Whew, I’m Not the Only One

Filed under:Cool,Food,It's My Life — posted by Anwyn on August 10, 2008 @ 2:10 pm

I’ve taken on quite a devotion to cooking in the last couple years. I love my cast-iron pans, I love broiling steaks in them, making pasta sauces in them, making everything I possibly can in them, and next weekend I’m going to try a giant apple pancake in one of them. I’ve always suspected, though, that I would be looked down upon by serious enthusiastic cooks and food lovers, because there are so many different foods I don’t like. These fall into a few categories: Foods I like okay but probably wouldn’t choose if given options (shrimp, for example); foods I don’t like but will endure if I have to (citrus fruit, cilantro, others); foods I don’t like on their own but will accept in other things (blueberries in pancakes or muffins, avocado in guacamole); foods I simply cannot stand and will not eat under any circumstances (beets, mushrooms, artichokes, any of the weirder types of fruits like mango, nuts other than peanuts, tea, coconut, etc.).

Recently I’ve become completely enamored of the Smitten Kitchen, so it was with glee that I came upon her entry of some of her food weirdnesses and discovered that even serious cooks have a lot of stuff they don’t like.

2. As the above should suggest I’m really quite the curmudgeon about food; cooking allows me to hide this: I hate beets, green peppers on anything but pizza and even then not really, find cilantro (the green, not the powdered spice or seed) distasteful, as well as most teas, broccoli rabe and kale,all chais, cardamom, caviar, cheese-stuffed or coated items, dolma, minestrone, coconut curries, mustard that looks like yellow paint, the vast majority of fruit juices, nectars and smoothies and the vast majority of California cabernets and chardonnays I have tried.

Awesome. I don’t like smoothies myself because of a very limited relationship with fruit in general (strawberries, apples, grapes, and bananas, essentially, make the cut, and sparingly). She hates beets and dislikes cilantro! Just like me! Woo! But best of all was this bit:

1. After being a vegetarian for more than 15 years, the thing I took most quickly to was bacon, followed by any sort of pork, mussels and then beefy stews in butter-enriched sauces. Perhaps I wasn’t so much a “vegetarian” all those years but “rebelling against Jewish food.” Meanwhile, I have no love for typically easy-to-love non-vegetarian items such as chicken, turkey and shrimp. I’d pretty much rather eat a beet than a grilled chicken cutlet, which I will insist to my dying day tastes closer to cardboard than something edible.

Hallelujah. I have only recently come to the conclusion that the main reason I haven’t worked with raw chicken in my kitchen for a year or more, other than to roast a whole bird now and then, is because I really don’t enjoy eating the results. I made a heavy-duty chicken stir-fry the other night because of a sneaking suspicion that I’d been going too heavy on the beef lately, and it just. is. not. worth. it. The slimy, raw chicken that you have to pull strings of bloody tendon out of, and what do you get? Little chunks of white, dry, tasteless protein only marginally rescued by the glory of veggies around it. Yuck. I’m with Deb: Bacon, pork, beef. (I’ve never tried mussels.) Give me a steak to slap into the cast iron, any time, or chopped bacon on my spinach salad, or pancetta in my mashed potatoes, or pork tenderloin … did I mention the steak broiled in cast iron? Yum.

image: detail of installation by Bronwyn Lace