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  • 4th Aug, 2005 at 12:05 PM

I was reading Google's web-log today when I encountered a notice that they were hiring chefs. If you didn't know, Google offers free meals to employees, which is an excellent way to (a) keep them at work and (b) keep them healthy.

Now I have no intentions of working as a professional cook. But I do note that their menus are sort of ludicrous. I mean, take a look at this:

Jasmine Rice
Jasmine-scented rice steamed to perfection.

Do you see anything wrong with this? The first thing that's horrible is that Thai Jasmine rice doesn't smell of jasmine. It's otherwise known as "scented rice", "fragrant rice", or "aromatic rice". But the worst is that this rice is apparently "steamed to perfection."

Would you expect a professional cook to steam rice improperly? I would hope not. Especially if you're in a professional kitchen that can afford massive fuzzy-logic rice cookers. Yet I observe, more and more often, that restaurant menus are suffering from adjectives of Dickensonian proportions.

For the sanity of your customers, please stop listing almost, but not quite, everything. A simple "Pad Thai (ผัดไทย)" is far better than "Pad Thai noodles stir-fried with yellow and red bell peppers, garlic, ginger, shiitake mushrooms, cilantro and Thai basil."



( 16 comments — Leave a comment )
4th Aug, 2005 16:22 (UTC)
It is all about marketting.

Seriously though; you say 'steamed', I think of LBP's steamed hot dogs, and I think 'no'. 'steamed to perfection', well that must have been done by a professional chef and edible.

As for your Pad Thai.. Suppose I am a typical Google employee (it is possible...), I have no clue what a Pad Thai is. Tell me it has bell peppers, noddles, and mushrooms and I may just eat it.

4th Aug, 2005 16:28 (UTC)
I think it may be a ploy to point out the differences with a "regular" cafeteria, which, I can assure you, can indeed fail to steam rice properly. "Come to Google! We won't destroy the rice!"
4th Aug, 2005 16:40 (UTC)
Now if the adjectives are of Lovecraftian proportions, that would be fantastic.

If the menu takes longer to read than for me to eat the food, I will refuse to eat it.
4th Aug, 2005 17:21 (UTC)
Will you eat the menu instead?
4th Aug, 2005 17:23 (UTC)
Depends on whether I'm constipated that day.
4th Aug, 2005 19:43 (UTC)
I usually ignore the menus and just look around and see grab what seems appealing. +)
4th Aug, 2005 17:08 (UTC)
Well, you do want an ingredients list. I love Pad Thai, but if I had a shrimp allergy I would want to know that they were in there. I would especially want to know by some other method than trying it to find out!
4th Aug, 2005 17:31 (UTC)
Except nobody actually puts the full list of ingredients on their menus. That would be silly. For instance, Pad Thai would probably be listed as (out of order):
Rice flour, water, whole eggs, salt, sugar, peanuts, peanut oil, fish paste, shrimp paste, MSG, sodium benzoate, scallions, chives, fermented soya beans, lime juice, red chiles, yellow and red bell peppers, garlic, ginger, shiitake mushrooms, cilantro and Thai basil.
Looks good on a menu, doesn't it?

By the time you have an allergy, you're probably going to ask if that food has any of the things you're allergic to in it. And if you work at Google, the cooks will probably know you after a while.
4th Aug, 2005 20:59 (UTC)
If the chef uses MSG or sodium benzoate then

1) they aren't a chef, and
2) I'm not eating it.
4th Aug, 2005 21:12 (UTC)
The fish sauce, which is a standard ingredient, possibly has either of those two things.

And poking my head into Chinese kitchens in Hong Kong, even the very good ones used a hint of MSG in everything.
4th Aug, 2005 22:29 (UTC)
MSG is a substitute for using low quality foods. I always take it as a bad sign. You are right that it may well appear in the fish sauce. I was thinking of primary ingredients.
4th Aug, 2005 22:40 (UTC)

MSG is not an indicator of low quality foods. It's a seasoning ingredient in the samee class as salt, sugar and fat. MSG is very umami, which makes it a good way to bring out the richness in food.

The reason why you see all four of those seasonings in prepared food is that they taste good. Which covers up the poor quality of the instant food.

But there's little reason to shy away from appropriately seasoning good food.
4th Aug, 2005 17:19 (UTC)
Jasmine Rice
Jasmine-scented rice steamed to perfection.

Hahaha, you make it sound like a restaurant in Kitchener-Waterloo. One where the rice will be mushy.
4th Aug, 2005 18:50 (UTC)
I think it might be an American thing. Or maybe a Silicon Valley thing. I eat with a lot of picky eaters and they're always asking "what's in this?" because they can't eat nuts or they hate cilantro or don't want onions, etc. They might even avoid eating something that doesn't list the ingredients because they don't want to be bothered to ask. I agree that a partial list is worse than a complete one, though.

A lot of places we go to have started noting whether something has nuts. I don't know whether the FDA requires or merely suggested that food products list whether they may contain nuts, but it's been seeping into restaurants as well. It's all part of that whole American attitude that everyone else is responsible for making sure you don't do something that will cause you harm.
4th Aug, 2005 19:12 (UTC)
long line
It's a good thing the line is always too line for me to eat the Jasmine rice.

-- Jim
5th Aug, 2005 15:54 (UTC)
Listing ingredients
Simon, ingredients are listed for those who may be allergic to certain elements.
( 16 comments — Leave a comment )