Back to previous post: Mail

Go to Making Light's front page.

Forward to next post: Open thread 21

Subscribe (via RSS) to this post's comment thread. (What does this mean? Here's a quick introduction.)

April 16, 2004

Sharp sauce
Posted by Teresa at 09:38 PM *

Take two good shallots, lemon juice enough to get it wet, dry citric acid enough to make it bright and sour, one packet of Good Seasons dry Italian salad dressing mix, a lot of freshly ground coarse pepper, some basil, some white pepper, rather less celery salt, and a couple of tablespoonsful of ground coriander, and chomp together in a food chopper. Add a quarter to a half cup of olive oil, about one and a half square inches of the thinly-pared zest of an orange or tangelo, and an entire bunch of fresh cilentro. Chomp again. Salt as seems good. Pack most of it away for later. Run the remainder in the machine with several good dollops of mayonnaise. Serve with shrimp. Actually, serve with anything.

If you don’t like cilentro, try a different herb. Watercress. salad burnet, dill, lovage, or fresh basil would be good bets.

[Recipe Index]

Comments on Sharp sauce:
#1 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2004, 09:50 PM:

Holy shit, is this ever good. I'm eating it right now on some freshly-cooked shrimp.

Then again, I'm one of those people who thinks almost anything is improved by cilantro.

#2 ::: sdn ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2004, 10:26 PM:

clearly you are not one of those people who tastes cilantro as soap.

#3 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2004, 10:38 PM:

Nope. To me, it tastes very nice. However, I am one of those people who tastes liver as nauseatingly pungent and bitter.

#4 ::: Bob Webber ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2004, 10:41 PM:

I'm with you and with Patrick on the cilantro, and if you keep publishing your recipes I'll be with you on the couch!

#5 ::: MD² ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2004, 10:58 PM:

Now THIS is evil. Where am I going to find shrimps at 5am ?

Thanks for the recipe though. Seems quite nice.
TOO nice, for now.

#6 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2004, 11:10 PM:

Cilantro, ick. Too much work, anyway. I made ham and bean soup today -- seven ingredients including the water -- and that was very good. No stirring, only a tiny amount of chopping.

I don't like liver, either, but it's the texture that gets me there. Joel Rosenberg keeps saying I'd like his liver (the liver he cooks) if I'd have it, but I can't imagine any liver being good.

(Beans are on the gout exclusion diet. If I can't move my hands and feet tomorrow, I'll know I can't have them.)

#7 ::: Scorpio ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2004, 11:36 PM:

Basil si, cilantro no. Nasty stuff. Some places that make prepared guacamole or some of the local salsas are heavy on cilantro, and it always tastes awful.

#8 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: April 16, 2004, 11:48 PM:

Moderation, grasshopper, all things in moderation. And to each according to his tasting genes.

Too much cilantro overpowers, putting more soap taste in than ever ginger could bring. Too little -- why bother?

It furthers one to make the great salsa.

#9 ::: Larry B ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2004, 02:47 AM:

Mmmmmmm, cilantro. And coriander!
But is there away around the dressing mix? I did a quick google and came up with this:,191,132191-246194,00.html

I suspect that the pectin is there as a thickener and emulsifier, which sounds unnecessary in this preparation since the mayo already has lecithin in it.

In any case, it sounds pretty darned good, kind of like a lower-fat sort of aoli. Hmmm, maybe I could sub some good (e.g. Total 2% from Greece) yogurt for part of the mayo....

Now liver only works for me as home made chopped liver or as foie gras. Beef liver = yuck. Haven't had the nerve to try pork liver, but I'm told it's really good.

#10 ::: Tina ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2004, 02:49 AM:

I don't understand people who don't like cilantro, any more than I understand people who don't like chocolate, or coffee.

I mean. I understand. I understand that there are people for whom they don't taste good. But I can't fathom how. It's one of the Great Mysteries of the Universe. How can you not like this?

Then again, people ask me the same question about artichokes...

On the other hand, I don't care for too much coriander. I suspect that would qualify as too much. Still, it sounds good overall. If I had any energy after all the stress, I might even try it.

Teresa, if you do ever write a gathered-blog-wisdom book, please include your recipes!

#11 ::: cyclopatra ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2004, 02:59 AM:

Soap? To me, cilantro tastes like armpits. Dill sounds good, though.

Liver I haven't had since I was about 6, when my mother had a good long think about what your liver does, and stopped serving it. I never got up the gumption to try it myself as an adult.

#12 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2004, 04:36 AM:

The core ingredients of "Italian dressing" (apart from the vinegar and oil) are usually parsley, basil, oregano, and thyme (as recorded by Fawlty & Garfunkel), plus onion and garlic.

I don't use dry dressing mixes, but I would suggest something like:

2-3 Tbs finely chopped/ground fresh parsley (or 1 Tbsp dried, if you have absolutely no other option
1/2 Tbsp dried oregano
1 Tbsp dried minced onion
1 clove garlic, finely chopped, or 1/2 tsp dried minced garlic
1/2 tsp ground fresh thyme, or half that dried
. . . and the basil's already in there.

As always with our mischievous little friends the herbs, adjust to taste; I would tend to be a tad bit generous with the garlic but not the onion. A little more oregano will make it more aromatic, but too much will travel roughshod over all the other aromatics. If you're into lab work, you might want to make the dry spice mixture outside the bowl and do a couple of taste/smell tests before adding it. (If you make too much, you can always put the extra in a sealed bag and sprinkle it on your tomato soup.)

#13 ::: Nao ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2004, 07:20 AM:


I'm another of the cilantro=soap tasters, though I have actually eaten a few things with small quantities of cooked cilantro that tasted good, and wouldn't have been as good without it.

My grandmother, on the other hand, is nauseated by the smell, and says it tastes like squashed stinkbugs. (I've always wondered how she knew...)

I like coriander seed, so whatever chemical it is must not be present in the seeds.

#14 ::: Robert L ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2004, 07:44 AM:

Well, I used to hate cilantro, but they serve it so much around here that eventually I got used to it. Now I not only like it, I would miss it in certain salsa recipes. I think it's just a matter of getting used to the odd taste. As with most things, it can be overdone, but I find it blends well with other spices. If it dominates a dish, that probably wouldn't be good.

If you find cooked liver bitter, that's probably because it wasn't marinated properly, which it really should be. When i was very poor, I used to get liver quite a bit, because it was very cheap. A marinade for liver is a great use for leftover beer that's gone flat. Red wine, too.

#15 ::: Jill Smith ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2004, 08:19 AM:

I'm a cilantro-lover, too.

What I hate are sweet potatoes (or yams, if you're into that sort of thing).

My yam-distaste is so incomprehensible to most people that there is actually a script that must be played out every time they are offered (over and over - with the same actors). There is the offer, and my, "No, thank you." Then they say, "You don't want any sweet potatoes?" and I again respond with a polite, "No, thank you." They say, "Are you sure you don't want any sweet potatoes?" and finally I say, "No - thank you - I just don't like sweet potatoes." Then the clincher: "But you haven't tried these sweet potatoes. You would like these." This plays out every year - and yes, I did try that recipe a few years back and Surprise! didn't like it.

If it were declining a chocolate dessert or other thing considered universally yummy I wouldn't have to go through this. Is there something in yams that has brain-control function? Scientists?

#16 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2004, 09:34 AM:

Just as a data point, I don't much like chocolate; it doesn't taste particularly good.

I don't like cilantro, either; it and coriander tend to make me decidedly woozy, as well as tasting like soap.

I'd probably try this with tarragon, to go with all that lemon, were I to attempt it.

#17 ::: rea ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2004, 09:48 AM:

Mmmmmmm . . . .

Those who hate cilantro, try modifying the recipe as follows: substitue fresh coriander for the cilantro.

This recipe is also good if you replace the coriander seeds with cilantro seeds ...

#18 ::: Yonmei ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2004, 10:02 AM:

What is cilantro?

Looking it up on proves only that the leaves look vaguely familiar, so I may have had it in salad under another name, or I may just be thinking of another herb that's green and has, you know, herb-shaped leaves. ;-)

Googling on cilantro "also known as" tells me that apparently cilantro is just coriander - only it's the leaves instead of the seeds.

Which is presumably what rea is getting at. *sigh*

My parents had a pictorial encyclopedia of edible plants that was damned useful, in the days before, for figuring out what ingredient the cookbook writer was referring to...

#19 ::: Kathryn Cramer ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2004, 10:39 AM:

If you think you don't like cilantro, try some from an organic foods market. I notice a huge difference in taste. Cilantro also has a reputation for helping chelate mercury, so I try to serve cilantro at meals where we have salmon or tuna.

Dry citric acid -- now there's an ingredient I've never used before.

#20 ::: Erik V. Olson ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2004, 11:15 AM:

The taste of cilantro is a genetic marker. For some, there's a very unpleasant taste to it (like me.) Another test is a chemical called propylthiouracil (PROP). About a quarter of the population finds PROP to be incredibly bitter, a half of the population finds it somewhat bitter and the last quarter finds it tasteless.

File that under widow's peaks, the ability to roll your tounge into a cylinder, and if your earlobe is connected to the side of your head or just the ear. When you roll together a few hundred thousand genetic dice, you are bound to get some odd results.

Then there are those known as "supertasters" that taste some of the basic flavors much more intensely than others. This can seriously shift what is tasty and not tasty (and makes seriously spicy food actually painful. I have to eat wimpy Thai -- proper Thai food might have taste, but I can't tell from the serious amount of pain I'm experiencing at the time.)

My answer to those who taste cilantro poorly -- swap herbs. To those who taste it well, don't, and enjoy it.

I don't think any less or more of you -- you didn't get a vote on your genetic makeup.

#21 ::: Kip Manley ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2004, 11:36 AM:

For me, it's eggplant: unless the stuff is buried in an o'erwhelming baba ganouj, it's nasty and sharp and foully bitter, and feels like it's attacking the roof of my mouth. My brother says it "tastes" much the same to him; the rest of my family loves it. I've met folks who dislike eggplant, or who can take it or leave it, but only one or two others who have such a visceral reaction to it.

But cilantro? Yum. And I can roll my tongue. But I don't remember what happens with the litmus paper pH tongue-test you do in high school biology or chemistry or whatever. --Isn't that linked somehow to whether or not you like cilantro?

#22 ::: julia ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2004, 12:38 PM:

Kip, if you rub the eggplant with salt first and layer the slices between paper towels, the nasty taste leeches out.

#23 ::: Kylee Peterson ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2004, 01:21 PM:

Yes! on the sweet potatoes. Sheesh, I do not like them, and marshmallows are not going to help. I never liked onions, either, and saying "but these onions are sweet!" was not convincing. Sure, they're sweet, and they taste like onion.

I like cilantro well enough in small doses, but it can certainly be overdone. The weird, seemingly genetic flavor turnoffs I have are mangoes (yes, I have had them fresh in Hawaii, and they still taste bad) and a couple of the solanaceous fruits. Most peppers are fine, tomatoes and tomatillos are lovely, but bell peppers and ground cherries have a particular nauseating flavor that bothers me so much I can't eat pizza that once had any bell pepper on it.

#24 ::: Claude Muncey ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2004, 01:32 PM:

I, strangely enough, like tomatoes and onions when cooked, but not raw, and it does not matter how "sweet" they are. (There will be onion rings with ranch dressing in heaven.) Salsa is a sometimes exception to that, but I do like cilantro in it.

And isn't cilantro, or the local equivalent, used in Indian cuisine? I swear there was some along with the peppers and onions with my chicken tikka last Saturday night. (Merced may not be a foodie hotspot, but we have some great Indian restauraunts. No decent Thai to speak of, though.)

#25 ::: Yonmei ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2004, 01:43 PM:

Claude, my absolute favourite dish at my favourite Indian restaurant is made with cashew nuts, reduced cream, and coriander. It tastes blissful.

#26 ::: Claude Muncey ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2004, 02:23 PM:

It sounds ambrosial, Yonmei -- do you remember the name of the dish? (One of the local Indian places has a cook that will take suggestions.)

#27 ::: Jill Smith ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2004, 02:35 PM:

I make aloo gobi (Indian curry with potatoes and cauliflower) with tons of coriander in it - for the coriander/curry lovers, it's total comfort food. I think Indian cooking uses a lot of coriander in general.

Another recipe for coriander-lovers:

Lime-Cilantro Dressing
1/2 cup olive oil
1/3 cup lime juice
3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped

Shake it up. You're done. Enjoy on anything from salad to asparagus to your lover's toes....

#28 ::: Jill Smith ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2004, 02:39 PM:

....and Claude, I can eat cooked onions every which way, but if I try to eat even a smallish slice of a raw onion (no matter how sweet it may be), I end up curled up in fetal position on the floor, groaning in agony. It does something apocalyptic to my stomach.

#29 ::: Larry B ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2004, 02:48 PM:

I guess I'm pretty fortunate - I'm not allergic to anything and seem to lack any of the odd genetic stuff that makes things taste bad.

As far as sweet potatoes go, I hated them as as kid. I guess I just couldn't wrap my palate around a sweet dish on the savory dinner table. I also wouldn't touch liver in any form.

Last week I attended a seder, where my friend's mom made probably the best tzimmes ever. Sweet potatoes, apricots, prunes, orange peel and dried cherries. (She also makes the world's best chopped liver - lots of garlic.)

I think people urge others to try things simply because our tastes change as we age, and what we hated as kids just might be sublime now.

Right now, my only two food challenges are natto (fermented bean sprouts) which I just can't get past my nose, and uni which I think tastes like lye custard. But, I almost religiously try them at least once a year to see if I still don't like them.

#30 ::: Tiellan ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2004, 04:16 PM:

Mmm, count me in as a cilantro lover. This sounds great, but my husband hates cilantro -- says it tastes like dirt -- so it will have to wait until next Thursday. When he's at school on Thursdays I get to cook whatever foods I love that he turns his nose up at, and this is going on the list!

#31 ::: Adina ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2004, 05:19 PM:

Teresa's recipe sounded wonderful until she added mayonnaise, because, for me, mayonnaise induces retching. What would you suggest as a replacement for mayonnaise?

I love cilantro. When I want to eat potato salad, I make a recipe from one of my Chinese cookbooks that has a dressing made out of sesame oil, vinegar, cilantro, and scallions. Hmm, maybe I'll make that for dinner tonight.

I have no particular fondness for sweet potatoes, and, Kylee, thank you for not liking mangoes. I grew up in south Florida, and we had a mango tree in our backyard, so I know very well that I don't like the taste of mangoes, but for years, people kept trying to get me to eat them.

Oh, and count me as one of the people who likes raw onion. One of my favorite childhood snacks was a slice of bread, buttered, with thin slices of onion and/or radish. Yum!

#32 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2004, 05:33 PM:

Teresa, that sounds wonderful. I don't have the ingredients, but I'll get them.

Adina, I haven't made the recipe yet, but maybe sour cream? Does mayo make you retch because you don't like the taste, or because of the egg? If the latter you could try soyannaise.

#33 ::: Ulrika ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2004, 06:26 PM:

Teresa, is there a particular reason you spell it 'cilentro' rather than 'cilantro'?

#34 ::: Rachael HD ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2004, 06:53 PM:

Although I seem to have a good nose for most spices and flavours I cannot tell the difference between things with malt in them and the unmalted version. (Like malted milk shakes, or ovaltine which just tastes like chocolate milk to me.) I've always wondered if this was like the soapy cilantro gene. I do love cilantro, and rarely find anything too bitter. Isn't there a bitter broccoli gene too?

The sauce sounds great. You should write a cook book. Or have a special page where you collect all of the recipes you have posted at least.

#35 ::: Harry Connolly ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2004, 07:52 PM:

I love liver, especially if it's smothered in fried onions. Mmmmmm kissable.

I used to make giblet gravy to go with our Thanksgiving turkey, but we have to wait for the little one to get a little older before I serve it again.

Cilantro doesn't taste nasty to me, but it doesn't thrill me, either. What I can't bear to eat is melon in any form (except watermelon). "Casaba" might be fun to say, but don't put any on my plate.

I like the supertaster idea. I thought They Might Be Giants made it up for the song--didn't realize it was a real thing.

Next time I reject spicy-hot food, I'll be sure to say it's because I'm a supertaster.

#36 ::: Michael ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2004, 08:10 PM:


Cilantro/soap gene. Blazing epiphany. Suddenly it all just *makes sense*!

OK, file that under: today, things learned.

But sweet potatoes, as in, Very Sweet potatoes, those I like (my wife the Hungarian scrapes my sauce off them, or steals one or two out of the cooking pot before I bake them, but my American sweet tooth likes them marshmallows all too well.) Is that a genetic marker, too (the yam, not the sweet tooth)? Or do some people just not like them much?

#37 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2004, 09:01 PM:

Tina, I don't like cilantro or coffee, and I wouldn't choose chocolate (I eat it if it's dessert somewhere, but I'd choose something with fruit). Many years ago, when I was a consultant and traveled a lot, the really good hotels would put butterscotch candies on my pillow.

Jill, sweet potatoes and yams are different veggies, regardless of how the store labels them. They're both tubers, though. I like yams better than sweet potatoes, but that's probably because when we lived overseas, nobody ever served me yam with marshmallows.

Kylee, I like onions in pretty much any form. My grandfather, who lived in Walla Walla, Wash, used to grow Walla Walla onions and would just take the husk off and eat them out of hand. I think I inherited that.

Tiellen, my brother and father like cooked spinach and my mother and I didn't/don't, so when Mother and I went out for something, I'd cook spinach for my father & brother. Later on, when we were transferred to the Pentagon and Mother was substitute teaching, on the days she chose not to teach, she'd have chicken livers for lunch (the other three of us didn't like them) and share them with the cat. The cat started bringing her the heads and livers of the birds it caught.

Adina, I make a low-fat dip/sandwich spread with low-fat ricotta. I put some ricotta, a bit of skim milk, and whatever herbs I want to use into a small blender. Start with tiny amounts of the milk, you can always add more. And if you add too much (or want to make dressing to start with), it can just be salad dressing.

#38 ::: BSD ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2004, 10:47 PM:

Mmmm. Cilantro.

Isn't the prolonged aftertaste from aspartame also a genetic state?

#39 ::: Alice Keezer ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2004, 11:11 PM:

re: supertasting. Until I learned that word, I thought I, my father and my younger sister were just mutants, or castoffs from a planet where everything tasted like sand. My younger sister has it the worst - she can't eat tomato sauce because it's "too spicy." My father is just a step below that - he tastes perfume if he steps too close to someone wearing too much, or walks by a perfume counter. He refuses to go into department stores at all. When that used to be the only exit out of the mall, he held his breath on the way through, then spent the next several minutes snuffling to blow the perfume molecules out of his air passages.

But that doesn't begin to explain why I'm the only person I know who can eat cranberries, raw and whole. Cranberry juice makes me vaguely nauseated (I think it's the sheer volume of sugar), but I used to pop cranberries into my mouth like candy. I also ate gigantic dill pickles whole, often spending an entire day chewing on them and sucking out the juice.

So I honestly think most people process tastes differently. Whereas most people interpret sour as, "It's bad; spit it out," I tend to interpret sour as "yum. Filling." However, I also have an insatiable sweet tooth.

And it's interesting how tastes change as we grow older. I used to hate swiss cheese. Now, given a choice, it's the first cheese I'll eat. Perhaps it's the sweet tooth speaking up again? And, as a child, something seemed wrong about sweet-tasting cheese.

#40 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: April 17, 2004, 11:30 PM:

I totally agree that cilantro tastes like soap. Utterly delicious soap. The sort of soap you'd take home and eat in small stolen bits of crazed self-indulgence. Mmm, cilantro.

Oddly enough, eggplant is one of the few major food categories I can't quite deal with. Even more oddly, I like eggplant just fine when it's been beaten into babaganoush.

#41 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2004, 12:22 AM:

And isn’t “babaganoush” just so much more fun to say?

Ba-ba-ba, ba-ba-ganoush!

#42 ::: hamletta ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2004, 01:14 AM:

I always hated sweet potatoes till I went to my neighbor's house for Thanksgiving, and he served mashed sweet potatoes with chipotle peppers (the dried ones, not the ones pickled in adobo). They were addictive.

I now have a favorite recipe for burritos made from chipotle sweet potatles, refried kidney beans and cheddar cheese.

I think kim chee is the only food I cannot eat.

#43 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2004, 01:20 AM:

Avram: "You got me slammin' an-a-scarfin, grabbin' an-a-gobblin' b'ba-ganoush, ba-ba, baba ganoush." Rhymes 'baba ganoush' with 'delicious oosh' somewhere in there too.

#44 ::: Christina Schulman ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2004, 01:52 AM:

Patrick: Here you go: cilantro bar soap. You could grate it over a salad. Actually, cilantro cheese would be pretty good, now that I think of it; my favorite cheese has whole cumin seeds throughout.

I love fresh cilantro, but I am lazy, so I chop it up and add it to supermarket salsa.

The excellent foodie blog "Knife-Wielding Feminists" recently offered this useful taxonomy hint:

Except that maybe it wasn’t parsley. It looked far more like cilantro. I tasted it, and even though it tasted like parsley, I wasn’t convinced. It still looked like cilantro. I referenced Chez Panisse Vegetables: no help at all. I referenced Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone, and bless Ms. Madison’s soul, I discovered that parsley’s leaves have short stems that break off the main stem opposite one another and cilantro’s leaves bunch together right next to the stem. I definitely had parsley.

#45 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2004, 02:23 AM:

Larry B -- so agreed on natto (the texture is the worst part) but good _uni_ tastes to me like brominated cream. I still don't like it, mind you, but there's nothing like lye to it when it's at its best.

#46 ::: Madeline ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2004, 02:46 AM:

...she'd have chicken livers for lunch (the other three of us didn't like them) and share them with the cat. The cat started bringing her the heads and livers of the birds it caught.

Aw, that brought back memories of the first and best cat I ever knew. I remember clearly one day on the back doormat finding that the cat had gifted us the head, heart, and liver of a mouse. The sheer care that must have gone into cleaning and arranging what I assume are the choicest bits... It's bringing tears to my eyes, thinking about it.

As for cilantro, I also as a kid had goldfish, and on their tank I had a filter. Changing the filter involved being exposed to several weeks worth of goldfish ...detrius. And the first time I encountered cilantro, I realized that it smelled exactly like that. However, I think I've become accustomed to the taste of the cilantro. (Still, I figure, why risk it? And use parsley when I make salsa instead.)

As for genetics, when I get in a human genetic frame of mind, I turn to the Online Mendelian Inheritance in Man database (OMIM). Alas, no one appears to have done any studies on cilantro, but there is a mention of how eating artichoke can make water taste sweet for some people...

As for marshmallow, it has no place in cuisine unless it's paired with either chocolate or rice krispies. No wonder people don't like yams! Ew! ;)

I deal with yams by making them into a slightly nuanced vehicle for concentrated orange juice and butter. That is, 1. bake yam, peel yam, cut into inch-thick slices. 2. in small saucepot over heat, mix together butter and concentrated orange juice. 3. drizzle over yams in baking dish, and bake some more.

#47 ::: Kip Manley ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2004, 02:56 AM:

Just a quick note, Julia: me mother knows from cooking eggplant. It doesn't matter how you leach it or fry it or roast it or chop it into a ratatouille or smash it into a moussaka or what you do with the stuff, it tastes frickin' awful. --We were quasi-sort-of vegetarian, and had our own large garden in Kentucky, which grew a lot of eggplant, and there was this Quixotic thing for a while there with finding just the right way of preparing it so I could eat it, and I just couldn't. Nasty.

(Still had to clean my plate, though. --I'm not denying there might not be some psychological quirk at the root of it all: I was eating this tasty dip once at a party years later and asked what it was and was told, baba ganouj! You know, with eggplant? You could have knocked me over with a feather. But it's not like I go seeking out baba ganouj or anything. We sort of eye each other warily over deli counters these days. Not sure if I can trust it. But! The Armenian word for eggplant is batilgian, which is ever so much fun to say.)

Handy trick for sprucing up your bog-standard oil-and-vinegar over greens-and-such salad: add a dash of vanilla. Lays a nice round vaguely sweet floor under the dressing.

#48 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2004, 03:41 AM:

",,,no one appears to have done any studies on cilantro..."

Packets of propylthiouracil-treated paper have, for many years, been available for high-school biology classes; the students are supposed to take a handful home, force them on all their family members, and chart the inheritance of the taste gene. Whether this is more or less embarrassing than demanding that they all perform tongue gymnastics depends on the family dynamic, I suppose.

Can't wait for the Acme Home DNA Fingerprinting Kit.

#49 ::: Larry B ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2004, 05:19 AM:

Madeline - Try adding dried stone fruits to your yam recipe, esp. apricots. Just add a little more liquid. The results will be worth it.

Marilee - My cats never dissected anything they brought back as love gifts, which were mostly crickets. We never fed them crickets... My mother's cat used to bring her lizards, which he would delicately place on her pillow. I'm convinced that that cat was pure evil.

Tom Whitmore - Brominated cream? I'm not too sure what brominated anything tastes like, then again I'm not too sure what lye tastes like. I guess I was just trying to say that uni has a really basic (in a pH kind of way) flavor.

#50 ::: Jill Smith ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2004, 06:48 AM:

Sweet potatoes and yams are different? Who knew.

Marshmallows are not considered "food" in my mom's neo-crunchy food taxonomy (I was the only kid in the 70's in my small-town NH elementary who had homemade whole wheat bread and bean sprouts in her sandwiches. If I wasn't a girl, I'm sure I would have gotten beaten up. Instead, I just got made fun of). Instead, she makes the darned things with brown sugar and pecans. It may be more elegant, but I still can't stand it. I don't have much of a sweet tooth, though. A little nibble of dark chocolate, thanks, I'm done.

Speaking of baba ganouj, despite being another who's not crazy about eggplant, I got addicted to the stuff when I was a student in London. Marks & Spencers makes some seriously yummy "aubergine dip." I think it's all the garlic masking the bitterness or something.

#51 ::: Harry Connolly ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2004, 08:43 AM:

sweet potatoes with chipotle peppers.

Those who dislike eggplant aren't missing much, nutritionally. It's kind of a filler food.

#52 ::: Alex Lawson ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2004, 10:33 AM:

May I add, as a regular British lurker here, that coriander/cilantro (they are definitely the same thing) is sold here in the UK as bunches cut with the top part of the stem or root attached, while the parsley is sold as bunches of leaves with cut stems. I suppose the whole plant is cut for coriander, while the leaves are cut off a growing plant for parsley. This is the flat-leaf parsley - we also get a frizzy-leaved parsley which looks completely different from coriander, but tastes the same as regular parsley.

About the smell, I find it fairly unpleasant, but good (in moderation) in some dishes, especially curries, and I dislike the smell on my hands after I've used it. The name coriander apparently comes from the Greek for bedbug, and I was able to confirm this the only time I actually encountered live bedbugs. This didn’t do much for its appeal as a herb, of course. The seeds smell much nicer, warm and spicy. I've never found the smell especially soapy, but I noticed yesterday in a handout from my local supermarket that they are bringing in a range of biodegradable household cleaning products that 'smell of freshly-cut coriander'.

#53 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2004, 12:54 PM:

Larry B: chlorine, iodine and bromine all have slightly different smells (I'm fortunate in not having smelled fluorine), and "good" _uni_ is more like bromine that the others to me. One Japanese chef I know uses it in sauces, and has served it to me steamed: both those uses are excellent. If you're in Seattle, go to Mashiko....

#54 ::: Simon ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2004, 01:25 PM:

Add to the database of people who can't comprehend that other people have different tastes:

(1) "How can you not like this?" Easily. It tastes bad.

(2) "But you haven't tried these sweet potatoes." It's not these sweet potatoes: it's all sweet potatoes.

Sometimes it is how the food is cooked. I've had delicious brussel sprouts. Once. But mostly, it's just the food.

#55 ::: Adina ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2004, 02:02 PM:

Xopher, it's the taste of the mayonnaise, not the egg in it; I eat scrambled eggs all the time. Sour cream might work.

Marilee, ricotta sounds like the perfect thing. I'll have to try that.

I stayed away from eggplant for a long time, because my mother used to make a dip from it that I thought looked really weird. (Not quite babaganoush--just roasted eggplant and garlic). One day I was visiting an aunt, and she talked me into trying her eggplant dip, and I admitted that it was quite tasty, and she then pointed out that this was exactly the same dip that my mother had been making all these years.

#56 ::: Rachael HD ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2004, 02:17 PM:

"Those who dislike eggplant aren't missing much, nutritionally. It's kind of a filler food."

But ratatouille makes perfect diet food. If you have a big bowl of ratatouille before dinner I can promise you won't over-eat. I suppose that would go double for all the eggplant haters.

I have a coworker who won't eat eggplant or any other "night shade" vegtable because she says it causes inflamation in her joints, does this sound plausible to y'all?

#57 ::: Harry Connolly ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2004, 02:42 PM:

Nightshades do supposedly cause minor inflammation. People with arthritis can find mild relief by avoiding taters, tomatoes, peppers, eggplants and so on. At least, my friend's mother did.

#58 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2004, 04:47 PM:

Gout too. As an interesting if irrelevant aside, all the nightshade family have at least one poisonous part, I'm told. I think it's the flowers for tomatos.

Alex Lawson: coriander and cilantro are the same plant, but not the same thing. Coriander is a spice; it's the seeds of the plant. Cilantro is an herb and as such consists of leaves. To me they don't taste anything alike.

Wintergreen and teaberry are the same plant, too...I've never tasted teaberry, so I don't know if it tastes like wintergreen...anybody? And, as mentioned above, tomato flowers and tomato fruit are not interchangeable!

#59 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2004, 04:49 PM:

Larry B, in cricket season, I get up in the morning and find the cats have left cricket legs all over the foyer. Apparently the legs are not actually food. The cats are also quite good at spiders and other critters, but worms and slugs are too slow for them.

Jill, my mother's mother was a "health nut" back when it was actually thought lunatic. Some of that spilled onto my mother who never let us have sweet things unless there was company. We never had hot dogs or American cheese, sodas, candy, whole milk, etc. It turns out my brother (who is 47 now) quickly started eating all those things when we left home, but I still prefer to avoid them.

Rachel, yes, nightshades are implicated in arthritic flare-ups:

#60 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2004, 04:53 PM:

Argh, wintergreen. It makes me nauseated when I smell it and sometimes I retch. My mother thought I was born with this because she used to chew wintergreen gum and I kept throwing up when I got near her mouth or breast. She changed to Juicy Fruit, and there wasn't any problem.

If someone has just put wintergreen gum in their mouth, I have to move away or retch. And then there's the radiology techs who don't believe me when I say I'll throw up if I smell/taste wintergreen. I usually try to aim the barium at their shoes.

#61 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2004, 06:07 PM:

"[I]n cricket season, I get up in the morning and find the cats have left cricket legs all over the foyer."

This would seem to call for at least a "Well bowled, Greymalkin!" But of course cats have a distinctly idiosyncratic response to praise.

#62 ::: Jill Smith ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2004, 06:35 PM:

Ah yes, Marilee! No sugar cereals, no soda, no packaged cookies or cakes... I used to eat such stuff at friends' houses, but upon growing up lost most of my sweet tooth... but will almost never turn down a potato chip. Is there such a thing as a "salt tooth"?

When my mother met her Norwegian mother-in-law (don't get me started on things preserved with lye...), I believe she found a kindred spirit. Gramie ate yogurt back when you couldn't buy it at the corner grocery. On top of the health-consciousness, layer the Norwegian things like pickled herring and nokkelost cheese, which are major yums in our family. (Tho my Indiana-bred mother had never had fish until she met my dad. She loves it now, but her mother won't touch it...)

I guess we're just a wierd food family. Mom's favorite saying is, "If it's not food, why are you eating it?" (Usually re: diet or other sodas).

#63 ::: Chad Orzel ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2004, 07:41 PM:

John M. Ford writes:
Can't wait for the Acme Home DNA Fingerprinting Kit.

Won't be long now. We are, after all, living in the future...

#64 ::: BSD ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2004, 10:36 PM:

Ahhh, kimchee, king of preserved vegetables (the one true Pickle is thy Queen, and her progeny are numerous).

My primary food-avoidances are almost all texture-based: squid, octopus, clam, and uni sushi; most arthropods; Natto; and overcooked legumes and cruciforms (those cruciforms that are harmed by long cooking, that is). I will try nearly anything else, though there are some foods that I've tried, but simply can't manage to successfully eat: Poultry feet fall into this category, as does spice beyond a certain, exceedingly high, level.

#65 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2004, 11:06 PM:

Xopher, et al. Re: nightshades.

One of the reasons it took so long to convinve people to EAT potatoes and tomatoes is because they resemble their poisonous cousins. As well the part we eat are the ONLY part of that plant that is safe to eat. Leaves, vines, and roots of potatoes and tomatoes are full of the chemical that makes nightshades poisonous.

My only food oddness (aside from a couple of food allergies, easy to avoid, which could be lethal, like my clam allergy) is that if I have to handle something too much, I may not be able to eat the recipe I've prepared. It doesn't happen too often, and it usually happens with a meat dish (when I was a newly wed, I decided to make chicken-liver stroganoff for Jim. He really likes chicken livers and I think they're okay, especailly with a strong sauce. The Joy of Cooking gave an ultimately unnecessary instruction (I was new at adventurous cooking) of handling all the livers, removing anything that might be unappetizing. Well, the upshot was I could not even swallow a mouthful of something Jim found wonderful. I'd messed with it too much and had grossed myself, sigh.

Jim does make a really wonderful sauteed chicken liver, he uses a flour/romano/seasoning breading, then tosses them into an oil and butter mix. Really tasty, even though I ordinarly do not like liver in any fashion.

#66 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: April 18, 2004, 11:08 PM:

That would be convince...

#67 ::: Mel ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2004, 12:22 AM:

Don't like chocolate. It tastes just like brussels sprouts. Loathe brussels sprouts.

Can't make my tongue do the cylinder-thing, either, spent hours upon hours trying to do so, as a child. Everyone else in my family can.

Maybe my mother really DID find me under a cabbage leaf.

#68 ::: Mary Kay ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2004, 12:42 AM:

Damn. Now I'm hungry and I just had dinner.

I like almost everything. My sister and I were possibly the only children in NA to become pleasurably excited on finding out there was liver and onions for dinner.

I'm probably not a supertaster though I have very limited tolerance for bitter things. (Unless it's gin and tonic.) Can't stand coffee or coffee-flavored things, but I prefer my grapefruit without sugar thank you very much. Sour is always good. I'm with BSD on the whole pickle thing as, if I recall correctly, is Patrick. Cilantro is fine stuff, esp. in salsa. I can't eat much hot spicy food, but Indian food is ok as long as it isn't vindaloo.

Eggplants are fine by me. It occurs to me that I haven't made ratatouille in too long.

I never thought I liked sweet potatoes until the first time I had tempura in a Japanese restaurant. It was a whole new flavor sensation. Turns out I don't like them cooked with all that sweet stuff.

About the only thing I won't try any more is raw fish. Been there, done that. If I wanted to eat raw dead fish and seaweed, I'd lie on the beach with my mouth open. (Stolen from someone not a million miles away from this blog.)


#69 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2004, 03:56 AM:

Can I have your dead raw fish with seaweed, Mary Kay?

#70 ::: oliviacw ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2004, 08:51 AM:

I love sweet potatoes and broccoli, but don't do pickled/salty things, which to me are similar in yuckyiness. (This includes pickles, olives, kimchee, herring, sardines, and so on, as well as that asian candied stuff with the red salty-sour powder). I even drink my margaritas without salt!

#71 ::: Holly M. ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2004, 09:41 AM:

Changing the filter involved being exposed to several weeks worth of goldfish ...detrius. And the first time I encountered cilantro, I realized that it smelled exactly like that.

How odd. The first time I used white pepper in a beef dish I thought it smelled like the inside of a cow barn--that same sharp/musky smell. Smells great in the jar, but not in the meatloaf.

#72 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2004, 10:33 AM:

I share the anti-cilantro gene, and can't stand certain types of melons. And department store perfume (or those magazine inserts) -- yuck! But my chief bugaboo is something most of you probably like -- cucumbers. To me, they taste like chlorine, and chlorine makes me nauseous. (That's why I never learned to swim; those chlorinated pools.) Yams: fine with tart fruit juice or herbs. I used to cook both clams and chicken livers (*not* together!) and love them, but I've given them up as too much bother. If I were more of a cook these days, I'd be yearning for a good recipe for nice cold coffee yogurt.

#73 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2004, 10:58 AM:

Marilee: I love wintergreen, but have a similar (though weaker) reaction to peppermint. That one I think was acquired as a taste aversion in childhood (got sick on too many peppermint candies). Yours sounds almost like an allergy, though in that case I'd expect artificial wintergreen flavor would give you much less of a reaction (you'd still react because of the association).

Faren Miller: I even like doing my white laundry, because the smell of chlorine reminds me of swimming pools! Funny how that can go either way. I love cucumbers, but it never would have occurred to me to associate them with chlorine.

What I can't stand is the smell of cooking pork (roast, bacon, whatever). It doesn't smell BAD to me particularly, but I start feeling sick whenever I smell it, an odd combination. I suspect the action is physical in this case (since whatever you can smell, you're inhaling). Lamb bothers me too, but not as strongly. I'm one of those vegetarians who barfs when I accidentally ingest a trace amount of meat, one reason I'll never go back.

Another big hate: the smell of overcooked vegetables. Smell the same as rotten ones to me. That's why I can't stand brussels sprouts; they're always cooked to moosh. I don't like any vegetable mooshy. I understand this is the proper way to cook them (and asparagus), but since I don't much like either one, it's not a big loss.

(Side note: 'mush' to me is assonant with 'but'; it's either a kind of porridge or a sleddog command. 'Moosh', above, is meant to be assonant with 'foot', and is strictly a food-word (I learned it from my cooking pals, whose vowels are somewhat different from mine). If I had to spell something assonant with 'goose' I guess I'd resort to 'mooshe', but fortunately no such word exists in my idiolect. My spellchecker would probably correct it to 'Moshe', if I used one, which I don't.)

#74 ::: Julia Jones ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2004, 12:03 PM:

Put me on the anti-coriander leaf list. Actually, put me on most of the anti lists. I was greatly relieved to discover the concept "supertaster", it explained quite a lot about why I hate eating out at friends' houses. I seem to have pretty much every "it tastes bad" gene going, apart from the biggie for a Brit - the Evil Bitter Brassica Chemical. Naturally, that is the only one my husband has...

Coriander leaf tastes bad to the point where the first time I encountered it, I had to fight not to throw up. But whatever the chemical is, it's obviously not in the seed, because I've been cheerfully slinging that into everything for years.

#75 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2004, 02:26 PM:

(2) "But you haven't tried these sweet potatoes." It's not these sweet potatoes: it's all sweet potatoes.

My experience is exactly the opposite: every specific-food aversion I've had has been cured by encountering it in high-quality form. At this point I can't think of anything I haven't learned to like, even stuff (like Swiss cheese and seafood) that used to make me retch.

That doesn't mean it's OK to be pushy, of course.

The common mistake with yams and sweet potatoes is to make them even sweeter. I like them much better baked with the skins on, adding only butter, salt and pepper.

#76 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2004, 02:27 PM:

Xopher: That's why I can't stand brussels sprouts; they're always cooked to moosh.

I won't argue with your religion, but you're definitely moving in the wrong \c/ircles. Gaiman and Pratchett tell us that Brits are comforted by the smell of sprouts cooking forever; most of the people I know understand that sprouts should be cooked more moderately.

Best-served around here are at Henrietta's Table, which uses local produce as much as possible. I'm not sure they've sat \in/ water at all -- maybe lightly steamed before sauteing. Not undercooked (I love broccoli steamed for a short time but can't stand it raw), just crunchy and go well with many things (pass on the ketchup).

#77 ::: Keith ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2004, 04:47 PM:

I love cilantro! My hispanic wife puts silantro in/on just about everything, to its betterment. A really simple sauce we've found is to take some plain jogert, stir in diced cilantro and a splash of lemon sauce. Dip batter fried chicken pieces in it, with mashed potatoes and broccolli on the side and you've got yourself one hell of a meal.

#78 ::: Alex Lawson ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2004, 05:15 PM:

CHip - I don't know about comforting, I find the smell and taste of Brussels sprouts disgusting, whether they are cooked to mush or crisp, or even (as I once encountered them) raw in a salad. Don't like the way they look much, either.

#79 ::: Brooks Moses ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2004, 05:31 PM:

My favorite recipe for Brussels sprouts involves baking them, and then covering with a sauce made from orange juice concentrate and balsamic vinegar. Sufficiently delicious that my mother (who usually doesn't like Brussels sprouts) likes them.

I don't think there's really much food stuff that I don't like the taste of, aside from strong artificial mint or bubblegumish flavors. (This made getting my teeth cleaned at the dentists' rather unpleasant, as all the flavors of professional-grade toothpaste they have are things I actively dislike. I actually preferred the plain baking-soda stuff they used for grownups.)

For somewhat odd things I like, one of the local Chinese restaurants has had beef with bitter melon as a special for the last few months; I was rather fond of it when I tried it. It was also a bit entertaining how all of the restaurant staff seemed to find an excuse to ask me how I liked it.

And it's 2:30, and I haven't had lunch yet, and there is this smell of what seems to be home-cooked Chinese food coming from the desk of my officemate. Must find food, now!

#80 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2004, 05:36 PM:

People who don't like brussels sprouts because they're too bitter should try cooking them in a mild acid. I usually poach them in apple juice.

#81 ::: Julia Jones ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2004, 07:33 PM:

My experience is exactly the opposite: every specific-food aversion I've had has been cured by encountering it in high-quality form. At this point I can't think of anything I haven't learned to like, even stuff (like Swiss cheese and seafood) that used to make me retch.

That doesn't mean it's OK to be pushy, of course.

For me, and a number of the other coriander leaf haters I know, a dish contaminated with the stuff smells as if the local tomcat has sprayed in it.

Now, I'm sure I could learn to like this if I tried really hard. But the assumption that I don't like it simply because I haven't encountered it in high quality form is likely to get remarks about just how high quality does the tomcat urine have to be to be enjoyable? Pedigree, or will any old mongrel do?

I understand the point being made, because I've had the experience of discovering I didn't like something because of the quality of the ingredients or the preparation, rather than it being an intrinsic property of the item. But there are many people around who because they think something's wonderful, can't accept that it isn't wonderful to everyone, and that this can be a physical difference between people. If it's one of the chemicals where there are genetic differences in the way it tastes, then their super wonderful preparation method isn't going to have any effect on the nay-sayers unless it actually removes, alters or masks the chemical. (And masking is a lot harder to do than the non-tasters think.)

There are such methods - salt leaching and acid have been mentioned in the thread. But my experience of "you haven't tried *this* version" is that it's usually either someone who's convinced that their cooking is so wonderful that nobody could dislike it, or someone who doesn't believe that you've ever actually tried it, so you just have to be coaxed to try it and then you'll discover how yummy it is. It gets annoying.

Oh, and for those people who like to sneak a disliked item into the meal, and then triumphantly tell people what they've been eating - it's quite possible that your victim did notice it, thought it was disgusting, but has been brought up to be polite to their host...

#82 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2004, 08:11 PM:

For me, and a number of the other coriander leaf haters I know, a dish contaminated with the stuff smells as if the local tomcat has sprayed in it.

Sure. I didn't mean to imply that anyone can and should learn to like anything, especially if there really is a genetic bias against it. (It must suck to be a Mexican kid with cilantrophobia.) And I agree that the behavior you're talking about is rude.

I just wanted to point out that at least some of these dislikes aren't set in stone. Swiss cheese literally used to make me gag. Now I eat it with pleasure. I'm sure I could have lived a full life without learning to like Swiss cheese, but I'm glad I did.

#83 ::: Mel ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2004, 08:17 PM:

okay--I can accept that preparation--salt-leaching, acid soaking, disguising with vast quantities of Velveeta cheeze-like-food, etc.--might make brussels sprouts more palatable.

Now, what do you have to do to chocolate to make IT less bitter and generally mouth-unfriendly...

#84 ::: Trinker ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2004, 08:47 PM:

Dropping in well after everyone else...

Mel: disguising anything with Velveeta makes it less palatable, not more. (Okay, so I actually like Brussels sprouts and cauliflower and broccoli, so perhaps I should recuse myself from that bit of the discussion.)

Just to throw a little more heat into the mix, I will say that my housemate had been adamant that she loathed some things, only to find that really, it truly was all about how she'd encountered it before. She likes my versions fine.

I like to cook red sweet potatoes (yams) with ginger and cayenne. No sugar.

Larry B: Natto isn't fermented bean sprouts, it's fermented soy beans.

Xopher: Asparagus and brussels sprouts don't require cooking to death, that's a foul canard!

(Anyway, I'm weird by NorAm standards, I really like the slippery texture of natto, and have a serious jones for okra.)

#85 ::: Larry B ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2004, 11:34 PM:

Trinker - yep, they are fermented soy beans, my bad. It's the goo that they trail that makes me think of bean sprouts left to molder for months and months...

Yet I can eat Tempeh, another fermented soy bean product with no problem.

And okra doesn't have to be slimy. Just cook the pods whole and cut them up before you serve them.

As far as encouraging/forcing people to try things they dislike, forcing is just plain wrong. But, I have trained myself to be able to eat just about anything if politeness requires it. Encouraging, on the other hand is OK if you don't try to make the other person feel bad. And, if you have the cilantro aversion thing, just say you're allergic. It's a little white lie that can make things easier for you.

#86 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: April 19, 2004, 11:41 PM:

Julia, I always hated brussel sprouts until I found out to cook them in acid. I don't actually cook much anymore, so I haven't had them in a while, but I don't think they've changed that much.

Larry B, I *love* fried okra. The frying isn't so good for me, so I try to limit my drive-throughs at Captain D's to a couple times a month.

#87 ::: Julia Jones ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2004, 01:45 AM:

Marilee: Julia, I always hated brussel sprouts until I found out to cook them in acid. I don't actually cook much anymore, so I haven't had them in a while, but I don't think they've changed that much.

The sprouts bitter chemical is one of the few where I know I'm a non-taster, so I can't tell whether the acid trick actually works or not -sprouts taste just fine to me when steamed or boiled in plain water for a few minutes. (Cooking them until they turn into a mush will not please me, but that's for other reasons.) How much acid is needed to make this work?

I can't remember whether I've done the grapefruit rant here...

#88 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2004, 03:30 AM:

Might try (one day, cautiously) the acid on Brussels sprouts trick, but I think it's also revulsion at the texture. I love the taste of mulberries, but raw, cooked, mixed with cream, etc, the 'mouthfeel' makes me gag. Have had the juice, and there is a place that makes a cordial of them with no fibre at all, and I like them both. A shame, because my mother's flats have a mulberry tree in the backyard, and no-one seems to want them -- except the wildlife :)

Perhaps leaching out bitterness/foulness plus mushing up the Brussels sprouts would make them OK. But why bother? Unless it was all you had, or sprouts had some amazing inseparable health benefit that broccoli, cauliflower or cabbage (all of which I like or can cope with) don't.

#89 ::: Jill Smith ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2004, 05:14 AM:

But my experience of "you haven't tried *this* version" is that it's usually either someone who's convinced that their cooking is so wonderful that nobody could dislike it, or someone who doesn't believe that you've ever actually tried it, so you just have to be coaxed to try it and then you'll discover how yummy it is. It gets annoying.

Definitely, it gets annoying. Especially if it comes from your mom and you were never a picky eater, never had to be coaxed to try anything, didn't refuse food because it "looked weird," etc...

The really freaky thing about the sweet potato "script," though, is I have never in my own personal experience seen it played out with any other food. If I say, "No, thank you" to another dish for any other unstated reason, that polite demurrer is honored without question. But with sweet potatoes, everyone seems to turn into the Borg of Yam (sorry, I now know they are different, but I couldn't resist it) and insist I must be assimilated.

#90 ::: Nomie ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2004, 08:02 AM:

Interesting to see where this discussion went - my chem class was using the tasting papers mentioned somewhere upthread yesterday. Turns out we have a couple of supertasters in class, and it was fun to see their reactions. (I'm a better-than-most taster, so I wasn't reacting well either.)

Sweet potatoes are best plain. Or baked into a pie; it's much better than pumpkin, which has always tasted soapy to me.

And as far as the natural-foods childhood goes, I had one of those. And still got made fun of. And this was in the supposedly more enlightened early 90s. However, my parents have slackened on my much-younger sister, and now the pantry's full of all manner of processed food. It breaks my heart a little when I can't find the all-natural peanut butter; the regular stuff tastes like dessert to me.

#91 ::: Yoon Ha Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2004, 09:37 AM:

I was appalled to discover one would serve sweet potatoes or yams with marshmallows. I don't think I've been brave enough to try the dish when I've encountered it, and I've had them separately before.

I don't have any of the chemical taste markers that I know of, but I haven't tried some of the vegetables mentioned. On the other hoof, it is exasperating to have to fend off my mom's attempt to feed me mushrooms. I can't deal with the texture for some reason.

I am vexed by my husband's general non-enjoyment of sweets, because this means that we end up buying far fewer sweets, even though the sweets we get, I can monopolize. I suppose he's good for my eating habits. :-p

#92 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2004, 10:40 AM:

I think okra is disgusting unless a) cooked with a strong sauce, especially an Indian one; or b) pickled. Yum okra pickles yum. Either method neatly disposes of the slime problem.

I grew up thinking I hated broccoli because my mother's way of cooking it was to put the spears in cold water in a steel pan, turn on the (electric!) burner under them, and let them simmer until dinnertime, whenever that was. A vaguely broccoli-shaped, rotted-smelling moosh was the result. Yuck.

When I first tasted lightly-steamed broccoli with butter, I discovered that I love the stuff. I even like it raw now. (I still dislike cauliflower, because it seems to have no flavor at all. Not too bad in hot mixed pickles, I must say.)

I believe that no one who dislikes chocolate should be coaxed into trying it or taught to like it. The best case outcome is that they will continue to dislike it; if the efforts are successful (unlikely) they will eat chocolate that chocolate lovers - me, for example - might otherwise get!

#93 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2004, 11:26 AM:

Yoon Ha Lee -- which mushroom texture don't you like? There are so many different varieties, and they vary even more depending on how they are cooked. The squeaky toughness of wood ears is completely different from the softness of chanterelles; the leathery feel of reconstituted dried shiitake is not like fresh shiitake or the slight crunchiness of uncooked button (agaricus campestris) mushrooms. And though Crimini and Portobello are nominally the same mushroom, the textures of both vary with some overlap (pour olive oil into the gill side of a portobello with the stem removed, enough to fill. Let it sink in for 10 min or so. Add just a bit more oil. Grill on a barbecue, gill up to start then a short time gill down. Slice, serve, eat hot. Salt is optional).

As an aside, I can't believe it's taken me two days to remember the term "halogen" to describe the Mendeleev VII column.... They say memory is the second thing to go.

#94 ::: Joy Rothke ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2004, 11:35 AM:

I have a coworker who won't eat eggplant or any other "night shade" vegtable because she says it causes inflamation in her joints, does this sound plausible to y'all?

Back in the early 80s I went through a macrobiotic phase, and they eschew all of those foods. [Along with just about everything tasty in the world.]

I'm amazed at the number of people who don't like chocolate! Astounding.

#95 ::: Harry Connolly ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2004, 11:40 AM:

What are "tasting papers?"

#96 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2004, 12:09 PM:

Xopher: exactly correct on chocolate; my immediate response to Now, what do you have to do to chocolate to make IT less bitter and generally mouth-unfriendly... was "Let someone else dispose of it."

Someone I knew back when used to respond to trial dishes with "This is awful. \Terrible!/ I'm going to wipe it off the face of the earth while you go back and try again." That could get old quickly, even (especially?) from someone who fancied himself the zeroth coming of Nick van Rijn, but it played OK in New England ("hostile, suspicious, costive and clannish" is what Damon Knight called us...).

#97 ::: Karen Junker ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2004, 02:31 PM:

Faren -
I love coffee gelatin - it's not quite coffee yogurt, can make it with hot coffee for the hot, to dissolve the gelatin and cold coffee for the can add sugar or fake sugar to the hot mix, if you like sweet. Then, when it has set, cut it into cubes and pour either coconut mild or sweetened condensed milk over it. You could also make the milk the cold wet ingredient...different texture, but easier to use in a food fight.

#98 ::: Mel ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2004, 02:57 PM:

Good, that's settled. You guys can have my share of the world's chocolate. I'll swap for the leftover okra and yams.

#99 ::: Yoon Ha Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2004, 03:01 PM:

Tom: I believe I've had all those mentioned above, or variants thereof, and didn't like any of them. The taste is not quite a selling point, but I acknowledge it's been long enough since I've been brave enough to try mushrooms deliberately, as opposed to finding some lurking in (usually restaurant) food, that it might not be the issue it once was.

On a side note, I loved spinach (served Korean-style) until I saw what a particular Houston elementary school cafeteria did with it (boiled to tasteless, sodden, almost brownish-green moosh), started hating it, then was won back when we moved back to Korea. I have since discovered that there are perfectly respectable non-moosh non-Korean methods of preparation that I enjoy.

#100 ::: Nomie ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2004, 03:24 PM:

Harry - the "tasting papers" I referred to are strips of tissue paper impregnated with a variety of chemicals. Depending on the abundance of taste buds and your particular genetic makeup, people either experience a delay in tasting the chemicals or taste them differently. Sodium benzoate will taste bitter to nontasters, sweet to supertasters, and salty to regular tasters; thiourea will taste immediately bitter to supertasters and have no taste at first for regular tasters. We used a third chemical in class, but I can't remember what it was.

Side note: while we're on the subject of foul and pestilent greens, has anybody else ever had fiddlehead ferns? My parents love them, but I think they taste like a used dishsponge must.

#101 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2004, 03:53 PM:

Julia: "The sprouts bitter chemical is one of the few where I know I'm a non-taster, so I can't tell whether the acid trick actually works or not -sprouts taste just fine to me when steamed or boiled in plain water for a few minutes. (Cooking them until they turn into a mush will not please me, but that's for other reasons.) How much acid is needed to make this work?

I can't remember whether I've done the grapefruit rant here..."

My usual deal with brussels sprouts is to put a small boneless pork chop in the middle of an oval Pyrex casserole dish. Then I trim and put Xs in the bottom of about a dozen sprouts and put them around the pork chop with the bottoms out. Then I pour enough apple juice over to cover the chop and add some rosemary (ground if I don't have fresh) and then put the lid on and zap for 10 minutes in the microwave. Before I started this, I started elbow macaroni on the stove. The pork chop will finish just as the macaroni do and I move the chop, sprouts, and macaroni to the plate and make a quick reduction of the apple juice/fat/rosemary to pour over all of it.

I *love* grapefruit, but I take a statin and I can't have grapefruit or grapefruit juice with it.

#102 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2004, 03:59 PM:

Re: Chocolate. Many years ago, when I consulted for M&M/Mars in their Hackettstown factory, I had to taste test every week. (They test everybody, even contractors, and you taste more often the better taster you are.) You have no idea how awful some potential chocolate recipes are. Fortunately, we had a spit bowl and water so we didn't have to swallow them. They used to send me home with bags of chocolate (the regular kind they sell) and I'm not that fond of chocolate. Fortunately, I was volunteering with at-risk teens at the time and *they* always liked the chocolate.

At a con, I don't remember which, someone had brought some bitter dark chocolate particularly hoping Mary Kay would try it. Mary Kay wasn't there, so I tasted for her. I'm very fond of Mary Kay, but I'm not doing that again.

#103 ::: Kathy Li ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2004, 04:12 PM:

My problem food is lamb.

And I, too, can't stand natto. I was equally drop-jawed and appalled watching Morimoto pouring Coca-Cola to make a dessert out of the secret ingredient in the Iron Chef Natto episode.

Tom, I've always thought of uni as sweet. But then, I discovered that the uni my local bar (Sushi-Ota in San Diego) serves is caught locally in La Jolla Cove and is exceptionally fresh. Singer exclaimed over it.

#104 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2004, 04:24 PM:

Well, recall that at least two of the Iron Chef judge/tasters (including the Anime Voice Lady) admitted that they didn't like natto, either.

I had uni in Seattle once (with Singer, naturally) -- it would have been physically impossible for it to be any fresher, as the urchins were disempointybitsed in front of us. I liked that (as well as the amaebi with extra crispy), but I doubt I'd order it under any other circumstances, Singer's absence included.

#105 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2004, 04:30 PM:

That would have been at Old Nikko, wouldn't it, Mike? At least that's where I had it similarly, which led to my "brominated cream" comment.

Shrimp heads, shrimp heads, extra crispy shrimp heads
Shrimp heads, shrimp heads, eat 'em up yum!

#106 ::: Yoon Ha Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2004, 04:48 PM:

I've had fiddleheads, although I can't tell you what kind of fern (it was in Korea). They're edible, but a bit slimy in texture, or is it the preparation? I prefer sesame leaves with dwaenjang. (Fermented soybean paste? I don't know the English or the Japanese for it. Maybe it's the same thing, or related to miso?)

#107 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2004, 04:49 PM:

I take it uni and natto are some kind of sashimi fish?

Yoon Ha Lee, there are even some mooshy cooked-to-death ways of preparing spinach that are quite tasty...I used to be quite fond of Sag Paneer until I developed a medical condition that forced me to give up spinach (sob).

#108 ::: Kylee Peterson ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2004, 05:09 PM:

Kathy Li wrote:
I was equally drop-jawed and appalled watching Morimoto pouring Coca-Cola to make a dessert out of the secret ingredient in the Iron Chef Natto episode.

Natto with Coke?!

Good gods.

Even my leg hair stood up, reading that. I don't think that's ever happened before.

#109 ::: MD² ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2004, 05:18 PM:

Fermented soy beans = natto.
Everytime you go visit a foreign country, it seems a bunch of friends you have there have nothing better to do than try to have you ingest some of the local delicacies they don't (and won't) usually consume themselves. In France it's generally frog and snails, in Mauritania it's that special recipe of maffé rice (the one with roff, gombo, peanut butter AND sweet potatoe), in Japan it's natto it seems.

#110 ::: Booklegger ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2004, 05:58 PM:


Uni is sea urchin, a creamy textured seafood with a highly variable flavour depending on where and when it is caught, and how fresh it is.

Natto is satans contribution to the culinary world, and appears to we mere mortals as fermented soy beans.

#111 ::: JMKagan ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2004, 06:55 PM:

Ooo, ooo! Us, us! We'll eat your fiddlehead ferns over here!

Years ago we found fiddlehead ferns at a local farmers' market (the "organic" veg farm, even) and we bought what they had left, which was maybe 1/2 pound. The person manning that stand could give us no clue how to cook these things but we bought these thingies anyhow. (Okay, we like strange food, we admit it---and the fiddlehead ferns looked soooo lovely, soooo pretty and curly.)

Ricky cooked them Kagan family fresh veg stir-fry default: he fired up the wok and, in either peanut oil or olive oil, he fried up two dried peppers and two sliced fresh cloves of garlic. Because I'm a wimp these days about hot pepper, he pulled out the hot peppers the minute they turned black (if you like your cooked veggies spicy, leave the peppers in thruout the stir-fry)---and then he threw in the fiddlehead ferns and tossed 'em quick quick QUICK! with a splash of soy sauce and a splash of sherry.

(Best I can offer as amounts on this fiddlehead fern dish is that Ricky generally goes easy on the soy sauce and heavy on the sherry. Splash soy here = maybe a teaspoon; splash sherry here = maybe a tablespoon. The sherry's not there for the alcohol; it's there for the flavor.)

I think he cooked them in about five minutes flat, if that...and they were bright green with quick black spots and they were crispy and crunchy and we've been searching for a source of MORE fiddlehead ferns ever since.

No way were those fiddleheads slimy. If you can get them fresh in your neighborhood, please express us the ones you don't want.

P.S. You don't have to have a professional wok stove to cook Ricky's fresh veg default. I've done green beans and broccoli and cauliflower and broccoflower (sp?) in a cast iron frying pan when Ricky isn't home and brought them all off on high heat and chutspah so far. As long as I use his secret two hot peppers and his WHUMP of sherry and remember to pull everything out the minute it goes BRIGHT GREEN with the occasional seared black spot, it tastes terrific. (Well, okay, the cauliflower is harder to time but if it goes mushy it's your own dang fault for not pulling it out while it's still crispy and crunchy.)

More when I get a chance.... Now I'm hungry and I must go eat.

#112 ::: Kathy Li ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2004, 07:24 PM:

Tom, Mike: Now I feel short-changed. No live uni when Singer took me to Nikko's! [pout].

Kylee: My reaction, exactly. Morimoto was using the dump-lots-of-sugar-on-beans Asian dessert approach (usually used with red beans, mung beans, lotus seeds, etc.) So it made sense in a demented kind of way. But even Fukui-san was freaking.

#113 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2004, 07:59 PM:

Marilee: Yes, yams and sweet potatoes are different, but (and I had a long debate, before a friend of mine and I got it all resolved) the things called yams in the supermarket are just a variety of sweet potato (say the difference between a walla-walla and a bermuda onion). The true yam is a very blad tuber, which gets to 15-20 lbs in bulk.

Alice: I have been known to keep a bag of cranberries in the freezer (which makes them a tad sweeter, which is why bears prefer to eat the fruit which overwinters), and eat them like little balls of sherbet.

Christina: that parsley sounds like Italian parsley. Oddly, while I love cilantro, I find Italian/flat-leaf parsley to be a tad soapy. useful for some things, but in terms of flavor I prefer curly (and get funny looks when I eat the bits used as garnish in restaurants).

I'm only half done with the thread, but the pottery lab awaits (and I've at least one pot out of the kiln, and I hope three, so glazing is on tonights menu) but I seem to have quirky tastes in food. I could blame them on genetics, but can't really say.

Eggplant is bitter, brussel sprouts are foul, artichokes are bland and pointless (and ruin the rest of the meal, because they make everything sweeter), mango is disgusting, bell peppers are revolting (but, just, bearable) cooked spinach makes me retch (this is induced aversion, the one thing my pre-school made us finish was the overcooked canned spinach), but collards can be all right, where spinach is called for; so long as they aren't overdone. Fresh spinach, on the other hand, is yummy. Add the least heat, and it is horrble. I tried some on a burger once, the heat from the meat made the leaf inedible.

Broccoli is nasty, but kale is ok.

Liver, well the smell of it cooking makes my slaver like Pavlov's dogs, but the texture kills my appetite for a week. Ground, in terrines, and pates, just fine. Browned liverwurst on toast, with a schmeer of coarse mustard, and some fresh leaf lettuce, yum.

Milk, well my mother says that I've never cared for it. I was presented cows milk after I was weaned and balked, but cream, half and half, etc., are fine. I find it gummy, and boring and it lingers in my throat, but DO something to it, and I am well pleased.

The worst thing about my oddities with food, are that so many of the things I don't like, are popular as vegetables in public places, and so I find myself leaving them on the plate.

Ah, well... I have a garden, in an easy climate, and can plant pretty much what I please, and I do.


#114 ::: Mary Kay ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2004, 10:44 PM:

At a con, I don't remember which, someone had brought some bitter dark chocolate particularly hoping Mary Kay would try it. Mary Kay wasn't there, so I tasted for her. I'm very fond of Mary Kay, but I'm not doing that again.

LOL. Thank you very much! I don't suppose you remember the kind of chocolate?

Xopher: Pickled okra is in fact delectable, but so is fried, if it's done properly. And it's never slimy.

You want young, tender pods of okra. Take each one wipe it gently with a damp paper towel. Slice off the tops and slice the pods in approx. 1/4" rounds. Put the slices into a large bowl and toss with lots of cornmeal. Let it set for a bit. Heat about 1 inch or so vegetable oil in a wide skillet. When it's hot put in the okra. Shallow fry until it's all rather dark golden brown. Drain on brown paper or paper towels. This is especially good with sliced fresh tomatoes and iced tea. Oh god, I'm hungry again.


#115 ::: antukin ::: (view all by) ::: April 20, 2004, 11:58 PM:

Aaahhhhh! Another person who eats the parsley used as garnish! I somehow feel assured knowing I am not the only person who gets funny looks because of this.

But then again I'm a bit used to it as I'm fairly adventurous when it comes to food. Among my favorites: adobong bayawak (I don't know the English translation but it's something like an iguana), frog legs (which I consider to be quite normal), balut (the infamous duck embryo. they made contestants eat this on fear factor, and I was thinking, hello, delicacy!), and all the various versions of seaweed (I can't tell them apart but I'm basically willing to try them all!).

I've tried snake and was surprised to find it too bony. Since snakes move so fluidly I'd assumed they were boneless, but it seems it's the very bones that allow them to move that way. I don't know how they cook snails in France but here we use coconut milk and it's delicious.

#116 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2004, 01:05 AM:

Mary Kay Kare, ARGGH! I love okra prepared that way, it's 12:03 a.m. 04/21 in KC, MO, I had a huge dinner (we went to McBride's to listen to an Irish performer, a friend, and ate dinner -- I had an Irish breakfast, half of which I brought home because I also had a cup of their beer cheese soup--I got Jim to taste it so now he HAS eaten broccoli because that's in it too, according to their menu, thought hell would freeze over before that) and now I'm craving fried okra.

But I'll wait until it's in season (high summer), and maybe make it myself. For myself because no one else in our household of three will even put it in their mouth, no matter how it is prepared.

I also like it with tomatoes and peppers, mom used to blanch it or something that took the sliminess away. It does ooze goo if you don't treat it right. (going down to look at cookbook library in the a.m.)

#117 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2004, 01:09 AM:

Terry, I had yams when we lived overseas, that's why I know they're different.

Mary Kay, I think it was that Green & Black stuff. Someone had brought it from overseas. I only took a little corner and I had trouble swallowing it.

The fried okra you describe can be bought readymade locally at Captain D's. The seafood, coleslaw, hush puppies, etc., are adequate, but the fried okra is excellent, and there's a drive-up window. They don't seem too surprised when I order just the okra, so I can't be the only one.

#118 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2004, 01:15 AM:

The Green & Black's chocolate that I've had has been very good; I concede however that dark chocolate is an acquired taste. (When Katie and I got together, I took it as a mission to educate her about chocolate; I'm quite proud that I succeeded.)

#119 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2004, 01:16 AM:

Terry, artichokes aren't pointless -- they're a much better vehicle for garlic butter (or good mayonnaise, or homemade hollandaise) than snails because they have a nicer texture and they slow down my eating significantly more.

#120 ::: Brooks Moses ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2004, 01:49 AM:

Artichokes are particularly not pointless if one doesn't sufficiently cut the tips off before cooking them; I've pricked my finger many many times. (I usually dip them in a mixture of mayonnaise and lemon juice with a bit of fresh-ground pepper, incidentally, but I'm quite fond of them unadorned as well.)

I also happen to have grown pleasantly accustomed to the flavor that milk takes on after one has consumed an artichoke, which I comment on largely because I suspect the idea will make Terry blanch.

#121 ::: Larry B ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2004, 02:44 AM:

I grew up eating artichokes that had been stuffed with a bread crumb and parmesan mixture and baked in tomato sauce. I suspect that this is an Italian-American treatment, as it was pretty common where I grew up (in Brooklyn) but I haven't seen it anywhere else. And it's one of those things I've never been able to satisfactorily reproduce. I don't know if it's the fog of memory, or just my own culinary limitations.

Now I'm going to have to go out and buy some artichokes and take another stab at it.

The idea of mayonnaise on artichokes is almost heave inducing, though. I like mayo, and I love artichokes, but I just can't conceive of them co-existing peacefully. Then again, I also beleive that the triumvirate of common condiments (mustard, ketchup and mayo) must each be enjoyed separately, but you must never cross the beams or bad things will happen.

I never noticed any intensification of sweetness on other foods when I eat artichokes. Hmmm, I'll have to look out for it. (But, it might explain why I don't like to drink wine with them.)

#122 ::: Yoon Ha Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2004, 02:47 AM:

Antukin, you're making me hungry. As are various others, but you especially. I like seaweeds, and I'm not sure I can tell 'em all apart either.

Add me to the list of persons who eat garnish-parsley. I also like it on my sandwiches.

#123 ::: antukin ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2004, 06:04 AM:

hmmm parsley on sandwiches... definitely worth a try!

#124 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2004, 09:48 AM:

Mary Kay, I think it was that Green & Black stuff. Someone had brought it from overseas. I only took a little corner and I had trouble swallowing it.

Green & Black is available at all three of the nearest Whole Foods ]super[markets; this is a national chain, but I don't know whether they carry this brand everywhere. I've also found Valrhona bars (one store had broken-up bulk). Lake Champlain does a nice smooth very-dark bar with tiny chips of [something]mint; they're Vermont-based, so they may not be available throughout the chain.

There's a Whole Foods ~1/3 mile from the Boskone/Noreascon4 hotel....

#125 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2004, 11:01 AM:

Larry B, while I wouldn't mix all three of mustard, ketchup, and mayo, I've seen good things done with two of three. My favorite: good strong Dijon mustard mixed with mayo to taste. An excellent dipping sauce for anything fried, especially french fries. Not a patch on Teresa's Sharp Sauce, I'm sure, but still.

Oh, you meant yellow mustard, aka turmeric mayonnaise? I can't imagine why anyone over the age of 12 can stand that stuff.

#126 ::: Larry B ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2004, 12:45 PM:

Xopher - Yellow "mustard" does actually contain mustard, just not very much. That said, I never understood the stuff. I tend to look for hot varieties of dijon or NY-style deli mustard. In a pinch, Gulden's will do. But the yellow stuff is right up (or down) there with aerosol cheese food product spread.

IMHO, the worst possible (two-way) mixing is mustard/ketchup. I have to be on guard when I order a burger anyplace outside of the NY area to avoid that one! Blech!

#127 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2004, 02:01 PM:

I think the best way to understand 'bright yellow consumer mustard', such as French's, is as paint -- it's an emulsification of a pigment suspended in a fluid. It's not there to make the food taste better, it's there to make the food bright yellow.

#128 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2004, 02:07 PM:


Marilee: Re Yams, I apologise, it seems I read your comment as meaning the waxy-red/orange sweet potatoes sold as yams, were yams.

Tom: Asparagus, certain types of broccoli (on whic more in a moment), raw cauliflower, potatoes, fingers, lightly toasted croutons, any host of edible foods may be used to convey hollandaise, mayonaise, garlic butter (snails are all right at this, but I like them beter a la Provencal, where they are in a tomato ragout, with bleu cheese and baked. Eat-em Yum!).

As for the milk trick, gustibus non disputandem.

I am not much for blanching at other peoples tastes, Lord knows that I have eaten a lot of things which give people pause.

And, being rather fond of cooking, I've gotten pretty good at cooking things I don't much care for (though I do draw a line at spinach).

I'd have to say my mother's policy on foods when I was a child is probably the reason I am so comfortably adventurous. We never had to clean our plate, but if it was served to us we had to take three, decently sized, bites. After a couple of balks we would be allowed to refuse. At some later point it would be re-served, with the admonition that perhaps our tatses had changed. If they hadn't that single instance was enough to send it to the back burner again.

Whis is why I tried some skinny broccoli on the side of my plate at Kells (near Pike Place) despite my general aversion to the stuff. It looke so much like asparagus I couldn't resist trying it. Pretty good.

I did the same thing with a dish of mushrooms in Ukraine. I'm with Yoon Ha, the texture of them is what puts me off.

Another story. My mother's stroganoff is made with beef heart, and (perforce) mushrooms, which I disliked (the smell of sauteeing mushrooms is up there with liver for immediate visceral reaction, but usually to the flip side of the coin, I lose my appetite). One day, for me, she left the mushrooms out. It was awful, I liked the flavor the gave, and so just went to eating around them (mushroom soup, on the other hand, was still right out).

So I use them in my cooking. I was happy to find this out, actually because when I read of someone cooking with the (a la Hobbits) it makes me hungry. I'm the same way with fish, though I'm not a huge fan of most fish, esp. salt-water.

Unless, it seems, they are raw. When I got to Seattle I took Hal and Ulrika to dinner, and they proposed Mashiko. We sat at the bar and ate raw fish. This was the first time I'd made a meal on sushi and sashimi. The occasaional piece, sure, but for the whole thing. Hah!

It wasn't bad, and I discovered what was wrong with salmon... people had been cooking it. Monkfish liver pate, on the other hand, is a bit much more me.

Wierdest thing I have ever done, regularly, was wine and chocolate tastings. John Hertz and I did this for years, at the Renassaince Faire, several times, each season.

Three or four chocolates, a couple of wines (usually a red, and a white, and [once I found this out] a peach cider... beacuse it goes with chocolate, almost always) and as many customers as we could drag into it.

Some of the combinations were wretched. Some sublime. I don't know what came over me, however, the day I chose a mint chocolate (which was when we were still doing more wines, and had not discovered the cider trick). Nasty... foul... almost disgusting. Guinness, which one customer wanted to try, was also a bad idea.


#129 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2004, 03:09 PM:

Larry B, I used to mix yellow mustard and ketchup as a french-fry dip. I also used to eat old-fashioned potato chips (the kind with bubbles in them) by filling each bubble with mustard from the French's squirtbottle.

But when I became a man, I put aside childish things.

There's a lovely dessert wine called Essensia (not sure of the spelling). It's made from the Orange Flower Muscat grape, and is the perfect wine with strong chocolate. Despite having nothing in it but grapes, it has a citrus-y flavor.

#130 ::: Jill Smith ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2004, 03:19 PM:

Re: artichokes - for those who are lovers of 'chokes and lovers of mayo (small Venn diagram?), curried mayonnaise is a lovely condiment.

Mix enough mayo for your dipping needs with curry, salt and lemon juice to taste. Dip to your heart's content. Also good with steamed, then chilled asparagus.

#131 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: April 21, 2004, 07:30 PM:

Ah, ankimo -- steamed monkfish liver -- one of the foods of the gods! And I'm not generally a liver person (you don't know what's been through them, after all).

Glad you liked Mashiko. Was Hajime there? We once took a vegetarian friend there and sat at the bar. He served her only vegetarian dishes. She said it was the best restaurant meal she'd ever had. Hajime is a Food God. He even makes things I don't usually like taste good. Never got to do the April Fool's thing we talked about of me getting to stand behind the counter and serve him....

#132 ::: MD² ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2004, 12:47 AM:

Snails with coconut milk ? I'll have to try this.
Snake meat is nice I think.
I remember when I was a kid back then in Africa, and we were going "snake hunting". Basically: you took a cow with you, let the snake swallow it all, then when it was full and unable to move, you got rid of it. In the end you either cooked them together or opened the snake to cook them separatly.

#133 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2004, 01:20 AM:

Xopher: You have the spelling correct, and the same vineyard (Quady) makes a wonderful summer wine (well, it's available all year, and nice in wassail) called Electra. Wonderful slightly chilled, goes down a right treat.

Tom: Yes, I like Maskiko, no Hajime wasn't there on the first occasion, he was on the second. Made a lovely salad, chopped king salmon, capers, the yummy cucumber/sake vinegar salad, and sesame seeds, with the garlic wasabe sauce. I ate about a cup of that.

You mayu have my share of ankimo.


#134 ::: Bill Blum ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2004, 12:03 PM:

Larry B wrote:
That said, I never understood the stuff. I tend to look for hot varieties of dijon or NY-style deli mustard. In a pinch, Gulden's will do. But the yellow stuff is right up (or down) there with aerosol cheese food product spread.

I grew up thinking that Plochman's in the yellow barrel-thingy was What Mustard Is Supposed To Be.... primarily because that's all my mother ever bought. Ever.

Then, I went to a friend's house for a cookout-- and had a mustard epiphany....

Well, not an epiphany per se-- it was just the first time I had non-yellow mustard. It was tangy. It was spicy. It was glorious.

I'm partial to Woeber's mustards myself--- but that's because I live down the road from the plant.

#135 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2004, 03:59 PM:

Ah, Monkfish!

Mary Turzillo and Geoff Landis took me and my wife to Maison Akira: "Fine Casual French Dining with a Japanese Flair" across from the Pasadena Playhouse. For details of the place and its award-winning chef Akira, see:

Maison Akira

After the unlisted salmon sashimi and avocado starter with rolls, I started with an Ahi Tuna Tartare of Marinated Enoki Mushrooms with Diced Tomato & Cucumbers, before the entree of Eastern Monk Fish Wrapped in Apple Smoked Bacon in a Lobster Saffron Shallot Sauce, with a fine Napa Valley Merlot. My wife extolled the Pan Roasted New Zealand Venison Loin Wrapped in Apple Smoked Bacon in a Red Currant sauce with Celery Root Puree. Mary had the Pan Roasted Duck Breast in an Orange Green [colorless Orange Green ideas sleep furiously] Peppercorn Sauce with Winter Vegetables. I think that Geoff had the Angus Beef tenderloins with Duck Fois Gras Rossini Style in a Port Wine Truffle Sauce. Then while Geoff and Mary toyed with a Blancmange, my wife and I had Bittersweet Chocolate Creme Brulee with decaf cappuccino.

We debated the implications of the editorial standings-down at Asimov's and Interzone, which I'd posted on another thread here yesterday.

But I forgot to ask about the ankimo. Dinner was spectacularly good. Afterewards we strolled over to the Caltech campus, so that I could show them a Snub Cube sculpture garden, in light of discussions on Chiral Archimedan Polyhedra.

If you Google "polytope numbers" I come up #1 and #2 in the world, which is hardly fair to Prof.Kim who gave the formulas in what is ranked #3. Of course, his a fabulous paper, in PDF, and mine are long HTML web pages with data from Kim's formulae, which saves users having to do some lengthy computations...

Great food, great company, and great Science Fiction. An evening well spent, I should say...

#136 ::: Kathy Li ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2004, 04:11 PM:

Love ankimo. Another sushi-addiction to blame on Singer. And then one day, when I foolishly ordered ankimo out of season, the chef shook his head, took pity on me, and introduced me to shirako.

As for other-weird-meat-cuts I enjoy, if a *berto's has 'em, I'll always order lengua tacos or burritos. :-9

#137 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2004, 04:15 PM:

Terry was it skinny broccoli or broccolini? Picture here:

It has a slightly different taste from broccoli.

(Google has a special Earth Day logo today!)

I don't like mustard of any type where you can taste it individually (I use tartar sauce on my fries), but there are dishes where spicy mustards blend in to make them taste better.

#138 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2004, 06:51 PM:

I use tartar sauce on my fries too (there is a local place with a wonderful dose of horseradish in the tartar sauce... zingy). I hate ketchup, too sweet.

But chutneys and relish are fine, as is apricot stewed meats, and other such north african fare.

I think it was some sort of oriental broccoli. It didn't look as I recall broccoline to look (and that picture is only semi useful it lacks the most important criteria fora reference shot, i.e. a referent. There is no sense of scale, but I can say the habit of the plant I ate was differnt from the plant they show).


#140 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: April 22, 2004, 10:35 PM:

I just saw something on Food Network that blew me away, I'm going to try and find the recipes (it's a competition coverarge, sauerkraut competition mind you). One is for a Reuben Casserole and one is for a Reuben Soup. I had a good dinner and I'm drooling. Of course one has to like that sort of thing....

I discovered that mayonnaise was nice with fries, not the usual local thing. Then French's put out that Chipotle Mayonnaise. YUM! Even a cup of Mickie D's fries is heavenly with the Chipotle Mayo. Yikes! (I worked one long gross summer in McDonald's in Lawrence, KS during college, will never do anything that awful again... I hope. It has taken this long (Not telling....) to be able to eat their fries again.) It'd be better with homemade or other peoples fries (say, Wendy's.... or maybe those wonderous fries you get at Arthur Bryant's wrapped in the butcher paper with the barbecue....). hmmm. May have to go there (AB) for lunch tomorrow. YUM.

#141 ::: Mary Kay ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2004, 01:49 AM:

Goddammit! Will you people please stop? It's 10:45pm and I'm hungry again.

As for mustard, well, I grew up eating French's yellow mustard on hotdogs, hamburgers, and sandwiches and nothing else tastes right. So sue me. I use the other kinds in cooking though.

I've had Green & Black chocolate. My favorite is Maya Gold and there are sources for it in Seattle.


#142 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2004, 02:26 PM:

JvP: in courtesy to MKK et al and deference to the rest of this list (do you have any \idea/ how hard it is to get drool out of a keyboard?) I won't go into similar detail over last night's dinner (10th anniversary); probably the most expensive I've ever eaten in absolute dollars, but worth it. People interested in wine and coming to N4 should book at Troquet before leaving home; it tends to fill quickly on weekends.

#143 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2004, 03:23 PM:


You write that "... in courtesy to MKK et al and deference to the rest of this list (do you have any idea how hard it is to get drool out of a keyboard?) I won't go into similar detail over last night's dinner (10th anniversary); probably the most expensive I've ever eaten in absolute dollars, but worth it. People interested in wine and coming to N4 should book at Troquet before leaving home; it tends to fill quickly on weekends."

Well, not all sex is worth writing as Erotica, and not all meals are worth writing as F00D P0RN, but I'll clip the drool-guard above the keyboard and ask you to disclose the gustatory part of your 10th anniversary. The Erotic part I'll accept, in Victorian terms, as "***."

#144 ::: Yoon Ha Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2004, 08:55 PM:

Ah, sauerkraut.

I have never understood why my sister came home from high school French class one day and said, "We made sauerkraut!"


"It was smelly."


Sauerkraut. For French class. Taught by a Québecois--is that relevant? Can anyone shed any light on this gustatory-linguistic pedagogical anomaly?

#145 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2004, 09:35 PM:

Yoon Ha --

Cabbage, never mind sauerkraut, doesn't -- so far as I know -- normally feature much in Quebecois cuisine, but it's important to note that Canadians of all persuasions tend to treat any passing cuisine as English treats other languages.

On the other hand, rural central Canadian food traditionally -- pre-refrigeration -- included pickled everything that could be pickled and a number of things that shouldn't be, so it might just be that the teacher likes the stuff, it reminds him of Grand-mere's notion of relish.

#146 ::: Yoon Ha Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 23, 2004, 09:40 PM:

Ah, okay. So noted.

My first encounter with sauerkraut came after that, in college. I remember being very confused when someone told me after that that she liked gimchi (kimchee, however you like to romanize it) because she'd take sauerkraut in any (vegetarian) form. I can see the analogy in a vague fuzzy way. It just would never have occurred to me. :-)

#147 ::: Mary Kay ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2004, 12:19 AM:

By the way, merely the word sauerkraut starts my mouth watering. I guess I'm going to have to quit reading this thread.


#148 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2004, 02:51 AM:

The Alsatians (who else) make a great deal of sauerkraut, and have a regional dish (the name escapes me) of souerkraut and charcouterie. The portions are reported to be huge.

Of the two broccoli, it looked more like the rabe, but not quite. The florets were decidedly eggish in shape, and not very dense. If I see it in a market I'll snap some up and relate what it was.

Chipotle, it's the only real reason I can see for jalapenos, and may induce me to grow some, along with the anaheim/california, the ancho, the cubanelles, intalianelles, the thai dragon, the santa fe, and the habeneros. Which reminds me, I need to make the hot sauce with the pickled peppers from two years ago. That'sa spicy vinegar.


#149 ::: Larry B ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2004, 03:00 AM:

Terry Karney: Choucroute - the food of the Gods. It's just the French word for sauerkraut, but the combo of sauerkraut, butter, juniper berries, smoked pork chops, sausages and other goodies is one of the reasons it's good to be alive.

Well, in the battle of choucroute vs. monkfish liver, I'd stand there drooling and eventually ask for half-portions of each.

And don't even get me started about kimchee. When I'm in NYC, I go to 32nd St for Korean BBQ to see just how many varieties of kimchee and other fiery pickles I can get the waitstaff to bring me.

As a kid, I used to go to flea markets just to get fresh sauerkraut from Gus's Pickles. (Well, the tomato pickles were a draw too...)

#150 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2004, 03:13 PM:

The mixed dish several have described is usually called choucroute garnie (which to me resembles the inversion of calling a dish arroz con pollo). IMO, it should be found at any respectable Alsatian restaurant, although I haven't checked the menu at either of the ones in this area.

#151 ::: Mary Kay ::: (view all by) ::: April 24, 2004, 10:15 PM:

Yes, I've eaten choucroute garnie. Want some soon. Mike W. and I shared a big platter at ther German place in Epcot while our spouses watched from across the table with disgust.


#152 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2004, 01:02 PM:

Yep, that's it. I knew my inability to remember wouldn't matter (not in this crowd).

re kimchee: I had a short mission to Korea, one November, and Camp Redcloud was full, so I was boarded in a hotel in Ouijongbou.

Not wanting to pay for a cab every day, I took to walking back and forth, looking at the people, the scenery the alien ways fo driving.

There was a spot with some really foul water standing in a drain, or some such. One morning, as I was walking this way (I tended to take the same, or very similar routes, into work, and wander on my way home... better to be late to bed) I thought to myself... "ah! Someone is making kimchee."

I then stopped to laugh, because the odor of rancid water I'd been registering for the past couple of weeks, was this very pot of kimchee.

I happen to like many forms of kimchee (some day I may tell the tale of the trip to Tongdaemun, and throw in the story of the Korean restaurant).


#153 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2004, 02:23 PM:

I've never had choucroute garnie, but I'm convinced already.

In other food-related Nielsen Hayden news, yesterday we sat down and placed our first order with FreshDirect, a web-based grocery delivery service that now includes our neighborhood in their delivery zone. On your first order, you get $50 off if you order $100 worth of non-branded "fresh" stuff, so we figured how bad can it be? After you order, you get shown a range of two-hour time slots over the next several days, and you choose one for your delivery time. (Slots on the day you place your order are generally not available.) Delivery is accomplished by a fleet of refrigerated trucks and things like fresh meat and fresh fish are vacuum-packed to your order. Anyway, the $100 worth of meat, fish, coffee, and miscellaneous other things that we ordered is supposedly arriving within the next couple of hours; we'll report back on how it goes.

#154 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2004, 02:53 PM:


Would the food arrive faster if you had higher bandwidth? Or maybe colder?

Grocery chains have a small profit margin, perhaps 1%, and can only achieve that with Economy of Scale. Issue is: how much will webizens pay for extra convenience? I await your results with interest.

We had a LONG grocery chain strike here in California, and were very glad to see the non-scab clerks back on the job when it settled, and not far from the originally rejected offer. The union was hurt; had to accept a 2-tier system with new employees screwed by policy. The management blamed Wal-Mart, but that's only half-true.

#155 ::: Yoon Ha Lee ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2004, 03:19 PM:

Terry, you mean the absolutely utterly nuts ways of driving?

NYC looked tame, driver-wise. OTOH, I spent years in Seoul and hours in NYC, so perhaps I'm misremembering.

Aiee, I must stop reading these mouth-watering food descriptions. It's lunchtime. :-)

#156 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2004, 03:52 PM:

"Grocery chains" also have to pay for retail space, customer service employees (not just checkers), liability insurance against someone slipping on the spilled jam in Aisle 9, and of course what retailers choose to call "shrinkage." A purely online grocer would most likely be a central warehouse operation, possibly receiving some goods (such as fresh produce) direct from source, and, as described, a fleet of trucks that leave base in the morning, with a full load and a pre-planned route.

The grocery situation in NYC has improved a good bit in the last several years (due in part to operations like D'Agostino's finding creative places to locate "big" stores) but it's still not comparable to the vast temples of Cheerios and bruised fruit characteristic of the wider opener spaces. Which do not always benefit from "economies of scale," since the variety of products, many of them functionally identical, they are expected to stock -- fifteen different brands of oatmeal cookies, multiple grades of ground beef -- works against "scale" and increases spoilage losses. And, of course, in New York, a lot of apartments do not have pantries large enough for the weekly vanload of staples typically purchased by a midwestern household, even if the New Yorkers are firm on the idea of such volume buying.

Yes, their success will depend on people giving them enough money. That's kinda typical of retail.

#157 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2004, 04:05 PM:

John M. Ford:

Of course, we're BOTH right.

The Economy of Scale comes from the harder bargains that the chains can drive with their suppliers. Buying in bulk, the chains get a below-wholesale price that smaller entities can't get. Wal-Mart excels at this, and with a humungous database of all purchases by everyone ever, sliced and diced for deep analysis.

Giving them enough money -- not a tautology. The issue is opportunity cost.

Imagine a coke machine at the beach on a hot day. The vendor can price the cokes at maybe $2 each instead of the usual 75 cents or $1. People are extra thirsty, and there's noplace else to buy coke at that beach.

BUT -- if they price the coke at $10, people will say: "screw the machine. let's pool our cash, draw straws (seaweed?) and the loser gets dressed, drives to town, buys lots of family-sized cokes, brings them all back here.

The price depends on things like that. Some vending machines (beta test?) do vary the price based on sensor data, such as temperature.

My point being that the web-groceries have slightly different constraints, which vary neighborhood by neighborhood, day by day.

The failure of WebVan, after burning through about $2 Billion for fleets of trucks, scads of warehouses, and the like, is instructive.

People pay MORE at Amazon than at many Mom & Pop bookstores, but are willing to do so because of the wider selection.

You can't eat books; can't read food. Unless the stores put Science Fiction short stories on the nutritional labels...

#158 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2004, 05:21 PM:

Yoon Ha: Yes, the absolutely insane way of driving (to say nothing of the crazy street design). I was amazed that I never saw an accident. From all visual appearance, I ought to have seen at least one fatality a day.

I'll drive in Boston. Seoul, and environs are for feet, trains and taxis (well, I'd be willing to drive a Bradley, but that's different).


#159 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2004, 05:23 PM:

I order from Peapod (online ordering, delivery in refrigerated trucks) once a month. I started this when the doctor made me start drinking 32oz of Gatorade a day. I'm disabled, I simply can't handle that weight through the store and into and out of my van. If I order more than $100, the delivery is $4.95. A month's worth of Gatorade alone is more than half that, and I have them bring other heavy or bulky items, too, and that gets it to $100.

At first, when they were new, I got offers for free delivery in the mail several times (and used them all). Also at first, some delivery times had discounts, and since I'm home most of the time, I used those times. I haven't had a free delivery offer in a couple months now, and the delivery times don't have discounts anymore either, so I assume they're making money.

I was contacted by Jonah Freedman of Money magazine last month, he'd grepped for online groceries and found one of my posts about Peapod (owned by Giant, my regular supermarket, but they don't always carry the same things or have the same prices). When he interviewed me on the phone, I told him I'm pretty sure I'm not Peapod's demographics. I should have asked when the article is coming out.

I've had really good service from Peapod -- accurate deliveries, polite delivery guy, good selection of fresh stuff -- but I wouldn't continue if I didn't need the Gatorade (apparently I don't hydrate well enough with water anymore).

#160 ::: Mary Kay ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2004, 07:04 PM:

The one time I tried to order online for grocery delivery was because we had a $$ off coupon due to some other purchase we'd made. I spent a considerable amount of time learning the interface and figuring out my order and then the damn thing hung and wouldn't let me place the order. And it was the site, not anything external. I never went back again. I don't know we have any delivery services in Seattle, but since we live in walking distance of 3 grocery stores....


#161 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2004, 07:19 PM:

Our FreshDirect groceries arrived. They all look really good, actually; they seem to go to a lot of trouble to make sure everything arrives sturdily packaged and protected.

The meat is all packed into vacuum-sealed bags, and the cheese is all tidily wrapped. The produce arrived unbattered and unbruised. Slightly disquietingly, all the non-branded stuff sports laser-printed labels that include Teresa's full name, since hers was the name we put on the account. So now Teresa can say "There's a piece of English cheddar in the fridge with my name on it" and be literally telling the truth.

#162 ::: Larry B ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2004, 11:02 PM:

PNH: Slightly disquietingly, all the non-branded stuff sports laser-printed labels that include Teresa's full name

My mind is suddenly filled with the image of a cluster of mass-personalized grapes, each bearing the monogram of the purchaser.

It's odd enough that most of the eggs I buy each have the expiration date printed directly on the shell.

#163 ::: David Moles ::: (view all by) ::: April 25, 2004, 11:11 PM:

That's some clever chickens you got there, Larry.

#164 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2004, 12:17 PM:

They must be more advanced with that nanotech-stuff than I thought!

#165 ::: Kip Manley ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2004, 01:36 PM:

We kept chickens in Kentucky. (Nasty creatures, chickens. There's some atavistic saur-hating mammal reflex kicks in when you see them, I think. If you've got the gene for it, maybe. --To this day, I think the Thousand Young of the Black Goat of the Woods is pretty much a flock of terrible chickens from hell.) Anyway: the (pretty much only) benefit of keeping chickens is the ready supply of fresh eggs. Every now and then my father would offer them to folks he worked with, hey, I can hook you up with some fresh eggs, just let me know.

If I'm remembering correctly, these were Rhode Island Reds, or some close cousin. They laid brown eggs, is my point. And one of the engineers at my father's office opened up his little box of eggs and looked at them and said, hey! Brown! I guess this is the color eggs really are. You know. Before they paint them!

#166 ::: Tiger Spot ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2004, 02:24 PM:

Kip -- when I was a kid, we had a pet chicken (well, originally we had about 3 dozen eggs, of which 7 hatched, then 4 chicks died young, then the other 2 turned out to be roosters and had to go back to where the eggs came from). She was black and white, and laid one brown egg every day. That was plenty of eggs for us (we were not a heavy-egg-consumption family). Dad did some amateur magic for the company picnic involving transforming cake ingredients into candy, and insisted on buying white eggs for the show, on the theory that nobody would know the brown ones were eggs.

#167 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2004, 02:35 PM:

We have chickens (and snakes and horses and mules and dogs and rats and geese and mice and (even) fish. All inside the limits of greater Los Angeles, which reminds me, I need to go and attack the weeds, so I can plant the corn and the tomoatoes and the strawberries, but I digress) and I rather like them (though I also need to muck out the hen house too... not as pleasant a task as the stables).

We have Cochins, Mille-fluer, Sultans and Porcelains. Those are bantam, and lay cute little egs, mostly white, a couple lay brown (the silkies laid brown, but it seems they all died while I was away).

For full sized we have Auracana, Buff Orpington, and Australorps. They lay brown, green, and reddish eggs.

We have about five roosters, A Red Star (which was a great disappointment. We'd ordered a hen, which ought to've been trivial, that bebng a sex-linked bird, but they muffed it), who is a great looking, but HUGE bird, and fertilizes most of the hens. That makes for some interesting crosses.

There is also a pair (which used to be a foursome) of Mille-fluer which are semi-wild (their mother snuck out and brooded a small clutch in a bush). I suspect the Red Star doesn't get at that hen. Maybe they'll hide another clucth.

Right now, there are a score of hens eggs incubating, ought to start rustling and cheeping today/tomorrow. They go to the classroom to hatch on Wedsnday.

When the flock was at its largest, we were getting 18 eggs a day. Customers, sad to say, were in short supply. So I got good at making omelettes.

Right now we seem to be longer on people who want eggs, and the supply is short. With losses, I suspect this will be about a dozen a day year (the weather seems to be promising). Which will be nice, so they can be a break even proposition for feed.


#168 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2004, 02:37 PM:

Oh yeah.

I am now thoroughly spoiled. Eggs from the store, are sad and pale imitations of the real thing.


#169 ::: Claude Muncey ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2004, 03:44 PM:

Terry and Xopher, Quady Winery is just down the road a bit from where I live, and they now make a red Electra that is supposed to be excellent as well. Along with Essencia the core of their reputation has always been their ports, which is one reason to be out in Madera County, which has the climate of the drier parts of Spain and Portugal. They have a "fruit forward" port style wine they call, Starboard, of course. And they make vermouths and a dessert wine from Black Muscat as well.

Just down the road from them (and actually a little closer to me) is Ficklin Vinyards, who make some excellent ports, mostly using Tinta Maderia, with some Tinta Cao, Touriga, and Souzao. They will produce an occasional vintage bottling if the fruit is good enough, but it takes 8 to 10 years for it to come onto the market -- the most recent is their 1991 with 1996 just having been announced recently. Most of their production is unvintaged and produced using a solera -- their new tawny port is rumoured to be scrumptous.

What a pity to now be a diabetic . . .

#170 ::: James J. Murray ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2004, 08:40 PM:

John M. Ford said

"You can't eat books; can't read food. Unless the stores put Science Fiction short stories on the nutritional labels..."

Check out the portion descriptions on the average label; I'd say they qualify as high fantasy.

#171 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2004, 08:58 PM:

Tiger S: I can remember bringing in homebaked chocolate chip cookies for Harry Lovecraft when he had a cookie-producing magic act back at the Magic Cellar. Oddly, he actually got a better response with commercial Chips Ahoy cookies (perhaps the home-made ones made people a bit more uncertain?).

#172 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2004, 09:05 PM:

Now playing in my head:

My old hen's a good old hen
She lays eggs for the railroad men
Sometimes one, sometimes ten
That's enough for the railroad men
Cluck old hen, cluck and sing
Ain't laid an egg since way last spring
Cluck old hen, cluck and squall
Ain't laid an egg since way last fall

OK, the lyrics aren't much, but the tune is great.

#173 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2004, 09:21 PM:

"John M. Ford said, 'You can't eat books'..."

No, I didn't. Someone else did.

That someone also said, after a third-grade discussion of why 500% price increases aren't good for business, "The price depends on things like that."

Wow. Price affects . . . demand? Really? And there's a price differential on stuff like selection -- oh, let's call it a "Utility theory of value," though I suppose it needs work to be considered more than a mere hypothesis.

I think someone should tell Brad DeLong about this at once. I'm sure it'd interest him. Wonder if you could say something similar about, like, work and stuff?

And, Tim, I could launch into "Probable-Possible, my black hen/She lays eggs in the relative when," but we're pinion-deep in ova as it is.

#174 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: April 26, 2004, 11:14 PM:

Claude: I saw the red Electra last week, but having not tried it, could not (save by extention) commend it. I've not had their ports, my esteem is purely for the muscats, &c. I think Ficklin's are ok, but I can get better, for what I'm willing to pay, and so they suffer.

Comiserations of the trial of your diabetes.


#175 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2004, 12:21 AM:

Tim Walters:

The way I remember it from "The Space Traveller's Mother Goose":

Probable Possible
My Pet Hen
She only lays eggs in the Relative When.
She never lays eggs in the Absolute Now,
because she's unable to postulate how.

By the way, EDWIN MORGAN has just been named by the Scottish Executive as "Makar" (a.k.a. Poet Laureate) of Scotland. Edwin Morgan, 84, in poor health, is the first to hold that post since the 1707 Act of Union.

He is best known to us for the often anthologized "First Man on Mercury" and the wonderful "Stargate" poems.

A science fiction poet!

See also:

"The Ultimate Science Fiction Poetry Web Guide"

#176 ::: Claude Muncey ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2004, 12:32 AM:

Actually, I agree with you on the Ficklin. Much as I like those folks, there are some truly nifty ports available at Costco for less than Ficklin. I can have the stuff, but just a little bit, and only when I am not taking Glucophage.

As long term diseases go, Type II diabetes is better than most. The fact that Atkins is the rage right now doesn't hurt either.

#177 ::: Tim Walters ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2004, 12:53 AM:


It's not impossible to sing that to "Cluck Old Hen," but it's difficult. I would bet on coincidence. Still, if I ever learn that song, I may throw your version in, with a nip and a tuck here or there.

#178 ::: Sara ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2004, 08:16 AM:

Mmmm. I love cilantro/fresh coriander but we call it dunya (and I have no idea if that is the correct spelling) in Indian cooking.

Sweet potatoes with sugar or marshmallow are too disgusting to talk about. I know people rave about a recipe that uses coconut milk and I got 5 copies of the recipe for Christmas but I DON'T LIKE THEM THAT SWEET. Baked, with butter, they are a comfort food. I once got some sweet potatoes that were pale yellow inside and they were so sweet, just baked, that we couldn't eat them; they were like candy.

My daughter did a science fair project using PROP tasting papers and her sample group (90 kids at school) tested way off the norms. She did extra research and found that different races have different response rates.

#179 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2004, 10:49 AM:

JvP: It's "black hen." Trust me. I remember the German version, which has the word 'schwarz' in it.

#180 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2004, 02:55 PM:

Xopher: not to mention the French version, which needs it for the rhyme:
Probable Possible, ma poule noir
Pend ses oeufs dans le Quand Provisoir

Two days ago I found someone almost my age who had never heard of Space Child's Mother Goose....

#181 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: April 27, 2004, 04:52 PM:

IIRC, it's
"Probable Possible
My Black hen,
She lays eggs in the Relative When.
She doesn't lay eggs in the Positive Now
Because she's unable to postulate how."

Winsor is a master of scansion.

Of course, my copy is stored in Seattle and I'm going from when I memorized this back in the 60s (penny a line from my parents to memorize poetry -- I still know a great deal of Kipling and de la Mare because of it).

#182 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: April 29, 2004, 01:00 AM:

Miso was mentioned earlier -- today's WashPost Food section leads with an article on how to use miso in other foods:

Smaller type (our default)
Larger type
Even larger type, with serifs

Dire legal notice
Making Light copyright 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016 by Patrick & Teresa Nielsen Hayden. All rights reserved.