Thursday, July 18, 2002

Little Hungry, Little Hungry?

In my neverending quest to enlighten the world as to my history and dreams, likes and dislikes, and anything else the world might never want to know about me, I keep a blog.

It has come to my attention (see the comment in the post directly below this one) that even my dearest friends are largely unaware of my dietary procedures and preferences. Now, I can understand that my Grandmother can't get it through her hard Texan head that I don't like most of the food she likes, because she has difficulty understanding anything that doesn't agree with her own experiences and opinions. But for my best friend to not know my rule about trying new dishes...well, that is a serious omission of information on my part. So to clear up any possible confusion, here are my rules and likes and dislikes about food:

Hard-and-Fast Rules:

1) Try everything once; if you're not sure you like it or not, try it twice; if you like it, eat it until you get sick of it; if you never get sick of it, add it to your "Favorites" column. I always try new foods, just because I've never tried them before (so long as someone else will cook it and it doesn't run athwart any of my other rules, see below). Because if you've never tried it, how will you know whether or not you like it?

2) I will not eat anything "lifelike"...I can't eat anything with eyes or a head or any limbs be specific, a meat dish of any kind should not bear any resemblance whatsoever to the life form that it once was (with the exception of bivalves). A plateful of dead animals just freaks me out.

3) If it doesn't taste good, don't eat it, no matter how healthy or beneficial it is supposed to be. The one exception is if you are a guest in someone's home, and you can choke down the food, and keep it down, you say "mmmmm" and thank them very nicely afterward.

4) There is no substitute for any food. Fat-reduced cheese or chocolate or oil are abominations against nature...if you can't have fat, you can't eat cheese or chocolate or oil...but there are plenty of other substances you can eat. Mayonnaise without egg in it is no longer mayonnaise... if you can't eat eggs, you can't eat mayonnaise...but there are plenty of other sauces in which you can indulge. I have no problem with tofu (it's not my favorite substance, but I can eat it); but if you braise a piece of tofu in vegetable stock and black bean sauce, then serve it as "vegetarian beef," I will not eat it...if you don't want to eat meat, then don't eat meat...but don't sully the name of Hamburger by squirelling up some soybeans and black-eyed peas and calling it a "garden burger." That's just tacky. Call it a bean patty or a veggie sandwich, but for God's sake, if it doesn't have ground beef, it's not a burger!

Casual Rules:

1) If a dish is low in fat or vegetarian, please don't tell me. I have this weird aversion to lo-cal and vegetarian foods that has nothing to do with my love of fats and meats. It's simply that all of the people I've known in the past who were dieters or vocal about their vegetarianism tend to be dour, pleasureless people who delight in mortifying the flesh, and their culinary talents reflect this dementia. I have eaten some of the most ghastly meals at the hands of dieting and vegetarian hosts. Furthermore, "diet" foods are so often designed to be completely unappetizing...there's this odd wisdom that the best way to stop overeating is to only eat things that have no flavor, and in the entire course of human history nobody has ever gorged themselves on nude celery and boiled lentils.

So if you tell me that my meal is completely meat-free, or totally non-fat, my taste-buds will curl up and hide. It's terribly prejudicial of me, I know, but that's how I am. If it's low-fat or vegetarian, or if there's anything in there that has eyeballs, just don't tell me until after I've eaten it. Thank you.

2) Presentation is Everything. Sometimes, eating macaroni and cheese out of the pot with a wooden spoon feels good. Sometimes eating pizza with a knife and fork is fun. The presentation of the food, the way it sits on the plate and the methods by which you convey it to your mouth, has a distinct effect on the food. I always pay attention to how the food looks...there are lots of things I can think of that are so unappetising in their looks (eggplant comes immediately to mind) that I just can't make myself eat them. It's a shame to throw the baby out with the bathwater, but ugly food is simply inedible.

Please Don't Feed The Queen:

1) I cannot eat spicy foods; I often like the taste of spicy foods, but my nasal and oral membranes are just too sensitive and I start burning and crying and suffering...and as you may know, I never suffer alone — or quietly. A little black pepper, some garlic, a dash of Tabasco, these I can handle...anything hotter than that and I'll start screaming.

2) I hate avocadoes, I simply cannot eat them; there's something about the flavor and texture and color...I don't know what, because I can eat guacamole, so long as it's well-processed and has no chunks in it.

3) I don't like celery, unless it is chopped really tiny and well-hidden inside of something else, or it's slathered in smoked salmon mousse (peanut butter or cream cheese aren't strong enough to disguise the celeryness).

4) I am allergic to crab and lobster (and probably crawfish, though I haven't tested it); if I eat them (and I do love to eat them), I get terrible diarrhea, usually in the middle of the night.

5) I find most kinds of squash completely's got this weird bitter aftertaste that I just can't handle.

6) I do not like the way most people (including my Grandmother) cook leafy greens or cornbread, though I am still willing to try someone else's despite many disappointments.

7) Endive gives me hiccups.

8) Innards of any kind are peasant food — "meat" consists only of the muscle of an animal; any other part of the animal is a throw-away. I will of course try new things if you want to cook them for me, and certain preparations of liver can be pleasant (I love pork, goose, and duck pâtés), but I usually find the innards of most animals wildly unappetizing; if you want to serve me sweetbreads or brains or tongues, they should be disguised, and I shouldn't be told what they are until after I've eaten them.

9) To wrap up this list, I do not like pecan pie, mincemeat pie, or anything with alcohol flavors in it.

Gimme Gimme Gimme:

There are certain foods that I cannot be trusted with, things that if I get a whiff of them I will turn into a ravening beast.

1) Foremost among these is chocolate. I love dark chocolate more than milk chocolate, and I like pies and candies and puddings and sauces more than cakes and cookies...but in general, All Chocolate Is Good. I tend not to care for those "death by chocolate" kinds of desserts, though, usually because they are inexpertly made. When putting more than two kinds of chocolate together, you have to be very, very careful that each separate flavor complements each other flavor. And since any one kind of chocolate will have more than 200 separate flavors in it, this is harder to do than mixing plaids. It's more dangerous than nuclear fission, and seldom successful.

2) Canteloupe is the food of the gods. I also love honeydew. I'm pretty fond of all melons, in almost exact proportion to how much I hate its nearest cousin, squash.

3) Pudding and pie. With the exception of pistachio for the former and mincemeat and pecan for the latter, I LOVE all kinds of pudding and pie!

4) Pork. The only pork product I've ever met that I didn't like was chitterlings. I love bacon, prosciutto, pancetta, pâté de campagne, pork sausage, pork chops, pork loin, spare ribs, ground pork...I just love pork! I like beef, too, but pork just has something more, extra...perhaps because pigs are omnivorous and have more flavors in their meat.

5) Say Cheese! I just love cheese! But not all cheeses, unfortunately...I don't care for blue cheeses or terribly ripe cream cheeses, and I'm not wild about hard cheeses...but in general, cheese is one of my favorite foods.

6) And all the rest of the favorites: steak, roast beef, duck, lamb, oysters, salmon, broccoli, asparagus, artichokes, romaine lettuce, peas, pears, peaches, mango, grapes, strawberries, almonds, pistachios (and yet I don't like pistachio pudding...hmmm), macadamias, rice, potato pancakes and chips, sweets of almost any description (especially mint nonpareils and jelly beans and gumdrops), ice cream of any flavor (especially Rocky Road and Godiva dark chocolate and raspberry), milk, iced tea, and COFFEE!
Well, now...don't you feel enlightened? You are now the proud possessor of vital information that the crowned heads of Europe, NASA and the FBI, the international scientific community, and my Grandmother do not possess. I'll bet you're wondering right now how you've managed to get so far in your life without knowing these riveting facts!

Self-involved? Me?

No comments:

Post a Comment