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September 20, 2006 - Image 5

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The Michigan Daily, 2006-09-20

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September 20, 2006



It's a palatable life

My friends are worried.
They think some of my
particularities are becom-
ing a problem.
I've been accused of being a
bread-counter floozy, a Nicaraguan
coffee fiend and a whore for garotxa,.
gaperon and brie. According to my
more frequent dinner companions,
I'm a culinary coquette
who will sweet-talk
any and all delicatessen
workers for a sample of
their zucchini carpac-
cio. Don't even get me
started on imported
olive oils.
Some accuse me
of being a food snob,
thumbing my nose at
restaurant-chain buf-
falo wings and store- KRM
bought pasta sauce. CH
They also claim I flirt
with the cheese-counter guy at
And they say it like it's a bad
Let's get one thing straight: I love
food. Who doesn't? It's great stuff.
Something you literally can't live
with out. Food as fuel is a life neces-
sity, but for me at least, the point of
eating isn't always to be full. Mas-
tication is simply a tedious chore
that irritates my jaw but achieves its
goal. Truly eating and enjoying is an
incredible sensory (or if you throw
in oysters, potentially sensual) expe-
rience: It's all about the slippery cool
of a cut of sashimi on your tongue
and the light, honeyed odor of fresh
cut mangoes. A sexy food aesthetic
is asparagus flash-boiled perfectly
green or the contrasting colors of
insalata caprese. Taste is greatly
defined by your sense of smell, and
texture and appearance color a meal
as well.
At the risk of sounding like
some epicurean elitist, a truly
enjoyable food experience is about
the difference between being satis-
fied versus being satiated. Tasting
versus feeding.
They say it's necessary to embody
a culture to truly speak a language.
Or, looking at it from the reverse,
you must acknowledge a culture to
really communicate in a certain lan-
guage. But you cannot even begin to
embrace a culture or different way of
life without experiencing the food.
Can you imagine France without
foie gras and all of that wonderful
cheese? Pretending to understand
Japanese culture and ignoring the
sweet saltiness of miso soup? Exper-
imenting with a different cuisine is
a head-on way to immerse yourself
in something new, and it also tells
you a lot about familial and societal
interaction. The Kyrgyz are solely
focused on the task at hand, and men
eat first; conversation interrupting

mutton and sheep's milk consump-
tion is a decided no.
Recently, I spent two weeks in
and around Taipei, Taiwan, visiting
extended family during the dog days
of summer. It was the first time I'd
been back in a decade and the first
time I'd traveled on my own. My
business-shark aunt thought the best
way for us to reconnect
- and for me to truly
understand my back-
ground - was by win-
ing and dining all over
the northern part of the
island. And to do it a
lot. The two of us hit
every major downtown
restaurant in the trendy
Yong Kang Jie district.
Accompanied by my
BERLY uncle and 10-year-
HOU old cousin, we drove
out along the coastal
highway and chose our own fish at
roadside seafood emporiums (like
miniature Pacific island versions of
Seattle's Pike Place, but better deep
sea bass and sketchier health codes).
We trawled the more famous night
markets - like noisy, year-round
outdoor carnivals, perfect for enthu-
siastic foodists - for black-market
Burberry bags as well as bubble tea
and idiosyncratic Taiwanese treats
that are impossible to describe in
English and will never find a market
here, but are amazing all the same
for those and other reasons.
Taiwanese food is like the best of
Chinese cuisine, but influenced by
over a century of Japanese occupa-
tion. Obviously, the movement away
from thick mainland Chinese sauces
and heart-attack heaviness was the
only good that came out of 150 years
of oppression. Two weeks with my
family meant two weeks of bam-
boo shoots and Oriental lily broth,
mysteriously named fish in heady,
vinegar-based soups and smoked
whole chickens you could buy at a
roadside market, biking home in the
morning after 5:30 a.m. swims with
the grandmother. Family dinners,
restaurants and marketplace tour-
ism wasn't what defined my trip by
any means, but they turned out to be
remarkably edifying.
There's just so much more out
there besides boxed macaroni and
cheese or anything from a State
Street franchise. If it's been a while
since you've eaten anything that
made you scramble for Wikipedia,
it's time to be more adventurous.
Find out when the Indian buffet is
open; go to a new restaurant and
order the duck. Embrace something
different and your stomach will
thank you for it. (And if it doesn't,
it's just a culturally stunted bore)
- Shh. Chou secretly loves Cosi.
E-mail her at kimberchC umich.edu.

Disco soldiers in repose.

By Matt Emery it seems like it's been shelved in favor of
Daily Arts Writer marketability and club popularity this time
around. Pieces abandons the gritty guitar
Mus____REV ____EW_ and occasional lyrical screams in favor of a
more focused and electro-motivated effort.
The Rapture is upon us! Those New A surefire way to brew success for an
York dance, proto-punk, electronic, indie, album is to include Danger Mouse as a
prog rock, whatever-you-call-'ems are back producer (see: The Grey Album, Demon
at it. Three years after Days, St. Elsewhere). While the goateed
releasing the critically The Rapture wonder doesn't mix the
acclaimed Echoes, the entire album, he does The
foursome return with Pieces of the punch in on the title Rap
Pieces of the People People We Love track. And why not take make thos
We Love. Universal the whole Gnarles Bark-m
Although the title ley experience, you ask? hipsters sh
sounds more emo than Dashboard Confes- Well, the New Yawkers
sional on horse tranquilizers, The Rapture do with Cee-Lo provid- tight-jeafn
make those indie hipsters shake their tight- ing backing vocals. The
jeaned asses with up-tempo, synth-driven lovechild turns out sur- 'With up-t
neo-disco pop. But beyond the Converse- prisingly well as a mid- n
kid dance steps lurk dreadful lyrics and the tempo, digital Danger synth-driv
lack of the punk punch that Echoes dropped Mouse beat and syn-
into the indietronic world. Those problems thesized handclaps lead
aside, The Rapture still produce an highly way to Cee-Lo's vocal "nah nahs" along
addictive and noteworthy addition to the with high-low hits that beg for a car com-
indie-electro-dance world - even without mercial.
the punk this time around. The brass-knuckle guitar work on Echoes
Since the birth of the nex millennial still resonates through portions of the new
dance-pop craze, groups like !!!, The Scis- album. "The Sound" draws on their pre-
sor Sisters, Franz Ferdinand and LCD vious hit "House of Jealous Lovers" with
Soundsystem have been reaping the ben- the same grating guitar stanzas and cha-
efits of the again-popular disco-dance for- otic background squeals. And while much
mat. And whereas The Rapture's Echoes of the song sounds like it was recorded
added that touch of punk to the equation, in a buzz-saw factory, the addictive, cat-


scratching guitars and piercing vocal his-
trionics create just the perfect amount of
chaos - an amount begging for gyrations
on a dance floor.
"The Devil" exhibits how high a man's
voice can go as leadman Luke Jenner rat-
tles through what sounds like an asylum-
as-dancefloor orgasm. The shrill vocals,
steady cowbell clacks and kindergarten-
like drumming system-
atically blend to provide
a sexually charged,
;e indie torso-tweaking anthem.
While some songs
lake their echo that good ol' Rap-
ture sentiment sans punk
ed asses influence, some suffer
from grotesque lyrical
1Mpo, pitfalls. "First Gear"
rambles on for more
ten pop- than six minutes with a
chorus of "My, my, my,
my Mustang Ford." "Get
Myself Into It" sounds like a blatant rip-off
of !!!'s "Hello? Is Thgis Thing On?" with the
same trumpet bleats, but with a porno-funk
riff and the stellar line of "Don't talk shit
I Out with it."
Slipshod verse aside, The Rapture to
accomplish exactly what they set out to
do: create addictive and fun electro-dance
to entice indie rockers to move. No more
punk influence, but a rhythmic dancefloor
that gets disco ready for the next decade.

- ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ A --C---.- ITUni R W CCV WITU TuU Cw ewntoLi~niwUeI RUTOuw

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