So, you hate to cook. As a matter of fact, you're tired of this whole "foodie" fad. You love your friends, but you really do wish you could go out to dinner with them and just enjoy the food without having to put up with this sort of conversation,
"Mmmm...that's so good! What do you think is in that? I'm pretty sure it's got some cardamom in it, but what's that slightly sour aftertaste that seems to be knocking at the roof of my mouth?"
"Cardamom? Are you sure? I'm not getting any cardamom. There's definitely some coconut milk in this, though, and I think the 'sour' you taste is lemon grass. It's awesome. I'm gonna remember this and try to make it next weekend when Frank and Helen are in town. They'd love it."
All you know is it's good, and you'll have some more please. You couldn't care less how it was made, and if you want it again, why bother trying to make it? You can just come back here (in fact, bring Frank and Helen), and chances are, it will taste exactly the way it's supposed to taste, as it won't be missing its cardamom. Or was it cumin?
I know, because I used to be exactly like you. I didn't start getting into cooking until I was in my late twenties, and, until then, I didn't understand the appeal at all. Sure I loved food, but why waste time making it when I could get others to make it for me? Even when I began to see the appeal, I only liked to cook on occasion. It took getting married to a willing guinea pig who seemed to rave about everything I made to get me truly into it. I've decided those of you who still aren't into cooking might enjoy a few food funnies of mine, so if you ever find yourself stuck in a restaurant with me, obnoxiously complaining because I could have made this much better myself, you can smugly respond, "Oh yeah, Ms. Where-Are-the-Pineapples? Shut up, and eat."
1. The first time I ever had cilantro was shortly after I'd moved to Connecticut. Some of my colleagues and I decided to go to this fancy Mexican restaurant in Greenwich, where we discovered cactus salsa on the menu. None of us had ever eaten cactus, so we thought we'd try it. It turned out that cactus had a very distinctive flavor that I loved. It also turned out that every Mexican restaurant I went to thereafter seemed to cook liberally with cactus. Indians seemed to be fond of cactus in their dishes, too, and I soon found myself eating cactus at a Thai restaurant. Like a child learning to talk who focuses on the blueberries when told he is eating a muffin and then proceeds to call blueberries "muffins" every time he sees them, I was mistaking cilantro for cactus. I don't know when I finally figured out my mistake, but I'm glad I did. I love cilantro more than ever, and I don't remember ever seeing any cacti for sale in the grocery stores I frequent.
2. Not only am I a self-taught cook, but I also hate to ask for any help anywhere. Despite the fact I have no problem (and certainly think nothing of it, except maybe how brave they are to talk to strangers like this) when a woman in the produce section asks me if a green onion is the same thing as a scallion or a guy standing in line behind me sees I've got corn and asks me how long he should cook the corn he's buying, I refuse to ask such questions myself. Thus, for years, I wouldn't make anything if a recipe called for cream of tartar. Cookbooks ought to come with guides for the beginner who reads "cream" and automatically thinks dairy. Doesn't this sound like something that belongs right next to the sour cream? It most definitely does not sound like a white, powdery substance found with the spices. Is it any wonder it took me so long to happen upon it accidentally (probably while looking for dried cilantro when I should have been looking for coriander) one day? And, yes, I was thrilled when I did.
3. This one is almost too embarrassing to admit, but Bob was as clueless as I, so I don't feel so bad. There we were on our honeymoon in Hawai'i, where we'd been for well over a week, enjoying deliciously fresh fruits, most especially the pineapple. We'd both read Michener's Hawaii as a prelude to the trip so were well aware of the pineapple industry and how pineapples grew all over those islands. However, we had yet to see any growing anywhere. Where were they? Well, you know, we might have found them much more quickly if we'd paid attention to all those fields all around us, tops of pineapples sticking up in nice neat rows, instead of looking around at all the trees, trying to figure out if any of them were "pineapple trees." Yes, two people, both over the age of 30, each with a post-graduate degree, and we hadn't a clue that pineapples didn't grow on trees like coconuts. I will never make fun of someone who comes to Lancaster County thinking corn grows underground or something while corn stalks tower over their heads all around them.
Anyone else care to share any food funnies?