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Old 08-13-2012, 06:47 AM
 
Location: Winter Springs, FL
1,789 posts, read 4,054,728 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pauldorell View Post
It will be a shock living in Vermont after your Italy experience, but for the U.S. it's still pretty good. I think most of the "artisanal" stuff here is crap compared to what's commonplace in parts of Europe. And as you note good wine is priced ridiculously here. This is because most Americans are the descendants of poor immigrants and don't know any better. But if you can get into the pastoral scene in Vermont it's pretty nice. And there are even nice restaurants in the middle of nowhere. However, you seem like a person with a very active mind who could go mad.
I think you have a point Paul. I'm not sure the products produced here is all crap, but you have to pay a heavy price for anything handcrafted or "artisan." This is not just Europe, but most of the world. A great example would be the markets in Asian countries such as Thailand. Simple, fresh food purchased from a vendor is dirt cheap. Not only for travelers, but for the people of the country. The same meal here at a farmers market is six to ten times the cost and it doesn't taste nearly as good.
One of the problems with our country is everything has to be mechanized. If it has to produced by hand, then you will pay a heavy price. As a union member myself, I can honestly say our unions are partially to blame. Not to get off track, but to make my point clearer in how this translates to everyday life in the US. The auto industry is an extreme example. Where can a person with just a high school diploma go and earn $70-75/hr in wages and benefits (translates to $40-45/hr in wages) on average.
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Old 08-13-2012, 06:54 AM
 
Location: Randolph, VT
72 posts, read 85,217 times
Reputation: 60
Quote:
you seem like a person with a very active mind who could go mad.
Paul, I think I'm going to go mad no matter where I end up.
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Old 08-13-2012, 07:24 AM
 
444 posts, read 683,402 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 68vette View Post
I think you have a point Paul. I'm not sure the products produced here is all crap, but you have to pay a heavy price for anything handcrafted or "artisan."
I'm not saying that artisanal food here is bad - it's just that they've been doing it in Europe for hundreds of years and in many cases are just better at it from practice than Vermonters who have been trying their hand for less than a generation. Also, the American palate is relatively undeveloped, with millions growing up on Hostess Twinkies, hot dogs, Wonder Bread, etc.
Quote:
Originally Posted by 68vette View Post
One of the problems with our country is everything has to be mechanized. If it has to produced by hand, then you will pay a heavy price. As a union member myself, I can honestly say our unions are partially to blame. Not to get off track, but to make my point clearer in how this translates to everyday life in the US. The auto industry is an extreme example. Where can a person with just a high school diploma go and earn $70-75/hr in wages and benefits (translates to $40-45/hr in wages) on average.
This is a complex issue from an economic standpoint, and I think unions get limited blame. Detroit wages from the 1950's were unsustainable for many reasons, and chief among them would be competition and innovation from abroad. If you lived through the Chevy Vega and Ford Pinto era, you know what I'm talking about. And then there were technological advances and automation, which eliminated millions of jobs and and significantly reduced manufacturing as a percentage of the economy.

Getting back to the main point, countries like Italy and France had all kinds of guilds of artisans before America was even discovered, and some of those trades and skills that never took root here still exist there. As you say, the U.S. is good at mass production, and that's of commodity-like products of limited aesthetic value.
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Old 08-13-2012, 07:30 AM
 
444 posts, read 683,402 times
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Originally Posted by ladelfina View Post
Paul, I think I'm going to go mad no matter where I end up.
Well just relax then: we'll take good care of you here at the funny farm.
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Old 08-14-2012, 10:36 AM
 
161 posts, read 239,490 times
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I have to agree with a point already made, which is that many Americans just have never had really great food and so are not equipped to judge. What many call "artisanal" here would barely be considered edible in Europe. I've gotten into many an annoyed exchange with people who rave over food that ranges from mediocre to outright dreadful. But then, you will encounter the same thing if you read reviews of novels on Amazon. No matter how atrocious the book is, there will always be a half dozen people for whom it is "the greatest book ever written" (and they've read as many as six or even eight books, so they know a good book when they find one).
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Old 08-14-2012, 11:29 AM
 
161 posts, read 239,490 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ladelfina View Post
The "bankruptcy" being forced on EU countries (which will be forced on the US before long—the US is already bankrupt, as is the entire world and all the world's banks) is a perfidious, bad-faith move designed to shunt resources from the world's general populations to the world's bankers. See any intervention of the World Bank or IMF over the last few decades. The countries which have rebounded or stabilized are those which defaulted and blew off the bankers' demands: Iceland, Argentina. Remember that bailouts in the case of the US and also of Europe are designed not to bail out governments but to bail out banks, to make *bankers* whole for their bad bets, a concession not granted ordinary businesses /investors/punters for some reason. No one is scrambling to cover the debts of policemen, coffee shop owners or drycleaners… If bankers make bad bets, they need to suffer the consequences, but somehow that reasoning has been <ahem>"lost" in the global neo-liberal "free market" propaganda, but it has ever been thus. Nation-states have only been a more-efficient means for bankers to flourish, and just as Reagan, Clinton, Bush and Obama have sided with banks against the populace, so would Romney, of course.

Furthermore, all debts, mind you, are "bad debts", because from the moment a debt is issued, there is insufficient money in the system to pay back the debt. The issuance of debt creates a new, competing demand for goods and services beyond those reckoned available in the current system. This has always been true, and always will be true. It's a mathematical imperative.
Congratulations, ladelfina, for having noticed what's really going on - though most people will pretend they didn't hear what you said. Denial is a way of life in the US. There is no way out of the mess we're in, short of doing what Iceland and Argentina have done - and I can't see that happening. Even if it did, it would be a temporary measure and would do nothing to address the bigger problems of too many people, rising temperatures and dwindling resources. Vermont is, I think, as good a place as any (if you must be in the US) in which to weather the coming storms. I don't mean to sound like a complete pessimist, but I find it hard to keep saying that the king is wearing very fine clothes when he is, in fact, naked. If the glass were half empty, I'd say it was half full because I'm a natural optimist. But it seems to me that the glass is close to being empty, and we can't do much about that until we at least admit to it.
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Old 08-14-2012, 12:40 PM
 
Location: in a cabin overlooking the mountains
3,079 posts, read 3,706,316 times
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What I find disappointing about so many of the "artisanal" cheeses is that

- the focus is on an extreme form of what the maker considers sustainability, ie, the label proudly states that the power generation for any electricity required came from solar panels or something similar, the flavor is secondary

- it's cheddar or goat cheese with something conventional (herbs, garlic, horseradish, etc) added to it

- it's cheddar or goat cheese with something unconventional (cranberries, pumpkin, cinnamon etc) added to it.

I got hold of an excellent soft cheese a few years ago at a hole-in-the-wall place in Chester that had won a statewide award. The flavor was up there with anything I had ever had in Europe. Unfortunately they haven't had it any time I've been back there.

Which reminds me of the time I was at an "Italian" restaurant in WRJ. They had carpaccio on the menu so my hopes were high. You hardly ever see that around here. When I got it I couldn't believe the chef had put something like ranch dressing on it. Most money we ever spent for the worst food. I don't think that place even exists anymore.
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Old 08-14-2012, 02:20 PM
 
Location: The Woods
16,935 posts, read 22,187,264 times
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I think people are expecting the wrong things if they think the food here isn't great. You don't go to Vermont to find European-style food. You find Vermont/New England foods. I don't think anywhere in Europe can rival VT for various maple products (can you even get real maple-butternut fudge in Europe? I'm doubtful, the butternut trees are getting scarce even here), some excellent bacon from some of the smaller producers, some of the apples that grow here, various wild native fruits and berries and nuts, etc. If you expand to New England and not just VT I think we've got some very fine seafood, such as lobster in Maine, etc. Just because we don't have European food doesn't mean we have no tastes. Just different tastes, and we do better at different things. Obviously most of the cheese produced here is cheddar and such, because that's what can be done well here. You don't see much VT made wine because grapes can barely be made to grow here in real good locations, unless you want the wild grapes, which are good mostly just for jelly or the like.

As far as things being "rundown" and "old" it's because I think people have more appreciation here for our history, versus Europe where old structures are seemingly taken for granted and often remodeled in modern styles inside. Also, paint doesn't hold up well in the climate here. I've worked on windows and doors here, stripping them to be refinished, where the paint was up to 1/8 an inch thick from all the layers, and if it were repainted everytime a flake peels off it would be worse. The farms with all the equipment and "junk" around the land? It's a working landscape. Farms, machine shops, woodworking shops, etc., aren't going to be places to snap pictures.
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Old 08-14-2012, 03:34 PM
 
Location: Randolph, VT
72 posts, read 85,217 times
Reputation: 60
@arctichomesteader, I took my NH Yankee mom to Montepulciano. She said it "looked poor" and that everything "needed a coat of paint".



@FrugalYankee, if the cheeses need to be pasteurized, that will affect the flavor. A traditional cheese around here is 1.) raw, 2.) sheep's milk (stronger flavor), and 3.) aged in a "fossa" (literally, a ditch, but could be any damp hole in the ground). Others are wrapped in walnut leaves or are covered in ashes. Not really USDA-approved-type food-handling.

Sorry to hear about your carpaccio with "special sauce". Indeed, it's pretty hard to screw that up. I think people are just ignorant, and—in the case of the goofy 'artisanal' cheese flavors you mentioned—trying too hard. You're right to be skeptical about modern food production these days, as most is done just to move things off the shelves; whether it's actually enjoyable, nutritious or not seems to be a lesser concern. It's not just the food industry; most enterprises by now are just going through the motions.

Last edited by ladelfina; 08-14-2012 at 03:48 PM..
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Old 08-16-2012, 08:37 PM
 
7 posts, read 15,311 times
Reputation: 10
I just joined this site and come across this thread. I haven't read through it all but I wanted to share my Vermont experience. I live there for four years while I was in school. I will NEVER go back.

I moved there from the mid-west. My first clue I would not enjoy my time in New England when I pulled over to get gas in NH. In the mid-west people smile and talk to each other. So, when I went in to pay for my gas I tried to chat with the clerk. He gave me this, "Why the heck are you speaking to me?" look. I brushed it off but as I lived there I learned this is what 90% of the people in New England are like. If you haven't known their family for three generations they don't want anything to do with you.

I found most people in Vermont looked down on anyone from west a the Mississippi. One girl even said to me, "I have always assumed anyone from the west is a little slow." But, at the same time very few people there ever moved far from the place they were born! As an example, the college I went to- half the people there had gone to high school together and I would say 75% of their parents knew each other.

I finally moved back to the mid-west and am much happier. Again this is just my experience.
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