Friday, June 29, 2012

Lucky Peach came to Oklahoma Joe's to debate American cuisine

Posted by on Fri, Jun 29, 2012 at 9:00 AM

Robert Sietsma and Jonathan Gold attempt to remain anonymous at Oklahoma Joes.
  • Lucky Peach
  • Robert Sietsma and Jonathan Gold attempt to remain anonymous at Oklahoma Joe's.
If you want a slice of Americana, you might as well get it with a fifty-fifty on the side. In Lucky Peach's fourth issue (which publisher McSweeney's says will be on stands next Tuesday), food writers Robert Sietsma and Jonathan Gold discuss the genesis of American cuisine over plates of food at Oklahoma Joe's, Stroud's and Winstead's.

Kansas City was apparently selected because of Calvin Trillin's repeated assertions that the institutions of his city were the apex of eating. And while Gold, Sietsma and the article's author Peter Meehan (who co-founded Lucky Peach with Momofuku chef David Chang), are aware that Trillin was often singing the praises of Arthur Bryant's, it is the ribs at Oklahoma Joe's that are tucking into as the tape recorder rolls.

The story, which reads more like a podcast, doesn't define American cuisine (that may not be a realistic goal for a book let alone a few thousand words), so as much as give insight into how American food writers see American cuisine. The only substantive discussion of the eats in Kansas City centers over the tenderness of the ribs. Meehan writes:

I didn't like the ribs at Oklahoma Joe's. Too soft, I thought, and I shared my opinion with Robert and Jonathan. We didn't disagree on the barbecue, but Jonathan took issue with the way I phrased my disappointment. "You looked at this and said, 'Oh they really fucked up,' " he chastised. But no, they didn't. It just isn't our aesthetic. You've never seen such beautiful ribs in your life. And sometimes it's cool to see an aesthetic perfectly realized, even if it isn't your own."

For those interested in the process of food writing and how one comes to be reviewing the plates of food put before him, the story will prove illuminating. The great truths about Kansas City cuisine, those are still up to us to discover.

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