So I’m recovering from my cough, but still have little appetite, so am finding it difficult to enthuse about food at all. Which makes this the perfect time write about food I don’t like, or rather the food that really annoys me.
Now food, in and of itself, doesn’t annoy, but rather those trends in the foodie world that render certain dishes, or vegetables, or ingredients or what have you, suddenly so ubiquitous as to put you off them for life. Perhaps you liked them before, perhaps they were even a favourite of yours. But suddenly, some food fashionista has declared them to be the flavour du jour, and now you can’t enter a restaurant, attend a dinner party, or even turn on a cookery show without being pelted with said food item ad nauseum.
Here, currently, are my top five:
1. Goat’s Cheese.
Now, as I’ve stated before, I’ve never been a particular fan of goat’s cheese. It’s always struck me as being something that belongs in the middle ages, or on a commune somewhere. I find it rather chalky and sour, as if I’d been chugging a bottle of Kaopectate that had gone off. I did, however, used to quite enjoy a goat’s cheese soufflé, until I was presented with one at four dinner parties in a row.
Because in the last year-at least in the UK- goat’s cheese has somehow become the only cheese one is allowed to serve. Enter any fashionable cheese shop these days and ask for a cow’s milk cheese, and you’ll be clubbed to death with Parmesan rinds. People claim goat’s cheese is better tasting (which is ridiculous coming from a nation that’s always made excellent cheese with nary a goat being involved) and better for you, as it apparently contains no lactose. I personally believe that lactose intolerance among the European race is something of a myth, and anyway, a continent of people who willingly add bacteria and mould to cheese for flavour should not really be banging on about the stuff being good for you.
Again, never a particular fan of this either. That said, I’ve always been a lover of Borscht, which is where I personally feel the usefulness of beetroot begins and ends. Stew it, blend it, toss in some cumin and some sour cream, and the beetroot comes into its own for me.
But not these days. Nope, beetroot is now apparently the only root to dig from the earth and consume. Disregard its sinister colouring, which leaves you looking like a less than tidy serial killer the moment you attempt to handle it in cooked form. Disregard also its “earthy” taste, because nobody ever admits that “earthy taste” actually means “tastes like dirt”. But really, disregard the fact that the moment you introduce it to a given dish, you cannot taste anything else.
Which is why, to me at least, it should just enjoy its soup bowl and leave all other plate-ware alone.
3. Rocket, or Arugula.
A perfectly fine leaf, and lovely as an occasional peppery bite in salads and such.
But for the last three-count ’em, three- years, you cannot order a starter in a London restaurant without first hacking through a forest of rocket before you get to the point. And at dinner parties, people now find it perfectly acceptable to serve as a salad nothing more than a bowl of rocket with a few shavings of Parmesan cheese and a dribble of balsamic vinegar.
As with my first two culinary objections, rocket has no subtlety of flavour- even for a leaf- and just overtakes anything else on the plate.
Really just an excuse for people not to learn how to cook rice, as far as I’m concerned. Unlike the above, I find it has little flavour at all-which is not why I object to it. Neither rice nor pasta has flavour of their own, particularly, which is why they carry the flavours of sauces and the like. Fair enough.
But couscous has specific cultural origins, and yet is now being paired with all manner of proteins (salmon with couscous? I ask you) that quite simply match it not. Also, for a grain that you need only cover with boiling water for a few minutes, it’s easily badly done. I cannot count the number of times I’ve been served a bowl of couscous that reminds me of nothing so much as the golden sands of a tropic beach. Mostly because of the texture.
5. Balsamic Vinegar.
Now of course I have no problem with balsamic vinegar itself, only that it’s now the only appropriate vinegar, if you eat anywhere other than your own home.
People use it indiscriminately, with little regard to the difference between your supermarket label and your properly aged stuff, and with even less regard as to whether or not it creates the appropriate vinaigrette for a given salad. Personally, I find it too sweet for most salads and best used rather discretely.
So imagine my horror when recently, at a dinner party, as a starter I was presented with a couscous-crusted baked goat’s cheese with a beetroot and rocket salad with a balsamic vinaigrette.
What are your food fashionista bugbears? The Fabulous Foodie wants to know. Stand up and be counted!