SOME Like It Hot

My family has a complex relationship with food.  Judging by my waist line, so do I.

When I got married I didn’t know how to cook, as in, at all.  This came about for two reasons, the first being that no one in my family expected me to ever marry (“I pity the man who’ll take you” was mom’s favorite exclamation) and if I didn’t marry, culturally, I probably would never have moved out of my parents’ house, where mom cooked.

Except by the time I was fourteen or so, they were starting to suspect the good and dutiful daughter who lives with parents all her life would not work, but then another factor intervened, as I had the grades to go on the college track, and very few people with college degrees need to cook, beyond some simple dish for themselves.  Which meant that other than frying something and making popcorn I needed no lessons in cookery.  And mom was — still is when I visit — jealous of her kitchen, and won’t let another woman in it without force majeure.

So when mom realized I was about to get married, she freaked and tried to give me a crash course in two weeks — as I WAS PACKING to move to the States.  As you can probably surmise, this didn’t work too well.  Which led to my being left alone in the house my first day as a married woman (post honeymoon) when Dan went back to work and finding the house contained a package of spaghetti and a thing of minute steaks, neither of which did I know what to do with.  (Yeah, we went out to eat.)

I’ve come a long way, baby, guided by two things: for my wedding my brother’s wife gave me a book of Portuguese cookery WITH PICTURES, and my MIL gave me The Joy of Cooking, back when it wasn’t the “joy of pushing vegetarianism and low fat cooking of dubious scientific provenance.”

I learn well from books.  It’s kind of what I do.  And I wanted to TRY stuff.  Over the next three years, I never repeated a dish twice, except by special request.  This meant we gained a lot of weight, since Dan likes new food, and also since I had no clue of portions (still don’t.)

After three years, we’d established a repertoire of favorites, but I branched out into “cuisines of the world.”

Here is where I burst your bubble about Portuguese cooking.  The North of Portugal has the LEAST Latin cuisine in the world, except for the fact that you use garlic for everything except deserts (and now that I think about it, there’s probably a Portuguese desert involving garlic) and wine for EVERYTHING including some deserts.

Note though that garlic is considered not merely flavorful but very hot.  In the North it is used sparingly last the food be labeled “sharp.”  My mom used to buy 2 oz envelopes of pepper that lasted her forever, and she bought her salt in little containers that lasted forever also.  She complained grandma (dad’s mom) made her food so salty it was like “licking a battery.”  I liked grandma’s food.  And I ate olives as a snack all the time.  It is probably worth noting that the English are a great influence in the North of Portugal and also that, given the associated family names that have intermarried with mom’s family forever, there is some indication they were kicked out of England after the doctor’s plot.  I’m not sure what this means, since Elizabethans thought camphor was a spice, but perhaps the Elizabethan cuisine from which English bland cuisine descended did a parallel trajectory in mom’s family.  Or perhaps there is a certain taste that’s genetic.

The indications for this are the following: I still don’t like overly hot food, though I like FLAVORFUL food (and the only herb used in cookery in Portugal, in the North, is parsley.  In the south it’s cilantro.)  Younger son, too, is not fond of really hot dishes, and his definition of “hot” is south of mine.  His older brother OTOH was eating fire-alarm chili at very little past one, and has special arrangements with Thai restaurants who know him to make the food as spicy as the one of them who REALLY likes spicy food can take it.

Curiously, while pregnant with Robert I craved spicy Indian food.  It’s practically what I lived on.  With Marshall I craved fish.  The curious thing here is that I don’t LIKE either food.  And that these things are the boys’ favorite foods, even now.

So, there is surely some genetic component.  And all the Britishers in the North of Portugal made Northern Portuguese food more bland than otherwise.  But even the South isn’t crazy spicy, which you’d think for people who traded all over the world it would be.

When I got older, we got a lot of refugees from Portuguese African colonies, and they ate spicier food, particularly piri piri.  I found I could tolerate a bit of it, if was what was on offer, but it was still not my favorite.  (Same reason I don’t ride roller coasters.  I find the sensation unpleasant — possibly because of a middle ear defect.  I also get vertigo when looking up — and I don’t voluntarily seek unpleasant experiences unless they produce something needed.)

Now, because my husband and older son, who are who I cook for most of the time now, like spicy food, I often make it.  I will also make a pot of unspiced vegetables which I mix in on my plate, so I can tolerate it.

Which is how I came to make vindaloo last night, and post about it on Facebook as a joke about cultural appropriation.  The last thing I counted on was having someone come on to tell me all the edible foods came from Europe, including Vindaloo, because it started in Portugal.

I’d never heard of this theory of “racial superiority by food” and I was stunned, mostly because a) food palate is learned (however much one has the inclination to like, say, spicey food) and b) ANYONE who has ever eaten vinha d’alho (a dish made by marinading meat in wine and garlic overnight and then stewing it in olive oil, with a dash of pepper and salt) knows that vindaloo might start with the meat, might have garlic and a dash of wine vinegar, but has otherwise bloody all to do with a cuisine in which cumin is considered a bit racy.  (Used in the South, but not in the North of Portugal, much.)  (And before you go racing through the net and coming back with all sorts of Portuguese recipes using high spice, let me tell you that’s as great a bit of nonsense as people who discover a Portuguese recipe from Azores online and ask me if I ever had it.  Or people who think Portuguese and Brazilian cuisine are the same.  Portuguese cuisine has changed an awful lot in the last thirty years, mostly as people traveled more, but also as they catered more for tourists.  Also a drive to reduce salt in cooking has led to the use of herbs.  But I’m telling you what I grew up with.  A cuisine in which Vindaloo would be considered so spicy as to be inedible.)

The thing that shocked me about this assertion of the superiority of European cookery, besides the stunning levels of ignorance on display, is that there is no such thing as “European cookery.”  Tell French and English that their cookery is alike, and you’ll get killed.  Even Portuguese and Spanish cookery aren’t even close to similar.  H*ll, in the Portugal I grew up in, cookery varied over a twenty mile radius, because the culture still hadn’t adapted to CARS and there were no highways or convenient roads.

BUT the ultimate error of this thinking is the belief that all culture is genetic.  This is the error of the SJWs in which name we are enjoined to not make people assimilate here because that’s “racist”.  It is the error of believing that speaking a certain language, liking certain foods or a preference for a certain type of music — or governance — are genetic, inborn and unchangeable.

This is the veriest nonsense.  Sure, there are inborn preferences.  No mother who ever birthed a child believes in tabula rasa.  From birth Robert had certain, definite preferences.  Maybe before birth if there’s a mechanism by which kids influence what the mother craves.  And by age three he liked really spicy Indian food and was a fiend for Greek food, even though neither of which were things I cooked regularly.

But any mother who has had two kids knows that such preferences vary much even within a family. And don’t say it’s because my kids are mutts.  We’all mutts. The same weird preference for highly spiced foods runs in my family.  As in, my brother loves it.  I don’t think anyone else in the family does.

To ascribe a preference for hot foods to “European blood” would be crazy, as would be to ascribe a preference for any foods.  I’m sure there are Britishers who adore hot food without ever having tasted it as children, but I know growing up in the same sort of blandish diet, that it took me years working up to even mildly spicy which I can now enjoy.  My genetic preference is PROBABLY for bland food (I remember as a child thinking onions were spicy, and I watched younger son do the same) but this was exacerbated by not being exposed to much of it early on.  Younger son who genetically seems to be much like me, has a much higher tolerance and even enjoyment for foods I’d have considered unbearable at his age.  And his brother, no matter how much he was predisposed to eat hot food and like it, had this characteristic exacerbated by growing up in America where he could go to a Thai restaurant at eight and convince them he really liked it “Thai hot.”

Now where the commenter was “right”: I don’t think there is any food in the world that hasn’t been influenced by some form of “European” cooking, because Europeans went all over.  So, of course, Thai cooking has French influence.  And Indian cooking has Portuguese influence.  But that’s where things get confused.  I grew up with a solid… well… jam would be a way to put it, though it’s more like a jello after it dries thing called Marmelada.  It is called that because it’s made from Marmelos, which is the Portuguese word for quince.  (BTW I’ve found reference in British books to this being GREEN which is fricking insane.  It’s orange-red. The jelly made from the peels is deep ruby red.  Since these references are from the nineteeth century, I wonder if there was a method of making the dish, or something used to color it then which I never saw.) The British, during the Napoleonic wars, saw it, and liked it, and from it made “Marmelade” which is orange (made from oranges) but tastes nothing like it, and is, to Portuguese food trained taste buds nearly inedible being bitter.  However, it wasn’t until I was an exchange student and one of my best friends, a Japanese girl, got a package from home, that I realized Marmelada is nearly identical in color, texture and taste to a red bean sweet made by Japanese.  Portuguese have been in contact with Japan from the 11th century.  Which came first?  The red bean or the quince?  Who knows? Who cares?  Humans have probably traded recipes as much as genes around the world.  We probably have traces of Neanderthal recipes (or recipes for Neanderthal  or both) in our cookery.

There are plenty of reasons for Europeans to be proud of their culture and their achievements.  For one, their Judeo/Christian basis infused them with an appreciation for individual humans, which in turn made freedom and economic prosperity possible.

But a preference for a certain food is not a mark of superiority. The statement that European food is better is about as sensical as saying cow is a more “logical” word than vache.

Sure, humans are born with certain instincts, but training and early exposure constitute most of the culture.

Even the vaunted “short time” versus “long time” preference, while it might have inate roots can be trained.  When we made poverty not only unpleasant but disapproved of, people learned longer time preference.  Sure, some would be better at it than others, but none would be totally incapable of it.  Because genetically humans of all races are more alike than not.

In fact, things like punctuality, thrift and organization followed industrialization around the world.  And the even five generations of an industrial revolution are, as any biologist will tell you, far too short a time for evolutionary selection to operate.

If we believe that the ability to take advantage of the fruits of liberty and individualism birthed into the world by American culture (which is a child of British culture, but not the same) is genetic, this leads inevitably to the logic of genocide, which by itself negates such fruits and destroys civil society.

We also demonstrate a total lack of understanding of human history.  Wherever and whenever men have been rewarded for doing nothing and living at other’s expense, even if this curtails their liberty, they have done so.  The welfare state is the cause of most dysfunction in the people it seeks to help.

I realize many generations will have to pass and all the sociologists influenced by Marx will have to die before we can correct that.  BUT until then we do not need to compound the error of rewarding people for bad behaviors and then assuming they’re inferior because of those behaviors.

It is time to get out there and emphasize bourgeois virtues in the happy knowledge that taught early and often, EVERYONE can acquire them.  Yeah, some will be better at them.  So? No human being is incapable of them.

Get out there and win the culture wars.  Don’t get distracted into things like cultural appropriation and food.  Man is a trading, fornicating, warring, colonizing, learning ape.  It’s why we’re so fascinating and so good at survival.

Go be human.

479 responses to “SOME Like It Hot

  1. Go be human.

    Aw, do I gotta?

    Though at least I am not at the point of one of your characters who stated, “The human itches.”

  2. Interesting. In my native (sort of) Mexican Spanish, mermelada (not marmelada) means jam. In my house it was Mermelada de Fresa (strawberry) or de Uva. Herdez brand. Pretty much identical to American jam and jelly.

    And then there were all the native fruits made into jams and jellies.

    If it was sweet, I liked it – and ate way too much of it. I can still taste it on buttered toast.

    • that’s jeleia in Portuguese. We had jeleia de marmelo but also of strawberry, tomato and blackberry.

    • I live in Central NY. Every fruit that’s grown here is also turned into fruit and/or jellies and sold in local farmstands. Apple, apricot, raspberry, blackberry, black raspberry, peach, apple… you name it, it’s on the shelf somewhere. And, because Finger Lakes is wine country- you can get wine jelly. I seem to be the only person in may family who doesn’t actually like it.

      The saying up here is- Finger Lakes is for wine, NAPA is for auto parts…

    • Membrillo “cheese” is the thing the Spanish do with quince.

      The problem with the grocery is that the Hispanic people now buy all the quince/membrillo before I can get there and get mine, and so I can’t start making quince “honey.” (Not as solid or enduring as jelly or jam, but the stuff never survives my family for more than a week. And it is super easy to make.)

  3. Two, Four, Six, Eight
    Everyone appropriate!

    • Three, Five, Seven, Nine,
      Foreign foods are really fine!

      • American: Appropriation _is_ our culture.

        I need to grab Eldest Son and make him Art that.

        • Well, that and dropping by unexpectedly on Christmas to kill people.

          What I always think of when people when the holidays roll around and people start lamenting the ‘attack on Christmas’. “Shhh… not so loud! It’s supposed to be a surprise.”

      • Ten, Eleven, Twelve, Thirteen
        Who’s up for some fusion cuisine?

        • While I’m pretty omnivorous in my eating habits I find most things consciously labeled fusion cuisine to suffer from being not good at either thing. I have the same complaint about Gor books after the first two.

          Oddly, the fact that they are both good detective and urban fantasy novels is what elevates the Dresden Files. Fusion can be good but you need to focus on being good more than on doing fusion.

          • By “fusion cuisine,” I’m less thinking of “Mexitalian” restaurants or whatever and more of those evenings at home when we say, “I wonder what would happen if we cooked our fajita ingredients in a wok and added a bit of Sriracha…”

            • A lot of Greek restaurants in our area are Mexican-Greek because that’s what the couple who owns them are…

              • Same in Joliet, IL. One of the better “Mexican” places is owned by and the main cook are Greeks……..

                • SheSellsSeashells

                  Marietta Diner down in Atlanta is owned by, IIRC, a Lebanese family and started out producing Italian food. I don’t know exactly what cuisine they evoke, but it’s goooooooooood.

              • There was a Mexican-Irish restaurant locally for the same reason (Great food Lousy service, they’ve since closed.)

                • There was a Cajun/ Hawaiian place near work. Never went in, but always wondered if they had blackened mahi mahi as a house specialty.

              • Sounds like it makes more sense than what my brother- and sister-in-law encountered in the late 70s when he attended U of Chicago for his postgrad work. Where all the decent or better chinese restaurants they fond in the area were run by Greeks.

                Sort of a shock to a couple of west coast California Chinese kids.

                They never did accept cream-cheese wonton, though.

                • Here in greater Cincinnati, the Greeks opened up chili parlors, serving up Cincinnati-style chili, which is an… acquired taste. It bears little resemblance in flavor to chili from the southwest, or even chili emulating that of the southwest. Would that they had opened up East Cost style diners instead.

                  • Cincinnati chili is actually a Greek ground beef dish, transmogrified. That is why it uses all the cinnamon. And why it is served on spaghetti.

                    If you stop thinking of it as chili, you will feel better.

                    Traditional Ohio chili is meat, beans, tomatoes, and no spice whatsoever. (Other than salt, of course.) Not bad, but a little rough on outsiders who are not expecting a hearty physically hot stew, instead of a spicy hot concoction.

            • Somewhat related, the “pepper strip stirfry” mixes are AWESOME for fajitas.

          • I wasn’t nearly as impressed with the Dresden books as many people seem to be. Benedict Jacka’s “Alex Verus” books are pretty good, though.

            • The earliest Dresden books are just so-so, but they get a lot better later on – “Skin Game” absolutely deserved a Hugo nomination. In particular, Dresden gets a family of wonderful characters around him that I enjoy visiting just as much as I enjoy Harry himself. (I have decided that one of the key things to making a book enjoyable is really enjoying being in the head of the viewpoint character, BTW.)

              • I agree they got better, but I got really tired of the “I have all these magic powers, but I can’t figure out any way to use them to live more than one step about street people” schtick.

                Just the “find lost objects” thing mentioned in the first book would have had insurance companies lining up at his door shouting “Take our money!”

                • I think the lack of that has to do with the whole “magic ain’t real” thing non-wizards have going on in the Dresdenverse.
                  I mean, do you want to be the guy going to corporate and saying “So, we’re hiring this wizard to find things for us…”

                • That is one of the things that makes them good hybrids as the “operating only one level above the competition on good days and below them most” is a stock detective trope. Figuring out how to be smarter than more powerful opponents is a key strength of genre characters.

                  The problem is it took a while for Butcher to amp up the opposition enough to do that really well in the magical context. I think the series really hit its stride with Summer Knight and Dresden’s solution to taking on the key villain. That also relied on another basic detective trope: while most of the time being the honorable man in a dishonorable world puts you at a disadvantage when the chips are down the debts of honor you have accumulated will pull your rear out of the fire.

                  The adherence to detective tropes was crucial to me reading them and through them getting back into SF/F through urban fantasy (which is much different than my introduction to it via War for the Oaks). I had almost completely abandoned SF/F in the early aughts for detective as I couldn’t stand the grey goo. I had even passed up on the early Dresdens when I saw the first three come out at once figuring “assembly line BS”. I didn’t read Storm Front until 2008 and it took a year before I got to Fool Moon and Grave Peril. It took half a year before I got to Summer Knight but within six months I was caught up.

                • I think that was Harry himself, making those choices, not because there was a lack of opportunity.

        • Once upon a time in Platteville, WI there was a little place Pancho Steinberg’s Mexi-Deli.

        • “Now you’re cooking with H-bombs!”

  4. I don’t ride roller coasters. I find the sensation unpleasant — possibly because of a middle year defect.

    I find as the years accumulate those middle year defects really pile up. I now have so many middle year defects that some days it is barely worth getting out of bed.

  5. Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

    Go be human.

    But I’m a Dragon! [Kidding Grin]

    “Preferences in Foods” can be interesting.

    My mother insisted on us kids to eat anything she put before us but didn’t know Dad didn’t like some of the things she served but Dad never said anything as he didn’t want us kids to use his statement against Mom’s commands. (Note, we kids were adults before Dad said anything to Mom about disliking certain foods.)

    The funny thing is that my sister disliked the same foods that Dad disliked even without him saying anything.

    I appear to eat anything as long as it isn’t “too spicy” and even there I’ll eat it the “spicy” food anyway (as not to waste food).

    Oh, “spicy” includes pepper as I always knew when Mom put pepper in food but still ate the food.

    • ‘s odd what some folk consider spicy. Beloved Spouse had a friend to dinner and served up a dish we’d concocted, based on Chinese cooking styles, that was a basic Beef with Ginger entree, probably with onions and perhaps some sliced celery. We were abashed to discover she found it far too spicy — although in everybody’s defense, as she developed her palate over the years she became quite fond of the dish.

      • My husband is baffled that I consider basic black pepper hot. Ginger is definitely hot, but I can eat it in moderation. (There was… an accident… when I brought candied ginger to a family gathering, and an uncle started chewing several pieces at once under the misapprehension that it was apple. I will note that he went back for more!) Chili pepper hot has literally made me choke at relatively low levels, although on reflection, the fact that I would strongly prefer to avoid bell peppers may suggest that it’s not solely the capsaicin.

        • foxfirefancies

          FWIW, I despise All Things Pepper despite being a veggie fiend in most other areas. Bell, banana, jalapeno…can’t do it. There’s this weird undertaste that just sets off my Nope Nope Nope reflex.

          • My vegetable palate is sadly limited. I’m working on it. Bitter greens seem improved by beef. But peppers don’t seem to be improved by anything short of being turned into paprika.

          • The Daughter claims that certain hot peppers used in Mexican cooking have a distinctly metallic taste.

          • To me, many of the medium-hot chilis out there (like jalapeno) taste rather like a slightly-spicy version of a bell pepper. I don’t particularly like the green-bell-pepper taste, or the unpickled-green-japapeno taste. Pickled or riper (yellow/gold/red) versions of the same peppers are fine, for some reason.

            Is this the same thing that bothers you?

            • I’m not a fan of green bell peppers, but let them age to yellow, orange or red and I’m all over them. Green bell peppers are vastly improved by sauteing.

              Pepperoncinis. I love them but my wife finds them inedible.

              • I like Pepperoncini so much The Spouse, who loves hot peppers, will let me have them all when we are served them at restaurants. Still, once in a while I will get one that when I bite into it I find inedible.

      • I’m still confused by the (now former) coworker who though ketchup was spicy.

        What I find really fascinating is my (grew up there) Indian coworker who orders the authentic spice levels at Indian restaurants, and orders mild at Mexican restaurants. Something about the difference between Indian spices and Mexican spices plays havoc with his spice tolerance. I can eat far spicier Mexican food than he can, although he wins at Indian restaurants where I can’t go above medium spicy and he eats it like the native he is.

        • Different cuisines employ different spice blends to find “The Hot” and that’s just fine with me. Mexicans and Indians employ cumin to different effect, but both are tasty. The spice mixes also tend to correspond to what works well with the preferred cooking technique. Okra is something I can take or leave and would rather leave, but make it into Bhindi …


          … and I will heap my plate with it.

          • Yup Indian is the ONLY cuisine I’ve ever met that made me WANT to eat okra. My experience with it was as a nasty slimey vegetable with palatabilty somewhere between canned spinach and badly prepared brussel sprouts. One day it was on the buffet at the local Indian joint so I threw a dab on my plate. Truly amazing.

            • Okra doesn’t have to be slimy. Fried okra is a traditional Southern dish, and is simply okra cut into disks and fried in a cast iron frying pan. It’s actually between fried and sauted. It can take on a black cast from the frying pan and become slightly crispy and is delicious. The up-down variation is breaded okra, which is breaded in meal like fish before frying. Prince Charles was serve breaded okra at a buffet style dinner served at the Georgia Governor’s mansion. He politely put a few on his plate, happened to pop one into his mouth, and immediately went back for more.

              • I’ll have to tell my wife that she has royal taste – she didn’t much like okra, either, until she found a BBQ place that breads and fries it. Now she adores it.

                • There is a school of cooking that maintains everything is better breaded and fried.

                  • The weird thing is that she generally doesn’t subscribe to it. She generally prefers much healthier foods. Exceptions are made for 1) spicy fried chicken 2) the “fish” component of “fish and chips” and 3) okra.

        • Maybe your coworker could taste the vinegar strongly. I’ve noticed I don’t like as many condiments as I used to, and some salad dressings because the vinegar taste is too prominent. I don’t know whether my taste buds have changed or whether it is the recipes of the products we buy.

        • I tend to order mild at Mexican restaurants. Not because I can’t handle hot, but because the mild peppers usually taste better.

          • Personally, I think habaneros taste a lot better than jalapenos, which I find have an acrid aftertaste.

            • Like stomach acid.

              (I thought it just made me feel ill, then I got a small taste and felt fine but could still taste the “going to be sick” taste.)

              • My husband very lovingly made puttanesca one night. He did a good job, and I had to stop eating after a few bites because it tasted like sick to me. It was a very sad moment, because he’d worked so hard on it, but apparently there’s a particular vinegar + tomato + spice combination that triggers bad taste memories.

            • Jalapenos have a weedy taste to me, but don’t mind them pickled or steeped in vinegar. Habenaro, well . . . I grew some once. Here it’s normal to dice hot pepper in with peas, and I did that with a small bit of habenaro. First week, not that warm. Second week, more than jalapeno level. Third week – I should have noticed that peas moved over where I diced a small bit were hot, but no: I popped a small piece of habenero in a spoon of peas into my mouth. It went from hot to hotter to distilled pain. The kids went “What’s wrong with Daddy,” and my wife, my darling, loving, wife, sat across from me and laughed.. Reached for the butter, and in a few moments the pain subsided to a dull throbbing. Other than steeped in vinegar, I’ve never eaten habeneros since.

              • I had some sort of stew at a Korean restaurant in Busan. There were two little rings of a red pepper in it. Apparently the pepper is a last second addition. The stew started out mild but slowly grew in heat. The last few spoonfuls were fire alarm hot.

              • We used to grow jalapeño, thai and habanero peppers in our garden; all are much better when they fully ripen. Sometimes we got slightly spicy bell peppers if they were planted to close to the hotter ones.

                Only Son found that if he nibbled them a little at a time, he could eat habaneros on their own, leaving him with a little endorphin boost.

                • We use habaneros in our cooking (and outsiders learn to approach our version of beef stew or chicken fricassee with caution). They add not just eat, but a hint of a sweet, almost fruity, taste.

                  Cut into small pieces, they can be eaten and enjoyed as part of the dish. Left whole, though, a habanero is just a wee bit much for anyone still retaining taste buds or an instinct for self-preservation.

                  I’m still amazed my wife likes them – the first time I brought habaneros home she grabbed on and popped it into her mouth before I could warn her. Apparently she belongs to the “what doesn’t kill me will make me stronger” school – years later, she tried to do the same thing with the first ghost pepper I brought home. I’ve a sneaking suspicion that life with me has left her suicidal.

                  • My mother tells of how my grandmother would make pepper relish, and a guest, thinking it was pickle relish, took a spoonful and popped it into her mouth before they could stop her. She wasn’t as offended by that as by everyone laughing at her.

              • Actually, pickled jalapeños are the only ones I like. I’ll often dice a habanero into my eggs in the morning – sometimes I’ll even pour on some hot sauce, as well. I prefer the fruit-based hot sauces for that.

                I once attended a “roll-your-own” pizza party where the host and I weren’t getting to the kitchen quickly enough after the pizzas came out of the oven, so we decided to make a habanero-anchovy pizza in the (vain) hope that people would leave a few slices long enough for us to get them.

      • Chinese restaurant in a small city in Southern Illinois typically makes very bland food because that’s what suits the taste of the locals. It LOOKS the same, so it caught me by surprise when my kung pao chicken was only mildly warm. The family members who live in the area sampled it but thought it much too hot.

        I went back there the next day and spoke to the manager, explaining that I was not a local and would appreciate spices. They were more than happy to make it for me, they just didn’t dare do so for their regular customers.

        • I was visiting a classmate’s family in a small town somewhere on the boarder of Georgia and Alabama over fifty years ago. One evening for a snack they served frozen egg rolls with the little plastic packets of mustard, warning me to be very careful as the mustard was, in their words, VERY hot. I grew up in Philadelphia, eating in Chinatown, and loved fresh HOT mustard. The stuff in the plastic packet was NOT hot.

        • The mildest kung pao chicken I ever had was in the NW suburbs of Chicago. The tell was “it’s chicken with peanuts and peppers”. OTOH, the hottest was in a storefront place in Campbell, CA, where the KPC tried to take the roof of my mouth out.

          I grew up eating bland food (English descent on 3 sides, with the 4th Danish. Never could stand Akavit, though, but get me withinin a few miles of lingonberries and watch out.), but a California roommate helped me dial the spice level up. Gotta admit the fresh cayenne from the garden beat me. Ended up as compost, except for a tiny amount canned into pickled peppers, cut with Jalapenos and some even milder ones.

        • When I was in the Navy, I knew not to expect spicy food most of the time. On the sub once, the cooks made two pots of chili, labeled “Gringo chili” and “Hacker chili.”

          At my last duty station, we had a Mexican night. I knew the food would be bland, but expected to be able to spice it up with the contents of a bowl labeled “hot sauce.”

          It had absolutely no heat whatsoever. When I complained to the Supply Officer, explaining that I knew going in that the food would be bland, but expected heat in the hot sauce, he told me that most people liked hot sauce, but didn’t like it to be hot.

          • When I was in the Army, I’d get the chili whenever they served it, but the heat varied depending on who made it that day. I learned to ask on the chow line, and added Tabasco sauce to taste (and I don’t like really hot food).

            One evening it was fairly hot, so I didn’t need to add anything… but one of my friends just started adding Tabasco sauce as usual. I warned her to taste it first, but she just said she knew what she was doing. So, nice guy that I am, I got up and got a couple glasses of milk for her, which she really needed by the time I got back to the table. 🙂

            • Back before 2000, IIRC, there was a small scandal involving the Macon, Georgia, police department. They were issued pepper spray consisting of capsaicin in margarine base. Next think you know, they’re asking why they’re going through so many boxes of pepper spray. You guessed it: it was ending up on food, not perpetrators.

              Note: Not the brightest idea in the world. We checked our cans after news about that broke, saw the same ingredient list, and went “Nawww.” No telling what else is mixed in their with it, and it’s not designed to be edible.

    • My 2nd son was visiting home with his new wife when I first served Dragon Fruit. As I gave some to everyone I described the taste, as I had read it off the placard at Wegmans. He was taking a bite when he suddenly exclaimed “Hey! You’re not trying any!” Nope, I wasn’t. “All those fruits you had us trying while growing up. You never ate any of them!” And he was right. I grew up eating bananas, apples, canned peaches (which I much prefer over fresh), grapes, and the occasional melon. I was determined my kids grow up with a wider palate, so any time I saw a new fruit (for me) at the grocery store, I’d pick it up and bring it home, and say how delicious it was, and how it tasted similar to something they had already tried, and always sounded really enthusiastic. It worked. They eat all kinds of things I don’t, and won’t. I’ve branched out a bit. I’ve added strawberries and blueberries, and I’ll at least try any kind of exotic melon. But that’s it. No papaya, no pomegranates, no star apples, none of that for me. But they like all of them.

      If I like it, I’ll eat the same thing ten days in a row without complaint. After 2 meals the same, my wife is ready for a change.

      • Back in my bachelor days I would eat the same dinner 7-10 days in a row then switch. I think it was as much enjoying “brain dead” cooking as anything. By the third day my conscious mind was no longer required to cook.

        • My husband and I discovered he has a far, far higher tolerance for repetitive meals than me when we had a very busy few months, and he did all the cooking. To be fair, he’d cook a meal, and then put 2-8 tupperwares aside as leftovers. (He’s a huge-pot, cook-rarely kind of guy.) Then he’d have random varied snackage from the fridge, while I was having the leftovers for lunch every day, and often for breakfast and dinner. (If I had breakfast.)

          Two years later, I don’t care that it’s tasty; I have no desire to eat his tomato & black bean sauce with sausages ever again. Not after five weeks of that for two meals a day, because he wasn’t rotating what went into the lunch bag, and as far as he was concerned, he was only cooking it occasionally, so why am I complaining?

          • The explanation with me and my husband is slightly different… I’ll fix something I like and have it several meals in a row, happily. (Similarly with a favored restaurant — “We just had that!” does not mean “Let’s have something else” to me.) He’ll go out to work, eat something else at lunch, but look askance if I offer him the same thing three dinners in a row. Well, he has multiple brothers and if his mom has any leftovers remaining they were probably offered alongside whatever she’d just cooked new, and might have been repurposed in between.

            Where we really ran into problems was when I tried a few times early on to cook a dish to his preferences… and figured since I didn’t like it that much, I’d leave the leftovers for him….

          • One of our “go-to” food dishes for “you’ve just had a baby/surgery/deathinfamily” delivery is a Creole sauce based on the one in my copy of Joy of Cooking (circa 1970.) The basic sauce is good on pasta or rice and can have (sweet) ham, chicken, shrimp, and/or tofu sauteed and added. It is a versatile sauce that can be tweaked in a variety of ways by adding various herbs and seasonings and allows several different easy to prepare meals without all having the same flavour.

            Of course, for a giveaway gallon we drastically reduce the cayenne level when we prepare the batch. Sadly, we’ve stopped making the stuff because a) no longer in that age/social group b) one ingredient (a bottle of Heinz Chili Sauce) now adds far too much sweetness and we never found an acceptable way of countering it.

          • Ouch… I also cook for an army and tupperware the rest, but I try to make sure that TrueBlue doesn’t get the same thing twice in a week, much less every day!

        • I really wish I could do that, but I find that if I’m not careful, I develop aversions to things. I try to avoid eating the same thing for at least two weeks, but even that sometimes isn’t enough of a distance if we eat something long enough.

          I remember one morning in my early childhood where I discovered that I could never again eat “puffed wheat” (although at this point I wonder if I never liked it at all…); after several weeks of oatmeal for breakfast, I almost threw up one morning trying to eat it. (Now, every so often, I could get through a single bowl, and only *almost* feel sick.) I can’t eat straight-up grilled cheese sandwiches without adding something to them (or pretty much anything plain cheese), among other things.

          Perhaps the best example is peanuts. As a kid, I’d get a *ton* of peanuts at Christmas; one Christmas, though, I ate so many that I now hate *everything* peanut (not so bad that I can’t eat them, but I tend do avoid them). Because they are associated with Christmas, though, I found myself a couple of months ago with a very strong impulse to buy a bag of peanuts; I asked the two kids who were with me at the time if they would eat them, but since they didn’t want to, I didn’t get any.

      • I grew up with a pomegranate tree in the backyard, so I got really good at seeding them. And then only a year or two ago, I saw a video of someone cutting them up in a manner that is utterly BRILLIANT and would have saved a lot of time and effort.

        • ? Pomegrates were to me what pumpkins are here — a sign of fall. When I went back to school, mom would put pomegranates in my lunch box every year. I looked forward to them.

    • In my experience, once you get used to a certain level of spice, going backwards can taste really, really bland. There can be this ratchet effect – you eat something hotter and your baseline can get reset hotter. My kids’ theory is that I burned out my taste buds almost completely back in law school when I was playing around with making my own curries and have been actively trying to kill/acclimate them to higher levels of spice since.

      There are a couple of exceptions, however. For me, it was Ethiopian which resulted in rather severe distress thereafter – so I haven’t really gone back. In contrast, not long before that, I’d eaten Thai so hot that I was actively crying while eating it. Yum!

      At least in my opinion, all kids should be allowed into the kitchen and learn certain basic skills while growing up. The joy on their faces when they send the parents elsewhere in the house so they can be the ones to cook dinner as a special treat is so worth it. It also means that when work gets nasty, they are more than capable of feeding themselves … bonus points for the parents!

      Just my 2 cents.

      • My level of spiciness slowly increases until my body gets to the “Hurry up ice cream” stage. When by body reaches its heat limit it lets me know in no uncertain terms. A few months of bland and I re-engage the ratchet.

      • My mother insisted that we all learn how to cook at least a few simple meals. We didn’t have to cook a full dinner for the family or anything, although that might have been a good set of lessons, also. We just had to be able to feed ourselves without recourse to restaurants.

        • My mom’s tactic was: when you turn 16, you are in charge of the food budget, and each week each kid had to cook once.
          After a while, my sister wasn’t allowed to cook spagetti, my brother wasn’t allowed to cook ramen, and I wasn’t allowed to buy the least expensive of ANYTHING….

          • My first attempt at chili used one whole red onion and a whole bulb of garlic. It was dubbed Teargas Chili because over 24 hours later it smelled like someone had set off teargas in the kitchen.

            • I get the whole head of garlic, but only one onion, and a red one at that? Really!

              I use nearly that much garlic when making spinach with garlic for two, and more when making garlic bread al la Justin Wilson.

              (I use about one part garlic, three parts of cheese and butter. No, I don’t use as much butter as Justin. It is excellent with a good red wine.)

              • I liked how Justin Wilson measured out hot spices. He’d shake it into the measuring spoon, then continue to shake it into the pot while the poured the measuring spoon in.

              • I am reliably advised that garlic is as good …


                … as ten mothers.

              • My grandfather sent stories and recipes to Justin Wilson. We had a few of JW’s records, autographed. Alas, thieves got those not long after grandfather died.

                • Oh how sad. 😦

                • So sorry about your loss.

                  A couple we knew in college had not “merged” their record collections as he was a bit of an aficionado — he was program director at the college radio station — and her tastes were very Pop, but several of her albums had been inadvertently filed away in his stack. When thieves broke in and stole his records, every one of hers which had been in with his was carefully refiled in her collection.

          • Please tell me this was in the days before store-bought sauce. I can’t imagine anyone messing up spaghetti; I think *I* can cook it.

            (Or are you saying she always cooked spaghetti?)

        • Same here. Nothing fancy- Hot dogs, hamburgers, sandwiches, mac & cheese from a box, heat up canned stuff. Nothing fancy or complex, just the ability to make lunch or dinner if as we got older so we could fend for ourselves for an afternoon.

  6. Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

    I just “had to do it”. 😉

    Pease porridge hot, pease porridge cold,

    Pease porridge in the pot, nine days old;

    Some like it hot, some like it cold,

    Some like it in the pot, nine days old.

    • Pease porridge hot, pease porridge cold,

      Pease porridge in the pot, nine days old;

      P-yew!

      • Hmm. I did not know bovines liked Spike Jones…*sings The Danube Isn’t Blue*

        • This bovine sure does!
          I have a/the 4 CD set of Spike Jones tunes, but that quotation is more from a short segment from Animaniacs.

          Ponder the original Macnamara’s Band, the Spike Jones version thereof, and the biochem take on it, The Pentose Phosphate Shunt.

          The strangest Spike Jones tune is perhaps… Powerhouse, as it seems less screwy and intense than the usually heard version.

  7. I have a good Indian friend who fell afoul of tradition by marrying a Swiss man. See, the way it is *supposed* to work in India your mother-in-law teaches you how to cook, not *your* mother. This way your husband will have his food cooked the way he expects. So here she is, in her twenties with no idea how to cook Indian food. She taught herself out of cookbooks 🙂

    • I hated my mother’s cooking. One of the best things about moving out on my own was not having to eat it any more.

      “Old bacon grease” is not a flavor, and there’s no need to add it to every. single. thing. on the table, from vegetables to tacos. And it’s perfectly acceptable to serve food that’s not stone cold, where you have to crack through the shell of congealed grease to find out what it is. Also, “greens” aren’t food; they’re what food eats.

      • I would argue that last, but while “mixed greens” can be good and “mustard greens” are not bad, I still maintain that “collard greens” are lawn weeds that became ‘cuisine’ out of desperation at not having actual food available.

        • For the most part I like all kinds of greens. (Please do not cook them so long as to loose the green.)

          Growing up I found creamed spinach revolting. Then I discovered Indian food and had both Sagg and Palak Paneers. I never thought I would say this. I love creamed greens! (But still only done Indian style)

          • I was distressed when I went on Warfarin and had to give up fresh spinach and swiss chard. My INR levels are goofy without help, so they have to stay out of the diet. Sigh.

            • I was just starting chemo when it was discovered that I had developed a post-surgical blockage in one of my legs. I was put on Warfarin. I was already highly limited on what I could eat because of the chemo, This proved the icing on the cake so to speak. What comfort foods I had remaining under the chemo restrictions were no longer allowed.

              Even though I was able to get off of Warfarin, as much as I hate the phrase — I feel your pain. Yes, Sigh.

        • William O. B'Livion

          That is, not to put too fine a point on it, because YOU ARE FOOD.

        • Collard greens are tasty. And the Vietnamese American cooking lady was right about cooking them with sardines. I think it is the saltiness, same as cooking them with ham.

        • My mother-in-law once fixed a mess of collards that were delicious. Collards are not my favorite, and prefer mustard to turnips, and both after they’ve had a light touch of frost – makes them less bitter. Here it’s a local tradition to use vinegar steeped with hot peppers. The vinegar works better than just regular hot sauce.

      • “Old bacon grease” is not a flavor, and there’s no need to add it to every. single. thing. on the table, from vegetables to tacos. And it’s perfectly acceptable to serve food that’s not stone cold, where you have to crack through the shell of congealed grease to find out what it is.
        Sounds like my Dad’s mom’s cooking. Happily, my Mom’s dad was a chef, and Mom got the cooking genes.

        • That said, the first time I cooked green beans was without seasoning and the results left much to be desired. Traditionally we put a bit of ham or bacon in the pot. Now we use a seasoning put out by Goya.

    • My grandmother served spaghetti with tomato soup as sauce.

      A college friend gave my mother an Italian cookbook as a wedding gift.

      Useful, as it turned out — but unbeknownst to her, my father is three-quarters French-Canadian, and his father would only eat spaghetti with butter, tomato sauce being too rich.

  8. And I like it hot enough to make spiced brownies.
    Low yield: jalapeno
    Medium yield: habanero
    High yield: ghost pepper
    The inactive version is more popular in MN where ‘bland’ is almost an ingredient itself.

    • Yah, sure, you betcha. When my BiL, shortly before he hitched up to my sister, first served me some of his brownies made w/ chili powder, it threw me for a loop. Now, some 20 years later, I can tolerate them.

    • *blink blink* So this means my adding a pinch of chipotle powder to my hot coco is Odd? But the Kiowas add chili to their coffee, so why not to chocolate?

      • Chipotle tastes like sour gym socks smell.

        I’ve found out that you can’t order “no chipotle” from many chain restaurants because the seasonings often come pre-installed on the raw food from their suppliers.

      • Chocolate and chili go together, as in Mole. The Daughter brought home a Dark Chocolate with Chili bar to share. I do wish she would do it again ;-).

    • There’s a hot sauce for ice cream called “Toad Sweat”. It is awesome.

  9. Those [expletives] dedicated to eschewing cultural appropriation need to check their privilege. If they are of Western European heritage they should give up potatoes, peppers (bell & hot) and corn (for a start) as foods “appropriated” from the Western Hemisphere’s indigenous peoples. They also need to give up coffee and tea, as neither is native to Europe.

    Those who are not of Western European descent need to look deeply into the cooking styles (such as stoves and ovens) and foodstuffs which derive from Europe.

    Or they could just STFU and actually learn something about the world.

    • Cultural appropriation is a cool foreign thing that the great masses of unwashed humanity have embraced.
      Ergo, eating at undiscovered (ethnic) restaurant is hip for SJW’s. Having the rest of the world discover (ethnic) cuisine, and making it popular is Cultural Appropriation.

      • It occurs to me that talking in English is cultural appropriation (or cultural imperialism, I can never keep the two straight) and should be abandoned by those not of Anglo-Saxon descent (should have at least 6 of eight great-grandparents from British Isles, not including Scotland or Ireland) and therefore those complaining about such appropriation must do it in their native tongues* for me to take them seriously.**

        *Gibberish, I believe.
        **Just kidding — nothing will cause me to take them seriously.

        • Somebody will have to reinvent our “original” languages if we have to back track all languages too.

          Can you imagine limiting all technology to only the country of the creator’s origin? No Linux for anybody but the Finns. But wait, he was using a PC? Who invented a PC? An American? So the Finns can have Linux but not use it because only Americans can have PCs. Or glasses? Since Benjamin Franklin was still a British citizen when he invented bifocals, can only the British wear bifocals? But wait. The first eyeglasses were made in Italy in the late 1200s. So only Italians can wear glasses, but not bifocals because those were invented by an Englishman (later American).

          Food is the exact same way. How far back do you want to trace the “origins” of a food. If you go back far enough, only those from certain small valleys would get to eat tomatoes or potatoes or corn, or anything else for that matter.

  10. My family has somewhat the opposite experience of you and the boys; with us it is whatever “normal” foods gave Mom digestive trouble while carrying each child has proven difficult for that child to eat. While carrying me it was eggs that gave indigestion, and to this day I have difficulty digesting the little ovoids (although I do fine wth the addition of some sauteed onions & peppers, maybe a little sausage or bacon …)

    • Hope that isn’t how my daughter turns out, or she’ll starve to death before her first birthday; just about everything is giving me indigestion at the moment!

  11. I thoroughly enjoyed this. My foster parents moved here from Portugal so that was all we ate and it was very bland! I love flavor and especially spices in my food. When I was younger I refused to learn how to cook and now I’m wondering if it was because I didn’t care for the food lol. All aside from cozido. I do wish I knew how to make that! Thank you for sharing!

    • I HATE cozido with a boiling passion, but in my area cozido is just a bunch of meats, and a sausage, and maybe some cabbage and carrot boiled together. And it was Sunday dinner. Every week.

      • Ahhh understandable!! It was a rarity for us lol

      • I have severe GERD, so regular ketchup tastes spicy to me. This is a problem living in TX. I grew up eating bland/greasy food. If Portuguese food is bland, then I’ll have to find a Portuguese restaurant. I’d move to MN but I hate both winter and liberals.

        • There is Nort’ Dakota…

        • Of course, in MN, as elsewhere, most of your liberals are gathered in the 5-, uh 7-, uh, (I think it’s now up to) 10-county Mpls.-St. Paul metro area. See the county-by county vote maps from a month ago.

          True, you can find liberals most anywhere, but it’s only when they can gather in a critical mass that they become problematical. Kinda like plutonium, except you can get something useful out of plutonium if it’s handled correctly.

        • Can’t do anything about the winters up here, but (way) outside the Twin Cities the liberals are a good deal less thick on the ground.

  12. I was and still am very fond of Greek food. I have a recipe book that is supposedly the Hellenic version of Joy of Cooking – that gets given as a wedding present. Everything that I cooked from it tasted pretty much like the same dish I had at my neighbors, or at a local restaurant. Greek food has a pretty simple palette of ingredients; olive oil, butter, feta cheese, cucumbers, tomatoes, bell peppers, spinach, carrots, artichokes, oregano, nutmeg, honey, lamb, salt, pepper, eggs, parsley, fish and shrimp, et cetera … nothing particularly exotic, or particularly complicated. It’s an accessible cuisine.

    As for exotic spices; my maternal grandfather was strictly a salt and pepper man. No other seasonings applied, ever. My maternal grandmother had a little can of Ben Hur brand cayenne pepper that I swear she maintained for forty years. Likely by the end of that time, the cayenne was merely a little bit of rusty dust, and the can was an antique.

    And the 1970s edition of Joy of Cooking is about the only edition worth having.

    • Around here, salt disappeared from most restaurants years ago. You either have to bring your own, or wait for them to root around in the kitchen and bring you some of those little paper packets with a milligram of salt, each.

      “I want SALT. You know, the white powder that’s not cocaine?”

      For that matter, most pizzerias no longer put red pepper on the tables. Four different kind of cheese, but no pepper.

      • Here in TX, neither is a problem that I’ve seen. CA, OTOH….

      • “I want SALT. You know, the white powder that’s not cocaine?”

        You have a strange typo in that sentence. I don’t know how your fingers managed to type the phrase “more controlled than” as “not”. But thankfully, I knew what you meant.

        😉

      • I started adding the Chinese restaurant soy sauce to my rice one summer because it was really hot, and I was desalinated.

  13. I’d comment, but I think you hate me.

  14. Yep. No chili in any European or Asian food before Columbus (I had an acquaintance from India who basically refused to believe this). No tomatoes in Italian food.

    Me, I want to see the “cultural appropriation” idiots give up women’s rights, the emancipation of slaves, the English language, the Internet, electricity, science-based medicine, safe drinking water…

  15. I used to like spicy hot food, though I drew the line at habanaros. Unfortunately, it no longer agrees with me. I’ll slip Tabasco ™ on my tacos every now and then, and on my peas and greens, but that’s about as hot as it gets now. OTOH my father, who used to eat no hotter than cayenne, now prefers pickled jalapenos.

    My mother leans toward bland food. She cannot stand the smell or taste of garlic or onion. The interesting thing is that in the pre-antibiotic days, when she and her twin sister became seriously ill as babies, the doctor gave precise instructions on how to roast an onion so as not to lose the volatlles and how to administer the juice. They managed to get my mother to take it, but not her sister. By morning she was better, but her sister was dead.

    • I grew up with VERY bland food. Traditional Irish/English/Swede fair. Onions almost never used, garlic verboten, Spices sometimes (swedes use Nutmeg/Mace/Cardamom in weird fashions). Black pepper was the only “hot” spice and it was used sparingly. As noted I had a friend of Portuguese extraction and his Grandma’s food tasted spicy and exotic to me (especially the use of garlic). Went off to college and things got a little broader, Polynesian (cant really call it Chinese 🙂 ) Mexican, Greek. Then off to work with software engineers. Real Chinese (including szechuan), Indian and hot a matter of (stupid) pride> Then I married a woman whose cooking style was a mix of southern and northern Italian. She can’t start a recipe without an onion or garlic (or often both). SO now I like hot (though at 55+ its not liking me so much any more :-(). My daughters are an odd mix. One can’t stand heat in the form of peppers other than in small amounts. But she loves Thai and Indian just avoid the heat. The younger seeks out hot food like a sidewinder missile tuned to jalapenos. But Indian, Thai (and much mexican) is not her thing as cilantro and garam masala taste bad to her (and to her Mom maybe a genetic thing).

      • I find I can deal with a little cilantro and it can seem spicy. But above certain concentration it goes from ‘spicy’ to ‘soap’.

        • I agree. It’s essential for salsa, but only in small amounts. However, you’re right about the soap flavor. To me, it’s specifically lemon-scented soap. I suspect it’s a genetic thing, and likely sex-linked, because almost everyone I’ve known who liked it in large amounts were women, and almost everyone who hated it have been men.

  16. I didn’t check the person’s FB page, but from the name the commenter could be either a Finn or a Swede. Possible he was trolling. Hard to tell, sometimes, but the comments would kind of fit what sometimes passes for humor hereabouts. 🙂

  17. I’m a wimp about hot spices; in Thai restaurants I ask for #2 and hope for the best. But I love the flavors of spices. So when I cook I need to find a tricky balance where I can taste the spices but they don’t give me mouth-on-fire.

    Did you ever encounter a book called The Flavor Principle Cookbook? It’s organized by “these two/three/four flavorings are a recurring theme in this ethnic/national cuisine.” It’s only a starting point for any one cuisine but it’s useful for that. . . .

    • A friend couldn’t pass the physical during Vietnam, but ended up working for a defense contractor and having to go to some tight places. Anyway, they went to a place in Saigon and there was some hot condiment on the table. The woman (proprietor?) warned “No can eat. Too hot.”

      A member of their group, a Texan, said “I’m used to hot foods” and tried a generous helping – and promptly got into serious enough trouble that they had to call an ambulance. As they rolled him out, the woman said “I warn him. Too hot. No can eat.”

      Have no idea what the condiment was.

      • I will say that (if you will forgive a broad generalization) the Southeast Asians appear to be one of the groups that REALLY like it hot. In college, I remember a group of them trying to deal with New England cooking. At the beginning of a meal, there would a bottle of Tabasco sauce on every table in the dining room. At the end of the meal, all those bottles would be on one table–and they would be empty.

        • Many years ago, I read a Time-Life book on national and regional cuisines. Had an anecdote about a guy at an airport with an Indian friend who put half a bottle of Tabasco on his food.

          • A particularly annoying co-worker once got introduced to the “Turbo Coke” when he left his can unguarded while out of his cubicle. One unbuffered niacin, two No-Doz.

            He thought he was having a heart attack when the niacin burn started…

          • The story goes that a Cajun evangelist was the guest speaker at a revival, and as he dined at a member’s house for supper, he took out a bottle from his coat, applied it to his food, and returned it.

            Man watches him and asks “Brother, can I try that?” So the cajun hands him the bottle, The man applies it to his food, hands it back, and tries it.

            He’s silent for a moment, only reaching for his ice tea. When he can finally speak he says “Brother, I’ve heard many a preacher give a fire and brimstone sermon, but you’re the first to carry samples.”

            • The book on the history of peppers that I mentioned elsewhere in the comments also noted that Itzhak Perlman would carry around a small box (matchbox-size is the impression I have from my memories) that contained hot peppers. He had a number of restaurants where it was prearranged that he would give the box to the waiter, and the chef would use the peppers in preparing his meal.

        • Some places in New England have some mighty spicy cooking – they just happen to be Indian, Mexican, Thai, or to a lesser extent, Italian.

          • Not in this town. I went to the Mexican restaurant there. Once.

            • Some years ago, a former co-worker (who was a friend before she became a co-worker and remains one now) told me of being sent from San Diego to Amsterdam on a business trip. While she was there, the hosts took them all out for dinner—to a Mexican restaurant. She found it a memorable experience, and not in a good way—but all those Dutch people thought it was exotic and flavorful, and weren’t in a position to compare it with food from closer to the Mexican border (both geographically and gustatorially).

            • If you want some real weird food try a Mexican restaurant in Thailand, though that’s not as bad a Chinese food in Germany.

              • Don’t ever order iced tea in Germany! Made from powdered tea and mineral water. Yuck!

                • I’ve been told that if you order OJ in Germany you get Tang. Never been there, don’t know if it’s true. But it was from my German teacher in HS who was German.

                  • Juice in Scotland, at least, meant soda or “fizzy drinks”. If you wanted fruit juice, you have to specify and it is from a liquid concentrate you then add water to to get to the correct taste according to the hosts. If you asked for just plain water, they’d look at you funny. I think that is a holdover from the days when tea and coffee and beer were actually healthier for you as you weren’t as likely to catch a waterborne pathogen.

                    • Had an Australian visitor relate that he was disappointed upon receiving the lemonade he’d ordered. Evidently he’d been expecting not US style lemonade, but something more like Sprite.

        • “Hot” food seems to go with hot climates. One response to hot food is to sweat so meaybe it cools you off a bit in a hot climate. Hot peppers really did go around the world quickly. They’re a new world food and yet they’re all over Asia southeast or otherwise and it seems like they’ve been there for a couple hundred years at least.

          And yeah when an asian or Indian tells you something is hot trust them. Hottest dish I ever had was when my wife was a graduate student and one of her coworkers from bangledesh threw a party. She had two pots of chicken curry. One for the assorted folks of Indian descent and one for us ANglo types. She said the one for us was mad ” Mild Like I make it for the children”. Hottest darn thing I ever ate and then I grabbed from the wrong pot…

          • One book I read a long time ago on the history of peppers said that spicy food is used to compensate for the effect hot temperatures have of suppressing appetite.

      • A member of their group, a Texan, said “I’m used to hot foods” and tried a generous helping …

        Being located in SE Asia myself, I’ve seen this happen in person. The key, when someone local says that that spice will be too hot for you but you think you’ll be able to handle it, is to try a TINY amount first. Then as long as you can handle it, continue to up the dosage to the level you prefer.

        But do NOT just ladle the spicy condiment on in the same amounts you’d use for Tabasco. That’s a rookie mistake.

        • I’ve found that few ethnic restaurants will trust your assurance that “I can handle it.”

          The one exception was the time my brother visited and we all went to a Thai restaurant we’d not previously visited. One of his sons is making his living doing stand-up comedy in Thailand and my brother having visited several time was able to order in (reasonably) fluent “restaurant Thai.”

          There was no doubt that the dishes requested “Thai hot” really were.

          • What’s funny is that my husband usually orders food at the Thai Hot or Indian Hot level. The last time I got some Indian takeout, I got his at the highest level of heat… and it was actually too spicy. We think he’s lost his tolerance (we have kids, so he hasn’t been making food as hot as he’d like.)

            It’s okay, the next time we’ll order his food at the second-hottest level instead of the first.

    • I have to find it/check it out.

    • The librarian strikes! The author is Elizabeth Rozin, and it was revised and reissued as _Ethnic Cuisines_. She also wrote a book called _Blue Corn and Chocolate_ that was pretty good.

  18. My Italian heritage expresses itself in my food preferences. Like you, I like lots of flavor, but not too much hot. My Scots-Irish side loves her some potatoes, but not much else from that end of Europe … too boring, too bland, too blah. I used to make “bubble and squeak” back in the day, but I’d always pep it up with herbs and spices (aka herbes de provence and lots of garlic).

    It is also my Scots-Irish side that tells SJWs harping on the evils of cultural appropriation and white privilege to stuff a sock in their pie holes.

    • If you’ve got Scots-Irish, you’ve probably got Viking, so you can just tell the SJW’s to shove it: appropriation is your culture. 🙂

      • LOL … I can’t remember the source, but I loved this comment enough to save it:

        “Sure, I’ll acknowledge white privilege. Here’s what it is:

        A thousand years ago, my ancestors in Scandinavia were part of a patriarchal, militaristic warrior cult that had no word for “Hakuna Matata”, but more words for “stab them” than Eskimos have for snow. Between that and the geography, nobody ever enslaved them.

        Your ancestors largely came from small, largely matriarchal tribes that were easy pickings for bigger, nastier tribes that took and sold slaves.

        That’s my privilege. Now – what would you like us to do about it, specifically?”

    • Serve them undercooked haggis.

      • I recall a bit from You Can’t Do That On Television:

        Kid: Why do we have to have haggis on Robert Burns birthday?

        Father: After [detailed description of haggis] Robert Burns poetry doesn’t seem so bad.

    • Supposedly I have some Scots-Irish (not a ton, but some.) This explains much.

  19. I’ve long said the real reason the British conquered India was to obtain food with flavor. In reality, of course, the foods and spices obtained from or through India were of substantial importance.

    • Yes, but apparently one of the first things the British East India Company imported was saltpeter. Some of the world’s largest natural saltpeter deposits are accessible from, I think, Eastern India. Saltpeter was not primarily used in food preparation. . . .

      (I’ve also read that it was the Portuguese wife of Charles II who made drinking tea popular in England. That gave the East India Company another commodity to import.)

      • The military forces of the Western world ran on black powder. The critical ingredient of black powder is saltpeter. In France, public pissoirs were set up and saltpeter collected. In Germany, each farmer had to come up with his quota. In England, all “night soil”, the contents of outhouses, and the muck piles of farmyards belonged to the Crown, and the collectors were humorless about collecting it.

        Saltpeter was always in short supply. It didn’t matter how much artillery you had if there wasn’t enough powder to operate them. There were important naval battles that were planned out around available powder supplies.

        “Indian saltpeter” gave Britain a huge edge, being plentiful, secure and defensible.

        The Saltpeter Problem is what drove the French to work on what became known as “smokeless” powder, with Paul Vielle’s formulation winning out in the end. Britain and France very nearly came to war over patent law on that one…

        • The need for saltpeter was not unknown to America’s revolutionaries, either …


          Been too long since we’ve had a clip from the Sacred Musical.

          Probably because Judge Posner is a moron.

        • I researched that subject when I was running an alternate history game series campaign set in a world ruled by the Ming Dynasty. The player characters worked for a merchant who turned out to be involved in smuggling saltpeter from the Indian subcontinent to the Princely State of England.

  20. But the Azores are a part of Portugal, of course their food is traditional Portuguese.
    Just like Hawaiian poi and luau or New Orleans creole and cajun are traditional American.
    For the geographically challenged, the Azores are a group of islands well off the coast of Portugal out in the Atlantic where they mostly subsist and have for many years on fishing and catering to passing ships. Their cuisine draws heavily on those two facts featuring both seafood and foreign spices. A great many Azoreans seem to have migrated to the New England coastal region of the US given a certain similarity of climate and work ethic.

    • “But the Azores are a part of Portugal, of course their food is traditional Portuguese.
      Just like Hawaiian poi and luau or New Orleans creole and cajun are traditional American.”

      Um, you aren’t trying to imply that Hawaiian luau and New Orleans cajun AREN’T traditional American foods, are you?

      • He is saying the Azores are a region of Portugal, so Azores cuisine is a Portuguese regional cuisine.

      • Food is one area where I am a strong supporter of diversity.
        Mostly my point is that once your reference region grows past walking distance there is literally no one representative cuisine. Which is about what I think her Hoytness was trying to get at.
        As for Europe being the source of all good food, WTF? Dude, that’s racist! China alone has a number of most excellent styles of dishes, let alone, Thai, Vietnamese, Phillipines, and so forth.

        • Some sort of a color map might work… you’d have to show different agricultural supplies, different meat, different cooking techniques…. probably one rainbow map for each.

          Wouldn’t cover a very large area!

    • A lot of the Portuguese-descended folks in California, and especially in Hawaii, descended specifically from the Azores.

      Apparently it is a good place to be from.

      • Larry Correia is from there, which means his ancestors probably came from my part of the country a few centuries ago (my host mother as an exchange student was from Azores, second generation, and she looked a dead ringer for a lady in the village.) BUT their food and general traditions are totally different. Yet people keep asking me…

    • It’s always fun to ask a clerk if they’ll take Hawaiian money.

      • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

        I’ve been known to ask clerks/cashiers if they take Federal Reserve Notes.

        By the way, US paper money is Federal Reserve Notes. 😉

  21. Not just food, but other areas show how cultures impact each other. When I was in college in the ’60s, I had a roommate from Hong Kong. He once told me a joke about a Chinese merchant in Singapore. I’d heard the same joke about a salesman in a Navajo Indian reservation.

  22. DadRed’s family – solid English and Dutch stock, ate mostly American 1950s Southern food but with fish and some Spanish twists (were on the Gulf side of FL). MomRed’s family – Cajun with German/French tossed in on one side and Scots-Irish on the other. Cuisine? Anything not fast enough to get away, heavy on Cajun and Gulf Coast when Papa cooked and Anglo-Irish when Gammy cooked. I’m the spicy food fan in the family, and will at least try anything that is not escaping under its own power. Sib and Sib-in-Law are on the blander end of the scale. Except for chili,* where they go for the burn as much as Sib’s innards will allow.

    *Chili hot is nothing compared to curry hot. The only time I’ve been bested by food was a curry in Australia.

  23. ‘My MIL gave me The Joy of Cooking, back when it wasn’t the “joy of pushing vegetarianism and low fat cooking of dubious scientific provenance.”’

    Is that what it’s become? If so, that’s really sad. The Joy of Cooking was a book that always struck me that it meant what it said, that the ladies who wrote it took a true joy in both cooking and the book, including various snarky comments and amusing anecdotes along with their recipes. I will need to take care good care of our old copy of the book, lest our daughter be deprived of that joy.

  24. “The only herb used in cookery in Portugal, in the North, is parsley. In the south it’s cilantro.”

    Er, well then, with all due respect to the culture that spawned our beloved hostess, remind me never, ever to eat Portuguese food. In my opinion, parsley is a tasteless lawn clipping that’s harmless as a decoration but provides pretty much no flavor. As for cilantro…*shudder* well, we don’t talk about disgusting stuff like that around here.

    • I actually get nauseous from cilantro, which is a problem, since a local restaurant puts it on EVERYTHING. And my guys like the (relatively cheap) restaurant, when, say, I’ve been cleaning or unpacking and don’t feel like cooking. They don’t like it when I say “I’ll just have coffee. Not hungry, really.”
      Parsley is one of the things with more flavor in Portugal. Lettuce is another. I love lettuce there, and here I eat it by obligation. Still not fond of parsley except with fish.

      • scott2harrison

        My dad told me that iceberg lettuce had more flavor in his day, but was delicate (like ripe tomatoes) and the flavor was bred out of it when they bred for shipability.

      • Lettuce is definitely another one for me where I don’t understand the appeal. Adding lettuce to a sandwich is the equivalent adding water to it.

        • I won’t buy iceberg, because styrofoam is cheaper. But I like red leaf, and I find green leaf and romaine mildly pleasant. Eating a tostada with no shredded lettuce just feels like something’s missing.

        • I like iceberg on a sandwich. It definitely adds something for me, whether crisp or slightly wilted.

          I literally cannot eat tougher leafs. Spinach, a tough leaf lettuce, anything like that. It induces a gag reflex if I try.

      • There’s a gene that makes cilantro taste like soap to some people. My husband has it. I don’t ever put it in his food, although I like it.

        • It is my understanding that soap, like cheese, is an acquired taste, which explains the vast array of exotically spiced soaps on offer. “Mmmmm, you must try this lavender & oatmeal bar, and do please pass the Grapefruit Orange!”

          • Tangential story – my son asked me to buy him soap a little while back. He wanted Axe, to my horror. We ‘compromised’ on Old Spice. Guy’s soaps are just as highly scented as the femme versions these days.

            • Tangent to the tangent … in my college days I would often find myself walking in the scent wake of women who apparently used Raid as a perfume.

              • Oh, yes. We’ve had to change tables at restaurants when some woman walked in in a cloud of something that smelled like insecticide.

                Lady, when I can *taste* your perfume from three tables away, that’s a bit too strong…

            • There are two brands I use- both with no scents, no perfume. And not Ivory, which is real soap soap. Anything else I can tolerate for a few showers, but then, the rash starts….

              • We use a brand called Jergens. It is cheaper and does well for our sensitive skinned family.

              • I use Aveeno bodywah and it’s gentle on my skin.

                • I use Lava and it cleans right down to the mesodermis!

                  Do they even make that soap nowadays?


                  Good Lord! They offer it in “Heavy Duty”!!!!

                  • She’s smiling because she doesn’t have to use the vile stuff.


                    And she’s smiling like that because they told that if it doesn’t sell enough she will be using it.

                  • We had Lava hand soap when I was a kid because my father was a mechanic and it would get the grease off.

                    “Heavy duty” Lava? What is that, 40 grit?

                    • My mother’s father used Lava for similar reasons, except it was farming related. Always liked the smell. OTOH, when my wife and I married, we bought a bar and we haven’t used it up yet.

                    • I have very occasionally used it in the shower as an exfoliant. Probably harsher than recommended for the purpose, but I liked it. Wonder where it got packed in the move?

              • I like picking up handmade soaps at farmer’s markets, ren faires, little gift sections tucked into coffee shops in tiny rural towns off the beaten path, or honor-system basket in a tiny rural county’s dispatch center…

                This is where, ahem, “sensitive lungs” is an asset. If it smells good and it’s not hard to breathe around the concatenation of scents, then I know my skin will like it just fine.

                • …with one exception. The honey from https://www.killerbeeshoney.com/ is AMAZING, the Sourwood Amber some of the best small-batch regional single-flower honey I’ve had (and I’ve been spoiled by knowing mead brewers, so I’ve had quite a range of honeys)…

                  and their lemongrass honey body wash smells divine, and irritates my skin. Darn it. There’s always one exception to the rule, but why did it have to be that one?

            • I have used only Irish Spring for the past something-more-than-thirty-years. . . .

          • I once tried a rose-flavored candy from some Middle Eastern country that one of my co-workers brought back. The best way I could think of to describe it was that it tasted the way that these scented soaps smell. I didn’t mean it as an insult, it wasn’t soapy (or God-forbid, cilantro-y), but that was the best association I could come up with for someone who hadn’t eaten it.

          • Soap vendor at renfaires would hand out sample slivers of an almond soap. Most of the time there was simple appreciation. But every so often someone would take a bite…

        • That might be it, since my mom hated it so much I never had it as a kid, and older son makes faces at it.

        • Question: Is there a gene that make avocados and guacamole worth eating? Every time we’ve tried them, they’re absolutely tasteless.

          • I somehow typoed my comment out of existence.
            I am too pissed to continue. WordPress delenda est.

          • I don’t know if it’s a gene or just better avocados, but the ones we get are typically pretty flavorful. Almost more of an animal-product flavor than a vegetable-product one; kind of buttery.

          • Avocados don’t have much flavor of their own – it’s mostly mouth feel that makes them good, since they are so rich and buttery. Which means if you’re making guacamole, you want to add flavors to it, like onion, chillies, garlic… and yes, cilantro.

          • In my experience properly ripe avocado is a totally different item. When in season it makes for good eats.

            Giving credit where credit is due: It was The Step-mother who served me the first truly fine avocado I ever had – served halved with a splash of balsamic vinegar.

          • I live in California, and I have actually had good avocados. Unfortunately, I have also had a lot of the tasteless ones. Avocados are like pears in that they are picked unripe, stored at cold temperatures, and then ripened at room temperature. However, if they’re picked *too* early, they will never get flavor before they turn to nasty mush.

            My husband is really good at picking avocados, which is interesting since he doesn’t eat them. My MiL is terrible at picking avocados. I do okay, but I am the only one who gets them at farm stands or farmers’ markets, where the hit-to-miss ratio is MUCH better. That’s also where I’ve gotten giant avocados and the varieties you don’t find in stores, like Bacon avocados.

            If your guacamole is tasteless, that’s the fault of the recipe. A really simple variation is to get a decent avocado (try a Mexican market if you have one available) and put in your favorite salsa fresca. I personally like Alton Brown’s recipe, but I use red bell pepper in place of the tomato (because I tend to want to make guac out of tomato season, and store-bought tomatoes are bags of barely-flavored water.)

      • The look of sheer dis- or even un- belief on $HOUSEMATE’s father’s face once upon a time when the first thing I ate of the plate was the parsley.

        • The Daughter will happily eat a bowl of parsley straight as a vegetable.

          • I’ve heard of a Roman(?) dish that was pretty much parsley, lightly oiled, salted and fried to just crispy. Tried making it once. Sounds good, but probably needed a few tries before I’d get it right. And then I’d have it to myself as $HOUSEMATE doesn’t consider parsley to be food.

          • Parsley is tasty and good for the breath, so really you should eat it last. But it is a good palate cleanser, too.

    • Try dill.

    • My wife has the gene that makes cilantro taste like soap. I don’t have that, so I have no problem with it and rather like it. But I don’t use it in my cooking, because I’d like her to enjoy what I cook. . . .

  25. “Superiority” is downstream from “for purpose”. Long distance running did more to maximize one’s posterity in ur-Kenya than in ur-Lithuania. Using the s-word in other contexts tells us more about the speaker than the topic. Yet eschewing it altogether is both cowardly and idiotic.

    There’s a very cute clustering algorithm called “mean-shift”, often used for cartooning (by which I mean drastically reducing the number of colors) images. I love it because categories hoist themselves up out of data. And “where do categories come from?” has been my shower companion for 50 years.
    https://infogalactic.com/info/Mean_shift

    Iteratively each pixel’s color is modified towards the mean of its local neighborhood. After a while you have distinct patches where once you had gradients. And the patches “make sense” (in the way of a cartoon) to human vision.

    There is almost an exact correspondence to that old simulation in which initially mixed human neighborhoods, given the tiniest preference of like for like and time, evolve into homogeneous neighborhoods.

    These results do not depend on value judgements. It’s just How. Things. Work.

  26. A lot of people who are supertasters pick up more flavor in bland foods. I think there is some diet that promotes the same thing, like all veggies and tiny bits of meat.

  27. Hokay. *rolls up sleeves, looks up the comment thread* Time for me to actually buckle down and do the food anthropology blogs I’ve been talking about for years. Fortunately, you all have given me some great places to start! *walks off mumbling about cultural appropriation* Dangit! poor people food is poor people food until some wise guy decides that no, it’s haute cuisine! Where do you think most French food started, anyway?

    • Don’t forget religious dietary rules.

      • Right – food taboos are an interesting thing all to themselves. The Bible lays it out pretty clearly, but other cultures had them too.

        • The Comanche and several other plains tribes avoided fish for Various Reasons. Those reasons might actually have a good nutritional bases, other than “stale fish in late summer makes you ill.”

    • The current offal craze is one area. We used to eat cow tongue because my mom would get it cheap. Learned to hate it with a passion. Now it’s considered a choice cut and is almost as expensive as a roast.

      • Offal and awful sound a lot alike – coincidence?

      • So is tripe hip now? I grew up eating it both fresh boiled, and pickled.

        • Mrs. Chronda once ordered a huge, steaming bowl of menudo at one of the local Mexican restaurants. After taking a taste, she then tried to convince me to trade it for my tamales.

          In the restaurant’s defense, I’ve never had a soup there that was not delicious. I’ve also never ordered menudo.

          • It seems likely the boy band took their name from the soup, but the image that comes to mind of a boy band soup …


            Nope. Wouldn’t order me none of that.

          • I tried to make menudo from scratch, using tripe from the local HEB (big supermarket chain in Texas) – having tasted menudo elsewhere and rather liking it. Biiiiigggg mistake. I had to throw it away, it smelled so vile, and entrailly. My Hispanic neighbors say that I should have soaked it in beer, or something before cooking. Yuck. Not trying again, ever. Also not ever doing chitlings. One of the other women in the barracks in Korea cooked up a mess of them on one Sunday – and all of us who hadn’t grown up in a certain culture told her never to do that again, for the love of God. Pork chitlings … yeah, the only thing that pig entrails might be good for is making sausage casings, after being cleaned, cleaned, cleaned and cleaned again. (They smell like a revolting combination of cooking bacon and pig sh*t, if you are wondering.)

          • Mmmm, menudo. The Breakfast of Champions! It was my standard weekend-morning fare when I was in Santa Fe doing research, if I stayed over the weekend (not all that often). I get it with hominy. Mmmmm. Muy bueno.

      • I have had tongue, because my family hunted for subsistence. I found it similar to heart in consistency and liked it – but we didn’t eat either often.

      • I can remember buying kidney for $0.19/lb when I was first on my own. Now, it’s ten times that. I don’t remember hamburger or the various cuts of beef going up by that large a multiplier.

      • Beef tongue prepared right is yummy. It came in a sweet sauce with raisins. the whole back end of the cow is treif so you gotta maximize the rest of the cow.

        Have you had pupik? My mom translated as chicken belly button but I think it’s actually rooster balls.

        • If I remember correctly, there used to be stories about cowboys shooting the buffalo and eating JUST the tongue. Never tried it… beef or buffalo version.

          • I’ve heard the same story about the guys on trains.

            Since I’ve found out how freaking much the skin and bones were worth, it’s starting to sound like a variation on old raider stories. (Who WILL kill multiple animals, take the delectables, and leave the rest to rot; been true since probably forever, and is still going on.)

          • Just thought: the stories might be old enough to use “cowboy” in the “thugs who happen to be currently employed to herd cattle but are NOT regular employees” sense.
            Like seasonal employees, but with guns and half a continent to hide in….

        • We ate tongue and heart growing up. We also ate liver. don’t like liver.

          • Heh. I don’t like tongue, or heart. (This may be because my mother had the ability to turn them into goodyear rubber in her frying pan.) Do like liver! Most especially like liver and onions cooked by someone else who knows what they’re doing!

            Kind of like fried okra. I love other people’s fried okra.

          • I don’t think we ever ate tongue, although I have seen it in markets now and again – but we ate liver — horrors, how I HATED that stuff! – and beef heart, which wasn’t that bad at all, Mom used to cook it in a casserole with rice and other stuff. When it was on the table, Dad used to sing (badly) the song from Damn Yankees. You gotta have heart!

            • I used to roast it, when we were first married. I had a recipe. I’d marinade it then roast it. It was often our big protein thing for the week.

              • I remember when flank steak was ridiculously cheap because it was a tough, tough piece of meat. The wily Chinese cooks sliced it extremely thin, marinated and them stir-fried it and the cut became popular. Same demmed thing happened when people caught on to for fajita strips:

                The flank is used mostly for grinding, except for the long and flat flank steak, best known for use in London broil, and the inside skirt steak, also used for fajitas. Flank steaks were once one of the most affordable steaks, because they are substantially tougher than the more desirable loin and rib steaks. Many modern recipes for flank steak use marinades or moist cooking methods, such as braising, to improve the tenderness and flavor. This, combined with a new interest in these cuts’ natural leanness, has increased the price of the flank steak.
                https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cut_of_beef#Hindquarter_cuts

                I live in a house loaded with vegetarians and have no desire to cook my own meat, so the price of meat issue has become moot for me. I mostly like meat as flavoring for onions and peppers, anyway.

          • richardmcenroe

            I enjoy liver on occasion. Deb is much the more adventurous diner of the two of us. I grew up on NY Irish cuisine. One side of the plate brown, one side white, and if the Brits had fought as hard to keep the Republic as Mom did to get us to eat something, ANYthing, out of the third corner, we’d never have heard of St. Paddy’s Day over here…

          • I had read for years about liver being less bitter if soaked in milk for an hour first. (Then you throw away the milk, because it has leached out the bitter-tasting compounds from the liver, and now it will taste bitter.) Tried it once last year. It’s true: the liver tasted a LOT less bitter. Liver & onions will never be my favorite dish, but if the liver is soaked in milk first, it’s all right.

            • Yeah, Mom soaked the liver in milk … and i still couldn’t stand it. One of the things for which I was glad to leave home – that I would never be obliged to eat liver and onions ever again.
              And no – I didn’t care that it was good for you. I hated the stuff, and I would never eat it again. Ever.

              • It must be divine intervention: I often ate chopped chicken liver when I was Orthodox and lived in Brooklyn. Can’t stand grits though. Gefilte Fish (sweet style) with whitefish is amazzing!

                • Yeah, well, chopped liver has lots of good things to hide the fact you’re eating liver. I vividly recall the family going to a buffet supper and I took a slice of tender-looking roast beef which proved itself liver … and I’ve never risked such again.

            • My mom cooked it dredged in powdered milk instead of flour, which seemed to work the same way.

          • I don’t like liver. Usually. Every once in a while I get to craving it. I assume this is a matter of dietary deficiency.

        • The rear half of the cow isn’t treif, but the suet is and has to be removed, and the sciatic nerve, and if there are non-Jews the half cow can be sold to it makes economic sense to do that rather than doing the finicky butchering.

          Pupik is gizzard. My dad absolutely hates it. My grandmother thought her new son-in-law was just being squeamish and made a dish with pupik buried within. After my dad gagged and almost threw up at the table, and correctly identified the presence of pupik, the family believed him. So of course I was skittish about trying it the first time my mother-in-law offered it to me, but it turns out I rather like it.

    • Where do you think most French food started, anyway?
      Well there is a school of thought that highly seasoned and sauced French cooking was primarily intended to cover the taste of meat about to go off.

      • There is an underlying credibility to that, but I think it may owe more to limited array of foodstuffs and reactions to “What, bifteck haché again!?”

        Never underestimate the motivation of a housewife confronted by the question, “Hamburger, meatloaf, meat sauce … What other way can I sell ground beef to the family, and stretch it just a bit further?”

      • I adhere to that school of thought.

      • That’s pretty basically why all military recipes for meat include way more onions then I like. They haven’t adopted the recipes yet for modern food preservation techniques, like, for example, refrigeration.

      • Pretty much all that stuff about foods being spiced to cover up it going “off” is (IIRC) a case of Victorians looking at medieval recipes, saying “dear me that’s so spicy, there must have been an ulterior motive!” and proceeding to pull an explanation from their fundament.

        In reality, meat was either eaten immediately or preserved by salting, etc. It never got the chance to go “off.”

        • That said, there’s family stories from pre-refrigeration days of “skippers” in the meat.

        • Um… no. Really no. Trust me, I grew up in a society without refrigeration (until I was about 10.) Even salted meat gets an odd taste after a while. Also, the FIRST HAND SOURCES for finding a maritime way to India talked about getting spices which are valuable to cover up any “unpleasant smell or taste” in the meat.
          Most recipes from that time were NOT hot, though, they were SPICY. The most used spice was CINNAMON. Yes, used in meat. Camphor was also used to cook meat. Victorians looking at Elizabethan recipes were mostly, I imagine, PUZZLED by how different the taste was. Also, kindly remember the world isn’t GREAT BRITAIN.

          • Anything pungent would work for that. Camphor isn’t that surprising. We associate cinnamon with sweet, but nothing says it has to be. It’s put in whiskey now, so why not?

          • Spurred by your comment I went and looked it up. I had misremembered what I’d read, the argument I found was that it was more that *if you could afford spices* you weren’t ever going to be needing them to cover up the taste of spoiled meat, because you were rich enough never to have to eat such. For example: http://knowledgenuts.com/2014/04/28/spices-werent-used-to-cover-the-taste-of-rotten-meat/
            http://www.culinarylore.com/food-history:spices-used-to-cover-taste-bad-meat was also interesting, especially the discussion of how “greene” meat didn’t mean “rotten” but “unaged,” which has apparently tripped a lot of people up over the decades.

            Of course, that’s for Medieval cooking not Elizabethan, so maybe practices/customs had changed in the intervening period. You mentioned a first-hand source; if you can remember what it was, I’d be very interested in reading such. I’m on a bit of a culinary history kick lately, anyway.

            • unfortunately I can’t remember the name, and it wouldn’t do you any good, as I don’t think the Portuguese public library (which has a different meaning) in Porto has digitized. It does keep all sorts of letters and account books, etc, going back to the 15th? century?

    • Our large, poor family grew up eating oatmeal and Nabisco Shredded Wheat biscuits for breakfast. You know, those large ones that used to be super cheap until it became the food of the trendy dieters? It used to be economical for us, a family of 9, to buy multiple boxes of them to feed us for breakfast. Now, a box or bag of those (only 4 biscuits to a box now) costs twice as much as a bag of the somewhat more popular frosted mini shredded wheats, when you can actually find them in a store. Even oatmeal, which is fortunately still pretty cheap, has been gentrified a bit because of heart health and diet stuff. And there is the regular cheap stuff that was available for years and the posher, “healthier” versions that can be twice to three times as much.

      When poor people food gets popular, new poor people food comes about because they get priced out of the stuff they used to survive off of.

      • Lobster was once “poor people food.” During the colonial era, it wasn’t unusual for articles of indenture to note that the debtor would not have to eat lobster more than three times per week.

    • Danish rice pudding is poor people food with things added to make it rich people food. Risalamande—rice pudding with almonds and cherries. (It’s very good.)

  28. I saw that guy’s comment about European food, and chalked it up to fairly harmless crazy – like the father in My Big Fat Greek Wedding who says that any word can be shown to have originated in the Greek. Including Tortilla.

  29. 99.99% of all “Genetic Superiority” blather is utter nonsense, based on personal prejudices and an all to often willful ignorance of the process Darwin was attempting to scribe. In general ‘Evolution’ – as it is taught in the Public Schools and indeed almost everywhere – is a religious doctrine inferior in morality and complexity to the Cargo Cults of the pacific islanders.

    CULTURAL superiority, OTOH is demonstrable. Western Protestant Christianity clearly produces societies preferable to those produced by Catholicism, Buddhism, Islam, or ancestor worship. And societies based on just about ANY belief in a higher power are clearly preferable to the societies that embraced Atheism in the 20th Century.

    • Well, one nit: I’d argue that European Catholic culture yielded European Protestantism and all that proceeded therefrom, so there’s a bit of a dividing line issue there.

      • Oh, we owed the Catholcis, no doubt. Doesn’t mean I’m willing to live in a Catholic country; they tend to divide everybody into the Important Persons and the peasants. I get enough of that from the Progressives, here.

  30. There are garlic desserts, I hear about them every year at Garlic Festival time. The garlic icecream is the only one I remember. And we’ve never gone to the festival so I can’t report on what it’s like. But garlic dessert is definitely possible.

  31. > thinking onions were spicy

    I’ve come to believe that most people can’t actually taste onions, or taste them only dimly.

    For me, onions are similar to habaneros; once you put onions in fthe ood, you might as well forget about anything else, because all I taste is onion. For hours, even after brushing me teeth and using mouthwash.

    • I’ve always more or less followed my grandmother’s recipe for baked beans, canned pork and beans, diced onion, touch of molasses, ketchup, and brown sugar, and either ground beef or bacon bits. Years ago the boys were watching me make a batch and raised great objection to the onion. So I left it out.
      Why do these beans taste funny?

      • Most restaurants buy things like potato salad from restaurant suppliers. Around here, the institutional recipe for “potato salad” has morphed to something like:

        1 grapefruit-sized onion
        10 sticks celery
        1 large dill pickle
        1 gallon mayonnaise
        1 tablespoon of instant whipped potato flakes

        The watery mess is undoubtedly *something*, but in my world “potato salad” has potatoes in it… If the primary solid ingredient is onion, they should just call it “onion salad.”

        • What, no eggs? If it doesn’t contain hard-boiled eggs it’s not real potato salad. I used one egg for each potato, and I go for fairly small (usually red) potatoes. In fact I just cooked the eggs and potatoes, and as soon as the cat gets tired of occupying my lap I have to go out and cut up the green onions and celery. . . .

    • I find onions to be highly variable. One day you’ll get a nice, lightly oniony onion. The next day you’ll get one that clears out your sinuses and then some.

      • Life is like a bag of onions…

      • But red onions always fight back. I will walk several miles out of my way to avoid eating raw red onions.

        • A chef taught me the magic! Raw red onions fight back. But if you soak them a while in running water, (He called it “rinse”), then they lose a lot of their evil!

          • I remember in my late teens finding delight in discovering a restaurant that served its hamburgers with a nice thick slice of raw red onion.

            There are reasons I don’t provide dining recommendations. Restaurants that serve dishes seasoned (unprompted) to my taste are generally notable for the “Going Out Of Business” signs in their doors.

      • Alton Brown did a Good Eats about onions. The sweet onions, like Vidalias, have too much sugar to store for a long time. “Storage onions” are specially cured for long shelf life, and have more sulfur and less sugar, so there more “hot”.
        I like them all.

        • Not quite. There’s a way, developed by Dr. Doyle Smittle, of placing Vidalia Onions into a sort of suspended animation. It’s done by careful control of temperature and atmospheric gases. It does indeed work. Dr. Smittle had a rig made into a five gallon bucket, and scaled it up to warehouse size. Have seen them in action, but they might have declined in popularity. Might be a cost thing.

    • $HOUSEMATE and I certainly taste things differently. It’s not just that I like carrots and loathe peas and $HOUSEMATE likes peas and loathes carrots. It’s that I can taste coconut and $HOUSEMATE claims coconut is a “no-op” that is utterly flavorless, but insists artichoke hearts have a flavor that is more than whatever they are soaked in. To me, they are inert substrate.

      A spectrum of flavors, but we have different filters as it were, and sometimes the sensors have the connections reversed. But which is ‘normal’ and which is ‘reverse’?

      I find I like a good many of the more bitter drinks or liqueurs (ever have an Eeyore’s Requiem? “The antidote to Valentine’s Day”) I have and like it – and a variation that is unapologetic. $HOUSEMATE would say it was far beyond merely unapologetic and all the to or perhaps even beyond “f— you and the horse you rode in on.”

    • I’m in the boat with you, although I my case, I believe it’s aquired.
      You see, my mother wasn’t exactly what you’d call a good cook. And Lipton onion soup featured prominently in nearly everything she made. (She used cream of mushroom soup for the rest. Blech.)

      I’d been an adult for over a decade before I could stand even a small amount of onion in anything. I’ve gotten to the point where I can tolerate it, at least in normal seasoning amounts for things that don’t taste strongly of onions. But you won’t ever catch me eating sliders at White Castle.

  32. Tell French and English that their cookery is alike, and you’ll get killed.
    ———————-

    There’s a Rumpole story in which She Who Is To Be Obeyed drags Rumpole off to a French restaurant. Rumpole tries to order a solid meat and potatoes dish, only to learn from the angry head chef that the restaurant doesn’t offer one.

    Soon after that incident, Rumpole helps the chef out with the legal events of the story. And as a reward, Rumpole gets a “proper” dish the next time he visits the restaurant (much to his wife’s chagrin).

  33. When growing up, mainstream American food was very bland. As time went on spicy-hot foods started making inroads and I loved them. While I like spicy-hot food I don’t understand how anyone can actually taste anything but heat in uber spicy-hot food. If you like that kind of burn fine, but why bother nuking the hell out of otherwise quality food? If it’s crap food, then ok. 😛

  34. The last thing I counted on was having someone come on to tell me all the edible foods came from Europe, including Vindaloo, because it started in Portugal.

    Goa, the former colony of Portugal is the home of Vindaloo. It considered part of the Catholic Portuguese/Indian cuisine. The use of vinegar to season meat dishes is believed to have been introduced by the Portuguese. (As were foods from South America, and the use of pork and beef, the latter to Catholic converts.)

    • Yes, but trust me, it owes more to India than to Portugal

      • The spicing certainly does. As far as I know nowhere else in India uses vinegar with meat.

        In other areas of the sub-continent there are dishes that Indian cooks came up with for the English that bear only a passing resemblance to the English dishes which they were based upon.

  35. “BUT the ultimate error of this thinking is the belief that all culture is genetic. This is the error of the SJWs…”

    Funny thing, though – the mainstream Left tradition (including Marx) is that all human behavioral traits and structures are learned – the so-called “blank slate”. The very idea of inborn neurological patterns of any kind was anathema. Steven Pinker wrote of a neuroscientist who demonstrated that the visual cortex of a cat is formed before birth, and was called a fascist.

    “Tell French and English that their cookery is alike, and you’ll get killed.”

    Oh, a lot of English frankly admit that English “cuisine” is wretched. In Arthur C. Clarke’s Tales From the White Hart, there’s a famous French gourmet who says of a bitter rival “He would be happy on English cooking!”

    • Yes, but it got highjacked by “cultural Marxism.” It has a name, but I just call it “third world will save marxism.”
      BTW the idea of a blank slate is just as stupid as inherited culture idea. THEY’re BOTH anti-reality.

    • In heaven the police are English, the cooks are French, and the mechanics are German. In hell the cooks are English, the mechanics are French, and the police are German.

      • Longer version: In heaven, the police are English, the cooks are French, the cars are German, the lovers are Italian, and everything is run by the Swiss.
        In hell, the cooks are English, the lovers are Swiss, the police are German, the cars are French, and everything is run by the Italian.

        • There are many even longer forms. A common punch line is that in heaven, the wives are Japanese. In hell, they’re American.

          (Ducks)

          • There is also the story of the Asian wife who upon getting American citizenship started standing up for herself.

          • I’m not sure that’s still the case. At least, part of the crash in Japanese fertility seems to be a result of young men not wanting to get married. . . .

          • It would not surprise me if numerous nations’ women deemed Hell to provide American husbands — men too callow to take on the duties of their proper rule, or too callous to perform it properly.

          • Then there’s what the French believe, which is that after God created the angels, He created the French and perfected the design.

  36. “I don’t ride roller coasters. I find the sensation unpleasant…”

    Many years ago, I spent a day at an amusement park with a bunch of friends. They made the mistake of thinking that my disinterest with going on the roller coasters meant that I was afraid of them. SO, being the a-hole friends that I usually end up with they “tricked” me into going on one of the rougher coasters saying it was a nice easy one (I wasn’t fooled and knew exactly what it was). After a rather unpleasant ride, we exited the coaster with a couple of the group throwing up (having had dinner shortly before). Me, I was fine. Just because I don’t ENJOY roller coasters, doesn’t mean I can’t (or am afraid to) ride one.

    When I was a kid, I was super-skinny (freakishly so), and while I was technically tall enough to ride the rides, I was way too thin for the bar to really be much use for keeping me secured. One particular roller coaster, my older brother and I got put in the very last car. A particularly violent hump in the track launched me out of the car. I vividly remember grabbing for the bar and missing, then feeling my brother grab the back of my jeans and hauling me back down. Scared? Not back then, I wasn’t afraid of anything (too dumb to be). Now? Naaa… I hover around #275, I don’t really even have to hold on. But ever since that day, roller coasters just aren’t all that much fun anymore.

    • I don’t enjoy being jolted or spun around. SO I loved Lakeside amusement park. You paid like $4 to enter, and $20 for an all day pass. The kids and Dan got the all day, every ride pass. I brought a couple of mysteries. I was a pleasant stroll, people-watching and reading.

      • What about the merry-go-round? It’s a very mild ride. It be a problem if you have vertigo.

      • I am no fan of roller coasters in general, so I always skipped out on the “super fun” activities to places like Six Flags that were a yearly thing in the young single adult congregation I attended before getting married. Because why would I want to drive for three hours and spend $50 for a single ticket to get into a place that had very few trees and exactly two rides I was interested in (the log flume and the sky ride)?

        There’s a far less expensive park with greater variety of rides and better landscaping much closer to home. I’ll take that over the “brand name” park any day.

    • Google isn’t returning any hits, but there is a story dating back at least to the Apollo era about the astronaut who tossed his cookies while riding a roller coaster with his children.

      • Worked ground support for multiple Spacelab and ISS missions. It has always been commonly understood, but seldom mentioned that seven out of ten first time astronauts get space sick, and the other three are liars.
        We always schedule the first 24 hours or so as light duty, both for them to get their space legs and to wallow a bit in the gee whiz of it all.

    • I toss my cookies WATCHING videos of roller coasters and trips on curvy roads. My dad made a video once of our family reunion, and then for kicks, set up the camera in the van for part of the trip home as we went through a particular pass. When we watched the video later on, I threw up. It has something to do with my eyes and peripheral vision and possibly inner ear messages not all lining up properly. I can’t read in cars, can’t stand flickering monitors or lights or driving through shadows of trees without leaves because the light to dark flickering makes me nauseated.

      • I can fly planes upside-down, and enjoy doing so, but I do NOT do roller coasters. It has to do with my hands being on the controls. When I’m the one managing the attitude, I don’t get sick. When someone else is controlling the dipsy-doodles, I can’t overcome the effects of my astigmatism and flicker-vertigo.

        • I’ve found that if I drive, fine. If I am up front, alright. but the longer the vehicle and the farther back I am, the less my stomach likes it. Haven’t “lost it” for many, many years, but I can feel the difference.

          • So being in a trailer hitched to a pickup is right out, then?

              • My mother used to “rest her eyes”. What she meant by that is that she would stop focusing on some particular object and just focus her mind on what she was thinking/mulling over/contemplating. She would sometimes be accused of staring when she simply wasn’t aware that her eyes were pointed in somebody’s direction. I have learned the trick and find it useful when taking a break from staring at a computer. Embrace the occasional double vision as you relax.

                It also does wonders for motion sickness. I guess it disconnects your eyes from ears.

          • During the period when I was acclimating to bifocals I would suffer severe vertigo walking through groceries and bookstores. Seeing the similarly sized items go by at different speeds according to whether they were shelved at eye-level (walking pace) waist level (faster) or ankle height (fastest) confused the living heck out of my inner ear.

            • There was a pro golfer who once joked that bifocals were the key to his success in putting: he’d align things such that he saw a small ball and a large ball, and a small hole and a large hole, then simply knock the small ball into the large hole.

            • I couldn’t handle the graduated lenses on bifocals not just because of that, but because my peripheral vision thing made that even worse. At least the other bits could be in focus if I shifted my eyes, but the peripheral vision bit would NEVER be in focus and that always bugs me.

              I can now read in the car, if I’m in the front passenger seat. Sometimes.

            • And going down stairs was probably a time you needed to take hold of that railing.

            • Well remember the day my old boss got his bifocals. He saw of every nail he tried to drive, and put his old glasses on in frustration. I never had that problem adjusting – I got progressive lens.

        • Same. Love getting crazy in planes or on jet skis, but only if I’m in control.
          Was going to add “motorcycles” to the list, but I’m rather cautious on two wheels.

        • astigmatism. That explains it.

    • Wait.
      You can let go of the bar?

      (The only part about roller coasters I actively dislike is the agonizing climb up the first hill. But that’s more than enough to counteract the fun the rest.)

      • Not recommended. I have ridden precisely one roller coaster. The bar didn’t latch and there was a kid beside me. Spent the ride holding the bar in place where he wouldn’t fly out of the seat. And I have never ridden one since.

        Was going to ride one of those parachute drop things – until I saw a couple of riders get stuck twenty feet above the ground. No thank you.

  37. The fruit Aegle marmelos in pictures appears green. Whatever, once prepared as Marmelada de Marmelos, the product certainly turns out red:

    I have never met it in person, but if the flavor of it resembles that of sweet red bean paste from Japan I wouldn’t refuse it.

    • It does. It’s ALMOST identical. Poor Myiuki. I ate most of that sweet.
      It wasn’t till years later that I understood, btw, her name was Myiuki (sp might be wrong) Takahashi. She said last name meant “old log” and her dad named her Myiuki both because born in the deep of winter, and because “I was a late child, so Deep Snow on Old Log.” At the time (I was seventeen and innocent) I thought nothing of it. It wasn’t till a couple of years it dawned on me it WAS a dirty joke, and I told a friend who’d lived a long time in Japan “Is this possible?” He rolled his eyes and said “Fairly normal actually.”

  38. … all the sociologists influenced by Marx … die …

    Oh that THIS would happen.

  39. I do wonder what pregnancy cravings mean….
    With Princess it was Hot Tamales (as in cinnamon and cow bones, not the South American thing);
    with Duchess…hm, can’t remember right now, although I had a lot of iron related cravings. (I didn’t exactly WANT spinach, but if there was a bag I’d pick and pick and eat the whole thing; I ate an entire package of really bland pico de gallo (sp), wanted to eat the entire pan of ground beef, that sort of thing)
    Baron it was mochas– as in, “I will walk a mile while pregnant, pushing two little girls in a stroller, and get as large of one as they have, go to the park, think about going back that way and getting another on the way home” type craving, then having to stop myself from living off of them.
    The Empress was Tom Yum flavored ramen.
    The Chief it was absolutely anything with stewed tomatoes.

    Now, the penny dietitian notes that cinnamon stops blood sugar spikes (at least in some people) and since I heard that, after the Princess, I have a habit of eating a lot more of it with breakfast, so #1 may be blood sugar swing related; #3 is calcium out the ears, in a way that I can actually stand to drink it– even the stuff that’s really milky when I drink it now tasted wonderful then– I have no idea what spicy would suggest, and I know I was low on iron for this last one, plus… all my comfort foods are stewed tomatoes in cast iron pans, and I miss my TrueBlue. (For those keeping track, yes, this is the second son, and it’s the second child he couldn’t be there for the birth.)

    All of the kids that eat solid food will eat stuff, at 3, that I can barely stand in my 30s. DEFINITELY a genetic aspect to what food you like, although they are unlikely to get the “food should hurt” thing from either parent. Just a higher tolerance.

    • I hope this isn’t too intrusive of a question but how do you decide on the nicknames, Princess, Duchess, etc?

      • Well, the first one was a family joke based on the “never date a woman whose daddy calls her princess,” and then the rest of them are based on their personalities and in a “boss” theme. Started out calling the Princess “Kit”- like a fox kit?- until the joke was made.

    • I didn’t generally get cravings. Occasionally, I’d feel like “Must have Nachos!” or something like that, but nothing consistent. But with my first, anything with milk in it would make me vomit. Near the end of the pregnancy, I could tolerate some cheese and maybe yogurt. Then, it turned out that oldest was allergic to milk. I’m pretty sure the tendency came from my side of the family but was my aversion to it a manifestation of her allergy that early?? I don’t know, but it is interesting to think about.

    • With my one and only child, it was shrimp, all the time. She loves it, but I think its just because I cultivated the shrimp. I will also always remember when the babe was one year old and we took her with us to a crawfish boil. I gave her a teeny bit of a crawfish, spicy as it was, and was chided for attempting to torture her, but within moments she was pulling on my hand as I deshelled the next crawfish and opening her mouth like a baby bird. I couldnt shell the crawfish fast enough for her after that. LOVES spicy now.

      I didnt have so much a problem with WANTING food when I was pregnant, but for the first few months, I had severe nausea and it didnt matter what I did or ate, as soon as I brought the food to my mouth, I couldnt get it down. It was like there was this wall that prevented me from wanting to swallow it. I could smell the food and feel a desire to eat it, but doing the actual eating was nearly impossible at times. Shrimp was the only thing I could convince my mouth to accept.

  40. … but has otherwise bloody all to do with a cuisine ….

    American Pizza in Japan.

    Curry pretty much everywhere.

    The 50 variations of Chili.

    Heck, consider that chili is a stew, and try mentally re-writing all the fantasy stories where they eat stew at the inn so that it has your favorite (or least favorite) variation of chili as the stew….

    Hot Chocolate as drank by the Aztec sacrifices vs the stuff my kids demand when the come inside. Even if you don’t count the marshmallows.

    I love food; you can make something that’s “based on” a thing at just one remove, and folks might not know; five or six times removed? With more than two different types of food and cooking available? *laughs* You’re more likely to find a totally different local dish that is more like what the thing was based on!

    • Jewish Lithuanian cholent is far from chili as you can get and still be stew. It’s more Irish stew. I like it very thick. I like soups with a stew like consistency and stews like casseroles.

  41. Patrick Chester

    I guess I have some proof that food habits aren’t genetic: My father can handle spicy foods rather well, but I… don’t.

  42. I’m too lazy to do a run-off, especially after last time. For March, we will read The Unexpected Enlightenment of Rachel Griffin AND Paratime! Collected Paratime Stories.

  43. But cow *is* a more logical name for the concept of cow than vache is, simply due to the concept of onomatopoeia.
    Cows low, moo, and bellow. The similarity of sound is there, even if you want to get all highfalutin and say “bovine”.
    But I’ve never heard a cow make a sound like vaca, vache, or nearly all the rest.

    (Likewise, sheep bleat, drums drum and pound, eagles scream, etc.)

  44. My great-grandmother didn’t like having anyone in HER kitchen.

    My grandmother managed to learn how to cook oatmeal, but nothing else.

    Then the Spanish flu hit, and as the youngest, she was the only ambulatory member. They were fortunate enough to all survive — but man, they were sick of oatmeal.

  45. Amazon has multiple editions of Joy of Cooking – I’m still happy with the ’64 edition my girlfriend got me when I was 18. So we got our daughter that version a few years ago.

    • I am partial to the ninth edition of Fanny Farmer, both Momma and Daddy’s mother used that one. My first copy of Fanny Farmer was the eleventh edition, which I do not particularly like, several recipes I liked were missing and other’s were altered and did not taste ‘right’. It took me a while to find my own copy of the ninth, but I did. I have an extensive collection of cookbooks, but for certain basics that is the one I will consult.

      The Spouse came with a copy of The Joy of Cooking purchased in the early 1970s.

      I have heard that just as there are Fanny Farmer families and The Joy of Cooking there are Campbell’s soup and Lipton’s soup families.

  46. My food peeve is bell pepper. As near as I can determine, some time in the 1930’s a nutritionist decided that since bell peppers contained a lot of some vitamin (I think it’s C), that meant it was edible. This is the kind of thinkng that gives nutritionists a bad name. Since then, bell peppers have crept into lots of cuisines to which they are not native. Almost half the frozen ethnic foods you can buy have bell peppers in them.

    Now if it were just that I think bell peppers taste revolting, I would simply deal. I like a lot of things other folks find disgusting. But bell peppers act on my digestive system in a most unpleasant manner, even in almost tasteless amounts.

    *sigh*

  47. Some Like It Hot

    Most assuredly my favorite Billy Wilder, Marilyn Monroe, Tony Curtis, Jack Lemmon, George Raft, Pat O’Brien, Joe E. Brown, Nehemiah Persoff film ever!

  48. You’re really describing the genetic differences among how people can taste food, which varies from supertaster-and-then-some (that would be me, what do you mean you put pepper in this!) to “barely tastes anything” (that being often those who like Thai Hot and such). There’s probably been a good deal of selection based on regional diets (spices tend to go with hot weather and a need to preserve meat), and at times mixing of types.

    Some people also become addicted to the endorphin rush following the burn from extreme spicey (have known a few of those).

    My mom got married having zero cooking knowledge. But she had a Betty Crocker cookbook, followed it to the letter, and everything came out wonderful every time!

    • I wonder about the genetics of taste too, considering that in some DNA tests now, they are measuring for who has the gene for liking or disliking cilantro (coriander). I love the stuff and can taste how “green” it is, but for my daughter, it tastes like soap. My MIL and SIL cannot stand Chinese food, but their son/brother (my husband) loves it and is the one who introduced me to Thai food…and how it doesnt taste good unless it has the heat to it. Unfortunately, because of the huge influx of those of Northern extraction, a lot of the restaurants that we used to love for its heat have severely cut back the heat levels. It has become very hard to find a Thai restaurant that will believe me when I say I want LEVEL 3 heat…just ate a pad thai today that tasted like they just waved the spice over the plate before serving it to me. I used to cry while eating it and left wanting more…Now, its all the same…

  49. My GERMAN grandmother (albeit German by three or four generations of an ancestor who came from Bavaria in the 1860s) ALWAYS kept a small carafe of vinegar and chile tepin (birds eye peppers) on her table. Used it in so many different things. You dont know chemical burn until youve handled these teeny things with your bare hands. Pretty close to the habanero in the Scoville scale. They pop up in the garden every time a mockingbird takes a dump in the garden. They cultivate them now for sale in specialty nurseries, but its always a special prize to have one show up among your vegetables.

    As for fusion, there was a restaurant in Houston known as Birra Porettis, an Irish/Italian bar and grill that had several satellites throughout the cities back in the 80s. Its reduced to one spot now in downtown Houston, but in a city that is known to have five Mexican taquerias for every Cajun cafe, it was pretty unique.