Mythology is wide spread in gastronomy, as long as you believe only stories that are correct.
Gourmets, or should I say, wannabees, sniff corks to assess the quality of wine they ordered, think the rind of Camembert cheese is inedible, that all Port wines must be decanted and Black Angus beef is a certain beef cut, deserve to be duped. Many fraudulent restaurateurs/managers take advantage of such “guests” and tell them stories, i.e oysters must not be consumed in a months without an “r” in it (June, July, August), which made sense in teh 18th and 19th centuries when food was never refrigerated, but today, such a claim, especially in western Europe and North America are ridiculous. The fact is oysters harvested in cold months are plump and taste better.
Here are some myths you can safely regard as piffle:
Maine lobsters are the best tasting lobsters (homarus americanus). There is no truth to this claim at all. Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, and New Brunswick lobsters taste as good, if not better, than their Maine counterparts. The only truth is that cold-water lobsters taste better and have firmer meat. Well-cooked old and large lobsters taste as good as small ones.
Best steak houses are in Chicago – this is a myth of monumental proportions. At one time, Chicago had all the slaughterhouses drawing cattle from the west, and local steakhouses had the best choice.
Today, New York City, and for that matter, any large city in the U.S.A or Canada, offers opportunities to eat excellent steaks. In fact steaks of Kobe-beef style beef raised in the U.S.A and which are served in Las Vegas restaurants may even surpass any steak anywhere, providing you don’t mind the astronomical prices charged.
Steak houses in Toronto and Montreal offer superb steaks as good as anywhere, providing they are properly dry- aged and expertly cooked.
Pork must be well done to be safe – another fairy tale you must disregard. Pork in North America or in western industrialized European countries is as safe as any other meat you can buy.
The fresher the fish, the better the flavour – for most species this is true, except for halibut, skate and generally large fish. When fish is caught, it struggles, and tightens up. It is the rigor mortis that relaxes the muscles and this requires a day or two. For small fish, it does not matter much. Net caught fish suffocates, line caught salmon for example benefits from rigor mortis.
Restaurants with spectacular views serve the worst food – this myth must be killed as quickly as uttered. Today, there are thousands of restaurants offering breathtaking views and which offer gourmet standard food – CN Tower in Toronto, The River Café in New York City are only two that come to mind.
All restaurants in Italy serve quality food – absolutely untrue. There are a lot of restaurants in Italy that serve abominable food and have the audacity to charge exorbitant prices.
London’s better restaurants are prohibitively expensive. It is true that modern restaurants in London and elsewhere in the United Kingdom charge outlandish prices for their food, but if you want to eat well, just select a good Indian restaurant, or well-established Italian ristorante (Zefferno comes to mind) or hotel dining room that will serve fine food at reasonable cost.
You can only get good BBQ south f the Mason-Dixon line – there are many good BBQ places in Chicago, Milwaukee, New York City, Toronto, and Montreal as in
the south. You can get suitable BBQ wood anywhere in North America with appropriate research.
All Michelin three star restaurants in Paris serve outstanding food and you must make reservations well in advance. This is an absolute fallacy. If you call Michelin three star restaurants in Paris and want to make a reservation for lunch, they will accommodate you. Remember; in Europe restaurants serve the same menu for lunch and dinner.
The best bagels are sold in New York City – don’t believe a word of it. Montreal has world-class bagels.
Austrian bakeries serve the best Sacher torte – it is true that Mr. Sacher invented the now world-famous Sacher torte, but today there are many fine patisseries in Paris, Tokyo, and Berlin that will serve you a Sacher torte as one served in Vienna, if not better.
The best baguettes are baked in Paris – actually this one is true – try Pollaine and see whether I am correct.