Sunday, July 12, 2009

Writing for Food

I was applying for a writing job, something I’ve always wanted to do and had to give a sample of my writing. I decided to go with eating locally, dining at local restaurants thereby helping the local economy, breaking the chain food habit, and sometimes discovering some hidden treasures. The bit I wrote reminded me of things I look for when I try out a restaurant for the first time.

The first stop is the bathroom. Doesn’t sound to appetizing, but I picked up this tip for my daughter – I check the soap dispensers and the faucets. No soap or no water means there’s a good chance no one handling the food is washing their hands – an immediate disqualifying factor. I also like to check general cleanliness. After dining on the streets of Korea I am not too discerning, but if I spot things that need to be kept cold or hot just sitting out on a counter I will just walk out. The general hygiene of the server is also a go/no go factor. I have gotten used to piercings and tattoos, but unkempt hair and signs of “soap-phobia” means diner beware. I really don’t want that side order of Hep B.

Then on to the food. In barbeque joints I try the brisket. Brisket is the ultimate meat in the barbeque world and th3e toughest to make right. To dry, no flavor, or like chewing on old shoes can indicate the rest of the place’s fare is probably off as well.

In an Chinese restaurant I apply the Kung Pao standard. Kung Pao, whether beef, pork, chicken, shrimp,or a combination is a delicate dance of spicy, sweet, crunchy, and soft. Once again a benchmark dish. I dined in a small Chinese place in Ogden and was surprised to find their Kung Pao chicken didn’t have a pepper symbol next to the menu entry, meaning it wasn’t a spicy dish. I was astounded in that Tien Tsin peppers ar an integral ingredient. The waitress said they could”spice it up for me,” however the attempt at using crushed red pepper didn’t cut the mustard. I never went back, though I did notice that a year later on returning to Ogden the place was gone. Not a surprise.

Taste is subjective and I have eaten at places I hated while others rave on, so I am generally wiling to give a place a second chance unless it was a complete flop or I suffered ill effects the next day.

Hard to say if I’ll get picked up for the job or not, but I will reserve my rights to express my opinions on restaurants for good or ill.

10 Comments:

At 5:24 PM, Blogger Hammer said...

I agree with you on the cleanliness factor. I've been behind the kitchen door and if the front doesn't look good the back is a cess pit.

According to law there is supposed to be a dedicated and stocked hand washing station in every kitchen.

However I'm still wary where the bathrooms aren't stocked.

Good luck on your food reviews.

 
At 5:27 PM, Blogger Little Lamb said...

I judge how I like the food. But what pointed out are very good factors. I'll have to pay attention to that next time.

 
At 11:27 PM, Blogger /t. said...

writer?

to or too?

what you think about what you write about is immaterial

/t.

 
At 11:27 PM, Blogger How do we know said...

Go Phos.. i m rooting for u all the way.. u will make an excellent restaurant reviewer.. this small post proves it..u know restaurants.. and if they dont pick you, that will be their loss.. serious.

 
At 4:51 AM, Blogger Jack K. said...

Good luck in this endeavor.

One small suggestion. Proof your copy prior to posting/submitting. I don't always do it and and shouldn't be surprised when my wife reminds me.

 
At 6:42 AM, Blogger dianne said...

Good luck Phossy dear I hope it all works out for you.

I always check out the hygiene standards too, not that I eat out very much. ♡

 
At 4:26 PM, Blogger foam said...

hey .. good luck with that!!!
next time i eat chinese i'm ordering the kung pao ...
after i check out the facilities first, that is .. :)

 
At 10:22 PM, Blogger Keshi said...

**No soap or no water means there’s a good chance no one handling the food is washing their hands

Thats a very interesting and valid tip!

Keshi.

 
At 5:19 AM, Blogger Jewels said...

That would be awesome Phos, but you'll have to work on your edits ;p

All valid items you've pointed out there. I too try to be discerning where my place of dining is concerned. Then again, lots of the places I've been into the last few years have included 'playrooms' and disgruntled 'disguised' employees serving as the occasional punching bag for the little rug-rats who frequent such establishments... :/

Hey, what's your take on Sushi places?

 
At 12:27 PM, Blogger freefun0616 said...

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,

 

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