Saturday, January 8, 2011

Food Fraud

Food fraud, it's something that happens all over the world. Countless amounts of tourists and even locals have fallen victim to it. Food fraud, is exactly what it sounds like, food which possess characteristics of authenticity, but in reality is over-priced, poor quality, and a misrepresentation of the item it's attempting to mimic. For instance, tourists flock to Italy for world-famous culinary indulgences and the Italians are very well aware of their cultural allure and the capital that can be made. In the piazzas these restaurants are lined up, shoulder to shoulder, competing for customers. They use the illusion of falsified romanticism covered in pink table cloths and lace to capture the pedestrians' attention. Most, sadly, are ignorant to the over-priced and ill-prepared food they are about to happily digest.

During my time in Italy, I did my best to recognize the signs of food fraud, but back here, in the United States, I was woefully duped in my very own neighborhood, Culver City. Meet Restaurant, a so-called "French bistro" is anything but. It's cozy exterior and warm lighting enticed me, and in a hypnotic haze I decided to eat there. I wish I could say the food was boring, but that would be an over-exaggeration. The cheapness was palpable and the prices were insulting--my artichoke didn't even pretend to have never been frozen. As I disappointingly played with my food I looked around me to find families and even dates filling the restaurant to a moderate capacity. They seemed content--I suppose in this case ignorance is bliss.

Right next-door to Meet is Saint Amour--a bistro so authentic that even the French waiters ignore their tables for just the right amount of time; enough to be annoyed but not to leave. Saint Amour's menu is creative and comforting. It's filled with such treats rarely found in The United States, as Ris de Veau, seared sweetbread, frisee, capers, and lemon, and Cassoulet de Toulouse, duck leg confit, sausage, and white beans. The few bites of these dishes that I stole from my dinner companion were delightful. For my main course I ordered Boeuf Bourguinon, red wine braised beef cheeks, carrots, and gnocchi. The beef cheeks were cooked so precisely that it almost literally melted in my mouth. For dessert I indulged my sweet-tooth with a Croustade, which was warm and just right--if I wasn't in public I might have licked the plate afterwards. Also the prices were reasonable for the food and quality served. All-in-all Saint Amour was a refined remedy to Meet.

Narcissistically yours,

1 comment:

  1. Get them fraudsters, Danielle! Nothing we hate more than being milked and served crap masquerading as haute cuisine.