Exclusive Excerpt: Culinary Code: A Guide to Food Acronyms

Whether you are conversing with a friend on instant messenger while searching for recipes online, texting from your smartphone while cooking, or tweeting from your favorite restaurant, you need to know how to communicate quickly and succinctly. In-the-know, technologically-savvy gastronomes use these acronyms to convey key culinary information using the latest technology.

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Pete Wells, PONTIFICATE, and the “21” Club

I recently published an excerpt from my new book Comfort Me with Offal, Ruth Bourdain’s Guide to Gastronomy in which I shared PONTIFICATE, the simple mnemonic device that is used by all restaurant critics when writing reviews.

New York Times restaurant critic Pete Wells has just published a wonderful review of the venerable “21” Club. Let’s see how PONTIFICATE works in practice for this master reviewer of restaurants:

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Exclusive Excerpt: “The Dish: The Language of Food”

Food is not just food. It’s a repository for the food critic’s deepest desires, subconscious dreams, secret fears, and eternal longings. The responsibility of the food critic is to tease out those hidden meanings, reflect on past relationships, and explore the very meaning of life. Even if the critic is presented with a simple bowl of macaroni and cheese, never underestimate the opportunity for gastronomic genuflection.

All critics use a simple mnemonic device for creating descriptions of dishes that goes by the easy-to-remember acronym PONTIFICATE. Each letter of the word refers to a specific facet of the dish that must be addressed in the critic’s review. Let’s take a look at how a critic might use this device to describe a dish of braised short ribs with potato and turnip puree.

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Exclusive Excerpt: “A Zest for Life”

Throughout Comfort Me with Offal, I have included some memorable stories from my own personal history in the world of food and wine. Here is an exclusive excerpt from the book in which I recount the unforgettable night I got gastrostoned with chef Mario Batali and learned the mind-bending pleasures of smoking tangerine zest for the very first time.

May 1999

NEW YORK, New York

“Have you ever smoked mozzarella?” Mario asked, eyes twinkling as he cocked his head to the side.

“Never,” I told him. I’d eaten smoked mozzarella, but never made it myself.

“Well, then, you’ve got to try it,” he declared. “Come in the kitchen.”

So, I followed Mario over from the dining room to Babbo’s kitchen and into the walk-in, where he pulled out a tray full of beautiful white, glistening braids of mozzarella. He grabbed two of them and a paring knife, and I followed him back into the dining room.

“Now what?” I asked him, as he pulled out a massive bong.

“Now we smoke,” he said.

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And it’s not only chefs. Ruth Bourdain skewers critics, consumers, and restaurant staff. You’ll see yourself somewhere in this book. Maybe you’re a Carniwhore, a fan of sexy butchers—BILFs. Perhaps you know a Dining Digerati who won’t eat without blogging. I fear I may be a burgeoning Yeasthead, searching after the perfect artisan loaf. And wherever you sit, according to Ruth Bourdain, it’s open season on sommeliers, after all, everyone feels inferior to the sommelier.

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