Post #488 Tired of That Yet?

July 6, 2016 at 11:03 AM | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

I recently read a food article on the internet that set me back to think for a few moments.  It was a compilation of opinions from executive chefs in LA and SF about what the most overused/trendy ingredients and foods were.  The results surprised me in one way, but not at all in another way.  I watch a lot of cooking programs on television, and I read a lot of food magazines and articles on the ‘net.  I keep up with what’s trending and I find the bulk of it is sheep following a shepherd.

One example of that is on the list and it’s kale.  There’s no great mystery about kale.  Kale has been used as the “greens” portion of a meal for centuries.  It’s cheap, nutritious, and can be made to be tasty.  It’s ubiquitous in Southern cooking.  But a few years ago, it was “discovered” and it was suddenly the go to veggie of the season.  There’s nothing magical about kale, and in its absence nearly any other green leafy vegetable can be substituted.  But to hear some people talk about it, it can cure all that ails you, and part the waters too.  It’s so versatile!  You can make smoothies with it!  You can make chips with it!  You can make flourless crackers with it!  You can make salads with it!  You can spackle your walls with it!

kale

Don’t get me wrong.  I like kale.  It’s okay.  But it ain’t all that!  It just wasn’t in the mainstream until recently.  So kale made the list of overused or trendy ingredients, and for good reason.

But some of the other items were surprising.

Bacon.  Who doesn’t like bacon?  Apparently, some of these chefs.  But, I get that.  It’s everywhere these days.  I posted about bacon some time ago and showed examples of bacon band aids, bacon toothpaste, and bacon donuts.  That last one would be okay if they used any other icing but maple.  You can make bacon bowls to put more bacon in.  You can make taco shells made out of bacon.  You can weave bacon and cook it so you have the perfect spread of bacon on your BLT or burger.  But after a time, I get enough bacon and I don’t want to see it in my ice cream.  So this one I get, and sort of agree with, but also disagree with.

One that I completely agree with is truffles and truffle oil.  A truffle is called a mushroom, but it’s really a fungus and grows underground.  It’s black and wrinkly looking and fairly rare so it’s fairly expensive.  It’s very strongly flavored and scented so a very little goes a very long way.  Most people who don’t have experience with it will use too much.  It’s easy to do.  Truffles must be sliced almost transparently thin using a special slicer; truffle oil must be used in droplets rather than spoonfuls.

Another in the category of “easy to use too much of” on this list from the chefs is saffron.  Saffron is the pistil from the crocus flower of a particular variety and must be harvested by hand.  It’s absurdly expensive.  Used in extreme moderation it lends a pleasant yellow-gold color to a dish and a bright flavor.  Use too much (which is easy to do) and the whole dish will taste like medicine.  Not the flavor you want to go for.  But because of its rarity, it seems to be everywhere and not used sparingly.  Sometimes, saffron isn’t what’s called for in a rice dish.  Really and truly.

Here’s one that surprised me.  This one chef said she’s tired of seeing chocolate all the time.  Think dessert and think chocolate.  But there are other sweet flavors that you can have for dessert that are just as fulfilling as chocolate.  My ex-wife used to say that too.  I never understood it.  I’d rather eat chocolate than almost anything, when it’s made right.  It is true, though, the bulk of desserts are chocolate based or chocolate enhanced.  It’s hard to get away from.

One trend and ingredient I whole-heartedly support on this list of the overused is smoke.  For a while, you couldn’t turn around without bumping into some new smoke-flavored product.  I nearly dropped my jaw when I saw smoke-flavored salt!  I like smokiness in my food when I’m in the mood for it.  But I want that smokiness to be natural rather than chemical.  You can get smoky rubs for meat; smoky sauces for anything; even smoky pellets to put on your grill.  I’ve watched chefs on television fill a metal cover with smoke and place it over a plate going to a table so when the diner takes it off, the smoke wafts in their face.  Far too much for me.  I don’t need smoke in everything.

Raspberry.  Who’d a thunk it?  I love raspberries.  I’ll put raspberry sauce on my raspberries.

Raspberry

The chef offered no explanation so maybe they’re just tired of them, or allergic, or don’t like berries.  But I like ’em.

One chef included peanut butter, and I kind of get this one.  Peanut butter has been around for about a hundred years, and it certainly is an acquired taste.  It has a strong flavor and a strong aroma.  It very easily overpowers any dish it’s in.  I really only like it in candy bars covered in chocolate, and in PBJ sandwiches with icy cold grape jam.  Any other way, I turn my nose up at it.  Yet I grew up on the stuff and spent many happy summer days getting it all over my face at lunch time.  I’ve found that you either like it or you don’t.

So what do you all think?  This is by no means a complete list, and a link to the original article is at the bottom should anyone want to read it.  But are there any other things you’d add?  How about take off the list?  Anyway, take care, and as always

Enjoy

http://www.eater.com/2016/6/14/11876542/overrated-ingredients-truffles-butter

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