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Beet Comte cheese carpaccio by chef Christophe Bellanca of Aureole NY

Beet Comte cheese carpaccio by chef Christophe Bellanca of Aureole NY

by André Gayot


Traveling in Germany recently, I was impressed when at the Porsche plant in Leipzig, along with 600 American guests, I was served a high quality dinner. The duck was cooked just right, the plates were warm, the service was precise to the millimeter and the meal unwound in no time. The only lengthy part was due to the speeches of my fellow diners. For this gastronomical tour de force I credit the much heralded German engineering that also produces those sturdy vacuum cleaners and dishwashers, as well as prestigious limousines and coupés. Expensive, but they last a lifetime. The hip-hop generation may not be sensitive to hardware longevity, considering that progress moves faster than life.

Continue reading “When Democracy Rises from the Kitchen” »



The striking Customer Center at Porsche Leipzig

The striking Customer Center at Porsche Leipzig

by André Gayot


Remember the riddle about the ideal world in which the Italians would be in charge of singing opera, the British would prepare the tea, the Chinese would fry the rice, the French would do the cooking and serve the wine, the Germans would build sturdy cars and be police, etc. That’s the image of the world that we were so comfortable with thanks to the well-worn clichés. Something must have gone wrong: it’s hard today to recognize these established values in the same spots.

Continue reading “Of Cars and Pans: Culture Shock at the Assembly Line” »



15

Nov

Kimchi, a brined cabbage and turnip dish, is an ubiquitous part of Korean cuisine

Kimchi, a brined cabbage and turnip dish, is an ubiquitous part of Korean cuisine

by André Gayot

 

While the leaders of the twenty richest nations — the G 20 — gathered in Seoul, South Korea, to discipline the ministers of finances, bankers and traders of the world, the Koreans had their own, more direct, worries.

 

Because of bad weather, there was a dearth of cabbage on the markets. “A national tragedy,” proclaimed the press, supporting angry citizens. Cabbages and their derivatives being an essential part of the Korean diet, President Lee Myung-Bak decided that cabbages would be imported from China. Mais voilà, Koreans don’t like Chinese cabbage. What made the shortage even worse was the timing. This is the season when all Korean families practice a ritual: the preparation of Kimchi.

  Continue reading “A Korean Weapon of Mass Nutrition” »



Democracy and the Kid

on November 11th, 2010
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11

Nov

Last week, many Americans took part in democracy by voting

Last week, many Americans took part in democracy by voting

by André Gayot

 

Tim is the smart, nine-year-old son of my young friend and colleague Mac Bramble. I like it when he calls me “Uncle” because it makes me feel younger, as Grandpa would be more appropriate. He enjoys asking questions, as well as teasing me a little bit. He listens to the news, and — what’s extraordinary for this generation — reads the newspapers (or at least their first page) left by his dad on the couch, but he does not understand everything. So, he often demands clarifications:

 

Tim: Uncle André, what are the elections about?

 

AG: They are an exercise in democracy. People elect people to represent them.

 

Tim:  Represent them for what?

 

AG:  To tell them what they have to do. We call that the law. It tells you what’s right and what is not. In brief, this is what they call democracy. The majority determines for you and me the good and the evil.

 

Tim:  But if I don’t like what I am told to do, am I against democracy?

 

AG: Not necessarily, but you are the minority.

 

Tim: And then, what are my rights?

  Continue reading “Democracy and the Kid” »



Last Night with Bernie

on November 03rd, 2010
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03

Nov

Ben Bernanke, Chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank

Ben Bernanke, Chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank


by André Gayot

 

I don’t want to keep you awake tonight, but I have to report the conversation I had with the Chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank, Ben Bernanke.

 

– AG: Hi, Ben, how are you? Reading that low interest rates are responsible for the subprime disaster because people bought houses left and right that they could not pay for, I was wondering if the current very low rates would not give birth to another house buying spree and another bursting bubble.

 

– BB: Don’t worry; people are not buying.

 

– AG: But that’s not too good for the economy, because construction is its main driving force.

 

– BB: This is a transition period and we have other sectors that do well, like TV, where so much money flows to conceive and propagate electoral messages, mostly mud-slinging maybe, but a good sign if you consider that mud is an inexhaustible natural resource. Continue reading “Last Night with Bernie” »



26

Oct

Chicken Snack Toast Rectangles

Chicken Snack Toast Rectangles

by André Gayot


In my European journey, despite the seasonal French pseudo-revolutionary sitcom, I was able to visit the SIAL in Villepinte near Paris. I guess the acronym is used instead of the full name — Salon des Industries Alimentaires or Food Industry Exhibition — because it’s shorter for the media and maybe also because we don’t like to be reminded that the content of our plates is nowadays largely concocted in industrial factories by Big Business. But there are also artisans who strive to find improbable ways to find a magic formula, such as the one who creates his “caviar” from truffle juice. Caviar is expensive, but so are truffles. I am missing his point.

Continue reading “Food Flair at the Food Fair” »



My A– !

on October 25th, 2010
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25

Oct

“All asses were not created equal" billboard

“All asses were not created equal"

by André Gayot


I was puzzled the other night when a brightly illuminated billboard promoting pants over the boulevard drew my attention. It read: “All asses were not created equal.”


True enough! All of a sudden, as I was so far relatively satisfied with that part of my anatomy, I felt uncomfortable in my mind to have ignored this important issue and its intricacy. I did not feel guilty, though, because no trace of the lower back problem could be found in my favorite readings, that of Voltaire and Benjamin Franklin. Reflecting on the human condition, and on the research of equality among men, they were – it seems – mostly concerned by the inequality of the heads and by the difference it could make at the end of the day if nothing was done to take care of natural or acquired imbalances.
Continue reading “My A– !” »



When I was a Hostage

on October 20th, 2010
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20

Oct

Are airlines today exploiting their passengers with astronomical fees?

Are airlines today exploiting their passengers with astronomical fees?

by André Gayot 


In the last century, terrorists of many descriptions found a spectacular way to make their point: they hijacked planes and seized the passengers as hostages to monetize them.


This lesson has not been forgotten. Airlines that were in the epicenter of the drama realized that they, too, could take advantage of this strategy and mimic the principle. It would be even easier because they already had the planes, and the passengers as well, in their grasp. Thus, they did not even need to capture them, which incurs additional costs.


Becoming a hostage seems to us to be an improbable event. Don’t believe that.

Continue reading “When I was a Hostage” »



No Foodies in LA, Indeed?

on October 18th, 2010
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18

Oct

Is this scallop dish from Providence restaurant not good enough for Michelin?

Is this scallop dish from Providence restaurant not good enough for Michelin?

by André Gayot


Monsieur Jean-Luc Naret, the director of the red Michelin restaurant guide who is leaving his post at the end of the year, is a strongly opinionated person. Based on his brief stints, I presume, in the city of Angels, he affirmed to our colleague John Mariani that people here are not real foodies. He feels that they are not interested in eating well, but rather to look at other people going to restaurants, where they have to go to see them. In a word, they don’t really eat; they only devour the others with their eyes.


We poor Angelenos! As if it were not enough to cope with the earthquakes, the fires, the crises, and the gangs, now we also have to deal with the mediocre content of our plates. One of the tragic consequences of our ignorance is that Michelin will not publish any more restaurant guides for LA. So now, how can we learn how to eat? Sad! Continue reading “No Foodies in LA, Indeed?” »



14

Sep

Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair's memoirs, A Journey: My Political Life

Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair’s memoirs, A Journey: My Political Life

by André Gayot


On this proposition, scientists are, at least, unanimous: “We are what we eat.” Fine, but even if I trust the verdict, I am not sure of what it means and entails exactly.


For example, in what capacity could we, with the content of our plates, supersede or contradict the Darwinian theory of evolution? Would it be possible via eating to transform ourselves into creatures different than the ones pre-determined by our genes? Without digging too deeply into this philosophical comestible matter, one sure thing is that eating is the most common and frequent act of our lives. We all — including the Pope, the Kings and the Presidents — do eat, but some of us do it better than others. As to ourselves, if we are smart enough in that endeavor, the Presidency of the United States could very well be in our lunch box. Continue reading “And One Burger for the President” »



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