It’s all in a name….
MyMEGusta is fascinated by the proliferation of menu misnomers, truth in labeling issues and plain laziness when it comes to menus.
Everything seems to be a martini these days. Put a scoopful of chopped yellow fin in the right glass, and you have a tuna martini. OK, it’s a fad, and everyone understands that it is cool to eat and drink things out of pretty martini glasses. No one expects that it’s a vodka/vermouth beverage garnished with a hunk of raw fish instead of an olive (although that’s not such a bad concept). This delicious “uni martini” was impeccably fresh sea urchin, lightly seasoned, no vodka in sight, and wonderful.
Cassoulet is a different story. Cassoulet is an old fashioned dish of beans, duck, and pork. Sauced lobster in a little casserole dish that looks like a cassoulet pot is not “lobster cassoulet”, any more than it would be “lobster wine” if served in a balloon glass. A good friend had a delightful experience recently, loving that his “seafood cassoulet” was much lighter than the cassoulet he remembered from a previous meal, so perhaps this misnomer isn’t always so bad.
Then there’s the whole subject of “truth in menu” or, more aptly put, “Is this a lie or are they just lazy?”
Some violations here are benign but annoying. And some are deliberate misrepresentations.
The manager of a local restaurant didn’t allow tea (as in “tea, the beverage made from tea leaves”) to be served in his now defunct Italian establishment, only offering herbal infusions on the “tea” menu. MyMEGusta is certain that he did not recognize the absurdity in this.
In a time when menus are printed every day, and when servers are making a litany of the provenance of every molecule in the specials, why not call the delicious baby spinach salad what it is instead of arugula? We don’t care if the arugula is out of stock or out of season, just don’t substitute something else assuming the customers don’t know the difference.
Or, when a fancy restaurant lists “duck confit salad” and what comes out is shredded duck (obviously leftover from last night) tasty enough but without a trace of confit seasonings. Call it “shredded duck” already.
Then there’s surimi, a pureed fish (or meat) product most commonly shaped and colored to look like crabmeat. It’s a perfectly edible food, if you don’t mind all the processing and additives. The problem comes when it is sold as pricier crab, usually in lower end sushi restaurants. Guess what’s probably in this California roll?