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Old 08-08-2019, 09:37 AM
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Restaurant Authenticity FAILS


Obviously inspired by this thread, my mind turned to - well, a specific evening in Stockholm nearly twenty years ago. Two colleagues from a partner company took me out for the evening to sample the very latest thing - Stockholm's first Tapas restaurant. They were very proud of it.

OK, I'll cut to the chase. The highlight of the evening for me was a small bowl of mashed potato, across which an anchovy had been draped. That was it. Needless to say, it was unlike any tapa I have ever come across, before or since. A fascinating evening - a Swedish re-imagining of the cuisine. I can't remember the name of the restaurant, but a quick search suggests that Stockholm now boasts TWO tapas restaurants; or rather two branches of the same (small) chain. Here's the menu in English. (Link to the parent page, just in case). Note the Buffalo Wings (in hot bad ass sauce) and the Tempura. I love Sweden, I love the Swedes, and I'm sure this is all delicious. But authentic?

Being British I am aware that this is rather a case of living in a glass house and throwing stones. I was going to mention the British Pub Curry. But it's too complicated. I'll let someone else try. Apples. *Shudder*

So what have you got?

j
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Old 08-08-2019, 09:47 AM
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When I lived in Europe in the 80s, it was almost impossible to find an edible hamburger in a restaurant that wasn't an American chain. I'm not sure what they put in them, but it wasn't beef.
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Old 08-08-2019, 01:40 PM
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When I lived in Europe in the 80s, it was almost impossible to find an edible hamburger in a restaurant that wasn't an American chain. I'm not sure what they put in them, but it wasn't beef.
Did anyone else think that independent burger bars in Britain often smelled like actual shit, until around the mid 80s? The burgers as well, they actually smelled a bit like shit.
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Old 08-09-2019, 10:22 AM
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When I lived in Europe in the 80s, it was almost impossible to find an edible hamburger in a restaurant that wasn't an American chain. I'm not sure what they put in them, but it wasn't beef.
Yeah, it's really bizarre for a food that is just so dead simple to make (though, to be honest, I know plenty of backyard cooks here in the US who can't make a good burger or make something that's more like a meatloaf than a burger. Just keep it simple and know your technique.)

I had perhaps the worst burger of my life in 1996 from some kiosk in Wolverhampton's city center. I have no idea what this weirdly pink, mushy/mealy sandwich was, but it was not a hamburger as advertised.

In Budapest c. 1999, there was a 50s American-themed diner on the Buda side that had all your typical rock & roll diner kitsch and served food to match. Except their hamburger came as an open-faced sandwich, for some reason. All the right toppings, just no top bun. Why this was, I don't know, as there were plenty of McDonalds as well as BK and Wendys in the city, so it wasn't like there weren't examples of American hamburgers around.

At any rate, in the mid-2000s, Budapest really stepped up its burger game and they became one of the local hipster foods for awhile, and the locals did do it in a way I would consider "right."

Last edited by pulykamell; 08-09-2019 at 10:23 AM.
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Old 08-13-2019, 07:45 AM
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I had perhaps the worst burger of my life in 1996 from some kiosk in Wolverhampton's city center. I have no idea what this weirdly pink, mushy/mealy sandwich was, but it was not a hamburger as advertised.
Mr Sizzle.

We live in Wolverhampton. Mr Sizzle is a trap set late at night, and around the football matches, to catch the unwary and drunk. It is almost like a soberness machine, you never forget your first and only Mr Sizzle burger, because you'll remember it forever.

Horrible.
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Old 08-13-2019, 05:54 PM
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Mr Sizzle.

We live in Wolverhampton. Mr Sizzle is a trap set late at night, and around the football matches, to catch the unwary and drunk. It is almost like a soberness machine, you never forget your first and only Mr Sizzle burger, because you'll remember it forever.

Horrible.
Would they have been around in 1996? And they're still around? If so, that does seem about right.
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Old 08-14-2019, 02:38 AM
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Would they have been around in 1996? And they're still around? If so, that does seem about right.
Definitely around in 1996 (I think that's about when I had the ONE and proceeded to be an official harbinger of Mr Sizzle. "No, don't, really don't, you'll regret it." "Told you.")

Still around today I think, but I'm not sure if they're in the city centre or something to catch away fans on the way to a match on a Saturday afternoon. To be fair, there's far more choice in the city centre now of that time of night.

The secret of the city/town is that you headed down Chapel Ash to get your takeaways.
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Old 08-13-2019, 05:31 PM
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Originally Posted by pulykamell View Post
I had perhaps the worst burger of my life in 1996 from some kiosk in Wolverhampton's city center. I have no idea what this weirdly pink, mushy/mealy sandwich was, but it was not a hamburger as advertised.
Probably one of these:

https://jamesvsburger.files.wordpres...pg?w=740&h=494

Horrid as they are, I actually developed a taste for them when I lived in Cambridge. I can still see myself standing in the rain after midnight, buying one from a street vendor on my way home from a pub crawl.
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Old 08-13-2019, 05:55 PM
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Probably one of these:

https://jamesvsburger.files.wordpres...pg?w=740&h=494

Horrid as they are, I actually developed a taste for them when I lived in Cambridge. I can still see myself standing in the rain after midnight, buying one from a street vendor on my way home from a pub crawl.
On the other hand, this also conjures up similar memories of that burger.
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Old 08-14-2019, 02:35 AM
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Probably one of these:

https://jamesvsburger.files.wordpres...pg?w=740&h=494

Horrid as they are, I actually developed a taste for them when I lived in Cambridge. I can still see myself standing in the rain after midnight, buying one from a street vendor on my way home from a pub crawl.
Nope. The tinned gravy burger is much more palatable that Mr Sizzle.
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Old 08-14-2019, 04:34 AM
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I'm not ashamed to admit that I like Taco Bell. It's good grub....
Oh! Me too. I'm way to ignorant to know how (in)authentic it is, though. Anything even plausibly Mexican is quite a recent thing round these parts.

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Originally Posted by terentii View Post
Probably one of these:

https://jamesvsburger.files.wordpres...pg?w=740&h=494

Horrid as they are, I actually developed a taste for them when I lived in Cambridge. I can still see myself standing in the rain after midnight, buying one from a street vendor on my way home from a pub crawl.
God, this brings back student memories. These "burgers" were reviled and avoided, but the night Fiff fell through a jukebox (don't ask) and I was the only one with enough wit to take him to A&E/ER to be stitched back together..... at some point in the ravenous early morning, when it was still difficult to say which of us was more pissed, we stopped off and had one of these out of desperation. Poor bastard - cut to ribbons and then reduced to eating that....

j
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Old 08-13-2019, 07:47 AM
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When I lived in Europe in the 80s, it was almost impossible to find an edible hamburger in a restaurant that wasn't an American chain. I'm not sure what they put in them, but it wasn't beef.
Mr Wimpy's Quarter Pounder and Cheese is still my favourite burger. Over Five Guys and the Ilk.

The chain was bought out by Burger King in the early 90s, half of the restaurants got converted to BK, and I think the brand was sold off. They exist in the south of London still and some weird spots (disappeared from Service stations), but I live 100 miles from any of them.

Still miss 'em.
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Old 08-13-2019, 08:59 AM
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Mr Wimpy's Quarter Pounder and Cheese is still my favourite burger. Over Five Guys and the Ilk.
do they let you pay on Tuesday for a hamburger today?
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Old 08-13-2019, 09:22 AM
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The weirdest thing I've had on pizza is hearts-of-palm in Argentina, but it wasn't bad at all. But with a large Italian immigrant population, Argentinian pizza is usually great.

Last edited by Colibri; 08-13-2019 at 09:23 AM.
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Old 08-14-2019, 02:52 AM
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Mr Wimpy's Quarter Pounder and Cheese is still my favourite burger. Over Five Guys and the Ilk.

The chain was bought out by Burger King in the early 90s, half of the restaurants got converted to BK, and I think the brand was sold off. They exist in the south of London still and some weird spots (disappeared from Service stations), but I live 100 miles from any of them.

Still miss 'em.
The remaining Wimpy outlets been bought out by Wimpy (South Africa), I gather, and brought in line with their branding and menus. Not the best fast food burger here (that'd be Steers), but definitely not the worst. But here, Wimpy are probably more popular for their breakfast menu. And are still at a range of service stations.
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Old 08-08-2019, 11:44 AM
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I was made to go to an Italian restaurant in Beijing once. Another time, I ordered 'tacos' in New Zealand.

In both cases, the food was prepared as if no recipe or other description of flavor was available, only a picture of the food item in question. The food looked right, but that was all. The NZ tacos were edible, the Chinese Italian was a total horror show.
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Old 08-08-2019, 12:05 PM
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I was made to go to an Italian restaurant in Beijing once. Another time, I ordered 'tacos' in New Zealand.

In both cases, the food was prepared as if no recipe or other description of flavor was available, only a picture of the food item in question. The food looked right, but that was all. The NZ tacos were edible, the Chinese Italian was a total horror show.
In Japan, on the other hand (or at least in Tokyo), you can find a lot of western foods prepared well.
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Old 08-08-2019, 12:19 PM
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"Cajun" restaurants whose idea of Cajun is blackened anything and throwing a bunch of spices on anything that wasn't blackened.
They seem to have mostly died or the owners are chasing the latest fad.

I give a bit of a pass to Cajun restaurants who serve good Creole food on the grounds that most of their customer don't know any better.
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Old 08-09-2019, 07:12 AM
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"Cajun" restaurants whose idea of Cajun is blackened anything and throwing a bunch of spices on anything that wasn't blackened.
They seem to have mostly died or the owners are chasing the latest fad.

I give a bit of a pass to Cajun restaurants who serve good Creole food on the grounds that most of their customer don't know any better.
Agreed. Almost every place outside of South Louisiana that does Cajun, save maybe for the odd place in North Louisiana, East Texas, or Western Mississippi screws up Cajun bigly.
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Old 08-08-2019, 01:18 PM
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In Japan, on the other hand (or at least in Tokyo), you can find a lot of western foods prepared well.
have you seen what they do to pizza in Japan?
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Old 08-08-2019, 02:17 PM
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have you seen what they do to pizza in Japan?
No, but after living in Micronesia and Indonesia no pizza topping would surprise me. Corn, shrimp and barbecue sauce are among the least odd non-traditional toppings I've encountered. Bananas and wontons may be the weirdest.
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Old 08-09-2019, 01:24 PM
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No, but after living in Micronesia and Indonesia no pizza topping would surprise me. Corn, shrimp and barbecue sauce are among the least odd non-traditional toppings I've encountered. Bananas and wontons may be the weirdest.
Ahem. Barbecue chicken pizza is a THING in California
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Old 08-09-2019, 07:10 AM
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have you seen what they do to pizza in Japan?
Actually, I became a fan of corn pizza. But canned tuna? Not so much.
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Old 08-09-2019, 01:56 PM
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Actually, I became a fan of corn pizza. But canned tuna? Not so much.
You have to get it done right... best pizza I think I've ever had was a tuna and onion pizza at a little bar sort of place off the Via del Corso in Rome.
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Old 08-09-2019, 01:18 PM
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have you seen what they do to pizza in Japan?
Pizza places in Germany provide decent pizza, though they aren't cut and you have to eat them with a knife and fork, but the thing that surprised me was finding a baked egg on top.
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Old 08-10-2019, 10:19 AM
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Pizza places in Germany provide decent pizza, though they aren't cut and you have to eat them with a knife and fork
They often don't cut your pizza in Italy, either, so that's pretty standard and not an authenticity fail unless the joint is advertising American style pizzas.

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Old 08-12-2019, 08:58 AM
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Pizza places in Germany provide decent pizza, though they aren't cut and you have to eat them with a knife and fork, but the thing that surprised me was finding a baked egg on top.
As others have noted, Italian pizza isn't served cut up, and the egg is an integral part of the well-known Italian Pizza 'Fiorentina' (the egg is cracked onto the pizza just before it goes in the oven).

Nothing inauthentic in either.

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Old 08-08-2019, 11:51 PM
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In Japan, on the other hand (or at least in Tokyo), you can find a lot of western foods prepared well.
I had what was probably the best pasta I've ever had yesterday here in Osaka. A chilled carbonara with roasted sweetcorn, ham, and sliced truffles (not stingy on the truffles either). Ten dollars with a coffee and assorted bread hot from the oven.
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Old 08-12-2019, 09:25 AM
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I had what was probably the best pasta I've ever had yesterday here in Osaka.
Came in here to say the same; I've had awesome spaghetti dishes in a few places in Japan.

Yoshoku is a whole category of food there, dishes that were adopted from foreign cultures and tweaked to suit the Japanese palate or deal with the limited availability of certain ingredients in Japan. AFAIK restaurants that serve yoshoku dishes don't make any pretense of them being authentic "western" dishes; yoshoku is just kind of its own thing, another branch of Japanese food.

FWIW, I had tuna pizza once there. I don't want to have it again.
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Old 08-08-2019, 02:38 PM
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I am always very amused when visiting an ethnic restaurant in the Upper Midwest and other extremely white areas (e.g. Maine, Montana) and are served by caucasians. Like that Indian restaurant in a town somewhere between Portland and Acadia National Park in Maine where I was the only actual Asian in the building, or that time I bought Chinese takeout from a blue-eyed, blonde-haired teenager in Missoula. Their "oriental" decor consisted entirely of a few Hello Kitty stickers on the wall.

That said, the food itself was fine. It wasn't "authentic" by any stretch of the imagination (and good luck getting anything actually spicy out of them), but it was edible. I've been served worse Indian and Chinese food by actual Indian and Chinese people.
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Old 08-09-2019, 04:33 AM
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I am always very amused when visiting an ethnic restaurant in the Upper Midwest and other extremely white areas (e.g. Maine, Montana) and are served by caucasians. Like that Indian restaurant in a town somewhere between Portland and Acadia National Park in Maine where I was the only actual Asian in the building, or that time I bought Chinese takeout from a blue-eyed, blonde-haired teenager in Missoula. Their "oriental" decor consisted entirely of a few Hello Kitty stickers on the wall.

That said, the food itself was fine. It wasn't "authentic" by any stretch of the imagination (and good luck getting anything actually spicy out of them), but it was edible. I've been served worse Indian and Chinese food by actual Indian and Chinese people.
In the Southwest the long-running joke I've heard comedians make is that most Chinese restaurants are staffed entirely by Mexicans, who can make the food just as good.
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Old 08-21-2019, 01:27 AM
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In the Southwest the long-running joke I've heard comedians make is that most Chinese restaurants are staffed entirely by Mexicans, who can make the food just as good.
Heh... there's a very nice Chinese restaurant near our house. It's been in business for decades (the owners' granddaughter was in my daughter's class in high school).

Half the staff is Chinese, half are Hispanic.

And speaking of authenticity fails: we have several times hosted students from China for a few weeks in the summer. Of course we always take the to this place - not to show "see, we have 'Chinese' food too!" but to show them what Americans know of as "Chinese" food.

There's very little on the menu that they would get to eat at home, for sure.
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Old 08-08-2019, 02:40 PM
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I went to some "Mexican" restaurant near Binghamton NY sometime in the 1990s, ordered a plate of nachos, and whatever the hell it was that I got, made me leave the restaurant immediately, without paying. Just. Left.
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Old 08-08-2019, 02:50 PM
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My stick-in-the-ass uncle was visiting us in Knoxville, TN, and he was going through yet another health-food kick, this time Thai restaurants. Insisted we take him to the best Knoxville had to offer, the more authentic, the better.

Well, there were a few. Found one, not too far from our house. Kind of a hole in the wall, had cheap tables and chairs, and a paper menu, but every fucking person in that place was Asian-American, and the name of this place... for the purposes of this thread... was Real Fucking Thai Food Cooked by Thais for Thais.

Holy mother of God, did my uncle hate that place! Just complained and whined and did what it was that made being with him just such a delight and joy.

So my sister tried. Took him to Suburban Chain Thai. Well lit. Lot's of white people. No asians. Plastic menus, cute 20-something hostesses, the full suburban chain experience, complete with new tables and American beers.

"Wow. I am impressed. This is the sort of Thai restaurant you would find in New York City. This is truly nice. Look, Peg, they have <something that wasn't really Thai>."

I burst out laughing. "Holy Hell, Bruce, there's not a single asian person in this place, it's full of after-church white baptists. This is Americanized Thai food, not real Thai food like that place we went to last night."

BiL: "Y'all went to Real Fucking Thai Food Cooked by Thais for Thais? You have to be Thai to like that place."

Waving my hands, looking at my uncle, "To my point!"
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Old 08-08-2019, 10:06 PM
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"Wow. I am impressed. This is the sort of Thai restaurant you would find in New York City. This is truly nice. Look, Peg, they have <something that wasn't really Thai>."
I'm having visions of Michael Scott visiting his favorite New York pizza joint.
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Old 08-09-2019, 11:15 AM
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My stick-in-the-ass uncle was visiting us in Knoxville, TN, and he was going through yet another health-food kick, this time Thai restaurants. Insisted we take him to the best Knoxville had to offer, the more authentic, the better.

Well, there were a few. Found one, not too far from our house. Kind of a hole in the wall, had cheap tables and chairs, and a paper menu, but every fucking person in that place was Asian-American, and the name of this place... for the purposes of this thread... was Real Fucking Thai Food Cooked by Thais for Thais.

Holy mother of God, did my uncle hate that place! Just complained and whined and did what it was that made being with him just such a delight and joy.

So my sister tried. Took him to Suburban Chain Thai. Well lit. Lot's of white people. No asians. Plastic menus, cute 20-something hostesses, the full suburban chain experience, complete with new tables and American beers.

"Wow. I am impressed. This is the sort of Thai restaurant you would find in New York City. This is truly nice. Look, Peg, they have <something that wasn't really Thai>."

I burst out laughing. "Holy Hell, Bruce, there's not a single asian person in this place, it's full of after-church white baptists. This is Americanized Thai food, not real Thai food like that place we went to last night."

BiL: "Y'all went to Real Fucking Thai Food Cooked by Thais for Thais? You have to be Thai to like that place."

Waving my hands, looking at my uncle, "To my point!"
That sounds more like a 'The Onion' piece, than a 'The Onion' piece.

Holy hell. The proud ignorance of some.
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Old 08-09-2019, 01:18 PM
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That sounds more like a 'The Onion' piece, than a 'The Onion' piece.

Holy hell. The proud ignorance of some.
made me think of this one.

https://local.theonion.com/area-gran...ood-1819569894
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Old 08-09-2019, 04:07 PM
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That sounds more like a 'The Onion' piece, than a 'The Onion' piece.

Holy hell. The proud ignorance of some.
Thing about my Uncle is that he is (well, was) well-traveled. He's gone to Singapore, Thailand, China, all over SE Asia and Oceana and Japan.... he knew (I assume) what local cuisine was like. His reaction was bizarre... until you know him personally and what an asshole he was.
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Old 08-08-2019, 02:54 PM
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Never pay to eat hot dogs someplace that does not have (a) an outfield or (b) at least 6 motorcycles in the parking lot.
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Old 08-08-2019, 04:43 PM
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Never pay to eat hot dogs someplace that does not have (a) an outfield or (b) at least 6 motorcycles in the parking lot.
I've had some damn good hotdogs at golf courses....
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Old 08-08-2019, 05:35 PM
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The first Mexican restaurant in my hometown was opened by a family at the end of my street. They most definitely were not Hispanic. I don't know who they hired to work in the kitchen.

The food, Tex-Mex was similar to El Chico and very good. They were still open when I left for college.

Last edited by aceplace57; 08-08-2019 at 05:37 PM.
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Old 08-08-2019, 06:13 PM
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About the OP's mention of the incongruity of a Swedish tapas restaurant, I find the tapas concept very similar to a smorgasbord, which is very Scandinavian. The only difference is that the food is brought to the table by a server as opposed to being chosen from a buffet. Maybe the Swedish food sucked, but it wasn't inauthentic.

We have a few odd fusion places on Devon Avenue in Chicago. Italian/Chinese, Indian/New York Pizza...

As for inauthentic hot dogs, maybe some Dopers may remember when McDonald's tried to sell them?

Last edited by Two Many Cats; 08-08-2019 at 06:15 PM.
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Old 08-08-2019, 06:20 PM
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I was on a road-trip deep in the Heart of Texas, and stopped for Mexican food. They brought out chips and salsa (chips were stale and straight out of a store-brand bag, I saw it sticking out of the trash, same with the salsa I'm sure) and the entrťe was some kind of microwave, flavorless crap. Dry, freezer-burned and just nasty. Worst Mexican food I've ever had.

Deep in the Heart of Texas.
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Old 08-08-2019, 06:31 PM
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Don't order the "authentic American" cheesecake at Chili's in Riga. It has sponge cake instead of a Graham cracker crust, what would seem to be whipped cream cheese, and a coating of a Jell-O-like substance on top.

Haven't been to any other Chili's, so I can't vouch for its offerings elsewhere.
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Old 08-08-2019, 06:42 PM
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I was visiting Akumal, Mexico several years ago and noticed a "steak sandwich" on the menu, so curiosity got the best of me and I ordered it. It was a large single piece of flank steak, served between two pieces of white bread. Well, they were technically correct.
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Old 08-09-2019, 11:49 PM
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Originally Posted by Morbo View Post
I was visiting Akumal, Mexico several years ago and noticed a "steak sandwich" on the menu, so curiosity got the best of me and I ordered it. It was a large single piece of flank steak, served between two pieces of white bread. Well, they were technically correct.
"Steak sandwich" is such a vague term that you never know what you'll get, and there's many acceptable versions. The version sold under that name at the Brat House in Kenosha, for instance, isn't really that much different. Go a bit farther north to Sheboygan, and you get something that is more like a hamburger (might be some kind of pounded cube steak type of thing, but when I've eaten it, I really couldn't tell the difference between it and a hamburger.) In Chicago, if you're in an Italian neighborhood, it'll probably be breaded and served with cheese and red sauce. At a hot dog stand, it'll be a thin slice of ribeye or similar served on a hoagie-type roll with your usual hamburger toppings.

It's all over the map.
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Old 08-10-2019, 12:21 AM
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Iíve seen some very strange meals passed off as better cuisine.

A hamburger in Goa which was more like a Spam sandwich on white bread. Pork pizza with orange sauce sold at Marks and Spencerís in 1990 England. Vietnamese soup in Mexico, served with alfalfa sprouts and croutons.
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Old 08-13-2019, 07:41 AM
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Originally Posted by pulykamell View Post
"Steak sandwich" is such a vague term that you never know what you'll get, and there's many acceptable versions. The version sold under that name at the Brat House in Kenosha, for instance, isn't really that much different.
When I was in boot camp at Great Lakes, for boot liberty about six of us went to Kenosha because it was close but not as expensive (we hoped) as Chicago. When we got there, we went our various ways and joined up several hours later. The guy from Philadelphia spotted me and came galloping up. "Hey! I was in this diner and I ordered a steak sandwich---"

"---and it was one hunk of meat on a round bun," I interrupted. "A thin slice of ribeye if you were lucky."

"Yeah! How did you know?"

"That's what most of the country expects when they order a steak sandwich. You should have seen me the first time I had one in Philly!"
  #49  
Old 08-13-2019, 06:59 PM
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Originally Posted by pulykamell View Post
The version sold under that name at the Brat House in Kenosha, for instance, isn't really that much different.
Dat's da Brat Stop, ya FIB!
  #50  
Old 08-13-2019, 08:22 PM
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Dat's da Brat Stop, ya FIB!
I cannot believe I wrote "Brat House" and did not notice it. What the fuck is wrong with me?
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