I get it, okay? I understand. Truly, I do. Life is hard right now. Times are tough. Belts are a’tightenin.’ Forty years after you first began as a weekly publication, you find yourself in one of the worst recessions since the Great Depression. You’re struggling to get by on a handful of writers – struggling to fill your pages with some meaningful content. It’s okay. Because I understand. I completely understand why you decided to include the “You’re Quite the Dish” feature in the Food section of the paper. A complete transcript of an imaginary, exclamation-point laden, oft-coy conversation with a personable dish? Brilliant. It accomplishes a multitude of recession-friendly goals.
Firstly, it saves on costs. Why send a talented, experienced food writer to review an entire restaurant when you can send out a fresh-out-of-college contributor to write about one dish. “You’re Quite the Dish” simply makes fiscal sense. One entrée, at most $20-30, compared to footing the bill, several times, for a variety of dishes. Lamb stew at Zahav. Wild Mushroom Arancini. On their own? A-f-f-o-r-d-a-b-l-e. Not to mention the feature itself is a convenient one-page space-filler for ads!
Secondly, “You’re Quite the Dish” enthusiastically showcases dishes from the most hoity-toity of restaurants to the people – inevitably prompting an increase in business. Simply put, the personification of dishes from Philadelphia humanizes the oft-complex ingredients celebrity chefs use to prove their superiority. And it’s also educational. For example, in the Jan. 12th edition, “You’re Quite the Dish: Wild Mushroom Arancini,” the following conversation ensues:
Wow. Can you tell us in great detail and a seductive voice how the lardo is prepared?
Don’t get fresh. Chef Turney gets whole pigs, ranging from 150 to 175 pounds, from the Lancaster Farm Fresh Cooperative. She saves the fat back, sears it in salt, herbs and black peppercorns before curing it for about a month. It’s then put in an oak house smoker, sliced very thin and warmed with a heating gun before being draped on top of me.
From this conversation, I learned that there is a tool called a ‘heating gun’ that warms up my pork before it comes to my table. ‘Wow,’ indeed. I feel a rather sudden emotional response to my food. I also learned that the pork is flirting with the interviewer. And on and on and on, proving once again that newspapers can continue to provide the public with education.
Thank you, Philadelphia Weekly. Thank you for bolstering the struggling restaurant industry in Philadelphia. Thank you for giving young journalists the chance to learn their chops on well… chops. Thank you for keeping alive a struggling publication through insightful, well-written articles that save you money and keep us informed.