Sorry, but this post is not going to be related to anything heart health! I feel like I need to get something off my chest. I’m not just venting, though, I also have a potential solution to what I perceive as a problem. Something that may help us all when we go out on a Saturday night to dine in a fine restaurant.
Has anyone noticed the terminology on menus these days? Particularly fine dining. Recently, friends were kind enough to take us out to eat to a very lovely restaurant. Upon looking at the menu, I came across veal cheeks. Someone at our table ordered this entrée. The daring person ordering the cheeks was trying them for the first time. Apparently, they were good and tasted something like chicken. When I saw veal cheeks, I didn’t know which end of the calf the cheeks were coming from and that concerned me. I looked up veal cheeks when I got home and found that they are the slow-cooked cheeks (jowls) of baby cows. Sometimes you have to say to yourself, “what will they come up with next?”
Here’s another entrée I recently came across that puzzled me – grilled fisherman’s daughter’s shrimp. Stop, I thought, now they must be making this up! Again, I did some research and found out the story behind these. A fisherman’s daughter had concerns regarding fishing and its potentially adverse effects it may have on the environment. Because of her concern, someone came up with “lighter gear for less habitat destruction and lower fuel consumption and advanced bycatch reduction devices that leave more fish, turtles and marine mammals in the sea” (whatever that means but it’s definitely something good). Hence, the term “Grilled Fisherman’s Daughter’s Shrimp” on a menu. Also, notice how many new varieties of fish are out there? Cuttlefish which is also known as sepia. I didn’t know what it was when it was called cuttlefish let alone sepia. I do like it, though! Remember when flounder was popular? What ever happened to flounder? Flounder stuffed with crabmeat used to be all the rage! It’s so passé now. Does that mean it’s not on menus anymore because it doesn’t taste good? I always thought it did. Is it because it is time for something new? Then there was salmon, tuna, halibut, sea bass. Let’s not forget tilapia. Now we have hake, porgy, butterfish and many more. Are these new breeds or have they always been around and we just figured out we could eat them? Did we try to catch them but these fish were too smart for us? I think what is interesting is the fact that we order these things. We order foods off a menu that we have never even heard of or don’t even know exactly what it is. Maybe people all know and I don’t know because I don’t eat out enough. Definitely possible as my fine dining experience, truth be told, is somewhat limited.
Sometimes I just want to eat something that I know what it is that I’m eating. Unless it is nettle. Stinging nettle. Yes, this is also a hip trendy food appearing on menus now. Apparently, it is delicious and nutritious. Unfortunately, I have had some horrific experiences with nettle and I’m not sure I can get beyond that and eat it. Maybe I will. I wonder if poison ivy will ever be on a menu…
How about ramp? It is now “ramp” -ent on menus now. This is sometimes called wild leek. I have read that it has a wonderful flavor somewhere between garlic and onion. It does sound good but where were (was) ramp (or ramps) twenty years ago? Lettuce has been around for as long as I can remember. Recently I saw on a menu an entrée with “torn” ramp. Not ripped, chopped, minced, shredded or cut. It was very specifically stated in the menu description that it was torn. Does that matter if it is torn? Does it taste better if it’s torn? Honestly, let’s face it. People spend hours coming up with this stuff!
What can be done about this? I can’t be the only person who occasionally questions terms or terminology on restaurant menus. My thought with this is that someone should come up with an app defining all of these restaurant terms so that we know what it is we are eating! There is an app out there called “Fooddictionary.” It helps to some degree with restaurant terminology but is most helpful translating international terms. I want an app that will tell me what “lady fern fiddleheads” or “crescent farm long island duck breast” is. If a new food becomes trendy, the app should be updated. By the way, the full name of the dish in the title (which happens to be an appetizer on this menu) is Candied Black Walnuts, Minus 8 Ice Vinegar, Licorice Root, and Hyssop…and I really don’t feel like looking all that up to see if I may or may not like that. By the time I look all this up, it’s time to call it a night.