When Eatocracy launched in mid-June of this year, we knew we had a lot to say about how, why, where when and what people across the United States are eating. What took us by surprise and delight was the passionate response from readers who had a thing or ten (or 76,000+ if we're keeping track of comments stats) to say about hot button topics like vegetarianism, genetically modified food, open bars, school lunches and restaurant etiquette.
Here's a sampler platter of topics that stirred the pot this year. Consider it your amuse bouche for all the food fun we'll serve up in 2011.
June 21: Waiters even the score
After giving cranky patrons a chance to sound off on their restaurant gripes, it seemed only right to turn the tables and allow servers, bartenders and hosts a chance to dish it right on back. One heck of a food fight ensued. And when it came to the notion of stiffing a server on the tip for poor service? Whooo, boy...
July 12: A day two pigs would die
Is "ethical slaughter" a real world solution or an ugly oxymoron? When our editor shared her firsthand account of a pig slaughter and the subsequent meal, some readers applauded her moral gut-check, while others called for her head.
July 19 / July 21: Lunch lies! Dinner deceits! and the Tasty truths!
On the rather less life-and-death side, readers chimed in on the tall tales their elders told to get them to eat various foods. We debunked - and supported - a few of their more outrageous claims. And no, gum does not stay in your system for seven years, but it's still not a great idea to eat it.
July 30 / August 3: Cash bars and the wrath of sober wedding guests
You may now kiss...well, we're too polite to say, but our readers surely were not. Turns out folks get a mite cranky if you expect them to to the chicken dance and the electric slide and don't pony up for a brewski or two.
August 4: Five foods I’m only somewhat ashamed to say I love: James Oseland
He may be the editor-in-chief of Saveur magazine and a judge on Top Chef Masters, but that doesn't mean the man can't kick back with a Filet-O-Fish and a pudding cup from time to time. Seeing such a sterling-palated gent admit to such lowbrow delights opened the doors for our readers' deepest, darkest, dodgiest food obsessions.
September 7: I scream. You scream. Some of us scream for scream-free restaurants
When a North Carolina restaurant introduced a "no screaming kids" policy, things got a little loud in the comments. Over 56 percent of poll respondents replied that parents should know to remove their unruly child from the premises without being asked, but some parents of autistic children claimed discrimination and pleaded for greater acceptance and understanding on their plight. Both sides seemed to come to consensus on just one point, though: howling babies can totally nuke your fancy date night.
September 17 and September 30: Five Reasons Not To Be A Vegetarian: Tim Love and Jane Velez Mitchell’s rebuttal
Yeah - we're gonna need to breathe into a paper bag for a sec here. Okay, in this corner, flesh-chomping Texas chef Tim Love talking all about how meat gets his blood pumping. In the other, TV host, author and outspoken animal rights activist and vegan Jame Velez-Mitchell in a point-by-point counter argument against him. The fur...oh boy, did it fly.
September 21: Some say Frankenfish, others call it a solution
AquAdvantage® Salmon swam its way into the headlines as Food and Drug Administration officials convened to determine if this patented, genetically modified fish was fit to enter the nation's food system. While the outcome has yet to be determined, readers and experts on both sides of the debate sought to turn the tide.
Read our full coverage on genetically modified food
September 28: The peanut butter ban
PB&J may be a sandwich classic, but it's sparked a firestorm in schools that are seeking to ban nut products altogether in light of growing concerns over food allergies. Some parents say that kids should tough it out, but other say their child is in mortal danger every day at the lunch table.
October 11 and November 1: Six ways customers tick off chefs and Five things chefs don't want you to know
Earlier this year, we'd taken note of chef Ron Eyester's hilarious, no-holds-barred Tweets about irksome brunch customers at his Atlanta restaurant Rosebud. When @theangrychef took to Eatocracy to share some very particular gripes about his clientele, readers spoke up so loudly, we had him back for seconds. A few weeks later, chef Josh Grinker of Brooklyn's Stone Park Cafe lifted the lid on a few restaurant secrets, including the staggering butter and salt content in restaurant food and the thugs cooking up your filet.
December 2: What is Southern food?
Is Southern food allowed to evolve, or is such experimentation a slap in your grandmother's face? Eatocracy explored the traditions and trajectories of the cuisine as well as the chefs and farmers at the forefront in a series of discussions around our inaugural Secret Supper with Atlanta chef Linton Hopkins.
See full coverage of the Southern food conversation.
December 21: Hungry at the holidays
While millions across the US are gobbling down bountiful holiday feasts, many kids who rely on a school lunch for sustenance are going to bed underfed. Some readers say that the government shouldn't get involved and the parents are solely responsible, while others believe that no child should ever go hungry, and we're all obligated to pitch in.
Read full coverage on the school lunch debate.
Need something else to nibble on? Grab seconds of a dozen more posts that fanned the conversational flames.
Top chefs talk Gulf seafood struggles
Last orders – death row menu requests
Dining and dating: The food of love
Foodie friendships – the ties and fries and pies that bind
Egg-splained: Free-range, cage-free and organic
The fare up there: Air Force One
Don't mess with a Texas chef: Bryan Caswell stumps for Houston
You can haz America's best cheeseburger
Grilled cheese, please!
Clarified – high fructose corn syrup
Rage against the vending machine
Up your grilling game
I've never commented before, but I have much enjoyed reading the comments =). The things people will argue about always makes me smile. Plus I really enjoy the content, though I really thought there'd be something about fourloko on this list! lol
Who the hell were the idiots that said feeding children was solely the responsibility of the parents? It's not the fault of the children if the parents cannot feed them, and they are too small and helpless to feed themselves. Anyone who said that should be banished to Siberia, because they don't deserve to live with the rest of us!
The top 10 foodie stories of 2010 and no mention of the Cooks Source debacle? Really? http://www.fastcompany.com/1700763/3-steps-to-avoid-being-the-next-cooks-source
Don't click. Useless plug.
Almost as annoying as the person who keeps referring to the politically incorrect cook book link.
"HAHA, don't click if you don't have a sense of humor, Not your usual cook book, blah blah blah...big secret, best ever....yadayadya"
Top stories on our site. We covered it, but not a whole lot of people commented.
Eatocracy only been around since June? Dang! We are the originals around here (Truth, RichardHead, myself, Evil Grin, fob/faith and others I've forgotten)
I always wait till the last second before adding my pot. It enhances the flavor!
Potent Potables for $400:
This drink got its name for the tool that miners used to use to mix it:
What is a Duck Fart?
I'm sorry, that is incorrect. The correct response: "What is a screwdriver"
I see through your LIES, Trebek........
We did have some viscous, brutal, duel-to-the-death arguments in some of these topics, didn't we? Good times. Good times. It is hard to believe it's been so short a time. That waiters debate may be what really drew us in, actually. There isn't a person anywhere that doesn't have an opinion on treatment of customers and tipping in return.
Re-reading these is interesting. I'm trying to remember which name I posted under for which article.
Actually my fav memory is referring to Chef Eyester as "Chef Eyesore"...which he later quoted in his rebuttal...
Heh heh heh. Classic.
What is a Duck Fart?
A funny noise that comes out of a ducks butt. :)
A "duck fart" is an alcoholic drink that's been around a while, but was popularized by Captain Phil of "Deadliest Catch".
I know. Side note – I'm from Alaska, my sister was a, OR nurse for Phil's operation.