The food gap

Last week I spent some time doing library research, an increasingly rare activity for me in the age of digitized sources. Looking at early 1980s issues of a major restaurant trade journal I was struck by how unappetizing the food looked. The problem may have been partly due to poor photography but it was also due to the way food was presented, including how it was discussed. My reaction was so strong that I began to wonder briefly why I had ever been attracted to eating in restaurants.

It wasn’t the first time I experienced distancing from how restaurant trade magazines approach food. It has often seemed to me that there is a deep gulf separating how home cooks think about food as compared to how the restaurant industry – as reflected in trade journalism – does.

Here’s an example. What do you see in the image above of an excessively grill-marked steak accompanied by geometrically arranged onion rings and a yellowy triangle of Texas toast? The photo was part of an advertisement for portion-controlled steaks, accompanied by the text below. I have italicized the words that I find bizarre and alienating.

“Our luscious Longhorn shown above is a mildly marinated USDA Choice steak that provides consistently plump plate coverage at a slim cost. Like our Black Diamond, Sunset Strip and Steak for 2, it offers minimal cooking shrinkage, no waste and is highly merchandiseable as a steak you’ll proudly call your own.”

Nice silverware though.

© Jan Whitaker, 2017

7 Comments

Filed under food, restaurant industry

7 responses to “The food gap

  1. Heh, it’s interesting to see the behind-the-scenes thought processes in any industry. This is certainly different from how the end product would be marketed to the consumer.

  2. Pingback: The food gap — Restaurant-ing through history – Explorer…

  3. Yeah that’s gross but a good thing about eighties restaurant food is that the boneless chicken breasts were nice and small and tender. We used to get 6 ounce breasts, which were a half a breast, or a double 8 ounce breast. They weren’t huge and spongy and yellow pumped up with God’s know what, like they are now…

  4. Even small Mom ‘n’ Pops need a steak on the menu for that guy who just doesn’t want a burger. And this way QC isn’t an issue. Sysco delivers.

  5. Jane Alexander

    One very good reason that you were attracted to eating in restaurants is the cooking odors they send out in the air to grab you as you go by.

    On Sun, Jun 4, 2017 at 1:22 PM, Restaurant-ing through history wrote:

    > victualling posted: ” Last week I spent some time doing library research, > an increasingly rare activity for me in the age of digitized sources. > Looking at early 1980s issues of a major restaurant trade journal I was > struck by how unappetizing the food looked. The problem m” >

  6. Karen H.

    Yum! Plate coverage!

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