November 12, 2008

More Fights!

RoBeast vs. Blogger
I switched to Blogger because it was popular and everybody was doing it. It was also convenient because I was slowly moving all of my services over to Google anyway, and I would be able to just log myself in once while having continued access to Gmail, Picasa, Calendar, Blogger, etc. Blogging on Myspace was horrible and on Facebook, it's still non-existent. Here, it's pretty straightforward, but I still find plenty to bitch about.

Right now, I'd like to (possibly again) complain about the fact that I can't respond to individual blog comments. Four or five people responded to yesterday's entry, but I can't acknowledge their contributions without either commenting myself four of five times and hope that they keep desperately refreshing the talkback page (which no one should be expected to do) or start a whole new entry to respond. That's what I've chosen to do, but that's flawed for a few reasons. First, once I hit "publish post," the case is closed. If someone else responds to the last entry, then it's too late. I won't be editing this entry to reflect every new fucking comment that comes my way because then it gets back to the Desperate Refresh Theory. Also, I would never get to any actual content because I would spend the whole time going back and forth with comments. Not that we even get that many comments, but thanks to the flawed comment system, people are discouraged from commenting in the first place because they know a meaningful dialogue will not occur. And I'm not going to track down everyone's email address or blog and write back that way.


RoBeast vs. Urban Dictionary
I submitted a word to Urban Dictionary on 8/29, and it was finally published/accepted on 10/18. What's the hold up all of the sudden? Am I to believe that the site is so popular now that the "editors" are deliberating on words for two months? Or are they just oversaturated with bullshit "words" that Teen Girl Squads and Juggalos keep submitting? I've mentioned before that the site has been going downhill for a while. Is it so hard to just require people to register in order to submit new words? You already need to be registered to edit anyway.

Or do they just think my word sucks? If so, then editors should be required to reject words and specify a reason. I know it doesn't suck though. It's not a 5-star, but then neither am I. Anyway, here's bagside.

RoBeast vs. Dr. Pepper Snapple Group
Hello, I stock my company's cooler several times a week with quite a number of your products. I noticed several months ago that the packaging quality of a specific brand has gone downhill. We order dozens of cases of Snapple bottles, and cans of RC Cola, Diet Rite, 7-Up Diet 7-Up, and Dr. Pepper. It's been in my experience that the six packs of Dr. Pepper and Diet Dr. Pepper become unhinged much easier than your other line's soda cans. I suppose this would be considered a convenience if I were just dealing with a six pack in my fridge at home and I was in a hurry to get a can to drink, but I'm handling a large number of six-packs every day, and I'd really prefer consistent strength and flexibility over speed. I performed a very unscientific test earlier today make sure there was any basis for my informing you of this problem. I handled and shook 6-packs of all your different brands with different degrees of roughness and sure enough, the Dr. Pepper packs fell apart every time. This was especially evident if I removed one can from the pack, as if to simulate loading a cooler--another one would almost immediately fall out of the plastic holder. The other brands did not have the same result. I don't quite understand the problem because the cans and plastic holders all seem to look the same to me across brands. Are Dr. Pepper cans somehow heavier or differently shaped? Is there a difference in the six-pack rings not visible to the naked eye? Are they packaged in different plants? Does the shrink wrap or lack thereof make a difference? I'm genuinely curious. It's not a serious issue for my company because we order so much (and give them away to our employees rather than sell the drinks), but it's very annoying on a personal level when the Dr. Pepper can inevitably slips away from my grasp, explodes on the floor, and covers me in sweet shrapnel. I urge you to look into this before more lives are lost. I mean, Dr. Pepper cans are spilled. Thanks for listening.

RoBeast vs. RoBeastress
No, I did not forget the clever addition to our argument from your Award Winning Mother™. I just felt it detracted from the story. But here it is anyway for loyal BaTR readers:

When the RoBeastress' father offered up Two and Pair to the argument, and we could not immediately distinguish a difference, I brought up that we had considered amending the postulate to "No two adjectives have exactly the same definition." The RoBeastress' Award Winning Mother™ immediately challenged the backpeddle: "How about Two-y and Pair-y?"

Hilarious, but we must move on.

RoBeast vs. RoBeastress II: Special Guest Referee General Dowd
Hmm... sauce... This opens up a whole different can of worm dip.

Sauce - 1. flavorful relish or dressing or topping served as an accompaniment to food.

First, I forgot about topping, so now I want to know what the difference between dressing and topping is.

Topping - 1. A sauce, frosting, or garnish for food.

Holy fuck, this just gets worse.

Frosting - 1.frosting a flavored sugar topping used to coat and decorate cakes

Ok, that's the end of the line for frosting, and it even came with a little picture of a cake.

Garnish - 1b. An embellishment added to a prepared food or drink for decoration or added flavor.

So a garnish is something that is not a required ingredient for the already prepared food. It may enhance the flavor, but it is distinguished as serving a decorative purpose. Frosting is a very specific garnish, requiring flavored sugar. Some may argue that frosting is a required ingredient for a cake, but they'd be wrong, motherfucker!

(By the way, the dictionary notes that frosting and icing are regional words meaning the same thing: "Regional Note: Although both frosting and icing are widespread, people in New England, the Upper Midwest, and the Western U.S. tend to put frosting on cake. In Pennsylvania, New Jersey, the Lower Midwest, and all of the South, the preferred term is icing. There is some overlap, especially in upstate New York, Michigan, and California, but the regions in which the two words predominate are surprisingly distinct. A few people in the South call it by a third name, filling, even when it goes on top." I have a few other things to talk about now...
  1. You would think that with the dictionary basically saying frosting and icing are the same word with only "regional use" as the difference, it would completely invalidate my whole argument that no two words are the same. The RoBeastress and I, for a reason I can't remember, decided early on to excuse "regional use" as a valid difference. It's like saying "dog" and "perro" are two words that mean the exact same thing. I believe we've agreed that our argument needs to stay within one lexicon.
  2. If you are from the South and you call a topping filling, what the fuck is wrong with you? Maybe in your belly it's filling, but as long as it remains atop the food, just choose a topping term, or secede from the Union already. Or subscribe to the RoBeastress' blog which also defies all logic by not existing.
  3. Frosting and icing are also widespread in the Dessert Regions of the US Southwest. Huh huh, get it?! Yeah, not funny.)
Ok, we're done with the Garnish Crime Family, I think. (Sounds like a joke, I know, but I spent the other morning studying the hierarchy of the Sopranos families, a completely fictional universe.) Let's get back to the topping and sauce hiearchy. I'm putting topping befittingly at the top of the chain. Sauce refers to something with a liquid component. Topping can contain either or both (Oh Beauty, we need Venn diagrams!).

(I just read on Wikipedia that sauce for a salad is called salad dressing. They also have separate sections for Salad Dressing and Garnish on the salad page. There are now more arguments:
  1. If Salad Dressing does not fall under the Garnish category (which correctly includes ingredients not required for a salad such as bacon bits, croutons, etc.) then does that mean Salad Dressing is in fact a requirement to call a dish a salad?
  2. If that's true then the RoBeastress broke two laws of physics: A. dipping a carrot into a dressing, and B. eating a "salad" without salad dressing. Double Jeopardy!
  3. And if that's the case, than I'm just as bad for calling it a "salad" myself. And even worse, I usually don't eat salad with dressing.
  4. This is Wikipedia though and should really be discredited as a source.
  5. I'm not italicizing anything for a while because this is starting to become real work, and I'm certainly not getting paid for this.)
I tend to treat salad dressing as a garnish, but if dressings are sauces, then here is the big classification question: Are sauces a necessary ingredient for a dish? If yes, then dressing falls safely under sauce. If no, then dressing and sauce are a garnish, just like frosting.

A minor problem here involves another type of dressing--stuffing (and we're back in italics again), and I mean both as nouns. I was thinking the root origins of dressing meant a protective coat, much like dressing a wound keeps the blood in, dressing your body keeps your junk in, and dressing a salad means keeping the, I don't know, I guess it doesn't mean that at all. Dressing a turkey means stuffing it (now I'm using verbs), where the turkey body is acting to protect the dressing/stuffing. And this is mostly solid matter as far as I'm concerned, which would make it not a sauce anymore. What is in dressing? I sort of want to eradicate the term dressing as a synonym for stuffing. Did someone in the fucking South popularize that too?

I'm going to back up a bit. A lot actually, because I know this is going too far. Most of my preconceived notions regarding what dressing is came from linking it to the definitions of dress that involve coating something, but I see that in the sense of a sauce, it does not necessarily mean that. Dip the Noun hearkens back to the definition of Dip the Verb. It can certainly be classified by its method of application. Dressing, I feel is so obviously the same, but I just can't find any evidence to back it up. The language world is so vague about dressing. Sauce can be defined with sensation (flavorful), consistency (liquid), and dimension (accompanying food), but I just can't get that out of Dressing. I feel like I'm in limbo.

Relish - 3. a. A spicy or savory condiment or appetizer, such as chutney or olives.

Condiment - A substance, such as a relish, vinegar, or spice, used to flavor or complement food.

I feel like I should put condiment atop the hierarchy now because it seems to encompass the universes of sensation and consistency. It neglects the dimension of topping though. And also, the fact that condiment is a compliment makes me think it's not a requirement, hence, a garnish when applied to a dish. So if a condiment is a garnish, and a relish is a condiment, and a sauce is a relish, and a topping is a sauce, and frosting is a topping, then ALL OF THESE THINGS ARE GARNISHES. What does that prove? Nothing! But now we know that Garnish tops the hierarchy.

Or does it?

Hey, let's see what Auguste Escoffier thinks!

In Le Guide culinaire,[3] Auguste Escoffier divides Seasoning and Condiments into the following groups:


  1. Saline seasoningsSalt, spiced salt, saltpeter.
  2. Acid seasoningsPlain vinegar, or same aromatized with tarragon; verjuice, lemon and orange juices.
  3. Hot seasoningsPeppercorns, ground or coarsely chopped pepper, or mignonette pepper; paprika, curry, cayenne, and mixed pepper spices.
  4. Saccharine seasonings—Sugar and honey.


  1. The pungentsOnions, shallots, garlic, chives, and horseradish.
  2. Hot condiments—Mustard, gherkins, capers, English sauces, such as Worcestershire, Harvey, ketchup, etc. and American sauces such as chili, Tabasco, A-1 Steak Sauce, etc.; the wines used in reductions and braisings; the finishing elements of sauces and soups.
  3. Fatty substances—Most animal fats, butter, vegetable greases (edible oils and margarine).
This is especially awesome because on my little chart that I've been attempting to draw to go along with this ridiculous conversation, I had divided Garnish into Condiments and Seasonings. Clearly, I was onto something, though I had no idea what. From there, I was attempting to classify Condiments into Sensation (sweet, savory, sour, salty) or Consistency (solid, liquid), but I just could not come up with something consistent (ironically?). Auguste apparently could not either, as he divided his into two completely different forms of Sensation (one scent and one taste) and one Category of Consistency on its own. His Seasonings category, in my opinion, is more clearly classified, but still we have that "hot" category I hadn't even considered (and usually don't consider when I order food). I feel that logically, I can still put Garnish at the top of the food chain (the food chain that is served with food, at least), though I have no idea what Auguste would think about that.

All right... so how do we apply my questions to Auguste's system? Sauce, we can agree, is a condiment. Sauces can be divided up into 4 categories according to 19th century chef Antonin Carême (Auguste would later further change the categories):
  • Tomato Sauce, Based on tomato thickeners used such as arrowroot, tomato puree, roux and slurries
  • Béchamel, based on milk, thickened with roux.
  • Espagnole, based on brown stock (usually veal), thickened with a dark roux.
  • Velouté, based on a white stock, thickened with roux.
Dips can fall under many of these different categories though. Soy sauce... hot condiment. Melted butter or Olive Oil... fatty substances. Fondue... Bechamel. Salad dressings seem to be able to fit in all over the map too. Does any of this prove anything? Christ, I don't even know anymore. It seems that these great chefs really had no interest in dividing things into Dimension like I do. They cared more about Sensation and Consistency. And as much as I would love to claim the Dictionary is on my team, it's just not. It defines Dip clearly, but not Dressing.

So for now, General Dowd wins. Sauce for all.

If I still have the energy, maybe I'll get into Brunch for ya tomorrow, Ken.

1 comment:

Jay Amabile said...

this is a quite thorough explantation and it was quite enjoyable to read. I never knew about the filling/topping thing. Those savages.