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July 28, 2009

Top 10 Blog Topics That Will Not Die

KidFriendly.jpgWhen I asked for suggestions for Top 10 Blog Topics That Will Not Die, I got ones only from Bucky and Shallow Thought Wednesday John. I already had nine, but their suggestions were so good I had to dump some of mine and substitute theirs.

For your reading pleasure, I'm going to number the list in order of importance to the blog and constant recurrence.

I should say right here I have no problem with these topics. I personally could happily discuss the shortcomings of the blogware and whose fault poor service is in every entry. If you continue to have fun rehashing these topics, I say go for it. ...

But maybe we've missed some (although I did give you six leftover bonus ones). If so, feel free to tell us what they are. And if you feel like putting the list in a different order, I'd be interested in that, too.

Here's my list:

1) Children misbehaving in restaurants

2) Whose fault poor service is -- the restaurant's or the customer's

3) Which restaurant has the best crab cakes. Why they are terrible because they are made with alien crab meat

4) Everything tastes better in New York (bagels, reubens, pizza, etc.)

5) The shortcomings of the blogware

6) How much you should tip

7) Rachael Ray:  foodie or fraudie?

8) Top 10 should include only places that the critic has reviewed, in spite of the Official Disclaimer

9) Foie gras: heaven or hell?

10) The evil server who substitutes coffee for decaf

Bonus Topics That Will Not Die:

* Birches: the greatest restaurant in Baltimore? Or not?

* Starbucks hatin'

* Golden West Cafe in Hampden

* Old Bay:  great condiment or worn-out tradition?

* Ketchup on hot dogs.  Ketchup on anything.  Ketchup

* T.S. Eliot and other dead poets  (Note: feel free to say that I [that is, Bucky] nominated this one and Eve seconded)

(David Hobby/Sun photographer)

Posted by Elizabeth Large at 4:07 AM | | Comments (53)
Categories: Top Ten Tuesdays


If it will make folks happier, I can quote live poets from here on out. Carol Ann Duffy is just amazing, the ways she plays with language.

It is of note, that Ted Allen on his Food Network show the other night, proved that the (NYC) water in NYC pizza DOES improve the crust. This show is called something like Food Detectives.

He also did the test that "proved" that MSG doesn't cause headaches.

i'm not letting Barbie Hargrave die...

Don't forget about the neighborhood identity police! Holy moly...

Excellent one. I can't believe I didn't include it. EL

Speaking of Birches, I noticed that it is not on Baltimore Restaurant week (coming up soon!). Why is that so? Some high end restaurants, such as Capital Grill, Aldo's, and Tio Pepe's are. Maybe Birches doesn't need the business.

Any thoughts?

Well, so much for Jay C.'s whining on his blog about being banned from posting comments on D@L.

Oh, I don't know. Even with auto-posting I do read the comments, and I can still delete. :-) I don't mind criticism, and it's often helpful, but he's just nasty. Plus the constant negativity was getting other posters down, and they were sending me e-mails complaining. I figure he can be nasty about me on his own blog. EL

Jay C. - just wondering...if you dislike EL's blog so intensely, why do you come here? (Apparently with regularity...)

Birches is high end? I think not.

... I got ones only from ...

Are you from PA Dutch country, Miss Large? That sounds like my father from Schmenksville.

To add to #5 - IT chat in general...there is a Balt Tech blog if you want to talk shop

The king of all topics here is crabs. It is inexhaustible.

One of the topics that I used to make fun of was crabs. It seems like all you have to do is say the word crabs and people will post 100 comments.

As a kind of joke and experiment in June I started a crab blog and challenged myself to post something every day for the rest of the summer on crabs. Much to my surprise I keep stumbling upon interesting items to post.

One of the first posts was about how global warming was causing soft shell crabs to appear earlier in the season. Someone, maybe Pigtown, asked me if global warming would cause crabs to be found farther North. I don't know yet.

I found this fascinating article on how global warming may cause the crab popualtion to be harmed because increased CO2 in the air leads to increased CO2 in the water, which increases ocean acidity. Lower ocean pH interferes with the the biochemistry of shell production. Check it out if you like:

Freakin' blogware. It wouldn't let me post two links above. Grrr... here's the link:–-soft-shell-crabs-earlier/

Regarding #4: Having grown up in New York I know that is correct. I also feel that for many people the food from wherever they grew up tastes "right." If you grew up in Cincinnati your preference in chili will be different than if you grew up in El Paso. Tastes can change as your dining experience widens but there is still that nostalgia for what you grew up with. And a number of years ago New York tap water was ranked number 1 by Consumer Reports, over other bottled and tap waters.

Let the discussions begin.

Speaking of bad service, EL's acolyte Owl Meat GuestBlogger has a companion piece on Midnight Sun today on bad bartenders in Baltimore.

My favorite: You hate making frozen drinks, so you put a fork in the blender and destroy it.

I think we can add shilling and shamelessly promoting guest blog pieces to the list.

I never understood what water bagels were. I think that's what NY'ers call plain bagels, such is their belief in th e Hudson Rover water.

Water varies a lto from location to location. The main difference in taste and how it will behave in chemistry of baking is mineral content. When I moved here from New Hampshire, the movers said, "Hey, good water." In Baltimore? Maybe.

I think we can add shilling and shamelessly promoting guest blog pieces to the list.

You'll get yours Squanto. :-) LQTM.

Just for that I deleted the Robert of Cross Keys is Cute blog. Jonas Brothers Rule blog coming soon.

It's not shilling; it's accessorizing. And the Heathers told me you never could accessorize for squat.

Mmmm... Hudson River water...

"I'll have the polychlorinated biphenyl polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons cadmium furan bagel. You know, plain."


From a purist standpoint, a bagel is a round yeast roll with a hole in the middle, no egg in the dough, malt rather than sugar, cooked in water, and then browned in the oven.

This process produces a dense, chewy roll with a crisp exterior, hence giving rise to the term cement doughtnut. Of course, nowadays, bagels have evolved to include not only egg (for a bit lighter roll), but also spices, herbs, and fruit to give added flavor.

A common misconception is that water bagels are any bagel cooked in water. Of course, all bagels by definition are cooked in water and then browned in the oven. To the purist, water bagels are bagels made with water in the dough, specifically with no egg or flavoring additions.

So, how about those Montreal bagels?

For another blog topic that never seems to die is the Mexican vs. Tex Mex debate.

True Bob. Not to be picky but malt is sugar, biut it's mostly maltose instead of pure sucrose. It gives a different taste and reacts with the yeast slightly differently. You don't cook them in water really and you don't brown then in the oven. I've made bagels and they are a pain to make, but fun. You take the shaped risen dough and drop them in water for a very brief amount of time (seconds). When they float you remove them. They are quite raw. Then you bake them in the oven.

I wondered about the "cooking them in water" part, but I was just cutting and pasting.

Maybe I should stick to Wikipedia...

I haven't baked almost anything in my life so the experience is seared into my brain. Very labor intensive. I don't recommend it.

For another blog topic that never seems to die is the Mexican vs. Tex Mex debate.

That isn't a debate, it is flat out confusion. Every time Tex-Mex comes up, 80% of the comments, at least, are about Mexican food.

I keep waiting for someone to point out that there is more than one style of Mexican food, and really confuse people.

Lissa, I've pointed it out several times, but it's just dust in the wind.

10) The evil server who substitutes coffee for decaf

to which I add, "and vice versa!" Several times a week, a regular coffee is my only way to stay awake/sane, and when the order is flubbed (which has happened a few times), I'm doomed!!


The folks running NYC figured out not to take water from the Hudson in the 19th century (it's a tidal estuary rather far up its length), and bought up freshwater rights in the (then) sparesly-settled areas north and west of the city.

They even have a reservoir level map:

I know, Owlie. You also brought up Arizona.

It is worse than trying to explain where the Midwest really is.

The Tex-Mex discussion was most unelucidating. I think people almost exclusively know Mexican food via the people who emigrated here and adapted it to our tastes. It's exactly like Italian food in decades past. In this case, the immigrants are skewed heavily toward the border areas.

The people who emigrate here and make food for us are from the poorest regions of any country. In the, uh, MIdwest and frankly for a lot of people around here Italian food is almost exclusively cheap Southern Italian tomato and pasta based fare. There are lots of fake Mexican and Italian (and Chinese, etc) foods that were created to please our silly palates, hence meatballs and fajitas and whatever Taco Bell has.

When I think of Italian food I see a varied landscape of cuisine that encompasses the varied geography of Italy. When I think of Mexican food I think of many regions with very distinct styles and ingredients.

Simply, there is no such thing as Mexican food or Italian food. To some foreigners American food is hotdogs and hamburgers. Let's not be so narrow minded about Mexican food.

If we don't know what Mexican food is all about there can be no informed intelligent discussion of what Tex-Mex is...

To me there are vast differences in the Americanized Mexican food in the border area of TX, NM, AZ and CA. Ironically, the food from those areas is more similar tro each other than to the rest of the country but to me they are fairly distinct.

I am afraid that we will have to revisit this in twenty or thirty years when Mexican cuisine is more well differentiated in our minds.

I'll meet you back here then.

Well, in 20 or 30 years we may well be reading this blog in Spanish.

I'm going to have to start learning the language so that I can converse about crab cakes, tipping and children at restaurants in Spanish.

Los crabbo cakos? Si. Y los gratuitios? Si. Y los ninos en los restaurantes? Si si si. muy bien. bienvenidos a la futura al bloggo de comiendo en Grande.

Adios Roberto de Cruz Llaves!
Es muy sencillo,

Ah, but the Mexican government would disagree with the Owl man. They submitted Mexican cuisine a couple of years ago for consideration for UNESCO's list of Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity. Now with any luck, the link below will magically work . . .

Yet another thing that I and the Mexican government disagree on!

Believe it or not, there is good regional Italian cuisine in the Midwest. I'd even bet that there is good regional Mexican cuisine there, in Chicago.

As I've said before, I'm really surprised that ceviche isn't more popular. You can get sushi at the royal farms, but finding ceviche in this country is not easy.

Ceviche is on just about every menu in Miami, RoCK. You're just in the wrong part of the country!

Any comments on this article?

What's interesting about that is that Bob Kinkead when I interviewed him basically said that in DC the crab cake at his restaurant was not a particularly big seller, but in Annapolis it was all anyone wanted. EL

I laughed at this line "Breathe out. Overseas crabmeat is not like catfish or shrimp from China"....

How nice -- to prove that DC has the best crab cakes, the Washington Post cites G&M, which is in spitting distance of the Baltimore (not Capital) Beltway and a lot closer to EL's desk (8 miles) than to the WaPo offices (33 miles).

(And, no, I don't propose to revive the protracted debate over G&M.)

Ceviche is on just about every menu in Miami, RoCK. You're just in the wrong part of the country!

Well, I've always known that politically I'm in the wrong part of the country, now it appears the same is true culinarily

Hey Vince, go jump on a stick. I am tired of your pathetic repeated attempts to pimp your pathetic whatever site. Give it up, no one cares. Seriously just go away. Forever. Please.

The 12:41 comment is blog spam. Again.

Vince is persistent, isn't he?

Yes, Vince is persistent, and at least he tries to tailor his comment spam, but it is still shilling.

Wow KristinB. I nearly sprayed coffee when I read this: Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity.

I am guilty of committing #10 in the office. It was an accident though, which should knock it down to a misdemeanor. A few recovering caffeine addicts had to turn in their chips that day. Productivity was through the roof that day though.

He does get a point for trying, but until Vince has a blog that explores the literature of monkeys fighting crabs he won't get my vote.

When I waited tables I would sub. decaf for reg in a pinch, but never would give reg to someone instead of decaf. It was kind of an unwritten rule where I worked.

Decaf makes no sense to me. I want the rotting sour bile breath and the digestive interference without the drug boost. Same with non-alcoholic beer.

Rev Ed - I think they are both for folks just trying to test out their renal function.

Auto Seller Network,

I think you may have stumbled onto the wrong blog. You might rather go participate on Random Rodricks where Dan has a post discussing the Cash for Clunkers program. Probably more on-topic for you.

Auto Seller Network is spam. They pop up occasionally - same wording - generic - non specific.

Thanks RayRay, he went away, he'll come again another day.

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About this blog
Richard Gorelick was appointed The Baltimore Sun's restaurant critic in September 2010. Before joining the paper staff fulltime, he contributed freelance criticism and features articles about food to area and regional publications. Along the way, he dispatched for short-distance trucking companies, shilled for cultural non-profits, and assisted in cognitive neurology research – never the subject, always the control.

He takes restaurants seriously but not himself, and his favorite restaurant is the one you love, too.

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