'Cesca: Imitation Is The Sincerest Form Of Flattery



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Tucked down a very quiet street (Faber), somewhat behind SNOB lies one of the newcomers to the

Charleston restaurant scene, Cesca. Although a bit out of the way, it’s convenient as there is a inexpensive parking garage about a half a block away.

Transformed from the former Buckaneer Pirate Theme restaurant, Cesca is quite pretty and the soft seating allows for a very comfortable dining experience. I couldn’t help but think that the restaurant reminded me a lot of McCrady’s, also one of our favs. Sure enough, after we dined at Cesca I looked at McCrady’s website. Some of the pictures with their exposed brick walls were nearly identical to those at Cesca. So yes, imitation is often the sincerest form of flattery. Not judging a book by its cover we looked forward to our meal as we began to peruse the menu.

We were with two other couples and one of our friends began to ask our server about wine suggestions. She seemed very knowledgeable and before we knew it she was pouring samples of wine for him to taste. He and another friend decided to split a bottle of wine and she scampered off to get it. At this point you may be thinking, hmmm did she take any other drink orders? The answer is no.

She returned with the bottle of wine opened it and poured it to our two friends. Next she delivered a glass of white wine to another of our friends. My friend turned to me and asked why I wasn’t getting something to drink. Simply put, she never asked me, or the two other patrons at the table if we wanted anything. We then flagged her down and ordered something to drink.

The service attendant quickly arrived with some fresh, warm slices of bread for us to share. Ahhh delightful.

The menu at Cesca is extensive. It offers Per La Tavola (small plates), flights of Artisanal cheeses, Crudo (seafood appetizers, i.e. Ahi Tuna), Antipasti (sic), Primi (pasta dishes) and Secondi (main meals0. The variety is great and there are also nightly specials. One of the evening’s nightly specials was one of my favs, Veal Milanese.

We ordered a few starters and they arrived quickly. The Hamachi with pickled chilies and Beef Carpaccio received rave reviews. The House made Mozzarella, Heirloom Tomatoes, Local Basil with Olive Oil was also a win. The Endive, Local Peach, Gorgonzola, Candied Walnuts, Lemon Vinaigrette had such potential! The bitterness of the endive with the sweetness of the peaches and candied walnuts followed by the strong gorgonzola sounded delightful. But alas, the peaches, though nicely grilled were far from ripe, the gorgonzola nonexistent and the candied walnuts missing altogether. After we flagged down our server, (who was missing most of our meal), she brought a plate of walnuts. It didn’t save the dish but it helped a bit.

And then we waited… We all thought that the appetizers were timed just right as we discussed how long it was taking for our meals. The restaurant had many tables but it was hardly full. Well over 20 minutes later our meals arrived. Everything looked great! Let’s dig in.

One of our friends ordered the Gnocchi, Fresh Genovese Pesto, Parmigiano(sic) Reggiano and thought it was very good. He also thought he had been served a half portion as it was quite skimpy. The Orecchiette, Spicy Pork Sausage, Broccoli Rabe is a fairly common dish, but this one was delicious. The Spinach Tagliatelle Bolognese, Ricotta Salata, Basil was ordered by two of our friends and it was also a win.

Unfortunately the 14oz Bacon Wrapped Pork Chop, Seared Cauliflower, Pistachios and the Veal Milanese were not a add to the win column. I almost ordered the pork chop as this is something that I can’t cook to save my life. I always over cook it. The cauliflower/pistachio combo was stellar, and then there was the pork chop not under a brick, but cooked like one. Ordered medium it came out very well done, which was unfortunate.

My veal was so disappointing. Pounded wayyyyyyy too thin it was very tough and flavorless. Why didn’t we say something, you ask? A common theme throughout our meal is that our service was spotty at best. Our server was very pleasant when we saw her, which was not frequently. By the time we flagged her down everyone was done dining.

Open for only three months I would say that the restaurant deserves a try. It’s a lovely, unpretentious and the food and service have the potential to be terrific. Not this particular night, but it can certainly get there.

We gave Cesca 3 out of a possible 5 plates.


Fake meat: Imitation is not the sincerest form of flattery

Thinkstock/AlexRaths

Kleenex, Band-Aids, Scotch Tape, Super Glue. No, I’m not making out my next Walmart shopping list, even though I’m pretty sure we could use a restock at my house of all these items. No, this list of common household goods across America have one thing in common: They are trademarked products that society has collectively determined that the brand name is what the generic product is now called.

Aspirin, Cellophane, Kerosene, Thermos and Zipper are just a handful more examples of trademark genericization. I bet you can think of a few more to add to the list.

I started mulling over these brand names after seeing that Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant is being sued by Upton’s Naturals and the Plant Based Foods Association because of a new state law that went into effect last week. The company claims the law violates its First Amendment rights.

According to the new state regulations, food made from plants or insects cannot be labelled as meat or “a meat food product.” The law also bans food using animal tissue created from laboratory cultures from being labeled meat. At least 12 other states have passed similar legislation.

So, is “genercide” now occurring to meat products? Well technically no. Foods do not qualify for trademarks as they cannot distinguish goods from another company’s goods. However, if a company creates a special food item, they can apply to trademark that specific brand name for the food. For example, hamburger is a generic word for the product, but “BIG MAC” is a registered trademark of McDonald’s because it represents a “unique food item.”

While these new plant-based and cell-cultured products are no doubt unique, it seems misleading these companies would want to use terms like “burger” or “meat” in their branding. It’s often said that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, but I don’t think it is the plant-based group’s intention to give excessive praise to the meat industry. However, one would have to say their incessant need to use the terms burger, meat, bacon, nugget, etc., is furthering their own interests.

Generally, genericization happens when that product is the first or best version of that category. The chicken nugget was created in the 1950s. We’ve had the hamburger since 1885 or 1900 depending on which of three inventors you believe. Bacon dates back to 1500 B.C. While there may have been different recipes, spices, shapes and sizes of these meat products over the years, they promised to be what they were first called.

As Dan Kovich, director of Science and Technology for the National Pork Producers Council, points out the veggie burger has been around for a while. What is new though is the expanding range of products that are created to look, taste and smell like the meat products they are imitating.

“Plant-based alternative protein products cannot be called pork, and cultured products cannot be called pork without qualification making it clear how they were made,” Kovich says. “Consumers can choose pork sausage or bacon for breakfast, or they can choose a ‘cell-cultured’ pork food product.”

When we ask for a Kleenex, our intention is to get an absorbent disposable paper tissue. When we need a Band-Aid, we assume we are getting an adhesive bandage with a gauze pad in the center, used to cover minor wounds. When we order a side of bacon, we expect to get cured meat from the sides and belly of a pig, having distinct strips of fat and typically served in thin slices.


Mondays & Memories of My Mom – Imitation

Hi, Everyone! Happy Monday! I’m Laura Emerich and this is my blog about memories of my mom, Gloria Pitzer, and her legacy as the ORIGINAL Secret Recipe Detective. She liked to refer to herself as the “Rich Little” of the Food Industry because she could imitate their famous food products, at home in her own kitchen, like Rich Little could imitate the voices of famous people.. She never knew what they actually used in their own “secret” recipes, but she knew she could come up with a make-alike version based on what she could taste, smell and see. A few times, at the request of her readers and radio listeners, without actually trying the product, itself Mom could come up with an imitation simply based only on their descriptions.

To imitate is to clone, copy, impersonate, mimic, replicate, reproduce, counterfeit, duplicate, fake, forge, match, mock, parallel, resemble, simulate, echo, mirror, parrot, pattern or represent something or someone. Imitation – according to Merriam-Webster – is something produced as a copy resembling something else that is usually genuine and of better quality [https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/imitation]. It’s quite ironic that so many others over the years, since Mom originated the Secret Recipes (T.M.) business, have imitated her, the original imitator. But not all of them have given her the appropriate credit due to her. Kudos to those who have given her the proper credit, though!

Most everyone has heard, “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery” one of Charles Caleb Colton‘s most famous quotes. Dictionary.com says, “to imitate someone is to pay the person a genuine compliment — often an unintended compliment.” You will, likewise, find at Wikipedia.org that imitation is also a form of social learning that leads to the development of traditions.

I really liked that last reference…”that leads to the development of traditions.” Who doesn’t have some old, family tradition that they follow, just as their parents and grandparents and previous generations did? Who hasn’t made new family traditions for coming generations to copy and embrace? Just think about it, at some point, all of those old traditions were, once, new traditions that were so enjoyed they were, thus, passed on to future generations and continue to be so. Cultures are built on traditions. One of my all-time favorite musicals is “Fiddler on the Roof”, which is chucked full of traditions and the struggles of keeping them or amending them to the ever-changing times – including a song about it!

When it came to imitations, it wasn’t very often that Mom received any praise from a major company for her make-alike versions of their famous products. She was often threatened with lawsuits. But, like I said previously, she really didn’t know what they actually used in their recipes, nor did she want to. She loved the mystery and sleuthing involved in solving it, just like a good Sherlock Holmes novel. She often changed the name to a “sound-alike” title for her make-alike versions – she would always jokingly say, “to protect the innocent!”

However, she was well received, even complimented, by some companies and their owners, such as Sanders Chocolates, Wally Amos of Famous Amos Cookies, Harland Sanders (the original owner of KFC) and White Castle just to name a few. They found her imitations of their products flattering. In fact, I recently came across an old letter among some of Mom’s things that I got after her passing. The letter was from Gail Turley, Director of Advertising and Public Relations with White Castle (Columbus, Ohio) to Mom – and I remembered writing about it when I helped Mom with the rewriting of her favorite “Better Cookery Cookbook”. Gail Turley was very flattered with Mom’s imitation and dually impressed with Mom’s clever use of baby food to enhance the flavor of the beef. She even bought 15 copies of Mom’s cookbook (which contained the White Castle Hamburger knockoff) to share with some of her colleagues.

Mom’s make-alike version of White Castle hamburgers, also called “Sliders” because they’re so easy to eat (of which Mom called her version “White Tassel Burgers”), was one of the recipes she offered on her “free information” sheets. The White Castle picture with Mom’s original editorial on the company, along with other information and her make-alike recipe (all below), can be found on pages 12-13 of Mom’s last book, “Gloria Pitzer’s Cookbook – The Best of the Recipe Detective” [published by Balboa Press (January 2018, 1st Printing) – a re-write by me, Laura Emerich, of her famous, self-published book, “Gloria Pitzer’s Better Cookery Cookbook” (May 1983, 3rd Printing)], asking only for proper credit if you care to share it.

WHITE CASTLE – In 1916, Walter Anderson started his career in the restaurant field by opening a rented, re-modeled streetcar and giving the food industry its very first “fast food” place. In 1921, he ran into some difficulties when he tried to lease another place to expand his operation. So, he turned to a Realtor by the name of Billy Ingram, who secured the needed lease for Anderson, and soon became partners with him in the hamburger restaurant. Eventually, the operation became entirely Billy Ingram’s, and today White Castle is a respected name that represents “quality” in the food industry.

Originating in Wichita, Kansas during “The Depression”, Ingram so-named his operation “White Castle” because it stood for purity, cleanliness, strength and dignity. He was a business man with high ethics. He was responsible for many changes in the business that initiated health inspections, to ensure that all restaurants complied with what Ingram personally felt was a responsibility to the customer. He invented utensils never used, such as the spatula and the grills that are still considered the most practical equipment.

White Castle has no special, secret recipe – but, the technique used to prepare their small hamburger is unique and unequaled by competitors. You must like onions to appreciate White Castle patties. The quality of the beef they specifically use that we couldn’t possibly equal it with what we buy in the supermarkets so, I set to work to try to enhance the ordinary “ground chuck” available to us with a few ingredients that create a recipe reminiscent of Ingram’s “White Castles.”

A letter of appreciation from Gail Turley, Director of Advertising and Public Relations with White Castle Systems in their Columbus, Ohio headquarters reflected the feelings not often expressed by the major food companies, whose products I attempt to imitate with “make at home” recipes. “On behalf of White Castle System,” the letter said, “We are honored that you deemed the White Castle Hamburger worthy of an attempt at replication of the early days of White Castle and Billy Ingram…” And she enclosed a check to cover the cost of purchasing 15 copies of my first Secret Recipes Book to distribute to their Regional Managers. A far cry from the reaction I received from Orange Julius and Stouffer’s, who threatened legal action against me.

WHITE TASSLE BURGERS

Supposedly, the original beef mixture used in the famous White Castle patties during the early 30’s was of such high quality that there was no way to equal it [50 years later.] Today we send beef to the market much younger, before it has aged. Young beef has less fat, which Americans want. The marbleizing fat in older beef is what gives it flavor. To compensate for this, it seemed to me, ground beef’s flavor could be enhanced by adding another pure beef product – strained baby food. It worked!

  • 3-ounce jar baby food, strained veal
  • 1 ½ pounds ground round steak
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • ½ teaspoon pepper

Combine all ingredients thoroughly. Shape into 12 rectangular, thin patties. Fry briskly on a hot, lightly oiled flat grill, making 5-6 small holes in each patty with the end of a spatula handle. After turning patties once, place bottom half of bun over cooked side of patty and place the top half of the bun over the bottom half. Fry quickly to desired “done-ness” and remove. Add pickle slices and a few tablespoons of chopped, grilled onions to each serving. Makes 1 dozen burgers.

This is a picture of Mom’s updated version from her “Free Recipes/Information” sheet (2000) – again, asking only for proper credit if you care to share it.


IDEAS & TRENDS When Imitation Isn't the Sincerest Form of Flattery

IF America's armchair quarterbacks ever voted for their favorite piece of furniture, chances are they might elect the La-Z-Boy recliner. With huge cushions that gently mold to the supine contours of the heftiest fan and a footrest that stretches obligingly forward to prop up weary feet, the La-Z-Boy has become an icon of middle-class creature comforts.

It is also one of the most copied pieces of furniture in the United States. Rival manufacturers can duplicate every La-Z-Boy design and refinement with little fear of being sued under patent and trademark laws, and generally sell their products for less.

''We put an awful lot of money into these designs,'' said Richard Micka, La-Z-Boy's vice president for administration. 'ɻut the minute you show them off at the furniture shows, people start knocking them off.''

A debate over whether and how to curb such practices has come sharply into focus because of proposed Federal legislation that would allow companies to protect the design of their products much the way an artist or writer copyrights works of art.

A powerful alliance of business groups and a bipartisan coalition of Congressional leaders are pressing for legislation that would entitle companies to protect new designs with what amounts to a 10-year copyright. A company would have only to show that its design is different from that of earlier products.

Something as small as a distinctive curve on an automobile bumper would be covered by the new law, and virtually every kind of product marketed in the United States could be protected: automobile bodies, coffeemakers, running shoes, sunglasses, furniture and luggage. Clothing would be exempt.

Supporters of the bill, which was introduced last year, insist that innovative design is a pillar of manufacturing strength, and that protecting creative companies from low-priced copycats is essential to American competitiveness.

''It's important that we do anything we can to protect American jobs and American companies, which are being eroded by people deliberately producing copycat products,'' said Representative Carlos J. Moorhead, the California Republican who is the bill's principal author.

Opponents contend that the bill would impose an enormous tax on the public by eliminating competition and raising prices throughout the economy.

'➯ter all, we're talking about creating monopolies here,'' said Representative Robert W. Kastenmeier, the Wisconsin Democrat who is the measure's leading opponent. ''If you look around your living room and everything in it is subject to protection, one wonders what the transaction costs of life will be.''

Indeed, say critics, the measure could even thwart the Pentagon's efforts to obtain low-cost spare parts for weapons systems. In the early 1980's, the military was embarrassed by discoveries of exorbitant prices paid for seemingly mundane parts. Investigators later concluded that the biggest problem was that parts could be obtained only from the original weapons manufacturer. For the last five years, the military has been trying to foster as many alternative parts suppliers as possible in an effort to bring down prices through competition.

Underlying the tug-of-war are basic issues. What is innovation? Does it involve a tangible improvement over an earlier product - a faster computer chip, a quieter dishwasher, a more reliable anti-lock braking system for cars?

Or is an innovation merely something that is different from earlier products - the distinctive casing for a telephone, or the curve of an automobile bumper?

Would new protection for design stimulate innovation by providing extra financial incentives, or would it stifle competition and harm consumers?

These arguments have produced unusual political alliances. Representative Moorhead's bill has been endorsed by the Bush Administration and top Congressional Republicans, but one of its biggest champions is the House Majority Leader, Representative Richard Gephart, the Missouri Democrat.

Business supporters include a long list of manufacturers and trade associations. Among them are all of the nation's automobile and truck companies, as well as the United Auto Workers luggage manufacturers like American Tourister and Hartman furniture makers like La-Z-Boy and Herman Miller and the Kohler Company, a manufacturer of bathroom and kitchen equipment.

The opposition is equally diverse. The Consumers Union, the Consumer Federation of America and the Center for Auto Safety all say that the measure would mean higher prices. Automobile insurers are also opposed, arguing that the measure would add as much as $400 million to the cost of automobile repairs because it would eliminate independent supplies of low-cost body parts. Large discount retailers like Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and the K mart Corporation are fighting the measure, which they fear will block their access to appealing but low-priced merchandise made abroad.

The most basic change envisioned in the Moorhead bill would involve altering the standard for what constitutes a protectable innovation. Under current law, companies can obtain design patents. But to do so, a company must show that its design is more than just different. It must be new and useful and it cannot be ''obvious'' to others skilled in the same field.

These are the same tests that have been applied throughout most of American history to patents for new machines or chemical processes. But manufacturers complain that these tests are too rigorous for designs, which are not based on new technology but on small flourishes that add to a product's esthetic appeal or comfort. As a result, they say, design patents often take years to obtain and are difficult to enforce.

The new law would essentially reduce the burden of proof. A company would merely have to register its design and demonstrate that it is different from what already exists. Both sides agree that the measure would undoubtedly cover things like automobile bumpers and fenders, even if these are not innovative in any profound sense.

''This elimination of any creativity requirement is a radical departure from existing intellectual property laws,'' argued Clarence Ditlow, the head of the Center for Auto Safety, a consumer advocacy group, in testimony this spring.

'ɼlearly, though,'' he said, ''the new ⟞sign copyright' would create enormous private benefits - profits - for proponents of the legislation, at the expense of U.S. consumers.''

Product designers consider their work every bit as creative as that of painters and sculptors. But lobbyists for design protection argue that technical innovation is not the real issue. The bigger point, they say, is that companies invest millions of dollars to promote and market their designs, only to have imitators ride their coattails.

They also point out that governments in Europe and Japan have long maintained design protection. In fact, those countries have asked the United States to adopt stronger protection to cover their own products when imported here, and the issue is expected to come up in the next round of negotiations under the General Agreement on Trade and Tariffs.

The main opponent to passage is Representative Kastenmeier, who heads the House subcommittee responsible for patent legislation. Indeed, the Senate passed similar measures five times before 1976, only to have the Wisconsin Democrat kill the measure through inaction.

Recently, Representative Kastenmeier described himself as a lonely skeptic. 'ɺlmost everybody on my committee supports this legislation, except me,'' he said.

It remains unclear whether he will try to kill the bill again or yield to the wishes of his own party's leadership.


Imitation: The sincerest form of (food) flattery

I was having a conversation with someone the other day about crab -- I mentioned that my sister had enjoyed crab legs at a birthday dinner, and the woman to whom I was speaking answered that she just loved crab.

"I even like artificial crab," she added.

We laughed, and I admitted that I, too, often buy that articifical crab meat, made from a fish paste called surimi, and use it in many different ways. No, it's definitely not the same thing as real crab meat. But it's a perfectly fine product on its own terms. You may be better off not calling it artificial crab at all just call it surimi and you'll get along with it just fine.

There are a lot of substitutions like that -- things that aren't exactly like what they're supposed to be imitating, but that are just fine if you think of them as a different product from the get-go.

For the churches that follow a liturgical calendar -- and I know that's not all of them -- this is the season of Lent, a season in which some people choose to give something up as a sign of penance and a spiritual discipline. I have a family member who gives up sweets for Lent. I don't think I've ever made that kind of conscious observance of Lenten self-sacrifice, and I feel a little guilty about it.

Catholics used to have to abstain from meat on Friday -- which is the origin of the Filet-O-Fish sandwich at McDonald's. In the days before the McNugget, Franchisees in heavily Catholic regions of the country had trouble selling hamburgers on Friday, and so they begged the corporate office for an alternate entree which might help keep their business from dropping off so badly.

Today, of course, we have a lot of vegetarians and vegans (vegans have more restrictions -- all vegans are vegetarians, but not all vegeterians are vegans). Some people have adopted a vegetarian lifestyle full-time, others may be doing it as an experiment. Some people may simply be trying to cut down on their meat intake without giving it up altogether. We could probably all stand to eat less meat I know I could.

In any case, there's been a lot more interest in recent years in substitutions. Kenji Lopez-Alt, a food writer whom I've mentioned frequently, recently came up with a recipe for a "nacho cheese sauce" made from potatoes, cashews and vegetable shortening. Lopez-Alt is definitely not a full-time vegan but was eating vegan for a month and looking for comforting recipes. I haven't tried the cheese sauce, but judging from his other recipes I'm sure it would be good. You can find it at http://bit.ly/1KJTpEO.

Some meat and dairy substitutes are better than others. Sometimes, though, I think you're better off if you don't try to think of something as a "meat substitute" and just enjoy it on its own terms.

I remember the first time I made Alton Brown's recipe for fried bars of tofu. It's not a vegan recipe -- the tofu slabs are dipped in an egg wash to give them a more-appealing golden brown exterior. But the recipe was designed to take advantage of tofu, not to copy some meat-based dish.

Tofu by itself is relentlessly bland it's best used as a carrier for other flavors. So the slabs of tofu were wrapped in a towel and pressed with a weight to remove some of moisture, then marinated in a flavorful mixture of sherry vinegar and worcestershire sauce. Then, they were dusted with flour (to help the egg wash stick), dipped in beaten egg and fried in a skillet until the egg coating had browned.

The result was quite good -- because nobody was trying to replace meat with tofu. The recipe simply used tofu on its own merits. You can find the recipe at http://bit.ly/21fTs2u.

Soy milk and almond milk have gained a lot of followers in recent years. I would never shotgun a tall, cold glass of soy milk, but it's perfectly fine poured over cereal. Almond milk, however, is delicious -- I would happily drink it straight. Keep in mind, though, that the flavored versions of each may have some added sugar.

Now, getting back to that artificial crabmeat -- or whatever you want to call it. After I started writing this story, I decided to buy some for dinner that night. I threw it together with mayonnaise and some other seasonings and came up with an imitation crab salad, which I ate in tortilla bowls. Here's an approximate recipe -- don't take it too seriously, because I tweaked a couple of details in hindsight after tasting the finished product.

1 14 oz. package flake style imitation crabmeat

2/3 envelope ranch salad dressing mix

1/2 small onion, finely chopped

1/4 cup sliced green olives

1 tsp. chili powder or Old Bay seasoning

1/2 tsp. black pepper, or to taste

Combine mayo, dressing mix, chili powder, black pepper and hot sauce.

Break crabmeat up with your fingers and then chop roughly into smaller pieces. Add onion, olives, and dressing mixture. Stir well to combine. Chill before serving serve with crackers or bowl-shaped tortilla chips.


Reader Interactions

Comments

I don’t have a blog, but am really incensed at this person for doing this and am really glad you did a take down!
Keep up the GREAT work!

Yes, incensed is the word! The nerve of some people.

How horrible! I’ve heard about people stealing websites and this is the first time I’ve seen it. Good for you Sesame, they’ll think a second time trying this on you. How did you manage to find out about that someone stole your website? Does it pop up on search?
Jocelyn last post is: Limey Lemongrass

Yes, sometimes it pops up on search. I have had very helpful readers report to me too.

Wow, great job at tackling them!

They’re not exactly brilliant and do leave tracks behind.

That certainly took plagiarism to another level…

Yeah, you can say that again. Some people are just shameless.

Actually, I think this might have been a phishing scam attempt. I’ve encountered dubious blogs with duplicated content from known legit blogs and did a quick check on this before:

Apparently phishing scammers create fake sites to carry out their operations. Might be what happened to you?

Might be a possibility but my site is not a commercial site which sells anything so technically doesn’t quite qualify for phishing.

Wow. Seriously?! As a reader if I’m annoyed, I cant imagine how you must have felt as the content owner. Glad you managed to tackle the issue.

Yes, it was super annoying!

I remember back then during the myspace days how a huge artist stole a profile from their own fan without acknowledging him/her so that they can keep the url. Thank goodness you did an immediate precaution before someone handles your website without you knowing.


An Unintended Compliment

We’ve all heard the phrase imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. We’ve all seen qualities in others that we admire and often try to imitate.

At age 5, I loved Reba McEntire! I impersonated her and I knew every word to every song! I even changed “Fancy” to “Chancey”. ‘Here’s you one chance Chancey, don’t let me down’, has a ring to it right?! I’m also reminded of my oldest sister imitating Linda Cavanaugh, a former news anchor. I can hear her now, “Good evening, I’m Linda Cavanaugh and this is the 10 o’clock news”. Last fall just before Halloween, my 7-year-old daughter clomped into the kitchen. I turned around to find her wearing my jeans, my t-shirt, my ball cap and my shoes. Between her giggles she tells me she’s going to be – me – for Halloween. While we all got a good belly laugh from that little episode, deep down, my heart was warmed that she would even play like she was going to be me.

There she is all decked out in my clothes! And for those wondering, she decided to be a monkey for Halloween instead.

To imitate someone is to pay the person a genuine compliment — often an unintended compliment. All three of these examples of imitation were not necessarily intended to be compliments, but they most definitely were!

I’d say almost daily we all try to imitate something that we’ve seen, heard about or experienced at some point in our life because that one thing or person left an impression. I find myself trying to imitate recipes of something I’ve tasted at a restaurant, a potluck, a friend’s house or some other event. I’ve made extravagant recipes, but my favorites are the simple recipes packed with flavor!

This was my lunch plate after Sunday morning worship. You really can’t go wrong with a ribeye steak, a stuffed mushroom and some broccoli for good measure.

There are two menu items that we are always on point for our family’s tastes. Those items are steak and a good old hamburger. both simple recipes, with big flavor. When you have a consistent, quality product to begin with, an enjoyable eating experience is much more attainable.

Today, imitation proteins are a hot topic. Plant based proteins are imitators of real proteins – pork, chicken, fish and my personal favorite, beef. I’ll just say, the ingredient list for these imitation proteins is rather lengthy and when trying read the list, I have to sound-out unfamiliar words in syllables like my first-grader does.

I’ll admit that just the sheer idea of these imitation proteins is troubling to me, especially when you consider what business my family is in. I will not be consuming anything but 100% authentic beef…the kind that comes from an animal on hoof and says moo. The kind of beef that is packed with 10 essential nutrients in just one serving and tastes delicious too!

If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, it seems that beef producers have been paid an unintended compliment by those trying to imitate our product.

If you ask me, beef producers have earned several compliments thanks to the advancements and significant increase in efficiency. Compared to 1977, today’s beef farmers and ranchers produce the same amount of beef with 33% fewer cattle. The industry has accomplished this with better animal health, improved animal nutrition and improving genetics. Ranchers are doing more with less.

Notable and even more amazing, cattle can consume human-inedible plants and turn it into high-quality protein, micro-nutrients, and other important products. Often, the land cattle graze on is not suitable for growing other food products.

As beef producers, it is easy to be offended and very defensive when the topic of fake meat emerges. Let’s just remember that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.


Mock Chicken Spread

Recipe from "Day to Day Cookery" - my high school Home Economics text book.

Ingredients:
1 small onion, finely diced
1 tsp butter, for frying
1 tomato, skinned and chopped (although I didn't skin mine)
1 tsp dried mixed herbs
1 beaten egg
1 tbs grated cheese
salt and pepper to taste

Fry the onion in butter until soft but not brown. Add tomato and herbs and simmer until tomato has softened.

Remove from heat and add beaten egg, grated cheese, salt and pepper and stir until mixture thickens. If mixture is still 'watery' add 1 tbs dried breadcrumbs.

Serve with crackers or on sandwiches.

I recently had to pleasure of spending a few days in Noosa with Anne - you can read her version of events in her post. Be sure to pester her for a copy of her Pear, Thyme and Ginger Cake with Ginger Custard and Walnut Praline recipe.

A good friend of mine makes the best 'mock fish' - it's essentially grated potato - and applied liberally, it'll banish a hangover in a heartbeat!


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What Is the Difference Between Crab and Krab?

If you’re anything like me, not much beats cracking into a bucket of sweet crabs at one of Florida’s outposts, like Ft. Lauderdale’s beloved Rustic Inn or world famous Joe’s Stone Crab. Not to be outdone are the fleeting soft-shelled version found further north in Maryland or those luscious Peekytoes pulled from the cold waters of Maine and Massachusetts.

It turns out there are indeed quite a few people like me, and crab continues to be one of the most in-demand and celebrated seafoods, both stateside and abroad. In places like Japan and Indonesia, it’s both delicacy and staple and folks travel as far as Sri Lanka just for the famous mud crab curry.

Because of this voracious demand and supply that teeters at the whim of climate change, extreme weather patterns (see: climate change), and even politics, crab prices—already high by seafood standards—can reach astronomical levels. The revered Alaskan King Crab sells for as much as $50 a pound, and don’t forget how much of that weight is the shell. It’s all enough to make one a little, well, crabby.

Fresh steamed snow crab legs, Koenig aus Japan/Shutterstock

Enter Krab (or imitation crab meat). Maybe you’ve seen it in the frozen foods section of your local grocer or noticed it subbed in, perhaps slyly, in a California sushi roll where you assumed regular crab would be. But what exactly is the difference between crab and imitation crab? Or more specifically, what exactly is imitation crab, besides a market-based solution to an economic and bio-culinary quandary? And how does it differ from regular crab in taste, texture, ingredients, and nutrition, and most importantly…should you eat it?

Imitation crab, “Krab” or “crab stick,” as it’s often called is, of course, not really crab at all as the name suggests. In most cases it’s something called “surimi” or a puree of whitefish, generally Alaskan pollack, which is cooked, ground into a paste along with glutinous fillers, additives and other nefarious ingredients like corn, sugar, starches, and seasonings. From there it’s molded into various shapes and colored to mimic the look and texture of real crab. If tuna is dubbed “chicken of the sea” well then Krab might as well be the “hot dog.”

Imitation crab sticks or surimi, Bayurov Alexander/Shutterstock

Imitation crab is naturally far more inexpensive than fresh or even canned crab (an 8-oz. bag runs anywhere from $3-10) and though the general flavor is similar, any chef, gourmand, or other human person with at least one functioning taste bud will tell you the flavor is duller, saltier, and the texture far denser and more rubbery, whereas real crab is bright, fresh, and naturally sweet tasting, and flaky to the touch. Because of the (noticeable) difference, crab stick is often served strategically in dishes with ingredients to mask its shortcomings, like the aforementioned California Roll, or seafood salads slicked with mayonnaise.

A few popular imitation crab brands on the market include Trans Ocean and Louis Kemp, the latter of which makes a marketing plea to consider that at least it’s not an “artificial food” as some might suggest. This is true its base ingredient is technically seafood, but it’s important to note that because many brands use wheat-based glutens to achieve the desired texture, imitation crab products are generally not gluten-free like real crab and contain higher carbohydrate and sugar counts with much less protein. Quite a few also contain MSG, a somewhat notorious sodium substitute used in budget-friendly Chinese food.

Included on an extremely short list of bragging rights, imitation crab spoils far less quickly and most versions are safe for those with a shellfish allergy.

So the question remains, should you cook with or eat imitation crab meat? Most chefs I spoke with unsurprisingly said “absolutely not”, certainly not if you can help it, and there’s absolutely nothing that compares to the real thing in every way, including taste. But in a pinch, and in dishes where the ‘crab’ can hide, like crab rangoon or cheap saucy sushi, for instance, it just may suffice.

Hey, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, after all.

California Roll Salad

Speaking of imitation this California Roll Salad mimics the flavors of the Americanized version of a sushi roll and calls for real-deal crab meat instead. Get the California Roll Salad recipe.

Crab Cakes

For these Easy Crab Cakes you’re ok using canned crab, but if you can get your hands on the real stuff, go for it! Get our Easy Crab Cakes recipe.

Crown Prince, Fancy White Lump Crab Meat, $13.03 on Amazon

Don't get caught without the real stuff.

Sri Lankan Crab Curry

Crab curry is one of my absolute favorite dishes on the planet. This recipe pulls from Sri Lanka’s much-celebrated version. Would not recommend using imitation here. Get the Sri Lankan Crab Curry recipe.

Crab Salad

Almost TOO easy and delicious, everyone should have a good crab salad recipe in their repertoire for summer picnics or to serve scooped over endive at a breezy cocktail party. Use fresh or canned crab meat for this one. Get our Crab Salad recipe.

Steamed Dungeness Crab

If you find yourself blessed with a bounty of fresh crab on a hot summer afternoon, don’t be afraid to keep it simple as with our Steamed Dungeness Crab recipe.

Hot Crab Dip

Not-exactly-diet-friendly Hot Crab Dip is a crowd pleaser featuring one of seafood’s very best friends, Old Bay Seasoning (and cream cheese). Get our Hot Crab Dip recipe.

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Header image by Chowhound, using photos from Koenig aus Japan/Shutterstock and Bayurov Alexander/Shutterstock.


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Comments:

  1. Chetwin

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  2. Shakadal

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  3. Vikus

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