One thing I love about this town? You people certainly don't hesitate to use that comment button when something pisses you off.

One thing I


Comment of the Day: A Double Dose of Love

One thing I love about this town? You people certainly don't hesitate to use that comment button when something pisses you off.

One thing I don't love so much? The things that piss you off completely bewilder me. Take, for example, this comment from Purrl Gurrl in response to my post yesterday about Thomas Keller, the French Laundry and their In-N-Out burger anniversary celebration.

"Who gives a crap about In-and-Out Burger? That's hardly local dining.

Go buy a clue. A large number of us living in the Seattle metro area are proud to say we've never lived in California.

If you want to write about California eateries, go find a gig there and stop wasting our time."

Charming, right? Restrained, witty, poetic in form and meter...

No. What it is, is completely small-minded, short-sighted and weirdly, proudly xenophobic in kind of a creepy way. PurrlGurrl is right. There are no In-N-Out burger joints in Seattle (more's the pity). And neither does Thomas Keller have an outpost with a Belltown address. In my post, I dared make mention of a great restaurant (that isn't located in the Greater Seattle Metropolitan Area), run by one of the more respected chefs in the world (who is also not from Seattle), and talked about his undying love for the legendary Double-Double served by what is, in my opinion and the opinions of hundreds of thousands of other right-thinking Americans, the greatest drive-thru burger operation in the world (with no locations in Seattle).

That, apparently, was enough to set Purrl off. Because, obviously, anything that happens outside of Seattle doesn't qualify as news and shouldn't be talked about by any smart-mouth food writer with eyes for cities other than this one.

Fuck that.

We spend the bulk of our time and space here on the Voracious blog dealing with local news. We talk openings. We talk closings. We get the dirt from (and on) chefs who are making an impact in our neighborhoods, tell you where to find free stuff and cheap stuff and really great expensive stuff. We compare and contrast the offerings of local bars and neighborhoods pretty much every day. And then, once in awhile--because the world is a small and interconnected place and objects are always closer than they appear--we look outside the boundaries of the Pacific Northwest to find weird, funny, interesting or affecting stories about stuff happening, you know... elsewhere. Because while Purrl may be unwilling to accept the fact that Seattle is still part of the wider world, some of us have dared venture beyond its boundaries and found things to like in other area codes. Even in California.

So, Purrl, if this offends your proudly provincial soul, I do sincerely apologize. My suggestion? Skip the posts that don't deal specifically with things happening right in your backyard and just focus on names you recognize, restaurants you're familiar with, stories that will not remove you in any way from the comforts of your 'hood.

Or maybe you could ask the doctor to up the dose on your lithium scrip and actually get out there and see some stuff before shooting your mouth off. Just a suggestion.

Either way, we'll be here waiting for you when you make up your mind.

But Purrl wasn't the only one standing up in defense of Seattle against perceived slights by yours truly. I also got this, in response to this week's review of Stan's Bar-B-Q:

Dear Jason Sheehan:

I can tell that you're not from around here, and also that you'd rather be a novelist, but I still mostly enjoy the reviews you've written.

But seriously, no barbecue in Seattle? "No long tradition of church-picnic spreads or Saturday nights at the smoker," you say. You really need to get out a little more, and not just to the restaurants. You're more than a little insulting.

My brother has a barbecue and a smoker on his back porch - they live for the stuff, and make their own sauce and rubs. Pork, brisket, chicken, you name it, he and his wife are equal-opportunity 'que folk. At my house, there's standard BBQ fare with store bought sauce, but it's not the house specialty. That would be my husband's red sauce, made the way his dad did, and you never eat it on the day its made. We eat it over pasta with the homemade meatballs, and in pizza with a yeast dough crust, and in lasagna. And while my pesole isn't as good as my mother's, my chille rellenos are better, even though I make them the way she does, the way my grandmother did in an adobe brick house in El Paso.

There is a lot of fancy B.S. cuisine available in Seattle, a lot of good food and some astoundingly awesome eating. As a restaurant critic or food writer or former cook with literary aspirations, I realize you're writing about places to eat out. That's fine. Please stop inferring that we have no culinary traditions here, though. You make it sound like the dumb rubes in Seattle have no idea what great food tastes like! Even here, there are "traditions that are generations deep". What, you thought everyone washed up with the tide? Or fell from the trees? Or just breezed in from ... where did you say you were from?



Now this is more like it. Jennifer is coming from a position similar to Purrl's (that I should focus on what's great about Seattle), but approaching it from a less provincial attitude. Jennifer is insisting that Seattle does have a native BBQ culture, a deep tradition of smoked meats to rival anything done in Kansas City (the city to which my review of Stan's and the subsequent blog follow-up about owner Stan Phillips's roots are most closely linked), and that I should just bring the love or shut up.

But you're kidding me, right? I mean, okay. So your brother makes some barbecue on his back porch. I'm sure there's a lot of folks in town who do that. And you eat homemade red sauce and make posole the way your mother and grandmother did back in El Paso, which is awesome and makes me more than a little jealous.

But neither of those things equate to the kind of traditions I was talking about in reference to Stan's. Seattle does not have the kind of BBQ scene that exists in Kansas City, where 'cue takes on the sort of social weight usually ascribed only to religion or politics--inspiring feuds and love affairs, bringing solace and stringing together grudges that run fifty years deep. Seattle does not, as a whole city, worship the stuff the way they do in Memphis or the Carolinas or St. Louis or Texas or Florida or the Deep South altogether. There are some places to eat good barbecue here, sure. And there are some people who are just as fanatical about it as I am. But in those BBQ homelands after which many of the primary styles are named, we're talking "tradition" that's orders of magnitude different than what exists here.

And that's not to say that Seattle doesn't have its own culinary traditions. I don't believe I've ever implied that, as you accuse. There's a tradition of Japanese and Chinese and Vietnamese and Korean cuisine here that rivals most other cities I've lived in. Sushi in Seattle goes back a hundred years, and almost no one else can say that. Our efforts toward locality and sustainability and blah blah blah do, in my opinion, rival those of Bolinas and San Francisco, and yet we manage to exist within our means and our borders without making a big thing about it--a trait I adore about this place which makes it unlike almost any other city in the U.S.. And seafood? Come on... Seattle is to things that swim like New Mexico is to chiles: seafood is the ingredient that defines us and runs through the restaurant scene like a main vein.

Finally, no, Jennifer. I don't think that everyone just fell from the trees. It's precisely the broad swath of influences and immigrant traditions that make Seattle an interesting place to eat and write. But we do ourselves a disservice when we assume that Seattle has EVERYTHING, and does everything just as well (or better) than it is done anywhere else. It reduces the uniqueness and specific genius of guys like Stan Phillips to claim that Seattle is just like Kansas City when it comes to barbecue. He's done a challenging thing by trying to bring a little bit of his history and his passion to a place where it is not always recognized or loved right from the start--where the tradition and infrastructure of a barbecue-loving people is not a given. That he succeeded in transplanting a little bit of KC soul to Issaquah, Washington is quite a feat. To say that this was easy? That there's barbecue everywhere and a tradition as deep and powerful as exists in some other cities? That's what's more than a little bit insulting.

I never said there's no barbecue in Seattle. Just that there's not much as good as Stan's.

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