Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Just Lukewarm

I’ve been reading cookbooks (again!) and I realize there are a few things I just can’t warm up to. It’s not that I hate them, or would refuse to eat them if they were served to me, but they’re things that thus far I haven’t been able to get friendly with, and I don’t know if I ever will.

I’ve seen so many recipes for savory things with raisins in them lately, mostly calling for golden raisins. I’ll eat an oatmeal raisin cookie, and my cousin recently gave me some homemade granola that had golden raisins in it that I was surprised to find I really liked, but on the whole, raisins just don’t do it for me.

In fact, let’s just make that dried fruit. I don’t mind dried apples, and I’ll eat dried apricots, but I don’t like dried fruit that has been soaked in something (generally wine) and used to make an entrée. The only thing I kind of like is dried cherries with duck. I don’t know how dried cherries make it onto the list, but I do like them.

Bow Tie Pasta
I know this is just pasta in a different shape, but I think bow ties are a dumb pasta shape. Somewhere in my vast collection of cookbooks is one of the first books I ever got after I got married. It’s the Eating Well Rush Hour cookbook, and while I couldn’t tell you much of anything else that’s in it off the top of my head, I know that the first recipe in the book is a sort of pasta primavera that calls for bow ties. I know that because I used that cookbook hundreds of times, and I always snorted with derision as I flipped past that recipe. I have no idea why I’m so hostile toward an innocuous pasta shape, but I am.

Cornish Game Hens
Yes, yes, they’re darling and isn’t it cute that each person gets their own little chicken. How about if each person just gets their own chicken breast, and let’s call it a day? Cornish game hens just seem kind of silly to me. I can’t eat a whole one, and because they have all those little bones, they’re hard to pick apart. I used to want to make them, and my husband used to resist, so maybe that tainted me. He’d never let me make them, so gradually I came to be contemptuous of them.

Too sour for me. And here’s a story that my sister-in-law will remember (and I hope smile at, just as I now tell the story and laugh): one Christmas we were visiting my in-laws. My sister-in-law and her family have a few holiday traditions that she likes to continue, even when she’s not with them. Brunch out on Christmas Eve is one, a cranberry apple pie is another. Somehow, there was a swirl around the pie—I never did really understand what happened, but I think my mother-in-law expressed a total lack of interest in the pie, and my sister-in-law gave up the idea of making it. Then an hour before dinner (or something), my mother-in-law turned to my sister-in-law and said “Well, aren’t you going to make the pie?”

So the pie was made, but my sister-in-law was annoyed with my mother-in-law, so the whole subject of The Pie was a sore one. At the dinner table, I tried to stretch my ice cream out so that it would match my pie (the sweet of the ice cream compensating for the cranberries). I failed, so I figured I’d just leave the last little bit and no one would notice, or care. My husband looked at my plate and announced in a loud voice “You’re not eating your pie.” I did eat the rest of it, but he got a talking-to about not ever, ever remarking on what I was or was not eating during the meal. And, to give him his due, he never has since.

That’s the Cranberry Pie story. The End.

I’ve really, really tried. I’ve eaten green, I’ve eaten black, I’ve eaten tapenade (which I can actually eat because it usually goes on bread). I just don’t care for olives in things. Or plain. And one of the great travesties of our time is that generic cocktail party fare is now hummus with pita chips, a bowl of olives, and possibly a bowl of nuts. In the 70s at least you got deviled eggs and cheese and crackers.

Things Made with Fresh Corn
Yes, you’re right—I am a Communist. I don’t really give a damn about fresh corn. On the cob, off the cob, don’t care. Things made with it—chowder, salads, corn bread—don’t care. Which is not to say I don’t like corn bread, or polenta, or grits. In fact, I love all of those things. It’s the corn itself I can do without. My husband loves it. I never cared much about it as a kid, although I do remember being sad that it was hard to eat corn on the cob with braces, but as an adult I really don’t care about it. And the rhapsodic verse that flows forth from the pens of cookbook authors and newspaper columnists every summer when corn is ripe influences me not at all. I just don’t get it, I guess.

Rice Salads
Rice is not something out of which salad should be made. Pasta salad is pushing it. Let’s just all stop trying to make salad out of rice. Thank you.

There are probably other things that I could think of, but I’ll stop there. Reading cookbooks always makes me think of these things that are not high on my list of favorite foods. Of course, in between I wind up salivating over things that sound great. Sometimes I just need to whine a little about things I don’t much like, just as other times I need to extol the virtues of things I love. These aren't things that I loathe with a passion, you understand, I'm just completely lukewarm about them.


Anonymous said...

Now I feel the need to object. I was going to extoll the virtues of bowtie pasta until I got to the corn thing.... I'll give you canned, off the cob or in any other form I'm not overly found of, but fresh just picked corn is like nothing else. But I digress. I agree that bowtie is a somewhat silly shape for a posta it does a better job of retaining a proper amount of sauce ie. more than all the strands and less the tubes. I've tried to make a couple of recipes with bowtie that doesn't really work with anything else.

TD said...

Maybe it's because my sauce choices tend to be somewhat...staid. Red sauce, white sauce, pesto--they all work fine on just about any shape. If I really started branching out sauce-wise, I might find that the bowtie met a need that no other shape could...