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View Full Version : If I asked you to cut boneless chicken breasts in "strips one inch square"...


drastic_quench
11-15-2010, 04:13 PM
*mods, title should read "one inch square"*

- what would your resulting cut of chicken look like?

What I envisioned:
I wanted strips the length of the breast that were approximately one inch wide, and very approximately one inch thick (which obviously varies depending on the thickness of the breast).

I was making skewers in the Chinese restaurant fashion, only with Indian spices. The long, thick pieces are the key to that look. We were in a rush to get to a party, so I didn't get to prep my chicken myself - as I was sent on an errand. I got a text asking how I wanted the chicken cut, and had to quickly text back, "Go for strips one inch square". I will admit some ambiguity in my terminology, but the operative word is STRIPS, no? "Go for," was me attempting to communicate an allowance for the natural thickness/thinness of the breasts in crappy text shorthand.

What I got:
Chunks. Roughly 1 x 1. How is that strips!? Fine for kebabs, but I had nothing else for kebabs - little onions, peppers, tomatoes - and no time to get them. Chicken strips were her favorite food for a really long time, by the way.

Like so many small things do, a petty fight blossomed from nowhere, in which I was told that if I wanted them a certain way, I should have just done them myself. Which I had wanted to, and was just about to start -- literally knife-in-hand, before I got sent on some B.S. errand! Arrg! The squabble and dearth of logic was way more frustrating than the simple cutting error, of course.

If I accidentally was swept back in time to meet myself as a teenager, and my teenage self asked me what marriage was like -- clearly probing for stories of endless sex-filled lusty nights -- I would tell him about the chicken skewers and the errand.

The Hamster King
11-15-2010, 04:28 PM
Square is square, equal in length in the horizontal and vertical.

Don't say "square" when you mean "wide".

Nars Glinley
11-15-2010, 04:32 PM
I'd try to give you 1" cubes but I'd fail spectacularly at it.

drastic_quench
11-15-2010, 04:37 PM
Square is square, equal in length in the horizontal and vertical.

Don't say "square" when you mean "wide".

I do see exactly what you mean. I texted square to communicate one inch wide and one inch tall, and failed. Believe me, I know that was a mistake. I'm curious what the results are from other anyhow though.

Left Hand of Dorkness
11-15-2010, 04:40 PM
You described a three-dimensional shape using a two-dimensional word. Most people, when visualizing a square, see the top of an object. Since there are no real squares in the universe, only very very thin rectangular prisms with square tops, of course the person interpreted your description as asking for rectangular prisms with square tops. The "strip" part appeared to contradict the "square" part; they went with the one with the more precise measurement, no surprise.

If you wanted to communicate this clearly, I agree that you should have asked for 1" wide strips.

The more important issue, IMO, is that you started a fight over this. Are you serious? It's a goddamn chicken, man. You could just as easily have shrugged, thanked your spouse for cutting the chicken, and modified your plans. The only difference between this approach and the one you took is that this approach strengthens the marriage by not sweating the small stuff.

muldoonthief
11-15-2010, 04:43 PM
Yeah, the "square" would have thrown me off too. After all, a chicken breast is at most 1" thick, so I would think you meant you wanted the other 2 dimensions reduced to 1" as well.

drastic_quench
11-15-2010, 04:53 PM
The more important issue, IMO, is that you started a fight over this. Are you serious? It's a goddamn chicken, man. You could just as easily have shrugged, thanked your spouse for cutting the chicken, and modified your plans. The only difference between this approach and the one you took is that this approach strengthens the marriage by not sweating the small stuff.

Hell, no I didn't start a fight about this. I expressed my disappointment by saying something like, ah that's really not what I wanted. These are more like kebabs, but I don't have the stuff to pull off that presentation, and there's no time. Well, they'll still taste the same. From then on, I was a spectator to my own fight - one I didn't even know I was having. That's the frustrating part for me. The thing is that I rarely speak seriously about much of anything, so somehow whenever I express the disappointment or speak in a tone that is more serious than my usual happy-go-lucky, I get accused of "yelling and being mean" when there's no volume, gravel, or cutting remarks in my tone or words. It's frustrating. It's as if while I'm typing this to you, you'd ask me to stop singing. "What? I'm typing. To communicate ideas. I'm clearly not singing."

Yeah, 1" wide is a way better explanation. You're absolutely right.

Anaamika
11-15-2010, 04:54 PM
I would have made you squares, and been yelled at I guess.

Rhythmdvl
11-15-2010, 04:59 PM
I'd have cut you seven-dimensional hypercubes.


Yeah, I got some mad knifing skills. :cool:

Omniscient
11-15-2010, 05:03 PM
You'd have gotten 1 inch cubes from me. Strips is vague, 1 inch squares is less so.

ETA: In reality, I'd have probably asked for clarification in a text since it's a contradiction, but in a bubble I'd have cut squares.

Left Hand of Dorkness
11-15-2010, 05:13 PM
Hell, no I didn't start a fight about this. I expressed my disappointment by saying something like, ah that's really not what I wanted.
If this is how it tends to go, then yeah, I think you did start a fight. You may think that what you said SHOULDN'T have started a fight, but something about how you said it did start one. And given the OP's tone, it sounds like you were pretty ticked over this. If you don't want a fight, I really think you should change what you do in similar situations--to do the same thing and expect a different outcome seems weird.

Mtgman
11-15-2010, 05:13 PM
I would have asked you if you meant 1" wide strips or 1" cubes. I'm weird like that. If you had left me a note with that exact verbiage, then I would probably have given you cubes, because of the two conflicting two-dimensional shapes you gave me(strip and square), cubes are more common for recipes. If I knew you were making skewers I would have cut strips, but that's because I know how to make skewers.

Enjoy,
Steven

Oredigger77
11-15-2010, 05:15 PM
I'm another one who would have given you cubes. the only way your description makes sense is if you wanted the thickness cut down when it was over an inch and that's way too much work.

DiosaBellissima
11-15-2010, 05:18 PM
Yeah, if I were trying to say what you were trying to say, I'd have texted, "Strips that are 1 inch wide."

pulykamell
11-15-2010, 05:19 PM
I would have given either given you one inch cubes or asked for clarification.

At any rate, you should have communicated the request better (really, your wording on this is terrible) and the other person should have asked for clarification (although I could see the interpretation of you wanting cubes being reasonable.) Ultimately, though, you should have been clearer.

Chronos
11-15-2010, 05:23 PM
I obviously need to take cooking lessons from Rhythmdvl.

And I would have interpreted the instructions as "cut them into strips, and then cut them again the other way so they're squares".

drastic_quench
11-15-2010, 05:27 PM
This is great example of why I would make a dreadful technical writer.

elfkin477
11-15-2010, 06:49 PM
I too would have presented you with 1" cubes, because it would never occur to me that you didn't want an actual square.

twickster
11-15-2010, 06:56 PM
*mods, title should read "one inch square"*

You can report your own posts, and it's the fastest and most reliable way to get a correction made. I happened to mouseover; otherwise it could have been forever before a mod saw this.

Munch
11-15-2010, 07:04 PM
"Cut me strips 1" square" would result in 1x1x1 cubes (or rather, 1x1x.25 cubes, since I've never seen a chicken breast that's 1" thick).

"Cut me 1" strips" would have resulted in what you were looking for.

Algher
11-15-2010, 07:08 PM
I would have assumed you wanted kebab style chunks, and then forgotton how big an inch was, then had a drink, then fucked around some more, then used the wrong cutting board, until I was done and needed to clean up and have another drink.

If you came in and said you didn't quite get what you wanted, I would have waved the knife at you and mumbled, "oh well, you can't always get what you want" then I would started singing off key (due to the drinks), "but if you try sometime, you fiiiiiiiinnnnnnnnd - you get what you need!"

If you are lucky, I then do NOT cut myself playing air guitar with the chef's blade.

Yllaria
11-15-2010, 07:19 PM
I'd have asked for further instruction, but would have defaulted to strips with a 1" x 1"(close) cross section. Because most people get dimensions wrong, but they usually know strips from cubes. Also because it's possible to do more cutting later, but not possible to do less cutting later.

I'd have also wanted to know if you wanted the strips cut longways down the breasts, or across them. Or on a diagonal, along the grain.

teela brown
11-15-2010, 07:51 PM
I once asked the mister to slice lettuce finely so that we could have it in tacos. Apparently "slice lettuce finely" means "cut it in big honking 3" wide chunks". I opened my mouth to point out the silliness of this, but got a venomous glare. So I said nothing, not even when he couldn't fit the lettuce pieces into his tacos. And he's an engineer.

Munch
11-15-2010, 07:59 PM
I once asked the mister to slice lettuce finely so that we could have it in tacos. Apparently "slice lettuce finely" means "cut it in big honking 3" wide chunks". I opened my mouth to point out the silliness of this, but got a venomous glare. So I said nothing, not even when he couldn't fit the lettuce pieces into his tacos. And he's an engineer.

It's amazing how some people are just really bad at cutting food, even when they're extremely intelligent in other areas. I was on a class picnic in grad school, and the professor had brought a sizeable amount of food. Lots of tasty cheeses, meats, fruits, etc. I unwrapped the meats, and had a student "cut it into slices for sandwiches".

The student cut 3/4" slabs of filet off that thing. It's okay if you've never done raw food prep or may not be prepared to anticipate strips when someone says "squares" - but surely you've had a sandwich before, right?

Yllaria
11-15-2010, 08:03 PM
It's amazing what people don't see when it's always been Someone Else's Problem.

Tabby_Cat
11-15-2010, 08:18 PM
I woulda given you cubes. I mean, how do you even cut down the thickness of a chicken breast, anyway? Do you get chicken breasts that are 2" thick anyway?

1" wide strips, you get strips. 1" square, you get cubes (approximately). 1" cubes, you get cubes (approximately).

Manduck
11-15-2010, 08:40 PM
I would have been confused by the instructions. "Strips aren't square", I would have said to myself. Also, when you want strips, you should say whether they should be cut with the grain or across it. I would have guessed across, and apparently that would have been wrong :)

Hilarity N. Suze
11-15-2010, 08:40 PM
I would have been confused, but you would have gotten squares.

Hilarity N. Suze
11-15-2010, 08:42 PM
I once asked the mister to slice lettuce finely so that we could have it in tacos. Apparently "slice lettuce finely" means "cut it in big honking 3" wide chunks". I opened my mouth to point out the silliness of this, but got a venomous glare. So I said nothing, not even when he couldn't fit the lettuce pieces into his tacos. And he's an engineer.

Yeah, I once had a friend who asked what he could do, and I said, "Cut this lettuce really fine." I got green slush.

Zsofia
11-15-2010, 08:50 PM
I would have called you back, because WTF? If I didn't get you, it would depend on how much I knew about the recipe - if I expected strips, I would have figured that was the part you got wrong. If I didn't expect strips, you would have gotten cubes.

furryman
11-15-2010, 09:01 PM
I'd go out and buy a bag of chicken cubes.

j666
11-15-2010, 09:20 PM
Am I the only one that would have cut one inch strips, all set to be cubed if necessary?

kittenblue
11-15-2010, 10:10 PM
Instead of being upset about then not having anything to make kebabs with, you could have just threaded the cubes onto the skewers jammed up against each other like one long strip...they would then just be "Pre-cut into bite-size pieces" Strips!

drastic_quench
11-15-2010, 10:18 PM
Instead of being upset about then not having anything to make kebabs with, you could have just threaded the cubes onto the skewers jammed up against each other like one long strip...they would then just be "Pre-cut into bite-size pieces" Strips!
That's exactly what I ended up doing, though it did take a long time. I made these for a large party. I must have had at least thirty full bamboo skewers or more. Instead of putting two strips on each, I put maybe fourteen chunks.

pulykamell
11-15-2010, 10:36 PM
1x1x.25 cubes, since I've never seen a chicken breast that's 1" thick.


A quarter inch thick breasts? Man, you got some anorexic chickens wherever you're at. (Are you confusing it perhaps with chicken tenders?)

Apocalypso
11-16-2010, 12:01 AM
I would have completely ignored your confusing instructions and used a metal spatula to cut the chicken into randomly sized ugly pieces. :p And I would do this in the hopes that you either learn to give more specific instructions or find someone with more patience to cut up your chicken and be yelled at. :D

Lanzy
11-16-2010, 12:34 AM
You would have gotten nothing from me. With bad instructions I just do nothing at all.

even sven
11-16-2010, 01:03 AM
Cubes. Sorry.

Little Nemo
11-16-2010, 02:10 AM
Another person who would have given you chunks. I don't take the thickness of the meat into account because you're not cutting that. So a square cut to me implies you're cutting length and width.

Brown Eyed Girl
11-16-2010, 02:28 AM
I maybe would have texted you back:

Not meas. squat. Strips or cubes?

Then, I probably would have ignored your reply and cut them whichever way made sense to me, which would have been strips if I thought you were making some sort of Indian style yakitori or cubes if I thought you were making kebobs. Sometimes, I just get nasty when I'm stressed.

Kamino Neko
11-16-2010, 03:20 AM
I'd have assumed strips with a 1" square cross-section, because that's what was asked for. ('Square' isn't a 3 dimensional shape. It's a cross-section of a 3 dimensional shape.)

Though, I'd have 'maybe they meant cubes' stuck in the back of my mind, and call for confirmation, while I was making the strips.

But it's a hell of a lot easier to fix 'they said square when they meant cube' than 'I thought they meant cubes, but they meant strips'.

Nava
11-16-2010, 07:00 AM
From me, you'd get a request for clarification: "do you mean cubes, inch-wide strips or do you want inch-wide strips, and if the meat is very thick I am to cut them in half lengthwise so it's not so thick?"

I don't think I've ever gotten a request where people specified the section for strips before and in this case it seems unnecessary as it would pretty much get you the same as asking for "inch-wide strips".

And where I come from, pinchitos have the meat in cubes.

Khadaji
11-16-2010, 07:39 AM
I'd try to give you 1" cubes but I'd fail spectacularly at it.
Yeah, I think this says it as well as I would. Especially the fail part. I'm not much help in the kitchen.

chela
11-16-2010, 07:55 AM
If I knew that you were going for satay style skewers I would have understood, if I was clueless as to the final dish, you would have gotten cubes, because when I cut for cubes I usually cut into strips first then cube.

Omar Little
11-16-2010, 12:24 PM
OP failed at giving proper directions, with his confusing "square" request.

Cat Whisperer
11-16-2010, 12:48 PM
I would have asked for clarification; I know that I have a strong tendency to always default to the non-standard interpretation of things when left on my own, so I would get more information from you. And thought non-kind things at you for giving me such contradictory instructions. :)

Skammer
11-16-2010, 01:08 PM
If I had followed those directions, you would have received 1" cubes as well.

KneadToKnow
11-16-2010, 01:11 PM
I'd have cut you seven-dimensional hypercubes.


Yeah, I got some mad knifing skills. :cool:

That's easier to do if you start with Hyper-chicken (http://theinfosphere.org/Hyper-Chicken).

Yllaria
11-16-2010, 07:02 PM
Am I the only one that would have cut one inch strips, all set to be cubed if necessary?

I'd have asked for further instruction, but would have defaulted to strips with a 1" x 1"(close) cross section. . .

I'd have assumed strips with a 1" square cross-section, because that's what was asked for. ('Square' isn't a 3 dimensional shape. It's a cross-section of a 3 dimensional shape.) . . .

Looks like three of us so far. May have missed someone.

Rhiannon8404
11-16-2010, 08:48 PM
Looks like three of us so far. May have missed someone.

Four...that what I would have done if I couldn't get a hold of the OP for clarification.

panache45
11-17-2010, 12:51 PM
I'd give you strips the length of the breast, with a square cross-section. The word "strips" rules out cubes.

Raiko
11-18-2010, 01:09 AM
Why do people Epic Fail at math. One inch square mean's length*width so the person actually gave you exactly what you asked for regardless of your use of the word strips. I would have assumed had you wanted one inch strips you would have just said one inch knowing that there was no way in hell I was going to horizontally slice a chicken fillet to give you one n by 1 by 1 strips which is what you should have asked for if you really wanted to include superfluous information. your problem wasn't that you didn't include enough information it was that you included too much information and in the wrong format to acheive your desired results. The text should have looked like this [give me one inch strips] period no more information needed and you would've gotten exactly what you wanted or would have at least had something legitimate to complain about on this forum.

Raiko
11-18-2010, 01:25 AM
Also your assuption that the operative word in that sentence was "strips" was incorect the operative word is not the subject of the sentence it is the adjective/adverb by which you expect the subject to be acheived. i.e. would you please hand me the phone? the operative word would be hand not phone so if the person I said that too had tossed me the phone he would had to have done so whilst disregarding the operative word. So when you said "go for strips one inch square" the operative word (or in this case words) would have been one inch square since one inch square cannot possibly be the subject of your sentence the only remaining noun is strips. So gramatically and mathematically you asked him to give you strips [of chicken] to be cut one inch length wise (along the X axis if you want to get technical) and one inch wide (the Y axis) which could only be accomplished if you had very thick fillets so they would be greater than one inch high (the Z axis) I hope my coupled posts encourage you to be more clear when texting and have permenantly solved your poultry preparation issues.

KneadToKnow
11-18-2010, 09:30 AM
I'd give you strips the length of the breast, with a square cross-section. The word "strips" rules out cubes.

One could assert with equal correctness that the word "cubes" rules out strips.

Fuzzy Dunlop
11-18-2010, 09:58 AM
A quarter inch thick breasts? Man, you got some anorexic chickens wherever you're at. (Are you confusing it perhaps with chicken tenders?)

My chicken breasts aren't a quarter inch but they certainly average less than an inch in thickness and are at no point 2 or more inches. Cutting a strip an inch wide would make sense, but adding the extra dimension creates a lot of dissonance since it implies a second cut. That second cut would either be ridiculous on the thick end - shaving off less than an inch of the thickness to make your strip square - or impossible on the thin end - where your strip is less than an inch thick.

In other words, "strips one inch square", while potentially confusing, would make a lot more sense with a pork loin or something large enough for the "strips with 1 inch square cross section" to many any sense at all.

Dogzilla
11-18-2010, 11:24 AM
One could assert with equal correctness that the word "cubes" rules out strips.

"Strips" could be really short, 1" strips.

I'd have either given you perfect 1" cubes and then been mad as hell when you complained about it. Or I would call for clarification.

I'm an editor and a complete Nazi about clarity. I probably would have refused to do anything until you clarified and I'd probably also rip you a new one for being vague and self-contradictory in the first place. Unless you graciously thanked me for the help, adapted the shape of the chicken to your recipe and went on to serve me a nice dinner, me none the wiser that I'd screwed up.

Garbage in, garbage out. You're going to give vague contradictory directions, well, you'll get vague, contradictory chicken.

Spud
11-18-2010, 11:55 AM
So, the real question that hasn't been answered by drastic_quench is... have you apologized yet?

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