Inspired by a little ‘foodie’-related banter that took place this week and the resulting posts on Carmelized Opinions and Kitchen Musings, I’ve decided to explore my food-tude with a little more depth. I’d like for this to be an ongoing exploration, a look at the people, places, and things that shape my relationship with food.
Until the subject came up this week, I had largely ignored the term ‘foodie.’ My dismissal of the term came from the rather snobbish opinion that, as a professional chef, it couldn’t apply to me. After all, I wasn’t just a fan, I was IN THE BAND.
But now that I’m, for the most part, out of the professional cooking world, now that I am more of a food-blogger than a chef, I had to wonder, had I crossed over to camp foodie? And more importantly what would that mean?
And then a little spark of clarity reminded me: It’s all just semantics. Foodie, fatty, gourmand, cook, chef… It doesn’t matter. All that matters to me is that I stay well fed. I appreciate food, one of the basic needs of mankind, culturally, scientifically, culinarily, and sentimentally.
So, this week, for the sake of disclosure, I want to share with you my dirty little food secrets, the items in my grocery cart that I try to hide behind a big bulb of fennel whenever I run into someone I know.
Box Foods – There are a couple of products available in the heavily-processed middle isles of the grocery store that happen to find their way into my basket with embarassing regularity. Suddenly Salad’s Ranch and Bacon variety is a big one. I just love it, and I’m ready to admit that I can (and do) eat a box at a time without so much as pausing to burp. It is essentially pasta, mayonnaise, ranch flavor, and bacon bits. The bacon bits have an other-worldly texture that suggests to me they were created by ASTRONAUTS in SPACE, so it’s definitely cool to eat.
Another notable player in this category is Knorr’s (formerly Lipton’s) Stroganoff Noodle Packets. I guess, if pressed, I would say that I taste some hint of Stroganoff-y-ness in these noodles, but it’s definitely not what springs to mind. I’m not sure where I came up with these in the evolution of my foodology, but once I did, it was ON. To be honest, I’m a little burnt out on them at present. I made the mistake(?) of telling my mom that I liked them, and, adorable woman that she is, she proceeded to buy EVERY PACKET at the local Kroger. You’re welcome, Rod Brooks. And I don’t just like to eat this packet of powdered stroganofables the way it’s intended (ie, hot, saucy, fresh off the stove.) No no, I like to let it sit and get kinda congealy before I start eating it. I plan around that when I’m making it to go with a meal and start it long before the other items.
Canned Foods – I understand that I’m supposed to want fresh, blanched, crisp green vegetables, and don’t get me wrong, I often do. There’s a place for that, certainly. But I ALSO love army-green canned vegetables like canned green beans, le seur “very young, small, early peas” (the veal of peas,) and most notably, canned asparagus.
I know that canned asparagus is pretty borpy. There is no resistance between you and your bite of asparagus. It may have originally been intended for people without teeth. Canned asparagus was a regular feature on my table growing up. We had fresh asparagus occasionally too, but no one really seemed to suggest that the two were related. In college, I had my first steamed artichoke. I picked the petals as directed and dipped them in a simple sauce comprised of heavy whipping cream, red wine vinegar, salt & pepper. From that moment on, I decided it would be a good idea to make up such a sauce for me to dip my cold, canned asparagus in (usually with my hands while watching tv with a plate balanced on my boob-shelf.) It’s not something I should ever do in front of a potential life partner, no matter how close, for fear of repulsing him forever.
Other than that, I’m actually a pretty good eater. I love using fresh herbs and bright flavors. I appreciate meat cooked to the appropriate temperature and no more. I love fresh raw vegetables, and when they’re in season, I spend a hefty percentage of my paycheck keeping them in the house at all times. But there are some food items, no matter how much I know that they’re killing me from the inside out, that I will probably keep in my pantry, if only to raise my spirits and comfort my soul.
So, what are your big food secrets? C’mon, you can tell me…it’s off the record!
(oh, ps – I’ve also been known to enjoy a little spoonful of tomato paste de temps en temp…I am, no doubt, set for life on Lycopene.)