Tuesday, February 8, 2011

How Far We've Come

Jogging the memory always appealed to me more than pounding the pavement. My waistline could attest to that I'm afraid. While doing some research recently, I stumbled across a restaurant training guide from the early 1990's. That being the same time period I began my wine career I decided to read it. Well, thumb through it.

The book devoted twenty-one pages to flambeing. Drinks, desserts, entrees set ablaze, complete with an explanation of how to do it properly and safely. How often do you see this anymore?

They even included an example of how to make a pig's mouth remain aflame while carving and serving tableside. "Stuff the pig's mouth with cotton, soak it in cheap high-proof alcohol, and ignite it." Hint: make sure it's soaked enough "or else the cotton could smolder in the dining room."

Twenty years ago 10% of Food and Beverage Service (from Wiley Professional Restaurateur Guides by Bruce Axler and Carol Litrides) discussed flambeing. Twenty years ago Hugh Johnson's Fourth Edition of The World Atlas of Wine did not contain a dedicated entry for Argentina. Chile had its own two pages while Argentina shared space with Brazil and Uruguay (and Chile) on two pages under the heading of South America.

In 1990, the year of Food and Beverage's copyright, the wine world still revolved around Chardonnay and Cabernet. Merlot had not yet enjoyed its fifteen minutes of fame, much less the subsequent, and precipitous, fall from grace. In the same vintage, Seinfeld premiered, "The Simpsons" debuted on Fox and West Germany, yes still identified as West, won the World Cup. Spanish wines resided in "Other International" sections and Down Under wines mostly stayed on the down low. It's been a fun ride, I'm looking forward to the next twenty.

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