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Broken Base: Food And Cooking
"Toh-may-toh? Toh-mah-toh? Let's call the whole thing off."

Most of this is due to the fact that many dishes have several variants, especially among different regions and cultures. But people insist that there's only one way to do it. This is especially true if someone adds an ingredient out of left field to a traditional dish.

  • Omnivores vs Vegetarians/Vegans
    • Pescetarians or vegetarians? Vegetarians vs vegans.
    • Everyone versus vegans.
  • Five star restaurants vs. mom and pop restaurants and buffets
  • Barbecue, with several layers of argument:
    • The most elemental question: What is barbecue? To most, it means "grilling", or perhaps "things flavored in a sweet smoky tomato sauce," but who insist that barbecue MUST be slow-cooked from an indirect heat source. Technically the purists are correct, and Lord help you if you disagree with them anywhere in the main barbecue regions (Carolina, Memphis, Kansas City, and Texas), but most people don't have a real barbecue pit or smoker.
    • Among the major American barbecue groups the arguments are:
      • Pork only (Carolina, Memphis) or pork and beef (KC, Texas)?
      • Which cuts? Carolina has a minor civil war over Eastern-style (whole-pig) and Lexington-style (just the shoulder). Texas is of course famous for brisket, and Memphis for ribs, and KC for barbecuing more or less anything that used to have hooves.
      • Which leads to another question: Can you barbecue sausage? Carolina, Memphis: No! Texas, KC: YES!
      • Vinegar-based sauce (Carolina) or tomato-based sauce (Memphis, KC, Texas)? Within Carolina, do you leave out tomato altogether (Eastern Carolina) or let a little bit in (Lexington)?
      • How important is the sauce? Does anyone do it with just the dry rub (Memphis, for some items), or must the sauce be absolutely top-notch (KC), or is it a sideshow (Texas)?
      • Sauce cooked on or added afterward? Sweet or savory sauce? Spicy or mild? Liquid Smoke: Boon or Blasphemy?
    • Among those who aren't purists, there are other arguments about what the purists call "grilling." Including:
      • Coal or Propane?
      • Coal: Straight charcoal or wood-smoked accented?
    • And of course, there are die-hards who will not burn anything they didn't cut off a tree (the purists typically fall into this camp).
  • Chili wars make even the BBQ battles look tame. The big one is over whether beans are allowed or not; they lynch people in Texas who prefer beans. Then there's ground meat vs. chopped meat, red vs. green, soupy vs. thick, and how spicy is too spicy?
    • Whether vegetarian chilis count or are an unholy abomination depends on the person.
  • Stoves: Electric or Gas?
    • And if electric, Fan assisted or convection? Ceramic hobs or induction?
  • Pizza: New York style or Chicago style? Or the recent California style, which the New York and Chicago pizza fans are united against?
    • The Italian original vs the American "blasphemy"?
    • Pizza-Hut vs. Domino's vs. Papa John's
    • Thin-crust vs. regular crust vs. deep dish
    • Stuffed crust: heretical bastardization of the "pizza" concept, or just a way to make the least-flavorful part tasty?
    • Standard toppings like pepperoni, onions, and bell peppers vs. innovations like pineapple, grilled chicken and barbeque sauce. And God help you if you like Greek pizza (the topping kind, not the style pie made in Boston that gets its name because that's who makes pizza there), because neither the major chains nor local pizzarias will carry it.
  • Five Guys vs. In-N-Out vs. Chick-fil-A.
    • McDonald's vs. Wendy's vs. Burger King vs..etc..
    • KFC vs Church's vs Popeye's vs..etc..
    • White Castle vs Krystal.
  • How to take care of cast iron cookware. Seriously, there's one school that holds you wipe out the residue when you're done cooking in it, and otherwise leave it alone. Soapy water should never touch it, and scrubbies are right out. Another school of thought is "wash it out quickly then heat it and oil it." If something scorches on, light scrubbing is acceptable.
  • Coke vs Pepsi, to the point where Coke drinkers screamed "Ruined!" at the top of their lungs in the 80s when a failing Coke changed their formula to make the soda taste more like Pepsi. (Indeed, these Coke fans chose not to drink anything but water until the Coca-Cola Company changed the flavor back.)
    • This exists between most similar sodas on a lesser scale: Mountain Dew original vs its many spinoff flavours (I.E. Code Red), Mountain Dew vs Mellow Yellow, Sprite vs. Squirt, Mr. Pibb vs Dr. Pepper, and countless others.
    • To a lesser extent, both sides have their own splits over high fructose corn syrup (both mainstream brands) vs. cane sugar (Mexican Cokes, Pepsi Throwbacks).
  • After watching a Food Network special, apparently there seems to be a small war going on about hotdog condiments. Either you believe ketchup is a good addition to a hotdog, or an awful condiment used only by people with sub-human tastes.
    • With hot dogs there is the controversial NK-17 rule. No ketchup if you are over 17 years of age.
    • Note that regarding ketchup, this applies beyond hot dogs as well. That is, the debate seems to be whether ketchup should even exist or not. The best way to fan the flames in such an argument is to mention French fries. (See the more detailed discussion below.)
  • Regular drip coffee vs. espresso.
    • Regular espresso coffee vs. drip.
    • French press vs. pour-over vs. espresso vs. automatic drip maker.
    • Then you have the diehards who only drink coffee made from beans they roasted and ground themselves.
  • There is no name for a Middle East/Mediterranean style of coffee in which incredibly fine grounds are placed directly in the water and heated almost to boiling two or three times which won't carry a risk of getting you punched, as every name is a nationality that has a history with the others. While the actual way it's made varies, everyone generally aims for a similar flavor profile and is just trying to avoid a dud batch, although some nationalities are fond of adding flavors like hyssop, which is disliked by others but mainly thought of as a quirk.
  • What's the correct way to make a Philly Cheese Steak?
    • Mayo or no mayo?
    • What type of cheese: American, Provolone, or Cheez Wiz? This is the main arguments, with Provolone and Wiz being the biggest camps.
    • What cut of steak?
    • There's also the debate between Pat's and Geno's, the two "originators" of the sandwich which do each part of the sandwich differently.
  • Coffee has a broken base of people who just prefer:
    • a plain old "cup of joe," or
    • people who like espresso and lattes, or
    • people from coffee-drinking (and producing) cultures (i.e., Caribbean, Central and South America, East and North Africa, Middle East, South India, Southeast Asia, Southern Europe) who prefer their own brews.
      • This has become symbolic of the divide between blue-collar workers versus hipsters and yuppies versus migrants and their respective diasporas. Starbucks, the major purveyor of espressos and lattes and the like, is seen as being a dainty establishment frequented by effete hipsters and yuppies. Establishments like Dunkin Donuts that offer a good old "cup of joe" are seen as being more emblematic of working class people. Further, there are ethnic food establishments that serve their own national styles.
    • Among gourmet coffee drinkers, there's also a broken base of Starbucks fans vs. fans of local coffeehouses.
  • Sierra Mist Natural vs Original Sierra Mist.
  • Milk chocolate versus dark chocolate. Or whether or not white chocolate should be considered chocolate at all.
  • Pumpkin Pie or Sweet Potato Pie?
  • Microwave oven or Strictly traditional? This has become a three-way split with chefs recently: Some treat microwaving as just another means of cooking to be learned and mastered with its advantages and disadvantages. Some consider it an abomination to be wiped out that renders anything put inside of it inedible. (This is one of the points of contention with Ron Ben-Israel on Sweet Genius.) There are also some chefs within the continuum who disdain cooking with it but are fine with using a microwave oven to boil water or melt chocolate, and they generally will accept it as a last resort when pressed for time, as is common in Chopped.
  • Preservatives or No preservatives?
  • How would you like your steak? You may regret what you answer with.
    • The Irish Michelin-starred chef Richard Corrigan (best known in the U.S. for BBC America's "Chef Race: U.S. vs. U.K.") said basically that only the immature take issue with people who prefer their steaks cooked well-done and that he doesn't have an issue with people who come into his restaurants and order their steaks that way. He stated that as a stealth jab against Anthony Bourdain, who's basically said that people who order their steaks "well done" are horrible people who only deserve the absolute worst cuts of meat.
  • What to put on hot chips/fries. Often depends on the country you're from. Mayonnaise or tomato sauce/ketchup or barbecue sauce or sweet chilly sauce? To salt or not to salt?
    • If you are in Edinburgh, Scotland, then there is only one answer: the rather ill-defined brown concoction Edinburghers call "chippy sauce." Notable for being despised by everyone else in the entire world.
  • Does cereal only taste good with hot milk, or is drinking it with anything other than refrigerated milk an abomination against your taste-buds? What about eating them plain?
  • Waffles vs Pancakes vs French Toast.
    • What's the proper topping for any of them?
  • The proper way to make coleslaw, people tend to have their own way of making it.
  • Which is better: Lasagna or Baked Ziti?
  • Is it called "farmers pie", "shepherds pie", or "cottage pie"?
    • I think cottage pie is specifically beef and shepherd's pie mutton, but farmers pie? I'm not sure if that's beef or mutton!
  • What's the proper way to cook rice? Is frying it worthy of death, or is boiled rice tasteless? Should it only be eaten plain?
  • Pies vs Cobblers
  • The name of Luncheon Meat in Australia and New Zealand. It has 6 names.
  • Vegemite vs Promite vs Marmite
  • Mustard. Sweet or savoury? Wine or vinegar? How much? In Europe, Frenchmen defend Dijon or "French" mustard as the only proper type. The Germans cling like limpets to Bavarian sweet mustard. The British think they are both wusses and go in for spicy English mustard (usually Coleman's). And what will they all agree on? That American mustard is worse than Hitler.
  • What constitutes a healthy diet? Low-carb or low-fat?
    • Then there are the people who think both above options are terrible and tend to go for other solutions — calorie counting, portion control, the Weight Watchers/Jenny Craig way, the diabetic ("carb counting") diet, etc.
    • If you thought that was bad, try starting a discussion on whether a healthy diet can include meat or not...
  • Chicken salad: dark meat vs white meat, fruit or no fruit etc..
  • The proper way to make banana pudding, some think using instant jello pudding mix is blasphemous.
  • There seems to be a recent split about using ketchup at all. Is it too strong of a sauce, overpowering and dominating anything it comes in contact with? Is it genuinely useful as a sauce, improving the flavor of something without getting in the way? Or is it indeed overpowering and aggressive but it tastes so good it doesn't matter?
  • Nutella. Original Nutella or no-name imitations? With or without butter underneath? Spoonwise or not? And the most base-breaking question: Is its German article DER Nutella, DIE Nutella or DAS Nutella? (Duden dictionary says all three versions are allowed.)
  • Within the candy loving community there's American Smarties vs International Smarties. American Smarties, also known as "Rockets", are fruit flavored wafer candies while the version sold elsewhere is more similar to M&Ms. Given that Smarties are known as the chocolate ones almost everywhere the argument tends to be in favor of the international version.
  • Miracle Whip vs Mayonnaise. The most common consensus is that you either adore one of the two or you loathe it with a passion.
  • The perpetual "last straw" of Deadly Thanksgiving Dinners: "From-Scratch" vs Canned Cranberry Sauce
    • Other Thanksgiving battles: Should the turkey be roasted, smoked, or fried? Lumpy or smooth mashed potatoes? How moist/dry should the dressing/stuffing be?
      • There's also the argument over whether the dressing/stuffing should be stuffed inside the turkey and cooked that way or cooked by itself in a casserole dish. Or (as some recipes call for) should the dressing be made entirely on the stove? And then there are the people who prefer a bread-based dressing/stuffing and those people who were raised on cornbread dressing/stuffing, who gag at the thought of dressing/stuffing being made with regular old bread.
  • Should the person who cooked also have to do the dishes?
  • For vegetarians, Quorn or Tofu?
  • Some people were raised with eating meatloaf made entirely with ground beef and can't fathom the idea of it being made with any other type of meat. Then there are the people who were raised with eating meatloaf made with a combination of meats and think the idea of a meatloaf made just with ground beef is unappetizing.
    • Also, what filler to use? Bread crumbs, oatmeal, corn flakes, or crackers? Even within the cracker contingent, the debate rages between saltines and Ritz.
    • Tomato paste, tomato sauce, or ketchup?
  • Butter vs. margarine is a common source of contention, especially since a sizable part of the population was raised back when butter was considered verboten and will thus only ever know about margarine.
    • In the Balkans countries, people who prefer margarine often use its low price as an argument to eat it.
    • Regarding the above - many arguments have been started about its name. Standardised language allows only Slavic words maslac and maslo, but for some reason puter (with a p) is the most widely used term. Now, there is also buter, closest to the original...
  • Should hot chocolate be made with water or milk?
    • Not to mention the questions of exact recipe: Vanilla? Dash of salt? Cream? Chocolate powder or chocolate syrup? Depending on where you're from, even sugar may be an issue.
  • Among beer drinkers in the U.S, major breweries vs. craft breweries. Like the "cup of joe" vs. espresso example mentioned above, this one divides along class lines, with the former associated with the working class, and the latter associated with yuppies and hipsters.
    • Lately this has started to invert, as microbrews become more prevalent and cheaper at the same time hipsters profess a love for PBR and other major brews.
    • There are also "basic" lagers like Narragansett, PBR, Busch, and Yuengling that have a rival in "premium" lagers like Budweiser. As the basic lagers are often very regionally bound (Narragansett for New England, Natty Boh for Baltimore, et cetera), there's a bit of a split on local color grounds.
  • Tea vs. coffee in the UK.
  • Amongst tea drinkers, those who use tea bags vs. those who prefer loose leaf. Tea bags are definitely more convenient, but loose leaf fans insist the bag prevents the tea from brewing properly, ruining the taste.
    • Green tea vs. black tea.
  • And there's the question of how you like you tea: milk or lemon (or not at all?) Sugar or no sugar? Milk in first, or after the tea is poured? In the cup vs. in a pot?
  • What to put in coffee: sugar vs. artificial sweetener, powdered creamer vs. liquid creamer vs. real cream vs. milk, sugar no cream or cream no sugar. Then, you add in the faction that takes it black...
  • Butter: on the top or the bottom of the bread?
  • Clam chowder: New England style (white, milk-based) or Manhattan (red, tomato-based)?

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