Not About Food

In response to Rachel Ray thread


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Not About Food

In response to Rachel Ray thread

Mr Taster | | Apr 18, 2008 02:52 PM

Original thread:

Someone commented that Rachel Ray's milquetoast L.A. restaurant picks would appeal to her core demographic, as "Mr and Mrs. Smith from Tulsa, OK might not enjoy trying to figure out which place in Koreatown is actually decent"

Someone then commented "I guess us folk from Tulsa have no taste?"

I'm personally quite exhausted by people interpreting such comments as personal attacks, because the fact is that it's true... RR genrally appeals to America At Large, and Chowhounds by definition seek out more than just America At Large wants or cares about.

This prompted me to write this novella, which I would love to hear your comments on.

Mr Taster

Regarding your "no taste" comment:

It's not a matter of having "no taste". It's a matter of the events in your life shaping the basis by which you measure new experiences.

I lived in suburban New Jersey for 18 years and central Missouri for 4.5. In both places, the most exotic food I ever ate was Taco Bell. Six months before I left Missouri for LA, the town's first Indian restaurant opened. My meal there was an absolute revelation. Parts of my mouth that I never knew existed came alive.

It was not until I moved to LA (and had been here for 5 or 6 years) that I began to open my mind past what I had gotten used to eating.

It's just a fact that people from less populated areas of the country (like the midwest) generally do not have the immigrant population density which can provide an authentic and diverse ethnic food experience.

In LA, we are lucky to have massive Korean and Chinese populations which provide us with opportunities to not just eat "Chinese" but various permutations of regional delicacies. In Koreatown, we have a restaurant that prepares imperial cuisine. Although I'm sure Tulsa has a Korean population, my uneducated opinion is that it is likely not large enough to support a restaurant which serves a style of Korean food which is so specific.

It is in this regard that people from smaller cities simply have less opportunity (and less inclination due to peer influence, etc.) to diverge from the standard "middle class" restaurant experience-- and this is what Rachel Ray's audience expects. So when she espouses Gyu-Kaku, she is speaking to those people in Tulsa (and elsewhere) who have never eaten *GREAT* Korean BBQ (or more specifically, the blander Japanese version of KBBQ which Gyu-Kaku makes), so Gyu-Kaku becomes a wildly exotic but still very "safe" (i.e. clean and filled with middle class white people) experience.

For those of us who have been eating authentic, fantastic Korean bbq for years now (some in restaurants that are pretty grimy holes and would scare away Rachel Ray's core demographic), Gyu-Kaku provides nothing new or exotic.... I see it as half the food and half the quality at twice the price.

So, it's not that people from Tulsa have no taste. It's simply that the cities in which we live shape our life experiences. The vast majority of non-Korean and non-Japanese Americans will likely find Gyu-Kaku an exciting and exotic change of pace from the regular Red Lobster/Applebee's/Friday's/local diner rotation.

Mr Taster