November 20th, 2012 § 1 Comment
I'm about to admit something that will probably take me down a notch in the eyes of the three dozen people who think I'm a bona fide foodie.
Here goes: I don't like truffles. Not the chocolate ones, I love those. I'm talking about the ones that pigs sniff out. I don't like truffle oil, either. I think it smells like poop. And as someone who lived downwind of both the mushroom factory growing up in Capitola, CA, and the cow barns at UC Davis, I know what poop smells like.
The problem is that when I go out for a meal somewhere nice, I inevitably see something I'd want to eat if only it wasn't polluted by truffles, truffle salt, or truffle oil. Yuck. This happened last weekend when Mr. Right Now and I went to Portland for the weekend and had a nice Saturday night dinner at Clyde Common. There were a couple of dishes that looked good but for addition of truffle something or other.
And even if I manage to convince my dining partner to avoid trufflized food, the table next to me may not oblige. So I can smell the truffle-osity wafting at me from the white truffle salt popcorn.
Being in Portland, the home of the original bacon maple donut from Voodoo Doughnuts, I will also admit that I think bacon has jumped the shark. I like bacon and eggs, and a good BLT is a treat. But bacon doesn't belong on or in everything, particularly not desserts. I'm sorry. Stop it already. Same thing with salting sweet things. I like caramel well enough by itself, and most of the salted caramel seems to have way more salt than necessary. I'm guessing Jack in the Box is developing a salted caramel shake. With bacon. That means the trend is done.
Lastly, I want to talk about salt and pepper. Every savory recipe calls for salt and pepper to taste. Unless it calls for soy sauce or tamari and pepper. And while I understand the theory that salt enhances flavor, I believe the requirement to put salt in every recipe is based on the over-salting of everything, particularly in America. Our taste buds are used to salt, ergo, we use more salt. But I like the naked flavors of food -- the taste of a green bean, the taste of butter and sugar melted together and turned to caramel. I don't think everything needs salt. And I don't think pepper is a necessary addition to every food, either. It has a warmth to it when the flavor infuses the dish. But too often you just get a chunk of pepper corn, a hit of spice that exists here in a dish, but not there.
I once made that suggestion on a radio show to Greg Atkinson, one of the big foodies of the Seattle area. I was on the other side of the airwaves, but I'm sure he had a gobsmacked look on his face. He essentially told me I had no idea what I was talking about. I felt a little cowed, but a few years on, I'm still sure that I'm right. Sometimes, a little salt and pepper are a good thing. But sometimes, you don't need one, or you don't need the other.
And you never need truffles. Except the chocolate kind.