The Bulls-Eye Theory

Through various websites, blogs, forums, panel discussions and soapboxes, Mr. Thursday has long advocated to a theory of his own origination: The Bulls-Eye Theory of Food.

The Bulls-Eye Theory is a simple one: for nearly every specific kind of food in the United States, there is a central location (a bulls-eye) where the comestible of choice can be found at its highest quality.  The best lobsters are found in Maine; the best strip steaks in Kansas City; the best Maryland Crab soup in, that’s right, Maryland.  Now, this is not to say that it is impossible to find a good lobster dinner in a restaurant in New Jersey, rather, it’s far more likely that walking indiscriminately into a seafood restaurant in Bar Harbor, ME is far more likely to yield positive results than using a similar absence of discretion in seafood selection in Sea Isle City, NJ (though if you should find yourself in need of buttered crustacean in Sea Isle, Mr. Thursday enthusiastically recommends Busch’s for both the quality of its dinner, and for the unintentional comedy of the Wednesday night patrons upon hearing a middle aged suburbanite crooning out covers of 1950s pop songs). 

The theory has faced many challenges in the past, in the form of various skeptics inquiring as to specific foods that they imagine to have a broader appeal, and thus no, or perhaps many centers.  Mr. Thursday, as is his nature, listens to these arguments and then crushes them with the swiftness and certainty of Britain’s defeat of Zanzibar over 100 years ago. 

The most common of these counter-arguments is pizza.  A food which, the claim goes, has found peaks in New York, Chicago, California, and elsewhere.  To dispute this, we look to define these foods.  Chicago is distinctly thick-crust, while New York is the traditional Neapolitan while California features the “artisan” pizza which Mr. Thursday generally disapproves of, since this fallacy is almost always, in fact, bland pizza overstuffed with toppings to hide its inadequacies.  Even Philadelphia has a pizza bulls-eye of its own with tomato pie which is hardly found outside the area, and not nearly with the frequency or quality found within. 

Mr. Thursday applauds the regional nature of food—in a rapidly globalizing world, many people no longer take pride in their hometowns, and food’s refusal to get with the program is worthy of note.


Filed under Food

6 responses to “The Bulls-Eye Theory

  1. Goose

    We’ve talked about this a number of times. And I have agreed with you since you first brought it to my attention. But never have I heard it explained more convincingly then when you explain it in the third person.

  2. paul

    while its an interesting theory, its just wrong.
    whats the center for chicken, are you going to suggest that every variety of chicken has its own center. fried chicken in kentucky maybe? what about grilled chicken, or grilled chicken with a pinch of cilantro?
    i like the entusiasm with which you put for this theory, but drawn to its logical conclusion it becomes absurd.

  3. “Chicken” is an animal, or a meat, not a food. The bulls-eye theory speaks of distinct foods, so while “chicken” wouldn’t qualify, chicken parm would. And while I can’t tell you offhand where the bulls-eye for this particular dish is (willing to guess New York City), I do imagine there is one.

    Your the nature of your question is somewhat dubious. “Grilled chicken with a pinch of cilantro” is like asking for the bulls-eye for a “medium rare Kobe beef bacon cheeseburger using only center-cut bacon and black diamond cheddar cheese on a lightly toasted sesame seed bun”.

    The theory speaks to specific dishes, not some random meal prepared just the way you like it.

    Roast pork is from Philadelphia, and in the US, paella gets worse the farther you get from the Florida Keys. There is no bulls-eye for your favorite popcorn with just the right amount of salt and butter.

  4. paul

    id have to say you are once again mistaken my friend.
    if your theory simply works with dishes then you run into another problem. while it may be easy to say that the bullseye for a cheesesteak is philadelphia and crab is maryland. what about roast beef? what about chile? there are too many nationwide generic dishes to claim that one area makes the best oatmeal and another area the best meatloaf.
    fine, you dont consider “chicken” a viable alternative to violate your precious theory how about chicken noodle soup? or if you want to get even more defined how about deviled eggs? where is the bullseye for that.
    i suggest you rework your theory into saying that CERTAIN foods have centers: cheesesteaks, pizza, crabcakes, etc, while other foods do not.
    then i will acquiese and agree with you.

  5. “Chile” is a country, the capitol of which is Santiago. “Chili” on the other hand, is a dish laden with beans, and the farther you get from Cinncinati, Ohio, the farther you are from the bulls-eye.

    Chicken Noodle soup is a staple of the Philadelphia and Camden area, thanks to the food being popularized by Campbell’s Soup. While an immensely popular soup all over the country, there isn’t a soup-serving deli in the region that doesn’t carry chicken noodle. The same isn’t true for, say, Charlotte.

  6. Another origin of chili is in San Antonio, TX, it’s worth noting. That’s the more familiar form of chili, with the meat and beans, and the consistency of a stew of incredible thickness.

    The Cinncinatti chili is different in flavor and serving (frequently over spaghetti), so “chili” has at least two bulls-eyes for its (at least) two distinct varieties.

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