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Another post not about Valentine's Day

I have always had a problem with the warring notions of "homestyle" and "restaurant quality".

Oh, I understand the concept well enough; "homestyle" means "hearty and delicious, like something you might make at home if you knew how to cook and weren't a lazy sack of crap, and not like that overpriced garbage that some Mexican probably spit in you get at a restaurant", while "restaurant quality" means "fancy and delicious, like something you might buy at a restaurant if you had any class and could afford to buy something other than an annual pair of shoelaces, and not like the turkey-dog-on-a-slice-of-Wonder-bread you call your 'special dinner'". What I don't quite get is when and how they're applied.

To me, it only makes sense for "homestyle" to be used in a restaurant and "restaurant quality" to be used on something you buy at a grocery store. Although this does bring up the question of why you don't just go home/go to a restaurant, it does make a certain level of marketing sense: putting "homestyle" on a menu item at a restaurant implies that they make things like you would make them at home if you weren't incompetent and slothful, and putting "restaurant quality" on a grocery item implies that it's good enough to come from someplace in the Guide Michelin instead of being something you got in the frozen food aisle at the Wal-Mart while you were grocery shopping at 3AM while tweaking on bathtub crank. Even if it's all the same processed Sysco crap, these labels make a certain amount of sense from an advertising angle.

But for many years, I've been confused by seeing the label "homestyle" applied to things you buy at the grocery store. Of course they're homestyle! You're going to take them and prepare them at home! What sad sack is going to get any emotional validation out of being told that the defrosted lasagna they just shoved down the gullets of their loveless family is very similar to something they might possibly be capable of crafting themselves? Even more bizarre is something I only began seeing in the last few weeks: the use of the descriptor "restaurant-quality" to describe something available for purchase in a restaurant. Of course it's restaurant-quality! I'm ordering it at a fucking restaurant! Even if this was some sort of high praise -- which it isn't, being instead a variation on the statement "this food is sufficient to be offered for sale at a food-selling establishment" -- it's unnerving to use it to describe just a few select menu items, as if the rest of their bill of fare isn't restaurant-quality and is instead intended for use in zoos and cattle ranches.

I'd like to suggest the elimination of these pointless adjectives (as well as affiliated nonsense such as "just like homemade" and the truly meaning-free "gourmet-style"), and their replacement with "sub-Bennigan's" and "supra-Bennigan's", a much more descriptive and informative set of terms that provides you with the useful information that the food you are about to purchase and/or order is better or worse than what you might find at a Bennigan's, if God cursed you and you were forced to eat at one.

Happy Valentine's Day.


(Deleted comment)
Feb. 13th, 2009 01:56 pm (UTC)
Actually, I would like to see these terms applied to produce. Like "our squash is good enough to be used in the preparation of some sort of meal at a restaurant!" or "our establishment uses the sort of tomatoes you might have at home, if there were tomatoes in your home".
Feb. 13th, 2009 05:17 pm (UTC)
I’m still trying to fathom the meaning of “house made.” As in “house made bakery items,” whether at a restaurant or a supermarket. Is it that the FDA won’t let you describe as “home made” anything that’s not actually cooked in someone’s home? And if that’s the case, do you go out and buy a house in which to do all your business’ baking? If you’re going to go to all that trouble just so you can say it was baked in a house, why not just remodel your kitchen and bake the stuff at home? And is there some degree of “hominess” that has to be observed in order to call a homemade item “homemade?” I.E., “in the case of apple, blueberry and pumpkin custard pies, such pies may only be deemed ‘homemade’ if prepared in a household of at least two legally married adults, one male and one female, and at least 2.5 human children under the age of eighteen, and in which at least one meal per day is shared by said family members, at which such meal at least two (2) separate items of interest must be discussed, pertaining specifically to any of the following: soccer, ballet, how school went today, whether a child is planning on trying out for football this year, preparations for the trip to gramma’s, what everyone wants for Christmas, or the condition of the dog, such conditions including but not limited to: where it is, if it has been fed, if it has been walked, if it has been cleaned up after, and what it has gotten into now. For cookies designated as any variations of oatmeal, chocolate chip or gingersnap, the term ‘homemade’ may be applied only if the home meets all of the conditions for apple, blueberry and pumpkin custard pie as set forth in paragraph 6.9(c) above. Additionally, at least one biological grandparent must reside within the home for at least six (6) months of every calendar year. For cookies of the lace, filled, or linzer torte variety, no fewer than two (2) grandparents must occupy the premises for at least nine (9) months of every calendar year, and a minimum of two meals per day must be shared by at least a plurality of family members, with the topics of conversation to include all of the above, as well as ….”
Feb. 14th, 2009 06:20 am (UTC)
What Anonymous said below is true. It's anything that's made in-house.

I'd add that "house-made" is not the same as a "house brand," which refers to a product sold by only one retailer (aka store brand), but usually made by another company and packaged with the retailer's label.
Feb. 13th, 2009 06:53 pm (UTC)
All that means is that it's made in-house, as in "we the restaurant make our own bread in this kitchen." (Not common, as you'd guess.)
Feb. 13th, 2009 10:36 pm (UTC)
Where did you eat that describes their product as "restaurant-quality"? I'm having serious trouble wrapping my mind around that one.
Feb. 14th, 2009 12:28 am (UTC)
I concur.

From now on, I think these adjectives should be applied only to pornography.


flavored with age
Gun-totin', Chronic-smokin' Hearse Initiator
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Leonard Pierce is a freelance writer wandering around Texas with no sleep or sense of direction. If you give him money he will write something for you. If you are nice to him he may come to your house and get drunk.

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