Wednesday, December 28, 2011
The master chefs at Food Service Direct bring you Artisan Reeses Peanut Butter Cookies. Or did the skilled craftspeople at Reeses bring you these? It's all so confusing in the artisan world of poorly placed modifiers.
In any case, I love the web copy on these: "This Big and Chunky 5 inch cookie is loaded with creamy peanut butter and honey roasted peanuts. Wearing Reeses Peanut Butter chunks on top, it beckons your guests to buy the ultimate peanut butter experience. Reeses is the number one selling candy in the country."
It has it all: Random word capitalization, creepy anthropomorphic imagery ("wearing" chunks??) and the USDA recommended daily allowance of puffery bullshit. Also, too, if someone is your guest, why they hell are you making them BUY the cookie??
Finally, in the 30 plus ingredients - about half way in - we have, and I am not joking, "Non Fat Milk" followed directly by "Milk Fat".
...words fail me.
Thursday, December 1, 2011
Bleargh. While the website says it's a soup base, to me it looks more like some kind of construction material. Like a giant, paste-filled lego.
From the web copy: "The perfect start for your signature cream soups and chowders begins with this lightly seasoned creamy broth." If it's YOUR signature soup, why are you starting with a cream lego from Campbell's? And why is the first ingredient in this "artisan soup base" water? It's soup - I can and will add my own damn water.
To their credit, there is actually cream in there. Right before "modified milk ingredients". ...And about 12 ingredients in front of "Disodium Inosinate and Disodium Guanylate".
Oh, and in case you are not as good an artisan as the fine folks at Campbell's, they actually have a recipe suggestion for your soon-to-be signature soup. I don't normally paste in a second photo, but in this case, I feel I must. Because the recipe actually says it "tastes as good as it looks!"
Ahem. I bring you "Green Pea Pancetta Soup."
But wait! There's more! Ingredients in said soup? A cream lego, water, pancetta, onion and frozen peas.
You may vomit now.
Thursday, November 24, 2011
I swear on the cryogenically frozen body of Sam Walton that I did not make this up. SAMS Club now features entire "artisan" meals. Wait - did Sam Walton freeze himself or am I getting him confused with Walt Disney? Whatever. You could eat either one of their frozen bodies and it would be a more artisan meal than what I just uncovered.
You - yes, you - can now fool your family into thinking you attended the Cordon Bleu by presenting them with such artisanal classics as Broccoli Cheddar Rice, Homestyle Green Bean Casserole and my favorite, Decadent Cake Balls. ...all Artisan Fresh™
It doesn't really seem like we should need a whole rule for this, but I am not above another seemingly obvious rule: If it contains fried onions from a can it is not artisan.
The description of the aforementioned artisan casserole? "Green bean casserole that is made with real crimini mushrooms and onions in a creamy mushroom sauce, topped with French-fried onions. Read to heat and serve in 8 minutes."
I presume they meant "ready" to heat and serve, although, thinking about it, maybe they did mean read. If you need to buy prepared green bean casserole, you might need to carefully read a set of instructions for heating it up. But let's leave that for a moment. What really stands out is how proud they are of the "real" mushrooms and onions that are then mixed with whatever the hell else is in the mushroom sauce, mentioned separately.
Oh, SAMS Club. Did you really need to give me another reason to hate you?
OK, fine. But did you need to give me seven menus worth? You had me at cake balls.
Thursday, November 10, 2011
First off, corn is a plant. And rule four says, if a plant made it, it ain't artisan.
I would stop there, but I can't. It simply must be mentioned that kettle corn is carnie food. If there is any tradition at all related to it, it involves inbred, grifter hillbillies. Are you an inbred, grifter hillbilly, Angie? ARE YOU?!
The kettle corn comes in three flavors, Classic, Caramel and Lite. The Caramel includes "natural flavor" in the ingredients. And Lite? "Lite" is not even a flavor. And it sure as shit is not a real word, applicable to artisan anything.
Angie, you may not be an inbred hillbilly, but you are, most definitely, a grifter. I suggest you put your coffee cans fulll of money into your Winnebago and skip town before the people catch on.
Thursday, November 3, 2011
Artisan Cola Soda Syrup. Really. For you to craft Artisan Sodas at home.
If you even think of buying this stuff, you're a jerk. And I don't mean that in some clever, soda-related double entendre. I mean you're a complete and utter dipshit.
If I wanted to get all Wikipedia on this, I am sure I could prove that the original colas were snake oil medicine tonics. And I think we could all agree that while conning suckers out of their money is an art, the stuff you sell them is not actually artisan. But I don't even care that you can' t have artisanal medicine - I care that cola beverages have never been anything other than mass produced, corporatized drek. Ever. That is the opposite of artisan.
Two more things. One, the website copy: "Handcrafted in small batches in Northern California wine country, these American artisan syrups in Cola, Lemon Lime and Root Beer flavors recall the old-fashioned sparkling drinks of yesteryear." ...Well, thank Baby Jesus! I was completely unable to find any of those exotic, antique beverages in modern day America!
And two, from the "news" part of their website in Sept 2010: Big news! Oprah loves our products...
Oh, the places I could go with that. But let's just say, case closed on artisan soda syrup.
Sunday, October 30, 2011
First, the product: This is essentially two flat pitas that sat too close together on the tray and morphed into a Siamese bread product. You put junk on one half, fold it, and suddenly you have a sandwich twice as big as the one you would have had by folding a single flatbread - but with only exactly the same amount of work. Genius! And let's get real - you only have two minutes of commercials to get that sandwich made before the Kardashians come on again. You cannot be expected to lift a second piece of bread all the way off the counter to cover the first one.
Next, we have to look at some of the copy: "For max taste, just Foldit!" This makes me want to burn a random ad agency to the ground. Really. And while we're dissecting it, if I fold it, am I not the artisan here? I don't think YOU origami your bread.
Lastly, I need to paste in a few of the more than 25 ingredients:MALTITOL, SODIUM ACID PYROPHOSPHATE, WHEAT PROTEIN ISOLATE, FUMARIC ACID, PRESERVATIVES (POTASSIUM SORBATE, SODIUM PROPIONATE), CELLULOSE GUM, GUAR GUM, CALCIUM SULFATE, XANTHAN GUM, SALT, L-CYSTEINE, CALCIUM PEROXIDE, ENZYMES.
While that is literally a mouthful, I must direct your attention to one in particular: L-Cysteine. This is a dough conditioner made out of, wait for it...
wait for it...
This isn't bread...it is Artisan Soylent Green.
Friday, October 28, 2011
OK, to be fair, the marketing geniuses at Neiman Marcus did not attempt to classify the actual Oreo cookies as artisan. But to charge $50 for 15 Oreo cookies, they had to put the word in there, somewhere. ...So they are "artisan-decorated."
Can I just repeat? F-I-F-T-Y D-O-L-L-A-R-S. For one sleeve of Oreos. I am in the wrong damn business.
Did you get a good look at these things? What exactly is artisan about sticking three cashews on the top? Are the nuts arranged in a feng shui manner that will bring happiness to the digestive corner of your stomach? Because really, to the untrained eye, it looks like some mommy blogger just had "Culinary Day" instead of her normal homeschooling. (Apologies to my mommy blogging, homeschooling friends.)
I suppose "artisan-decorated" is not as egregious as an outright co-opting of the artisan food label. But I feel it bears saying on last time. FIFTY DOLLARS! And they didn't even use artisan fucking sprinkles. FML.
Thursday, October 27, 2011
I remember when we first met. I was on my sofa, you were on Top Chef, and you had me at "monkey ass in an empty clam shell." Lordy! Those days were magical.
But time has passed, and now, well, it feels like I don't even know you anymore. Domino's Artisan Pizza? DOMINO'S ARTISAN PIZZA???!!!
Domino's? Well, I can understand them. They've always been ass hats. The douche who owns them funnels profits into Operation Rescue, and using "artisan" is a pretty much an autobahn to more profits. But Fabio, you should realize that when you combine pizza and politics, you get shitty pizza. ...look at Herman Cain! Though, to be fair, if it got him votes, I think that dude might even top a pizza with fetus. Just my impression. And that shit would be hardcore artisan.
Oh, Fabio - look what you made me do, you made me digress!
You know what else you made me do? You made me rend my clothes and sit shiva. Yes, Fabio - my former love, my cheeky little monkey -- with this Domino's Artisan Pizza move, you are dead to me. May you be buried in a coffin that's a little too small so that some of your guts stick to the lid when it is opened.
Wednesday, October 26, 2011
Holy crap! My manufactured outrage has made it to the Huffington Post. I am like the Keith Olbermann of processed foods. And like our dear Mr. Olbermann, I had a meltdown that necessitated a little time off.
...Okay, not really I just got busy with the farm and not a little lazy about writing. But I am back--and I brought salad dressing!
Artisan Vinaigrette, to be exact.
I firmly place salad dressing of any sort, but especially vinaigrettes, into the category of, "any a-hole can make that." In fact, dressings reside next to soup in that filing system. A vinaigrette is just a little oil, a little acid and, if you feel like it, a little emulsifier - like mustard -whisked together in a haphazard way. In fact, someone once asked me for a recipe for my Greek lemon vinaigrette and I just stared at them incredulously before finally saying, "It's dressing. It doesn't have a recipe."
This particular vinaigrette looks like it is just crappy Caesar salad dressing with the anchovies and Parmesan chucked right into the blender. Crafty! But as any home-dressing knockabout knows, a true, homemade dressing will eventually separate into its component parts again. So these "artisans" put in a little to xanthan gum to keep it all thick and spoogy. Xanthan gum!
I would like to see the artisan vinaigrette makers in a cage match with the artisan lettuce folk. Naturally, they would fight to the death while we all chanted, "Two men enter, one man leaves!" When it was all over, the loser would have a shitty salad placed on his grave.
If the match was valiantly fought, we might even throw in a few artisan croutons.
Tuesday, August 23, 2011
From two time offender, Norman Bishop, I bring you Artisan Steak Sauce.
I feel like there is some zen-like chicken and egg thing going on here. If your steak is any good, you should cringe at the idea of steak sauce. And if your steak sauce is really that good, you shouldn't be putting it on crappy meat. A person who appreciates any kind of "fine food", well -- this stuff should just make their head explode, I think.
Beyond the fact that steak sauce was invented to cover shitty meat and therefore cannot be an artisan product, I think it's time to dig into the question, "Just who is this Norman Bishop?" A quick google search yields fascinating results. He may be an actor, he may be a hedge fund manager, he may even be a 36-year veteran of the National Park Service, stationed in Yellowstone. What I am not getting on the googler is proof that there is a Norman Bishop who apprenticed for many years under the great masters learning to make meat rubs and steak sauces.
Since master artisan Norman Bishop does not seem to exist, I'm going to go with this guy. And I am going to imagine that that spiffy necklace thing is his award for douchebaggery of the highest order. Right on, Norm.
Thursday, August 11, 2011
I think we've hit a new low. Artisan polenta? It's corn meal, people.
Can you guess what makes it artisan? Apparently, the price. This corn dust is $11.59 a pound. In US dollars. ELEVEN FIFTY NINE.
As a food activist, I often go on and on about how we are not paying the true cost of food, but really... $11.59?! For that price it better have been ground by the worn, nubby teeth of an authentic Piedmontese grandmother.
Polenta is peasant food. It is cornmeal mush - a dish historically eaten because poor people needed to fill their stomach with something before putting in a hard day's work. This is just batshit crazy.
And even though they are telling you it is stone-ground, let me assure you, it is not artisan. I can tell you from personal experience, pulverizing shit doesn't take a lot of skill. It just takes rage. Of which, once again, I am full-up.
Monday, August 8, 2011
Why can't they just be happy with organic as a modifier? That's pretty great. Seriously. It's great. But no, they HAD to go a step further, didn't they?
What makes their fruit artisan? Apparently the weather. Four seasons, cold winters, hot summers... Really? The weather makes you an artisan?
We are currently farming in the worst drought in Texas' recorded history. Excuse me if I I don't get on board with this particular piece of bullshit. In fact, were I inclined to say you could be an artisan farmer (which I most definitely am not) I think I would say that the farmers in Central Texas are the real artisans here, managing to coax food from the earth against all, very long and dispiriting odds. But I won't say that, instead I'll just say to the marketing folks at Stemilt, "I hate you and I hate your ass face."
Sunday, August 7, 2011
Are they serious? I've already raged on the fact I don't believe in artisan soup, but this isn't even soup -- it's just BROTH. At least the other package had noodles and some little dessicated carrot bits. You look at this stuff, and the three anemic slivers of celery and bias-cut carrots are just a "serving suggestion".
While you're looking at the package, scan up a little to the proud declaration, "Raised without antibiotics." What, your broth? Lived its natural broth-life without antibiotics? It grew up in the tough alleys of the stock-yards without succumbing to drugs? (Get it? Broth..."stock" yards... ...oh, forget it this stuff is so bad it's making ME suck.)
Finally, let's move to the web copy, which states,"Made from hand-picked ingredients in the chefs’ tradition of kettle cooking, our Artisan Roasted Chicken Broth boasts three times the protein of other natural chicken broths and can promote good digestion, strong joints and respiratory health."
Get that? Whereas other broth's ingredients are oft picked by robots, these are picked by hand. In the "kettle cooking" tradition. Seriously. What the hell? And I can't even begin to fathom how that process yields a broth with three times the protein. But it doeasn't really matter, because I ain't buying it. Even if a halal chicken "coupled" with root vegetables in it, (Thanks, unintentionally imagery-laden web copy!) it just isn't artisan.
Monday, July 4, 2011
I now see why every person with access to the interwebs who has ever made a loaf of bread is calling their result artisan: it's the flour. Surely if you start with artisan flour, you end up with artisan bread, no? Of course you do! Just ask the first 200 pages of google search matches for "artisan bread."
Glossing over the fact that flour is just ground up grain, and therefore is not an artisan product (rule four) let's dig deeper into this particular flour. It is bleached. Bleached! Or as the makers of this flour like to say, "scientifically cleaned."
This seems to come up a lot, so I am making a new rule. What are we on now, five? I don't feel like looking it up, so let's just call it five: If it took modern science to make, it is not artisan.
How does one bleach flour, you ask? (Or scientifically clean, if you prefer) - Using one of several available chemical agents, including benzoyl peroxide. Hm, benzoyl peroxide.... Benzoyl peroxide... Holy crap. There is Clearasil(R) in your bread!
I'm sorry. That's is just gross. And wildly unnecessary. ....kind of like Teff wraps.
Saturday, July 2, 2011
I mean stop living. Because really, it cannot be worth it.
In the cock-up that is the packaging for these awful little grain frisbees, they managed to resist calling them artisan for approximately 10,000 words, ...but then just couldn't help themselves when they got to the lower left corner. It's there: "6 artisan wraps".
These things, besides not being artisan, are an affront to flatbreads worldwide. Seriously. Even Jesus, with his infinite love and oft-proven willingness to show up on tortillas around the globe, would not get near a teff wrap.
In addition to being a violation in concept, there are numerous disqualifiers in the ingredients list: soy lecithin, colloid powder (cellulose gum, maltodextrin, carrageenan), guar gum, calcium propionate???
Wednesday, June 29, 2011
These jerks are going to add a new "artisan" vegetable every few months. I can just sense it.
From their website, "Each Artisan Red Onion is hand harvested, meaning we are able to offer an onion that looks fantastic and is of consistent quality."
Because I am guessing you may not be a farmer, allow me to clue you in on something. Almost all onions are hand harvested. Usually by undocumented immigrants who are paid insanely low wages. But this is not a food politics blog, so let's just leave it at the fact that mechanical harvesting is not exactly dominant in the onion world.
I can only guess that this new marketing ploy of calling their vegetables "artisan" is working, because just two months ago, their only artisan veg was lettuce. Yes, I predict a full, lengthy menu of artisan vegetables is on the way. And, personally, I cannot wait for the day when one of their hand harvesters takes an artisan shit in one of the many, many artisan fields and they have an artisan e. coli related recall.
Thursday, June 23, 2011
Oh, man - do I ever love the packaging on this. Really. No snark. That is sweet. But I think I can get past that to go for the jugular: Artisan Germinated Rice Flakes?
Germinating does not take an artisan. In fact, I have an old bag of potatoes germinating in my pantry right now. Of their own volition. I probably have garlic and onions germinating, too. I noticed that the country of origin on these is Thailand. They probably have the same issue I do in humid Houston, TX...Shit just starts germinating before you get a chance to eat it. That does not make us all artisans.
An what, exactly, is the point of germinating rice? From the website: "Germinated rice contains greater amount of a naturally occurring amino acid, known as Gamma Amino Butyric Acid (GABA) which helps to promote mind relaxation, ease nerve tension and stabilize blood sugar that makes it beneficial for diabetic."
Obviously the woo only works if you eat it, because right now this non-artisanal sprouted rice is promoting mind strain and jacking up my nerve tension.
So anyway, the ingredients here are: germinated brown rice, germinated red rice, germinated Hom Nin rice. Classic rule four violation. Verdict: ไม่ช่างฝีมือ (Not artisan)
(The Thai is a nice touch, no?)
Wednesday, June 22, 2011
Is it made of shrimp? ....Shrimp food crumble. It could be made of crumbled shrimp. But, ornamental? Does that mean you aren't supposed to really eat it? Like ornamental peppers? Classic artisan modifier/noun confusion - the word soup these products are often known for.
So I dug deeper. And it appears this is food to feed to your ornamental shrimp. ...Of course.
I really should just leave this alone. I can't say anything that would make this more amazing.
...except for the product description.
" Nature Shrimp Foods are specially formulated to provide your Shrimp with essential elements to boost their immune systems while providing a tasty, preservative free, well-balanced diet. All of Nature's formulas are non-clouding and will fit right into your normal feeding regime. You will not believe what fantastic color your shrimp will have! Only top quality ingredients are used. Crucial ingredients are de-hydrated to keep all the vitamins and nutrients in tact. Then, they are hand ground, blended, and precision mixed. Nature foods are slow oven baked at 190 degrees to retain the integrity of all the vitamins and minerals. Above 200 degrees the vitamins and trace elements would be lost. "
Jesus. Imagine if people put that much thought into what they put in their own bodies. This may not be artisan, but I award 1000 crazy points and a fair bit of respect for that kind of passion. Well done, Ornamental Shrimp Food Crumble Guys, well done.
Thursday, June 2, 2011
Sugar-free syrup. That's kind of like meat-free sausage -- which has already received an emphatic no vote on the artisan scale. But I am just talking concept here: sugar-free syrup. Freaking ludicrous. And then to claim it's artisan?? Absolutely punch-in-the-throat-worthy.
These "syrups" are made with Splenda. You know Splenda, right? The artisan sucralose based sugar replacer. Little old ladies use time-honored, family-cultivated methods to replace select hydrogen-oxygen groups on sucrose molecules with three chlorine atoms and voila! Calorie-free sweetener! (Thank you, Wikipedia!)
It's bad enough to call sugar-free syrup artisan, but look at the bottle on the left. Caramel. So you don't have to go look it up, let me just tell you that Splenda cannot be caramelized. Something to do with the chemical structure.
So to recap: Caramel syrup minus caramelization minus syrup = offensive bottle of viscous bullshit.
Let us never speak of this again.
Thursday, May 26, 2011
Originally, this blog post was to be just one word, "no". But as you've probably noticed, I can't be that succinct, nor can my snark be so easily contained. I am spoiling to drop an f-bomb, and feel almost cosmically cheated that I already used my quota on artisan sprinkles.
Artisan VEGAN sausages.
I am tempted to add a rule: If it is vegan it is not artisan. Fart's sake, people...There is no long history of faking real food by manipulating "vital wheat gluten". Really, there's not. You may be a clever (but more likely evil) food scientist to isolate "vital wheat gluten", but you are not an artisan.
These not-sages come in three varieties. The Italian says it is "traditionally seasoned with fresh eggplant". I am not going to actually google this, but I feel pretty confident in stating as fact that traditional Italian sausage does not contain eggplant. It contains PORK. And is stuffed into PIG INTESTINES.
If you ask me, the only way to make artisan vegan sausages is to hand grind the vegan yourself.
Wednesday, May 25, 2011
...but for Pete's sake it is not artisan!
The basic recipe is a wet, no-knead dough that - when properly baked - comes out with a snapping, crisp crust and dense interior. It is delightful. I eat it warm, even though the book says you shouldn't. I love it. Love it, love it, love it.
But I am just some asshole blogger. I am not an artisan. And if something takes only five minutes, it is not an art. Five minutes and no kneading! For real. I think you would have to at least knead the dough two or three times to even qualify for the "a" in artisan. This you mix only until wet and leave in the fridge until you're ready to cut off a hunk and bake it. That gets me the "a" in asshole.
I may have said this before, but I think bread and cheese are so often mis-characterized as artisan because they are two foods that really do have a huge segment of artisan products within them. I make both bread and cheese. One of those things for a living, even. But frankly, I am not an artisan. Oh -- my cheese is good. Really good, actually. But it is not artisan. And I really can be kind of an a-hole. ...but at least it is not because I claim to be an artisan when I am not.
Wednesday, May 18, 2011
These posers didn't even take the time to write a bad block of overwrought copy to convince you their little dessicated fruits are artisan. No- they just said the assortment is, "a great way to experience these unusual peppers before investing in larger quantities."
I don't know - I kind of respect them a little for that. I mean no bullshit; just one line saying, basically, "Yeah, this is some overpriced motherfucking pepper. Buy small now so you won't be pissed at us about it later."
It's good to know that some people out there are still able to appropriately feel shame.
Tuesday, May 17, 2011
From the website: "Masterfully grown on plantations in the South Pacific and the Bourbon (Reunion) Islands, ripened on the vine, cured carefully and bought to California, this 'Vanilla Panifola Andrews' and 'Vanilla Tahitensis' will create new taste sensations in all of your culinary adventures."
Jesus. Where to start? "Masterfully grown"? That's just idiotic. And frankly, it seems perilously close to taking credit from the farmer/orchid raiser, which is a whole new level of ass-hattery we have not seen before.
"On plantations"? Seriously?! Colonialist imagery is not a plus in my food. I am kind of a fair-trade girl. But I suppose the kind of person who would seek out "artisan extracts" would be really big on slavery, too. That's a generalization I am perfectly willing to make and stand behind.
"New taste sensations in all of your culinary adventures?" These people are clearly a bunch of puppy-eating elderly abusers.
Sunday, May 15, 2011
From the renowned artisans at Weight Watchers - whose previous offerings included diet cheese puffs and "Fruities" candies - we get Artisan diet pepperoni pizza. Now with extra artisan fillers!
Here is the ingredient list (Which, oddly, seems to be truncated, as it ends with a comma): Water, Wheat Flour, Low Fat Mozzarella Cheese (Milk, Nonfat Milk, Cultures, Modified Cornstarch, Salt, Enzymes), Tomato Paste, Pepperoni (Pork, Beef, Salt, Spices, Dextrose, Seasoning [Natural Spice Extractives, Paprika Oleoresin, Natural Smoke Flavoring,
When one of your ingredients is low fat cheese, your artisan battle is already lost. Low fat cheese is a crime against mammals. All lactating animals should take umbrage. In fact, it is a provision in the Geneva Convention protocols that prisoners of war cannot be fed low fat cheese. (It is possible I made this up - but Switzerland has some amazing cheeses, so - you know - could be true.)
The pepperoni goes down when we get to "oleoresin". That it goes on to "natural smoke flavoring", you know - as opposed to actually smoking the oleoresined shit, well---case closed on the pepperoni.
For me, the final nail in this pizza's coffin is the fact that the "sauce" appears to be nothing more than tomato paste. Which could be good news to the lunch lady from my elementary school cafeteria, I suppose, who may now qualify for retroactive artisan status for her Bisquick pizza recipe. I'll first send an email to Weight Watchers to make sure she's not the artisan responsible for this hot mess.
Friday, May 13, 2011
Did you catch that? Artisan Handcrafted Organic, Private Reserve Diamond 100% Pure Kona Coffee, Pure Luxury, Whole Bean.
When I was a cubicle farmer, we used to play Buzzword Bingo on conference calls. We would have a card filled with terrible marketing buzzwords like, "synergy", "core competencies", "leverage", etc. The only thing that made these calls bearable was the thought that if enough of these douchey words got thrown out there, we might win chocolate.
This coffee would provide someone a winning card in d-bag, faux-elitist, foodie buzzword bingo.
When you go to read more about the product, you get this:
· Perfect and supreme
· The finest you will ever taste
· Very rich and extremely smooth
· Flavor is truly extraordinary
...you know - in case you don't have bingo yet.
But wait! There's more!
Product description: "This coffee is to coffee lovers what the Aston Martin is to the automobile; perfect and supreme" - The Hollywood Reporter. What can we say? This incredible, rare, and truly superb coffee is the finest you will ever taste. Our Private Reserve DIAMOND 100% Pure Kona Coffee (8 oz Whole Bean) is very rich, extremely smooth (as smooth as velvet, actually) and should be sipped and savored like a fine port wine. The flavor profile is complex: Broad, yet distinctive, well rounded, yet not to be taken lightly. The depth of flavor is truly extrordinary (sic). Enjoy this coffee with special occasions, with an exquisite dessert following a superb meal, or just treat yourself (or someone special) to this incredible coffee experience."
Wednesday, May 11, 2011
Artisan croutons. If I had not already used my yearly allotment of f-bombs, I might have used one here. ARTISAN CROUTONS!
I worked in a grocery store bakery at age 16. In this brave new world, that apparently makes me an artisan. So let me tell you how I made the croutons.
Step 1: Collect all of the old, expired bread from the shelves.
Step 2: Run it through the slicer, one way for baguettes or both ways for loaf bread, to get cubes. (A definite OSHA violation, BTW, as the slicer was supposed to be off limits to the under 18 set)
Step 3: Drizzle with some kind of trans fat.
Step 4: Sprinkle with paprika and dried herbs.
Step 5: Bake.
Not one of those steps took skill. The old guy in the bakery didn't have to demonstrate technique to me. I didn't have to practice. He didn't have to give me the closely guarded secrets that he had accumulated in his decades as a master baker, save this one: "Croutons are just dead bread. Hurry up."
So, back to these particular croutons - I should point out that the package first calls them gourmet. Which is what I think most people mean when they misuse the word artisan. But then they go on to call them artisan as well. I want to chalk this up to a language issue since these seem to be some kind of French Canadian crouton, but realistically they are probably just intentionally exploiting the word artisan and being douchey - which I think, in French, is still douchey.
Tuesday, May 10, 2011
While I love to use salty language, I think it's important to reserve the f-bomb for truly egregious situations, otherwise it just loses its impact. So let me repeat: Artisan Fucking Sprinkles.
I also decided, when I started this project, that I would try to reserve my ire for large corporate interests. This breaks that rule. This is clearly a small company. But artisan sprinkles? I cannot give them a pass.
When you go to the site, this product is alternately referred to as sprinkles and sugar mix. Artisan fucking sugar mix. And what goes into an artisan sugar/sprinkle mix? Well, let's take the raspberry: Organic cane sugar and natural raspberry sprinkle mix.
Okaaaaayyyy... can we break that down further? Why, yes! Yes we can. Ingredients: Organic cane sugar, dried raspberries.
Seriously. I think I am having an aneurysm. a) They have called sugar artisan. b) They have called sprinkles artisan. c) They have called a dried raspberry a GD sprinkle and d) Both those things are made by plants. D is for d-bag!
I need to let this go now. I have blown my reserve of f-bombs and thus have been rendered speechless.
Monday, May 9, 2011
So, I was going to rip this apart by listing unpronounceable ingredients from the label, but it turns out the ingredients are simply not available on the world wide interwebs. (I did some more intensive googling.) WTF? What kind of artisan hides his carefully selected ingredients?
Whatever. We'll attack this from other flanks.
a) Ad copy. While not proof that their product is not artisan, it is at least proof they did not hire an artisan copywriter. From their website: "Reminiscent of the rustic hearth ovens of old world Italy, these crusts are crispy on the outside and tender on the inside." The crust is reminiscent of an oven? FAIL.
b) Photo. The photo of the product out of its package shows that the edges are irregular. It is not a perfect circle. I know, I know - that seems so genuinely artisan! But look closer and you'll see it doesn't really look like a pizza crust, either. It looks like a slab of pita bread loaded with dough conditioners. Bleargh. Really...even Boboli kicks this pizza's ass in street cred.
c) Concept. I may be willing to stretch my definition of artisan to include pizza. Maybe. But probably not. But if I did, a good "artisan" pizza would be cooked in scorchingly high heat in a wood fired oven. You can't par-bake the crust and chuck it in the freezer for later pizza making, to include further baking. Just not possible.
And so Freschetta, your artisan pizza crust is not. It is just a wobbly, over-sized pita suitable for topping with bile and hate. Of which I have plenty.
Sunday, April 24, 2011
You can be sure that if they don't understand that "everyday" and "indulgence" are dichotomous, then "artificially flavored" and "artisan" won't strike them as incongruous, either.
Also, as happens so often with these distinctly non-artisan products, I am wondering what the word artisan was meant to modify. The vanilla beans? Because that is a definite rule four violation. An orchid made those.
The ice cream? Because when your product contains any one of the following (and this puppy has them all) you are also disqualified: High Fructose Corn Syrup, Artificial Flavors, Cellulose Gel, Guar Gum, Cellulose Gum, Mono- and Diglycerides, Locust Bean Gum, Polysorbate 80 & Carrageenan.
This is so not artisan that it makes me want to go to Kroger and punch some random shelf stocker in the throat. Collective punishment is sometimes warranted.
Saturday, April 23, 2011
From their website: "Fully mature, yet petite in size, our Artisan Lettuce is a fresher alternative to spring mix and other bagged salads."
Wow. I naively thought freshness was measured in time. Turns out it is a measure of size! Which makes sense. A newborn baby is very small and is significantly fresher than my fully grown ass. Really-- don't get caught up in chronology -- it is the size. Because dwarfs? It's a scientific fact that dwarfs stay fresh way past middle age.
They go on to say that each head is "packed in the field and never processed". By processed, do they mean washed? Because that is not exactly a downside for me. I don't really mind if my packaged lettuce gets a good cleaning by a trained agricultural artisan.
...Bonus points if it's a dwarf.
Friday, April 22, 2011
Thursday, April 21, 2011
But wait, you say, they artisanally blended it with "Seasonal Pacific Greens"! Artisanal blending! They also say it was "grown in small crops" of "select varieties"!
Freakin' asshats. All crops are select varieties. They don't magically appear. The farmer selects, them, plants them, cares for them and that's what grows. And farmers are heroes. Really, I believe that.
...but they are not artisans.
And neither are the people who wash and seal what the farmers have grown into bags made from "50% less plastic." Less than what???
Make no mistake, you pay a few cents more for every bit of superfluous bullshit copy on that bag.
Wednesday, April 20, 2011
Artisan nut mix. As the wholesaler implores, "Break traditional boundaries with bold and unexpected flavor snack nut combinations."
Flavor snack nut combinations.
Bygones. Atrocious copy-writing seems to be the norm.
So what goes into an artisan snack nut combination like "PB&J Mix"? "PB&J Mix lets snackers enjoy peanut butter and jelly-flavored peanuts mixed with cherry-flavored cranberries and peanut butter drops!"
Ah, "jelly flavored peanuts". I remember those from my African great grandmother's stories of childhood. Only in Ghana -then called the Gold Coast -where she came from, they were called jelly flavored groundnuts. But the tradition hasn't changed!
Next up: cherry-flavored cranberries. WTF is wrong with cranberry flavored cranberries? And how do you make artisan cherry-flavored cranberries? Glad you asked. It's sugar, cranberries, citric acid, natural cherry flavor, natural flavors, elderberry juice concentrate and sunflower oil.
The final component is "peanut butter drops", made in the laborious artisan fashion by hand-defatting peanuts (only partially!) and mixing with other quality ingredients. (partially defatted peanuts, sugar, blend of vegetable oils [contains partially hydrogenated palm kernel and soybean oils], nonfat milk, dextrose, salt, soya lecithin [an emulsifier], vanillin [artificial flavoring])
Taste the art, my friends. Taste the art.
Monday, April 18, 2011
But Artisan Wisconsin Colby? Come on, man. Colby was invented specifically for the unevolved cheese eater for whom cheddar was simply "too strong!!" Colby is cheddar whose curds have been washed to remove flavor. TO REMOVE FLAVOR. Not artisan --- lame.
And once again I have trouble discerning what the word artisan is supposed to be modifying. If not the cheese, which we have covered, then the crackers. Which, when made in a factory by a guy wearing one of these is not artisan. For reals. You think his moustache hair is not a threat? I do not undertand that particular invention. But I digress. Artisan Wheat Thins: not artisan.
Sunday, April 17, 2011
First, another rule...I think we're on five? If you can buy it only in bulk, it is not artisan.
And next, a quibble with the product. Sticks of flour and water with a shelf life of NINE MONTHS are not bread. At best, these things are cylindrical crackers. Great artisan bread lasts less than a day. When you get a really good baguette, you are very sad the next day when the portion you didn't eat is more a weapon than a food, but you make french toast and move on. Because it was that good.
I know it is easy to get suckered in to believing these things are artisan - after all, they did depict a master baker on the front; the taller the hat, the more skilled the artisan, you know. But look at the bread in his basket and tell me how big this box would have to be if that was the product they were selling. Frankly, I am running out of appropriate insults for the jerks responsible for this stuff. I'm about to start making up new ones. ...stupid chodes.
Saturday, April 16, 2011
But this? This isn't even soup. This is a bag of noodles and dessicated carrots. Charlie Bucket's mom made better soup than this.
And get this-- I originally found the ridiculously named Canterbury Naturals Down Home Chicken Noodle Classic Artisan Soup Mix at drugstore.com. Really. Does this need to be a rule? That if you can buy it at drugstore.com, then it is not artisan? 'Cause I'll make another rule....
I'll bet these Canterbury people aren't even English. ...Loathsome fakers.
Friday, April 15, 2011
Rule four shall be thus: If a plant made it, it is not artisan. So, we've covered the apple and grapes, too.
The white cheddar could be artisan. But I'll wager you it is not. I'll bet it was made in a big factory with homogenized milk from many sources combined and treated to be sure each batch yields an identical end product. With no rind.
So what does that leave? Bread and "peanut butter honey spread". Oh, and the fact that it is freaking Starbucks. Which has a zillion locations, many within peanut-buttery-anaphalactic-shock range of a Bed Bath and Beyond.
Also, what the hell is artisan even modifying in this product name? Protein? Snacks? The plate? Ah, maybe that's it -- maybe it's served on hand-thrown pottery. If so, well played, Starbucks.
Thursday, April 14, 2011
Unless you took sodium ions and chloride ions and used some serious juju and/or alchemy to fuse them into a crystalline structure, your salt is not artisan.
The artisan salt company has a lot of products. At first, this was my favorite: "Sel De Mer (Coarse Grain) is simply solar evaporated Mediterranean Sea water." (Ahem, meaning the artisan here is the sun, thank you very much.)
But then I found this one: "Kala Namak is an essential ingredient in authentic Indian cuisine. The distinctive smell and flavor of egg yokes makes this salt unforgettable."
Bwa ha ha! Egg yokes. I hate to be a jerk (OK, not really, I love it) but if you don't know it's "yolks", you should probably not even be in the food business. ...and you are definitely not an artisan. And as a personal note, I do not want salt that smells like farts. Because I assume that is what they mean. That it reeks of sulfur.
I am going to invent my own artisan salt: The Rock is hand-harvested from the sweaty groin region of professional wrestlers. It imparts a certain je nais sais quoi to artisan corn chips.
If ever two words were combined that conjured up bad, non-food related images, they would be meat rub. Please. That is how it is advertised on the web. Fortunately Norman had enough sense to call it Barbecue Rub on the label. Bonus points, Norm.
As far as artisan spice blends? I dunno. I mean --- I guess it takes some talent to get it right. Left to non-artisans, you get things like McCormick Curry Powder. Still - I am voting no on artisan meat rub. Certainly Norm did not cultivate, dehydrate and pulverize whatever is in this stuff. And a little note on dodgy artisan internet spice rubs - I could not find a list of what is in this stuff, even with intensive googling.
Additional caution: Intensive googling can lead to meat rubbing.
As far as I know there is no way to get honey without putting on the hazmat suit and reaching into the hive. So, while that is a time-honored labor of love, the actual honey is simply not artisanal.
I feel a rule coming on here: If an animal made it (honey, milk, uncured/unprocessed meat) it is not artisan. And you will be labeled a a d-bag if you try to take credit for it.
Wednesday, April 13, 2011
Just the way they used to feed the dogs in the Old Country, I am sure. The gluten-intolerant dogs, anyway. (Grain free!)
From the website: "Grandma Lucy's Artisan Chicken Grain-Free Dog Food. At Grandma Lucy's our goal has always been a simple one - to make pure and simple pet food products. We do things the same way you would if you had the time to cook for your pet. We take care to use only human-quality, all-natural ingredients and nothing else. When you choose Grandma Lucy's Artisan, you know you are making the right choice for your pet."
Yes, there is a long standing tradition of cooking for dogs. ...And not just among the child-free! From rural India to urban Odessa, the bountiful harvests have historically been too much for people. That is why the excess meat, potatoes, carrots, celery, apples & blueberries went into complicated food for the dogs. You have wikipedia. Look it up!
Basically, Olive Garden came up with ravioli flavors that would be kooky in Suburban Salt Lake City. Like pear/gorgonzola. "Fruit? And moldy cheese?? Well,I never!"
Here's the deal: If your restaurant has more than three locations - and any one of them is within a stone's throw of a Bed Bath & Beyond or a Payless Shoe Source, what you make is probably not artisan.
Really? Artisan Tostitos? There may well be a few old-school-tortilla-making abuelitas in the factory, but that does not make your chips artisan. Those ladies could easily work in the accounting office.
Let's just establish rule number one here: Multinational corporations can not make artisan food. I am sure other rules will coalesce as I find more heinous abuses of the term "artisan".
Hm- you know, looking at this again, it seems they are not calling the actual chips artisan, but rather the recipe. So let's just go ahead and establish rule number two: Recipes can not be artisan. There is no tradition of recipe creation, handed down over generations. My bubbe never sat me down to talk about the old days, when they had to come up with recipes in the snow. Uphill. Both ways. In the dark.
And so That is Not Artisan begins. I am ready to crusade against the abuse of the term artisan. Join me. Send me your photos/links/examples and we'll tear these fakers a new one.