I’m not what you’d call an adventurous cook. I suppose this is a good thing, since I did marry a man who thinks that Hawaiian pizza is exotic.
There are some people who will try anything — and everything — at least once. I’ll try any flavor of icecream pretty much once, but that’s about it. With the occasional French-Canadian or Italian recipe thrown in, I’m very traditional in my American food choices. And when it comes to strange and unfamiliar plants or meats (I’m pretty sure Tofu falls into both of those categories), I’ll stick with the safe foods I grew up with. Like carrots. Tomatoes. Broccoli.
Kidding about the tofu, by the way. When cooked just right (such as in a recipe that resembles the French-Canadian, Italian, or American foods I’m used to), it’s actually not that bad!
But having recently obtained several new cookbooks, I’ve felt a rush of enthusiasm and even adventure when it comes to the meals I prepare. I’m finding myself considering recipes that I otherwise would have bypassed. And for dinner over the past few weeks, the traditional was replaced with the unknown.
Like chilled couscous salad.
Nate has never liked couscous very much and can’t understand why anyone would want to eat pasta that had been cut to resemble barley. If he wants pasta, he’ll eat pasta; if he wants barley, he’ll eat barley. The whole concept and texture of couscous frustrates him. Obviously, I’m partially to blame, as I’ve never really known how to cook it and usually leave it bland as a side dish. (Except for that one time that I made it with apple juice and raisins, but I think he found that to be slightly traumatizing).
Personally, I’m happy with that (with bland couscous, not with a traumatized husband), because I think couscous is as fun to eat as it is to pronounce. Conveniently, however, the couscous salad was served on a night that Nate was feeling particularly hungry, so he actually ate his entire plateful…. and seemed to almost enjoy it.
Hey, I’ll take that! Maybe part of his interest was due to the fact that I had declared the dish to be ethnic, Moroccan inspired. I have no idea what Moroccan food tastes like, to be honest; but if the food doesn’t taste American, then I’m pretty sure it can at least be considered ethnic.
Of course, even safe foods can become unfamiliar territory. Take cheese, for example. I thought that replacing my childhood love of Velveeta with Cabot, cheddar cheese was a step into the wild side. But then recipes started to call for brie. Chevre. Roquefort.
I didn’t even know what Asiago tastes like, and here I was sprinkling it over a chilled pasta dish! Now I know that it’s very similar to parmesan, just slightly less dry. Yes, it’s quite yummy!
Oh, and am I the only one out there who had no idea what capers were? The pasta salad contained Asiago cheese and capers, so it was pretty much like bungee jumping and sky-diving on the same day. We’re getting crazy in here!
As I was putting my grocery list together, I spent a good ten minutes discussing with Nate what capers even were. Nate thought they were mushrooms, while I was convinced that they were a type of fish. Turns out that they’re actually the buds from a plant, which are pickled in a vinegar brine. Also turns out that one shouldn’t pop a handful into one’s mouth, because they don’t taste anything like pickles or olives. But rinsed, chopped, and carefully mixed into a pasta recipe they’re actually quite good.
So, yeah, things have taken a turn for the wild side. I know, I know. Since I’ve turned 30, I’ve totally gone crazy. What will I do next?? 😉