Blog of an aspiring foodie

Archive for June, 2007

What's wrong with US culture

Posted by beer_chris on 12-June-2007

We tip by default here. It is the one thing pointed out by just about everyone I visit with from overseas – the expectation of a 'tip' for almost any type of service (good or bad) is a part of our culture and makes us relatively unique. The lady that pours you a $7 beer at the stadium? You probably ought to think about giving her a dollar or two. The cashier at a to-go restaurant? She worked hard counting your change – and deserves a little extra. The shiterrific waitress at TGI Fridays who asked *you* where your food was when everyone else at the table was eating? She was having a tough night – haven't we all been there really? She needs a little motivation.

All I ask from individuals I pay to do things for me is a reasonable level of competence. Demonstrate that and you should be paid – your salary. Go a bit beyond and I'll show my appreciation. I think it demonstrates something wrong at the core of our culture that our service providers generally have a sense of entitlement for everyone to give them a little extra – above and beyond expectations when the service certainly did not meet the same level of performance.

I think tip jars, tip lines on bills and everything else like that ought to be removed. Tips ought to be restored to what, in my minds eye, they used to be – tokens of appreciation, not expected components of the job. I'm not against tipping – just an opponent of the expectation of a tip.


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Red wine meatball craving – and some ranting

Posted by beer_chris on 10-June-2007

I've been craving red wine meatballs for a few weeks at least. The hunger might be sourced as far back as Christmas last year when I was given a Le Crueset skillet.

In any case, I finally put a recipe that had been bouncing around in my brain into action:

Ytee's Red Wine Meatballs
1/2 lb ground chuck
1 tsp dried thyme
2 tbsp roughly chopped fresh oregano
1 small clutch garlic, crushed (~10 cloves)
3 tbsp bread crumbs
1 egg, beaten
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp ground black pepper

1 bottle sweet red wine (I used Beaujolais)
Grated parmesan, salt and pepper to taste

Mix the meat with the other ingredients (save the wine, of course). Put the pan on heat and sprinkle the olive oil for even coverage. Form 1-2 inch meatballs out of the mixture. Saute in oil until meatballs are firm and browned on all sides (about 5 minutes). Remove meatballs and remove rendered fat from pan. Deglaze with entire bottle of wine. Add meatballs and simmer for 15-20 minutes. Reduce remaining wine into sauce.

As a side note – I know I'm not an especially good blogger. Not very many people read my site aside from my family and friends. I don't update the blog all that frequently. However, that doesn't bother me. From my perspective the entire point of this exercise is selfish in nature – I want to be able to occasionally tap out food musings and recipes, and an online diary like this makes a good vehicle for me to do that. From time to time I do get a little wrapped up in the postings, asking people I know whether or not they've read 'my latest'. However, that feeling usually passes, probably because I'm not all that proud of what I put out here 😉

Additionally, taking that perspective keeps me from getting too wrapped up in what this is all about and feeling the need to post things like 'I'm an unofficial ambassador for Houston' or making the video that is included in the same posting. Now, certainly Ms. Finan is a reporter, and so she gets paid to do what I do for fun and personal enrichment – but in my opinion there's something wrong with starting a blog with such visions of grandeur no matter who you are.

I suppose ultimately this tickles the chin of a pet peeve of mine. Many blogs, even those that are regulars on my rotation seem to me to be at their most boring when making grandiose predictions of the wittiness, prosaic expertise or social impact of the topics being posted. Generally these postings primarily dwell on the details of life, and are most often are presented without any regard to theme or storyline. Very few blogs I've read can truly transcend the mundane and make it interesting without a theme, and those few seem to primarily be done by individuals that actually seem to live in the blog. These folks (This is one) post constantly such that the theme develops through the postings rather then within each of them.

The bottom line is that it takes work to make the mundane interesting, and I resent individuals (bloggers or otherwise) that claim their lives are so intriguing that I should be enraptured at their infrequent, emotionally charged and unorganized essays about the frivolous details of life.

Or, for that matter, their long winded and unedited commentaries on blogging in general, especially when the blog itself is not at all purposed for such things *wink*

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