Wednesday, April 16, 2008

The Food Section

On Wednesday, the newspapers that I read online each publish a weekly food section. I guess this is an old newspaper tradition, and originates in the advertising-driven needs of a daily print edition. The NT Times and LA Times have some incredibly good food writers. In today's LA Times is a particularly wonderful article on intertwined cuisine: Expat comfort food: The quirky mix at L.A.'s Hong Kong-style coffee shops.

The author, Linda Burum, cites menu items as diverse as "roast beef dinner, with fresh veggies and a bacon-bit garnished baked potato, ... freshly made, hot cabbage borscht, ... French onion soup topped with a flaky pastry crust and decent Chinese shrimp dumplings in broth."

Burum explains why these cafes in LA serve Russian dishes along with adaptations of Chinese foods and of the English foods that came from the fact that Hong Kong was an English enclave, founded as an English trading city:
"The saga of their predecessors, the Hong Kong coffee shops that evolved from that city's once-ubiquitous Russian cafes, would make great TV melodrama.

"Russian refugees fleeing the Bolshevik regime after 1917 settled in Shanghai, where their cafes thrived in the European concessions. In 1949, in the wake of mainland Communist takeovers, the Russians fled again, this time to Hong Kong, where Chinese from all over the mainland crowded the city as well."

In contrast, in today's NY Times Food Section are a number of articles about surveys establishing the food preferences correlated to voting patterns. So supporters of Hillary Clinton shop at Whole Foods and like Kashi cereal; Obama supporters like Boca burgers, olive oil, and Panera; and McCain supporters shop at Safeway and like crunchy chocolate chip cookies. Political operatives who were interviewed mainly said they didn't know how to make use of this info.


Jen of A2eatwrite said...

That last bit on the political operatives is hysterical. What I would make of it is that her supporters have enough money to shop at Whole Foods and to afford Kashi products.

Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) said...

I too am stunned that so many supporters of Clinton and Obama are shopping for high-end foods at high-end stores! Rather than some of the campaign debates, perhaps we should put all of the candidates in a supermarket for 30 minutes, let them shop, then make them cook something!

Mae Travels said...

The raw data is amusing, but in fact I was more interested in the manipulative aspect as in Karl Rove's microtargeting.

Quote: "Although gender, religion and other basic personal data are much more valuable for pollsters, information about eating — along with travel and hobbies — are in the second tier of data used to predict how someone might vote, he said.

"So, for example, Mr. Mann [the pollsster] knows that someone who subscribes to lots of gourmet cooking magazines is more likely to be a Democrat or at least more open to progressive causes. That can help a campaign decide if it’s worth spending money courting that person’s vote."

If you like Dr.Pepper, you must be a Republican. "Obama has 'the arugula vote.'"

Besides being a bit threatening, it sounds like a parlor game on steroids!