47 PM on December 2, 2013 [14 favorites]


In all seriousness this would put me off going there because what if all these random people show up sociably at your dorm room en masse and pretend not to know one another.
posted by elizardbits at 6:48 PM on December 2, 2013 [50 favorites]


I think what they're not saying is that Simpson College is run by vampires. That's what my money's on at least.
posted by MoonOrb at 6:48 PM on December 2, 2013 [6 favorites]


Also they are obviously competent if not skilled users of social media as a group and that always makes me nervous. For realsies I am half expecting an alum to ring my doorbell right now to give me a pamphlet.
posted by elizardbits at 6:51 PM on December 2, 2013 [15 favorites]


what if all these random people show up sociably at your dorm room en masse and pretend not to know one another

In fairness, I had dorm parties that were just like that.
posted by octobersurprise at 6:52 PM on December 2, 2013 [11 favorites]


isn't it also sort of ideal when people with firsthand knowledge of the topic (in this case, people who have participated in the musical programs at Simpson College) chime in with advice and their experiences?

I guess, but what struck me about it is that none of that "firsthand knowledge" felt genuine at all.

I get that Metafilter is a special site with much higher standards for good answers than other places online.

But imagine what you would say to a prospective applicant to the college you graduated from, or the school you work for, or the department you were once a grad student in. This... doesn't look like that. It looks like blurbs from the admissions department lookbook.
posted by Sara C. at 6:57 PM on December 2, 2013 [11 favorites]


Username profile & number website, if any
BrandonELouis http://www.metafilter.com/user/188912
kgoettel http://www.metafilter.com/user/188917
bernard.mcdonald http://www.metafilter.com/user/188921 http://www.simpson.edu/opera
shelbyhendryx http://www.metafilter.com/user/189201
johnmmoore http://www.metafilter.com/user/188978
tad.ennen http://www.metafilter.com/user/189246 Tad Ennen
cmanich http://www.metafilter.com/user/189259 http://crystalmanich.com/

It's not a clear violation of the rules, but it feels like an abuse of the community. Hey, pony up 5 bucks and you can do some marketing. Creepy.
posted by theora55 at 6:58 PM on December 2, 2013 [6 favorites]


Simpson College taught me to love. And to hate. And how to freebase.
posted by planetesimal at 7:01 PM on December 2, 2013 [3 favorites]


BWEEEEEEEEEWUBWUBWUBWUBWUBWUB wubbbbb
posted by elizardbits at 7:02 PM on December 2, 2013 [6 favorites]


oh, freebase, not drop the bass
posted by elizardbits at 7:02 PM on December 2, 2013 [7 favorites]


I also don't think it's all that creepy. They just don't understand site norms, is all. For someone unfamiliar with the place it's just another public message board. It looks like they made an exercise out of it, probably debriefing and everything.
posted by planetesimal at 7:02 PM on December 2, 2013 [7 favorites]


Yeah, we're talking chasing dragons.
posted by planetesimal at 7:02 PM on December 2, 2013


But imagine what you would say to a prospective applicant to the college you graduated from, or the school you work for, or the department you were once a grad student in. This... doesn't look like that. It looks like blurbs from the admissions department lookbook.

I dunno, to me several of the answers look to be from people who REALLY loved their school. I agree with you that this isn't ideal, but I guess I would ask what you think should be done about it?

People sign up all the time to give one-off answers on a topic they are personally involved with. I'm not totally comfortable with, say, deleting those answers.
posted by lalex at 7:05 PM on December 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


Lalex, I don't really know, which is why I made this MetaTalk.

This is definitely a "What should we do about this?" sort of thing and not a "Burn the witch" sort of thing.
posted by Sara C. at 7:09 PM on December 2, 2013


I don't like it. I don't think there's any dishonesty involved but I'm also not fond of the idea of a bunch of people showing up to push a coordinated viewpoint. It's less valuable when that happens.

This reminds me more of when the camgirls showed up than the GiveWell dishonesty but I guess it has elements of both.
posted by grouse at 7:11 PM on December 2, 2013 [9 favorites]


This is definitely a "What should we do about this?" sort of thing and not a "Burn the witch" sort of thing.

Save that for the Hogwarts alums.
posted by griphus at 7:11 PM on December 2, 2013 [9 favorites]


We looked at the database and they're different individual users, not just one person writing them all. I bet someone in the program emailed an alum list asking them to chip in and share positive stories of the program.

Definitely abnormal use of Ask MeFi, but not so bad as to be considered wrong or deleted, etc.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 7:12 PM on December 2, 2013 [20 favorites]


Simpson College is the kindest, bravest, warmest, most wonderful education institution I've ever been to in my life.

It's a magical place.
posted by zarq at 7:13 PM on December 2, 2013 [43 favorites]


Weird, but (so far, at least) not wrong.
posted by rtha at 7:13 PM on December 2, 2013


"What should we do about this?"

Sign all our posts

Tad Ennen
posted by Catch at 7:14 PM on December 2, 2013 [9 favorites]


Sounds good.

Tad Lokken
posted by grouse at 7:14 PM on December 2, 2013 [21 favorites]


I don't get how this is a problem. The OP asked for first-hand accounts and got what they were asking for. This is the kind of thing you ask for and receive when you're college-hunting. If you want real honesty you have to go for the overnight stay program.
posted by bleep at 7:19 PM on December 2, 2013 [3 favorites]


"I love that I was able to major in opera and also walk onto the football team", "While the music program is awesome, it can be difficult to find housing off-campus," "The voice department Halloween party is legendary!", "Even though campus can be kind of dead on weekends, the music department is really tight knit," and the like.

Were these comments deleted? I don't see any of these quotes.
posted by 0 at 7:26 PM on December 2, 2013


Because they didn't get first hand accounts. They got bullet points of statistics about the school.

Which is... not what I'd do if someone Asked Metafilter for input on my alma mater, despite thinking very highly of it.
posted by Sara C. at 7:27 PM on December 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


0, sorry if my post wasn't clear -- those were my own examples of the types of things you'd expect to see, rather than boilerplate admissions office copy.
posted by Sara C. at 7:29 PM on December 2, 2013


Ah, got it.
posted by 0 at 7:36 PM on December 2, 2013


Because they didn't get first hand accounts.

I appreciate the interesting MeTa, Sara C., but the above is not really accurate. Shelby Hendryx's answer uses first-hand knowledge to directly counter an earlier speculative claim that there's not much live opera at Simpson. Tad Ennen's answer offers a first-hand account of the way the lack of graduate students helped with his undergrad education. Both seem to be exactly the kind of thing the original poster said he was looking for. Clearly, as Matt suggested, "someone in the program emailed an alum list asking them to chip in and share positive stories of the program," but the answers the new Simpson boosters have offered are at least as useful as the distant speculation we got from older users.

Sure, it would be nice if the new members were more upfront about how they found out about the question, because their boosterism is obvious and makes their case perhaps more suspect than it would have been coming from established users, but after looking at the thread there really doesn't seem to be anything wrong. A user asked about Simpson College and got Simpson College folks joining just to share their stories.

Win-win, I'd say.
posted by mediareport at 7:46 PM on December 2, 2013 [12 favorites]


This seems par for the course for Simpson (and Iowa). Seriously, I read that post and thought, "I could probably put this kid in touch with Simon Estes." I read it to my girlfriend (a Simpson grad.) and she says, "I know two Simpson Opera graduates I could get to answer his questions." For the record I never met Simon Estes, but he has an office not too far from mine and I know people that work with him.

I used to work in Indianola sometimes (there's a Gannett owned paper there). I've met a ton of Simpson people over the years (student and faculty), and they are all wonderfully nerdy and smart.

I also think this is a wonderful use of "new" media/branding. In this day and age if you don't have a google alert set up on your name (and your company) you are missing out. I often show up on blogs where I get mentioned. It never occurs to me to start out with, "I got a google alert." or "I got an email telling me you gave me a shout out."

To me this is an awesome use of the internet and is savvy and I would give their media guy a raise.
posted by cjorgensen at 7:52 PM on December 2, 2013 [17 favorites]


You know what would be the biggest improvement in AskMe?

If people who didn't have relevant knowledge would please stop feeling they have to answer almost every single question which is posted. Not naming names or anything.
posted by Rumple at 7:53 PM on December 2, 2013 [144 favorites]


Well, some of them are grads and give a first hand experience and some have a vested interest as program directors on the responses. I would be more comfortable if the folks that work for Simpson simply stated I am the Director of X at the college and please PM me with questions.

But, overall, I am indifferent. I just hope the kid ends up at a place he likes and from which he learns.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 7:54 PM on December 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


Win-win, I'd say.

Speaking as a very infrequent AskMefi user, I disagree. The few times I have used the site, I had specific questions about things that I wanted established MetaFilter users' opinions or expertise on. I was "asking the hive mind", as it were. When I asked about audio editing software other than Audacity, I didn't want a bunch of Audacity employees signing up to tell me great things about the software. When I was trying to set up my Verizon FIOS router at home, I sure as heck didn't want fifty jillion Verizon employees logging on to tell me how great their system is. AskMe works as a resource primarily because it works as a NON-partisan one.
posted by Curious Artificer at 7:55 PM on December 2, 2013 [23 favorites]


A user asked about Simpson College and got Simpson College folks joining just to share their stories.

And a bunch of people talking out of their asses. Although, Iowa. Ugh. No.

It's a win for the Asker of course - getting a good answer is getting a good answer.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 7:55 PM on December 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


Astroturfing is the practice of masking the sponsors of a message (e.g. political, advertising, or public relations) to give the appearance of it coming from a disinterested, grassroots participant. Astroturfing is intended to give the statements the credibility of an independent entity by withholding information about the source's financial connection.

That's not what happened here. I agree it comes off as a bit weird, but it's not astroturfing.
posted by Chrysostom at 7:56 PM on December 2, 2013


When I asked about audio editing software other than Audacity, I didn't want a bunch of Audacity employees signing up to tell me great things about the software.

That's a fair point, Curious Artificer, but unless you're suggesting there's no place for former Simpson students to add their answers to that question, it's only partly relevant.
posted by mediareport at 7:57 PM on December 2, 2013


"Clearly, as Matt suggested, 'someone in the program emailed an alum list asking them to chip in and share positive stories of the program,' but the answers the new Simpson boosters have offered are at least as useful as the distant speculation we got from older users.

Yep. Especially that last part. The uninformed, speculative answers were unhelpful.

"If people who didn't have relevant knowledge would please stop feeling they have to answer almost every single question which is posted. Not naming names or anything."

Emphatically.

The point made in the thread that an earlier comment was helpful in its speculative but decidedly lukewarm answer in that a student is very likely to switch majors and so, all things being equal, a relatively undistinguished liberal arts college might not be the best thing for the money. And that's a good point, except that this wasn't made in that original comment, only in the defense of it once there were some comments that made a case that for opera, the school is really quite good.

And that annoys me because this is pretty common all across American higher education: schools can be generally mediocre to even bad, but they can have individual programs that are unusually good, even by national standards. This is especially true for the big state schools, many of which have particular departments which are far and away better than the school within which they exist.

So you can't know unless you know. Speculating is unhelpful. As it often is on AskMe.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 8:03 PM on December 2, 2013 [10 favorites]


Speaking of things that feel weird, it might be useful for a mod to drop a note in the AskMe thread to let these new users know what that "MetaTalk" link means at the bottom of the thread - i.e., that their presence is being discussed in another part of the site and they're welcome to respond here.
posted by mediareport at 8:11 PM on December 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


Well, anyone can do that. I edited my comment down to just the "MetaTalk" link because an unhelpful comment that preceded it had been deleted.
posted by Curious Artificer at 8:14 PM on December 2, 2013


Whoa. That is one weird thread.
posted by latkes at 8:23 PM on December 2, 2013


cjorgensen has it, I think. I suspect that the linchpin is the minds behind@SimpsonAdmiss, which is on top of every mention of Simpson, even to the point of personally congratulating everyone who mentions the place on Twitter on their acceptance to the school. It's the admissions team who'd be most concerned about the buzz online about the quality of the program, and right now they're actively working to lure the best students to the school even though those students are probably receiving other acceptances. Now is the time of year to be most sensitive to and responsive to online mentions.

I don't have the same benign view as cjorgensen, though. This isn't exactly wrong, but it's also not an authentic outpouring of individual, non-prompted response. It's likely an organized effort driven by an official of the school. The responses have every indication of being outlined in advance ("talk about your affiliation with the school, mention the top notch faculty, the individual attention, and that you are happy to answer more questions").

It's not terrible but it's a media management game, and I agree with others that this isn't exactly what the site was built for.
posted by Miko at 8:24 PM on December 2, 2013 [39 favorites]


Definitely abnormal use of Ask MeFi, but not so bad as to be considered wrong or deleted, etc.

Isn't there a waiting period after purchasing an account before you can post a comment? Even something like 12 hours would cut down on the drive-by commenting, which is actually the part that bugs me most about this. It's not likely that people who were just e-mailed about one random question are going to stick around to be a part of the community here, and that makes the AskMe resource much more like any other random ask-a-question site. I'd really hate to see that happen. I ask questions of this community because I'm interested in the perspectives from this group of people who share in this experience. I'm not really interested in hearing from the internet at large, as there are plenty of other places for that.
posted by odinsdream at 8:27 PM on December 2, 2013 [5 favorites]


Isn't there a waiting period after purchasing an account before you can post a comment? Even something like 12 hours would cut down on the drive-by commenting, which is actually the part that bugs me most about this. It's not likely that people who were just e-mailed about one random question are going to stick around to be a part of the community here

Perhaps not likely, but not impossible. I am here because a friend sent me an AskMeFi link three years ago about a pretty urgent legal issue in the jurisdiction where I practice. (the issue was involuntary mental health commitment). If an answer is needed more urgently than a 12-hour no-comment window would allow, chances are other sources besides AskMeFi are more appropriate. But, one never knows. I think one has to make a determination between protecting against this sort of plugging brochurespeak and allowing people the greatest chance to get the answers they need when they need them.
posted by Tanizaki at 8:37 PM on December 2, 2013 [12 favorites]


The $5 entry fee is probably a sufficient deterrent--this Ask is notable because this has happened, what? Once in a decade?
posted by MoonOrb at 8:46 PM on December 2, 2013 [12 favorites]


Yeah, there was also that excellent askme that ended up being resolved by a poison control specialist who had, IIRC, signed up specifically to answer the time-sensitive question. And stuff like that isn't just valuable to the OP, it's a community archive of relevant info that is valuable to everyone here.

yes i just agreed with tanizaki

no this is not my duress phrase
posted by elizardbits at 8:46 PM on December 2, 2013 [50 favorites]


Spooky.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 8:49 PM on December 2, 2013


I would love for a recent grad to chime in with a contra point or two.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 8:51 PM on December 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


The teeming brood of Simpsons associates are identifying themselves (AFAIK honestly). I don't see what the problem is.

I once asked an anonymous question, and in the ensuing thread, someone from a relevant institution piped up. I thought that was great and helpful.

All jokes aside, I have no opinion regarding Simpson College. That said, I don't see what's so wrong about Simpson College people putting in a good word for their school, so long as there's no deception and their answers are substantive.
posted by Sticherbeast at 8:56 PM on December 2, 2013


I would love for a recent grad to chime in with a contra point or two.

"Hi guys, I'm a recent Simpson grad, and I just wanted to say that up up down down left right left right b a. Hopefully that gives you thirty lives in Contra."
posted by Sticherbeast at 8:58 PM on December 2, 2013 [78 favorites]


This is AskMe working as intended, in pretty much the best possible way, and I wish it worked this way a lot more often than it does. I obviously wouldn't base my decision to matriculate at Simpson entirely on website comments, but I would be pretty thrilled to be getting these detailed responses from people claiming to be close to the school. Are people upset for some reason by the possibility that these comments are motivated by something other than unconditional love of MetaFilter? Is it really so terrible if knowledgeable people sign up, leave relevant answers, but don't stay for the cat-naming chatter threads?
posted by Nomyte at 8:58 PM on December 2, 2013 [12 favorites]


Astroturfing is the practice of masking the sponsors of a message (e.g. political, advertising, or public relations) to give the appearance of it coming from a disinterested, grassroots participant.
[...]
That's not what happened here.


Yeah, it kind of is. What the drive-by promotional answers are concealing is not their identity or the genuineness of their personal desire to promote the college, it's how and why they all got here at the same time, eager to do this promotion in their first and only comments on the site, out of nowhere. It's totally clear that they're here because a call went out from some college PR or booster organization, and AFAICT none of them has said so, which seems to me underhanded and unsavory.
posted by RogerB at 8:58 PM on December 2, 2013 [7 favorites]


I can say this about Simpson College: their English department sure teaches their students to write with the same voice.
posted by Mitheral at 9:06 PM on December 2, 2013 [38 favorites]


The OP marked some of those answers as best answers. I'm not surprised as he was specifically looking for first hand information and that's what those answers provided. So, while this an odd situation I think it was for the best.
posted by Area Man at 9:18 PM on December 2, 2013


I can say this about Simpson College: I would not go there because of their Students for Life members. Is it common to have a group like this in American schools?
posted by unliteral at 9:20 PM on December 2, 2013


Let's turn this around on them! Quick, everybody apply to Simpson College and get accepted! What's that? The infiltrator has become the infiltratee? That's what happens when you mess with Metafilter, fools! Now if you'll excuse me, I have an aria to rehearse.
posted by prize bull octorok at 9:23 PM on December 2, 2013 [56 favorites]


Is it common to have a group like this in American schools?

You think that's bad? You will even find Christians, Republicans, and libertarians.
posted by Tanizaki at 9:24 PM on December 2, 2013 [7 favorites]


A pro-life student organisation? You'd probably be hard pressed to find a college that doesn't have one.
posted by Mitheral at 9:24 PM on December 2, 2013 [11 favorites]


If the CEO of Givewell starts grading papers, you know the jig is up.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:27 PM on December 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


The OP marked some of those answers as best answers.

Which is quite weird, because he also said up front that he was asking for "independent" opinions from people unaffiliated with the college's PR, and those very clearly aren't. Glad he got something out of it, but if that kind of answer was what he wanted, I'm not sure why he asked MetaFilter instead of the Simpson admissions office in the first place.
posted by RogerB at 9:27 PM on December 2, 2013 [8 favorites]


Yeah, political groups of various types are quite common. I think my college had a pro life group. I didn't agree with them, but I don't get why their very existence would have been a reason not to attend.
posted by Area Man at 9:29 PM on December 2, 2013 [3 favorites]


Meh, it's not about dating some shitbag, and the answers aren't a round of Hey Look How Quirky I Am. Good for Simpson College, say I.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 9:31 PM on December 2, 2013 [9 favorites]




Although, Iowa. Ugh. No.

I don't know anything about Simpson, other than I don't think it's ever been accused of running a scam operation. Its home, Indianola, has a freaking god-level disc golf course designed by a 5-time women's world champion. That alone makes it worth a visit, in my opinion.
posted by TrialByMedia at 9:52 PM on December 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


It's not strictly AstroTurf, but it does leave an unpleasant taste in my mouth. I'd like to have seen a balanced response from people who'd attended and given pros and cons of life there.
posted by arcticseal at 10:01 PM on December 2, 2013


A pro-life student organisation? You'd probably be hard pressed to find a college that doesn't have one.
Didn't know that. The first ever was started here at Sydney University last year and it caused quite a brouhaha.
posted by unliteral at 10:03 PM on December 2, 2013


> We looked at the database and they're different individual users, not just one person writing them all. I bet someone in the program emailed an alum list asking them to chip in and share positive stories of the program.

I'm glad to have that confirmed, because I thought most of those comments were written in an oddly similar style.
posted by EXISTENZ IS PAUSED at 10:04 PM on December 2, 2013 [4 favorites]

mannequito: “I love that this is the first google image result for OperaFan4Lyfe.”
Just for the record, when I open this link on my phone it redirects to an advertising script that redirects a random porn site. As in, you will see dirty pictures. Works fine from the computer though.
posted by ob1quixote at 10:06 PM on December 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


Pretty weird! AskMe would be broken if that kind of thing happened all the time. It won't happen all the time though. But, weird enough for a Metatalk for sure. Thanks for pointing it out, wouldn't have seen it otherwise.
posted by Kwine at 10:08 PM on December 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


I also got the random porn instead of an Opera Fan, luckily it was just butts.
posted by amapolaroja at 10:21 PM on December 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


I went to Simpson College and now I am an intern, a mother, and an executive

and that's just during the day!
posted by threeants at 10:23 PM on December 2, 2013 [4 favorites]


more seriously, OMG this:

If people who didn't have relevant knowledge would please stop feeling they have to answer almost every single question which is posted. Not naming names or anything.

I can think of one or two people who seem to think that AskMe is, like, a series of writing prompts for their personal blog which, instead of being hosted somewhere, exists spread over every AskMe thread ever.
posted by threeants at 10:25 PM on December 2, 2013 [57 favorites]


Meh, it's not about dating some shitbag

Salutations!
I dated Harry Simpson in 2003, and in comparing my experience with my friends, I found that Harry offered an incredible level of attention and care, and opportunities to practice my craft in a way that few partners ever have. Unfortunately, Harry was also a dipsnort who refused to come to my family's Thanksgiving, left rude notes on noisy neighbors' apartment doors, and confronted a lady for lying about her dress size. PM me if you have any other questions!!

Yours,
Sally Jetson
posted by one_bean at 10:27 PM on December 2, 2013 [47 favorites]


I have a friend who teaches at Simpson and she likes it a lot. It's a perfectly decent small liberal arts college, with a handful of outstanding programs and other programs good enough to get through. From what my friend has said they're pretty friendly to nontraditional students for a small liberal arts college, which is why their completion rate is low. My friend had a bit of a rough go after a nasty divorce (and several bs jobs to pay the bills) and Simpson hired her and paid her a non-poverty wage and has really treated her well and been understanding and generous about her single parent concerns. She's pretty loyal to the institution, which she feels prioritizes people over prestige or money, and she likes the culture there.

Anyway she works for the English department so I haven't hears her talk about opera and other people had already said my points when I saw the thread. But yeah, my friend who work there likes it, and I've since found out I have a couple friends who graduated from there and they both liked it. One's a doctor and I one's a lawyer.

Seems like the kind of tight-knit, friendly place that suits some students very well, and also leads to social media blitzes. :)
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 10:37 PM on December 2, 2013 [10 favorites]


It's not astroturf, but if we ask the question "Is your joining MetaFilter and posting a response part of your job? Will your boss be made aware of this, and do you expect your actions to count positively when your job performance is evaluated?" My guess is (though it is just a guess) that the answer for these folk is "Yes". That's generally not the case.

We're usually happy when someone joins to comment when an article or blog post of theirs shows up, even though many do so as part of promoting their personal brand on the Internet. So I'm having a bit of trouble explaining why this feels different, but it does to me.
posted by benito.strauss at 10:41 PM on December 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


It's not strictly AstroTurf, but it does leave an unpleasant taste in my mouth. I'd like to have seen a balanced response from people who'd attended and given pros and cons of life there.

To be fair, I kind of viewed it as fair play for the number of people that knew nothing about Simpson, or opera there, who felt compelled to weigh in and bag it with not much qualification, so you know, count me on "the system works!" side.
posted by smoke at 10:46 PM on December 2, 2013 [15 favorites]


Should I buy a Dyson vacuum? I would be upset if there was some call to action outside of ask.mefi for people to tell me that it is the best vacuum ever. I have a feeling the only people contacted were going to return with a positive reply for the school.


There are a few people that replied that 3 seconds of search returned that they work there.
posted by johnpowell at 10:58 PM on December 2, 2013 [4 favorites]

amapolaroja: “I also got the random porn instead of an Opera Fan, luckily it was just butts.”
I got stuff I wouldn't want to have to explain.

I checked my settings and my proxy reads 'None" as it should. If I paste the link 'http://www.hsfootballweb.com/maynard.jpg' into either Chrome or the default Browser I get porn. This is true whether I'm on my WiFi or using 4G.

However, I tried it from Orweb with Orbot enabled and saw the photo of the Steeler's fan that mannequito intended to link. I also tried some other random image URLs and was able to see them fine.

Again, it works fine from the Chromebook. So it doesn't appear to be about the referrer not being the hsfootballweb.com site. Very odd.

I tracked down where the redirects are coming from and it's a company I won't name because screw those guys. They claim they will redirect all mobile traffic to their advertising network and guarantee, "100% of traffic monetized."

So now unscrupulous website operators are going to send mobile traffic to pornographic advertisers because they can't be bothered to make a mobile version of their site or just want a half a penny. Lovely.

Anyway, enough derail. Don't click the link in mannequito's comment on your phone, y'all.
posted by ob1quixote at 10:59 PM on December 2, 2013 [6 favorites]


I think Simpson College was put in a difficult spot.

Several people with ZERO FIRST HAND EXPERIENCE of their program jumped in to dump on them -- early and repeatedly. Should Simpson College have a stiff upper lip and let these uninformed opinions stand in the search engines forever? Should they point out the unfounded nature of these opinions and risk sounding petty or defensive? Or do they send in some satisfied alumni/staff to share some first-hand experiences and be called astroturfers?

If Metafilter wants to be a free wheeling place where anyone can dump on something with ZERO FIRST HAND EXPERIENCE, then maybe you should be collectively prepared for some sort of response from the injured party.
posted by 99percentfake at 11:07 PM on December 2, 2013 [70 favorites]


One last thing, I fired Orweb back up. When I set my user agent to Firefox, I get the intended funny OperaFan4Lyfe photo. If I pick Android I get dirty pictures. I'm 95% confident hsfootballweb.com is redirecting only mobile browsers using the service that shall not be named. Bastards.
posted by ob1quixote at 11:08 PM on December 2, 2013


Should Simpson College have a stiff upper lip and let these uninformed opinions stand in the search engines forever?

Yes.

I don't really get why everyone is worried about Simpson's reputation here. It's not like anyone accused them of having a required course in how to murder puppies.

There were a couple of "I don't know but be careful about small non-selective liberal arts colleges" responses, which I think are perfectly good responses to a question posed by a parent trying to vet possible colleges for their kid.

There were also a number of people who responded with first hand knowledge of Simpson and nothing much good to say, which is, well, sorry Simpson College but AskMetafilter isn't Yelp and burying frank responses in NO REALLY WE ARE THE BEST UNIVERSITY KNOWN TO MAN noise is pretty awful behavior here.
posted by Sara C. at 11:18 PM on December 2, 2013 [16 favorites]


The course in puppy murder is entirely optional, Sara C. At least try to read the brochure!

Although it is a very well taught course, and comes highly recommended. Many of the graduates have nothing but good things to say about it, especially the evidence disposal mid-term. Such real-life applications!
posted by Ghidorah at 11:23 PM on December 2, 2013 [6 favorites]


Going back and reading it now, I can completely understand why this got passed around a Simpson college email list. The first half of the page is dominated by people that haven't visited Simpson, aren't in an Opera program, and have never heard of Indianola before, much less set foot in Des Moines in the past ten or twenty years. What did we learn from them?

* The program probably sucks, because of reasons.
* Iowa sucks. Somebody from California that can't find it on a map told me.

The replies from Simpson alum and employees have a professional, but definitely wounded tone to them. I don't blame them.
posted by TrialByMedia at 11:24 PM on December 2, 2013 [38 favorites]


Oh my goodness that camgirls thing. I'd never seen that before. That sort of thing (in the real world, as it were) is what makes me so happy that homes have doors and restaurants have the ability to kick out people who are behaving badly.
posted by davejay at 11:27 PM on December 2, 2013 [5 favorites]


This is not astroturfing, this is 100% native grass planting by hand.

I for one welcome our new Simpson College overlords. (Hi Simpsonians! this is a customary Meta welcome.)
posted by a humble nudibranch at 11:38 PM on December 2, 2013 [3 favorites]


On a special LOL note, Simpson's college portal is called Storm Front.
posted by threeants at 11:40 PM on December 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


(Btw, even though the Simpson rally is kind of weird and tonally off for MeFi, I don't think it's fair to consider it an astroturfing; the Simpson folks all provided either their names, their relationships to the college, or both.)
posted by threeants at 11:46 PM on December 2, 2013 [3 favorites]


"There were also a number of people who responded with first hand knowledge of Simpson and nothing much good to say..."

No, there was exactly one response like that. All the rest were basing their responses on either USN&WR info or were in the midwest and had heard of the school but had no firsthand knowledge of it.

And immediately after the answer you are referring to was one from someone whose friend graduated from the school many years ago with a degree in opera, worked professionally in NYC, and speaks positively about the school. That member has been here since last year.

Another response that must have been prompted from the school or alumni group, but which is from someone unaffiliated with the school, is the one from the opera director who directed a show there.

Those two I'd personally evaluate as most credible and helpful. One of them is not the product of an organized activity, one of them (almost certainly) is.

Those from faculty or staff or others professionally associated with the school (which includes, somehow, the singer whose answer was marked by the poster as a best answer and which I find otherwise persuasive) are not going to be that credible simply because of the conflict of interest. Those aren't that helpful and it's not really the sort of answers we'd want to encourage, but then it's not as if there aren't numerous other conflicts of interest in AskMe answers where someone is supposedly serving the needs of the questioner but also has their own agenda. That's like 90% of the human relationship answers.

But the ones from current or former students are pretty much exactly what the questioner specifically requested. I can't really see how we can complain that they got answers from the people that wanted answers from.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 11:46 PM on December 2, 2013 [6 favorites]


Heh, now I'm having fun imagining MeFi admin engineering AskMe questions to drum up income by pulling in new user registrations.

"A friend told me that Taco Bell's new Gordito Deluxe™ is neither as taste-a-licious nor as cheesy as claimed in advertisements. Can anyone confirm??"
posted by threeants at 11:51 PM on December 2, 2013 [26 favorites]


Whatever the judgment on their actions, the Simpson people were pretty savvy to get on board that thread; AskMe seems to generally pull a lot of weight on Google Search. I don't know if this is tilted towards my own browsing history, but a search for should I go to Simpson College for opera retrieves the Ask thread on the very first page, for me.
posted by threeants at 11:56 PM on December 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


I bet Simpson has a great choir.
posted by Dr Dracator at 12:27 AM on December 3, 2013 [3 favorites]

Greetings!
I frequently enjoy one or two Tico Bell Gordito Deluxes™ and active in the gordito world.
As Reginald McCloud has pointed out the processed cheese product and the amalgamated horse/bovine muscle at Tico Bell is top-notch.
The total dining experience at Tico Bell is a positive one and I know that they have only worked to strengthen that perception, if not the actuality, especially now that the Gordito Deluxe™ includes a double-helping of Sour Creme! If there are specific questions regarding my regular lunches at Tico Bell and how the Tico Bell Gordito Deluxe™ has improved my afternoon work performance, I would be happy to field those questions, though perhaps best via private messaging.

Any fast-food experience is up to the diner. Management, staff, condiments, etc mean nothing if the diner expects to just self-actualize by being there. I for one wasted much opportunity at Tico Bell, because I was very immature and naive about the broader world, particularly those nonsensical "shirt and shoes" rules. Luckily, the signage and customer service were built into the experience in such a way that I was able to appreciate just how valuable it was when I later learned to dress myself. That said, I have had very good lunches and fewer episodes of excessive flatulence due to my excellent health benefits via my employer, and of course the good ole luck factor.

There is a huge variety in the Tico Bell menu — flour tortillas and beans, beans and cheese, flour tortillas and cheese, meat and beans, flour tortillas and meat and cheese — but few diners I know now that had the full range of the Tico Bell experience find fault in it. That says something and if you look at the cars in the lot and the relatively low level of despair at which many Tico Bell diners consume their meals, one can see that Tico Bell is doing something special ... or should I say they're doing the Tico Bell Taco Especial™!

All the best!

Arnold
posted by arnoldlivermore at 3:26 PM on November 27
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 12:27 AM on December 3, 2013 [14 favorites]


It's a disclosure thing.
If the posters had opened with, "hey, our web guy sent me your question. I'm a staff member and here's my thoughts..." everyone would be super happy.
But all of them doing a robotic "It's a great school with excellent diversity and a top ten ranking among similar institutions that we are proud to share blah blah blah." is the reason it makes people feel weird.
Even if they had said, "I'm one of the people tasked with boosting admissions and I can say..." it would be fine.
It's the way they are posting as people offering genuine opinions, but all regurgitating the party line.
posted by bystander at 1:36 AM on December 3, 2013 [12 favorites]


bystander: If the posters had opened with, "hey, our web guy sent me your question. I'm a staff member and here's my thoughts..." everyone would be super happy.

Why don't you read their responses again?

As an apprentice at Des Moines Metro Opera I became familiar with Simpson College and have maintained my relationship with the college...

I direct the opera program at Simpson College...

Greetings!
I am a Simpson College alumn and active in the opera world...


Hi! Another Simpson College alum here, also from the voice program. I graduated in 2012 with a BM...

I am a recent graduate of Simpson College with a degree in Vocal Performance...

I directed a production of Massenet's Cendrillon for Simpson early in 2013...

So maybe they didn't mention that this was passed around by email, but does that matter? All of these people immediately disclosed their connection with the program in the first lines of their response. And all of these people are much more qualified to comment on this program than just about anybody else in the thread.
posted by TrialByMedia at 2:08 AM on December 3, 2013 [23 favorites]


Better informed maybe, but not necessarily more qualified. I have nothing personal against them, and they are going about it in a non-sleazy manner, but they came to promote their school, not to provide unbiased information.

How would you feel if, say, a disgruntled former faculty member with an axe to grind was monopolizing the thread to badmouth their former employer?
posted by Dr Dracator at 2:18 AM on December 3, 2013 [3 favorites]


"I bet Simpson has a great choir."

I wouldn't be too sure. The kind of singing done in a really good college choir may not be good for someone with a big, operatic voice. That's one of the arguments for Simpson rather than a college with a strong choral culture like Luther.

Although, Iowa. Ugh. No.

The contempt for Iowa in this thread and the original pisses me off. Iowa is a terrific state with lots to offer educationally. The casual assumption that anything in Iowa must be lousy is ignorant and snobby. Simpson College and it's opera program should be judged on the merits, not dismissed because it is in the middle of the country.
posted by Area Man at 2:47 AM on December 3, 2013 [41 favorites]


What is the action item in this thread, by the way? Anything that messaging the moderators privately couldn't accomplish?
posted by Nomyte at 2:57 AM on December 3, 2013


If I were the OP, I wouldn't mind my AskMe resulting in personal invitations to connect with the students and professors of the specific program I was evaluating who posted under their real names and disclosed their affiliation with the school.

I mean, the OP asked specifically, "Has anyone gone there? Does anyone have first hand experience?" It's not the entirely independent account the OP was looking for, since it's obvious that word of the thread got around the department, but I don't see astroturfing. Everyone is up-front about who they are. That's better than conjecture from people who've never been to or heard of the school.
posted by daveliepmann at 3:15 AM on December 3, 2013


I think if we just refer to these folks, collectively, as "MeFi's Own Simpson Students and Faculty" everyone will feel all warm, fuzzy and proud about their choice to join.

and, no Bart or Homer reference yet??? you folks are slacking!
posted by HuronBob at 3:54 AM on December 3, 2013 [7 favorites]


I don't like reading through that thread, it feels really gross and it reads like advertising. Whilst the people disclosed their relationships to the college in the thread, it's obviously not a balanced opinion and you can tell off the cuff that it's some shitty media thing about trying to improve their online footprint. The fact that loads of them turned up to make it look like there's some overwhelming consensus that Simpson is a great place is just a bit icky.

I'm not sure at all what should happen about it though, because sure, they aren't breaking any rules directly, though they don't seem to be in the spirit of ask. I'm tempted to go over to Simpson college's website or admissions blog or whatever and leave them loads of comments telling them why metafilter is the best of the web, but I probably shouldn't.

Basically I don't really like it but I have no constructive ideas on what to do about it. A situation that I often find myself in.
posted by Ned G at 3:57 AM on December 3, 2013 [7 favorites]


Also, since writing 'the spirit of ask' I'm personifying (ghostifying?) the different subsites in my head. The spirit of ask is a matronly figure who appears at times of great need and tells people to DTMFA.

And I had to change the wording of the comment above because writing 'violating the spirit of ask' just didn't seem right.
posted by Ned G at 3:59 AM on December 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


Has anyone gone there? Does anyone have first hand experience?

That was the original question. The first 11 answers I can see are from people who have no experience of the school. Of the first 19 answers one person had a roommate who attended, one had a friend, and one attended for one semester. So three answers that are beginning to get to what the OP asked for. If I had been them I would have been really frustrated by that point. People's experiences at other schools, speculation about what would happen if the OP's son changed majors, discussion of college ratings systems and general dissing of the town in which the college is located is not what was asked for.

It might seem against the normal pattern of answers for a few people to suddenly turn up all singing from the same hymn sheet (I do apologise), and it did read weird at first look, but they actually answered the question. They also didn't pretend they weren't connected. They mentioned faculty size, opportunities for work experience, how the student's voice was cared for, etc. This is what the asker was looking for. Getting upset that he got it from outsiders with experience rather than MeFites with none seems a little strange.
posted by billiebee at 4:03 AM on December 3, 2013 [27 favorites]


I have to agree that those answers all feel "off" to me, like squarely planted in the uncanny valley of comments. I have nothing but love for informed members providing good, relevant information, but the wording, punctuation, and content in a couple answers are so similar, and so... "polished" isn't the right word, because there are grammatical errors, but carefully crafted. It totally reads like it was c/p from some admissions literature, especially all of the numbers/stats being thrown out (3 student operas! 5 field trips!). I think it's probably too fine a line to call, but I agree with the spirit of this meta; it also makes me uncomfortable that the question thread went in that direction.
posted by catch as catch can at 4:10 AM on December 3, 2013 [6 favorites]


Those are the answers you would expect to get from people who are loyal and proud of their alma mater, not surprising at all. Especially since they were probably elicited by a mailing from someone who's job (or hobby) it is to monitor social media. The answers seem honest, even if skewed towards the positive. I googled some of the names, they appear to be legit and connected to Simpson.

I think the difference here, and the reason people have a problem with this, is that these are all new members who may not have a sense of the culture here, but I don't know if that's reason to object to their input.

I found this askme from the past, the answers are different only in that they are a bit more balanced (and that they are all from established members, not people who joined to answer).

Every answer you receive on askme should be vetted through a truth/reality/BS filter (you're not paying for expert advice, you're throwing your query out on the internet for strangers to comment on) and then taken with a grain of salt. All in all, I thought there was some pretty good feedback in those responses and think it's great that these folks cared enough about their school to spend the 5 bucks to offer these opinions.
posted by HuronBob at 4:28 AM on December 3, 2013 [8 favorites]


Whilst the people disclosed their relationships to the college in the thread, it's obviously not a balanced opinion

If it's obvious, there's no problem. The weird feel is part of what the asker needs to use in evaluating the information. Indeed, since they are open to questions, one I'd ask in MeMail is--"are you for real?" And the response to that would further help my evaluations.
posted by Obscure Reference at 5:02 AM on December 3, 2013


Just for the record, when I open this link on my phone it redirects to an advertising script that redirects a random porn site. As in, you will see dirty pictures. Works fine from the computer though.

The quickness with which I involuntarily clicked that link on my phone is particularly impressive since I have not even had my coffee yet.
posted by Room 641-A at 5:13 AM on December 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


What is the action item in this thread, by the way? Anything that messaging the moderators privately couldn't accomplish?
posted by Nomyte


BANNED
posted by bleep-blop at 5:16 AM on December 3, 2013 [6 favorites]


"In conclusion, Simpson College is a land of no contrasts at all." It's basically the Big Rock Candy Mountain with accreditation, apparently. *snort*
posted by wenestvedt at 5:32 AM on December 3, 2013 [3 favorites]


Weird, but (so far, at least) not wrong.


"Sad and demented, but social."
- John Bender

---

So I went to several colleges, and work at one now. I would be happy to discuss my experiences with anyone, and after graduation I spoke with a number of prospective students (for two different schools). And I talk about $WORK here at MeFi now, too. But this does seem oddly, artificially chipper, in a sort of Admissions Tour kind of way. *shrug*
posted by wenestvedt at 5:38 AM on December 3, 2013 [3 favorites]


Motivation matters in AskMe. A bunch of people being sent by the admissions office to boost the college is different than alumni chiming in independently with their experience, regardless of whether it's positive or negative. I agree that there's probably nothing banworthy here, but it's definitely a matter of community concern.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 5:39 AM on December 3, 2013 [12 favorites]


If the posters had opened with, "hey, our web guy sent me your question. I'm a staff member and here's my thoughts..." everyone would be super happy.

I agree with that, and perhaps it's a good lesson for whatever Simpson College media flack sent around the email asking folks to sign up here to comment. They did disclose, but if each of the responses had also begun with "Hey, someone at Simpson just sent around an email asking those of us with firsthand experience to comment here, I hope you don't mind" then we might still have had a "look at this thing" MeTa, but it probably wouldn't have started out so sharply critical. I'd have felt a little better about this edge case, I know that, but still think it's right the mods are giving it a pass.

Should Simpson College have a stiff upper lip and let these uninformed opinions stand in the search engines forever?

Sara C.: Yes.

That seems indefensibly unfair.
posted by mediareport at 5:40 AM on December 3, 2013 [6 favorites]


As others have mentioned, MetaFilter isn't like all the other web sites, so when someone doesn't follow convention (like using the @ reply) it can brand them as a new user.

With that being said, the fact that the Simpson College students and alumni came to a "regular old website" using their real names and affiliations says to me that while there may have been coordination they are being sincere.

Since no one can really remember exact examples of this it says to me that the system is working, but I think we have to be prepared that more Ask responses coordinated via social media is probably inevitable.
posted by Room 641-A at 5:46 AM on December 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


I think it's creepy and weird and would break AskMe if it became the norm. I also think that it's only being defended here because small liberal arts colleges are not seen as businesses the way, say, a hosting company or a vacuum manufacturer are. Were employees of those types of businesses repeatedly posting advertising copy in a thread then there would be more negative sentiment in this one, I think.

But small liberal arts colleges are businesses, and they cost a hell of a lot more than a year's worth of web hosting or a vacuum cleaner.
posted by OmieWise at 5:49 AM on December 3, 2013 [18 favorites]


Sara C.: "There were also a number of people who responded with first hand knowledge of Simpson and nothing much good to say, which is, well, sorry Simpson College but AskMetafilter isn't Yelp and burying frank responses in NO REALLY WE ARE THE BEST UNIVERSITY KNOWN TO MAN noise is pretty awful behavior here."

Yeah, how dare people with first-hand experience on a very specific subject answer an asker's question about that subject! These so-called experts really need to make room for uninformed speculation; that's how AskMe works best.
posted by barnacles at 5:51 AM on December 3, 2013 [24 favorites]


I think this is an example of how, when writing on the internet, one should always be prepared for the person or group being discussed to show up. It's easy to be critical when you assume your target is never going to read what you wrote.
posted by daveliepmann at 5:54 AM on December 3, 2013 [4 favorites]


HuronBob: "and, no Bart or Homer reference yet??? you folks are slacking!"

The 11th comment is a Homer reference.
posted by Chrysostom at 6:17 AM on December 3, 2013


I think this is an example of how, when writing on the internet, one should always be prepared for the person or group being discussed to show up. It's easy to be critical when you assume your target is never going to read what you wrote.

Given that reminder, I'd like to say that I am not badmouthing the Simpson College choir. It may be excellent. I don't know. I was just saying that an active opera program does not necessarily mean that an institution also has a good choir. I've seen that voice teachers often do not want their best students singing in choirs.
posted by Area Man at 6:21 AM on December 3, 2013


The 11th comment is a Homer reference.

D'oh!
posted by HuronBob at 6:21 AM on December 3, 2013 [4 favorites]


If somebody from your college sent you an email asking you to spend five bucks to join a website you'd never heard of, then write something positive about said college, how would you respond?
posted by box at 6:21 AM on December 3, 2013 [3 favorites]


All emails from nyu.edu are filtered to trash.
posted by elizardbits at 6:28 AM on December 3, 2013 [13 favorites]


box:
If somebody from your college sent you an email asking you to spend five bucks to join a website you'd never heard of, then write something positive about said college, how would you respond?
Pay the $5, write the name of the college on my penis and then post a picture to the website.

But I'm not bitter.
posted by charred husk at 6:33 AM on December 3, 2013 [17 favorites]


If people who didn't have relevant knowledge would please stop feeling they have to answer almost every single question which is posted. Not naming names or anything.

This a hundred times over. Ironically enough, it's an uninformed and speculative "answer" by the same person that posted this Meta that starts the whole mess off. Opinions and assholes are both fantastic and fun, but neither need to be shared in every AskMe thread.
posted by Dip Flash at 6:38 AM on December 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


Pay the $5, write the name of the college on my penis and then post a picture to the website.

Would have to be ascii art here. On the upside, saves your ink and a few weeks of interesting intimate conversations.
posted by tilde at 6:38 AM on December 3, 2013


All of my alumni stuff still gets sent to my mom's address. When I'm throwing it away at holidays I often wonder if the alumni people ever think "Boy, is this guy a loser. He never gives us any money and he still lives at home!"
posted by octobersurprise at 6:42 AM on December 3, 2013 [3 favorites]


The asker's particular difficulty was: but we can't find any seemingly independent first hand accounts of the School.

Yes, these are first hand accounts, but the fact that they seem to be part of a coordinated effort makes them a little less independent. If you wanted to get technical, I'd argue that these answers do not answer the question because they aren't independent, and in fact smell of the "marketing spin" the asker is suspicious of.

But personally? I'd put more weight in the non-independent firsthand accounts of the college (with the knowledge that there must be some disadvantages of the college that are being covered up) than the independent speculative answers.
posted by pianissimo at 6:43 AM on December 3, 2013 [3 favorites]


I don't think I've ever received any alumni stuff. I wonder if my alma mater has just acknowledged the fact that trying to get money from someone they granted an English Lit B.A. to is not worth the paper, ink and stamp.
posted by griphus at 6:44 AM on December 3, 2013 [8 favorites]


The casual assumption that anything in Iowa must be lousy is ignorant and snobby. Simpson College and it's opera program should be judged on the merits, not dismissed because it is in the middle of the country.

It wasn't a casual assumption. I've lived an hour outside of Iowa for the past 15 years and lived near enough to it for most of my life. I'm well acquainted with the state and what it has to offer.

Iowa is for me to poop on.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 6:45 AM on December 3, 2013 [4 favorites]


box: "If somebody from your college sent you an email asking you to spend five bucks to join a website you'd never heard of, then write something positive about said college, how would you respond?"

If someone posted it to the college's fan page on Facebook, or their Alumni page, and asked anyone who was a member to help the Asker out and weigh in about their experiences, (and oh, here's a link to some of the programs the college is currently offering) I might do it.

If I had gone there, that is.
posted by zarq at 6:45 AM on December 3, 2013


I don't think I've ever received any alumni stuff. I wonder if my alma mater has just acknowledged the fact that trying to get money from someone they granted an English Lit B.A. to is not worth the paper, ink and stamp.

My old journalism school has seen fit to send me flyers every so often reading thus:
HERE'S NEWS

YOU SUCK
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 6:48 AM on December 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


So when Famous Name shows up in a thread about Famous Name, it's exciting and Meta feels special, right? But when people with first-hand information about Specific Thing show up, it's evil middle-management and Meta feels used. Who does this hurt? OP asked for specific information from people with real world experience and got it. Better OP had asked for random, pulled-from-your-ass opinions based on nothing?
posted by Ideefixe at 6:55 AM on December 3, 2013 [20 favorites]


My undergraduate school sends me these glossy magazines each month featuring my peers who are now leading lives of luxury and fame. They also hit me up with begging letters all the time. I'm thinking if they stopped sending the glossy magazines each month they might not have to send 'Hi winn, we're having a $250 plate brunch with $FamousArtist to speak! You should totes attend! Don't be put off by the $250 fee - we'd love for you to give more for dear old school!' all the time.

I would go but my party frocks are all three months out of style and would cause the beautifully-styled eyebrows of my peers to shoot skyward in horrified amaze.
posted by winna at 6:55 AM on December 3, 2013 [9 favorites]


So when Famous Name shows up in a thread about Famous Name, it's exciting and Meta feels special, right? But when people with first-hand information about Specific Thing show up, it's evil middle-management and Meta feels used.

Many of us would have warm fuzzies if one person from Simpson College created an account to answer this question. This is apparently a coordinated effort to have six separate people show up and do PR en masse. Yes, that is different.
posted by grouse at 6:59 AM on December 3, 2013 [19 favorites]


If someone posted it to the college's fan page on Facebook, or their Alumni page, and asked anyone who was a member to help the Asker out and weigh in about their experiences

I can see a message going out through the alum channels of my school saying, Hey, is anyone a member of X website, someone's looking for advice on our school, you should go post there! We have a pretty intense group of alums that do comment on everything college-related, so I wouldn't be surprised, really. I would be more surprised if the college itself suggested it-- but I think they were all pretty aboveboard with their connections and reasons for posting, even if I wouldn't want to see it in every thread. And hey, maybe some of them will stick around and stay with this community. (And maybe the kid will join the coast guard anyway.)
posted by jetlagaddict at 7:00 AM on December 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


How is it different? Now the OP has 6 people with whom to communicate about this program. If the entire cast of Breakign Bad had showed up in a thread, Meta would have been wetting their Depends.
posted by Ideefixe at 7:01 AM on December 3, 2013 [13 favorites]


I agree that comments by our new community members have kind of an uncanny valley feel to them but as noted, new users don't always understand the lay of the land and may not have realized that a more personalized approach would fit in better.

And opera performance/production is a very specialized field and certainly requires a lot of training and specific skills but being able to sound like a human on an unfamiliar website is not one of them.
posted by mountmccabe at 7:01 AM on December 3, 2013 [4 favorites]


No, that's just how we all talk in Iowa. It's very unnerving. Have a great day!
posted by starman at 7:06 AM on December 3, 2013 [32 favorites]


Should Simpson College have a stiff upper lip and let these uninformed opinions stand in the search engines forever? Should they point out the unfounded nature of these opinions and risk sounding petty or defensive? Or do they send in some satisfied alumni/staff to share some first-hand experiences and be called astroturfers?

There is an enormous amount of real estate between these options, and it's known as the land of full disclosure. Admissions staffer sends a notice around to select students and faculty that there is an opportunity to boost the school's reputation and online presence, and would they mind posting? Consider sharing a few key points (Suggested points: A, B, C) and talk about your personal experience there. Finally, let's be aboveboard - I will write the first one saying that I am on the admissions staff and get questions like this all the time, and I've asked some of our most involved students and alumni to comment also.

it's not as if there aren't numerous other conflicts of interest in AskMe answers where someone is supposedly serving the needs of the questioner but also has their own agenda. That's like 90% of the human relationship answers.

I've written a couple of conflict-of-interest policies in the bylaws for a couple of the organizations I have been involved with (I enjoy governance). The key idea in conflict of interest is not that you "have an agenda," or an axe to grind, but that you stand to materially gain from your activities with the organization. Here, Simpson College stands to materially gain - that's a much stronger example of COI than someone who just can't stop answering questions about ADD spouses or lying SOs [or what have you] because they have one too.

you can tell off the cuff that it's some shitty media thing about trying to improve their online footprint

I think the central issue is whether the initial question is legitimate. In this case, it appears that the asker is an actual MeFi member and the question is sincere. In that case, the admissions office is just taking advantage of a surprise opportunity and wants to participate in and help steer the online dialogue, in the exact way that most social-media training programs and conferences encourage organizations to do (though as noted above, they must have been out of the room during the honesty, authenticity and full-disclosure part). But who knows? We all have connections.

Those are the answers you would expect to get from people who are loyal and proud of their alma mater

I am proud of my alma mater, but if someone asked me about them I would not be able to quantify its activities in that way. I would talk in much more general terms, and my response would not be organized in a repetitive pattern with others.

If somebody from your college sent you an email asking you to spend five bucks to join a website you'd never heard of, then write something positive about said college, how would you respond?

If they paid the $5, I would consider it, if I had something to say. Of course, having someone else pay my $5 might make me feel I shouldn't say anything negative.
posted by Miko at 7:07 AM on December 3, 2013 [15 favorites]


I think the uncanny valley impression is a feature, not a bug. There is something slightly weird about this, and it's good to know that. These can still be valuable responses, but knowing that they were not entirely spontaneous is probably a valuable thing to consider.
posted by Chrysostom at 7:08 AM on December 3, 2013 [5 favorites]


The folks from Simpson College were very upfront about who they were. They opened their comments with that information. The fact that they didn't open with other very specific wording that some people might have preferred does not change that. Stating that they got pings by the tech guy or whatever would not make their opinions any more or less canned or geniunely from the heart than if they had not said that. To me it was very clear that they had been directed to this site by someone who saw the question. They don't need to state that for me to see that that is what has happened, but I don't see it as being inherently good or bad. I think the OP can take their responses for whatever the OP thinks they are worth. This is just silly.
posted by ThatCanadianGirl at 7:13 AM on December 3, 2013 [8 favorites]


Will we be ok with the behavior when somebody asks about Cooley Law? I'm sure the PR dept knows 8 happy graduates with pre-made talking points.
posted by a robot made out of meat at 7:17 AM on December 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


Although, Iowa. Ugh. No

Iowa is lovely. If you don't like Iowa that is a matter of personal taste.

I agree this looks odd. I am also surprised that we haven't seen something like this before. As the other mods said, we've checked it out it seems legit but edge-casey as far as what we think is going on (someone said "Hey people are asking about Simpson on the internet share your experiences") and the original question seems legit. It's weird, yes. It's also, to our read, acceptable.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 7:20 AM on December 3, 2013 [8 favorites]


elizardbits: "All emails from nyu.edu are filtered to trash."

My alma mater always reminds me they're praying for me in their beg e-mails, so FIRST I roll my eyes, THEN I think grumbly thoughts about moneychangers in the temple, and THEN I hit delete.

When I was a relatively new mefite I posted a negative experience I had with a smallish company, whose owner then signed up and -- I don't remember if he posted in the thread or not -- sent me a very threatening memail basically saying if I didn't post and retract my comments he'd sue the pants off me for defamation. (And as a lawyer, I know from threatening legal e-mails.) I was too new to know the mods would have been on my side against that kind of chicanery, so I basically caved and said something like "the company contacted me and cleared this up" -- which, I guess? It really rattled me at the time, though.

Anyway, Simpson College alumni signing up to post positive things about their alma mater seems pretty benign to me, compared to the kind of thing that people being talked about CAN sign up to post or send. But then, like I said, my friend's had a really good experience there with a really supportive and person-centered community, so I have warm fuzzies for Simpson anyway and it strikes me more as enthusiasm, not coerced PR.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 7:35 AM on December 3, 2013 [3 favorites]


I will write the first one saying that I am on the admissions staff and get questions like this all the time, and I've asked some of our most involved students and alumni to comment also.

Yes. That would have gone a long way toward eliminating the objections from many folks. But I think your characterization, Miko, of them as "out of the room during the honesty, authenticity and full-disclosure part" of their training is unfair. They were clumsy, but not dishonest, and we can hope this episode makes them less clumsy in the future.
posted by mediareport at 7:43 AM on December 3, 2013 [3 favorites]


Last year I posted a similar question, and I got only one reply. If that school's admissions office had solicited alumni to join AskMe to answer my question, I'd have thought that was awesome. I wouldn't have cared how those people learned about my thread except that it would have told me the school had attentive and involved staff, which is also kinda awesome. And if those people had strictly relayed positive anecdotes, well, I would have relied on my own critical-thinking skills to realize there were likely downsides, too.

My music college is pretty big and well-known. Alumni tend to have different relationships with smaller schools. I don't find it unreasonable that a few Simpson alumni got excited about a mom's question, or praise from a music teacher 1,000 miles away.

To my understanding, the concept behind AskMe's "hive mind" is supposed to be expansive, not insular. The five-dollar bar works well. But I'm feeling increasingly like that's a minority view—not just with respect to AskMe, but the whole website. It's a feeling that has eroded my enjoyment of this place.
posted by cribcage at 7:43 AM on December 3, 2013 [7 favorites]


I'm not necessarily characterizing them as dishonest when I say that. I've been through a fair amount of social-media training, and one of the things that the gurus typically emphasize (based on bitter experience) is disclose, disclose, disclose, and speak with an authentic voice, because yes, people can smell it when you don't. I think that not presenting themselves as having coordinated this effort is a simple mistake they wouldn't have made had they taken that part of the general social media marketing advice to heart. I'm saying what you're saying - they missed a spot. It's up to you, the one doing the marketing, to do what it takes to create the impression of directness and honesty. By missing the opportunity to do that, yes, they were clumsy.
posted by Miko at 7:47 AM on December 3, 2013 [9 favorites]


Eyebrows McGee: When I was a relatively new mefite I posted a negative experience I had with a smallish company, whose owner then signed up and -- I don't remember if he posted in the thread or not -- sent me a very threatening memail basically saying if I didn't post and retract my comments he'd sue the pants off me for defamation.

I was just about to comment that I remembered a case like this -- question about a problem with a specific company and the owner comments in the thread to defend the business -- maybe I'm thinking of yours? Anyway, I think the important thing to remember is that AskMe answers are never judged on their correctness -- verifying the information is always the responsibility of the Asker and not the site, as AskMe would be impossible otherwise. Even when (maybe especially when) people who are closely linked to the subject or who appear to be experts are answering the question, the Asker must understand that there is never a guarantee that they are right.
posted by Rock Steady at 7:52 AM on December 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


Also, you don't have to worry about defamation for stating an opinion. Opinions can't be defamatory. There is a lot of BSing that goes on about defamation suits, but they are rare, hard to prove, and rarely successful. The protections on speech are much greater than the protections on reputation, at least in the US.
posted by Miko at 7:54 AM on December 3, 2013


the college I went to pretty much stopped asking me for money once I started to publicly trash talk them every chance I got.
posted by The Whelk at 7:57 AM on December 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


Rock Steady: "I was just about to comment that I remembered a case like this -- question about a problem with a specific company and the owner comments in the thread to defend the business -- maybe I'm thinking of yours? "

It happens every once in a great while in both metafilter and askme posts.
posted by zarq at 7:58 AM on December 3, 2013


the college I went to pretty much stopped asking me for money once I started to publicly trash talk them every chance I got.

Four years at clown college.
posted by griphus at 7:58 AM on December 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


One of the owners of a company that was the subject of a post I made awhile back, got into a brief back and forth with other users. It was interesting to watch. But man, I can't even imagine being threatened with legal action over an opinion made on the 'net. Ugh.
posted by zarq at 8:02 AM on December 3, 2013


Iowa is lovely.

Utterly agree. I didn't realize it was possible to completely fall in love with a distinct part of the USA until ending up in Iowa for a month and a half. Pictures of that time, mainly around Grinnell (hey, another small liberal Iowa arts college), libraries, food, strange politics and the state fair.
posted by Wordshore at 8:03 AM on December 3, 2013 [5 favorites]


Miko: "Also, you don't have to worry about defamation for stating an opinion. Opinions can't be defamatory."

Yeah. I know. I'm a lawyer. He disputed the FACTS of my negative experience and already had drafted a discovery motion to get at the e-mail I said his customer service guy sent me. This guy was pretty srs bzness and the threat in this situation, while patently absurd, was not empty, and I really did not feel like being sued out-of-state even in a case that would probably have been rapidly dismissed. (And I'm sure that's what he was counting on, that he could seriously inconvenience me and cost me a lot more money and time than I was willing to pay to say negative things about his company online, at very little cost or inconvenience to himself; he was fairly legally sophisticated.) It didn't rattle me because a random dude was shouting legal threats on the internet; it rattled me because his legal threats to file (if not win) were credible and he was serious about it.

And then he ended the incredibly threatening exchange by saying he hoped I'd be a loyal customer in the future and looked forward to my future shopping with him. It was super-great.

If he'd been in my state, or even in a neighboring state, I might have told him to go fuck himself and file what he needed to file, but he was way out on the West Coast (or maybe even Hawaii?). FAR.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 8:04 AM on December 3, 2013 [7 favorites]


I see no reason why there had to be background emails or co-ordination or whatever other sinister thing people are upset about. I personally have several google alerts set up for things which are my job, I don't see why people working at Simpson or involved in Simpson alumni groups wouldn't have the same. Ask.me is indexed very fast and that alert would hit the inbox of a bunch of people quickly and all at once. I also chat informally with people I know about ask.me questions or other webpages I think they would be interested in or that we might have in common and, again, word gets around fast. Making up stories about what we think happened and then getting upset about those stories is a waste of energy.

But then I also don't get some of the expectations above of who can answer questions here. When you post to ask.me you're not asking a hand picked carefully collated group or some kind of tight knit, exclusive community, just anyone motivated enough to pay five bucks for an account. Which could be anyone. And when that anyone happens to be someone with actual knowledge and experience to give an informed answer (particularly when, as in this case, they make it clear what their affiliations or credentials are) then that's a good thing. Acting like anyone new is some kind of outsider to be shunned is silly (given everyone has the same right to join and post) and deciding that people with first hand knowledge or experience are somehow unacceptable answerers is even more silly. There is no special 'hive mind', just an open public website with a whole lot of random people.

Adding new answers to a thread doesn't make the old ones go away, posters are always considered capable of drawing their own conclusions from the range of information given to them, anyone with an internet connection and five bucks is allowed to contribute answers, and that thread worked just fine.
posted by shelleycat at 8:06 AM on December 3, 2013 [8 favorites]


Iowa is great. Easily Slipknot's best album.

[it's also a perfectly good state with lovely people]
posted by Sticherbeast at 8:07 AM on December 3, 2013


I'll thank you not to refer to Princeton that way griphus
posted by The Whelk at 8:09 AM on December 3, 2013 [12 favorites]


(Anyway it was a long time ago, I know the community here better now, and today I would have immediately contacted a mod and been like "WHUT" and "I would like to tell this guy to fuck himself but with the least inconvenience to the moderators and the site." And I'm sure this gentleman has gone on to froth at Yelp posters and sue reporters and I don't really want to get any more specific just in case he has advanced to full-on rabies and will come back to actually bite me for not liking his company, but you can memail me if you're that curious. I don't have it linked or anything, it was a long time ago.)
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 8:09 AM on December 3, 2013 [4 favorites]


griphus: "Four years at clown college."

I'll thank you not to refer to Princeton that way.
posted by Chrysostom at 8:09 AM on December 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


i've been inclined towards iowa since i saw the music man.
posted by nadawi at 8:11 AM on December 3, 2013


There is no special 'hive mind', just an open public website with a whole lot of random people.

The special hive mind *is* the open public website with a whole lot of random people, is how I'd put it.
posted by mediareport at 8:19 AM on December 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


My parents moved from Seattle to Iowa about 12 years ago, and the first time I went out to visit them, I had very stereotypical snottiness about Iowa. Well guess what: it is lovely. Flat, sure, but lovely, and full of lovely people, working towards lovely goals, and now I will hear no word spoken against it.
posted by KathrynT at 8:21 AM on December 3, 2013 [4 favorites]


I mean, this kinda-sorta-but-less-intensely happened to me in my askme concerning wooden wedding rings.

I asked a question about some specific wooden rings and the differences, if any, between them. I was worried about it sounding pepsiblue or chatfiltery but it went well. Then the owner of the etsy shop where I was shopping actually signed up and popped in to speak to my questions directly. He hasn't been back since.

It worked out great and I'm glad it went the way it did. I think disclosure is the key to keeping things aboveboard here. Well that and the fact that the incident rate seems to be low enough for people to peek into the askme in question and say "That's sooooo unusual!" serves to keep askme functioning in the way that we all know and love it.

So, I guess my take is a steaming helping of "Yay for informed and first-hand opinions!" with a chocolaty undertone of "You best disclose your affiliations or face the wrath of the mods" and a side dish of "This should be the exception rather than the rule, Yes I'm looking at you Amazon and any other site that has reviews that should be trustworthy but make me doubt them because marketing companies are evil".
posted by RolandOfEld at 8:23 AM on December 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


Due to a somewhat complicated series of circumstances, I get irregular birthday and holiday cards from a former Iowa state senator/former president of the League of Women Voters of Iowa.
posted by griphus at 8:28 AM on December 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


Due to a somewhat complicated series of circumstances, I am a former Iowa state senator/former president of the League of Women Voters of Iowa.
posted by Rock Steady at 8:30 AM on December 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


Due to a somewhat complicated series of circumstances, I am.
posted by kmz at 8:33 AM on December 3, 2013 [26 favorites]


MetaFilter: A somewhat complicated series of circumstances.
posted by Rock Steady at 8:39 AM on December 3, 2013 [5 favorites]


Heading out to Simpson College
Yea brother!
Heading out to Simpson College
No more trouble in my body or my mind.
Gonna live like a king on whatever I find.
Eat all the fruit. and throw away the rind.
Yea brother, yea.
posted by Naberius at 8:48 AM on December 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


Due to a somewhat complicated series of circumstances, circumstances are complicated.
posted by nooneyouknow at 8:48 AM on December 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


...I just got an email from my alumni foundation asking for money.

BOY I SURE HAVEN'T EVER WON THE PUBLISHER'S CLEARING HOUSE SWEEPSTAKES
posted by griphus at 8:52 AM on December 3, 2013 [5 favorites]


Do too be doo la la
posted by quonsar II: smock fishpants and the temple of foon at 8:52 AM on December 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


Hi. I double-majored in complicated and circumstances at Simpson College GO Class of -09!

I just wanted to say that Simpson has a wonderful circumstances program in place. Their top-notch faculty and staff are always available and happy to help with any questions you may have. I decided to add the complicated major because of my faculty adviser, who has one multiple awards in the field.

As a proud Simpson Alum, I can honestly say that Simpson College was the single greatest best experience of my college-going career and it made me feel more prepared for my future endeavors in complicated and circumstances.
posted by Think_Long at 8:54 AM on December 3, 2013 [5 favorites]


If there are still any actual Simpson College alums or administrators reading this thread, when the jokes start coming it means we're done being upset about the situation.
posted by Curious Artificer at 8:59 AM on December 3, 2013 [11 favorites]


If there are still any actual Simpson College alums or administrators reading this thread, when the jokes start coming it means we're done being upset about the situation.

Maybe you are. I'm still deeply hurt by the suggestion from Jessamyn that my feelings on Iowa represent a personal preference instead of what is clearly an established scientific fact.

What does she think is holding North America together, if it is not that Iowa sucks ?
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 9:04 AM on December 3, 2013 [4 favorites]


Curious Artificer: "...it means we're done being upset about the situation."

And when the recipes come out, we've completely forgotten why the thread was posted in the first place.
posted by zarq at 9:09 AM on December 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


Maybe this could be addressed by highlighting responses that represent users' first interaction with the site?

One main problem is that the answers from Simpson people seem the same as answers from established Metafilter members, thus subtly biasing the response as experienced by the asker and other people reading the post. It makes it seem like, wow, I had no idea that there were so many ecstatic Simpson people among the Metafilter population! That must be an amazing school! Of course this is ridiculous on reflection, but it's still a significant impression.

If there were some way that the new users' responses were visually distinct from the other responses, that might make the possible bias more evident, while still allowing responses to be posted in good faith by the new users.

(I don't necessarily agree about the 12-hour waiting period before posting responses; there have been some pretty lively interactions with people who just signed up to post in one thread about themselves, e.g. Amanda Palmer)
posted by amtho at 9:12 AM on December 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


Speaking of which.... the Iowa State Fair had fried brownie onna stick. And sweet corn corndogs. And bacon wrapped Riblets onna stick.

So... uh... I'd be down for an Iowa meetup.
posted by zarq at 9:13 AM on December 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


Another approach I like would be addressing this as an etiquette issue and integrating a kind of mini-etiquette course (3-5 easy fill-in-the-answers) into the signup process.
posted by amtho at 9:14 AM on December 3, 2013


Another approach I like would be addressing this as an etiquette issue and integrating a kind of mini-etiquette course (3-5 easy fill-in-the-answers) into the signup process.

I would like this course to include poorly videos of the sort that were used to conduct sexual harassment training the last time I had a job for a large corporation. I want bad acting, outdated clothes, and clunky dialog.

What does she think is holding North America together, if it is not that Iowa sucks ?

When I went to summer camp in Minnesota as a kid (we didn't call it "sleepaway camp" because that's a northeastern term), we told lots of Iowa jokes. However, I see it as a picking on my brother sort of thing. I can make fun of Iowa all I want, but if someone from outside the Midwest does so I will get defensive.
posted by Area Man at 9:22 AM on December 3, 2013 [6 favorites]


Simpson College, that's the name
That name again is Simpson College
posted by infinitewindow at 9:23 AM on December 3, 2013 [7 favorites]


amtho: "If there were some way that the new users' responses were visually distinct from the other responses, that might make the possible bias more evident, while still allowing responses to be posted in good faith by the new users."

Playing devil's advocate for the moment.... this doesn't happen very often. One of the better things about MeFi is the way seasoned, long-term users are treated the same way newbies are. For the most part we're judged not on who we are but what we say. Highlighting someone's newbie status could conceivably lead to people being openly dismissive of new members.

Also, over the years a number of people have said that they hesitated to wade too deeply into the community after joining because from the outside, Metafilter seemed like an intimidating place.

I think we should be leery about raising that bar.
posted by zarq at 9:24 AM on December 3, 2013 [18 favorites]


Another approach I like would be addressing this as an etiquette issue and integrating a kind of mini-etiquette course (3-5 easy fill-in-the-answers) into the signup process.

4- The tortoise lays on its back, its belly baking in the hot sun, beating its legs trying to turn itself over, but it can't. Not without your help. But you're not helping. Why is that?

     a) The tortoise requested help anonymously and anonymous question askers are cowards.
     b) IANAV (I am not a veterinarian)
     c) I have flagged it as ChatFilter and moved on
     d) Take it to MeTa
posted by griphus at 9:24 AM on December 3, 2013 [25 favorites]


Another way of addressing the situation would be to do nothing, since this happens so rarely that any fix is unnecessary and would likely be more trouble than it's worth.
posted by MoonOrb at 9:26 AM on December 3, 2013 [9 favorites]


Without Iowa we would have less corn and less corn means less doritos and that is bad for america.
posted by elizardbits at 9:27 AM on December 3, 2013 [7 favorites]


griphus: "But you're not helping. Why is that?"

e) There's good eating on one of those....
posted by zarq at 9:28 AM on December 3, 2013 [3 favorites]


Hi Simpson College people! If you're reading this thread, please don't conclude that there is widespread consternation at your presence. I assure you that there are long term MeFites who find this thread as bewildering as you do. Welcome, poke around a bit, and keep posting!
posted by Wordwoman at 9:32 AM on December 3, 2013 [6 favorites]


Heading out to Simpson College
Yea brother!
Heading out to Simpson College
No more trouble in my body or my mind.
Gonna live like a king on whatever I find.
Eat all the fruit. and throw away the rind.
Yea brother, yea.


I basically never know what song is being referenced when someone posts a comment like this, but I caught this one immediately and now feel a great sense of nerd self-loathing.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 9:32 AM on December 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


Also, over the years a number of people have said that they hesitated to wade too deeply into the community after joining because from the outside, Metafilter seemed like an intimidating place.

I found this to be true. And I can look back at my first posts and regret phrasing or grammar or ways of approaching the site, but a mini-etiquette course, 12 hour delay, and whatnot would only have discouraged me from ever continuing. I also think it would be a massive overreach.

But you're not helping.

I'm afraid it will smite me, slowly.
posted by jetlagaddict at 9:33 AM on December 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


> Should Simpson College have a stiff upper lip and let these uninformed opinions stand in the search engines forever?

Sara C.: Yes.

That seems indefensibly unfair.


It does indeed. I think this is a pointless callout of a situation that's perfectly OK and looks weird to some only because people here are so used to snarkiness and other local norms that they forget what the rest of the world is like. Especially Iowa, which it is apparently OK to despise. (Full disclosure: my mother was from Iowa.) Poster wanted informed responses, got informed responses—after a series of uninformed ones. Only at MetaTalk would it be the former bunch that are seen as the problem.
posted by languagehat at 9:34 AM on December 3, 2013 [31 favorites]


"If there were some way that the new users' responses were visually distinct from the other responses, that might make the possible bias more evident, while still allowing responses to be posted in good faith by the new users."

So you're saying that a new user's response is more likely to be biased than a long term user? Or a user making their second response?
posted by ThatCanadianGirl at 9:36 AM on December 3, 2013


Where I come from we pronounce it "Ohio."
posted by Floydd at 9:38 AM on December 3, 2013 [3 favorites]


While this may be acceptable as an occasional edge-case thing, I would hope that if it became a trend (which right now it is not) there would be some thought given to adjusting the policy on things like this. I don't particularly like it, and if it became more than a once-in-a-blue-moon phenomenon it would really spoil the feeling of unbiased advice from informed members of a shared community that AskMe has, and which makes it so excellent.
posted by Scientist at 9:38 AM on December 3, 2013 [3 favorites]


Another approach I like would be ...(3-5 easy fill-in-the-answers) into the signup process.

Bob the Bobcat posts a question to ask metafilter. He is having problems with his fiance, Princess Puma. What advice would you give him?

A). DTMA
B). Therapy! Get therapy! Lots and lots of therapy!
C). Diagnose Bob, Princess, or both of them as having (insert psychiatric condition here).
D). Start a META. How dare Bob post that question here?
E). Not post anything.

Answers A to D= Automatic membership plus 5 favorites to start your membership.

E = Provisional lurker status
posted by Wolfster at 9:39 AM on December 3, 2013 [9 favorites]


F) Ok but how are they typing with their kitty paws.
posted by elizardbits at 9:41 AM on December 3, 2013 [9 favorites]


amtho: "Another approach I like would be addressing this as an etiquette issue and integrating a kind of mini-etiquette course (3-5 easy fill-in-the-answers) into the signup process."

Even though I made a joke, this really is a suggestion made with good intentions. What do you envision the questions would look like?
posted by zarq at 9:42 AM on December 3, 2013


I would hope that if it became a trend (which right now it is not) there would be some thought given to adjusting the policy on things like this.

Sure. If it becomes a trend we will revisit it.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 9:43 AM on December 3, 2013


elizardbits: "F) Ok but how are they typing with their kitty paws."

Yoked mice.
posted by zarq at 9:44 AM on December 3, 2013 [3 favorites]


Especially Iowa, which it is apparently OK to despise. (Full disclosure: my mother was from Iowa.)

Meh, regional rivalries are all in good fun.
posted by the young rope-rider at 9:45 AM on December 3, 2013


I did not know Simpson College existed until today, but in my opinion it is in Indianola, Iowa. HTH!
posted by sandettie light vessel automatic at 9:46 AM on December 3, 2013


Meh, regional rivalries are all in good fun.

Regional/sports/school rivalries can be fun. Just showing up to say that a place sucks based on not-much information (or no stated information) about it is lazy commenting and gets obnoxious really quickly. There's a big difference between "I grew up in Iowa and there's not much there" (or whatever) and "Ugh Iowa sucks" We routinely delete lazy potshot comments about states, countries or regions if they're not contributing to the discussion here.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 9:53 AM on December 3, 2013 [9 favorites]


People who hate on Iowa reveal themselves as twits who don't know what they're talking about. I've traveled extensively in the USA, and Iowa is (by far) the friendliest place I've ever been.
posted by JeffL at 9:53 AM on December 3, 2013 [3 favorites]


Iowa has Algific talus slopes, and your state probably doesn't. It's not all a flat cornfield, guys.
posted by TrialByMedia at 9:54 AM on December 3, 2013 [6 favorites]


Re: the etiquette thing - maybe something like:
Metafilter is a good place to discover [stuff] because [nobody's supposed to be posting their own or family/friends' projects - the actual wording I've seen is wonderful, this is just a vague example]. If a Metafilter member has created something cool on the web, though, it can be posted in the projects area especially for posting projects.

To show you've read this, please fill in the blank (the answer is in the text above, we promise):

If a Metafilter member has created something cool on the web, it can be posted in the [text field] area.
I thought about using something more sociall-etiquette-oriented as an example question, but I'm not confident enough to try that. The main features here are: 1) Answer is an exact copy of the text; 2) requires user to type answer into form field, but is still incredibly easy.

Similar questions about the FAQ, help, contact links at the bottom, etc.

This could be burdensome, but maybe it could be fun somehow?
posted by amtho at 10:04 AM on December 3, 2013


You are in I-OH-WAY.
posted by JanetLand at 10:08 AM on December 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


Re: differentiating first comments of new users -- it could be something friendly like new user! welcome! - there's no reason to be unfriendly, just to somehow give a quick visual impression if there are a lot of new users in a thread like that one. I agree that it's not a big problem at the moment, though.

It could also help people be kinder to newbies, if that's a need.
posted by amtho at 10:09 AM on December 3, 2013


There were a couple of "I don't know but be careful about small non-selective liberal arts colleges" responses, which I think are perfectly good responses to a question posed by a parent trying to vet possible colleges for their kid.

If your response begins with "I don't know", not only is the response not perfectly good, but you probably don't need to respond at all.
posted by Tanizaki at 10:11 AM on December 3, 2013 [21 favorites]


it could be something friendly like new user! welcome!

Appreciate your thoughtfulness on this topic but this is actually not something that we are currently tossing into the "problem" category and seeking solutions for.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 10:12 AM on December 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


There are like 15 users who just comment the fuck out of every goddamned AskMe and they need to stop so baby Jesus doesn't cry so much.
posted by planetesimal at 10:13 AM on December 3, 2013 [25 favorites]


Iowa feeds you. Do you also make fun of waiters? Do you sneer at grocers? All these beautifully flat states are the breadbasket (cornbasket) of the WORLD, it's the most fertile cropland that has ever existed. You should admire and appreciate Iowa from a strategic, commercial, and agricultural standpoint even if you, personally, for some reason dislike friendly people and beautifully spare landscapes.

One time I did flip over an upsidedown turtle. There was no stick nearby and it took me like five minutes to work up to it because I was terrified when I touched the turtle he would either a) bite me or b) pee on me. (I'm SURE I have been warned that pet turtles pee when picked up.) When I did flip him he was like OH I THINK I'LL JUST BASK ON THIS NICE WARM TARMAC and I was like GET OUT OF THE ROAD YOU STUPID TURTLE I JUST SAVED YOU so then I had to chase him off the road, shouting and clapping and stomping because I wasn't sure which part of that was making him stroll away from me but it was one of them and every time I stopped he stopped to bask again. But I was way too scared of the biting and peeing to touch him again.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 10:16 AM on December 3, 2013 [8 favorites]


planetesimal: There are like 15 users who just comment the fuck out of every goddamned AskMe and they need to stop so baby Jesus doesn't cry so much.

I'd be really curious to see some Infodump-based data on that.
posted by Rock Steady at 10:17 AM on December 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


Rock Steady: I'd be really curious to see some Infodump-based data on that.

I should add that I would want to see it without usernames attached. I don't think we need to call anyone out, but I would like to know what the high end of the "an answer in every question" percentage is.
posted by Rock Steady at 10:19 AM on December 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'd also like to see data on baby Jesus' tears, but I don't think that exists in the Infodump.
posted by Rock Steady at 10:23 AM on December 3, 2013 [4 favorites]


Infodump: Who made the most comments in AskMetafilter?
All Time
2013
2012
2011
2010
2009
2008
2007
2006
posted by zarq at 10:23 AM on December 3, 2013 [23 favorites]


If people who didn't have relevant knowledge would please stop feeling they have to answer

Tell me about it. My pet bete noire: outdated intel. "Visiting L.A. for a girls' spa weekend? Ooh, you just gotta stay at this wacky motel in Van Nuys! Granted, I only stayed there for one night 27 years ago, and granted, it doesn't have a spa, but it had really cool bed spreads!"

Some of the replies in the college thread have intel that is 30 years old. Urk.

(Not a dig against Van Nuys.)
posted by nacho fries at 10:23 AM on December 3, 2013 [5 favorites]


Pater Aletheias: Really? Hey, how about a session, you and us? It would SOUND! That's what I came for. I wanted to ask... you know, great white captain upstairs, but he don't reach us. But, uh, would he shake on a session? I mean, we wanna cooperate, like ya ask, so I'm askin'.
posted by Naberius at 10:25 AM on December 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


The Infodump reveals that some of MeFi's most knowledgeable and thoughtful posters are among those who comment most. Sheesh, people. This thread is absolutely depressing.
posted by Wordwoman at 10:28 AM on December 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


Captain Kirk is from Iowa. I guess all the Iowa haters are Team Janeway. Oh my coffee! Oh my holodeck Leonardo!
posted by Tanizaki at 10:28 AM on December 3, 2013 [3 favorites]


I just re-read the thread, and realize that people posting about ye olden day alums were doing so to show that the college was part of the person's long-term career arc. Never mind my earlier whinge re: that thread. I get it now.

(My beef with out-of-date L.A.-centric advice still stands.)
posted by nacho fries at 10:28 AM on December 3, 2013 [3 favorites]


The Infodump reveals that some of MeFi's most knowledgeable and thoughtful posters are among those who comment most. Sheesh, people. This thread is absolutely depressing.

This is the type of thread that ends up driving people away.
posted by inigo2 at 10:30 AM on December 3, 2013 [3 favorites]


zarq: Infodump: Who made the most comments in AskMetafilter?

That's cool, but it's not exactly the same as "Who made at least one comment in the most AskMe threads?"
posted by Rock Steady at 10:30 AM on December 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


Captain Kirk is from Iowa. I guess all the Iowa haters are Team Janeway. Oh my coffee! Oh my holodeck Leonardo!

The actress who played Janeway is from Iowa. My dad had a crush on her in grade school.
posted by TrialByMedia at 10:36 AM on December 3, 2013 [4 favorites]


Oh god, please don't let this turn into a thread eulogizing heroic Mefites of days gone by who opted out of the site because of supposed hurt feelings or self-inflicted righteous indignation.

It's not group therapy. We don't need to speak in "I" statements and tiptoe around here.

(Well, it sort of is, but you know what I mean.)
posted by nacho fries at 10:37 AM on December 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


I'm a self-admitting AskMe superuser. If you guys are talking about me, please let me know. If people think I'm obnoxious, that's information relevant to my interests. My feelings are not going to get hurt, swearsies.
posted by phunniemee at 10:39 AM on December 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


I bet someone in the program emailed an alum list asking them to chip in and share positive stories of the program.

Definitely abnormal use of Ask MeFi, but not so bad as to be considered wrong or deleted, etc.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 7:12 PM on December 2 [11 favorites +] [!]


Simpson College is the kindest, bravest, warmest, most wonderful education institution I've ever been to in my life.

It's a magical place.


Hey, Simpson College, there's a teachable moment in all of this. Something to do with how the interwebs are ultimately a chaotic system, which don't necessarily react to stimuli as expected (a kind of walking-talking example of the road to hell perhaps being paved with good intentions). Also, the permanence of things. How once something is posted online, it remains forever within the reach of the search engines. So even though you be acting in the heat of the moment, what you post shall be forever frozen in time.
posted by philip-random at 10:39 AM on December 3, 2013


If people think I'm obnoxious, that's information relevant to my interests. My feelings are not going to get hurt, swearsies.

You're obnoxious.

Actually, you're not. I just said that because you said it wouldn't hurt. One look at your ratio of favorites to AskMe answers suggests that you're finding a way to be very helpful to folks. Keep on giving.
posted by philip-random at 10:42 AM on December 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


phunniemee: I'm a self-admitting AskMe superuser. If you guys are talking about me, please let me know.

Just to be clear, I'm not trying to judge anyone. I have no problem with users posting as many answers as they want. I'm not even all that upset about slightly half-assed answers, as I know I am prone to do that from time to time, I'm just curious about the reality of the statement "Some users answer every question on AskMe."
posted by Rock Steady at 10:43 AM on December 3, 2013


what you post shall be forever frozen in time.

Like tears in the rain...

no wait. Like tears in a glacier.
posted by Naberius at 10:44 AM on December 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


this whole passive aggressive, "some people answer just to hear themselves speak but i'm not going to say who so you'll just have to guess" is annoying and pretty shitty.
posted by nadawi at 10:44 AM on December 3, 2013 [33 favorites]


If you guys are talking about me, please let me know.

You've always seemed to me to be a helpful conscientious user of AskMe. We have deleted a bunch of your AskMe comments (a very small number in percentage terms but a high absolute number) that are sort of arguing with other commenters or just making random asides. Nothing that rises to the level of anything I'd feel like we'd need to talk to you about but if you were looking to up your game (and I do not think that you need to, this is just because you've asked) less chatter and less arguing (more flagging and moving on) would be helpful.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 10:47 AM on December 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


Rock Steady: " That's cool, but it's not exactly the same as "Who made at least one comment in the most AskMe threads?""

I didn't want to turn this into a witch-hunt.

I don't spend a ton of time on AskMe, but the people whose names I see at the top of those lists seem to me to be folks likely to make content-filled, relevant comments.
posted by zarq at 10:51 AM on December 3, 2013


I'm somewhat late to this MeTa party, but I was an early commenter in that thread.

No, I did not go to Simpson. But I did feel that my experience growing up as an aspiring classical musician in Iowa and weighing these same choices, and having attended one of the schools her son was applying to, and having spent a lot of time with classical musicians and opera singers who attended all manners of schools, gave me enough gravity or whatever to offer some perspective. She was also confused about why he was accepted without an audition, and why no one had heard of the school. I felt like I could make a contribution that might be helpful to her in lieu of lots of simpson alumni stories. I had no idea a bunch of simpson alums would appear from the wild (though I think it's great that they did). I think the AskMe culture mostly embraces folks contributing answers that aren't always direct firsthand knowledge of things, as long as the answer is helpful and offers some kind of useful perspective on the situation. I mean, Russell's two types of knowledge and all that.

I also think hearing from non-firsthand experience folks on Simpson is nice because frankly hearing from a bunch of Simpson grads, as evidenced by the thread, is perhaps not the most neutral advice she could have gotten on the subject.

So, fwiw, I think the thread turned out better than expected, more or less. I could definitely see problems with similar type situations that weren't just a few people from a small liberal arts college chiming in to share their experience, however.

Also wth is up with the Iowa hate folks! Iowa is a freaking awesome state! It's not just some wasteland in the middle of the country like many of you who have never been there seem to think. Iowa was one of the first places in the US to legalize gay marriage! They invented the computer! They make your food and your ink and your windows! They have incredible universities and great people and awesome culture. They have good public schools and lots of pie and happy people.

Seriously, if you've never sat on the banks of the Mississippi where it's more than a mile wide (!) and watched the bald eagles fly over the walnut and oak trees in late October, then please don't just slam the great Hawkeye State.
posted by Lutoslawski at 10:55 AM on December 3, 2013 [19 favorites]


Iowa is a freaking awesome state!

Indeed. I can honestly say that in all the time I've spent in Iowa I have never once seen a hippo devour a small child.

Not even once!

Imagine it.

Imagine Iowa.
posted by aramaic at 11:04 AM on December 3, 2013 [4 favorites]


If it's any comfort, Lutoslawski, Iowa looms large in my big-city-West-Coast imagination as an exotic-to-me travel destination. Seriously, I'd go there in a heartbeat.

Tell me...does Iowa have AMPLE PARKING? Oh god, make it be so; my fantasies say so!

(Not being snarky at all. I'd totally hit Iowa, in the platonic sense of the expression.)
posted by nacho fries at 11:07 AM on December 3, 2013


zarq: I didn't want to turn this into a witch-hunt.

Yeah, I get that. I'm actually guessing that the data would reveal that even the most prolific posters answer a much smaller percentage of questions than people think.
posted by Rock Steady at 11:07 AM on December 3, 2013


Guys, great news! Thanks to this MeTa, we're all enrolled in Simpson College! I never thought I had a voice for opera, but that's my new major! That way, we can all give good answers to this question over the next six years! (Well, 67 percent of us.)
posted by klangklangston at 11:09 AM on December 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


"Caterwauling" is a classical female singing voice, right? I'm so in!

(Mefite jug band, anyone?)
posted by nacho fries at 11:12 AM on December 3, 2013


this whole passive aggressive, "some people answer just to hear themselves speak but i'm not going to say who so you'll just have to guess" is annoying and pretty shitty.

That's right! Name names, people! What the hell happened to this place? These threads used to contain some serious bloodshed! When did we all get so nice?
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 11:18 AM on December 3, 2013 [19 favorites]


Indeed. I can honestly say that in all the time I've spent in Iowa I have never once seen a hippo devour a small child.

Obviously visited in the winter. Mostly the child eating hippos are hibernating then.
posted by cjorgensen at 11:18 AM on December 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


Seriously, if you've never sat on the banks of the Mississippi where it's more than a mile wide (!) and watched the bald eagles fly over the walnut and oak trees in late October, then please don't just slam the great Hawkeye State.

I snapped this panorama while watching for eagles last week. Unfortunately, the river wasn't frozen enough to send the birds below the dam, so I didn't see any.
posted by TrialByMedia at 11:21 AM on December 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


Tell me...does Iowa have AMPLE PARKING? Oh god, make it be so; my fantasies say so!

A true SoCal resident. I swear I used to have dreams of driving somewhere unimpeded and having available parking when I got there. I woke up with tears.
posted by bongo_x at 11:22 AM on December 3, 2013 [5 favorites]


(My beef with out-of-date L.A.-centric advice still stands.)

Hey the Museum of Jurassic Technology did you say you were going to L.A. Museum of Jurassic Technology what you want tips on a chill beach weekend and are like, way into high couture shopping and/or animal rescue and/or mariachi definitely then the Museum of Jurassic Technology is for you and you and everyone anyone yeah it's ok if you're staying in Brea and not renting a car totally doable Museum of Jurassic Technology

(Iowa is awesome and absolutely lovable and full of amazing schools and people.)
posted by tyrantkitty at 11:23 AM on December 3, 2013 [6 favorites]


That's right! Name names, people! What the hell happened to this place? These threads used to contain some serious bloodshed! When did we all get so nice?

i don't find the passive aggression of "not naming names or anything" to be nice at all. maybe we could avoid bloodshed in a less crappy way?
posted by nadawi at 11:30 AM on December 3, 2013 [6 favorites]


One time when we lived in LA I went to a Breeders show out in Pomona and we were absolutely flabbergasted that you could park right on the street for free. Right on the street! For free! I found myself telling someone the next week about how awesome Pomona was and then belatedly realized the only thing I knew about it, other than it having a Breeders show there, was the free parking.
posted by something something at 11:31 AM on December 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


I am surprised at how high I appeared on the 2013 list, especially given the number of topic areas I try to avoid commenting in.

FWIW, I sometimes get excited when I see who favorited a comment of mine. 'wow, I got a favorite from him/her! they like my advice!"
posted by Tanizaki at 11:32 AM on December 3, 2013 [16 favorites]


I have to say, I'm someone who went to a tiny liberal arts college in Iowa (not Simpson) and I totally disagree with the idea that people who don't have first-hand knowledge of Simpson specifically weren't giving the OP a useful perspective to think about. In particular, I wish I had someone around like ROU_Xenophobe when I was 18 who could have given me some straight talk to counteract what I think is the overly-rosy view of liberal arts colleges that seems to be everywhere when you're looking at colleges.

I think there's a dynamic where the fact you have to make one choice and can't know what your alternative experience (better or worse) would have been if you made a different choice, PLUS the general rah-rah-rah "attending a SLAC makes you particularly smart and special" message that (at least my particular) college pushed pretty hard, combine to make it hard--not impossible, but hard--to get unbiased take on a school from people who actually attended. I personally think it's helpful for people who didn't attend but have a broader view of the advantages and disadvantages of particular types of schools (like unselective liberal arts colleges) or who considered similar schools / similar majors but decided to go somewhere else to provide the perspective that alums may just not be in a position to have.

I guess I don't see it as very different from someone asking a question about buying a specific car for [REASONS] and soliciting the opinion of people who have that car. When people come into those threads and say, "I haven't driven that particular model, but that class of car has a specific drawback that you should be aware of" or "I was considering all the same factors in my car search and I decided to go with a different car because [REASONS]," we generally consider that responsive to the question and not just people talking to hear their own voice. I don't see any answers at the beginning of that thread that seem objectionable to me at all.
posted by iminurmefi at 11:33 AM on December 3, 2013 [6 favorites]


i was also surprised how high i was on the overall list with how little i've participated in ask me over the last couple of years. looks like maybe 2010/2009 were where a lot of my commenting happened - i guess also my length of membership will affect my overall numbers.
posted by nadawi at 11:33 AM on December 3, 2013


Those info dumps BLOW MY MIND. I spend a good amount of time on the Green, and have achieved a healthy balance between my exciting and rewarding life as a corporate drone, on the one hand, and the need (for the good of humanity) to share my vast wealth of knowledge and/or Google search results, on the other. But I see I rank as only AskMe's 50th most irrepressible participant.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 11:33 AM on December 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


but what about high quality Spanish ham?
posted by The Whelk at 11:34 AM on December 3, 2013 [3 favorites]


i don't find the passive aggression of "not naming names or anything" to be nice at all. maybe we could avoid bloodshed in a less crappy way?

I'm with nadawi here. The side convo going on in this thread is weird and coy and feels like folks are getting talked about behind their backs. Like this comment here? For the love of crap, if you're going to call out Sara C., call out Sara C. If you think I answer too many questions, tell me. If you think Ruthless Bunny answers too many questions, maybe send her a memail and say, "hey, folks in this thread are kind of maybe but not really talking about you."

Right now it's really coming off as "well, it would be mean to tell the smelly kid how much he smells, but good god does he smell, amirite?!"

It's unpleasant and unproductive.
posted by phunniemee at 11:35 AM on December 3, 2013 [17 favorites]


FWIW, I sometimes get excited when I see who favorited a comment of mine.

Of course, I had to favorite that comment just to see your nipples explode with delight.
posted by nacho fries at 11:36 AM on December 3, 2013 [3 favorites]


Those info dumps BLOW MY MIND.

Wow, same here. I had no idea I'd even show up in something like this.
posted by odinsdream at 11:37 AM on December 3, 2013


The side convo going on in this thread is weird and coy and feels like folks are getting talked about behind their backs. Like this comment here? For the love of crap, if you're going to call out Sara C., call out Sara C.

I think that this is an unfortunate bug of MetaTalk. In my view, it is too common for a MetaTalk thread to devolve into a referendum on the OP.
posted by Tanizaki at 11:38 AM on December 3, 2013 [9 favorites]


"but what about high quality Spanish ham?"

high quality spanish ham is indeed irrepressible; pressible.
posted by klangklangston at 11:38 AM on December 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


For the love of crap, if you're going to call out Sara C., call out Sara C.

Well, that's exactly what Dip Flash did. And I think his/her point has merit, but the tone was unnecessarily brutish.

There's no pleasing some people.
posted by nacho fries at 11:39 AM on December 3, 2013


I swear I used to have dreams of driving somewhere unimpeded and having available parking when I got there. I woke up with tears.

When I was going to move to Lancaster, PA to be with a (now ex) BF I used to joke that I only loved him for his parking space.
posted by Room 641-A at 11:39 AM on December 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


"If you think Ruthless Bunny answers too many questions, maybe send her a memail and say, "hey, folks in this thread are kind of maybe but not really talking about you.""

I save my cranky notes on overposting for the mods, who are very good about humoring my desire to see other users told to shut the fuck up for their weird, irrelevant bullshit without actually doing anything about it.

THE SYSTEM WORKS
posted by klangklangston at 11:41 AM on December 3, 2013 [5 favorites]


If you think Ruthless Bunny answers too many questions

Wow, way to drag someone into the fray who has naff-all to do with this or the thread under discussion.
posted by nacho fries at 11:43 AM on December 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


We're not idiots, nacho fries.
posted by phunniemee at 11:45 AM on December 3, 2013 [3 favorites]


FWIW I am still kind of beating myself up for parroting a history fact I thought I remembered from college, only to find out that I was super wrong. I think it was the question about how long it took to get from England to North America in colonial times?

So yeah call me out or whatever. Certainly no worse than my stern reminders to myself to maybe double check my facts before I chime in with easily verified wrongness.
posted by Sara C. at 11:46 AM on December 3, 2013


I don't see how we could have a discussion on people who answer a ton of AskMetafilter questions and NOT include Ruthless Bunny. She's answered almost 3 dozen questions just this week (yesterday and today). At a glance, all answers seem relevant.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 11:47 AM on December 3, 2013 [4 favorites]


Well, obviously I'm an idiot then, phunnie, as I don't see the RB connection. Perhaps it's an inside-joke thing among super-users? If so, I'm happy to be oblivious, as I happen to like RB, and think she often gives bomb-ass relationship advice.
posted by nacho fries at 11:49 AM on December 3, 2013 [3 favorites]


i don't find the passive aggression of "not naming names or anything" to be nice at all. maybe we could avoid bloodshed in a less crappy way?

"Usual suspects" is a pretty popular phrase 'round these parts.
posted by 0 at 11:51 AM on December 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


bomb-ass = good ?
posted by Area Man at 11:52 AM on December 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


bomb-ass = good
bomb-diggity= BETTER
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 11:53 AM on December 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


please don't correct that typo
posted by griphus at 11:53 AM on December 3, 2013 [4 favorites]


Speaking for myself, a thing that I struggle with on AskMe answers is finding that fine line between "relevant" and "insightful". It's really easy to come up with an answer for every single question that's on the green right now, you can always couch it in terms like "don't forget to consider _____, personal anecdote about related experience".

While those answers are relevant, they are not always insightful. They may approach the topic at hand, but are not about this specific subject. Sometimes the OP just wants a focused answer, and they don't need help hashing through all of the possible ramifications and alternatives.
posted by Think_Long at 11:53 AM on December 3, 2013 [4 favorites]


I save my cranky notes on overposting for the mods, who are very good about humoring my desire to see other users told to shut the fuck up for their weird, irrelevant bullshit without actually doing anything about it.

Wow, they'll do that? My wife has been suffering needlessly for years!
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 11:53 AM on December 3, 2013 [8 favorites]


NOPE SORRY BWAHAHAHAHA
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 11:54 AM on December 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


boob-diggity. KEEP IT ALIVE EVERYONE
posted by Think_Long at 11:54 AM on December 3, 2013 [7 favorites]


NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO
posted by Think_Long at 11:55 AM on December 3, 2013


There's also a difference between relevant and adding new useful information to the already relevant/useful answers.
posted by freezer cake at 11:57 AM on December 3, 2013 [3 favorites]


oh man the mods are the absolute best if you need to vent your spleen. there was a night in the last year or so when i was all like "if that comment isn't deleted i'm going to have to call so&so a giant poopyhead!" and the mod was all, "while i understand your frustration, my reasoning was xyz, and if you call them a poopyhead i'll have to delete it so maybe you can find some other way to interact with the comment that isn't getting deleted." it was frankly a great example of validating while not agreeing but not condescending either.
posted by nadawi at 11:57 AM on December 3, 2013 [11 favorites]


and i realize i didn't name names there, but it's because i frankly cannot remember what the topic even was and that my reaction was probably more about me than any specific user who may or may not have been a poopyhead.
posted by nadawi at 11:59 AM on December 3, 2013


Infodump: Who made the most comments in AskMetafilter?

I'm number ONE!!!

Yay!

Who can do a full time job, comment the SHIT out of AskMe and has two thumbs?

THIS BUNNY!

=:-)
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 12:00 PM on December 3, 2013 [32 favorites]


While those answers are relevant, they are not always insightful.

I think this is a constructive way to approach what I think of as the "am I answering because it answers the question or because I have something to say?" step of the answering process, yeah. I think it's really easy to sort of get up a head of steam on a question that reminds you of a thing you've experienced and sort of ride the impulse to share that experience in a way that can override what might otherwise be a stop-and-reassess step.

Which is rarely doing active harm (though we do end up removing some answers that seem to fit this mold when they go especially off-track) but can kind of clutter up a thread a bit and is something definitely worth being mindful of when deciding whether to turn any "oh, that makes me think of..." impulse from reading a question into an actual new comment in the thread.
posted by cortex (staff) at 12:02 PM on December 3, 2013 [8 favorites]


We're not idiots

SPEAK FOR YOURSELF

(dons dunce cap, eyes spin in opposite directions, orders expensive steak well done with ketchup)
posted by Sticherbeast at 12:02 PM on December 3, 2013 [3 favorites]


Ruthless Bunny: " Who can do a full time job, comment the SHIT out of AskMe and has two thumbs?"

Thumb bunny?
posted by zarq at 12:03 PM on December 3, 2013 [5 favorites]


somebunny needs to check her thumb privilege
posted by Area Man at 12:03 PM on December 3, 2013 [3 favorites]


Things I like about Iowa and why I think the middle of the state is cooler than Chicago or Minneapolis:
  1. It's easier to get to Chicago or Minneapolis or St. Louis or Omaha or Madison from the middle of Iowa than it is to live in any of those other places and do the same (I find Iowans tend to visit other cities a lot where the people living in larger cities tend to stay put).
  2. I buy my eggs from chickens I can play with and my produce from farmers whose names I know, and there's a good chance the meat you're eating was alive yesterday (if you eat meat).
  3. The DM Art Center has a Hopper and one of Francis Bacon's Popes.
  4. The ATM was invented here and we were one of the last states to allow ATM fees (bastards!).
  5. The computer was invented here (controversial, but supportable claim).
  6. We may be seen as bigots, but chances are we had gay marriage before where you live.
  7. People save their incest jokes for other states.
  8. Generally we consider the kind of people who refer to the Midwest as "fly-over" country are the kind of assholes we didn't want stopping anyway.
  9. Seeing horses and cows and goats and Llamas and sheep and deer is a daily occurrence.
  10. We've got fewer assholes per square foot then most any other English speaking area.
  11. Politically we generally weed out crap candidates before they even get out of the state.
  12. We've got the Bil Baird puppet collection.
  13. Generally our police are never featured on PINAC.
  14. No death penalty.
  15. Fewer helicopter parents. People feel safe, doors are often unlocked, people will stop to help when needed. Kids walk to and from school.
  16. I dig snow for a while, then I hate it and about then it goes away.
  17. We have the steepest rail car system in the world and for less than a buck you can take you and your bike to the top. It's not long, but it's awesome.
  18. We still have paddle boats in operation.
  19. Our schools don't suck and generally we don't have to worry about incursions by the religious into them.
  20. The Tinker test came about because of Iowans.
  21. You can get pretty much any beer or liquor from anywhere in the world here…in the grocery store.
  22. LASIK was invented here.
  23. We've got a shitload of the kind of windmills that piss of Trump and they look awesome and are made here.
  24. We're hilly enough to be interesting, but not flat enough to be boring, or too hilly to be dangerous.
  25. The only natural disasters we worry about are floods and tornadoes.
  26. We don't lose our shit when it snows (except for the first one of the year).
  27. Pretty much anything awesome from where you live I can get here.
I could go on all day, but in short, once we get indoor plumbing this state will rock! I could make a similar list about what sucks about Iowa, but mostly it's that I can't get a decent crab cake and a we don't get lobster and beer for breakfast for $20.
posted by cjorgensen at 12:04 PM on December 3, 2013 [34 favorites]


I have never been to Iowa, but I'm generally positive about it. It's probably the only midwestern state I would seriously consider relocating to.

They do seem to have an unusually high number of good colleges, too. I was kind of amazed in that thread that Iowans were chiming in and saying things like "well Simpson is no [long list of other liberal arts colleges], I'll tell you that." I mean, the fourth or fifth best liberal arts college in my home state is probably not even accredited.
posted by Sara C. at 12:10 PM on December 3, 2013


Also, RAGBRAI is about even with Burning Man in terms of cool things I say I'm going to do pretty much every summer, but never actually do.
posted by Sara C. at 12:12 PM on December 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


Iowa was one of the first states to outlaw racial discrimination in education (1870s); its very first state supreme court decision was freeing a slave who set foot on Iowa soil and refusing to return him to the slaveowner who claimed him (in 1839, well before the Civil War); it was the third state to legalize gay marriage; it was the first state to admit women to the bar (law practice); it legalized interracial marriages in 1851 (again, before the Civil War); it had the first public university to admit men and women on an equal basis, in 1847.

Iowa has given the world two (two!) Nobel Peace Prize winners (Norman Borlaug and John Mott), Iowa City is a UNESCO City of Literature, and Iowa farmers produce 162 bushels per acre of corn, almost 10 bushels more than the national average.

All that, and you can buy a nice big restored urban Victorian mansion for around like $350,000, depending on the market and the neighborhood. Starter homes in nice suburbs with good schools can be had for under $100,000. And if you're into urban renewal, you can get into some rough, gentrifying neighborhoods for $20,000. Mean salaries for attorneys in Des Moines are around $125,000; for attorneys in Chicago it's $145,000, so it's not even that substantial a markdown in wages compared to the savings in cost of living, and Iowa is fairly heavily unionized in blue-collar jobs so those wages have held up fairly well during the recession.

CRY, COASTAL PEOPLE. WEEP THE BITTER TEARS OF THOSE WHO DO NOT KNOW AFFORDABLE HOUSING AND SHORT COMMUTES.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 12:13 PM on December 3, 2013 [45 favorites]


Iowa is where all my gay-owned organipork comes from.
posted by The Whelk at 12:14 PM on December 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


It's the internet. If you aren't taking the answers you get on a public forum with at least the tiniest grain of salt, you're doing it wrong. (And missing out on delicious salt!)

If people are really making their important, "informed" decisions based on opinions as opposed to say, research, well... don't give me any more reasons to despair of the future.
posted by sm1tten at 12:15 PM on December 3, 2013


Turning this into an Iowa hoorah thread is a good time.

I have never been there but now this seems like a major error on my part.
posted by winna at 12:15 PM on December 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


Eyebrows McGee: "All that, and you can buy a nice big restored urban Victorian mansion for around like $350,000, depending on the market and the neighborhood. Starter homes in nice suburbs with good schools can be had for under $100,000. And if you're into urban renewal, you can get into some rough, gentrifying neighborhoods for $20,000."

Holy crap.

Trying to remember why I live in NY.
posted by zarq at 12:15 PM on December 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


...you can buy a nice big restored urban Victorian mansion for around like $350,000...

Jesus, that's my rough budget for a 2-bedroom apartment.
posted by griphus at 12:15 PM on December 3, 2013 [3 favorites]


And I bet it would have a BACKYARD.
posted by zarq at 12:16 PM on December 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


And a front yard.

All the yards, really.

Yards of yards.
posted by zarq at 12:16 PM on December 3, 2013 [6 favorites]


Please check the MeFi Mall for my handcrafted steins made of 100% lead. Lead doesn't dissolve in water, so they are perfectly safe.
posted by Tanizaki at 12:17 PM on December 3, 2013 [4 favorites]


Anyone who hasn't read The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid and would like to reminisce about their childhood in 1950s Iowa should definitely pick up a copy. Heck, I have lived neither in the 50s nor in Iowa and I still found it delightful.
posted by phunniemee at 12:17 PM on December 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


I was incredibly charmed by Iowa City for the two years I was there for grad school; I like to think that in an alternate universe I settled into one of those affordable Victorian mansions and spend my weekends making kolache.
posted by scody at 12:18 PM on December 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


And David Lynch made a movie about an old man traveling across Iowa on a lawnmower.
posted by TrialByMedia at 12:19 PM on December 3, 2013


Let's not forget that Cedar Rapids is the City of Five Seasons. What's the fifth season? The time to enjoy all the other seasons. (Try not to think about that one too much.)

I have never been to Iowa, but I'm generally positive about it. It's probably the only midwestern state I would seriously consider relocating to.

No love for Minnesota? It is snowing snow and is supposed to be below zero for the next 4-5 days!

All that, and you can buy a nice big restored urban Victorian mansion for around like $350,000

You should have seen the house near Beaver Park in Cedar Rapids that my wife and I fell in love with on a visit last year.
posted by Area Man at 12:19 PM on December 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


it's really easy to sort of get up a head of steam on a question that reminds you of a thing you've experienced

I fall into this trap a lot. The first thing on my mental check-list before I post an answer is Can this answer be rephrased without including the personal anecdote?

Jesus, that's my rough budget for a 2-bedroom apartment.

And that's renting!
posted by Room 641-A at 12:22 PM on December 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


To be sure there are fantastic parts in IA. I'm pretty fond of the eastern edge along the river, but even some of the flatter areas can have charm and some of the mid sided cities are well worth it.
Lord help you though if you end up in an area with hog confinements or turkey farms, the only good those areas are is convincing you never to eat commercial grade pork or turkey ever again.
I will say in perfect honesty I have met folks who live in large coastal cities that are infinitely more "provincial" and insular then many mid westerners. There are a lot of places I would love living in and about 1/2 of them are in Midwest states
posted by edgeways at 12:23 PM on December 3, 2013


...you can buy a nice big restored urban Victorian mansion for around like $350,000...

Heck, you can get a great house for much cheaper than 350K in many good parts of Iowa. I showed my Seattle friends the schedule for the four bedroom, driveway, big lawns place my fiancee had bought in her rural Iowa college town. They wowed. Then saw the price, and both of them (this was very awkward) did start to cry. Haven't been invited back.

This isn't the same house, but it's in the same town and is or was a heck of a lot less than 350K.
posted by Wordshore at 12:23 PM on December 3, 2013


I always liked Iowa. It seemed like the closest possible incarnation of that idealized Hollywood smalltown heartland thing
posted by The Whelk at 12:23 PM on December 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


When I asked about audio editing software other than Audacity, I didn't want a bunch of Audacity employees signing up to tell me great things about the software.

Audacity is a community project built by volunteers working in their free time, by the way (not employees). Just wanted to chime in as a former Audacity developer who has occasionally answered related questions on AskMe. :)
posted by mbrubeck at 12:24 PM on December 3, 2013 [6 favorites]


This isn't the same house, but it's in the same town and is or was a heck of a lot less than 350K.

Okay, now I'm crying.
posted by scody at 12:24 PM on December 3, 2013 [6 favorites]


Let's not forget that Cedar Rapids is the City of Five Seasons. What's the fifth season?

It's LOVE! Leeloo Dallas Multipass!

Also, there are parking spaces in Boston going for about $350,000.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 12:24 PM on December 3, 2013 [7 favorites]


(what's the job market like in a place is the better thing to look at than ousing prices )
posted by The Whelk at 12:25 PM on December 3, 2013


Heck you can do that in Vermont which is actually next to NY (house may not have interior walls). My aunt and uncle both went to college in Grinnell. This was mom's brother and dad's sister. The fact that they knew each other is how my parents met, in New England, a few years later. I have been to an Iowa meetup or two and enjoyed myself (Shoutouts to Homeskillet Freshyfresh and cjorgenson). I like Iowa.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 12:26 PM on December 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


The Whelk: "(what's the job market like in a place is the better thing to look at than [h]ousing prices )"

Is that what New Yorkers say to make themselves feel better about paying fortunes to live in closets?
posted by octothorpe at 12:29 PM on December 3, 2013 [8 favorites]


Wordshore: " This isn't the same house, but it's in the same town and is or was a heck of a lot less than 350K."

I wonder if rural Iowa needs a publicist....
posted by zarq at 12:29 PM on December 3, 2013 [5 favorites]


Someday I am going to make a pilgrimage and send The Whelk photos of where his gay made ham comes from...

I get to take a lot of shit for granted here. I've forgotten how many times I've "met" Obama, but I've shaken his hand a couple of times and mentioned issues important to me. Same with Kucinich, Paul, the Law & Order guy, and about every other political candidate that I care about. When I write my Senator he writes back. When I call his office I stand a good chance of talking to him.

My salary is about the same as it would be in Minneapolis, but my paycheck goes a lot further (I speak from experience).

For the most part I love living here.

I think it's funny to see people lusting after things that annoy me. A yard to me means a big area to mow and rake bounded by a walk that need shoveled. I'd put out stone like my grandmother in Arizona if I could get away with it.
posted by cjorgensen at 12:30 PM on December 3, 2013 [3 favorites]


3.8% unemployment in Iowa City, 5.2% in Cedar Rapids

Both lower than NYC
posted by Area Man at 12:30 PM on December 3, 2013


(what's the job market like in a place is the better thing to look at than ousing prices )

Iowa unemployment rate compared to national unemployment rate

Iowa median household income vs national average
posted by TrialByMedia at 12:30 PM on December 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


Lord help you though if you end up in an area with hog confinements or turkey farms

to be fair, you could say that about any state: Lord help you though if you end up in an [area zoned for heavy industry]
posted by Think_Long at 12:31 PM on December 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


"(what's the job market like in a place is the better thing to look at than [h]ousing prices )"

last I checked we were one of the last states to go into the recession and one of the first out and our unemployment numbers are some of the best, but I could be wrong.

On preview: Not wrong.
posted by cjorgensen at 12:31 PM on December 3, 2013


Wordshore, does a prof live in that house? I went to Grinnell and it looks so familiar to me.
posted by Area Man at 12:32 PM on December 3, 2013


Um, a 12 bedroom, fully renovated Victorian mansion just went for $299,999 in Toledo...

love us
posted by charred husk at 12:32 PM on December 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


Can we please get back on topic? We're supposed to be excoriating treacherous Iowan shills and their nefarious astroturfing, not praising their charming and affordable housing stock, enviable employment figures, and gay ham.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 12:33 PM on December 3, 2013 [41 favorites]


Toledo also has great Lebanese food.
posted by Area Man at 12:33 PM on December 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


What if Whelk is astroturfing for big gay pork?
posted by Think_Long at 12:34 PM on December 3, 2013 [7 favorites]


cjorgensen: " I think it's funny to see people lusting after things that annoy me. A yard to me means a big area to mow and rake bounded by a walk that need shoveled. I'd put out stone like my grandmother in Arizona if I could get away with it."

I actually have a backyard. But I live in a borough and not in Manhattan. Most Manhattanites probably don't have a backyard. Definitely not a private one. They will have a Park they can visit. Or perhaps a rooftop. Or a balcony.

When you have young kids it's nice to be able to let them play outside without having to worry about... well, being around other people. Or traffic.
posted by zarq at 12:34 PM on December 3, 2013


griphus: "Jesus, that's my rough budget for a 2-bedroom apartment."

I'm in downstate Illinois, but I paid under $120k for a 3-bedroom, 2.5-bathroom all-brick bungalow with a big front and back yard in a walkable urban residential neighborhood. I'm 3 minutes by car from downtown, 10 minutes by bike; I can walk to Catholic and public schools as well as four churches and a synagogue in under 10 minutes; I'm 2 minutes on foot from a park, 10 minutes from a pharmacy, 15 minutes from a hardware store (I have to cross a big street at a traffic light so there's waiting). In 3 hours I can be in downtown Chicago or Indianapolis or St. Louis.

I have a 300 square foot vegetable garden AND I can walk to the grocery store.

People underestimate how much cost-of-living (time AND money) you can save when you move to one of these little bitty cities, compared to how much salary you lose.

I totally see the appeal of living in NYC, but I do like my slower pace of life here in the hinterlands. :) (Especially what with the hinterlands having internet and all, so that I can vicariously experience many awesome, far-away things while still living my nice slowly-paced life.)
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 12:34 PM on December 3, 2013 [4 favorites]


"CRY, COASTAL PEOPLE. WEEP THE TEARS OF THOSE WHO DO NOT KNOW AFFORDABLE HOUSING AND SHORT COMMUTES."

Meh. I have a 35 minute commute to work by bike, and I can still get great regional Mexican food. And Thai food. And Chinese food. And Japanese food. And Salvadoreño food. And Italian food. And decent Indian food. And …

So my tears are, indeed, delicious.
posted by klangklangston at 12:35 PM on December 3, 2013 [7 favorites]


I've personally known many a farmer over the years, and lived in towns by hog lots. For the most part it's tolerable. Usually they are far out of town and anymore a lot of the methods used manage odors fairly well. I've never seen a turkey lot.

Toledo also has gambling and table games.
posted by cjorgensen at 12:35 PM on December 3, 2013


What if Whelk is astroturfing for big gay pork?

I thought 'e was doing 'is Eliza Doolitle impression, guv.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 12:36 PM on December 3, 2013


I always support big gay pork.
posted by The Whelk at 12:37 PM on December 3, 2013 [4 favorites]


I've lived and worked in bigger cities, and I found I did less cultural or creative and fun things when living there. When you have access to live music every night you think, "I'm tired and can see Price whenever I like," so you go to bed. When you travel to go to a museum or see a band or whatnot you are more likely to go.
posted by cjorgensen at 12:40 PM on December 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


Is that what New Yorkers say to make themselves feel better about paying fortunes to live in closets

i wouldn't know as important sitting on my two hundred year old couch in a converted two bedroom corner apartment with sweeping views of the park.

*pets cat menacingly *
posted by The Whelk at 12:41 PM on December 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


I can still get great regional Mexican food. And Thai food. And Chinese food. And Japanese food. And Salvadoreño food. And Italian food. And decent Indian food.

All of these things are available in Des Moines within minutes of my house. Or my girlfriend's house, which is also a short walking distance from a free art museum.
posted by TrialByMedia at 12:41 PM on December 3, 2013 [3 favorites]


TrialByMedia: " All of these things are available in Des Moines within minutes of my house."

I would be willing to bet that the Asian foods and Mexican food do not resemble anything that can be obtained in California and Texas, respectively.

The boroughs of NYC have a HUGE Latino population. My wife, who grew up in a US city on the border of Mexico, says the Mexican food here sucks. We have had to look far and wide for a restaurant with dishes that taste authentic. The further I travel out of New York, the less likely I am to find authentic Asian food and more likely to find pale imitations. Like hand-made egg rolls. Part of that is probably supplier availability.
posted by zarq at 12:49 PM on December 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


The Des Moines Art Center has a painting of Mont Saint-Victoire painted by Marsden Hartley that sort of looks like it might be by Cezanne. So, that's special.
posted by Area Man at 12:50 PM on December 3, 2013


My wife says the Mexican food here sucks.

The regular Mexican food or the Mexican food made in partially-converted Chinese restaurants by cooks who had a rough description of Mexican food described to them once and then improvised with what they had?
posted by griphus at 12:52 PM on December 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


MeFites will interpret the responses differently than people who are searching with a similar question on the Internet and how land on that page.
posted by KokuRyu at 12:53 PM on December 3, 2013


Okay okay. I think that's enough about how great Iowa is. Let's not go on and on about it, lest Iowa City or Davenport turn into the next Austin or Portland (stay away New Yorkers and Californians! Stay awaaayyyy. Your inflated housing costs have no power here!).
posted by Lutoslawski at 12:53 PM on December 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


It's really funny that Sara C. posted this because the question itself pinged my bullshit detector ... Just the way it read to me seemed a little bit canned. And I questioned myself as to why I thought that, because I wouldn't bat an eye at a question asking about, say, Reed or Bennington or Caltech. So I just kind of dismissed my suspicions as being irrational and didn't look at the question again. And then to learn that it was flooded with sorta-astroturfers trumpeting its virtues, just seems funny.
posted by jayder at 12:53 PM on December 3, 2013


"I'm tired and can see Price whenever I like," so you go to bed.

This is true. I have lived here for forty years and I've yet to go. As much as I like Drew Carey I really wish I could have seen Bob Barker.
posted by Room 641-A at 12:54 PM on December 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


griphus: " The regular Mexican food or the Mexican food made in partially-converted Chinese restaurants by cooks who had a rough description of Mexican food described to them once and then improvised with what they had?"

Regular Mexican food. We have perhaps two restaurants here in Queens that she likes. The Taco / Chinese places are a friggin' abomination.
posted by zarq at 12:55 PM on December 3, 2013


If we are off the Iowa lovefest, I lived in Illinois for 17 years so while I am not an Iowan, I do have one Iowa joke told to me by one of my closest friends who is a Hawkeye.

Q: What is the state tree of Iowa?

A: The telephone pole.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 12:56 PM on December 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


heck, in northwest arkansas you can buy an apartment building for 450k. we're looking at houses in the $85-130k range which should get us 2-3 bathrooms, 1-2 bedrooms, 1/2-1 1/2 acres, maybe a shop/outbuilding. thanks to the university there's all sorts of music and museums and good food. i happen to love a lot about the flyovers.
posted by nadawi at 12:56 PM on December 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


We drove through Iowa on both of our recent trips Out West, and it was a fantastic experience both times: Frank Lloyd Wright buildings (including a hotel!), the country's largest frying pan, super-nice people, top 20% percentile rest stop bathrooms, nice state parks, et cetera, et cetera. We ate well. (Indian, Thai, Home Cookin', burger joints - we had excellent Californian Mexican just over the border in Nebraska) We would totally schedule our next road trip through Iowa again.

On the original subject

I don't think the Simpson folks did anything technically wrong here, but the unintended effect was an awkwardness that sticks out. For many of us who have been here some time, it is easy to think of AskMe as a community, whereas non-members may see AskMe as just an Question/Answer service or message board. Seeing a group of people who sign up in a short timeframe to opine or seemingly promote with little indication those folks will stick around and become part of the community can rub the wrong way. (I do hope some of these folks will stick around, because I think many of them probably have interesting knowledge and experiences that could edify and delight folks, and I think the site has much to offer them.)

I think for many people the answers felt like they were being talked at and not talked with. This is probably an artifact of not really seeing or understanding the culture they were responding within. They did everything good netiquette says they should: authorship, affiliation, clear point of view, speaking from the personal perspective, but they didn't factor in that AskMe is a different kind of entity from Yahoo Answers! (does that still exist?)
posted by julen at 12:57 PM on December 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


The Taco / Chinese places are a friggin' abomination.

There's a Taco/Chinese place nearby me that is now trying to make closer to authentic Mexican food rather than American fast-food style Mexican food, because there's a rising Mexican middle class in my neighborhood and I guess that means they now need shitty but quickly-made food.

It is equally awful but in delightfully different ways!
posted by griphus at 12:57 PM on December 3, 2013


The boroughs of NYC have a HUGE Latino population. My wife, who grew up in a US city on the border of Mexico, says the Mexican food here sucks.

It doesn't, really. The thing about Mexican food is that it's deeply regional. The thing about the Mexican population in NY is that it's almost all from Puebla. If you're expecting the kind of thing you'd get in a Southwestern US border town, you're going to be disappointed because that's not the food Poblanos cook.
posted by neroli at 1:00 PM on December 3, 2013 [9 favorites]


klangklangston: "and I can still get great regional Mexican food. And Thai food. And Chinese food. And Japanese food. And Salvadoreño food. And Italian food. And decent Indian food. And …"

We ... have all those things? Only our Indian food is really, really good, especially if you go to the local Hindu Temple for their annadothas and dosadothas on the weekends! We might not have Salvadoreño food (our Spanish-speaking immigrants locally are mostly Mexican and Honduran), but we are absolutely drowning in Lebanese food and Ethiopian is supposed to be very up-and-coming in the region.

We have immigrant populations in the midwest, you know -- midwestern states tend to have programs to draw immigrants here, and immigrants and refugees from agricultural communities often want to settle here -- and restaurant rents are cheap. Midwestern cities often have surprisingly vibrant ethnic food scenes. I mean, I can go eat American-Chinese and American-Mexican and whatnot, but I can also go get the Real Deal. I can walk to a Thai grocery from my house. It is true I cannot get very good Greek food because everyone complains that it's not Lebanese enough so all the Greek restaurants end up serving slightly Greek-ish Lebanese food. But that's a small failing.

The fish is legit terrible, though. Don't eat the fish.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 1:00 PM on December 3, 2013 [4 favorites]


top 20% percentile rest stop bathrooms

Seriously, holy crap, if you are a cross-country traveler, the rest stops in Iowa are, bar none, the best rest stops in the country. I mean, once you've taken a potty break off I-80 in Western Iowa, it's really hard to adjust to Nebraska. I'm telling you, if I lived in Boone, I would totally just hang out at the rest stop on a Saturday night.
posted by Lutoslawski at 1:01 PM on December 3, 2013 [3 favorites]


Just to be exquisitely clear, my problem with the answers wasn't that they are by new members or anything like that.

I don't think Metafilter should be a carefully gated community reserved only for certain participants.

But I would be really upset if a bunch of people who work for sketchy hair donation "nonprofits" chimed in to answer the AskMe I just posted with glowing hyperbolic PR-speak.
posted by Sara C. at 1:02 PM on December 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


neroli: " It doesn't, really. The thing about Mexican food is that it's deeply regional. The thing about the Mexican population in NY is that it's almost all from Puebla. If you're expecting the kind of thing you'd get in a Southwestern US border town, you're going to be disappointed because that's not the food Poblanos cook."

!!!

OK, that's something I didn't realize. (I'm apparently a provincial American.) Thanks!

I wonder if there's a way to locate restaurants that serve the type of food she's used to, then.
posted by zarq at 1:05 PM on December 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


What about several barely-coherent new signups who all have very little to say besides GIVE US YOUR HAIR
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 1:05 PM on December 3, 2013 [4 favorites]


I mean look at the rest stops.
posted by Lutoslawski at 1:06 PM on December 3, 2013 [4 favorites]


Re NYC Mexican, it used to suck, but at some point about a decade ago a couple things happened to cause local Mexican restaurants to step up their game:

- An influx of Mexican-Americans in New York for probably the first time. There is now enough of a Mexican-American community in New York to create a market for authentic regional Mexican food trucks and restaurants.

- Authentic Mexican food has become very trendy nationwide, as opposed to Tex Mex. This has brought a whole new world of upscale burrito joints and fusion taco trucks to the city, even outside of the influence of Mexican immigrants.

I mean, it's still way less good than the Mexican food in California or Texas, and I'm more likely to take a visitor out for Indian or Greek, but it's reasonably possible to find good Mexican in NYC now. Which definitely wasn't true when I moved to the city in 2000.
posted by Sara C. at 1:08 PM on December 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


I think we can all agree that this shirt sums it all up nicely.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 1:08 PM on December 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


Lutoslawski: "Seriously, holy crap, if you are a cross-country traveler, the rest stops in Iowa are, bar none, the best rest stops in the country. I mean, once you've taken a potty break off I-80 in Western Iowa, it's really hard to adjust to Nebraska. I'm telling you, if I lived in Boone, I would totally just hang out at the rest stop on a Saturday night."

We stopped just over the state line at a Minnesota rest stop, and first of all, the casino attached to the rest stop was 10 times as big as the rest stop, but the rest stop bathrooms were closed ("just go to the casino!" a lady said "would you like to buy some tokens? Good luck!") for more than an hour (we left, stumbled across the Norwegian Immigrant Monument, communed, and came back to the Interstate by the rest stop). We seriously considered going back south to Iowa for the superior rest rooms before going back to Minnesota.
posted by julen at 1:08 PM on December 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


NYC mexican is just ...terrible outside of Sunnyside Queens or other such enclaves, even to get halfway decent Tacos you have to pay an arm and a leg - Otto's on the LES is trying to fix that but there's really no reason to go to the LES ever sooo
posted by The Whelk at 1:08 PM on December 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm going to start compiling a list of Iowa vs. NYC Pros and Cons:

PRO
-Can live in (possibly haunted) Victorian mansion
-The dog would have a yard to play in
-Can have more than six people in the house at a time
-Can finally have an entire room devoted to a home theater

CON
-Would need to learn to drive
-The dog is an idiot and would get lost immediately if let off-leash
-No fresh sushi
-Practically guaranteed to get into power tool accident during first attempt at home improvement
posted by griphus at 1:10 PM on December 3, 2013 [11 favorites]


oklahoma's best rest stop has been torn down, sadly. hopefully the rebuild will be even better.
posted by nadawi at 1:10 PM on December 3, 2013


I would be willing to bet that the Asian foods and Mexican food do not resemble anything that can be obtained in California and Texas, respectively.

I travel to Southern California at least twice a year. Since our East side has a large Mexican population, the food doesn't taste all that different. My girlfriend--who is from LA--gets homesick when we go out for Mexican food here. It is just as good. We also have a large Vietnamese population here. I have never had better Pho anywhere else.
posted by TrialByMedia at 1:11 PM on December 3, 2013


The thing about Mexican food is that it's deeply regional. The thing about the Mexican population in NY is that it's almost all from Puebla. If you're expecting the kind of thing you'd get in a Southwestern US border town, you're going to be disappointed because that's not the food Poblanos cook.

This is definitely true, plus the fact that in the southwest here we've had years and years of basically developing our own sort of regional take on Mexican food, so it's somewhat Americanized anyway, and recent immigrants from other regions that haven't spent time in the Southwest US, never mind their origins in Mexico, aren't really going to do the same thing. For some odd reason, a huge percentage of the Mexican places in my area (San Diego) reference Michoacan in some way. Other than all the places named _______berto's, there's quite a few that have variant spellings of Cotija (Cotijas, Cotijan, Koteeha, etc.), or a picture of the Cotija cathedral hanging on the walls.

My wife is currently looking for academic work, so she's applying for places all over the country, including SLACs in Iowa, like Grinnell. I don't know that I'd be able to find work in my profession there, but I think we'd get by just fine and Iowa is pre-approved for relocation as far as I'm concerned. Hopefully I'll be posting some kind of AskMe about "What is this winter thing that everybody seems to talk about?" question before Summer.
posted by LionIndex at 1:13 PM on December 3, 2013


Eh, before I moved away there were two delicious Mexican joints within two blocks of my apartment in Crown Heights. It's definitely improving.

Places with the Sara C. stamp of approval:

Chavela's in Prospect Heights
Also Gueros in Prospect Heights but I think they might have closed?

Castro's in Clinton Hill (I think run by folks from Puebla)

There was this amazing Poblano place in Astoria I used to go to called Tacos Mexico that is pretty much my ur-Mexican.

Calexico is perfectly adequate

Also that one burrito place on the north side of Union Square by the movie theatre, which is always completely packed with NYU kids from the Bay area.

I would also say that just about any taco truck is worth trying.
posted by Sara C. at 1:14 PM on December 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


You're nobody until thumb bunny loves you.
posted by slogger at 1:16 PM on December 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


Also Gueros in Prospect Heights but I think they might have closed?

Are you talking about Guerrero's on 5th and 23rd? It was still open this summer and I'm going to be so pissed if it is closed.

They had a giant bucket of chicharron. You just reached in there with a bag and grabbed one.
posted by griphus at 1:16 PM on December 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


when discussing home prices, you also can't overlook just how important property tax figures are. for instance, i'd never buy a house in texas (or new york or california), but i'll gladly buy in arkansas.
posted by nadawi at 1:17 PM on December 3, 2013


Due to a somewhat complicated series of circumstances, I am a former Iowa state senator/former president of the League of Women Voters of Iowa.


This is going to be the best rediscovered Gilbert & Sullivan operetta ever! I bet we can workshop it at Simpson!
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 1:17 PM on December 3, 2013 [4 favorites]


I've had sushi in Iowa and I'm still alive. It was fine. They can fly seafood anywhere these days. It was somewhere on the Coralville strip.

I also once ate at a Tepanyaki steak house in Des Moines. Our chef was Welsh, which was unexpected. I wish I knew how he'd got there.
posted by Area Man at 1:17 PM on December 3, 2013


It was somewhere on the Coralville strip.

Lies! There's nothing in Coralville besides glorious Donutland!
posted by scody at 1:21 PM on December 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


Heck you can do that in Vermont which is actually next to NY

that house is awesome and i'm gonna be your neighbor
posted by elizardbits at 1:21 PM on December 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


[Broke the link on mannequito's comment yesterday since it seems like it's inadvertently sending some folks to nasty places.]
posted by cortex (staff) at 1:24 PM on December 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


cortex stop butt shaming
posted by elizardbits at 1:25 PM on December 3, 2013 [6 favorites]


No, definitely talking about Gueros, in Prospect Heights. On Park Place right by the Shuttle train stop.

It wasn't so much a family owned immigrant-style place as upscale fusion tacos. The sort of place that does a fried chicken and cole slaw taco for $4. But it's delicious, so you just don't ask too many questions.
posted by Sara C. at 1:28 PM on December 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


Pffft Iowa. Minnesota has a Frank Lloyd Wright gas station and we're so not hung up on it that I have driven past a ton of times and never even stopped for coffee or a pee, much less to buy gas.

I am having a hard time resisting the urge to spew some Iowa jokes here.
posted by wenestvedt at 1:28 PM on December 3, 2013


Oddly enough, Iowa is one of the last 12 states I have yet to visit. I have ended up skirting around it on a couple different trips. However, I do have positive things to say about it:

1. It is the home of ISCABBS which is the biggest reason I became an early internet adopter and started participating in online forums at the dawn of time (1991).

2. It is the setting of State Fair, one of the best kitschy Technicolor screen gems of the 1940s. I'm talking about some good wholesome fun and vintage outfits to die for.

All these beautifully flat states are the breadbasket (cornbasket) of the WORLD

You'd think I'd be into this, but unfortunately like the rest of the cornbasket it's been harshly consolidated, intensively mechanized and chemically managed, and tucked into the pocket of Monsanto. I don't have much romance left for what corn farming has become. Fortunately, there is a hearty local food scene there.
posted by Miko at 1:30 PM on December 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


> "Iowa is (by far) the friendliest place I've ever been."

However, I have it on good authority that they can be cold as their falling thermometers in December if you ask about their weather in July.
posted by kyrademon at 1:31 PM on December 3, 2013 [7 favorites]


"We ... have all those things? Only our Indian food is really, really good, especially if you go to the local Hindu Temple for their annadothas and dosadothas on the weekends! We might not have Salvadoreño food (our Spanish-speaking immigrants locally are mostly Mexican and Honduran), but we are absolutely drowning in Lebanese food and Ethiopian is supposed to be very up-and-coming in the region."

Yeah, see, I grew up in the midwest (Michigan), with family in Chicago, Wisconsin, Indiana and Illinois. I've had enough Midwest Mexican and Thai to last a lifetime. There really isn't a comparison — it's like saying that Michigan wines are as good as Californian ones.

The only thing that that I really do miss is great Middle Eastern food — in Michigan, you can have sincere opinions on Lebanese versus Syrian versus Egyptian versus Israeli pretty much everything.

Oh, and real sweet corn. That's something that the Midwest can legit boast about that's just impossible to get elsewhere — the right corn doesn't grow here. I'd also take many of the apples from the Midwest over the ones here.

"I travel to Southern California at least twice a year. Since our East side has a large Mexican population, the food doesn't taste all that different. My girlfriend--who is from LA--gets homesick when we go out for Mexican food here. It is just as good. We also have a large Vietnamese population here. I have never had better Pho anywhere else."

Until the recent economic downturn, our Oaxacan cricket-serving mole joint was a local chain. This is what a little of our street food looks like. Iowans telling themselves that their Mexican is just as good must be like Californians telling themselves that pizza is just as good here.

We have probably the best Thai food in America, and have roughly 80,000 Thais here in LA — enough to be Iowa's fifth largest city.

A lot of this is a function of size — we have more people in LA than in all of Iowa combined. If we include areas like Monterey Park into LA, we have about 500,000 Chinese here, bigger than the top four Iowa cities combined. That means that we have some of the best Chinese restaurants in the world, in more than one Chinese cuisine.

Look, I love the Midwest. I grew up there, I'll probably move back before I die, but comparing Iowa's food to LA, let alone "the coast," is flat out delusion unless you're talking about innovation in deep-fat fried fair food.
posted by klangklangston at 1:31 PM on December 3, 2013 [13 favorites]


butts lol
posted by Melismata at 1:32 PM on December 3, 2013 [3 favorites]


And they're so by-god stubborn they can stand touching noses for a week at a time and never see eye to eye.
posted by kyrademon at 1:33 PM on December 3, 2013 [4 favorites]


Seriously, holy crap, if you are a cross-country traveler, the rest stops in Iowa are, bar none, the best rest stops in the country.

Now you're just being cruel.

Here in California, a long-ass drive in the middle of nowhere on an interstate goes something like this:

NEXT REST AREA 130 MILES

("Cool, I can hold it for another couple hours, no biggie.")
.
.
.
NEXT REST AREA 60 MILES

("Cool, that coffee is starting to do it's thing, but I'm holding steady...")
.
.
.
NEXT REST AREA 4 MILES

("Oh thank god, my teeth are floating...please let there be no speed bumps or potholes to jar my bladder...")
.
.
.
and finally, with no prior warning:

REST AREA CLOSED FOR REPAIRS

("aiiiiiieeeeeeeeeee damn you CALTRANS suck my she-nads!")
posted by nacho fries at 1:40 PM on December 3, 2013 [4 favorites]


But, they'll give you their shirt -- and a back to go with it -- if your crops should happen to die.
posted by kyrademon at 1:41 PM on December 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


Butt shamer no shaming
posted by The Whelk at 1:42 PM on December 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


You really ought to give Iowa a try.
posted by kyrademon at 1:43 PM on December 3, 2013 [3 favorites]


Provided you are contrary.
posted by Melismata at 1:44 PM on December 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


For Iowans and other people in nice places with non-crazy housing prices, please feel free to point and laugh (even I am pointing and laughing, though it is a hysterical kind of panicky laugh: Median Rental Price per Bedroom, San Francisco.

(All I know about Iowa firsthand is what I remember from a visit we made there when I was a small child: The corn was very tall, much taller than me, and the sky was enormous.)
posted by rtha at 1:45 PM on December 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


this whole passive aggressive, "some people answer just to hear themselves speak but i'm not going to say who so you'll just have to guess" is annoying and pretty shitty.

I was going for "polite". I don't see what use it is to single out specific users when that would just seem axegrindy, and à chacun son goût anyhow. I don't think it's passive-aggressive to point out an annoying behavior without fingering individual members for a witch hunt.

FTR, my gripe is a lot less about quantity (some users really do just give a ton of good answers) and a lot more about signal to noise ratio, as well as understanding the difference between appropriately giving a chatty answer to a chatty question vs. constantly finding peripheral segues for getting their blab on about themselves in specific-minded questions.
posted by threeants at 1:47 PM on December 3, 2013 [6 favorites]


Yeah, I was pretty shocked driving up the 5 between LA and San Francisco -- pretty much no rest areas.

To the point that there was a time that I passed some kind of Scenic Lookout turnoff and decided to just pull in there and squat. I've driven through developing countries that had better and more plentiful roadside facilities than California.
posted by Sara C. at 1:49 PM on December 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


sky was enormous.

We got four and a half pi steradians of sky out here! Back on the coast you'd be lucky to get three pi for the same amount of money.
posted by kiltedtaco at 1:49 PM on December 3, 2013 [11 favorites]


without fingering individual users for a witch hunt.

Honestly, if you're going to finger some of us for a witch hunt (or otherwise), you really should finger all of us. Have you no manners?
posted by Admiral Haddock at 1:50 PM on December 3, 2013 [3 favorites]


klangklangston: "Yeah, see, I grew up in the midwest (Michigan), with family in Chicago, Wisconsin, Indiana and Illinois. I've had enough Midwest Mexican and Thai to last a lifetime. There really isn't a comparison — it's like saying that Michigan wines are as good as Californian ones. "

*shrug* my in-laws are Santa Fe foodies and I have been extensively lectured and lunched on "real" Southwestern food and "real" Mexican food. There's much more of a market for it in the midwest than there was 20 years ago, especially if you are willing to go to the immigrant areas of town -- which a lot of middle class folks aren't, I understand that, but don't bitch that you can't get good Jaliscan food if you won't drive past some arbitrary dividing line to get to the good hole-in-the-wall places. I don't have 4,000 good, authentic ethnic restaurants to choose from, that is true, but I certainly have 40. But I'm also a little unclear on why having good, multi-regional Chinese and Mexican food makes a place a good food town but having good, multi-regional Middle Eastern food doesn't?

(There are so many Vietnamese in Iowa that you can take your drivers' test in Vietnamese.)

Also, crap, now I'm going to have to drive halfway across town for Mexican food tonight, you guys made me too hungry. (IT WILL TAKE ME TWENTY WHOLE MINUTES. WHAT HAVE I DONE TO DESERVE SUCH TORTURE?)
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 1:51 PM on December 3, 2013


NO FINGERS NO PEACE
posted by The Whelk at 1:52 PM on December 3, 2013


I don't think you can judge the availability of good ethnic food in a location by old data, like "grew up there." Demographics change constantly with the utter wackiness of our economy. My hometown used to be white and African-American, and the white people were Irish and Italian. Today it's white and Hispanic; the white people are sort of the same, but the Hispanics are from Guatemala mostly. If I told you "I grew up there and there's no good Central American food there, but the soul food and Italian are awesome" I'd be super wrong. The Central American is awesome and you have many choices; the soul food is gone; and the Italian-American doesn't really survive, having been replaced by 27 'upscale' coal-fired pizza and overpriced pasta places. Same is true for Chinese - the US is now full of the same crappy Chinese food as anywhere, and it's indistinguishable thanks to the organization of that industry. And as far as other populations - South Asian, Vietnamese, etc., - there's been a lot of change. Cities and suburbs across the US now have pockets of culture which tend to surprise people who think it's all tuna casserole out there.
posted by Miko at 1:55 PM on December 3, 2013 [6 favorites]


Ok, I just looked back at my past however many Ask answers and, yeah, they're kind of all just about myself. So, maybe I don't have much of a leg to stand on here. I guess it's sort of just a very standard way to use AskMe, but one that feels particularly amplified when you see someone doing it in practically every thread. But true; poster post thyself!, etc.
posted by threeants at 1:59 PM on December 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


rtha: "For Iowans and other people in nice places with non-crazy housing prices, please feel free to point and laugh (even I am pointing and laughing, though it is a hysterical kind of panicky laugh: Median Rental Price per Bedroom, San Francisco.

Not to derail, but WORD. Last night at dinner a friend remarked that in 20 years of SF living he's never experienced the kind of rent-talk that's going on right now in the city. It comes up in literally every conversation where anything city culture or house-related topics are being discussed. Every time.

(All I know about Iowa firsthand is what I remember from a visit we made there when I was a small child: The corn was very tall, much taller than me, and the sky was enormous.)

As a Kansas farm girl I'll say that I miss those enormous skies so. much. Although seeing the never-ending expanse of the Pacific every day has really gone a long way toward scratching that itch.
posted by hapax_legomenon at 2:00 PM on December 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


It's not just some wasteland in the middle of the country like many of you who have never been there seem to think.

A. Even you agree that Iowa is a wasteland.

CON
-Would need to learn to drive


Nah, they can't drive either. Idiots Out Wandering Around

And it's not like Nebraska is much better as a state - but the speed limits are higher and for the love of god they manage somehow to only pass in the passing lane. Nothing more infuriating than Iowan Hostage Taking* on 151 between Dubuque and Cedar Rapids.

*defined as one car passing another very slowly and at or below the speed limit and holding up everyone behind them.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 2:01 PM on December 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


The corn was very tall, much taller than me

Would you say it was about...I dunno...as high as an elephant's eye?

Wait
posted by Lutoslawski at 2:01 PM on December 3, 2013 [3 favorites]


For what it's worth I just had some kind of "Middle Eastern" abomination for lunch that was definitely worse than the saddest sour cream slathered hard-shell taco in Peoria.

Los Angeles boasts some delicious international cuisine (seriously the Thai food I just cannot even), but there's plenty of shit available, too.
posted by Sara C. at 2:02 PM on December 3, 2013


Klang, you've got me on the street food--we don't have anything like Off The Grid in SF, for example. But your standard, hole-in-the-wall Mexican taco place? The on-every-block hometown comfort that my Angelino girlfriend thought she'd never see again after moving the midwest? We have those now.
posted by TrialByMedia at 2:02 PM on December 3, 2013


The corn was very tall, much taller than me

Would you say it was about...I dunno...as high as an elephant's eye?

Wait


What
posted by Melismata at 2:04 PM on December 3, 2013


The corn was very tall, much taller than me

Got that right. Fiancee standing in front of Iowa corn, while I take the picture thinking wtf *is* that stuff behind her (I'm from England).
posted by Wordshore at 2:04 PM on December 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


I feel like "we have those now" is my most oft repeated phrase when defending the midwest.
posted by Think_Long at 2:04 PM on December 3, 2013 [12 favorites]


Los Angeles boasts some delicious international cuisine (seriously the Thai food I just cannot even), but there's plenty of shit available, too.

That's how I always felt living in New York. You have to really look there to find good food too. Most of it is totally awful. I mean, you wanna talk about gross Thai food....

NYC is also the only place I've worked in food service where we had a ritual morning "throw out the stuff with rat nibbles" routine.
posted by Lutoslawski at 2:05 PM on December 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yeah, see, I grew up in the midwest (Michigan), with family in Chicago, Wisconsin, Indiana and Illinois. I've had enough Midwest Mexican and Thai to last a lifetime. There really isn't a comparison — it's like saying that Michigan wines are as good as Californian ones.

Thai food varies a lot across the Midwest. It was horrible in Michigan when I lived there 10 years ago, which surprised me because it is pretty good in Minnesota.

p.s. Michigan Riesling is really as good as what's on the West Coast.
posted by Area Man at 2:07 PM on December 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


Don't be ridiculous, everyone knows you're supposed to just trim away the rat nibbles and brush off the poops.
posted by elizardbits at 2:08 PM on December 3, 2013


Speaking of NYC Mexican food, I remember about 6 years ago, my then-girlfriend who was a NYC transplant wanted to take me to her favorite NY Mexican place. It was seriously like an upscale Taco John's. Hilarious. I'm glad to hear things are getting better out there.
posted by TrialByMedia at 2:08 PM on December 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


more rats means more flavor!
posted by The Whelk at 2:08 PM on December 3, 2013


More rats means more excuses to get an adorable store cat!
posted by TrialByMedia at 2:10 PM on December 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


Last night at dinner a friend remarked that in 20 years of SF living he's never experienced the kind of rent-talk that's going on right now in the city. It comes up in literally every conversation where anything city culture or house-related topics are being discussed. Every time.

Have you gotten to the point where the first thing new guests in your home ask is "how much you payin' for this place?" or when you regale one another with Legends of Rent when you could get a ten-thousand bedroom apartment for some string and a button and now half a walk-in closet costs your weight in rubies and emeralds?
posted by griphus at 2:11 PM on December 3, 2013 [8 favorites]


oh god I just walked past my corner deli and the deli cat was playing with a fuzzy puppy
posted by The Whelk at 2:12 PM on December 3, 2013 [5 favorites]


go back and take a photo right now do it
posted by elizardbits at 2:14 PM on December 3, 2013 [14 favorites]


I feel like "we have those now" is my most oft repeated phrase when defending the midwest.

I was actually just thinking about this recently. Pretty much all the things I wanted to leave my podunk hometown to get access to are now in my podunk hometown. Every once in awhile I have a daydream about quitting my job, moving home, and starting an artisanal coffee roastery or something. And this is not a farfetched idea at all.

Well, it is farfetched in the sense that I don't have the lobes for business and don't actually like roasting coffee that much. But the part where locally roasted coffee in a small Louisiana town is an actual life plan? That is totally a thing now.
posted by Sara C. at 2:14 PM on December 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


Sara C.: "For what it's worth I just had some kind of "Middle Eastern" abomination for lunch that was definitely worse than the saddest sour cream slathered hard-shell taco in Peoria. "

I. Beg. Your. Pardon.

They have Taco Bell in LA too!
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 2:14 PM on December 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


Have you gotten to the point where the first thing new guests in your home ask is "how much you payin' for this place?

Oh yes. I live in a big (five bedroom) rent-controlled place with one other person so the first order of business is always to recalculate how much this place would go for now. People everywhere (myself included) are terrified of their landlords selling their buildings and getting evicted - or bribed, essentially, via "relocation settlements" to leave their homes. It's seriously unfun.
posted by hapax_legomenon at 2:16 PM on December 3, 2013


Actually some LA friends recently talked me into eating Taco Bell for the first time in like 15+ years.

... AND I ENJOYED IT

Like not in an actual quality food sense, but just in a "this tastes like puberty" kind of way.

They also brought me Mountain Dew, which I spiked with gin and it was a very strange night
posted by Sara C. at 2:17 PM on December 3, 2013 [3 favorites]


"tastes like puberty": not a phrase that ever needs to be said, ever.


ever.
posted by Think_Long at 2:19 PM on December 3, 2013 [7 favorites]


the puppy is gone!
posted by The Whelk at 2:19 PM on December 3, 2013


I don't care, I'm not too uppity for Taco Bell. Crunchy shells for the win.

"this tastes like puberty"
I laughed, and grimaced, all at once.
posted by sm1tten at 2:19 PM on December 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


the rats ate the puppy
posted by Lutoslawski at 2:20 PM on December 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


the deli cat just had a fuzzy snack?
posted by sm1tten at 2:20 PM on December 3, 2013


and finally, with no prior warning:

Actually some LA friends recently talked me into eating Taco Bell for the first time in like 15+ years.

... AND I ENJOYED IT

Have you tried Del Taco?!?
posted by ablazingsaddle at 2:22 PM on December 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


I did a satellite view in google maps of Indianola. It looked very nice. The one time I was in Iowa it was to a town that my mother lived in for a number of years and there is absolutely nothing around that town for like fifty miles in every direction except cornfields. Do a satellite view of Dyersville (where they made Field of Dreams) and you get the idea.

They have lots of cornfields around Indianola but the topography varies enough that there are actually many other things as well.
posted by bukvich at 2:24 PM on December 3, 2013


tastes like puberty

You know, Taco Bell has been bereft of a genius marketing hook ever since they iced the chihuahua. I think you are sitting on a goldmine of a slogan...
posted by nacho fries at 2:24 PM on December 3, 2013


Mods, I want a little Peoria flag next to my user name so people will know not to mock Peoria when I'm looking unless they want to be SCHOOLED on WHERE MASS PRODUCED PENICILLIN COMES FROM YOU'RE WELCOME FOR NOT DYING OF AN EAR INFECTION IN CHILDHOOD GO ON AND MOCK MY CITY SOME MORE.

You're also welcome for wire fencing, tank treads, the first commercially-available automobiles, Betty Friedan, Richard Pryor, Philip Jose Farmer, AND I CAN KEEP GOING ALL DAY AND REGULARLY DO.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 2:25 PM on December 3, 2013 [18 favorites]


So you're saying a history of antibiotics would play well in Peoria?
posted by The Whelk at 2:27 PM on December 3, 2013 [3 favorites]


Yes, especially if it starred reanimated Richard Pryor.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 2:28 PM on December 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


Taco Bell has been bereft of a genius marketing hook ever since they iced the chihuahua.

Whoa whoa whoa. What about fourthmeal? That entire campaign revolved around simply stating that there are hours in the day in which you are not eating Taco Bell but could be.
posted by griphus at 2:30 PM on December 3, 2013 [10 favorites]


I think the only logical step after reminding you that you could be eating food when you are not would just be to co-opt Snickers' campaign and change it to "Hungry? Why not?"
posted by griphus at 2:33 PM on December 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


FOURTHMEAL: because we can't say that you'd have to be drunk and stoned at midnight to eat here, but let's all face facts here.
posted by The Whelk at 2:33 PM on December 3, 2013 [20 favorites]


Taco Bell: What you think you're better than us or something?
posted by The Whelk at 2:34 PM on December 3, 2013 [5 favorites]


Fourthmeal: shitfaced and broke.
posted by jamaro at 2:37 PM on December 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


FOURTHMEAL: because we can't say that you'd have to be drunk and stoned at midnight to eat here, but let's all face facts here.

Current Jack in the Box commercial
posted by LionIndex at 2:38 PM on December 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


The Fourth Meal is what you eat in Cedar Rapids, Iowa during its Fifth Season.
posted by Area Man at 2:39 PM on December 3, 2013 [5 favorites]


"this tastes like puberty"

Never have pleasant nostalgia and grotesque body horror been so efficiently and unsettlingly married in a single phrase.
posted by prize bull octorok at 2:40 PM on December 3, 2013 [6 favorites]


yeah, i always found FOURTHMEAL to be their shortened slogan for "tastes like the first few years you paid for your own food and were probably drunk or stoned a lot."
posted by nadawi at 2:40 PM on December 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


Same is true for Chinese - the US is now full of the same crappy Chinese food as anywhere, and it's indistinguishable thanks to the organization of that industry.

For the love of all that is good and holy, can someone please open a semi-decent authentic* Chinese restaurant in Santa Monica? It's not like people try and fail, no one even tries! (And, speaking as a Jew, can you do it by Christmas?)

* I'm not knocking you and your yummy Chinese-American food, Dragon Palace.
posted by Room 641-A at 2:42 PM on December 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


let's face facts... It sure helps!!!
posted by edgeways at 2:43 PM on December 3, 2013


You can get beer at Taco Bell in Spain.

I had my high school reunion earlier this month and one of my friends now lives in Mexico City with his wife (Peruvian but has lived all over South America/Mexico) and I talked to her about Taco Bell and how she is missing out and she should definitely get a Crunchwrap Supreme while she was here. She had never had Taco Bell and I was pretty scandalized by that.

I hope they went to Taco Bell. I should follow up with them on Facebook about that.
posted by Tanizaki at 2:46 PM on December 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yeah but I bet it's Estrella Damm or something
posted by elizardbits at 2:48 PM on December 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


Avoid Carlos O'Kelly's. The people claiming there is decent Mexican in Iowa aren't talking about Carlos O'Kelly's.
posted by Area Man at 2:50 PM on December 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


Do they have "Irish Nachos" there?

If so, I am open to it.

(Irish Nachos are french fries slathered in nacho fixins)
posted by Sara C. at 3:03 PM on December 3, 2013


I know this was 200 comments ago but to clarify, I find inter-regional rivalries to be horrible and often classist or racist or both. I do not feel that rivalries that are based on arbitrary state lines and little else to be particularly serious. That doesn't mean that they shouldn't be deleted if necessary or desirable, but it does mean that getting offended about them strikes me as silly.
posted by the young rope-rider at 3:04 PM on December 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


Oh god please some people have to eat later go back to talking about rat poops
posted by The Whelk at 3:04 PM on December 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


You can't go looking for rest stops in California (most especially not on the 5). Californians use gas stations, like god intended. To be honest, I had no idea what a rest stop *was* until I moved to the Midwest-- seriously, the state provides them for free and they're not Stygian horrors filled with graffiti and piss?

Also, some of the best Thai I've ever had was in Minnesota (technically, as it was on the ND-MN border). I've been to Thailand, my best friend's Thai, and I know from good Thai food. This stuff was incredible (I miss you, Little Bangkok!). So yeah, immigrants are really re-shaping Midwestern food ways.
posted by librarylis at 3:08 PM on December 3, 2013 [5 favorites]


(Irish Nachos are french fries slathered in nacho fixins)

Harumph. I refuse to take this slight against my username personally. Here in L.A., we call them nacho fries. (Also, carne asada fries.)

But a big ol' slab of fries drowning in nacho-spoo is just as sweet by any name. No harm, no foul.
posted by nacho fries at 3:30 PM on December 3, 2013 [3 favorites]


I'm just saying, if someone is going to open a "Mexican" restaurant with a hybrid Irish name, they damn well better ante up the delicious starchfoods said name implies.

You can call the resulting carbstrosity whatever you like.
posted by Sara C. at 3:32 PM on December 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


There is a very proud Irish population that migrated down to Mexico and Now Texas to fight in the various wars, soo maybe?
posted by The Whelk at 3:37 PM on December 3, 2013


Speaking of inauthentic ethnic foods, I once had a... foodthing (???)... that was an order of fries slathered in buffalo hot sauce and bleu cheese dressing. Which came from a fucking Greek restaurant in Astoria, Queens. WTF even was that? Aside from delicious, of course.

I mean I have no idea how this Greek restaurant in a Greek neighborhood got from anything resembling Greek cuisine to "Buffalo Bleu Cheese Coronary Bowl".

But I'm glad they made the attempt.
posted by Sara C. at 3:40 PM on December 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


Mutant Disco Fries?
posted by The Whelk at 3:43 PM on December 3, 2013


I was gonna go with Minnesotan Poutine.
posted by Lutoslawski at 3:44 PM on December 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


I don't think they have nacho fries at Carlos O'Kelly. They are big on Chili con Queso.
posted by Area Man at 3:45 PM on December 3, 2013


nacho-spoo

ಸ╭╮ಸ
posted by en forme de poire at 3:45 PM on December 3, 2013 [5 favorites]


I just refreshed my memory at their website (yes it has the obligatory rotating doner gif), and what I am thinking of is...

The "Buffalo Bowl" at Crave in Astoria. In addition to the french fries, buffalo hot sauce, and bleu cheese (not bleu cheese dressing as I remembered), there was apparently also souvlaki chicken.

Which I think is how they got from Greek food to there? Because french fries + Greek-esque chicken + a cheese that can be crumbled not unlike Feta = ???????

They also serve a variation on disco fries called the "Cravy Bowl".
posted by Sara C. at 3:46 PM on December 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


The weird thing is that you can also get very authentic and high quality Greek food at the same restaurant.
posted by Sara C. at 3:47 PM on December 3, 2013


At some point you stop serving food and start serving a metaphor.
posted by The Whelk at 3:53 PM on December 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


I stayed at the Savery hotel in Des Moines once, it was lovely (and the walkways over the streets in winter, brilliant!). And my husband was once in the Des Moines ballet. Surprised no one has mentioned John Wayne yet. So I give Iowa a thumbs up A++.

We pay very low rent where we are living now, heat included. I could probably sell my plasma and still pay the rent (not that I am planning to). Nice residential neighborhood, near a hospital and two colleges, but the food situation, meh. Applebee's.... a Mexican restaurant that is really run by Mexicans but just okay. A couple of Thai and Chinese takeout places. One Italian and some pub type places. That's hard after living in Portland (right coast) where there are James Beard award winners at every corner.

I dunno tho', no crime to speak of here, and a walkable neighborhood. Grocery is a mile away, corner store maybe less than that, hospital the same, trees and green lawns everywhere. But still, that pesky snow and lack of job opportunities (unless you want to work in a call center or are in a health care field). I just try cooking to make up for lack of food carts and takeout.
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 3:54 PM on December 3, 2013


The weird thing is that you can also get very authentic and high quality Greek food at the same restaurant.

I feel like there's a lot of that in NYC? I used to eat all the time at a Mexican/Chinese/Doughnut place. Though I'm not sure I would have called it 'high quality' exactly...
posted by Lutoslawski at 3:55 PM on December 3, 2013


Surprised no one has mentioned John Wayne yet

He's still good ole Marion to us!
posted by Lutoslawski at 3:56 PM on December 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


Oh, I've also never heard an owl in Iowa, which in my mind makes it paradise on earth. Whether there are owls and I've been lucky, or not, I've just not yet heard one.
posted by Wordshore at 3:58 PM on December 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


Can people who talk about "authentic" please explain what they mean by that, and how they know?

I grew up Spanish/Cuban, so I have a pretty good handle on those cuisines. I've lived in Japan and/or with Japanese people for coming up on twenty years, so I feel comfortable talking about what Japanese food is. Other than that, I generally wouldn't have a clue. This pad thai is authentic? I'll trust you, because I've never been there. I had lunch at a German place today but have no basis to judge how "authentic" it might be - how could I? Ok, there's some sausage, so that seems pretty German to me, but what do I know?

I think a lot of "authentic" preening is the next cousin of Emperor's-Clothes "umami" peacocking.
posted by Tanizaki at 3:58 PM on December 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


*eyes narrow*
posted by The Owls at 3:59 PM on December 3, 2013 [15 favorites]


Oh, and pertinent to the OP, we have an Opera House here! Not sure they do actual opera tho', sadly. They do show the Met live in HD tho'.
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 4:00 PM on December 3, 2013


I hear owls in my girlfriend's neighborhood often. Sometimes we wake them up when we go canoeing or tubing on a river.
posted by TrialByMedia at 4:01 PM on December 3, 2013


The NYCer version moving to Iowa is moving to the Hudson Valley, lots of houses in lush forest and tiny towns where you can quietly grow pot and have large dogs.

Granted yiu kinda have to get retry out there to get out of the city's gravitational price well. But I know a lot of the older middle aged arty types just all running up there and making trips to Montreal all the time.
posted by The Whelk at 4:05 PM on December 3, 2013


There are owls in Iowa.

And Carlos O'Kelly's (which I can bike to but not quite walk to) IS the devil. *shudder* Except their flautas which are delicious gut-busters beyond belief. (But not so delicious I've been there in ... five or six years.) I don't know, now that transfats are restricted, maybe they're not good anymore. I find that is often the case with fondly-remembered junk foods.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 4:05 PM on December 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


"Peoria" is the answer to a crossword clue I've been struggling with! Thanks Mefi!
posted by muddgirl at 4:06 PM on December 3, 2013


Or the go to "Go ahead! Move to the bay area and pretend its what you wanted all along! I hope you get used to always carrying a light sweater!"
posted by The Whelk at 4:06 PM on December 3, 2013


"Authentic" food reminds me of the line from Six Feet Under, "You can't take a picture of this, it's already gone."
posted by Sticherbeast at 4:07 PM on December 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


"Authentic", to me, means:

- The place is actually run by people from the part of the world where the cuisine comes from, and likely caters primarily to people from that part of the world. (YMMV whether Crave falls into that category, but it is a Greek restaurant owned by Greeks in a neighborhood that has a HUGE Greek population.)

- Menu items are actually from the cuisine in question and at least a good faith attempt to produce a result close to what you would get in the place the food originates. Tacos are made with soft corn tortillas and ideally the contents correspond to actual taco fillings you would find in Mexico, like carnitas or "al pastor".

- Menu items are called by the names used in the place the food originates. Horiatiki is called horiatiki, not "tomato feta salad".

Note that it is TOTALLY possible to have authentic Tex-Mex. Also, there's something to be said for the inauthentic takes on some cuisines. In Los Angeles I'm sorely missing New York style Chinese food, despite the fact that said food is not "authentic" Chinese cuisine. Similarly, there's nothing wrong with fusion cuisine, when it knows it's fusion. I will eat a kimchi taco with the best of them, but don't pretend that's authentic to either Mexico or Korea.
posted by Sara C. at 4:11 PM on December 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


Fuck that Simpson shit. GO IU!

Also...what is this im reading abover about sara c eating a kimchi taco? I thought this was about opera shit?
posted by hal_c_on at 4:18 PM on December 3, 2013


Authentic to me--for Mexican, at least--means it taste's like my aunt's cooking, as she is from Mexico. I had ceviche and real, from-scratch tamales 10 years before I ever saw them in a restaurant here.
posted by TrialByMedia at 4:19 PM on December 3, 2013


I thought this was about opera shit?

Related. [language NSFW]
posted by Sticherbeast at 4:20 PM on December 3, 2013


There are owls in Iowa.


Well that's nice for them, but they don't know what the QUEERS are doing to the SOIL.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 4:23 PM on December 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


there's nothing wrong with fusion cuisine, when it knows it's fusion

Almost everything is "fusion cuisine." Al pastor tacos were created by Lebanese immigrants in Mexico, recreating shawarma with pork. Pad Thai was invented in the 1940s as part of a nationalist campaign to give Chinese noodle vendors in Thailand something less "foreign" to sell.
posted by neroli at 4:28 PM on December 3, 2013 [11 favorites]


"Authentic" means "in the old country, it was this or nothing."

Also: "we don't throw out half the pig."
posted by griphus at 4:32 PM on December 3, 2013 [5 favorites]


Sure, but I think it's generally agreed on that "fusion" means people deliberately trying a self-aware pastiche of different international cuisines.

I suppose you could create some kind of flow chart where a food item goes from "freakish monstosity" to "fusion cuisine" to "inauthentic mishmash enjoyed by rubes" to "authentic" over time and space. There are probably restaurants in Japan that serve "authentic" American-style California Rolls, after all.
posted by Sara C. at 4:32 PM on December 3, 2013


"But I'm also a little unclear on why having good, multi-regional Chinese and Mexican food makes a place a good food town but having good, multi-regional Middle Eastern food doesn't?"

While I desperately miss the variety of Middle Eastern food from the Southeastern Michigan region, it's pretty much the only thing that I can't get a better version of here, and often cheaper. Unfortunately, the big populations in LA are Armenian and Persian, which don't really scratch the Middle Eastern (Arab, mostly) itch. Tahdig is awesome, though, and I've gotten pretty good at making it. And the Armenian restaurants and bakeries around here all kill it on pastries and desserts, which is nice, but not the same, no matter how much I love baklava.

But as to your broader question, it's like asking why someone who thinks of themselves as a big TV fan needs more than PBS, which does have excellent programming.

"I don't think you can judge the availability of good ethnic food in a location by old data, like "grew up there." "

Fine. Grew up there, go back for about a month a year (summer+winter). The last time I ate Midwest Thai or Mexican was August. It is my hunch that there has not been a rapid improvement in the quality of cuisine since then.

"Also, some of the best Thai I've ever had was in Minnesota (technically, as it was on the ND-MN border). I've been to Thailand, my best friend's Thai, and I know from good Thai food. This stuff was incredible (I miss you, Little Bangkok!). So yeah, immigrants are really re-shaping Midwestern food ways."

I'm willing to believe that, especially since Minneapolis has been a Hmong hub for years. But even then, that's, what, one great place that does one style, and it's hours to the next one?
posted by klangklangston at 4:33 PM on December 3, 2013


Fusion cuisine is when the cheese melts enough to hold the pieces of bread together.
posted by cortex (staff) at 4:33 PM on December 3, 2013 [7 favorites]


And Fission cuisine aims to release more heat then it took to cook it... Never manages tho
posted by edgeways at 4:36 PM on December 3, 2013 [4 favorites]


Seriously, though, I once moved somewhere that didn't have "international" grocery stores and what is America doing with organ meats?
posted by griphus at 4:36 PM on December 3, 2013


Was fusion cuisine named after fusion jazz?
posted by box at 4:38 PM on December 3, 2013


"Authentic" means "in the old country, it was this or nothing."

Yup, and that's why pretty much no restaurant food is going to taste like the "authentic" food you eat at home. Usually, that's a good thing! The only time I care about food being "authentic" is when I'm homesick.

what is America doing with organs meats?

Selling them at the chain grocery stores in not-great neighborhoods. Chicken livers are the first to make the cut -- if you don't see them, there's virtually no chance of gizzards or tripe or kidneys or anything.
posted by rue72 at 4:38 PM on December 3, 2013


klang - do you know the greatness that is Super King? I'm not sure if they have prepared foods or what, but for middle eastern ingredients they're as good as anything I had access to in New York.
posted by Sara C. at 4:40 PM on December 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


One weird trick! We do have a Lebanese place here in Waterville. I have yet to try it because it's only open at certain times and takes cash only, but I really want to. Last place I had really great Lebanese food was Milwaukee. I guess Lebanese have a long history here. So Michigan people who are homesick can stop off here to eat!
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 4:42 PM on December 3, 2013


rue72: "Selling them at the chain grocery stores in not-great neighborhoods. Chicken livers are the first to make the cut -- if you don't see them, there's virtually no chance of gizzards or tripe or kidneys or anything."

Okay so when I first moved to Peoria I lived near this weird little non-chain fast food joint called "Butler's Chicken 'n' Stuff" that had a sign out front that proudly proclaimed "LIVERS AND GIZZARDS SERVED DAILY!"

After six years, it changed ownership to "Big JJ's Chicken & Fish" and the sign changed to "MY BOSS TOLD ME TO CHANGE THE SIGN SO I DID." Been that way for four years now (and you can see it in that link if you already know what it says).

I'm a little embarrassed to say I've never eaten at either but the whole gizzards thing put me off, as I'm not entirely sure what a gizzard is but I'm pretty sure I don't want to eat one.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 4:47 PM on December 3, 2013


what is America doing with organs meats?

Indulging our Hannibal-inspired taste for organ and game meats, my local pricey supermarket sells chicken feet at widly inflated prices but NO chicken hearts, which is horrible.

I love cardic meat. I want it all the time. Livers are okay buuuuut-
posted by The Whelk at 4:47 PM on December 3, 2013



Rock Steady: "I'm not even all that upset about slightly half-assed answers, as I know I am prone to do that from time to time, I'm just curious about the reality of the statement "Some users answer every question on AskMe.""

It's ridiculous; even Jessamyn, the askme commenter champ, only has ~5% comment count:askmes ratio. The next person has 3% and it falls pretty rapidly after that. And that is worse ?best? case. Most people are going to have at least a few posts with multiple comments.
posted by Mitheral at 4:47 PM on December 3, 2013


"I feel like "we have those now" is my most oft repeated phrase when defending the midwest."

Heh. I have to say that for LA beer.

"klang - do you know the greatness that is Super King? I'm not sure if they have prepared foods or what, but for middle eastern ingredients they're as good as anything I had access to in New York."

Yeah, the San Fernando one is pretty awesome. And you can get pretty good Mid East ingredients at most of the Indian groceries around. Even fresh sumac. Which is good, because the biggest problem with eating Mid East out here is that they use about two orders of magnitude less spice than they should. Well, and they make gummy falafel. And sometimes even put ranch dressing on it.

"Pad Thai was invented in the 1940s as part of a nationalist campaign to give Chinese noodle vendors in Thailand something less "foreign" to sell."

Kind of. And depending on where in Thailand you go, it's still sometimes called Chinese food.

"There are probably restaurants in Japan that serve "authentic" American-style California Rolls, after all."

When I was in Korea, we went to an "authentic" American restaurant that was amazingly terrible. It was really hard to convince my hosts that we were fine just eating Korean food, and didn't need what someone's third-cousin described as pizza over the phone.
posted by klangklangston at 4:51 PM on December 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


In my family, those things were eaten rarely, I remember my mom frying up liver for my Dad, as he liked it and had grown up on it. My sister uses organ meats in her stuffing. But as a rule, we didn't have them at home. However we did grind things up in a hand grinder for leftover meat pies and such (that was my job). And Dad and I both love braunschweiger. But only once in a while. It's not really good for you all the time.
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 4:51 PM on December 3, 2013


I love organ meats! I am picky about them, but I love them -- but only the ones I grew up eating, which is to say heart, brain, liver, tongue, and kidney. I can see what people don't like about liver and kidney; that's an acquired taste, to be sure. And the texture of brains can be off-putting if that's not what you're after. But heart and tongue are just delicious, delicious muscles! However spleen, lung, and tripe are OFF THE TABLE for me.

I was just this afternoon at the Korean market, wandering through the bits and bobs butchery section where they sell ears and tails and snouts and things, and I was confronted by a big tray labelled PORK MAWS. It took a minute of inspection to realize that they were jowls, and then maybe a minute more to try and imagine what kind of google translate shenanigans got to "maws." HERE HAVE A MAW SANDWICH IT IS DELICIOUS
posted by KathrynT at 4:55 PM on December 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


Chopped liver is delicious.
posted by Sara C. at 4:56 PM on December 3, 2013 [3 favorites]


klangklangston: "When I was in Korea, we went to an "authentic" American restaurant that was amazingly terrible."

When I lived in London there was this pizza place that had "authentic" Chicago pizza. It was only sort-of like Chicago pizza but I loved it anyway because it loved Chicago so hard.

One time when I was there the owner or manager heard my accent and was like, "Oh, you're American! Where from?" and I was like, "Chicago," and he got very anxious and was like, "Is the pizza like what you're used to at home?" and I paused for a minute and then I was like, "YES." Because they were trying SO HARD and it was certainly deeper dish than anything else in London!
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 4:59 PM on December 3, 2013 [16 favorites]


It would also be kiiiiiiiind of amazing if the Korean supermarket was selling pork jowls as Guanciale.
posted by Sara C. at 4:59 PM on December 3, 2013


It's funny you say that, Sara C., because instantly I was like "YESSSSS now I can make guanciale!"
posted by KathrynT at 5:08 PM on December 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


lots of houses in lush forest and tiny towns where you can quietly grow pot and have large dogs.

A friend of mine just bought a house upstate for like 90k, I'm so mad.
posted by elizardbits at 5:10 PM on December 3, 2013


Chopped liver is delicious.

Only if it was someone you know./flannel suit

Man my supermarket keeps pushing gaunciale on me, I should submit. It sounds lovely. Even more so than salvia glad tacos AKA the best hangover cure ever.
posted by The Whelk at 5:11 PM on December 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


A friend of mine just bought a house upstate for like 90k, I'm so mad.

Friend of mine went to a long weekend at an upstate estate and got into amateur dramatics in the woods and ended up with mosquito bites everywhere, everywhere everywhere.
posted by The Whelk at 5:14 PM on December 3, 2013


I tried liver in Thanksgiving stuffing this year at the behest of this cookbook and it was surprisingly good given my previous liver experiences.
posted by XMLicious at 5:27 PM on December 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


I was incredibly charmed by Iowa City for the two years I was there for grad school

Did you know that physicians use failure to be charmed by Iowa City as a test for neurological deficits? It's true!

On the other hand, I'm pretty sure the phonemes "Iowa City" actually derive from an Indian language's "Eye-oh Washee Tay" or something similar that meant "OMG SO WHITE SO VERY VERY WHITE."

Okay, now I'm crying.

I wouldn't want to make a scody cry, but cheap houses are all over the midwest and rust belt. For example, say you want to live walking distance to a Frank Lloyd Wright house *and* walking distance to the zoo, which is plopped down at the edge of a Frederick Law Olmstead park. This is what you get for $325K. The decorating is approaching war-crimes level, but oh my lord, look at the wood. If you wanted to get into that neighborhood in a house that needed lots of work and updating, we looked at one in 07 that was going for $90K. But you'd have wanted to drop at least another $100K into it before it was actually nice.

$350K would get you this, but in the hippish gayish more downtownish area.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 5:29 PM on December 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


I love organ meats! I am picky about them, but I love them -- but only the ones I grew up eating, which is to say heart, brain, liver, tongue, and kidney. I can see what people don't like about liver and kidney; that's an acquired taste, to be sure. And the texture of brains can be off-putting if that's not what you're after. But heart and tongue are just delicious, delicious muscles! However spleen, lung, and tripe are OFF THE TABLE for me.

When organ meat is good, it's *so* good -- tender and rich, yummmm. I especially love chicken livers (so annoying to clean, so worth it), calf liver, and tongue. Tripe can go either way, though, and sometimes it's amazing.

My dad grew up in Paris, and back then/there, apparently the cheap meat was horse meat, and there were specially dedicated horse meat butchers. Horse brain was a "thing," one of his favorite foods. Thank god he's never been able to find it and cook it up for me.

The only "organ-y" thing I've eaten that I literally couldn't stomach was blood sausage. Blech.

I'm a little embarrassed to say I've never eaten at either but the whole gizzards thing put me off, as I'm not entirely sure what a gizzard is but I'm pretty sure I don't want to eat one.

They're basically chicken guts (stomach/intestines). If you actually want a taste, lots of times when you buy a whole chicken, it'll usually have the chicken's liver, heart, and gizzards stuffed inside. I usually fry up the liver as an appetizer, and try to get my cat to eat the heart, out of the idea that organ meats are good for her. The gizzards go right in the trash at my house, to be honest.

Speaking of tripe, chitlins are one of the *not* amazing ways you can eat it, in my opinion -- but people sometimes involve gizzards in their chitlins (I'm not sure how, I've never made chitlins before myself), so if you want to try them, that's another way to do it.

Oh, and you might have also had all these things without knowing it, from restaurants fancy enough to do some in-house (minor) butchering, pate-making, etc. The last place I worked, they would throw about a hundred pounds of chicken feet into this huge cauldron-type pot every once in a blue moon to make their chicken stock. Looked like somebody was trying to cast a spell or something, this HUGE vat filled with hundreds of chicken feet.
posted by rue72 at 5:33 PM on December 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


We apparently need some kind of Midwest organ meat Mefi's meetup feast.

I'll bring the pocket squares and the vacuum packs full of ...

Pork.
posted by The Whelk at 5:35 PM on December 3, 2013


The thing about eating in the Mid-West that gets to me, is that the food can be alright, but wow, the coffee is weaker than I've ever had anywhere else. I spent weeks this summer wondering around with a caffeine headache despite drinking at least three cups a day.

I brought a french press with me, but you can't really be driving and stirring a french press. Though god knows I tried.
posted by rue72 at 5:42 PM on December 3, 2013


We apparently need some kind of Midwest organ meat Mefi's meetup feast.

Oh, this reminded me to ask as thought of before. Has there ever been a MetaFilter Meet-up at a State Fair? Does that kind of thing happen?
posted by Wordshore at 5:43 PM on December 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


East Sider's Night at the Iowa State Fair will blow your minds, if you're up to the challenge.
posted by TrialByMedia at 5:46 PM on December 3, 2013


Yeah, the more I learn about food history, the less I can possibly talk about any "authentic" cuisines. All cuisines are in motion and undergoing adaptation all the time. The very idea of having a cuisine is an adaptation, and most are much younger than we might imagine. Like Zeno's arrow, the more precisely you try to define a cuisine, the less you know about its roots and its trajectory, and yet somehow we are not all eating lizards, dates, and grubs as we were in prehistory. Food should not be fossilized, it should respond to the dynamic changes of human life. Just as with music, the idea of authenticity is a canard.

A couple good references that shed some light on that in enjoyable ways:The Lost Ravioli Recipes of Hoboken, the story of a search for the "original" recipe the writer's grandmother presumably brought from Genoa, and a recent Splendid Table interview with the wonderful Robb Walsh about what we know idiomatically as Tex-Mex cuisine, and why it is both a legitimate cuisine totally distinct from what we might call Mexican cuisine, and much older than people usually suspect.
posted by Miko at 5:48 PM on December 3, 2013 [7 favorites]


When I lived in London there was this pizza place that had "authentic" Chicago pizza. It was only sort-of like Chicago pizza but I loved it anyway because it loved Chicago so hard.

One time when I was there the owner or manager heard my accent and was like, "Oh, you're American! Where from?" and I was like, "Chicago," and he got very anxious and was like, "Is the pizza like what you're used to at home?" and I paused for a minute and then I was like, "YES." Because they were trying SO HARD and it was certainly deeper dish than anything else in London!


There's a chain called Old Chicago whose deep dish isn't deep dish. It's not too bad, but it's most definitely not deep dish. I've been twice. The first time we kind of started giggling when asked how the pizza was and had to admit we were laughing about how it most decidedly wasn't deep dish and they gave us the pizza for free (for reasons unknown--we weren't complaining). The second time was like a year later and when we ordered pizza, the waitress gave a disclaimer about how it wasn't proper deep dish. I kind of suspect they got fed up with giving people free pizza.
posted by hoyland at 5:53 PM on December 3, 2013


this AskMe about a small liberal arts college in Iowa

Dear Penthouse Forum...
posted by Pudhoho at 6:08 PM on December 3, 2013 [3 favorites]


> "And when the recipes come out, we've completely forgotten why the thread was posted in the first place."
posted by zarq at 9:09 AM on December 3

> "My sister uses organ meats in her stuffing."
> "I usually fry up the liver as an appetizer ..."
> "The Lost Ravioli Recipes of Hoboken ..."

My god we're predictable.
posted by kyrademon at 6:09 PM on December 3, 2013 [6 favorites]


I've been told there is (was?) a pizza place somewhere in or around Denver that is themed as a New Jersey boardwalk pizza place - perhaps Asbury Park or Atlantic City. The person who told me this, who was from NJ, said it was definitely not the same kind of pizza, but they appreciated the enthusiastic nostalgia and artwork. I'd love to know if that place is real.
posted by Miko at 6:10 PM on December 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


My god we're predictable.

Hey man, maybe someone hasn't read it.

Oh wait. Yeah, recipes! We got there!
posted by Miko at 6:12 PM on December 3, 2013


And when the recipes come out, we've completely forgotten why the thread was posted in the first place.

And when those recipes all involve things shaped like fish and improbable varieties of rhubarb, we've had our brains remIMPROVED IN WAYS THAT MAKE US ALL HAPPY AND BRING US CAKE.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 6:16 PM on December 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


Iowa feeds you.

Iowa does not feed me. My local farmers feed me. The only time Iowa feeds me is when I get stressed out and reach for a candy bar or highly processed sweet cereal for comfort (in the latter case sometimes MN feeds me because of Lucky Charms--and when I do that my inside feels like it wants to be on my outside for about 2 days, but I digress).

Also, if you Minnesotans want to blame Iowa for something, you can blame that state for your occassional bouts of anomalous humidity in summer. Apparently the high evapotranspiration rates of all that corn in Iowa adds a lot of moisture to the atmosphere and then southerly winds in summer advect it north into Minnesota. So thank Baja Manitoba (oops...I mean North Dakota) for drying the air out when the winds turn NW.
posted by Seymour Zamboni at 6:26 PM on December 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


Hello,
I [cooked organ meat for dinner] for [my now-ex-boyfriend and cat] early in 2013. Generally, one never knows the caliber of [organ meat] that one will find [in a downmarket chain grocery store], especially someone such as myself who comes from the professional/non-academic world. But I was blown away by the level of [organ meat] that [my slightly skuzzy Ralph's] had: very young [organ meat] with fantastic [flavor] and [my now-ex-boyfriend and cat were] absolutely hungry to learn about [cooking organ meat]. [My slightly skuzzy Ralph's] is an unusual case for [a downmarket chain grocery store], the biggest asset being two fully [stocked cases of organ meat]. There aren't a lot of [downmarket chain grocery stores] that can guarantee [organ meat cooking] opportunities.

What I loved about [my slightly skuzzy Ralph's] was its size. It is a very intimate [downmarket chain grocery store] and [customers] certainly get more for their money and are watched over by [homeless people]. The [homeless people] there are exceptional and all have vast professional experience to back up their philosophies.

I would say that if [you are] serious about [cooking organ meat], then [my slightly skuzzy Ralph's] is the best [downmarket chain grocery store] choice. It is true that it is less well known, which is a shame because a lot of top [people cooking organ meat] in the field are alumni of the [meat section] at [my slightly skuzzy Ralph's].

Please email me for further thoughts!

Sincerely,
[rue72]
posted by rue72 at 6:30 PM on December 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


Oh yeah, the big story in my family is when my husband was living in Paris and dancing, he ate horse meat all the time but didn't know it.

The other story is, he would get up and the baker across the way would leave bread out and he would steal a piece and eat it with his camembert. Pretty sure they left it for him.
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 6:32 PM on December 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm willing to believe that, especially since Minneapolis has been a Hmong hub for years. But even then, that's, what, one great place that does one style, and it's hours to the next one?

Mmm, well it was hours to Minneapolis (way north of there) but I take your point. I moved to Houston for the food: this past week I had Belgian, Turkish, and Peruvian food and today I had Korean-Mexican taco truck food (mmm, kimchi burritos). So there's an embarrassment of riches here, comparatively.

I do have to say, though, that the town I was in was so into food: everyone knew when the next restaurant was opening, would go try it right away no matter what cuisine it was, and talked about it with everyone they knew. It was really nice to live in a town where food is as acceptable an opening gambit as the weather.

Also, Miko, I agree that 'authentic' food is a problematic concept but there's definitely a continuum. What people find 'good' and what they consider 'fusion' will vary quite a bit depending on their background and where and when they grew up eating the food.

So I will add to your book suggestions with The Food of a Younger Land and United States of Arugula (Food of a Younger Land because it's full of WPA recipes which everyone should go read as they are fantastic, and United States of Arugula because it explains why--approximately speaking--your parents' generation thought sushi was disgusting and your friends' children think California roll is so fake).
posted by librarylis at 6:40 PM on December 3, 2013 [3 favorites]


> "My sister uses organ meats in her stuffing."

I'm sorry you had to call out my comment in your cynicism.

It's this type of comment that was in the upper comments of this thread that were so distressing. Why do you feel like you have to do that? Does it make you feel better? That you are so much better than those of us who cook? Because 99% of America and the rest of the world, cooks their food every day, and yes, we like to share recipes. Recipes are inherent to our survival. We have to eat, therefore we cook. And I frankly am sick of people putting down cooks. Because without us, you would be eating nothing but dirt.
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 6:43 PM on December 3, 2013


Aw yeah, Food of a Younger Land is a fantastic book. Another related one, though less good because not by Mark Kurlansky, is America Eats, which is based on the same archive. I also really liked one of the essays in The Best Thing I Ever Tasted on this topic - can't recall which one, but the whole book is good. A great recent scholarly book, which really was full of new framing on US food history, is How America Eats it deals really thoroughly with the overall development of American cuisines over the last four centuries or so, including immigrant cuisines and their derivatives. Finally, in a recent thread I talked a lot about The Fortune Cookie Chronicles because I had just read it - surprising history and current reality of Chinese restuarants in the US.
posted by Miko at 6:48 PM on December 3, 2013 [3 favorites]


Iowa does not feed me. My local farmers feed me.

Congratulations! You've won!
posted by Greg Nog at 6:50 PM on December 3, 2013 [12 favorites]


I don't care, I'm not too uppity for Taco Bell. Crunchy shells for the win

Yeah, I'm a little tired of the whole "muy auténtico" debate, to be honest. I don't care if people have preferences, but as someone who grew up here it rubs me the wrong way and makes me a little defensive. People don't debate the authenticity of Domino's or even the Chinese-American food I mentioned earlier -- it is what it is. It's like moving to Hawaii and then lecturing people about the authenticity of SPAM musubi.

I think it's especially cringe-worthy when people disparage a local institution like Tito's. You can hate it more than Taco Bell, but everyone knows that Tito's hard shell tacos are gringo tacos. The Mexican-American family that owns it knows it and their largely-Latino clientele know it. They don't need it gringosplained to them.
posted by Room 641-A at 6:54 PM on December 3, 2013 [6 favorites]


I went to Grinnell too! Hi, Area Man! Hi, Jessamyn's relatives!

I love Iowa. I miss it terribly, even though I also love Boston.

Anyway, apparently we're talking about organ meats now, which I have no opinion on.
posted by dismas at 7:06 PM on December 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


Congratulations! You've won!

What did I win? I had no idea I was in some kind of contest.
posted by Seymour Zamboni at 7:09 PM on December 3, 2013


""My sister uses organ meats in her stuffing."

God, that sounds dirty. And your own sister!
posted by klangklangston at 7:19 PM on December 3, 2013 [6 favorites]


There's a chain called Old Chicago whose deep dish isn't deep dish.


Don't get me started on The Philly Pizza Company.

They don't even have hot tea!
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 7:25 PM on December 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


Jump up on that table--jump up this instant! Anarchy! Anarchy! AnArCHyy!!!
posted by Admiral Haddock at 7:31 PM on December 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


I went to Grinnell too! And I also live in (okay, near) Boston!

Grinnell is full of very wonderful and very smart people. Plus their dining hall food was pretty great when I went. I don't recall any organ meat on the menu, but if there was, there'd probably also be a just-as-tasty vegan equivalent. I would happily eat vegan organ meat.
posted by Metroid Baby at 7:38 PM on December 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


Gizzards actually are an amazing and marvelous organ. There are fish and birds and bugs that have them and some dinosaurs we think had them!

See, animals that are maybe deficient in the grinding tooth department (like chickens!) have to eat things that just wouldn't digest if they weren't broken open and partially ground up. So in birds (all birds have gizzards) the food goes first into a stomach that excretes digestive fluids, then the food goes into the gizzard, which in birds has stones the birds have swallowed. The food is mashed all around with the rocks, so the nutritive goodness can be accessed by the fowl!

Gizzard stones are called gastroliths, and they end up smooth after having been in an organic rock tumbler. The Anaszi supposedly used gizzard stones to polish ceramic vessels, and Aztecs had some medicine for tiredness made from blood and gizzard stones.

In short, gizzards are a land of contrasts.
posted by winna at 7:48 PM on December 3, 2013 [9 favorites]


I hope vegans aren't trying to recreate the taste of liver.

Greetings fellow Grinnellians! It is us three, Lord Hee Haw, and Robert Noyce!
posted by Area Man at 7:54 PM on December 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


I used to dissect birds as a science class (pigeons), and gizzards are indeed super cool to see and teach about, but I can't imagine eating one. They're just full of grit.
posted by Miko at 8:02 PM on December 3, 2013


I'm a little tired of the whole "muy auténtico" debate, to be honest.

I was kind of feeling the same way, and then I jumped out of the "muy autentico" frying pan into this ridiculous fire where Panda Express exists outside airports.

As I said when I first brought it up, I don't necessarily care whether a given food item is "authentic" or not. I don't think that something being "not authentic" means it can't possibly be good or that I won't eat it or whatever. You will pry the egg roll out of my cold, dead, hands.

But let's be real, the ridiculous "I dunno some chicken on top of a thing of hummus I guess" "Mediterranean" lunch I had today was not authentic. It does not represent any actual dish in any actual cuisine in "The Mediterranean" region, whatever that even is. It is hard to find authentic Middle Eastern food in Los Angeles. This is fact.

So I think that authentic, as a food descriptor, absolutely can be apt. It's just that it's just a word. Authentic isn't the same thing as "pure" or "correct" or "best". Egg rolls are not authentic Chinese cuisine. However, they are delicious. And from somebody else's perspective, they are probably authentic Chinese-American cuisine. Which is a thing in its own right.
posted by Sara C. at 8:14 PM on December 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


Lord Hee Haw went to Grinell? Who knew?
posted by ocherdraco at 8:15 PM on December 3, 2013


To avoid the troubles with "authentic," I think the best you can do is just " XYZ-style." If there's some standard being referenced, just name the standard: "I really want the kind of barbecue I used to get from that gas station in Beaumont." "I wish there was some place to get Naples-style granita." "Is there anywhere find the rainbow cookies like the ones from Italian bakeries in New York?"

"It's just that Authentic" is really vague - as you noted with the egg rolls, your definition and mine of what's authentic for any particular cuisine are probably different, and there's hardly a single Chinese restaurant in the US serving anything authentic to some variation of actual Chinese cuisine, now or past* - and it has just become a loaded term that begs challenge.

*For instance, there is no broccoli in Chinese cuisine because Western broccoli was until recently unknown in China.
posted by Miko at 8:34 PM on December 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


Late to the thread!

I live in Missouri, I've only really been in Iowa on my way to Minnesota, and my family's Thanksgiving tradition is chopped liver as an appetizer.

My father's trying to find a place to buy tongue in Kansas City, so if anyone could help me out, that'd be awesome.

Also, I think we might be in Minnesota or Iowa in dear old Dad's profile pic there...
posted by RainyJay at 8:36 PM on December 3, 2013


WTH? Don't lots of people use organ meats in their stuffing? Or eat braunschweiger? Or poutine? Or some version of meat pie? Or a dish using rendered pork?

What about pulled pork? Do you have family members who make pulled pork? And what kind of dressing do they use? Vinegar? Tomato? Brown sugar? Roasted on the grill or in the oven?
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 8:37 PM on December 3, 2013


Lord Hee Haw went to Grinell? Who knew?

Yeah, that jackass was from my hometown...which is like 50% German, the other half being Irish. There wasn't a lot of love for Nazis, but I'm sure a not-too-insignificant part of town was rooting for the Kaiser before he sank the Lusitania.
posted by TrialByMedia at 8:43 PM on December 3, 2013


Let's all give a quick peek at the Yule Goat.

Ok then, carry on
posted by lakersfan1222 at 8:49 PM on December 3, 2013


"I really want the kind of barbecue I used to get from that gas station in Beaumont." "I wish there was some place to get Naples-style granita." "Is there anywhere find the rainbow cookies like the ones from Italian bakeries in New York?"

See, this sort of thing is just not really what I mean when I talk about authentic. I know some people use it that way, but when I say it I mean, like, Taco Bell's "Triple Steak Stack". That is not authentic Mexican cuisine. It's just not. That does not correspond to any Mexican dish and was not designed to. It looks delicious, and I have no problem with anyone who enjoys eating that. But it's not authentic Mexican food.

I'm not going to stop using the word authentic to talk about something like the Triple Steak Stack just because some jackass on Chowhound doesn't get that New Haven Style pizza is a thing.
posted by Sara C. at 8:52 PM on December 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


My father's trying to find a place to buy tongue in Kansas City

Mexican grocery. Go to the butcher/meat section. Look for lengua.
posted by Sara C. at 8:53 PM on December 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


not to mention all those blabbermouths out there.

*stirs soup menacingly*
posted by The Whelk at 8:55 PM on December 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


New Haven Style pizza is totally a thing.
posted by lakersfan1222 at 8:58 PM on December 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


lakersfan1222: "Let's all give a quick peek at the Yule Goat.
Ok then, carry on
"

Ooh! Still there, and not aflame!
posted by julen at 8:59 PM on December 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


when I say it I mean, like, Taco Bell's "Triple Steak Stack". That is not authentic Mexican cuisine. It's just not. That does not correspond to any Mexican dish and was not designed to.

So what would be an example of the authentic Mexican cuisine, which is the standard you reference when you say that the Triple Steak Stack is not it?
posted by Miko at 9:01 PM on December 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


Any other Mexican dish, probably.

I mean, I think it's not really that controversial that one can get a taco, a burrito, mole poblano, chiles rellenos, etc. in Mexico or among Mexican populations in other countries. There are different varieties and styles of those dishes, sure. But I think we can all agree that those are things that exist in Mexican cuisine.

The Triple Steak Stack is not a commonly accepted dish in Mexican cuisine.

Again, I agree with you when it comes to people who bicker about what "true" barbecue is or castigate Mission Style burritos or whatever.

But I think on a certain level we can agree that some foods are traditionally part of certain world cuisines, and other foods were invented in test kitchens by companies trying to sell cheap food to stoners.
posted by Sara C. at 9:05 PM on December 3, 2013


I mean, I actually just had a cursory Google and found a lot of traditional Mexican thin-sliced marinated steak recipes, telera flatbread rolls, etc. The cheese isn't common but then cheeses are one of the big Tex-Mex influences.

The burrito is really not a particularly Mexican food. That's kind of a recent invention, 19th century. Of course the concept, wrapping a tortilla around food, is ancient.

The Triple Steak Stack may not be a commonly accepted dish in Mexican cuisine, but marinated beef inside a bread wrapper is. So, apart from the fact that it's a commercial, branded product, it seems to be within the vocabulary.
posted by Miko at 9:08 PM on December 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


That's kind of a recent invention, 19th century.

This is kind of what I mean when I say that "authentic" doesn't mean "pure" or "correct".

We live in the 21st century.

In the 21st century, of course burritos are part of Mexican cuisine. While they're not as dominant/popular/ubiquitous in Mexico itself as they are in California and the US Southwest, they are absolutely an authentic part of Mexican cuisines of California and the US Southwest.

This stuff is really only hard if you make it hard.

No food is authentic if by authentic you mean "rooted in the mists of time". Aside from maybe antelope or something, or mongongo nuts?
posted by Sara C. at 9:13 PM on December 3, 2013


Them Simpson alums sure know how to kick off a great metatalk thread!
posted by sammyo at 9:13 PM on December 3, 2013 [5 favorites]


More on burrito history. First references are really late.
posted by Miko at 9:14 PM on December 3, 2013


No food is authentic if by authentic you mean "rooted in the mists of time."

I'm really just still trying to understand what you mean by it, then. What is a "connection to the cuisine"? Just that people eat it? But MExico has undergone the same processes of industrialization and commercialization as the US. How is what is eaten regionally there more "authentic" to them than it is to us, when it arose here at the very same time?

I mean, I agree with you that no food is authentic. All foods are expressions of complex phenomena converging at a time and a place. So, all food is authentic as all other food. Taco Bell is authentic cheap commercially branded food sold to stoners, based on influences from a particular regional vocabulary. But there's nothing inauthentic about it. It's not trying to be anything other than what it is - if it were, it would be something different.
posted by Miko at 9:16 PM on December 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


Unless really late is in the test kitchens of El Pollo Loco in 1994, I think we can concur that burritos are an authentic part of Mexican cuisine as it exists today.
posted by Sara C. at 9:17 PM on December 3, 2013


Sure, if Twinkies, Ritz crackers, and Hawaiian punch are an authentic part of American cuisine as it exists today. All appear first about the same time as the first time burritos are documented.
posted by Miko at 9:19 PM on December 3, 2013 [3 favorites]


All foods are expressions of complex phenomena converging at a time and a place.

Sure, but when I go to Olive Garden and see potato bacon cream soup on the menu... that's not an authentic Italian dish.

It's just not.

We can talk about how Italy, as a country, didn't exist until the the 19th century, and the different regional foodways, and globalization, etc.

Bottom line, potato bacon cream soup is not an authentic part of Italian cuisine. Somebody at Olive Garden corporate put it on the menu as an alternative to minestrone.
posted by Sara C. at 9:20 PM on December 3, 2013


when I go to Olive Garden and see potato bacon cream soup on the menu... that's not an authentic Italian dish.

Nothing in Olive Garden is "authentic" Italian cuisine. It seems odd to single out the soup (though there's plenty of potato soup in Italy).
posted by Miko at 9:21 PM on December 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


As long as we're talking about crappy "Mexican" food, have I ever mentioned the time two friends and I ate 42 bean burritos at a Taco Bueno in Oklahoma City?

Why yes, we were just out of High School, and we were drunk. So what?
posted by Curious Artificer at 9:23 PM on December 3, 2013


Not to mention Gnocchi.
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 9:23 PM on December 3, 2013


dammit, I missed the crappy Mexican food moment; you've all moved on to Olive Garden
posted by Curious Artificer at 9:24 PM on December 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


I've gained three pounds clicking these links, thank you very much.
It's been inspirational, though: here's what's for dinner tomorrow night.

Also Diana Kennedy. I highly recommend The Art of Mexican Cooking for anyone interested in Mexican cuisine.
posted by Pudhoho at 9:25 PM on December 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


Isn't a cuisine just a cooking style that has a particular vibe or flavor profile to it?

If something is cooked in the style of a certain cuisine, what would make it not "authentically" of that cuisine?
posted by rue72 at 9:29 PM on December 3, 2013


Lidia's minestra clauda. Pancetta rather than bacon, and no cream, but sure.

here's what's for dinner tomorrow night.

OMG, tonight while I was running I was listening to this recipe for achiote-marinated turkey. I am not one for doing trendy things with Thanksgiving turkey, but this sounded just incredible. I think I have to try it.
posted by Miko at 9:30 PM on December 3, 2013


Nothing in Olive Garden is "authentic" Italian cuisine.

My point exactly.

There might be one or two dishes they serve that are (surely they must have pasta pomodoro or something? Haven't been there in years), but it's pretty easy to look at an Olive Garden menu and notice that nothing on there is particularly Italian.

The fact that we can notice this, and don't either A) have no context whatsoever for something called "Italian Cuisine", or B) assume that any food served at a supposedly Italian restaurant must be Italian food by default, means that there is such a thing as "authenticity", and it is somewhat important/worth noting to a certain degree.

As I've said, I don't think it's worth obsessing about, and I'm not going to refuse to eat Olive Garden's big smushy breadsticks* because they are "not authentic". But still, I think you have to be extremely disingenuous to claim that there are no such things as global cuisines and if a Mexican person eats a twinkie in Mexico that's Mexican cuisine now whereas if a Chicano person eats a burrito in Tuscon that's not Mexican cuisine.

though there's plenty of potato soup in Italy

Maybe? Soup with potatoes in it, sure. Cream-based potato soups with bacon, cheddar cheese, and chives? Nope. Not Italian.

*It's funny, I would have sworn breadsticks don't exist at all in Italy. But I was in this tiny town in northeastern Italy, at a little birreria late at night. We were looking for something, ANYTHING to eat. All there was left was cheese, which we ordered because FOODS NOW PLEASE. Which was served with those classic skinny crisp breadsticks like you see in old Italian-American restaurants with the chianti and the checkered tableclothes. So some angle on breadsticks is legit Italian, at least. But nothing like the Olive Garden or Domino's Pizza take.
posted by Sara C. at 9:35 PM on December 3, 2013


That achiote turkey sounds really good. I just happen to have a turkey I need to deal with soon. You sealed its fate.
posted by Pudhoho at 9:36 PM on December 3, 2013


It sounds like someone is just discovering the existence of an anthropology of food, perhaps one of the best kinds of anthropology. There are better ways to have this conversation without question-begging words like "authentic." I strongly, strongly recommend the writing Sidney Mintz has done over the past 50 years about food production in the Caribbean, Afro-Caribbean food culture, and food culture worldwide in general.

Alternatively, Wiley makes a lot of papers from Nutritional Anthropology available for free online in PDF. Check them out, there's some interesting and accessible reading there!
posted by Nomyte at 9:39 PM on December 3, 2013 [6 favorites]


It sounds like someone is just discovering the existence of an anthropology of food, perhaps one of the best kinds of anthropology.

I majored in anthropology and have been reading gastronomic history, anthropology, etc for years. Decades, even.
posted by Sara C. at 9:41 PM on December 3, 2013


I also frankly don't get why we have to strip our language of perfectly useful words and instead default to academic-ese when the word "authentic" describes what we mean perfectly well unless one is desperate to be a contrarian about it.

What "authentic" doesn't do well is work as a qualitative term to indicate that something is good, pure, correct, ideal, etc.

It also isn't great as a synonym for "the kind I grew up eating".

You can use the word "authentic" to talk about foods and foodways without being an asshole. Just because some assholes exist doesn't mean that we have to go to Judith Butler land.
posted by Sara C. at 9:43 PM on December 3, 2013


And you're still begging the question by insisting on some kind of iron-clad "authenticity" and asserting that everybody knows, for some value of "everybody" and some value of "knows," that nothing at Olive Garden is "authentically Italian"? I don't think it's even possible to have a productive conversation in these terms.
posted by Nomyte at 9:45 PM on December 3, 2013


still, I think you have to be extremely disingenuous to claim that there are no such things as global cuisines

I didn't claim there were no such things as global cuisines, I claimed that authenticity was a fairly useless concept.

I know you've studied anthropology, which is why I'm sometimes so puzzled that you might use a term that's pretty deprecated and consistently avoided by people in the field. I can't agree that it's that useful a term, because when I hear it, I can't tell whether you mean the meaning most of us understand, or the meaning you want us to understand, referencing some non-defined standard.

some angle on breadsticks is legit Italian, at least.

Yeah, grissini, it's Piedmontese.
posted by Miko at 9:46 PM on December 3, 2013


>I buy my eggs from chickens I can play with

No middleman. Niiiice.
posted by heyho at 9:47 PM on December 3, 2013 [3 favorites]


if a Mexican person eats a twinkie in Mexico that's Mexican cuisine

See, I totally endorse the view that it is. If it is sold, advertised, eaten in Mexico, then it's part of Mexican cuisine. It will build up a body of memory, lore, tradition, practice there as it has here, and it will mesh with and integrate with other aspects of Mexican cuisine that might be less processed or more associated with tradition or closer to their agricultural source - but they're all a de facto part of Mexican cuisine. It'd be like saying iced tea isn't part of American cuisine, because tea doesn't originate here and never really has. We eat it, we use it, we mix it with other traditions, it's ours now.

I didn't even realize this when I threw Twinkies out there, but it was a point almost made moot by merger - Bimbo snack cakes had a bid in to buy Hostess this spring, apparently. If Bimbo cakes are Mexican cuisine, then Twinkies are too - if they're sold and eaten in Mexico.
posted by Miko at 9:58 PM on December 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


"I know some people use it that way, but when I say it I mean, like, Taco Bell's 'Triple Steak Stack'. That is not authentic Mexican cuisine."

I find this a sort of weird example because, as a native New Mexican, it's never occurred to me to think of Taco Bell or fast-food mexican as "Mexican food". I know I just included "mexican" in "fast-food mexican", but it's just always seemed to me to be so distant as to be self-evidently it's own thing. Like pizza. I don't consider pizza to be "Italian food".

Maybe when I was a kid I thought of pizza as "Italian food". But I'm pretty sure that long before I had any knowledge of the various foods Italians eat, I'd thought of pizza as something that is 80% American and 20% Italian. Fast-food mexican is really the same way and, to a lesser extent, the homogenized notion of "Mexican food" that predominates through the US.

Eyebrows McGee up-thread mentioned her Santa Fe in-laws — New Mexicans, and especially central/northern New Mexicans, and especially native New Mexicans, and most especially native hispanic central/norther New Mexicans, take their(our) food very seriously. And it's really a distinct regional Mexican cuisine that's evolved there for hundreds of years but has, as Miko is pointing out generally, been influenced continually by "outside" influences and this is especially true for the last hundred or so years.

I'm super-picky about Mexican food because I'm super-picky about New Mexican food and it's as close as anything is to a native cuisine for me, although I'm not hispanic. And it really is distinct from the other hispanic cuisines in the southwest and from northern Mexican food. I like the ways it's distinct. So I've tended to think in terms of "authentic" but I've had to learn to adjust that understanding even with regard to the food that's being eaten in small, northern New Mexican mountain villages that are 99% hispanic and native hispanaphones because although people like to think so, they aren't eating exactly the same things that their ancestors in the 1800s or 1700s or 1600s were eating.

I generally don't like Tex-Mex because I think it's relatively bland. I like northern and coastal Mexican food better, but it's still mostly unfamiliar to me. I haven't had a lot of Californian Mexican food because I've not spent a lot of time in California.

At this point, I don't even have any sort of platonic idea of Mexican food anymore; all I really see and understand are regional cuisines that cross-pollinate and progressively diverge as you move south through Mexico.

And you mention that with Italian. The food in Italy varies hugely. And American Italian food varies both by American region and by where the Italian-American immigrants emigrated from in Italy.

I do agree that when a standard is being explicitly invoked, such as "this is just like the pizza in Chicago" then we can make a judgment about "authenticity" in that sense.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 10:18 PM on December 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


Iowans telling themselves that their Mexican is just as good must be like Californians telling themselves that pizza is just as good here.

Seriously I don't understand how pizza is so bad out there. I will educate everyone on the three elements required for a good pizza: Good crust, good sauce (can be as minimal as garlic infused olive oil), good cheese, in harmonious amounts and proportions. But I tried some "New York style" pizza in SF recently and they had bad crust, bad sauce, and bad cheese. And overall the food situation in SF seems to be a little better than that in NY, so it's not like America or something where people aren't demanding quality eats... I am rather puzzled. I've heard speculation it's literally something in the water making NYC pizza better, but NJ is able to do a decent job with its similar style of pizza and they use toxic water from a hole in the ground.

Regarding authenticity, my favorite slice place is owned by Albanians (apparently this is a trend), staffed by Albanians and Mexicans.
posted by save alive nothing that breatheth at 10:24 PM on December 3, 2013


I know you've studied anthropology, which is why I'm sometimes so puzzled that you might use a term that's pretty deprecated and consistently avoided by people in the field.

Because I'm not writing an anthropological treatise, I'm whining about PF Chang's. The two are very different things. The word "authentic" isn't a racial slur.

it's never occurred to me to think of Taco Bell or fast-food mexican as "Mexican food".

This is kind of exactly what I mean. We have this whole category of commercialized chain restaurants with menus that completely revolve around American tastes, particular segments of the market, food trends, etc. Because of all that, despite being branded as a certain international cuisine, we can all agree that, by and large, the food they sell is not authentic to those cuisines. It's the cuisine of test kitchens and focus groups.

I mean, I know a burrito bowl from Chipotle has basically no resemblance to Mexican food. It's still delicious. The problem happens when you start seeing this conversation as a value judgment as opposed to an observation of how the American food industry works.
posted by Sara C. at 10:25 PM on December 3, 2013


Seriously I don't understand how pizza is so bad out there.

It's the water.

And by that, it's not about "good water" vs "bad water". The local water influences the character of any dough-based baked food, anywhere. This is why French-style bread from New Orleans tastes different from the bread in France, and also why bagels vary so widely.

It's not actually possible to re-create most breads outside their native habitat.

It's more of a terroir, and less of an audit of local infrastructure.

The same issue explains why sourdough bread is inferior on the east coast, too. So it's in no way about anything in the east being superior. It's just fate. We invent bread recipes that taste good with our particular water. When you try to take your bread across a continent, it loses something.
posted by Sara C. at 10:31 PM on December 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


... it's never occurred to me to think of Taco Bell or fast-food mexican as "Mexican food".

Me too! I've always thought of Taco Bell in terms of flatulence and bloating. The first few bites are delicious. Any more than that and I feel like I've eaten a piano leg.
posted by Pudhoho at 10:33 PM on December 3, 2013


I also frankly don't get why we have to strip our language of perfectly useful words and instead default to academic-ese when the word "authentic" describes what we mean perfectly well unless one is desperate to be a contrarian about it.

What "authentic" doesn't do well is work as a qualitative term to indicate that something is good, pure, correct, ideal, etc.

It also isn't great as a synonym for "the kind I grew up eating".


I have never studied anthropology, I'm sorry if this sounds ignorant -- but then what does "authentic" mean? Because if it doesn't mean "how people in or from Place X cook/eat" or "common things to cook/eat in Place X," then what aspect of cooking/eating does it cover?

Phrases like "Mexican-style" also don't sound like academic jargon to me, so I don't think the issue is lack of non-academic-jargon-sounding alternatives.

It's the cuisine of test kitchens and focus groups.

Corporate food has a different taste to it and is usually by definition/necessity made using different processes and arrays of ingredients than either higher-brow restaurant food or dive restaurant food or homecooked food, I don't really know where "authenticity" can come into that?

I've eaten pizza on three continents, it has tasted different each time, but I couldn't tell you which pizza was more "authentic" or less "authentic." What is the baseline for "authenticity"?
posted by rue72 at 10:35 PM on December 3, 2013


It's the cuisine of test kitchens and focus groups.

It sounds like your complaint is really that Taco Bell and PF Chang's and the rest aren't good. So why not just say that? Why drag "authenticity" into it?
posted by asterix at 10:41 PM on December 3, 2013


Because some things, like Chipotle, the random burrito shop that opened up in my college town, and New York style Chinese food, are not authentic at all but are good anyway.
posted by LionIndex at 10:46 PM on December 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


Because if it doesn't mean "how people in or from Place X cook/eat" or "common things to cook/eat in Place X," then what aspect of cooking/eating does it cover?


That's exactly what it means. I'm confused about your confusion.

Re "inauthentic" pizza:

I actually think pizza is a uniquely hard thing to evaluate in this way, because it really does stretch to include almost anything that would be remotely recognizable as pizza.

I was going to suggest the dessert pizzas often served by pizza buffets. Because that's not real pizza, that's just a gimmick to get people to stay for dessert. Except what separates the dessert gimmick from any other item the pizza place sells? I mean, the whole purpose of the place is to get people to purchase their products.

Then I was going to suggest that it's not authentic pizza if it doesn't meet the standards of pizza. Like maybe it's made on bread instead of "crust". But pizza bagels and pita pizza exist, and are arguably pizza. Toppings obviously don't matter: I had saag paneer pizza in India and it was definitely pizza despite the fact that saag paneer is not a traditional pizza topping. And yet it's not the sauce either, since there are definitely pizzas that lack sauce, but which are still pizza.

On the other hand, someone upthread mentioned eating at a Chicago-style pizza place in London, and knowing it wasn't right, but pretending to the staff that it was. So clearly we have a metric for authenticity in broadly recognized pizza styles.
posted by Sara C. at 10:49 PM on December 3, 2013


once you get really good adding cornstarch to sauces you can make any American-Chinese dush really

Except for eggrolls.

Those things are just tedious by hand.
posted by The Whelk at 10:49 PM on December 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


I just realized I've eaten pizza on four continents, which is 100% of continents I've been to.

NEW LIFE GOAL
posted by Sara C. at 10:51 PM on December 3, 2013 [4 favorites]


EAT MEAT BOUGHT WITH COINS CHALLENGE

2/7 CONTINENTS
posted by The Whelk at 10:53 PM on December 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


Sara C.: "As I said when I first brought it up, I don't necessarily care whether a given food item is "authentic" or not."

Oh, I wasn't talking about you specifically, just the trend in general. I was responding to sm1tten's comment about "crunchy taco shells FTW", which is the part I quoted.
posted by Room 641-A at 10:56 PM on December 3, 2013


EAT MEAT KILT & BUTCHERED BY YOUR OWN HAND CHALLENGE

I have not yet et penguin.
posted by Pudhoho at 11:06 PM on December 3, 2013


Fun fact: In the 70s, Taco Bell had just a handful of items, and they all had phonetic spellings on the menu. I could only find this grainy black & white photo, but you can see where it says "Taco" and underneath it, "TAH-co", etc.
posted by Room 641-A at 11:15 PM on December 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


While authenticity isn't really a useful aesthetic term, as commonly used and as used in this discussion, it makes sense and it's weird to be so stridently against. Music can authentically be genred, even if many bands don't fit comfortably into genres.

Two other things: First, food that was created in the 1920s can certainly be authentic. There's no need to pretend that because everything has forebears, it can't be authentic; samosas and empanadas can both be authentic to Indian and Argentinean cuisines even though they're both outgrowths of moorish meatpies.

Further, I'd argue that being flatly dismissive of authenticity as a term is almost as bad as being slavishly devoted to it. It seems pretty imperial to say that, e.g., Mexicans can't define what food is authentically Mexican. And I'd be pretty hesitant as a white yankee to tell them Twinkies are Mexican food because they're eaten in Mexico. A lot of that does come down to how people eat things in any given place, but within that there are definitely foods that are significantly more representative than others. You wouldn't take someone to a hypothetical Taco Bell in Mexico City to show them Mexican food, even though Mexicans may eat it. Given the overlap between cuisine and identity, being too brusque with "authenticity" gets perilously close to declaring that identity is meaningless too.

Or, in another area: There are definitely rules for making many French dishes. There is an "authentic soufflé," despite it being "only" 200 years old. And souffles are authentically French.
posted by klangklangston at 11:18 PM on December 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


I could only find this grainy black & white photo,

Okay now I can't sleep because of the creepy lady. Unless I eat some inauthentic Mexican food, she will devour my soul.
posted by XMLicious at 11:40 PM on December 3, 2013


Seven days after your visit, she comes through your bathroom mirror, takes your soul back to headquarters, divides it evenly, wraps it in a tortilla with refried beans, then teleports it to the franchisees. Technically, it's other patrons who eat your soul.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 11:49 PM on December 3, 2013 [3 favorites]


I hope you guys just stop eating pizza in California for always so there is more left for me.
posted by dogwalker at 11:50 PM on December 3, 2013


Not to worry - pizza is a renewable resource.
posted by Pudhoho at 11:52 PM on December 3, 2013


This thread is the absolute best of what Metafilter is.... look at where we've gone from start to finish: grousing about strange posts in an AskMe to a foodie free-for-all.

I love you people.
posted by pjern at 11:52 PM on December 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


To bring this full circle to Pepsi, a vivid memory from my Soviet childhood is drinking a fizzy Pepsi bought from a popup kiosk on a sunny summer day out on the town. Delicious Soviet Pepsi, mmm. Or think of "Mexican Coke," sweetened with cane sugar. Food can be tremendously complicated. Something that is "obviously inauthentic" to an outside observer can be an integral part of the lived experience of another. There are good reasons to consider "authenticity" a very problematic word. Could you imagine telling Guatemalan women making home textiles out of acrylic yarn that their craft practices are "inauthentic"? There is definitely stuff there, and interesting history and rich cultural currents to talk about, and that's why anthropology is an evolving area of study. But if someone is seriously talking about cultural "authenticity," they are either making a huge honking assumption or verging on outright cultural essentialism.
posted by Nomyte at 11:56 PM on December 3, 2013 [4 favorites]


Wait, I think I'm confusing Taco Bell with Chick-fil-A. It's the latter where your soul goes into the chicken sandwiches (it's the pickle). With Taco Bell, I think it flies straight to that chihuahua, also known as Qatatcotl, Mouth of the Devourer.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 11:58 PM on December 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


Even back then they served Pepsi, horrible.

For those looking for good pizza in LA, I have to recommend Apollonia's Pizza and not just because my husband's friend owns it. You can't beat the rattlesnake sausage.
posted by amapolaroja at 12:10 AM on December 4, 2013


EAT MEAT KILT & BUTCHERED BY YOUR OWN HAND CHALLENGE

Meat + Kilt = Meat Kilt.

This could be a thing.
posted by zarq at 12:12 AM on December 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


- Menu items are called by the names used in the place the food originates. Horiatiki is called horiatiki, not "tomato feta salad".

I was at Central Market in Dallas a few years ago and saw they were selling fresh charoset, helpfully labeled "Apple Walnut Salsa."

40,000 Jews in the area, but 6 million+ in the metroplex. Smart marketing.
posted by zarq at 12:16 AM on December 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


Or here is a food-based example: in my mother's family, borsht was a hearty tomato-based soup made with beef stock, served hot with sour cream and crusty bread, which contained potato, cabbage, and plenty of fresh dill. Now, never mind that both potatoes and tomatoes are New World vegetables and were introduced to Eastern Europe as part of a directed agricultural campaign within relatively recent history. Forget that, but consider that imported factory-farm chicken suddenly flooded Eastern Europe in the 90s, and everything that was made with beef was suddenly made with cheap chicken meat. My mom's family promptly switched to using chicken broth in recipes. It was a huge and mostly invisible diet change for a lot of people. How would it score on some "authenticity scale"? And then, of course, I arrived in the US and learned that (a) borsht is strongly associated with the cuisine of New York Jews, and (b) what my mom's family, relatives, and friends cooked a hundred times a year couldn't possibly be borsht, because it wasn't a beet dish. Clearly, we had been misinformed. (I still haven't had the beet soup called borsht in the US.)
posted by Nomyte at 12:22 AM on December 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


Fun fact: In the 70s, Taco Bell had just a handful of items, and they all had phonetic spellings on the menu.

I remember that signage from the Taco Bell/Kentucky Fried Chicken joint on third avenue in downtown Seattle back in the late 70's.
It was a pain in the ass because each operation was completely separate from the other. If you wanted fried chicken and tacos,
you had order one item, wait for your food, then trundle over and stand in line for the other.

The place had a juggernaut of stiles, I suppose to 'keep order', that also discouraged patrons from mixing it up. The Taco Bell patrons sat on their side,
and the KFC patrons sat on the other, as if your choice automatically ranked you into one of two vaguely hostile factions.

It was a grimy, over lit expanse that I only entered when I had a hankering for one of the Colonel's drumsticks.
Never with my friends from the white suburbs - they were either afraid of the other customers, urban and mostly black, or wanted to 'rap' with them.
It never ended well.
posted by Pudhoho at 12:48 AM on December 4, 2013


"Or here is a food-based example: in my mother's family, borsht was a hearty tomato-based soup made with beef stock, served hot with sour cream and crusty bread, which contained potato, cabbage, and plenty of fresh dill."

Are they Mennonites?

And borscht without beets sounds a little like Manhattan Clam Chowder (in its odd duckness).
posted by klangklangston at 1:00 AM on December 4, 2013


"For those looking for good pizza in LA, I have to recommend Apollonia's Pizza and not just because my husband's friend owns it. You can't beat the rattlesnake sausage."

There's a fair amount of good pizza in LA, but neither the average nor the elites are as good as New York pizza. (Though that I can admit to having old data on; New York pizza may have gotten significantly worse, but I doubt it.)

It's rare for joints out here to nail the crusty+chewy crust, making it too often limp and disappointing. And the sauce tends to be too sweet.

But who knows, I didn't like the pizza al taglia in Rome.
posted by klangklangston at 1:08 AM on December 4, 2013


I have to say, the time I was in Manhattan with a bunch of people and the locals were very excited because we were going to get "the pizza to end all pizza’s" from their favorite place. I was excited because I could finally see what I’d been missing. When I finally got to try it it tasted like pizza. Not really any different than pretty much any pizza I’ve ever had. I was really unsure what to make of that.
posted by bongo_x at 1:23 AM on December 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


It's rare for joints out here to nail the crusty+chewy crust, making it too often limp and disappointing. And the sauce tends to be too sweet.

That pretty much sums up west coast attempts at NYC style pizza.
There's definitely some edible pizza here, just don't set your mouth for NYC style before you bite down.
The couple best places, Abruzzi's in downtown Seattle for one, got tilled under by the redevelopment 'boom' in the late 1980's.

I avoid disappointment by making my own.
posted by Pudhoho at 1:29 AM on December 4, 2013


I avoid disappointment by eating pizza.
posted by dogwalker at 1:37 AM on December 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


I eat pizza to avoid disappointment.
posted by Pudhoho at 1:46 AM on December 4, 2013


Are they Mennonites?

No, not at all. Expecting to map recipe variations onto religious minorities is a little silly. I'm pretty puzzled by the discussion of "Chinese borsht" on that page, it feels like some Russian cultural chauvinists got to it. On the other hand, I can confirm that there is, in fact, a dish that some people call "green borsht," which is made with sorrel. I have, in fact, been looking for sorrel for years in the US, for the sake of this dish. It's as hard to find as fresh currants.
posted by Nomyte at 1:53 AM on December 4, 2013


I am disappointment. {reaches for pizza}
posted by Wordshore at 1:53 AM on December 4, 2013


More than 600 comments and not one closed account? What kind of freakish MetaTalk callout is this? And how can we ensure the rest of them turn out this way?
posted by Proofs and Refutations at 2:24 AM on December 4, 2013 [3 favorites]


> "I hope vegans aren't trying to recreate the taste of liver."

Already been done. I used to pick up vegan chopped liver every now and then when I was living in Boston. It was pretty good.

> "I'm sorry you had to call out my comment in your cynicism."

My what now?
posted by kyrademon at 3:14 AM on December 4, 2013


More than 600 comments and not one closed account? What kind of freakish MetaTalk callout is this? And how can we ensure the rest of them turn out this way?

Oddly perhaps, have enjoyed this MetaTalk more than most.

It's perhaps because the topic has joyfully derailed and derailed again, through the lovely topics of Iowa, and authentic and inauthentic cuisine. Or perhaps because the OP wrote in good spirit, and has gone with and participated in the derails and been interesting and funny, and not (unlike some others who MetaTalk post) been abrasive, caused a pile-on, uncomfortable thoughts about online ganging, then stropped off with multiple account closures. Or perhaps because there's been 16 mentions of cheese so far. Or more smiles, giggles and LOL than most MetaTalk posts.

Or, dunno, maybe I'm just in a good mood as no owl noises for a few nights now. {turns off laptop, skips through flowery meadows}
posted by Wordshore at 3:22 AM on December 4, 2013 [3 favorites]


My mom mostly fed us hot dogs, spaghetti with Ragu-brand sauce, and hamburger helper. Is it possible that the food I ate as a child was all inauthentic?
posted by Area Man at 3:29 AM on December 4, 2013


I'm pretty sure that is all traditional Area cuisine.
posted by kyrademon at 3:34 AM on December 4, 2013 [13 favorites]


Re: garlic oil, MeFi told me homemade garlic oil infusions are breeding grounds for botulism and generally a delicious, delicious tool of the devil.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane (staff) at 4:38 AM on December 4, 2013


Well my contribution to this thread is to laugh at my city of Philadelphia for having the suckiest pizza in the universe and being all *hooray* we have the best pretzels ever *hooray*

I love Philly; I just -- look, NYC is an hour and a half a way, just import some water from there if that's the problem with the awful pizza, as is rumored. And the fucking pretzels are fine if you get all excited about salty bread.
posted by angrycat at 4:46 AM on December 4, 2013


On the other hand, I can confirm that there is, in fact, a dish that some people call "green borsht," which is made with sorrel.

Is that the same as shchi? My family made red borscht (which was called "borscht") and shchi was sometimes called "green borscht" and seen as a related dish.
posted by griphus at 4:47 AM on December 4, 2013


I don't get how you guys can be upset about this when Carol is roaming the country side by herself.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:06 AM on December 4, 2013 [5 favorites]


On the other hand, someone upthread mentioned eating at a Chicago-style pizza place in London, and knowing it wasn't right, but pretending to the staff that it was. So clearly we have a metric for authenticity in broadly recognized pizza styles.

I'm the person who mentioned Old Chicago and their non-deep dish deep dish. For me, you need the sauce on top and you need the pizza to be, I don't know, at least an inch and a half deep to be plausible as deep dish. (Old Chicago fails on both counts.) I think I generally expect more than an inch and a half (though it's early and I'm pulling numbers out of thin air, so maybe I've lost my sense of scale), but if you clear those two bars, I'm not going to complain something's not 'real' deep dish. Rather, I'm judging it on whether it tastes good or not. Now, it's possible that I have different standards of 'tastes good' for deep dish than my Californian college roommates, who questioned me at length about 'Chicago-style' pizza, which has little to do with me being the correct arbiter of pizza authenticity due to where I'm from (though I'm was treated as such) and more to do with the fact I have a bigger sample size on which to base my judgement.

(Also, Wikipedia has just taught me that thin crust pizza cut in squares is not a thing in much of the US. This means my answer to 'Tell us about Chicago-style pizza', which was 'Umm... a lot of places have at least two of thin crust, thick crust and deep dish. I guess you're talking about deep dish.' wasn't as clear as I thought it was.)
posted by hoyland at 5:07 AM on December 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


On a day like today some Shchi with a big dollop of sour cream (smetana) would really hit the spot.
posted by Area Man at 5:35 AM on December 4, 2013


This means my answer to 'Tell us about Chicago-style pizza', which was 'Umm... a lot of places have at least two of thin crust, thick crust and deep dish. I guess you're talking about deep dish.

NYC also has its taxonomy. The standard NYC slice, while thin, is substantial enough to stand up to reheating. Old-school sit-down "no slices" places serve a somewhat more delicate variation, best consumed fresh. There's plenty of Neapolitan-style pizza being made. Finally slice joints also have the NYC "Sicilian" slice (probably no relation to actual Sicily) which is kind of like a good version of Chicago thick crust / deep dish.
posted by save alive nothing that breatheth at 5:39 AM on December 4, 2013


Carol's just covering for her psycho kids. It's the kids you have to worry about.
posted by cjorgensen at 5:57 AM on December 4, 2013


I bet Carol likes Chicago style pizza. She despises thin crust, doesn't view it as enough of a test for the inner toughness.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:01 AM on December 4, 2013


The place is actually run by people from the part of the world where the cuisine comes from, and likely caters primarily to people from that part of the world. (YMMV whether Crave falls into that category, but it is a Greek restaurant owned by Greeks in a neighborhood that has a HUGE Greek population.)

Would you have any way of knowing whether or not what they give you is from the menu for the ξένοι? You know there's more than one menu, right, and your pronunciation of γύρος is a shibboleth. (you will know if you are ordering off the foreigner menu if you can read it)

Menu items are called by the names used in the place the food originates. Horiatiki is called horiatiki, not "tomato feta salad"

If this were true, you'd very rarely be getting "authentic" food of any sort. Do you walk into a Chinese restaurant and order huíguōròu or gōngbǎo jīdīng?

I will eat a kimchi taco with the best of them, but don't pretend that's authentic to either Mexico or Korea.

What are some of your best memories of Mexico and Korea?
posted by Tanizaki at 6:15 AM on December 4, 2013 [4 favorites]


I remember that signage from the Taco Bell/Kentucky Fried Chicken joint on third avenue in downtown Seattle back in the late 70's.

Whuuuuut?
posted by Room 641-A at 6:20 AM on December 4, 2013


I used to be a relativist about authenticity of food. Then I started hanging out with Inuits. Fermented raw walrus flipper is as authentic as it F'ing gets. Make one mistake in preparing it and you die.
posted by spitbull at 6:34 AM on December 4, 2013 [3 favorites]


I am Korean and I can attest there is no such thing as a kimchi taco in Korea (good luck even trying to find tortillas in Seoul).

I do consider kimchi tacos to be a fine example of Korean-Americcan cuisine, though.
posted by needled at 6:36 AM on December 4, 2013


Yeah, you would want to eat any of that bogus Chicago-style fermented raw walrus flipper.
posted by pracowity at 6:36 AM on December 4, 2013 [4 favorites]


NJ is able to do a decent job with its similar style of pizza and they use toxic water from a hole in the ground.

New Jersey has some of the purest water in the world, much of it from the Cohansey aquifer. Anyway, it's not just the water, that's sort of an urban food legend. It's an interaction between yeast in the environment, as Sara C. said, crust style and handling, and very old, very seasoned ovens. And it varies even here - you can get great NJ-style pizza in one place, and crappy pizza in a place next door.

It seems pretty imperial to say that, e.g., Mexicans can't define what food is authentically Mexican

Not saying that. What I'm saying is that what defines food as "authentically Mexican," if anything, is what is eaten, valued, and cooked with in Mexico, regardless of its derivation or of our perceptions of that thing and its authenticity. But that very "imperialism" is what I see in assertions that some kind of fast-food version of a national cuisine is/isn't authentic. If we have the power to define what is not authentic, then we also are also approipriating the power to define what is - even if it's not our cuisine. If you want to avoid taking on responsibility for policing the purity of a national cuisine, the only thing you can ask is what the relationship of this food is to that national culture. Many foods reference a cultural cuisine, are associated with that culture, are consumed in that culture, use an array of ingredients identified with that culture, etc. You can describe the relationship. You can give the evidence about when/where/how it is consumed. But when you try to slice and dice what is and isn't a "real" or "legitimate" part of the cuisine, it's all too easy to stumble into ignorant, sweeping value judgments about it - that often as not turn out to be unsupported when you investigate.

There is an "authentic soufflé," despite it being "only" 200 years old. And souffles are authentically French.

If so, it's because it's referencing a specific standard. If Escoffier invented the soufflé, and you make that one, it's authentic to that recipe. It's authentic because the origin of the product is entirely clear, the method used follows the trail of evidence about the practice of using ingredients in that way right to a single origin point - not because it's French.

I'm willing to acknowledge that my framing on this topic has gotten very, very broad; perhaps radically so, but I'm not in bad company among peers in the field. I'm now working on a book to do with food history, and I'm swimming in critical writing about it that has moved me further and further away from essentializing cultural cuisines. I don't feel I can honestly indulge in ideas of "authenticity," I can only describe in specific terms what is eaten in a place at a given time, and what people have had to say about that.
posted by Miko at 6:38 AM on December 4, 2013 [8 favorites]


Actually, tying a few derails together; where can I get good Korean food in Iowa (especially central Iowa, if possible)? It doesn't necessarily have to be super-authentic, and you can use your own definition, or standard, of "good". Thanks.
posted by Wordshore at 6:39 AM on December 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


I want to start a restaurant called "Offal, Crustaceans and Root Vegetables" and just have a signs in the window that say "AUTHENTIC ETHNIC CUISINE!" "LIKE MAMA USED TO MAKE!" and "COME AND HAVE A TASTE OF THE OLD COUNTRY!" but at no point clarify the ethnicity and have the menu items all just describe in literal and vague terms what the dish is (e.g. "boiled tongue in pepper sauce.")
posted by griphus at 6:44 AM on December 4, 2013 [21 favorites]


Also is "Jīdīng" a calque?
posted by griphus at 6:53 AM on December 4, 2013


Er, loanword, rather.
posted by griphus at 6:54 AM on December 4, 2013


"We love the food of your mother country, but with larger portions and more cheese." Ze Frank (quoted from memory).
posted by cjorgensen at 6:58 AM on December 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


Or here is a food-based example: in my mother's family, borsht was a hearty tomato-based soup made with beef stock, served hot with sour cream and crusty bread, which contained potato, cabbage, and plenty of fresh dill.

Recipe please!
posted by Wordwoman at 7:16 AM on December 4, 2013


What I'm saying is that what defines food as "authentically Mexican," if anything, is what is eaten, valued, and cooked with in Mexico, regardless of its derivation or of our perceptions of that thing and its authenticity.

I'd have to say, as a non anthropologist, that I'd expect to see "authentic" Mexican food defined as food that's eaten, valued, and cooked with in Mexico and that Mexicans understand to be Mexican. At some point shawarma stopped being Lebanese in Mexico and turned into the straight-up Mexican taco al pastor, but other foods remained understood as foreign.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 7:25 AM on December 4, 2013 [3 favorites]


Wow, this thread's really taking me back.

Remember when it was about some college in Iowa flogging its opera program?

Good times.
posted by Naberius at 7:36 AM on December 4, 2013


"Offal, Crustaceans and Root Vegetables"

Hey, I think you just described Noma. (Not really joking)

that Mexicans understand to be Mexican.

That comes under "what people have to say about it." But oftentimes even food that is acknowledged to have come from somewhere else is also identified as an important part of a cultural cuisine. There are many examples in American cuisine.
posted by Miko at 7:36 AM on December 4, 2013


"Offal, Crustaceans and Root Vegetables" and just have a signs in the window that say "AUTHENTIC ETHNIC CUISINE!" "LIKE MAMA USED TO MAKE!" and "COME AND HAVE A TASTE OF THE OLD COUNTRY!"

Didn't I take you to this resteraunt Griph?
posted by The Whelk at 7:38 AM on December 4, 2013


No, I actually recognized some of the food there from the dinner tables of my youth. NOT VAGUE ENOUGH.

Also what was it called because it was delicious and I want to go back.
posted by griphus at 7:39 AM on December 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


weird - i just watched anthony bourdain's love letter to noma last night...
posted by nadawi at 7:39 AM on December 4, 2013


Like Rashomon with a food truck parked at the gates.
posted by Pudhoho at 7:46 AM on December 4, 2013


Remember when it was about some college in Iowa flogging its opera program?

god i am so tired of nerds on the internet making Simpson references
posted by cortex (staff) at 7:49 AM on December 4, 2013 [28 favorites]


Saro Bistro, Griph
posted by The Whelk at 8:03 AM on December 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


The last 300 comments in this thread remind me of the child I heard complaining to his mother when she was picking up the ingredients to make beef bourguignon. "I don't WANT stupid French food!" he sulked. "Can't you make something AMERICAN, like tacos or pizza or stir-fry?!"
posted by KathrynT at 8:06 AM on December 4, 2013 [5 favorites]


My Belgian mother makes amazing french fries, although she rarely makes them anymore. When she said she was going to make them for Thanksgivakah I finally decided to document the steps. Part of our conversation went like this:

Mom: Now normally I would cook these twice--
Me: Wait. Normally? Normally?!
Mom: Yes, normally. Tonight I'm just going to do it once.
Me: But... But... That's the whole point!
Mom: It's going to be fine. They're just french fries.

She does not understand the American foodie fetishization of french fries. She also agrees with Julia Child that McDonald's has great fries, even after they switched to vegetable oil. In her mind, french are either good or bad, not authentic or inauthentic. On the other hand, she's quick with the phrase, "That's not a real waffle."

In conclusion, good food tastes good.
posted by Room 641-A at 8:21 AM on December 4, 2013 [7 favorites]


It's an interaction between yeast in the environment


Noooo, it's a fallacy that yeast gives bread its particular tang, for sourdoughs that come from bacteria living in symbiosis. For pizza dough, it's more likely coming down to the type of flour being used along with time to draw out some of the flavour in the flour; for the purists pizza dough is only made with a type of durum semolina.

the only thing you can ask is what the relationship of this food is to that national culture.

We have a bastard child here called Vinetarta. It's claimed to be Icelandic, but it was actually born in Saskatchewan. Unless your Icelandic, or from the prairies you've probably never heard of it before. Funny thing is here we really don't have a national food identity of any sort; butter tarts, Nanaimo bars, poutine? And argue its really a way to create one that's distinct in a vacuum where we don't really have one.
posted by redindiaink at 8:27 AM on December 4, 2013


"Offal, Crustaceans and Root Vegetables" and just have a signs in the window that say "AUTHENTIC ETHNIC CUISINE!" "LIKE MAMA USED TO MAKE!" and "COME AND HAVE A TASTE OF THE OLD COUNTRY!"

Do they have a section on the menu for cold remedies?

And does the menu have a health section, for the part of the food that you have to eat because it "has all the vitamins"?
posted by rue72 at 8:31 AM on December 4, 2013 [6 favorites]


"Come eat the garbage parts of food before it gets hip and expensive!"
posted by The Whelk at 8:37 AM on December 4, 2013 [4 favorites]


And when the recipes come out, we've completely forgotten why the thread was posted in the first place.

I would start a MetaTalk thread about this thread if I could, but I am afraid that the resulting coversation would destroy the entire site like a tiny black hole orbiting the Earth's core.
posted by wenestvedt at 8:38 AM on December 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


that reminds me I should really a fridge-clearing stew tonight.
posted by The Whelk at 8:39 AM on December 4, 2013


Cloves, Tom Collins mix, frozen pie crust.
posted by griphus at 8:42 AM on December 4, 2013 [8 favorites]


And when the recipes come out, we've completely forgotten why the thread was posted in the first place.

Shropshire Owl Soup

The original Shropshire recipe called for "one plump, young barn owl, boiled for two hours." We recommend chicken as a modern alternative to soothe your loved one's soul - or pigeon if you're a bit more daring!

Ingredients

1 owl (substitute chicken, or 2 pigeons, per taste and legality)
1 carrot, sliced
1 onion, sliced
1 stick celery, chopped
bouquet garni
bunch of parsley
1 pint of beef stock
Port
Lemon juice

Method

Roast the carcasses in a hot oven, 400 Celsius (Gas Mark 6), for 20 minutes. Pour a little of the fat into a heavy saucepan and fry the vegetables to a golden brown. Put in the carcasses; add the boiling meat stock and the bouquet garni.

Simmer gently for 2 hours with the lid on. Then strain into a clean saucepan and remove the meat from the bones. Put this in the blender with the slightly reduced stock.

Return to the pan and season with port, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Serve with freshly-made croutons.
posted by Wordshore at 8:44 AM on December 4, 2013


Cloves, Tom Collins mix, frozen pie crust.

Snow Cap ale, flagon of Kirk-Sig vodka, butter, assorted pickled vegetables and a sketchy fist-sized lump of 95% ground beef.
posted by Pudhoho at 8:47 AM on December 4, 2013


The original Shropshire recipe called for "one plump, young barn owl, boiled for two hours." We recommend chicken as a modern alternative. . .

psssshh, typical liberal.
posted by Think_Long at 8:48 AM on December 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


Serve with freshly-made croutons.

The croutons are inauthentic! Clearly this is some bastardized Franco-Midlands fusion recipe.
posted by neroli at 8:49 AM on December 4, 2013


OWLS ARE NOT FOR EATING
posted by The Whelk at 8:50 AM on December 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


But oftentimes even food that is acknowledged to have come from somewhere else is also identified as an important part of a cultural cuisine

like Vindaloo, which is British via India via Portugal.
posted by emilyw at 8:50 AM on December 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


yes.
posted by The Owls at 8:50 AM on December 4, 2013 [8 favorites]


I do not envy anyone trying to catch an owl for dinner. That can go from "hunting" to "duel" to "running from a pissed-off owl" pretty quick.
posted by griphus at 8:51 AM on December 4, 2013 [6 favorites]


I've heard from people living in rural England on working farms that Barn Owls can become a Problem if they decide on a non-aggression pact with the barn cats.
posted by The Whelk at 8:52 AM on December 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


Guns do exist, owls don't have kevlar as far as I know.

Unless . . .griphus, do you think that all hunting is done as hand-to-hand combat?
posted by Think_Long at 8:54 AM on December 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


Stop squandering your birthright.
posted by planetesimal at 9:00 AM on December 4, 2013


well, all honorable hunting.
posted by The Whelk at 9:00 AM on December 4, 2013 [3 favorites]


I figure the bird which is god's wrath incarnate is one of those animals you better hope you hit with the first shot.
posted by griphus at 9:07 AM on December 4, 2013


this is why you must only hunt the most dangerous game
posted by elizardbits at 9:07 AM on December 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


aka black friday shoppers
posted by elizardbits at 9:08 AM on December 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


I guess if I were to honorably kill an owl, I would have to meet it on equal terms and become as my quarry. Don a feathered suit, gliding swiftly and silently through the night. A winged hellion seeking out that most righteous of kills, a plump young barn owl.

I'd have to figure out how to strangle it with my feet though.
posted by Think_Long at 9:08 AM on December 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


Noooo, it's a fallacy that yeast gives bread its particular tang, for sourdoughs that come from bacteria living in symbiosis.

So you mean that the flavor actually comes from other microbes in the environment? I can accept that correction if you can source it - the ultimate point, that different environments contribute to different flavors, remains the same. I am confused about your assertion that yeast doesn't contribute flavors, though. It seems that it does, even if it is in concert with other bacteria that are part of fermentation.

For pizza dough, it's more likely coming down to the type of flour being used along with time to draw out some of the flavour in the flour;

No, different ovens and different dough handlers produce different results on the same doughs (experienced with pizza restaurants here). There are just a lot of variables.
posted by Miko at 9:08 AM on December 4, 2013


I don't care who says it's not the water that gives NYC pizza the distinctive gritty crunch, NY water is super heavy, I swear I can taste the calcium.
posted by The Whelk at 9:11 AM on December 4, 2013


(whomever defeats this owl in honorable combat shall be the next king of Ruralshire, but I warn you, this owl is like, super mean.)
posted by The Whelk at 9:12 AM on December 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


Shit man, I saw the trailer to the Guardians of Ca'whatever, those owls are scary as hell
posted by Think_Long at 9:16 AM on December 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


Oh man we've gone from "WTF who are these liberal arts people" to "how to kill an owl" in under 48 hours.
posted by Sara C. at 9:21 AM on December 4, 2013 [5 favorites]


they're more alike than you think!
posted by The Whelk at 9:22 AM on December 4, 2013 [6 favorites]


Oh man we've gone from "WTF who are these liberal arts people" to "how to kill an owl" in under 48 hours.


You see, this is the advantage of the European polytechnic model over small, selective, private institutions.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 9:30 AM on December 4, 2013 [4 favorites]


I saw a golden eagle catch and eat a barn owl one time. There was no boiling or sauteeing or any of that nonsense that's not at all authentic.
posted by rtha at 9:31 AM on December 4, 2013 [3 favorites]


Killing a golden eagle with your bare hands, now that's a challenge!
posted by Think_Long at 9:32 AM on December 4, 2013


This new restraunt only serves traditional owl cuisine, still alive field mice, shrews, other, smaller owls.
posted by The Whelk at 9:36 AM on December 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


In her mind, french are either good or bad, not authentic or inauthentic.

Many would agree. I think the good ones are wearing white hats, pretty sure the bad ones have beards.
posted by bongo_x at 9:40 AM on December 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


The problem is you can't use the lungs because they all smoke so much

I mean what who said that
posted by The Whelk at 9:42 AM on December 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


Killing a golden eagle with your bare hands, now that's a challenge!

Does choking the chicken count?
posted by nacho fries at 9:44 AM on December 4, 2013


Only if you abstain.
posted by planetesimal at 9:54 AM on December 4, 2013


And as they observed the circle of Mefites gathered in their gray meeting-place, exchanging jokes in their impenetrable cant while glistening owl viscera dripped from their maws, the Simpson College admissions team had to admit that a terrible mistake had been made...
posted by prize bull octorok at 10:12 AM on December 4, 2013 [12 favorites]


What just happened?
posted by salishsea at 10:17 AM on December 4, 2013


I'd like to think the admissions team stumbling across this MeTa is akin to someone finding one of the elaborately-arranged murder scenes in Hannibal: equal parts viscerally repelled and yet marveling in the ingenuity of what can emerge from the combination of disturbed imagination and a poor use of copious free time.
posted by griphus at 10:18 AM on December 4, 2013 [6 favorites]


This is our design.
posted by The Whelk at 10:20 AM on December 4, 2013 [1 favorite]




This is our design.

*pendulum swings*

I was smart from the very beginning.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 10:26 AM on December 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


"I don't WANT stupid French food!" he sulked. "Can't you make something AMERICAN, like tacos or pizza or stir-fry?!"

I studied abroad in Spain. Our host family once asked us to cook them an American meal. We gave them: chicken and bean burritos with chips and guacamole (me) and Filipino chicken adobo (my roommate). The family was torn between displeased and confused.

Looking back, it was probably the most American thing we could have done and it did represent our food cultures (SoCal and Hawai'i) accurately. The Spanish family just really wanted pizza and hamburgers.
posted by librarylis at 10:29 AM on December 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


"Lo siento, bros, we're a nation of immigrants. Also almost unfathomably huge to you. It's like saying, 'Make us some European food,' and getting annoyed if you don't get hamburgers and pizza."
posted by klangklangston at 10:40 AM on December 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


Is that the same as shchi? My family made red borscht (which was called "borscht") and shchi was sometimes called "green borscht" and seen as a related dish.

I guess there's a relationship? My family never described anything they made as shchi. I'm only familiar with it from books and colloquial expressions. Ultimately, all of this stuff is just "soup with meat and mixed vegetables, substitute as needed," right?
posted by Nomyte at 10:41 AM on December 4, 2013


SoCal and Hawai'i

I was using Seamless -- the app/site in NYC (and possibly other places?) that lets you order takeout without having to talk to a human being -- and selected the "American" filter because I wanted a burger. The first option was "Aloha Teriyaki Grill," at which point I ended up having to do some prolonged and unexpected contemplation on cultural imperialism.

Ultimately, all of this stuff is just "soup with meat and mixed vegetables, substitute as needed," right?

Basically, although it was generally in contrast to something like "chicken soup" which was boiled chicken and salt maybe with a carrot sliced in there for color.
posted by griphus at 10:46 AM on December 4, 2013


(Also, like just about every single East/Southeast Asian restaurant in my neighborhood except for the Pho places, "Aloha Teriyaki Grill" was almost definitely run by Chinese immigrants.)
posted by griphus at 10:48 AM on December 4, 2013


Many would agree. I think the good ones are wearing white hats, pretty sure the bad ones have beards.

The bad ones wear black berets.
posted by Room 641-A at 10:55 AM on December 4, 2013


I studied abroad in Spain. Our host family once asked us to cook them an American meal. We gave them: chicken and bean burritos with chips and guacamole (me) and Filipino chicken adobo (my roommate). The family was torn between displeased and confused.

Some 20+ years ago, I made a very tame Mexican meal for friends while I was in London. They were convinced that the guacamole was some sort of elaborate joke involving vomit, and then nearly threw me out of the house when I indicated that the meal would also involve sour cream.
posted by scody at 10:57 AM on December 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


Oh, that explains a scene in the BBC show Call The Midwife that I found confusing.

One of the characters buys avocados on a whim at the market and makes some kind of elaborate Good Housekeeping-esque hors d'oeuvres with them. It frankly looked delicious, if a bit fussy. All the other characters try said delicious/fussy avocado dish and basically look like they're about to vomit at the disgustingness of it. The whole scene is clearly meant to be played for laughs, but to an American it seems incredibly mean-spirited towards the character who made the dish. Because avocados are delicious. And everyone is just being a total butt to the poor girl who saw the potential of them.
posted by Sara C. at 11:05 AM on December 4, 2013 [4 favorites]


I can only speak for where I live, but the pizza here sucks because people don't demand better. If people think a crust either has to be really thick, or thin and crunchy, why make a thin, stretchy crust? If your supplier doesn't stock real mozzarella and dry pepperoni, why use that when people expect low-fat cheese and that horrible bologna-like pepperoni piled an inch thick anyway?

We need an objective measurement of pizza, like IBU for beer. Someone telling me that pizza is good, or even seeing a Yelp rating of 4.9 for a particular place, is worthless. Too many people expect and love horrible styles of pizza.
posted by Pruitt-Igoe at 11:08 AM on December 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


is there some stereotype that Londoners hate avocados or something? That adds another layer to this sketch.
posted by Think_Long at 11:11 AM on December 4, 2013


I kind of love Domino's pizza. That said, it's the type of pizza I imprinted on as a child, because I grew up in a part of the US without a regional pizza style. But their "handmade pan" option is surprisingly good.

It's definitely far better than Little Caesar's, which is the other option in my neighborhood.

I would never have ordered Domino's in New York City, but this is LA, the pizza's going to suck anyway, and at least I can order online and they'll bring it to my house.
posted by Sara C. at 11:14 AM on December 4, 2013


Think_Long, I don't know if it's a stereotype or anything. From the scene and what scody said, my guess is that British people are just sort of suspicious of them and consider them a freaky exotic thing rather than God's Own Fruit.

I mean, I guess it's kind of equivalent to how Americans react to things like cassava or nopales.
posted by Sara C. at 11:22 AM on December 4, 2013


I suspect it's a dying stereotype if so, because you can easily buy avocados at normal British supermarkets (at least in south east England.) Even the not-terrible burrito place I used to go to had something like guacamole, which was a balm to my hot sauce-longing soul.
posted by jetlagaddict at 11:26 AM on December 4, 2013


well, they're probably all sitting down to dinner right now. Hey ENGLISH what are on those tacos??
posted by Think_Long at 11:28 AM on December 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


Hey ENGLISH what are on those tacos??

{looks} Knowing the various food scandals of the last few years, probably donkey.
posted by Wordshore at 11:29 AM on December 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


it's especially cringe-worthy when people disparage a local institution like Tito's.

Agreed. And everyone knows that Tito's is much more than the food. It's how the Byzantine ordering system somehow works without blows being thrown; it's about the good-natured queues; it's about the delight in scoring the rare parking spot in the lot without having to circle like a vulture; it's about eating in the car with that cardboard box oozing soggily in your lap.

Above all, it's about that pureed salsa that is akin to gazpacho, and can be eaten by the tubful with a plastic spoon. (The crunchy tacos are just a convenient transport medium for the salsa.)
posted by nacho fries at 11:36 AM on December 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


all this thread is doing is making me hungry for about 13 things at once.
posted by The Whelk at 11:40 AM on December 4, 2013 [5 favorites]


Agreed. And everyone knows that Tito's is much more than the food. It's how the Byzantine ordering system somehow works without blows being thrown; it's about the good-natured queues; it's about the delight in scoring the rare parking spot in the lot without having to circle like a vulture; it's about eating in the car with that cardboard box oozing soggily in your lap.

You make it sound so good.
posted by bongo_x at 11:42 AM on December 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


I was riding shotgun around downtown L.A. last night, en route to a big ol' platter of nacho fries, and saw a sign for one of those fabulous L.A. eateries that mixes-and-matches cuisines:

LOUISIANA FRIED CHICKEN
CHINESE FOOD
DONUTS

I picked a helluva a year to quit bong-ripping.

Goddamn, I love this town.
posted by nacho fries at 11:43 AM on December 4, 2013 [5 favorites]


Think_Long, I don't know if it's a stereotype or anything. From the scene and what scody said, my guess is that British people are just sort of suspicious of them and consider them a freaky exotic thing rather than God's Own Fruit.

White working class New Yorkers in the 1950s, the decade in which the show takes place, would have also regarded avocados as exotic. I don't think the BBC is making a comment about British palates here.
posted by Wordwoman at 11:45 AM on December 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


If all you ever got was rockhard but also watery-stringy terrible things that bear no resemblance to the wonder that is a good avocado, you would think avocados are awful. So there's that, too.
posted by rtha at 11:56 AM on December 4, 2013 [4 favorites]


Near where one of my choirs rehearses there is a restaurant called MA'ONO FRIED CHICKEN AND WHISKEY. They sell Hawaiian food, whiskey and whiskey cocktails, and fried chicken, which only comes in units of One Entire Fried Chicken (broken down into 8 pieces). It is a delight.
posted by KathrynT at 11:58 AM on December 4, 2013 [5 favorites]


I was driving through Mississippi a few weeks ago and I passed a place proclaiming itself as the home of the "Italian Burrito."

Which, now that I tried to Google it, I guess is a Thing. So maybe it's not as weird as I thought.

But it wasn't what I expected to say driving up Route 61.

Well Georgia Sam he had a bloody nose
Only possible cure was some Italian Burritos
He asked poor Howard where can I go
Howard said there's only one place I know
Sam said tell me quick man I got to run
Ol' Howard just pointed with his gun
And said that way down on Highway 61.

posted by MoonOrb at 12:02 PM on December 4, 2013


> Near where one of my choirs rehearses there is a restaurant called MA'ONO FRIED CHICKEN AND WHISKEY.

The next time we are in Seattle I am calling you up and we are going there. Is it meetup-friendly? That could be fantastic.
posted by rtha at 12:03 PM on December 4, 2013


And everyone knows that Tito's is much more than the food.

Right, it's about the song! (Yes, it's going to auto-load on you, and then the Spanish version is going auto-load a few seconds after that.)

On a slightly serious note, LATACO can't be beat if you want to read about tacos in L.A.

I would never have ordered Domino's in New York City, but this is LA, the pizza's going to suck anyway, and at least I can order online and they'll bring it to my house.

Oh FFS, you may not be able to get an exact replica of New York pizza outside of New York but if you can't find pizza in L.A. that doesn't suck you aren't even trying. And what pizza place in L.A. doesn't deliver?
posted by Room 641-A at 12:03 PM on December 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


People in LA put too much STUFF on the pizza. It's a pizza! Not an unfurled burrito!
posted by The Whelk at 12:05 PM on December 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


Oh FFS, you may not be able to get an exact replica of New York pizza outside of New York but if you can't find pizza in L.A. that doesn't suck you aren't even trying.

Yeah, come on! There's like fifteen Sbarro locations in LA, surely one is near you.
posted by prize bull octorok at 12:07 PM on December 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


And what pizza place in L.A. doesn't deliver?

NY&C on Wilshire in Santa Monica does not deliver.
posted by dogwalker at 12:07 PM on December 4, 2013


The Whelk, the next time you are in SF we will take you to the Indian pizza place if you have not been there already.
posted by rtha at 12:09 PM on December 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


I once had an "Indian pizza" that was served on crisp naan with chunky tomato paste and the like - it was pretty great.
posted by The Whelk at 12:13 PM on December 4, 2013


The next time we are in Seattle I am calling you up and we are going there. Is it meetup-friendly? That could be fantastic.

The only downside is they're in West Seattle, which is a pain to get to. They could probably host 20 people or so if we called and asked them when a good time is. But hot damn the fried chicken!!!! they even have a gluten-free option if you call 24 hours in advance.
posted by KathrynT at 12:14 PM on December 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


Someone needs to make an FPP about the recent passing of the King Taco paterfamilias. My fingers are too sad to type one up.

Vaya con salsa roja, good sir.
posted by nacho fries at 12:15 PM on December 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


Room 641-A: my options for pizza in East LA are Domino's, Little Caesar's (definitely does not deliver), and something called Pizza Loca that I'm vaguely distrustful of. I'm willing to accept that I'm wrong about Pizza Loca (maybe they deliver, maybe the pizza's edible), but it's not going to be any better than Domino's.

I'm not really talking about fancy Neapolitan-style fusion pizza with brussels sprouts, caramelized onions, and serrano ham. Which I'm sure can be found in Los Angeles to rival anything in New York. I'm talking about the stuff you order in when you don't feel like cooking. Which is universally inferior outside a few east coast cities.

And, again, Domino's is fine. It's the pizza I grew up on. But, no, there is no local equivalent to my Brooklyn mom & pop pizza joint in Los Angeles. Nor would I expect there to be. It's not a slam on LA. There's nothing in New York like the tamale lady who wanders my neighborhood in the mornings selling homemade tamales out of a cart. Different cities have different food traditions, and that's OK.
posted by Sara C. at 12:16 PM on December 4, 2013


Turtle tasted disappointingly like chicken. I didn't want to eat it, back in the day, but the local made a persuasive case that it was supposed to be eaten, the natural way of things, as it grew its own cooking pot and serving dish. I've never looked at a tortoise the same way since, and advise against turtle if offered.

I'm wondering if owl tastes like chicken, too. For legal reasons, guess I'll never know.
posted by Wordshore at 12:17 PM on December 4, 2013


the recent passing of the King Taco paterfamilias

Weird, the El Tepeyac paterfamilias died somewhat recently as well. Rough year for Chicano food empire patriarchs, I guess.
posted by Sara C. at 12:19 PM on December 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


Crocodile is extremely off-putting, Wild Boar is greasy and goat-like, Puffin is good - like sea-duck but off the table now for conversation reasons, Bear is unpleasantly fishy and time-consuming, although types of snake can be made palatable I'm not really down on reptile eating. Wild chicken remains the favorite, so strongly flavored and gamey and utterly unlike a typical supermarket roaster that tastes like Generic Protein Chunk.
posted by The Whelk at 12:25 PM on December 4, 2013


Alligator is extremely overrated.
posted by Sara C. at 12:28 PM on December 4, 2013


Oh man, Little Caesar's. That takes me back to high school and "well there's eight of us and we have two dollars apiece. It's a feast!"
posted by griphus at 12:29 PM on December 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


Oh, and turtle soup is like what I always imagined Manhattan clam chowder could be, in an ideal world where Manhattan clam chowder is actually edible.
posted by Sara C. at 12:29 PM on December 4, 2013


Am I the only one that thinks Little Caesar's cheese tastes like vanilla?
posted by Think_Long at 12:30 PM on December 4, 2013


A friend of mine has been doing a fundraising thing and one of the things she's used to get people to donate is "If I raise more than $someamount I will eat bugs!" and she has surpassed that amount and a few weeks ago in a moment of drunken enthusiasm I said I would eat bugs with her and so I'm going to eat bugs. This being San Francisco there is of course some hipstery food truck popup company that serves bugs as food! I think I'm gonna go for the mealworm tacos, or possibly the fried crickets. Maybe both.
posted by rtha at 12:31 PM on December 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


I have had a fried cricket. They are not too bad.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 12:31 PM on December 4, 2013


That seems a bit of a cop-out, rtha. I think you need to dig for grubs from a decaying log like your donors expected.
posted by Think_Long at 12:32 PM on December 4, 2013 [4 favorites]


fried cricket really just tastes like the stuff they fried it in TBH.
posted by The Whelk at 12:33 PM on December 4, 2013


I've never had insect (on purpose) but based on their texture and the way they're cooked, I would assume you eat them by the handful like nuts or potato chips, right?
posted by griphus at 12:35 PM on December 4, 2013


you use chop sticks or your hands are going to get greasy, like one does with corn-product cheez-based puffs.
posted by The Whelk at 12:37 PM on December 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


My question is where I can get a kebab pizza in America!
posted by Comrade_robot at 12:40 PM on December 4, 2013


salad and bowls of chips are both awesome when eaten with chopsticks - preferred utensil for the task.
posted by nadawi at 12:43 PM on December 4, 2013


Metafilter is a great place to talk up your small college and tell people how awesome it is. The people of metafilter are a friendly people, and welcome your attempts to stump for your school.

Although there might not be a professional white background, the membership fee is very reasonable. The holiday parties are especially awesome.
posted by yohko at 12:44 PM on December 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


oh and bugs are fine depending on variety and where they live. crunchy oil and salt vehicles. ants by pine trees taste line pine sol though.
posted by nadawi at 12:44 PM on December 4, 2013


OTOH all the holiday parties are catered with owl meat and fried bugs.
posted by The Whelk at 12:45 PM on December 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


> That seems a bit of a cop-out, rtha. I think you need to dig for grubs from a decaying log like your donors expected.

Fortunately, they are not my donors! I am just being the Supportive Friend who made an offer of support while enalcoholated.
posted by rtha at 12:45 PM on December 4, 2013


I just realized I've eaten pizza on four continents, which is 100% of continents I've been to.

NEW LIFE GOAL


*High-Five*

Also Pizza and Curry is a thing and it is delicious!
posted by TwoWordReview at 12:45 PM on December 4, 2013


...corn-product cheez-based puffs.

I know where to purchase both cheez powder, and citrus salt, which is the stuff on Sour Patch Kids.

Now where do I get fried bugs.
posted by griphus at 12:46 PM on December 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


i betcha them tasty owls know where to get fried bugs
posted by Think_Long at 12:47 PM on December 4, 2013


which is the stuff on Sour Patch Kids.

I finally have a counterpoint drink to compliment the super-sweet hot pink thing I make with poprocks encrusted around the rim.

(A Super Sour bright green drink seems in order, maybe with lots of sour apple liquor, oh! and if we can find firey cinnamon powder we could have a Fireball version with jalapeno vodka!)
posted by The Whelk at 12:50 PM on December 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


Crocodile is extremely off-putting, Wild Boar is greasy and goat-like, Puffin is good - like sea-duck but off the table now for conversation reasons, Bear is unpleasantly fishy and time-consuming, although types of snake can be made palatable I'm not really down on reptile eating. Wild chicken remains the favorite, so strongly flavored and gamey and utterly unlike a typical supermarket roaster that tastes like Generic Protein Chunk.

But there's one meat that The Whelk doesn't know...

HOW DOES THE FOX TASTE?
posted by prize bull octorok at 12:55 PM on December 4, 2013 [8 favorites]


thank you for momentarily taking me to a weird Agent Mulder place octorok
posted by The Whelk at 12:56 PM on December 4, 2013 [5 favorites]


I finally have a counterpoint drink to compliment the super-sweet hot pink thing I make with poprocks encrusted around the rim.

Please say there's Coke in that drink!

And the Super Sour sounds absolutely delicious.

Please also come up with a drink recipe with a cheese powder rim?! If you come up with it, I swear I'll make it, even if it takes a whole Kraft Mac & Cheese packet.
posted by rue72 at 12:58 PM on December 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


One does not say "rim with cheese powder" in mixed company.
posted by nacho fries at 1:02 PM on December 4, 2013 [3 favorites]


I'm thinking some variation on the Bloody Mary? Maybe a drink version of a grilled cheese sandwich with tomato soup?

Otherwise, it'd need to go with a non-sweet milk-based drink which, uh, I dunno, ayran and gin? That sounds awful, actually.

Or you can just go hella old school and rim some quarter water and throw a bit of vodka in there and call it the Junior High.
posted by griphus at 1:02 PM on December 4, 2013


I was thinking Bloody Mary too, with pulverized Cheez-It as the rimming (shudder) powder?

Might actually work on a beer-based drink, too?
posted by nacho fries at 1:06 PM on December 4, 2013


Please also come up with a drink to rim with the cheese powder?!

Well, it's not booze, but this exists. (Not sure you'll want to access that site while at work.) It's both cheesy and grapey. Strangest damn thing.
posted by heyho at 1:06 PM on December 4, 2013


But, no, there is no local equivalent to my Brooklyn mom & pop pizza joint in Los Angeles. Nor would I expect there to be. It's not a slam on LA.

In college, I worked for a mom-and-pop pizza shop in San Diego (owned by Italian immigrants), and I know of plenty others, so I'd imagine that they're actually around but just not incredibly visible. I don't know if they'd hold up to a New Yorker's idea of pizza, but I'd take any of them over Domino's or Pizza Hut.

That said, the only pizza I've ever had in New York was just by the slice at random storefronts around town, and I wasn't at all impressed with it. So, that might not be what New Yorkers actually consider to be their "authentic" pizza (standard caveats apply), but it's not like pizza in NYC is universally magnificent. Same thing with taco shops in SoCal - there are some crappy ones.
posted by LionIndex at 1:09 PM on December 4, 2013


"my options for pizza in East LA are Domino's, Little Caesar's (definitely does not deliver), and something called Pizza Loca that I'm vaguely distrustful of. I'm willing to accept that I'm wrong about Pizza Loca (maybe they deliver, maybe the pizza's edible), but it's not going to be any better than Domino's. "

Pizza Loca I remember as being OK, not particularly worthwhile. Dominos is pretty terrible, though. Even still.

You've also got King Pizza (or Pizza King, I forget) which is TERRIBLE, and Purgatory Pizza, which is pretty good. They're within an easy walk from the Mariachi Plaza gold line.

(When we were canvassing East LA, I often had to source the pizza for volunteers.)

The best tamale restaurant in LA (Mom's) is over in Lincoln Heights, which is so amazing that not even Guy Fieri featuring it could bring it down. You look at his little stenciled hair thing on the wall and just wonder how he lucked out.

"But, no, there is no local equivalent to my Brooklyn mom & pop pizza joint in Los Angeles. Nor would I expect there to be. It's not a slam on LA."

The Coop in the Palms neighborhood is a local mom and pop, with great sauce and hit-or-miss crust. When they're on, they're fantastic, and they're a great place to get a slice if you're in that neighborhood.
posted by klangklangston at 1:24 PM on December 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


It was covered above but there's a few different variations on mom-and-pop pizza places in NYC, and their 'authenticity' is determined entirely by which one you've spent the most time eating and what it is you're expecting from pizza.

There's the fancy sit-down Pizza Restaurants like Grimaldi's or L&B's, some of which are new and some of which are old-school (or owned by old-school people.) I've noticed the newer ones tend to want to give people the Real New York City Pizza Experience, whereas the old-school ones generally try to be more European/continental in their aspirations because they're serving people who aren't looking for the Real New York City Pizza Experience; they just want better pizza than they normally get. When your family went here, it was for special occasions. They probably won't deliver.

Then there's the greasy local spot -- word up Prince of Pizza on Coney Island Ave and Knapp Pizza III on Kings Highway -- usually owned by immigrants from somewhere around the Mediterranean. Once you actually have some money to spare, you eat most of your pizza here. This is the place where when you take your friends from a different neighborhood, they complain that the identical greasy slice from their local place is better. When you take your friends from out of town, they just don't get it. When you order a pizza, you order it from here. They'll usually serve you a full Italian dinner too, if you'd like. If you eat in, they might even bring your slices to the table, but you have to tip in the jar.

Then there's the cheap dollar-a-slice place that have a big 99c sign right in the window and look like a Chinese takeout place inside. These places are terrible and unpleasant to be in, but if you didn't have a lot of money to spare when you were a pre-teen, you ate your pizza here after school. I've seen places like this have lines around the block at 3 PM just because if you're fourteen and have three dollars, you're picking the place that's going to give you two shitty, defrosted slices and an orange soda, not a three-dollar slice of pizza. Sometimes these places are local chains.

There's other variations as well: Places that make original pies and sometimes name them after things (like Two Boots in the Village.) The fact that it's a pizza and it's in New York means nothing in these places; they're cooking what they want to cook how they want to cook it. When people talk about the great pizza place they have in their hometown, I generally assume it's a place like this.

There's famous pizza places -- Bleeker Street Pizza or Di Fara -- which are generally slightly above greasy local joint quality because they're famous and people go there more often. They started off as neighborhood spots and somehow got famous and sometimes that's the only reason they're still around.
posted by griphus at 1:30 PM on December 4, 2013 [6 favorites]


Wow, I really like pizza apparently.
posted by griphus at 1:33 PM on December 4, 2013 [5 favorites]


My question is where I can get a kebab pizza in America!

You can get donair pizza in Canada. In Calgary it's available in our of our many "fine" halal pizza places that are one of your few options for late-night street food.
posted by Pruitt-Igoe at 1:34 PM on December 4, 2013


They were convinced that the guacamole was some sort of elaborate joke involving vomit

This reminds me of the "Mexican" restaurant in Krakow a friend of mine visited about 10 years ago. Dinner was basically a sausage wrapped in a tortilla topped with lettuce accompanied by beets and refried beans.
posted by octobersurprise at 1:34 PM on December 4, 2013


griphus you need to make a Boyle's style pizza ranking email blast.
posted by spamandkimchi at 1:35 PM on December 4, 2013 [5 favorites]


I remember watching that episode thinking I REALLY IDENTIFY WITH WHAT IS HAPPENING RIGHT NOW.

If I didn't have elevated cholesterol and if eating pizza didn't cost me an extra ~$8 every time because I have to take between 16-24 Lactaid, I totally would.
posted by griphus at 1:36 PM on December 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


Are we still talking about cheese rimming? I’m so glad that’s out in the open now.
posted by bongo_x at 1:38 PM on December 4, 2013 [3 favorites]


also on the scale of could this possibly be considered Mexican food stories, I have had one plate of nachos in Seoul (10 years ago, so things are verrrrry different now) that was conceived and assembled by someone who has never eaten nachos, only seen a picture of them.

Instead of sour cream, they used whipped cream.

Instead of salsa, they used ketchup.

And for the crowning touch, instead of black olives (I do not approve of olives in nachos but they are just salt nuggets so ok fine) they used GUMBALL HALVES.

I was drunk and ate it and will never regret it. The most horrifying disgusting plate of cheese nachos ever.
posted by spamandkimchi at 1:39 PM on December 4, 2013 [16 favorites]


This MeTa reminded me that my internet-crush on Sara C. began when I noticed how frequently she posted damn smart and helpful comments on AskMe posts, leading this lurker to somehow convince her to meet me for a beer when I was in LA by bribing her with the gift of my Deanna Troi action figure, which I have posted about several times before. I was super early en route to meet her so I hung out and ate pupusas at a farmer's market. They were so good I went back for seconds. Then this morning I sent this link to the only person I know from Iowa and he said "my sister went to Simpson." The End!
posted by avocet at 1:41 PM on December 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


are you sure you weren't being punished for something spamandkimchi?
posted by The Whelk at 1:41 PM on December 4, 2013


I once ate an entire jar of queso dip without recourse to tortilla chips. Just a spoon. BUT WAS THAT A CRIME???
posted by spamandkimchi at 1:45 PM on December 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


All emails from nyu.edu are filtered to trash.

I bought some liquor at Warehouse Wines & Liquors yesterday, which seems somehow related.
posted by aught at 1:50 PM on December 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


I suspect the culprit behind Nachos, Seoul-style is somewhere in this photo.
posted by griphus at 1:52 PM on December 4, 2013


ARE WE TALKING ABOUT BROOKLYN NINE NINE NOW

AKA THE BEST SHOW ON THE AIR RIGHT NOW I WILL ACCEPT NO ARGUMENTS
posted by elizardbits at 1:58 PM on December 4, 2013 [10 favorites]


BUT WAS THAT A CRIME???

I didn't think so, myself, but when the Nutella cops showed up...
posted by EvaDestruction at 2:00 PM on December 4, 2013


spamandkimchi: I once ate an entire jar of queso dip without recourse to tortilla chips. Just a spoon. BUT WAS THAT A CRIME???

You mean cheese soup?

Also, in weird foreign pizza news: My German Pizza Story
posted by Rock Steady at 2:01 PM on December 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


Out of curiosity, has anyone ever eaten an otter? Asking for a friend.
posted by Wordshore at 2:02 PM on December 4, 2013


Wordshore: has anyone ever eaten an otter?

No, but I otter.
posted by Rock Steady at 2:03 PM on December 4, 2013 [4 favorites]


Out of curiosity, has anyone ever eaten an otter? Asking for a friend.

My dog, who is half otter, looks at you balefully.
posted by scody at 2:03 PM on December 4, 2013 [3 favorites]


Corn pizza is legit once you think about how Pizza Hut / Dominos pizza is an American export. Maize. Can't get more New World than that! I disapprove of mayo on pizza though. I blame the Japanese and their mayo corn concoctions.
posted by spamandkimchi at 2:05 PM on December 4, 2013


My wife said that corn pizza is common in Norway, and the corn isn't even sweet corn.
posted by Area Man at 2:07 PM on December 4, 2013


Is it possible to get pizza anchovies packaged in some resealable way that isn't that demonic little jar that just becomes an disgusting column of grease after you've opened it twice?
posted by griphus at 2:11 PM on December 4, 2013


Also Brooklyn Nine Nine is a beautiful thing. Largely because of Joe Lo Truglia.
posted by spamandkimchi at 2:12 PM on December 4, 2013


Despite being somewhat of a Korean food traditionalist, I will admit to enjoying rice and toasted laver with mayo. I should try adding corn to that next time.
posted by needled at 2:13 PM on December 4, 2013


I think this is an example of how, when writing on the internet, one should always be prepared for the person or group being discussed to show up

...and try to spin what you wrote.
posted by aught at 2:13 PM on December 4, 2013


Area Man: My wife said that corn pizza is common in Norway, and the corn isn't even sweet corn.

There are... other corns? The whole corn/maize/whatever thing is a vast mystery to me.
posted by Rock Steady at 2:14 PM on December 4, 2013


Nooo.... Rice is to be topped with a slice of American cheese. Not mayo. Though tuna mayo kimbap is tasty. Frick. Now I don't know my own stance on mayo.
posted by spamandkimchi at 2:15 PM on December 4, 2013


Places that make original pies and sometimes name them after things (like Two Boots in the Village.) The fact that it's a pizza and it's in New York means nothing in these places; they're cooking what they want to cook how they want to cook it. When people talk about the great pizza place they have in their hometown, I generally assume it's a place like this. "

We have a couple Two Boots here, and they play up their NYC lineage, which is kinda funny. They're tasty, though, especially since they're right next to the Echo and stay open late enough to get post-show slices.
posted by klangklangston at 2:16 PM on December 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


"Nooo.... Rice is to be topped with a slice of American cheese. Not mayo. Though tuna mayo kimbap is tasty. Frick. Now I don't know my own stance on mayo."

I was surprised by how much mayo was on food in Korea, especially kimbap. And that the Isaac ladies were baffled that I didn't want "toast sauce" and mayo on my sammiches (just toast sauce for me!).
posted by klangklangston at 2:17 PM on December 4, 2013


Brooklyn 99 is currently best because the Mindy Project has fallen off some this season.
posted by klangklangston at 2:18 PM on December 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


Rice topped with ... American cheese? [delicately wrinkles nose]
Next you'll tell me you add glass noodles to your kimchi mandu filling and boil the kimchi mandu in anchovy broth. *shudder*
posted by needled at 2:20 PM on December 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


Field corn is the alternative to sweet corn. It has less sugar and is typically ground up and used as an ingredient. The corn that goes into a tortilla, for instance, is field corn. I think field corn is typically harvested when it is a bit dried out.

Maybe the sweet corn in Norway is really bad or maybe they were using field corn. Maybe they don't know the difference. I don't know.

I've noticed that the further I get from Iowa, the worse the sweet corn gets. The times I've had sweet corn in New England, it has been terrible. I remember my grandfather, a proud Vermonter, bragging about the locally grown sweet he was serving us when we'd visit in August. To a Midwestern kid, it was pretty terrible. I've also had lousy sweet corn in Boston.
posted by Area Man at 2:23 PM on December 4, 2013


They're tasty, though, especially since they're right next to the Echo and stay open late enough to get post-show slices.

Yeah, I always enjoyed their slices; I just haven't found myself in that neighborhood in a while and now I'm thinking of making the trip just to eat there.

They also had a restaurant in Park Slope that served (vaguely southern?) comfort food. Probably the single best Bloody Mary I have ever had was there. But I drink my Bloody Maries virgin so I think I might have a somewhat odd conception of what makes them good.
posted by griphus at 2:24 PM on December 4, 2013


The Coop in the Palms neighborhood is a local mom and pop, with great sauce and hit-or-miss crust. When they're on, they're fantastic, and they're a great place to get a slice if you're in that neighborhood.

See, this is the thing. The above is like an LA person saying there's no good Mexican in New York, and being told there's this one place in Sunnyside.

In New York, there is always at least one small locally owned pizza place within a three block radius. Usually quite good, and never bad. No matter where you live. No matter the ethnicity of the neighborhood residents. No matter how fancy or non-fancy the neighborhood. They're all dirt cheap, they all deliver, and one can obtain pizza within about 15 minutes by calling up and saying approximately 4 words. ("Plain pie, for delivery.")

In Los Angeles there exist good local places to get pizza. But the pizza infrastructure just isn't there. Because Los Angeles isn't a pizza city. Which is, again, to be expected. Los Angeles doesn't have to be exactly like New York, and Angelenos' indignance that ANYTHING exists in New York that does not exist in Los Angeles is frankly bizarre.

I'm perfectly happy to admit that the barbecue in New York is ludicrous, the Mexican is worse, and the Thai is generally no better than what you can get in the frozen section of Trader Joe's. The Los Angeles inferiority complex baffles me.
posted by Sara C. at 2:29 PM on December 4, 2013 [3 favorites]


Man the new girl is funny. I want to hate it but I can't. It's just so damn well written! And Winston. WINSTON.

{and with that I have now made this thread 600 comments longer}
posted by Potomac Avenue at 2:36 PM on December 4, 2013 [4 favorites]


NYC had a bit of BBQ revival recently but it's still in the hit or miss, oddly expensive axis.

That being said Bone Lick Park does a good slow roast and fried chicken but they also have unlimited mimosas on Sundays so that may have colored my experience.
posted by The Whelk at 2:37 PM on December 4, 2013


There is BBQ I will eat in New York, but there is not BBQ that is actually good in New York.

Though I guess that means the Mexican is bad and the BBQ is worse, rather than vice versa, because I actually think there is decent Mexican in NYC.
posted by Sara C. at 2:39 PM on December 4, 2013


Area Man: "Field corn is the alternative to sweet corn. It has less sugar and is typically ground up and used as an ingredient. The corn that goes into a tortilla, for instance, is field corn. I think field corn is typically harvested when it is a bit dried out.

Yeah, field corn is a grain, sweet corn is a vegetable, more or less. (I mean, they're both the same thing botanically, but that's how they're used in cuisine.) Field corn is mostly "dent" corn which goes into animal feed and gets used for HFCS and stuff like that. There's also flour corn (for making cornmeal) and popcorn corn (for making popcorn!) that vary based on how much starch and sugar and moisture are in the corn. There's also "flint" corn (known as "Indian corn" in the U.S.) which is the very colorful ears, with very hard, flint-like kernels, which is similar to dent corn. You can use any corn for any of those purposes, but they'll succeed to different degrees ... sweet corn will tend to roast and parch rather than pop, for example, if you try to pop it. guys it turns out I know a lot about corn

Maybe the sweet corn in Norway is really bad or maybe they were using field corn. Maybe they don't know the difference. I don't know."

So my BFF married a Norwegian gentleman and he told us that when he was growing up in Norway 20-30 years ago, they mostly got canned or frozen corn. He said that once a year, in the summer, sweet corn on the cob would come in on a boat and people would go crazy because it was a special summer treat ... but sweet corn that's been on a boat for a week and a half isn't going to be very good (the sugars start converting to starch as soon as you pick the corn, so sweet corn more than a couple of days old doesn't taste very good). Anyway, yeah, sweet corn in Norway was really bad. He got really excited when we told him of such marvels as roadside corn stands. So we planted our own stand of corn and invited them to visit the weekend it was ready for harvest and started the water boiling before we picked it and all, and gave him REAL SWEET CORN. ON THE COB. He's all, "Is this heaven?" and we're all, "No, it's Iowa." (Um, Illinois.)
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 2:41 PM on December 4, 2013 [11 favorites]


New Girl may be funny but I'll never know. ZD stole her whole cute 'n ditzy kook act from me and I'll be forever bitter.
posted by item at 2:47 PM on December 4, 2013


Sara C., there are so many wrong things in your post I can't begin go through them all.

But: have you been to Ayada, Sriprphai, Chao Thai, Boon Thai, Zabb Elee? Have you been to Taqueria Coatzingo in Jackson Heights, Taqueria Tlaxcalli in Parkchester, Tacos Matamoros in Sunset Park? Have you been to Mighty Quinn's or Briskettown?
posted by neroli at 2:47 PM on December 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


So, not to confuse things too much, but in Norway it's not too uncommon to find pizzas topped with ground beef (taco-style) and tortilla chips. There's a picture here. Authentic NortalianiamexNY Pizza.
posted by Joeruckus at 2:53 PM on December 4, 2013


I guess you need to do something to keep winter at bay.
posted by The Whelk at 3:01 PM on December 4, 2013


Does "Dolly Dimple" sound better to Norwegian ears?

I wish we could get people from Norway and Bergen in here arguing about which city has the best pizza.
posted by Area Man at 3:03 PM on December 4, 2013


Man the new girl is funny. I want to hate it but I can't. It's just so damn well written! And Winston. WINSTON."

Oh christ, it's so terrible! Maybe it's just that my regular exposure is the last ten minutes or so depending on how fucked the local station is on trying to combat DVRs, but it's always loathesome twee bullshit from people who remind me of nothing so much as my too-cute-by-half neighbors that I'd poison in a second if I thought I could avoid prison.
posted by klangklangston at 3:06 PM on December 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


"See, this is the thing. The above is like an LA person saying there's no good Mexican in New York, and being told there's this one place in Sunnyside.

In New York, there is always at least one small locally owned pizza place within a three block radius.
"

My local, Garage, is pretty good. It's just not mom-and-pop, it's skate punks and off-duty luchadores. They're just a couple blocks away. But I do take your point.
posted by klangklangston at 3:08 PM on December 4, 2013


like an LA person saying there's no good Mexican in New York, and being told there's this one place in Sunnyside.

FYI, I live in Sunnyside. There are a couple of decent Mexican places, though nothing really awesome. But there are no good bookstores here. Therefore, by your logic, I can confidently proclaim that there are no good bookstores in New York City. Because if I have to travel to someplace than that place doesn't really count.
posted by neroli at 3:16 PM on December 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


Papa was a luchador
Mama was a skate punk
posted by griphus at 3:17 PM on December 4, 2013


Sara C., there are so many wrong things in your post I can't begin go through them all. Have you been to Taqueria Coatzingo in Jackson Heights, Taqueria Tlaxcalli in Parkchester, Tacos Matamoros in Sunset Park?

You're actually doing an excellent job of illustrating her point. You've got 3 places in different neighborhoods that may be good, but is exactly what she's saying about there being decent pizza here and there in LA, but not ubiquitous like in NYC. It's the same out here for taco shops. I mean, look at how far away Jackson Heights and Sunset Park are - out here, you'd pass 50 taco shops as good as either one of the places you're naming while driving from one to the other.
posted by LionIndex at 3:18 PM on December 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


But, no, there is no local equivalent to my Brooklyn mom & pop pizza joint in Los Angeles.

Joe's has an outpost in Santa Monica.

I appreciate that you don't have any decent delivery options in your neighborhood, but that's not what you said and that's not what I responded to.
posted by Room 641-A at 3:19 PM on December 4, 2013


Actually, I disagree with her point about pizza too. I think most neighborhood pizza in NY sucks. There's amazing stuff, but you have to travel for it also.
posted by neroli at 3:20 PM on December 4, 2013


I wish we could get people from Norway and Bergen in here arguing about which city has the best pizza.

I wish we could get people from Norway and Bergen in here arguing about which pizzeria in which city has the most authentic pizza and why.
posted by Wordwoman at 3:20 PM on December 4, 2013


But I never claimed there was no good pizza in LA.

Just that LA isn't really a pizza city, and the best pizza in my neighborhood is probably Domino's, and Domino's isn't that bad, and, hey, I can go from Not Pizza to Pizza without talking to a human or finding the car keys, which is nice.

Just like I'll happily go to Chipotle in New York, because there's a Chipotle right in my office building and it's not like the Fresco Tortilla 15 minutes away is actually going to be better. But in Los Angeles, Chipotle feels like sacrilege.
posted by Sara C. at 3:21 PM on December 4, 2013


New Girl may be funny but I'll never know.

Yeah, I can't watch anything that she's in because I find her incredibly irritating.
posted by elizardbits at 3:22 PM on December 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


oh god i just read the rest of your comment and i am sure you are delightful and are nothing like her at all

how do i life
posted by elizardbits at 3:23 PM on December 4, 2013 [6 favorites]


They finally opened up a taqueria-style but with foodie overtones quickee Mexican place near me but it's very uh, enamoured with itself as a Destination, plus oddly fussy recipes and higher prices then I expect for " no seriously just go get a taco around the corner."

Papa was a luchador
Mama was a skate punk


The weird thing is that the next line "I could rope a steer before I learned to stand" still fits.
posted by The Whelk at 3:24 PM on December 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


They finally opened up a taqueria-style but with foodie overtones quickee Mexican place near me but it's very uh, enamoured with itself as a Destination, plus oddly fussy recipes and higher prices then I expect for " no seriously just go get a taco around the corner."

This is exactly what pizza is like in Los Angeles.
posted by Sara C. at 3:26 PM on December 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


Let's make beautiful metaphors together.
posted by The Whelk at 3:28 PM on December 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


Actually, I disagree with her point about pizza too.

Well, same thing with taco shops out here. There are hundreds - some are great, most are pedestrian to good, some are pretty foul. But there are so many that I'm never going to come close to trying them all. You just drive down any major street and you'll pass at least one every mile.
posted by LionIndex at 3:28 PM on December 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


Just like I'll happily go to Chipotle in New York

OK, we agree on that -- I do too. Because Chipotle is one of the few places in NY that makes decent burritos. And that's because burritos are not something served in most of Mexico. So if you go to an "authentic" Mexican restaurant in NY and get a burrito, it's going to be made by someone who's never actually eaten a burrito. And if you're judging NY Mexican restaurants on the qualities of their burritos, you're not going to think highly of them. If you want to get a cemita, on the other hand....
posted by neroli at 3:31 PM on December 4, 2013


NY&C on Wilshire in Santa Monica does not deliver.

I stand corrected!
posted by Room 641-A at 3:34 PM on December 4, 2013


I'm going to recommend Taco Chulo in Willimasberg for a good we-are-hip-guys-from-San Francisco local taco joint. They have excellent cilantro rice and heavenly soft tacos, and not just because I'd go there after Dr Sketchy's all the time before hitting up the Metropolian back when I was an interesting person who performed and ran fun nightlife theatre things.

And also cause the owners are friends of friends.....
posted by The Whelk at 3:36 PM on December 4, 2013


"Just that LA isn't really a pizza city, and the best pizza in my neighborhood is probably Domino's, and Domino's isn't that bad, and, hey, I can go from Not Pizza to Pizza without talking to a human or finding the car keys, which is nice."

Again, Purgatory's in your neighborhood, and better than Domino's.

(I grew up in Ann Arbor. I have a special hate for Domino's.)
posted by klangklangston at 3:38 PM on December 4, 2013 [3 favorites]


They finally opened up a taqueria-style but with foodie overtones quickee Mexican place near me but it's very uh, enamoured with itself as a Destination, plus oddly fussy recipes and higher prices then I expect for " no seriously just go get a taco around the corner."

Change tacos to poboys, and this perfectly describes the much-hyped Killer Poboys in New Orleans.

I still went there twice for some reason
posted by Pruitt-Igoe at 3:40 PM on December 4, 2013


ARE WE TALKING ABOUT BROOKLYN NINE NINE NOW

Thanks. This is definitely scratching my The Good Guys itch.
posted by Room 641-A at 3:47 PM on December 4, 2013


same thing with taco shops out here.

Well, yeah, of course there is more Mexican food in LA. And of course that means there is more good Mexican food in LA. I don't have any problems with that argument.

It's just when that turns into "therefore, there is no good Mexican food in New York" that I raise a fuss. Because that doesn't logically follow, and it's just not true.
posted by neroli at 3:50 PM on December 4, 2013


(For me this is not so much about food, or city pride, as it is about a certain allergy to overconfident, totalizing opinions expressed without sufficient experience to back them up.)
posted by neroli at 3:59 PM on December 4, 2013 [3 favorites]


You guys are making me miss Brooklyn SO MUCH right now. *glares at griphus and weeps*

I may try to convince my husband to get pizza tonight from the only place in Houston where they have real NY pizza. The owners are a couple of transplants from NY, and you can tell. Any Houstonians who need to get their pizza fix can have it at Brothers on I-10 and Highway 6. Yeah, it's pretty far west, but it's totally worth it.

Full disclosure -- they only have Pepsi products. This is where the "convincing" part comes into play. I'm so sorry.
posted by blurker at 4:13 PM on December 4, 2013


The problem, for me, with Chipotle is the utter disappointment at the lack of spices. You'd think a place called Chipotle would at least have some kick in it! Also, the tortillas tend toward the gummy side and the folks I've had serve me rarely understand the delicate physics of the mission burrito. They always overstuff, put too much watery stuff in, and the burritos fall apart. And I'm not enough of a dick to try to guide them in proper proportions when I'm selecting ingredients.
posted by klangklangston at 4:26 PM on December 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


The Chipotles in LA are absolutely the fucking worst Mexican I've ever had. I swear they are worse here than they were in New York. I don't know if it's because they know they're the lowest common denominator for Mexican around here, or they hire people who can't get jobs in real burrito places, or what, but ugh.

Either that, or, to give you a sense of how bad NYC Mexican is, I remember when Chipotle first opened in New York, around 2006, and it was far and away the best Mexican available outside of certain far-flung outer borough neighborhoods.
posted by Sara C. at 5:04 PM on December 4, 2013


Burritoville was actually better but they had like only a passing understanding of how to run an actual chain and putting in a delivery order was a 50/50 crapshoot to if it would actually show up.

The endless nacho basket covered so many sins however. Just grab as many you want and shove it in your bag.
posted by The Whelk at 5:09 PM on December 4, 2013


Can someone MeMail me please when the topic turns to whether someone has tried badger or not, and whether it tastes like chicken? Thank you.
posted by Wordshore at 5:36 PM on December 4, 2013


Wait, no one told me there was PIZZA IN NEW YORK defense to be had!


...also there's totally good barbecue here, you are a filthy filthy liar. It's just, weirdly, mostly in Manhattan.
posted by corb at 6:08 PM on December 4, 2013


Ugh, guys, nobody actually LIKES pizza and tacos, that's just drunk people food.

Except this pizza. And tacos from here. It's still drunk people food, but also better.
posted by rue72 at 6:29 PM on December 4, 2013


Pizza seems to come close to being a universally loved food. I met someone who didn't like pizza the other day and I was quite nonplussed.

I recall a long-ago thread on pizza where a number of us agreed that almost any pizza is delicious — it's just that some pizza is so much more delicious than other pizza. I will go far out of my way for very good pizza, but I will happily eat cheap frozen pizza or Domino's. Because pizza.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 6:40 PM on December 4, 2013 [3 favorites]


If it's not too late to go back to good stuff about Iowa, I went to school across the river. Iowa was always a pretty decent place to be (a damn site better than rural Illinois, obviously). Cedar Rapids and Iowa City were both pretty nice places to visit, with pretty awesome food.

My college roommate (same guy, all four years) was from Iowa, and was a very, very relaxed, very nice guy. Occasionally we'd head off in his truck to various places across the river. One night, we decided to seek out Southern Comfort (as the phone message we got when we called for directions, Southern Comfort, Theater for the Performing Arts), a reasonably famous all-nude strip club. Pre-google maps, we had no idea where it was, except that it's street number was in the five digit range, not four like most of Davenport.

We got into his truck and drove. And drove. We just kept going, far, far out of Davenport. We had absolutely no idea where we were, and it was very dark out. We hadn't even seen road signs for miles, then out of nowhere, a sign. "Lost Nation, 12 miles." I don't think you can get more "Children of the Corn" than a town in Iowa called Lost Nation. So, of course, we went.

We drove around the town for a bit. It was maybe eight square blocks off the road, so there wasn't a lot to see. We decided, hell, we're here, let's stop at the bar and at least get a drink. We walked into the bar, which went pretty much silent when we opened the door. I think Chad ordered a cherry coke (coke with cherry liqueur), and maybe I ordered a white russian (neither of us were beer drinkers), and we drank our drinks, barely talking, and left. As we pulled away, looking in the rearview mirror, we saw pretty much everyone from the bar come out and watch us drive away, as if they were checking our plates.

Looking back, I wish we had been a little more outgoing, and tried to talk to the bartender a bit. The two of us just popping into a small town bar in the middle of nowhere must have been pretty damn odd to the bar full of regulars.

Maybe a month later, we finally found Southern Comfort. Absolute genius. You can't sell alcohol in Iowa if there's full nudity*, but patrons can bring their own. The owners of the club also own the lot next door, where they have a very, very busy liquor shop.

*While I was in school, there was an election for Governor of Iowa. Tom Vilsack was running for re-election, and largely campaigning on serious issues and trying to genuinely carry on a conversation with his opponent. The opponent was having none of it. He latched onto Vilsack's utter lack of interest in the recent court decision allowing nude dancing as protected under free speech (due to the decision, all nude dancing clubs are required to furnish pencils and paper for patrons to sketch the 'live models'). The guy ran ads saying "Tom Vilsack is for TOTALLY NUDE DANCING." When Vilsack pointed out that he didn't personally have a position on it, but that he respected the court's ruling and would abide by their decision, the guy turned around with another ad, even better: "NO MATTER WHAT HE SAYS, TOM VILSACK IS FOR TOTALLY NUDE DANCING." Vilsack won the election pretty soundly. I like to think, in part, that at least some people voted for him because he was for totally nude dancing.
posted by Ghidorah at 6:41 PM on December 4, 2013 [9 favorites]


All the little dives and old corner shops in Baltimore have this Gothic air to them. Weird thing is, I've driven (and walked) past Angelo's a thousand times when I was going to school and for a few years after graduation, and never once considered actually going inside. I guess I'm just not a pizza person? A pizza is a grease pie.
posted by Nomyte at 6:41 PM on December 4, 2013


some of you people have Wrong Pizza Opinions and need to be re-educated, possibly in camps.
posted by The Whelk at 6:49 PM on December 4, 2013 [3 favorites]


If it's not too late to go back to good stuff about Iowa,

Iowa? Where’d you pull that from?
posted by bongo_x at 6:49 PM on December 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


This one time, at pizza camp...
posted by Pudhoho at 6:54 PM on December 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


Thai is generally no better than what you can get in the frozen section of Trader Joe's.

No what

Guys we can like NYC AND LA

Dogs AND Cats

This is how I live.
posted by sweetkid at 7:01 PM on December 4, 2013 [5 favorites]


The Coop in the Palms neighborhood is a local mom and pop, with great sauce and hit-or-miss crust.

Yes, The Coop is really good! Be careful though, it's at the corner of National and National, which I'm pretty sure is a portal to Hell or the Bermuda Triangle or something.
posted by Room 641-A at 7:01 PM on December 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


1) I saw this thread have over 700 new comments and I expected to come in to tears and grief and at least five closed accounts.

2) Instead, I learned why I love you all.

3) ISCABBS was so my gateway internet thing, and my second Deoridhe account (first was a college specific MUD).

4) I think US Cuisine is a thing, and we like sweet and crunchy and hate gummy and combine sweet and savory LIKE A BOSS in a way which freaks other people out. By other people I mean the rest of the world before they try it and become addicted. Bacon donuts are a THING and it is a USA THING.

5) Foodie Fights are awesome and funny and surprisingly heated.

6) When I visited Michigan a month or so back, I was surprised by the high quality and variety of food. I was expecting a lot of Midwestern Hearty Farmer. Instead we found a lot of very good places. It seemed like Southern Europe, Japan, and China all went to play there and somehow we missed South America and much of the rest of Asia, including India. It was weird but tasty. It also "felt like" the Midwest was no longer as cut off from the coasts as it had felt in the past, in terms of cultural markers and socialization.

7) I had Bear Stew once and really liked it. Chicken : Duck :: Cow : Bear, in my experience. It was an east Coast Bear, though, and those might be tastier.

8) Did I mention I loved you all and had to cover my mouth with my hand to keep from laughing aloud, because it totally happened like three times, and once I snorted.
posted by Deoridhe at 7:01 PM on December 4, 2013 [6 favorites]



Guys we can like NYC AND LA

Dogs AND Cats

This is how I live.


It's not important that we win, it is important that Chicago loses.
posted by The Whelk at 7:17 PM on December 4, 2013 [4 favorites]


4) I think US Cuisine is a thing, and we like sweet and crunchy and hate gummy and combine sweet and savory LIKE A BOSS in a way which freaks other people out. By other people I mean the rest of the world before they try it and become addicted. Bacon donuts are a THING and it is a USA THING.

I loooove American food. Bisquick cheeseburger pie 4EVA. But what's up with all the bacon? Maybe my diet is already too fatty for me to appreciate it, but...*shrug*

All the little dives and old corner shops in Baltimore have this Gothic air to them. Weird thing is, I've driven (and walked) past Angelo's a thousand times when I was going to school and for a few years after graduation, and never once considered actually going inside. I guess I'm just not a pizza person? A pizza is a grease pie.

That's what's so great about Angelo's -- you can BYOB and sit on the porch outside. The fire hydrant out front even had a big chain attached that you could use a bottle opener.

Baltimore has *amazing* food, though. Nomyte, ever been here? Best grits I've ever tasted, and they keep them simmering in a huge pot all morning (how do the grits not get sticky?)! And remember this speciality?

If only there were some kind of "find/replace" so that we could pretend that the whole pizza discussion had been about lake trout...!
posted by rue72 at 7:18 PM on December 4, 2013


Guys we can like NYC AND LA

hey check out the inside of this wicker man and let me know what you think
posted by elizardbits at 7:20 PM on December 4, 2013 [3 favorites]


NYC AND LA

Dogs AND Cats


MASS HYSTERIA
posted by griphus at 7:20 PM on December 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


next you'll tell me you can like Dostoevsky and Tolstoy
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 7:21 PM on December 4, 2013 [2 favorites]



hey check out the inside of this wicker man and let me know what you think

For many reasons, we can be the only ones who put Guy Feiri in the Wicker man.
posted by The Whelk at 7:24 PM on December 4, 2013 [3 favorites]


redindiaink: "We have a bastard child here called Vinetarta. It's claimed to be Icelandic, but it was actually born in Saskatchewan."

Oh man, I love that stuff. It's basically calories and prunes (though there seems to be quite a bit of variation in recipes) so while one could be tempted to over indulge because of how good it tastes doing so is self punishing.

The Whelk: "all this thread is doing is making me hungry for about 13 things at once."

I haven't been so close to falling off my diet wagon in a looooong time.
posted by Mitheral at 7:26 PM on December 4, 2013


I was planning to compile screenshots of all the anon tumblr asks I get wanting to know why I am so obsessed with human sacrifice with the response being a Kuzco gif but then I accidentally deleted the entire inbox and my glorious plan was lost forever.
posted by elizardbits at 7:28 PM on December 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


Don't be so judge-y about me wanting to eat the still-beating hearts of my enemies like really.
posted by The Whelk at 7:29 PM on December 4, 2013


DEAR ASKME: Best uses for the recently still-beating hearts of your enemies? Both in quick (or slow cooker!) meals and long term storage? Bonus if it pleases the Winged One and ensures the coming rain and daylight.
posted by The Whelk at 7:30 PM on December 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


Well, in Peru they just grill the hearts in skewers (look up "anticuchos").

Just make sure you get the free-range virgin hearts, and then grill them over charcoal so they're all brown and crispy on the outside and pink and juicy inside.
posted by needled at 7:34 PM on December 4, 2013


so many hearts these days are fatty and choked with chemicals, you need a free-range vegitarian just to start with.
posted by The Whelk at 7:39 PM on December 4, 2013


But what's up with all the bacon?

You do know bacon is delicious, right?

(Honestly, I think it's a reaction to most of the rest of US fats being vegetable oils, so we've forgotten how tasty animal fats are, but bacon is like totally excused because IT'S TOTALLY MEAT IGNORE THE WHITE STUFF THAT IS WHITE MEAT REALLY JUST EAT NAO NAO NAO.)
posted by Deoridhe at 7:40 PM on December 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


I left the still-beating hearts of my enemies out on the counter when we went to the movies and forgot about them because my ex was in town and really wanted to see Thor together and I haven’t seen them in so long since they moved to Iowa to study opera and now I don’t know if we should get back together. They’ve been sitting out for about 3 hours, but it looks like they’re still beating. Can I eat this?
posted by bongo_x at 7:41 PM on December 4, 2013 [5 favorites]


when it comes to cooking, duck fat is basically a wizard spell.

And few dishes are made WORSE by adding a single slice of fatty prosciutto into it
posted by The Whelk at 7:41 PM on December 4, 2013


I was going to say something like 'speaking of the baader meinhof phenomenon the guy In front of me on the train is watching Brooklyn nine nine which i'd never heard of before this thread' but apparently baader meinhof wasn't mentioned in this thread and now I can't find the thread it was mentioned in. Oh the irony!
posted by TwoWordReview at 7:58 PM on December 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


There was an article in the NYT last year about carbonara, which is the perfect food, and I went a little bit nuts copying recipes and bookmarking sites.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 7:59 PM on December 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


It is in the Obama MeTa, TWR
posted by griphus at 8:02 PM on December 4, 2013


Ah so it is!
posted by TwoWordReview at 8:11 PM on December 4, 2013


This is the best Carbonara recipe. The zucchini (courgette) picks up the flavour but cuts the richness a bit.
posted by Pruitt-Igoe at 8:13 PM on December 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


NO THIS
posted by The Whelk at 8:15 PM on December 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


> Baltimore has *amazing* food, though. Nomyte, ever been here?

Of course I've been to Pete's! I used to volunteer on Greenmount and went to the Book Thing every once in a while.

Although I love Baltimore to tears, pretty much the entire time I lived there I was either a broke student, a broke college graduate, a broke unemployed person, or a broke, unemployed, chronically ill person. So not so much on the rest of Baltimore's wonderful food scene.
posted by Nomyte at 8:16 PM on December 4, 2013


Waaaait a minute- this whole thread has just been viral marketing for the new season of Hannibal!
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 8:31 PM on December 4, 2013


Food poisoning, which I've only very, very rarely ever had, causes a very strong "NUH-UH" reaction in me. Carbonara is one of those things. Bad food poisoning. Never set foot in that restaurant again, never eaten carbonara since, which is a shame because it's got all of the things that are good. Eggs, good. Bacon, good. Cream, also good. Unstoppable vomiting, not so good.
posted by Ghidorah at 8:52 PM on December 4, 2013


I ate at Ma'ono Fried Chicken and Whiskey a couple of months back on the recommendation of a chef friend in Seattle.

One of the best meals I've had in Seattle ever, and that's saying something. Highly recommended indeed.
posted by spitbull at 9:09 PM on December 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


I can't imagine ordering cabonara in like, an actual eating place cause cabonara is what you make your friends when they are really very very drunk and need something ontop of that before they pass out and you have all these things in your fridge so you make it so no one dies tonight.
posted by The Whelk at 9:16 PM on December 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


I have sort of the opposite thing. Why would I go to all the trouble and bother of making carbonara when it can be had for cheap at any red-sauce place?
posted by Miko at 9:50 PM on December 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


"NYC AND LA

Dogs AND Cats

MASS HYSTERIA
"

zomg now i can't think of steve harvey without seeing his family feud mugging punctuated by snoop and puffy squashing the beef
posted by klangklangston at 9:56 PM on December 4, 2013


Toledo also has great Lebanese food.

Yes, yes we do. High quality Middle Eastern food in general is really easy to get here. So are the ingredients to DIY, if you have the patience to do it right. Three quarters of my household is of Syrian extraction, and it delights them to no end that I put in the time in the kitchen.

Toledo is a terrific place. If you should find yourself here, ping me. I'll cook for you, get you drunk, and laugh when my dogs decide to keep you by sitting on your lap.
posted by MissySedai at 10:10 PM on December 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


Never set foot in that restaurant again, never eaten carbonara since, which is a shame because it's got all of the things that are good. Eggs, good. Bacon, good. Cream, also good. Unstoppable vomiting, not so good.

I will never eat carbonara at a place where they think cream is part of the recipe again. It's not pretty when you have to fight your SO over emergency use of the bathroom.
posted by Dr Dracator at 10:25 PM on December 4, 2013


when it comes to cooking, duck fat is basically a wizard spell.

Just this weekend I discovered that leftover pizza becomes a whole new food when fried in duck fat...FOR BREAKFAST!
posted by rsclark at 10:38 PM on December 4, 2013


Why would I go to all the trouble and bother of making carbonara

This is essentially my justification for not learning how to cook Japanese food. I'm on my own for Mexican. Good Thai is scarce. Indian is plentiful and awesome. Italian food in Japan is... wrong, so I've learned how to make some stuff, same with Chinese. BBQ is only starting to get popular. On the other hand, if I want Japanese, well, there's a couple dozen places near the station that do it better than I ever could.
posted by Ghidorah at 10:41 PM on December 4, 2013


Making your own Japanese food is soooooo much cheaper than eating out, tho.
posted by misozaki at 10:47 PM on December 4, 2013


But I guess that can be said for any kind of cooking.
posted by misozaki at 10:51 PM on December 4, 2013


Yeah, but I've just never figured it out. Part of it (hangs head in shame) is that I just don't like it all that much. There are some things I like, but not all that much. When Mrs. Ghidorah wants Japanese food, we know some good places, and washoku is had.

Which is not to say I couldn't make, say, yakitori (chicken parts on skewer, add salt, no, what, sauce? What?! What kind of monster are you?, grill over charcoal), but then I'd miss out on the point of yakitori, which is sitting in a bar, drinking draught beer, and eating chicken off a stick while talking with friends and loved ones. Too much of the Japanese food that I like is wrapped up in the place it's eaten, or the way it's made to enjoy as much as home.

So, uh, holiday meetup in Yurakucho? Gas heaters, tent in front of the bar, tables made of beer crates set out on the street?
posted by Ghidorah at 11:19 PM on December 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


As a direct result of this MeTa, I had pide pizza for lunch. Sausage, extra spicy.

Bless metafilter's animal fats loving cheese-clogged heart.
posted by pianissimo at 11:29 PM on December 4, 2013 [5 favorites]


Amen.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 12:43 AM on December 5, 2013


I know you are good and finished with Iowa and Simpson College but I want to say that The Field of Dreams is in Iowa and besides that, you should Google Robert Larsen, Bernard McDonald and Matthew Lau.

If this batch of signups and comments happened as a result of an SOS from an Institutional Advancement type, that school is a heckuvalot better liked and supported by faculty, staff and students/alumni than some I could mention. Not to mention when I hear from my school, they are most apt to want moar money--not a testimonial--from me. I'd absolutely give Simpson College a pass on this--they did just answer the question, after all, and we are pretty quick to jump up and applaud when somebody famous or the 'right' kind of cool joins up to post a comment on something that is of interest to them.

Field of Dreams, people.
posted by Anitanola at 1:34 AM on December 5, 2013 [4 favorites]


One of my biggest regrets in college* is having gone to school for four years in the Quad Cities and never making the trip to see the Field of Dreams. It's like an hour away, and awesome, from all accounts. Damn.

*Aside from majoring in unemployability. Fun at the time, might have been a poor career choice in retrospect.
posted by Ghidorah at 1:48 AM on December 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


I see what's happening here. Everyone wanted a post-Thanksgiving open thread to talk about what the hell ever, so said hey Sara C. you should make a callout in meta talk but don't worry we'll all be cool you don't have to flame out or anything. We'll just discuss Iowa and food.
posted by medusa at 2:41 AM on December 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


I know you are good and finished with Iowa and Simpson College but I want to say that The Field of Dreams is in Iowa and besides that...

One of the misconceptions about Iowa is when people who haven't been there say there's nothing there. And then you go, and get a map out and find, heck, there's actually a lot there.

Including the American Gothic house. You can't go inside it, unless you get on one of the baking lessons run by the current tenant. However, there is a visitor centre nearby (several times the size of the house) with a wardrobe section, so you can put on the clothes and have your picture taken in front of the house. Great times. Previously linked to our conventional picture, but here's the "Pitchfork in the Patriarchy" version the fiancee had taken of us.
posted by Wordshore at 4:42 AM on December 5, 2013 [4 favorites]


Dammit, forgot link. The American Gothic House visitor centre bit on preparing to have your picture taken in front of the house.
posted by Wordshore at 4:48 AM on December 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


Some more things to see in Iowa, and a map with loads more things to see in Iowa.

And, as mentioned upthread, there's also Grinnell College, the source of a strange couplet of MetaFilter posts [1] [2], and someone who was recently good at the basketball thing. It's a sure darn pretty town, and the college is sweet (why am I talking like this? have I turned American already?) with its famous newspaper and treehouse study booths in the Burling library.

It also has an endowment fund which, for a college of just 1,600 or students, I can't really comprehend with my British financial mindset (me: "Did you say billion? Surely you mean million? And who is this Warren Buffett anyway?")
posted by Wordshore at 5:05 AM on December 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


It's bemusing when people write off the bits of America that are not coastal cities. The US is a physically vast place, with millions of interesting people. All jokes aside, it's not as if there are entire states where people plop down and decide to never have a life or a thought ever again in their lives.

I've just returned from a trip to my old stomping grounds in Upstate New York. As teenagers, we thought we lived in the middle of nowhere. Looking back on it, and looking at it now, it's obvious that we had always just been 1) ignoring (or taking for granted) what was actually there and 2) assuming that Truly Fascinating Things were constantly going on elsewhere.

Well, I've lived in NYC since 2000, and to be honest, my day-to-day routine isn't a whole lot different than it would be anywhere else. I don't need a car, the city's much more diverse, I have access to some zanier restaurants, and it's easier for me to see comedians in person. That's...not nothing...but that's also pretty much it for day-to-day differences.

The "middle of nowhere" also has colleges and seminars and indie bands and indie movies and food coops and all that other "stuff white people like".

[Speaking of indie bands, Burnt Hills is a fine psych band named after my home region. I guess that's our claim to fame nowadays, aside from being pretty near where they shot Place Beyond the Pines.]
posted by Sticherbeast at 5:38 AM on December 5, 2013 [3 favorites]


If all you ever got was rockhard but also watery-stringy terrible things that bear no resemblance to the wonder that is a good avocado, you would think avocados are awful. So there's that, too.

Since Subway made their "avocado" abomination available, I've already had to convince several people that they probably don't actually hate avocado and can I please demonstrate with an actual avocado.
posted by lwb at 7:23 AM on December 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


As teenagers, we thought we lived in the middle of nowhere. Looking back on it, and looking at it now, it's obvious that we had always just been 1) ignoring (or taking for granted) what was actually there and 2) assuming that Truly Fascinating Things were constantly going on elsewhere.

You already said teenager, the rest was redundant.
posted by bongo_x at 9:13 AM on December 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


Guys we can like NYC AND LA

Dogs AND Cats

This is how I live.

It's not important that we win, it is important that Chicago loses.


Guys, we can like NYC AND LA AND Chicago.

Well, maybe not LA.
posted by ultraviolet catastrophe at 9:28 AM on December 5, 2013 [3 favorites]


[dismissive comment about chicago "pizza"]
posted by elizardbits at 9:53 AM on December 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


I've never been go Chicago but I've never heard anyone who has been there or lived there say anything bad about it. (Pizza debates don't count, I'm talking about the city.) I really want to visit.
posted by Room 641-A at 9:54 AM on December 5, 2013


Jinx.
posted by Room 641-A at 9:55 AM on December 5, 2013


There is no Chicago Cabal, which may or may not be a drawback.
posted by SpiffyRob at 9:56 AM on December 5, 2013


yeah sure, and that crown doesn't bestow any legal authority and "the Goat" is just a cute name for a fun bar, suuuure.
posted by The Whelk at 9:57 AM on December 5, 2013


I think it's the pizza wars which make me giggle the most, to be honest, mostly because it's so damn clear no one takes it seriously, and yet everyone takes it "seriously".
posted by Deoridhe at 10:21 AM on December 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


I've never been go Chicago but I've never heard anyone who has been there or lived there say anything bad about it.

The weather is fucking vile.
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 10:22 AM on December 5, 2013 [3 favorites]


I've never been go Chicago but I've never heard anyone who has been there or lived there say anything bad about it.
I have a list I could share. Still, it's also one of the best places I've ever lived, too.

This doesn't change the fact that we're looking to move in the next couple of years.
posted by sm1tten at 10:23 AM on December 5, 2013


The weather is fucking vile.

Whenever people who are recent transplants (post 2011) say that they've "survived" a Chicago winter I kind of laugh/cry because... Snowmageddon.
posted by sm1tten at 10:26 AM on December 5, 2013


The weather is fucking vile

I know people hate the weather but everyone seems to love the city.
posted by Room 641-A at 10:31 AM on December 5, 2013


Whenever people are all "snowmageddon" I just lol because sometimes this happens and it has nothing to do with snow and everything to do with oh I guess it must be January now.

I woke up today and it was 28 degrees on my 28th birthday, so Chicago weather's got my back.
posted by phunniemee at 10:31 AM on December 5, 2013 [3 favorites]


I loved Chicago for the 6 or 7 years I was there -- so much so that I would have stayed, even with a shitty job and going through a divorce, if not for the HIDEOUS WEATHER.

I remember standing on an El platform in an ice storm in the middle of April a few months after I'd made the decision to move to L.A. that summer, and all I could think of while the ice lashed my face was AS GOD AS MY WITNESS I AM NEVER GOING THROUGH THIS JUST FOR THE SAKE OF AN AWESOME LOCAL MUSIC SCENE AGAIN.
posted by scody at 10:50 AM on December 5, 2013 [5 favorites]


Happy birthday phunniemee! Perfect day for a hot toddie.

I bitch about Snowmageddon because I still had to work that day. I didn't have to work on days like the pic you posted. It makes no sense.
posted by sm1tten at 11:08 AM on December 5, 2013


Is this the lake effect weather thing I hear so much about from my friends in Syracuse?

chicago has a lake right

it's the one that looks like a peen
posted by elizardbits at 11:11 AM on December 5, 2013


Speaking of peen, do you know how much of it I've seen on the CTA? And also, how many times I've seen someone pooping on the CTA? And also, how many times I've seen them at the same time?

I don't have enough hands for this kind of accounting. :(
posted by sm1tten at 11:13 AM on December 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


how many times I've seen someone pooping on the CTA

OK now that is a bad thing about the city. About ANY city.
posted by Miko at 11:19 AM on December 5, 2013


pooping on the CTA

Isn’t that part of a 60’s folk song?
posted by bongo_x at 11:27 AM on December 5, 2013 [4 favorites]


bongo_x: Isn’t that part of a 60’s folk song?

Boston > Chicago once again. Charlie on the MTA. Little to no pooping.
posted by Rock Steady at 11:57 AM on December 5, 2013


The pooping is implied.
posted by Pruitt-Igoe at 12:31 PM on December 5, 2013 [6 favorites]


He will ride forever
'bove the streets of Chi-town
He's the man with CTA turds
posted by SpiffyRob at 1:28 PM on December 5, 2013 [3 favorites]


The pooping is implied.

The way the needle in the 'stitch in time' is implied?
posted by Pudhoho at 2:43 PM on December 5, 2013


Speaking of peen, do you know how much of it I've seen on the CTA? And also, how many times I've seen someone pooping on the CTA? And also, how many times I've seen them at the same time?

This is clearly your fault because you were actually looking at other people on the CTA. Look out the window, get a book, a smarthphone, mp3 player, something.
posted by nooneyouknow at 3:12 PM on December 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


Is this the lake effect weather thing I hear so much about from my friends in Syracuse?

As a Syracuse native...yep.
posted by Kronios at 4:16 PM on December 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


Are you suggesting that I'm suppose to act like I'm in some sort of... bubble... when I'm on public transit?

Why, I never...!
posted by sm1tten at 5:55 PM on December 5, 2013


I've never been go Chicago but I've never heard anyone who has been there or lived there say anything bad about it.

I lived there one December and the tears froze on my face.
posted by Anitanola at 7:15 PM on December 5, 2013 [3 favorites]


the tears froze on my face

the tears of joy at being in Chicago, of course.
posted by Ghidorah at 7:54 PM on December 5, 2013 [6 favorites]


I've never been go Chicago but I've never heard anyone who has been there or lived there say anything bad about it.

I used to spend a lot of time there and have plenty to say about it that isn't so nice, but for a start I work in the damn Arctic and was born in New England, but Chicago is the only place I've ever actually gotten frostbite.
posted by spitbull at 7:58 AM on December 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


Good a place as any to thank elizardbits for turning me on to Brooklyn Nine Nine with her tumblr post of Detective Diaz describing her happy place.

My pick is Stephanie Beatriz as the breakout star, but great cast all around.
posted by whuppy at 8:30 AM on December 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


I've never been go Chicago

Has anyone really been far even as decided to use even go Chicago?

Is this the lake effect weather thing I hear so much about from my friends in Syracuse?

Mostly Chicago is on the wrong side of the lake for that. Mostly.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 8:35 AM on December 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


Has anyone really been far even as decided to use even go Chicago?

I think chicago is a pretty cool guy. eh has best pizzas and doesn't afraid of winter.
posted by Metroid Baby at 8:40 AM on December 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


Chicago weather, nothin', in Portland we've got 0.5 inches of snow AND IT'S STILL FALLING
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:42 AM on December 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


My favorite thing about Chicago is that I feel it's the most affordable of all the major cities in the US in which a car-free or car-light lifestyle is practical. (Perhaps with the exception of Philadelphia, with which I have very little experience so can't speak to it.)

I love Boston, DC, SF, NYC, but they're so expensive; and I know that a lot of other cheaper places are becoming increasingly friendly to those who don't want to use a car all the time, but Chicago for me struck that balance of car-free, affordable, big-city amenities.

Fortunately for me I'm one of those rare people that prefers 15 to 95 degrees -- if I could spend every summer in the Pacific Northwest for the rest of my life I would die a happy man -- so I was able to survive Chicago winters pretty well.
posted by andrewesque at 8:47 AM on December 6, 2013


ROU_Xenophobe: "Mostly Chicago is on the wrong side of the lake for that. Mostly."

Yeah "lake effect" snow in Chicago is usually little flurries blowing backwards off the Lake. On the other side of the Lake it's like O HAI I'M A CANADIAN STORM SYSTEM WHO PICKED UP ALL THIS WATER ABOVE THIS BIG LAKE THING IS IT COOL IF I DROP IT HERE? THANKS BRO

When I was in junior high and had to wait for my school bus in Chicago (well, the burbs) my hair used to freeze instead of dry when it was still wet from the shower. It makes for very frizzy hair if you do that a lot. That is my bad thing to say about Chicago and/or my inability to get up a reasonable amount of time before leaving the house.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 8:50 AM on December 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


OK, so granted I'm an elitist, but I've never understood the "OMG Chicago weather!!" thing.

I know cold. Edmonton is cold.

Chicago is just chilly.
posted by aramaic at 9:14 AM on December 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


> I've never been go Chicago but I've never heard anyone who has been there or lived there say anything bad about it.

I had some of the worst coffee of my life in Chicago. You know that jokey expression "you could read a newspaper through it"? In this case it wasn't a joke.

Otherwise, the city was great, and I got to watch baseball in both Wrigley and Old Comiskey.
posted by languagehat at 9:37 AM on December 6, 2013


MSN Weather says the average high temperature in January for Chicago is 33 degrees farenheit. That's practically balmy.
posted by Area Man at 9:38 AM on December 6, 2013


MSN Weather says the average high temperature in January for Chicago is 33 degrees farenheit. That's practically balmy.

The problem* is that this is also roughly the average high temperature for November, December, February, March, April, the beginning of May, and sometimes the end of October.

*I don't really see this as a problem, but also I hate sunlight so there's that.
posted by phunniemee at 9:46 AM on December 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


"MSN Weather says the average high temperature in January for Chicago is 33 degrees farenheit. That's practically balmy."

It's actually the windchill that'll get ya in Chicago. It's not THAT cold absolutely, but Chicago is a legitimately windy city, even prior to the specious "politicians" folk etymology.

Also, I like Chicago a lot, but there's a pretty huge chip on the shoulders there (see: "Second City") that's kind of funny.

One of the weird things about how Latino stuff in Chicago gets called just generic "Mexican," when it's, like, half Puerto Rican, and even the Mexican community there was fairly autonomous, having mostly migrated at the beginning of the 1900s, to become its own thing. I only really remember that because in my linguistics class, our prof was finishing up her dissertation on Spanish argot in Chicago, and she used it as a regular example in the pidgin versus dialect lessons. If I recall correctly, it's a subdialect of Chicano, as opposed to a pidgin of Spanglish, but who knows, that class was years ago. I just remember that the "Mexican" population in Chicago is pretty distinct, and a lot of the things considered staples there — like the plantain sammich thing — are really not very Mexican at all, so much as Mexican/Puerto-Rican American.

(That prof was pretty funny, this Polish lady who started out the class with a complaint that linguists always get asked how many languages they speak and that's not the point of linguistics, but by the way it was 11 that she was fluent in, with conversational skills in like five more. It was kind of a terrible class though, since my fellow students simply did not believe her that they had any sort of accent at all, and even when she'd record them using the Midwest vowels, they'd just flatly deny that they heard it. I think we got through less than a third of the syllabus just because so many of my cohort were dedicated to being provincial idiots.)
posted by klangklangston at 10:35 AM on December 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


Chicago is not the worst place I've wintered. That would be the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.

It's also the place I was introduced to Roadkill Cuisine.
posted by sm1tten at 11:12 AM on December 6, 2013


aramaic: "I know cold. Edmonton is cold. Chicago is just chilly."

We Chicagoans appreciate your colder weather; nothing strikes fear in the heart of a Chicagoan like the phrase "arctic air mass moving in from Canada" except for, God forbid, "Alberta clipper." We know they're hella colder up by you and you're really just shipping us your excess cold.

(Tom Skilling on Monday: "That's one impressive Canadian high pressure spilling into the country and portends an outbreak of sub-zero temps in the Rockies, northern and central Plains and Upper Midwest.")

Side note, I think that should be a blessing: "May you love your work as much as Tom Skilling." That dude LOVES HIS WORK.

And now that my mind's on Chicago TV, I leave all you Chicagoans a little present. In fact, have 20 presents and some bonus Svengoolie.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 11:13 AM on December 6, 2013 [3 favorites]


In fact, have 20 presents

WGN's nationwide cable presence means that I've seen a bunch of these in the wild!

But you still can't beat the classic from Baltimore. Except that it's not real, but still.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 11:30 AM on December 6, 2013


It was kind of a terrible class though, since my fellow students simply did not believe her that they had any sort of accent at all, and even when she'd record them using the Midwest vowels, they'd just flatly deny that they heard it. I think we got through less than a third of the syllabus just because so many of my cohort were dedicated to being provincial idiots.

I would never deny that I speak all languages with a Midwestern accent because I've been told that too many times by people who should know, but I do have real trouble hearing it. I just don't seem to have particularly sensitive ears. My wife will tell me the correct way to pronounce something and to me it will sound exactly like what I just said. This happens all the time. I'm not denying what I just heard. I really didn't hear the difference. I think those of you who are good with accents and pronounciation don't realize that people really do have a variety of abilities in this area.
posted by Area Man at 11:32 AM on December 6, 2013


My college roommate was a linguistics major. I can hear everything that you hear. I just find you pedantic so I'm going to fuck with you.

I'm kind of a jerk though.
posted by phunniemee at 11:35 AM on December 6, 2013


nothing strikes fear in the heart of a Chicagoan like the phrase "arctic air mass moving in from Canada" except for, God forbid, "Alberta clipper."

It's -20F here today, but it's not unpleasant because the wind has died down, the air is dry over all the compressed snow, and it's bright and sunny. Anyway I think our cold spell is moving your way. This zone of purple has been growing outward all week.

I had never heard of an Alberta clipper. Apparently those mean warm weather in Alberta itself (we call them chinook winds).
posted by Pruitt-Igoe at 11:53 AM on December 6, 2013


"I would never deny that I speak all languages with a Midwestern accent because I've been told that too many times by people who should know, but I do have real trouble hearing it. I just don't seem to have particularly sensitive ears. My wife will tell me the correct way to pronounce something and to me it will sound exactly like what I just said. This happens all the time. I'm not denying what I just heard. I really didn't hear the difference. I think those of you who are good with accents and pronounciation don't realize that people really do have a variety of abilities in this area."

Yeah, it's a well-known thing. The trick is usually that while we can't detect these things in ourselves so well, we can usually pick them out from others. But my classmates just flat out did not believe these distinctions existed between Upper Midwest and the notional American Standard English. It was so tedious and weird.
posted by klangklangston at 12:04 PM on December 6, 2013


Yeah, the problem is with intellectually accepting the notion that you have an accent, not that linguists are a special breed of people who have more sensitive ears for this sort of thing.

If you talk, you have an accent. Hell, I'm pretty sure that signers have the signing equivalent as well.

That said I can see it being harder to accept intellectually if you're from the Midwest, due to the common adage that newscasters speak with Midwestern accents and Standard American English = Midwestern English.
posted by Sara C. at 12:11 PM on December 6, 2013


That said I can see it being harder to accept intellectually if you're from the Midwest, due to the common adage that newscasters speak with Midwestern accents and Standard American English = Midwestern English

The ongoing and spreading Northern Cities Vowel Shift makes this more and more untrue every year, unless "dackter" has become the Standard American English pronunciation of doctor.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 1:02 PM on December 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


Sure, but I don't think your average college sophomore taking Introduction To Linguistics is necessarily aware of that and their own individual role in that. People just take "Midwestern English Is Standard English" as axiomatic, when they even think about these things at all.
posted by Sara C. at 1:18 PM on December 6, 2013


And then, there are the many breaded pork tenderloin sandwiches of Iowa...
posted by Wordshore at 7:38 PM on December 6, 2013 [2 favorites]


I just happened to come across this comment referencing Iowa and had to laugh.

It's winter. It's cold and dark and rainy. The thought of county fairs… *wistful sigh*
posted by Lexica at 9:57 PM on December 6, 2013


There's decent pizza here in LA. You just have to travel to find it. (I say this having grown up in Chicago.)
posted by professor plum with a rope at 10:27 PM on December 6, 2013


Upper Midwest isn't standard English. Maybe Omaha is. When I get tired my upper-Midwest accent comes through, and people in LA look at me funny.
posted by professor plum with a rope at 10:29 PM on December 6, 2013


It took me three months to lose my accent after spending a couple weeks in Chicago this summer. And I can hear it now that I've lived in LA for 10+ years.
posted by professor plum with a rope at 10:31 PM on December 6, 2013


Eyebrows! Son of Svengooli! On channel 32! Shibboleth accepted.
posted by professor plum with a rope at 10:33 PM on December 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


Oh-uh. We've been rumbled.
posted by Wordshore at 5:52 AM on December 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


People just take "Midwestern English Is Standard English" as axiomatic

What people? I've never heard this.
posted by sweetkid at 7:35 AM on December 7, 2013


I feel like everyone needs to know how good i look today pic.twitter.com/mXvDCh6gJb
posted by The Whelk at 10:28 AM on December 7, 2013


Sweetkid: 'struth.
posted by klangklangston at 10:39 AM on December 7, 2013


Area Man: "My wife will tell me the correct way to pronounce something and to me it will sound exactly like what I just said."

I apparently have this sort of accent problem; every once and a while I apparently pronounce words different that everyone I work with even though I can't hear the difference. Which they find hilarious.
posted by Mitheral at 11:06 AM on December 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


All this talk of the Standard American Accent made me curious about the Pacific Northwest accent that I grew up with. I always had the impression that it was basically the same as the midwest-native "Standard American" but was never certain if that was just my own inability to hear the differences. Wikipedia confirms that Pacific Northwest English is “remarkably close to the standard American accent” though with some hints of Canadian and Californian vowel shifts.
posted by mbrubeck at 5:28 PM on December 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


I am from Missouri-- Kansas City area. I've been told I sound like I'm from nowhere at all. Missouri is south of Iowa. Take that as you will.
posted by RainyJay at 5:44 PM on December 7, 2013


mbrubeck -- I went on a family vacation to Oregon from the south when I was ~18. We made fun of the locals' midwestern/Canadian accents the whole time. I can still crack up my dad if I say the sentence "Mom, can I have some pop?" with the right mix of whiney tween attitude and nasal vowels.
posted by Sara C. at 8:19 PM on December 7, 2013


OTOH I know plenty of Pacific Northwesterners nowadays and none of them have nearly that strong an accent. Though it's possible that I'm just used to hearing it.
posted by Sara C. at 8:19 PM on December 7, 2013


All this talk of the Standard American Accent made me curious about the Pacific Northwest accent that I grew up with. I always had the impression that it was basically the same as the midwest-native "Standard American" but was never certain if that was just my own inability to hear the differences.

Remarkably, the Wikipedia article does not mention the emphatic pronunciation of the voiceless alveolar sibilant (the hissing "s" sound) and the widespread vocal fry.

We're usually functionally deaf to our own accents, although we can certainly hear what our accents are not. In some sense it is like how people are surprised when they hear recordings of their own voices. I always agonize when taking online dialect quizzes because I question what I can perceive in my own accent.
posted by Tanizaki at 6:31 AM on December 8, 2013


I just watched a video posted on FB by a guy I went to school with and had the "I sound like that?!" recognition.
posted by arcticseal at 7:09 AM on December 8, 2013


I can't believe I just read this whole thread.
posted by slogger at 9:48 AM on December 9, 2013 [4 favorites]


Sorry there wasn't more of a payoff, man. It's like one of those movies where you're like, "Oh, OK, that's where you're going to end it? I guess so, then."
posted by klangklangston at 9:49 AM on December 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


The question is, do you sit through the credits to see if there is a bonus reel?
posted by Miko at 10:06 AM on December 9, 2013




and now, as is traditional at this point in a thread's life: video of a dancing dog
posted by The Whelk at 11:48 AM on December 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yay!
posted by Wordshore at 7:17 PM on December 9, 2013


Re: avocados. I haven't been to nor have I see the episode of Call the Midwife referenced, but I have read that when avocados were introduced into the mass market in England following WWII, they tended to be referred to as "avocado pears", since how you could tell they were ripe and the approximate way you may cut it up was similar. This, according some some sources like James Bond introduces the avocado pear, caused some set of the British population to be confused about avocados and attempt them first off as a sweet dish. My guess is that's what Call is referencing (the rapid change and introduction of global things in post-war London and the humor in people attempting to adjust).

(In some cultures have done sweet dishes with avocados of course, but they tend to pick either sweet or savory for the oily berry.)
posted by skynxnex at 9:44 PM on December 9, 2013


In the scene in question, it is referred to as an avocado pear, but the dish looks savory and appears to be served as a meal.

I have no idea what's intended, though, just the words used and the images on the screen. It's totally possible that the sort of hors d'oeuvre looking dish is meant to read as sweet. Or that we're supposed to assume the characters expect the avocados to taste sweet.

FWIW avocados being associated with pears isn't just a British thing. In New Orleans they're called "alligator pears", or at least they were at one time. I grew up in New Orleans and don't remember a time I wasn't familiar with the actual properties of avocado, though -- I certainly never expected it to taste sweet nor did anyone else I know, during my lifetime. As a kid (1980s) I regarded it as yet another horrible green vegetable.
posted by Sara C. at 9:56 PM on December 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


Wow, I wonder how many more testimonies were deleted after putting the lid on that. Also, I can't believe I read the whole thread either. Both the original and the MetaTalk!
posted by NikitaNikita at 11:39 AM on December 10, 2013


Did I miss any mention in this thread that the mods decided to delete from that thread any more comments from new users?

I have mixed feelings about that, but on balance I'm okay with it. I'm especially uncomfortable with the people who are currently professionally associated with Simpson responding to the question. It's true that a few provided quite a bit of info, but one still has to take it with such a huge grain of salt that the value of all that info is greatly diminished. I felt better, but not entirely okay, about respondents who were current students. I was totally fine with responses from people who were alumni but not currently associated with Simpson — that's pretty much exactly what the poster asked for. If an email went out on an alumni list or whatever, well, I think that's okay. It's not going to be a truly representative response, but then I don't think that's true on AskMe, ever.

So ... I don't know. I'd prefer the rule for deletion to have been "new users employed by Simson" or even "new users with a current association with Simpson", but not "all new users". But "all new users" is pretty unambiguous and avoids the dubious process of a mod vetting a comment for Simson association.

In the end, this was an edge case, I think. As has been said here before, the legal maxim of "hard cases make bad law" is a good rule-of-thumb for MeFi.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 1:26 AM on December 11, 2013 [2 favorites]


Just been debating this in my local corner shop. Avocados are one of those food things that some - not all - people in Britain perceive as a class thing. The suspicion around them feeds into the negative reviews of their taste, in some.

The fact that they are used in a food which is obviously foreign by name (guacamole) just heightens this; there's more than a grain of truth in Peter Kay's "Garlic Bread" routine (side derail: several of my older relatives won't eat croissants on the grounds that they are unsure how to pronounce it).

(side derail: only a few years ago, living on a Scottish island and attending a Community Council meeting, the discussion massively derailed onto whether residents who used Olive Oil needed to or whether they were just being "posh").

(meta derail: if you go to that last link and have a wander around, you may lose a day and also realise you've stumbled into the Scottish Hebridean version of MetaFilter. There'll be an FPP about it in the new year.).
posted by Wordshore at 3:45 AM on December 11, 2013 [3 favorites]


if you go to that last link and have a wander around, you may lose a day and also realise you've stumbled into the Scottish Hebridean version of MetaFilter.

I did not heed your warning, and you were right.

"Viewers of the infamous "Berneray Karma Sutra" will know all about the many and extensive uses of Olive Oil. Poor Donald McDonald misheard one of the, erm, recommendations and was farting a small fountain of the stuff for three weeks afterwards."

Can you buy a whole island gift membership?
posted by billiebee at 4:45 AM on December 11, 2013 [3 favorites]


Iowa again on the blue (search through the comments).
posted by Wordshore at 4:41 PM on December 11, 2013


Guys, I think Josh Groban might have been reading this thread. Jump ahead to #1 in the countdown. PENICILLIN FTW.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 8:54 AM on December 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


What if one of those Former Simpson People is Josh Groban? (Note: I know nothing of Josh Groban and prefer to keep it that way.)
posted by Sara C. at 10:07 AM on December 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


I love Josh Groban. He is funny on twitter.
posted by amapolaroja at 12:56 AM on December 13, 2013


What do they grow in Iowa?

Fields of celerity, man; just endless fields of celerity...
posted by Wordshore at 10:50 AM on December 13, 2013


Me, too, amapolaroja. That's why I don't want to know anything about him. I prefer to think of him as that sort of cute oddly hipster-ish piano singing dude who has a good sense of humor and probably tweets interesting things rather than wallow in the actual music that he really makes in real life for real.
posted by Sara C. at 11:11 AM on December 13, 2013


In the scene in question, it is referred to as an avocado pear

And was "avocado pear" in British cooking programmes and newspaper recipes until at least the mid-80s.

Sliced and splashed with vinaigrette, it was (and probably still is) the standard vegetarian option for the second/fish course at more highbrow college meals. It is one of those foodstuffs that the British traditionally do not handle well, like the aubergine. ("Because it can't be boiled?" Americans may ask, and I will choose not to answer.)
posted by holgate at 6:47 PM on January 1, 2014 [2 favorites]


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