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Pittsburgh-area Writer: Our Food Stinks!
Monday, September 11, 2006 | posted by Mike

PittsburghI’ve mentioned before how every little hamlet and township has a local paper that makes a big deal out of some crew from the Food Network coming to their area to do a profile of the local rib joint or caramel apple factory. It’s nice, and it shows how important food is in the lives of people, and how much of their local pride goes into their regional cuisine.

I have to admit I was taken aback when I came across an article by Mike Seate from the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. The column was – I thought – a review of Alton Brown’s Feasting on Asphalt, which Seate called “brilliant.” But Seate actually had another, much more creative idea:
Thoughtfully presented and filled with the sort of down-home regional flavor that makes road travel so interesting, it was all I could do last weekend to finish the program before strapping on my own helmet for a taste of some diner cuisine.

That's where everything went all pear-shaped, as chefs like to say.
Ahhh! Anyone who watched the series knows that Alton didn’t sugar coat any of the less-than-spectacular meals that he tried while on the road (i.e. pig’s feet, brain sandwiches), but it’s interesting to see a “local” disparaging the area’s food. He did have positive things to say about breakfast, though. His biggest gripe seems to be a lack of a discernable identity (or flavor):
But here in Western Pennsylvania, there really doesn't seem to be any unique regional cuisine to cheer about.

In fact, after sampling food from at least a half-dozen roadside diners, I'm convinced that the use of spices and ethnic flavorings has been outlawed in this state under penalty of law.
Although Seate’s travels were not as successful as he would have hoped, we think that Alton Brown would have been thrilled. The true message of Feasting on Asphalt was not that this greasy spoon or that pancake joint is so great. Rather, it was about the preservation of a way of life that eschewed cookie-cutter chains in favor of locally produced food cooked by people who put their hearts into the dishes. And that’s what Mike Seate set out to find.

Better luck next time, Mike…and there’s always Primanti Brothers.



Hi, I'm Mike and I created TVFoodFan.com as a place where you can come to get the latest news and views about what’s going on in the world of culinary television.

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