Saturday, March 11, 2006

Things I would NEVER cook

Food is a funny thing. It’s so subjective. We like, what we like, and are amazed when others don’t like the same food. No amount of cajoling, convincing, or conniving can change your mind. As a kid, I was a picky eater. As an adult I still am … even though many people think I will eat “anything”. What they’re really saying is I’ll eat things they consider to be “suspect”. Maybe a better phrase than “picky” for my food preferences is, “high maintenance”? No, not really, “high maintenance” … It’s more that my sense of taste is …. Refined? Sophisticated? Sensitive? Discerning? Perhaps “snobbish” is the word. As in, “I am a food snob”. Once when I moved back to California, a friend from Okalahoma came to visit. He came because he wanted to partake in my made-from-scratch, dinner-for-one, Thanksgiving menu. At the end of his visit he left me a note telling me he had hidden a few presents around the house for me to remember him by. Day by day, something new would reveal itself … silly little things, that let me know he was paying attention to the way I lived my life. I found a new, trial-size tube, of a different toothpaste brand, stuck in a travel bag. A log carrier appeared out by the wood pile the next time I went to replenish the firewood holder by the French doors. Under the end table sat a basket to put my recycled newspapers into. They were just silly little inconsequential things, you understand. Always popping up in the most unexpected places. After a month, I thought I’d found it all. But he told me that there were still two items missing … and one day, when I was least expecting it, I’d find them. And I did. It was two-years later, when I was getting ready to move to North Carolina. There, in the back of my cupboard, behind the canned soup I never eat, behind the canned vegetables I keep, “just in case”, hiding behind the Chipotle Chilies in Adobo sauce, the unsweetened coconut milk, and three different tins of curry powder … his joke peaked out at me … I, who’d said these products would, NEVER, E-V-E-R, be in my house or pass my lips found ….. A can of Spam! And balanced on top of it? ….. Potted Meat. I laughed, and laughed, and laughed. Clearly I had stumbled on the “gift” Kerry was waiting for me to discover all those months! What has prompted this navel gazing over my food preferences and prejudices? A new friend asked me what I’m sure he thought would be a simple question. It was, “What DON’T you like to cook?” Thankfully he also asked me what wines I like to drink. That was an easy question to discourse on … for four or five paragraphs, but he wasn’t led astray. The next e-mail repeated the question. “What DON’T you like to cook?” Isn’t it funny? There’s a long list of things I don’t like to EAT … but what don’t I like to cook? I started down the list of things most people hesitate to cook Whole fish .. no problem Lobsters … I’ll get the pan of water going Liver … make sure we have enough onions Venison … how much can I fit in my freezer? Pheasant, quail … bring it on So now I’m stumped. What don’t I like to cook? I guess I don’t like to cook what I would never eat. Topping the list is the ubiquitous SPAM! Also, on the list:
  • Anything labeled a “meat product” … I can proudly say I’ve never had Spam … and it will never knowing cross these lips – even if it hides out in my cupboard for years.
  • Anything with Velveeta Cheese – hazard orange and plastic-slick – with no flavor, *yech*
  • American Cheese – anything proclaiming how much milk “product” it contains is highly suspicious if you ask me! (and once again … that plastic texture … I’d rather eat a lid to my plastic containers … at least they’d be crunchy!)
  • Instant mashed potatoes – it’s so easy to make real ones, why would you ever want these glue-y, pasty, things?
  • Any type of microwaveable meal – everything turns rubbery – the outside is over cooked – and the inside is cold. Butter and cream separate, and bread turns to a hard sponge. *ugh*
  • Any frozen dinner – might as well dump a salt shaker on a plate – and the taste profiles are so one dimensional
  • Any packaged side dish – frozen broccoli and cheese? The broccoli are hard little nuggets and the cheese is molten lava. Pasta dishes like Fettuccini Alfredo? – the noodles are pasty – with no “mouth feel”, and the cream sauce … is gloopy.
  • Any casserole containing Cream of Anything Soup – why does the flavor and texture of the vegetables need to be “disguised”? Vegetables are sweet, tangy, crisp, succulent, and “clean” tasting when they’re fresh and cooked right.
Then there are those “squeamish” things I’ve never eaten … and so I’d be hesitant to cook – ‘cause what if I cooked them wrong and they tasted bad? On that list I’d place:
  • Brains
  • Cow hocks (which are really upper feet)
  • Pigs feet, ears, and tails
There are some things I’d like to try to cook, but I want to be with an “expert” when I try .. so I don’t mess up.
  • Tortellini – the complicated bending and pressing process – but making pasta is easy
  • Tortillas – cause they need to be evenly thin
  • Puff Pastry
And the last thing I NEVER cook? The thing which is pretty much cause to be kicked out of the state? Nay, not just the fine state of North Carolina, but is reason enough to be shunned throughout the South? The one thing I have to PRACTICE every time I go visit my friends in Arkansas … the one thing my first Southern boyfriend begged me to learn how to make? The one thing that will prevent me from joining the DAR? Have you guessed? Nope not BBQ, not sweet tea (although it is a close second) ….. The thing I hate to cook most of all … the thing I dread … the thing I avoid at all costs …
There you have it …                          I’ll be packing my bags now …                                     It was nice being here …                                                 Think kind thoughts of me, Southern Citizens. I’ve tried, (Lord, how I’ve tried! Look, I practiced over Christmas vacation at the beach) … But I just can’t bring my self to commit the crime of …
- Frying Food -

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I have read my friend's commentary and I an so very PROUD to say that I taught her all that she knows about frying. In fact, I caught her looking at the Fry Daddies at Wal Mart the last time she came to Arkansas!! Let's face it, how else are you gonna do justice to a fresh-just caught-crappie or bass? What about all those luscious home grown veggies that just scream, "Fry me Baby!" She's coming around. Oh yes, she did have SPAM cross her lips when I grated it with not mayonaise, but Miracle Whip!! This is not just any "food snob", but a closet "food snob"!! My friend has a birthday coming up, and what's she gonna get? Her very on multi functional kettle that not only bakes, boils, saute's, but YES it fries!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!