let them eat cake

The 'let them eat cake' Substack explores the intersection of food, cultural authenticity, and the value of culinary labor. It critically examines food systems, dining experiences, and cooking practices while challenging economic and traditional frameworks within the culinary world. Recurrent themes include the appreciation of underrated cooking techniques and the critique of modern dining trends.

Culinary Culture and Practices Economic and Social Aspects of Food Dining Experiences and Food Authenticity Culinary Labor and Value Innovative and Traditional Cooking Techniques

The hottest Substack posts of let them eat cake

And their main takeaways
159 implied HN points 19 May 24
  1. The neighborhood pizza shop can offer a sense of nostalgia and community, beyond just the food.
  2. Each slice of pizza tells a story through its taste and history, connecting to childhood memories and personal experiences.
  3. The quest for the perfect slice of pizza is a journey that involves a balance of tradition, innovation, and the essence of a neighborhood establishment.
319 implied HN points 19 Apr 24
  1. Choosing the right spatula is crucial in the kitchen as they are tools of the trade and require deliberate consideration.
  2. Different spatulas serve different purposes - from nimble and architectural ones for delicate tasks to more resolute ones for heavier jobs.
  3. A good silicone spatula, like the Mastrad all silicone, is essential for its versatility and durability in various cooking tasks.
379 implied HN points 01 Apr 24
  1. Montreal showcases inventive urban design elements like recycling racks on trash cans and bike parking meters, enriching the city experience.
  2. Montreal's food scene offers genuine and unpretentious dining experiences that stand out for their simplicity and excellence.
  3. Contrasting Montreal's unassuming authenticity, New York's neo-bistrots exemplify a more staged, predictable dining trend, crafting a curated experience that may lack the same genuine warmth.
379 implied HN points 22 Mar 24
  1. Starting a pop-up business after a layoff is common for many people, leading to a mix of traditional and innovative products.
  2. Working in the food industry can be seen as both a necessity and an aspirational choice, impacting various communities.
  3. Traditional food practices like making kueh are facing challenges from modernization, impacting the taste and availability of culturally significant dishes.
139 implied HN points 26 Apr 24
  1. Katong laksa is a traditional Singaporean dish known for its unique flavors and ingredients.
  2. There are debates around the authenticity of Katong laksa due to variations in its preparation and ingredients.
  3. Using different noodles in Katong laksa can be seen as a deviation from tradition and considered sacrilegious by some enthusiasts.
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199 implied HN points 12 Apr 24
  1. The term 'umarell' is used to describe retirees who stop in the street to watch construction, often asking questions and offering unwanted advice.
  2. Building a restaurant involves acts of cartography, rewriting mental maps, and spending a significant amount of time on a construction site.
  3. Engaging in 'umarelling' - observing and learning on site - can provide valuable knowledge and a deeper understanding that goes beyond what blueprints can offer.
59 implied HN points 10 May 24
  1. The nine-layer cake, kow teng kueh, is a simple yet nostalgic treat that carries personal memories and cultural significance.
  2. The colorful layers of the cake are not just for aesthetics, but also serve a purpose in texture and taste.
  3. Modern versions of traditional cakes like kow teng kueh reflect societal changes, focusing on visual appeal for social media consumption.
199 implied HN points 17 Mar 24
  1. Sambal belacan is a spicy condiment with chili and fermented shrimp paste.
  2. Learning to make sambal belacan involves tradition, lore, and personal taste preferences.
  3. Tasting different versions of sambal belacan can reveal unique nuances and preferences, like the impact of ingredients and preparation methods.
219 implied HN points 08 Feb 24
  1. Kueh are labor-intensive pastries from Southeast Asia eaten as dessert or snacks.
  2. Certain kueh, like Kuih Bingka Ambon, have unique textures and tunnels.
  3. Bahulu, a simple egg sponge cake, has a distinct texture like no other.
678 implied HN points 31 Aug 23
  1. Cooking remains a mostly opaque activity to cooks, and even though there are scientific explanations, many cultural practices still rely on mystical ideas like 'nafas' and 'sonmat.'
  2. The value of cooking and the labor involved is often underappreciated and not clearly priced, leading to conflicting claims about its worth in different contexts.
  3. Food and cooking challenge traditional economic frameworks, as the true cost is not accurately captured due to the unpaid labor that goes into preparing meals.
119 implied HN points 18 Feb 24
  1. Singaporean Hokkien mee is a unique dish, blending egg noodles and rice vermicelli braised in pork and seafood stock.
  2. The history of Nam Sing Hokkien Fried Mee reflects the evolution of hawker culture in Singapore, from street vendors to modernized food courts.
  3. The interconnectedness of hawker operations across generations and locations highlights the tradition and family legacies within Singaporean cuisine.
259 implied HN points 26 Nov 23
  1. Hold your knife according to the task at hand, not just one fixed way.
  2. When filleting sardines, treat them delicately and brush the knife gently along their back.
  3. Favorite way to cook sardines: barely cook them, salt, add olive oil, then gently torch the skins.
339 implied HN points 21 Oct 23
  1. The author did not make it to the final in Lyon for a food competition, but the experience was still remarkable and enjoyable.
  2. The winning entries at the competition were impressive, and the winners were described as very kind individuals.
  3. Reading more of the author's posts requires a subscription, but a 7-day free trial is available for access to the full post archives.
179 implied HN points 21 Dec 23
  1. The dish _lou arh_ is a traditional braised duck dish in Singapore associated with Teochew cooking.
  2. The process of cooking _lou arh_ is heavily influenced by family traditions and personal adaptations over time.
  3. Creating a recipe for _lou arh_ is a personal journey that involves memories and experiences, rather than just following a set of instructions.
99 implied HN points 24 Jan 24
  1. Learning new skills can invigorate and add excitement to life, even after major changes like closing a restaurant.
  2. Investigating the origins and processes behind everyday items, like edible fats, can provide insight into larger societal trends.
  3. Exploring diverse dining options in strip malls while charging an electric vehicle can lead to unexpected cultural experiences and connections to immigrant communities.
399 implied HN points 07 Jul 23
  1. Fine dining culture emphasizes heavily rehearsed perfection that can sometimes feel detached from genuine culinary enjoyment.
  2. Small, unassuming restaurants can offer profound, labor-intensive food that may not be visually appealing but reflects true ambition and dedication to craft.
  3. True culinary ambition can be found in humble establishments rather than in flashy, photogenic presentations with colorful purees and elaborate plating.
239 implied HN points 04 Sep 23
  1. The sharpness of a knife is measured not just by its edge, but by its ability to cut effectively through various materials like oranges and tomato skin.
  2. Knife sharpening is a personal act of modification, shaping the knife to meet individual needs and preferences.
  3. The geometry of a knife, including its shape and design, plays a critical role in its performance in the kitchen more than the specific edge angles.
399 implied HN points 21 Apr 23
  1. French tops in restaurant kitchens are unique pieces of equipment that serve a specific purpose in cooking efficiently
  2. French tops provide precise heat control by requiring movement of saucepans instead of adjusting the flame, making chefs more conscious of heat distribution and time
  3. Using a French top in a home kitchen may not be practical due to the intense heat generated and the effort required to maintain it compared to its benefits
159 implied HN points 09 Oct 23
  1. The post discusses a unique dish with jellied garlic paste, chili, and a salad mashup inspired by Chinese and Western flavors.
  2. The author shares the process and details of creating the dish for an upcoming event in Montreal, blending traditional and modern elements.
  3. The post highlights a blend of culinary influences, showcasing attention to detail in the dish's preparation and flavor composition.
439 implied HN points 25 Feb 23
  1. Urban Hawker in New York tries to replicate the essence of Singaporean hawker culture, but falls short in capturing the full experience.
  2. Hawker food is more than just dishes; it's a system of practices, relationships, and locations that define its authenticity.
  3. The affordability and accessibility of hawker culture in Singapore is crucial for its value and quality of life, and replicating it in a different economic context raises ethical concerns.
259 implied HN points 03 Jun 23
  1. Enjoying diverse cuisines in different parts of the world can offer insights into the unique cultural and historical influences on food preparation and presentation.
  2. Restaurants with vastly different culinary traditions may still share similar formal dining practices, suggesting a universal appreciation for elegance in food service.
  3. Exploring local eateries in small villages can provide a deep connection to the authentic flavors, culinary practices, and regional charm of a place.
199 implied HN points 13 Aug 23
  1. Experimentation in food presentation is key - avoid common approaches and strive for something unique.
  2. Working in unfavorable conditions can be tough, but can also lead to surprising results.
  3. Don't be afraid to learn from mistakes and try again to improve - persistence is crucial in culinary endeavors.
139 implied HN points 04 Oct 23
  1. The author has been immersed in making pâté-croûte and invites subscribers to try it and attend public qualifiers in Montreal.
  2. The post shares experiences with Malay cooking in Singapore, highlighting two different servings of ketam lemak.
  3. Reflecting on the essence of cooking, the author contemplates the meticulous refinement of dishes like boeuf bourguignon and the beauty in the mess and work involved in enjoying a meal.
159 implied HN points 26 Aug 23
  1. Finding the best canele pastries in different cities can vary greatly in taste and quality.
  2. Using modern technology for baking canele pastries may lead to better results compared to traditional methods.
  3. Quality of a famous pastry brand's product at a fast-food restaurant like McDonald's might surprise or confuse customers.
239 implied HN points 01 Apr 23
  1. The newsletter operates on a patronage model with paid subscribers receiving extra content.
  2. The author started the newsletter as a way to build an audience for a potential book.
  3. The original memoir written by the author has taken a backseat to the importance of the essays in the newsletter.
199 implied HN points 03 May 23
  1. Differences in wages reflect societal values on labor, education, and automation.
  2. AI technology is changing the landscape of job application processes and the value of labor.
  3. The intrinsic value of human expertise in activities like cooking may not be easily replaceable by machines.
219 implied HN points 07 Apr 23
  1. The author's unique background and lack of traditional culinary training shaped their journey into becoming a cook.
  2. Working in a French restaurant led to valuable lessons and mentorship from experienced staff members.
  3. Experiencing the closure of a restaurant during Chinese New Year taught the author an important lesson in the industry.
139 implied HN points 25 Jun 23
  1. In Singapore, cooking certain dishes like rempah and kueh is seen as a communal activity, done with family and friends.
  2. Singaporean cuisine is largely cooked within homes and doesn't have strict recipes, making it communal and unique to each family.
  3. The process of preparing rempah can be personal, with adjustments made based on individual preferences, leading to a sense of satisfaction and nostalgia.
239 implied HN points 08 Jan 23
  1. There is a world championship for meat pie called Championnat du Monde du Pâté-Crôute held in France, known for its complex and artistic meat pies with criteria like architectural design and use of meat jelly.
  2. Entrants need to be culinary professionals with 5 years of experience, and there are only two rules: meat-based pâté-crôute entries and no truffles to avoid escalation in ingredient quality.
  3. The competition offers glory and a unique trophy presented by a chef in a leather apron, and the author is practicing hard to improve his pâté-crôute skills for the qualifying round in October.
99 implied HN points 28 Jun 23
  1. Cooking with 8-year-old girls can be a fun and educational experience by baking simple recipes from scratch, introducing them to measurement and process.
  2. Engage children in cooking activities through transformations like whipping cream, making meringue, or trying out croquettes and dumplings for hands-on experiences.
  3. Encourage creativity in cooking by letting children experiment, make mistakes, and learn valuable lessons like not always trusting their eyes or judgment.
179 implied HN points 04 Jan 23
  1. The author is working on a book about Singaporean food and food culture and is seeking ideas and input from readers.
  2. A shortage of semiconductors causing a slowdown in car manufacturing led to unexpected consequences like a shortage of Haribo gummi bears due to gelatin from leather manufacturing.
  3. The Superiority Burger cookbook offers high-spirited food recipes designed for manufacturability, regardless of one's stance on meat eating.
319 implied HN points 22 May 22
  1. Kway chap, a Singaporean dish, offers a unique dining experience with its long queues and variety of ingredients like pork innards and rice noodles.
  2. The process of waiting in line at a hawker stall for kway chap involves observing the bustling environment, from ordering to receiving the food.
  3. The complexity of flavors in kway chap, along with its textural variety and symbolic value, makes it a deeply satisfying dish worth the inconvenience.
119 implied HN points 05 Mar 23
  1. The post shares about a chef's experience of making a pâté-croûtes, mentioning one as the best made almost a year ago and another made recently as one of the worst.
  2. The post invites readers to keep reading by subscribing to 'let them eat cake' for a 7-day free trial to access full post archives.
  3. There are links provided for readers to start the free trial or sign in if they are already a paid subscriber.
139 implied HN points 16 Jan 23
  1. The author shared a post about making their first p\u00e2t\u00e9-cro\u00fbte since December 2021, experimenting with soy and five spice in the recipe.
  2. The post includes a link to subscribe to their newsletter with a 7-day free trial offer for access to full post archives.
  3. The author adjusted the spicing and ingredients in a familiar recipe to see how different elements worked together in a \u00e2t\u00e9-cro\u00fbte, showcasing their experimentation in pastry making.
179 implied HN points 05 Oct 22
  1. French gastronomy has evolved from formal, rich, and elaborate cuisine to more ingredient-focused and accessible styles over the past 50 years.
  2. The concept of bistronomie emerged as a shift towards bistro-like restaurants with refined dishes from haute cuisine, offering more affordable and accessible dining experiences.
  3. The evolution of restaurants over time reflects the balancing act between sustainability and maintaining the initial audacious appeal, as chefs grow and businesses mature.
179 implied HN points 24 Sep 22
  1. Leisure travel often revolves around consuming experiences or products, making it different from other types of travel like volunteering or religious pilgrimages.
  2. The character of a city, particularly in France, is shaped by choices made by others long ago, leading to similarities in street activities and settings.
  3. Cities in the US and France are increasingly dominated by activities like eating and shopping, potentially transforming them into tourist destinations as other uses of space become less prioritized.