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.


  1. You’re way beyond me! If it can’t be unwrapped and ready to serve within five minutes of me pushing the ‘Start’ button on the microwave, it just isn’t worth the time.

    The breakfast cereal inventory turns over rather quickly in my household, too!

    Comment by Chris — August 10, 2008 @ 3:11 pm

  2. Raw chicken is of Satan, but I’ll be darned if I’m ever going to break my fried chicken habit. One of my favorite meals that I really shouldn’t eat is linguine with chicken scampi. Italian-bread crumb covered fried chicken strips tossed with linguine and a butter-lemon-garlic sauce. I don’t have it that often, but when I do…decadent heaven.

    I agree on cilantro. It’s an overbearing, unpleasant smell and flavor.

    Comment by Slublog — August 10, 2008 @ 6:39 pm

  3. Well, I deliberately left out fried chicken. I’m not about to give that up, but I have indifferent results when I make it at home so it’s mostly chicken fingers at restaurants.

    Comment by Anwyn — August 10, 2008 @ 6:55 pm

  4. True. Fried chicken is almost good enough not to count as chicken, which Anthony Bourdain describes as the ‘food people order when they don’t know what they want to eat.’

    Comment by Slublog — August 10, 2008 @ 8:18 pm

  5. Right on. And I must exempt roasted whole chicken, too, with broth gravy and either mashed potatoes or rice … it’s mainly the chicken breast, cutlets, like Deb says, that just can hardly be rescued no matter what you do.

    Comment by Anwyn — August 10, 2008 @ 8:34 pm

  6. Chicken breast is just dry, period. There’s no fat on the things, which means no flavor and no moisture. I prefer chicken breast quarters, with bone in. Put a few of those into a casserole dish with olive oil, rosemary and whole garlic cloves and it’s good. Try to cook the plain breasts on a grill, though, and you’re in for some massive fail.

    Comment by Slublog — August 10, 2008 @ 8:40 pm

  7. I love my chicken, but you’re right that it’s best fried or roasted. And the few times I’ve prepared it myself, handling it raw grossed me out so much I couldn’t enjoy it cooked.

    I’m with you on the pancetta potatoes, but I couldn’t handle the horseradish. That is a harsh flavor. Beets, cilantro, mushrooms, ugh. No thanks. I love nuts though. Especially covered in chocolate or in a cake. Almonds, pecans, walnuts, mmmm.

    FYI, Anwyn makes fantastic pepper steak; best you’ll ever eat. She rocks the house with pastas of all kinds, too. Creamy primavera with seared pork, carbonara with bacon or prosciutto, zucchini pomodoro, delicious.

    *plans next trip to Oregon*

    Comment by Bumble — August 11, 2008 @ 7:50 am

  8. Thanks for the endorsements. :)

    Comment by Anwyn — August 11, 2008 @ 8:28 am

  9. I have a record of you eating enormous bites of artichokes hearts at my house when I disguised it in stuffed shells. Ha!

    Maybe you should start a food blog.

    Comment by thelmajoy — August 11, 2008 @ 3:28 pm

  10. I’m the first person to sign up for bacon (mmm, bacon) and spare ribs and steak and meatloaf and stuff, but chicken can be made very very tasty if you know what you’re doing.

    BBQed chicken wings, for instance. Curries. Chicken in oyster sauce. Even steamed chicken maryland (just have to add some awesome amount of salt). The problem with you Western folk is that you’re none too fond of proper spices, herbs and sauces. Look for a Malaysian restaurant and ask for Chicken Rendang one of these days.

    Ooh, and proscuitto. I know it’s a form of bacon, but it deserves its own paragraph.

    Comment by Gregory Kong — August 15, 2008 @ 2:01 am

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image: detail of installation by Bronwyn Lace