05 September 2011

That Which I Dislike

I am not a picky eater by any stretch of the imagination. Part of that was genetics, part was upbringing, but as long as something isn't rotten (in a bad way) or more willing to bite me back (excluding interesting fights with live food), I'm there. I can't recall anything past the age of 13 that I've refused to try. It doesn't mean I liked everything, but when you've consumed live ants and baby octopus that are still twitching slightly and other crazy things, you develop something of an iron stomach.

There's been some talk in the blogosphere recently about the role of negativity in wine writing. I typically don't post negative reviews. I don't lie about wines I dislike, but if something's boring or bad I really just ignore it and focus on the stuff that's drinkable. I think there's also an objective standard like in judging a dog show. The Bedlington Terrier looks ridiculous and might be weird to have running around the house, but I could still say that an individual dog is an excellent representative of the breed standard. I think this approach is important when looking at some of the stranger grapes.

But just to release the valve a bit, I'm going to point out some items that just don't do it for me. I'll consume any of these without crying or moving into projectile vomiting, but it's more a case that I don't get why they are so beloved.

...and my Japanese readership drops to zero. I've had it hot, cold, cheap, expensive, with food and without. Still not a fan. With sincerity, I bow and say すみません.

Go on, make hummus with cannellini beans or mashed potatoes and it will be just as tasty. The worst offense is when chickpeas are paired with osso buco, truly one of the greatest dishes ever developed by mankind. Chickpeas are a neutral starch in a nugget form, and are better replaced by rice or beans or pasta or anything with a polysaccharide chain.

Ranch Dressing
Two things really bug me about ranch dressing. 1) People who love it slather it on everything. Fries, dipping your sandwich in it, and coating every vegetable in sight with the stuff. People even have Ranch Dressing Fountains at weddings. Moderation, people. 2) I love buttermilk, and happily cook with it and drink it straight. The population at large finds this disgusting, and will only touch buttermilk if in pancake form and covered with butter and syrup. That ranch dressing you're devouring by the gallon? Lots of buttermilk in there.

You can add shark in here, since they're both cartilaginous fishes of the Chondrichthyes class that can easily smell like ammonia or urine if the piece of seafood is just fifteen minutes too old. In both cases, you find yourself thinking that it's interesting from a curiosity standpoint, but that there are thousands of tastier things in the ocean.

Actually, I like Jägermeister. What I can't stand is that the popular perception of it as "the last thing you drink on a dare before you throw up". This gives a bad name to bitters, herbal liqueurs, and anything licorice or anise flavored. There's this amazing world of aperitifs and digestifs out there that people are scared to try in their proper usage because of stupidity in bars.

The Chicago Hot Dog
Sigh... more hate mail. I've had these in Chicago and prepared by expats of Cook County. The concept isn't bad, but I think it's destroyed by the neon green relish. Not only is it as sweet as pancake syrup, but it's dosed up with blue food coloring to get that bright shade not found in nature. I say ditch the relish, and make a crude salsa from the tomato, sport peppers, dill pickle spear, onion, and celery salt.

The Neologism "Foodie"
I don't normally get angry about words, but "foodie" bugs me. There are perfectly good words like gourmand and gourmet and gastronome and epicurean that fit your particular niche. Foodie sounds like the babbling of a toddler that is constantly begging for nourishment but can't use big words yet. I do not object to those who call themselves foodies--such folks love good food and are doing some amazing writing online and in print. But I can still twitch my whiskers in annoyance when someone calls me by that name. If people start calling oenophiles "winies", so help me God I'll shut this site down. I'm talking full on, turn the station wagon around, we're not going to Disney World, kids.

Credit goes to the Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh for the Mr. Yuk logo. I remember it well from my childhood. Not so much from a warning, but rather reading off the numbers to Mom because I'd sampled some bottle of vitamins or dish soap or whatever. What can I say... young Benito had an expansive palate.


Alyce said...

I agree with many of your dislikes, but must take issue with skate. If it is "cartilaginous" it wasn't properly boned, and if it smells or tasted like urine or ammonia, it was WAY too old to eat! Next time I cook skate (which doesn't happen often due to sourcing difficulty) I'll give you a call! Done well, with browned butter in the French style, it's VERY tasty!

Benito said...


I've had skate in a variety of restaurants, and shark in others plus my own kitchen, and while I once got a decent wing of skate in brown butter in Cleveland, it wasn't good enough to make me continue the pursuit.

As with all the items I listed, I'm happy to give any of them another chance, but my experience has been less than positive on my various spins around the dance floor.


Samantha Dugan said...

Gotta say, I'm with you on many of these with "foodie" being way up there on my irk list. Such a stupid word. I do loves me some chickpeas though, always have. When I was a kid and got to hit a salad bar I would load up with both beets and chickpeas.

I don't mind Chicago dogs but I never go out of my way for them, much prefer chili or the bacon wrapped numbers the little ladies out here sell on the street corners after concerts or sporting events.

Sake I can take but I think the low acid makes it terribly out of balance. I'll drink it if offered, prefer to do so in bomb form though....get it over with quickly and mask the flavor with cheap beer.

Now Ranch and I have a strange relationship. I never order it on salads, make it at home or put it on anything, except the crunchy eggrolls from Jack In The Box. Don't ask me why.

The last time I had Jager, (that I can remember) I was drinking it, straight from the bottle, in the back of a limo after leaving a drag club....bad name for sure.

Benito said...


It's always funny the kinds of things that were fascinating at a salad bar when you're a kid. I thought those imitation meat Bac-Os were out of this world, and would build these horrid salads with way too much Thousand Island dressing.


fredric koeppel said...

I also hate "veggies" and, as you know, "crispy." Could we please talk like adults? & agree on sake; tried & tried but I just don't like it.
i have had skate that was wonderful, at Gotham Bar & Grill.

Benito said...


I kept waiting for someone to argue with me about sake, but I guess we're all agreeing that the Emperor truly is naked.


The Wine Commonsewer said...

I blame *your* generation for the proliferation of ranch dressing. :-)

Benito said...


Frankly, my observations have been the opposite. Hop into your local Cracker Barrel or Old Country Buffet and ask for a show of hands of the ranch fans, and then ask them to keep their hands up if the names Adlai Stevenson or Spiro Agnew mean anything to them. ;)