Foodstuffs We’ve Pretended to Like
by Louise Hart
on 10/16/14 at 04:39 PM
We’ve all been there: You’re at a family dinner, friend’s house, or with a colleague or boss when you’re faced with food Kryptonite. Everyone’s got something: That dish, drink, or ingredient that you just can’t enjoy despite our best intentions. But the worst part is that you have to pretend to like it in order to be polite.
Yes, even here within the hallowed, food-loving halls of the Epicurious offices, there are foods our staffers just can’t get down with.
Here now, a list of what those foods are and the times we’ve, ahem, swallowed our pride and eaten them anyway.
Caviar and Uni: For a couple summers during college, I lived in Paris, working at the US Embassy and living above the guard’s quarters at the US Ambassador’s Residence. One of the perks of living above the Residence and working for the US Ambassador was attending various “functions” held at 41, rue Faubourg du Saint-Honoré. These cocktail parties featured passed trays of traditional canapés with foie gras or salmon mousse on perfect squares or circles. The one canapé I tried each time, yet never liked, was the one covered with caviar. I was even invited on a date to Caviar House & Prunier on Place de la Madeleine. I ate as much as I could without gagging, but couldn’t get the sour, salty taste out of my mouth for days.
I feel I should like uni, but don’t, and every time I have an omakase menu I feel embarrassed admitting I will eat any and everything but uni. –Louise Hart, Editorial Assistant
Gluten-Free Lasagna: It was in my mid-30’s, and I pretended I liked it so as not to hurt the feelings of my family member that made it for me. The gluten-free part is irrelevant. Probably one in a million people know how to make a decent lasagna, gluten-free or otherwise. Most are watery piles of mush. Watery vegetables, like spinach have no place in lasagna, in my opinion. It should be oily, not watery. I realize I’ve said “watery” several times now. Is my point getting across? –David Cicconi, Creative Director
Steamed Artichokes and Mayo: Artichokes in a restaurant are lovely. Cooking artichokes at home irritates me. They’re never worth it. They’re expensive. Prepping them creates a catastrophic mess. And you end up with shreds of edible food when you’re done. My wife loves artichokes, though. Her go-to move is to take a globe artichoke and steam it until it’s the color of a 1970s kitchen remodel. Then we take the leaves, pull them off, and dunk them into some mayonnaise-y dip-like concoction. You scrape out whatever’s edible or soft on the artichoke leaf using your teeth and discard it into a bowl. I do my best to feign delight, but I’m not sure what this dish is even called, other than ‘I’m still hungry.’ –Eric Gillin, Executive Director
Cronut and Negronis: I pretended to like The Cronut because my old roommates, on their last day before moving out of NYC, woke up at 4am to line up for a box and they brought me back one. I didn’t have the heart to say it, but all it did was make me wish I had either a really good croissant or a really good doughnut. I went to Dunkin later that day…
I pretend to enjoy Negronis from time to time, like when Campari throws entire parties in our dear Matt Duckor’s honor but I cannot get down with the bitterness. I will keep trying to love them until the day I die though because I just want Matt to like me. –Gabi Vigoreaux, Editorial Assistant
Bloody Marys: It’s like a national conspiracy. Tomato juice is gross as it is–drinkable purée, ew–and then mixing in horseradish and Worcestershire just makes it taste mysterious and strange. Add a crunchy raw stick of celery, and the whole thing is even more confusing. Why people enjoy drinking this at brunch instead of an honest cup of coffee always baffles me. Every time I sit down to brunch with friends, someone offers me a sip. I want to be polite, but I’ll never ever order one. –Adina Steiman, Features Director
Sautéed Mushrooms and Sashimi: “I often times like the taste of foods, but if the texture is off I just can’t do it. Anything with a yuck, slimy consistency doesn’t fair well with me (think sour cream, mayo, most yogurt, etc.), and that’s how I feel about sautéed mushrooms any time they’re offered as a side dish or topped on a steak. I can have them in a salad, risotto, fried–but not sautéed. Sashimi is another slimy-texture food item where texture outweighs the taste.
I once went on a terrible date with one of those guys that orders for the table (which can sometimes be exceptionally charming, but in this instance was incredibly rude). I went in for a big ol’ bite of the sashimi and it was awful. After the date was over, I vowed to never talk to him again (not solely based on his sushi ordering skills). I proceeded to get sick from all the rotten fish we ate that night — it was all I could taste as it was coming up. Needless to say, sashimi and me have been broken up ever since. –Brittany Innes, Social Media Editor
Blue Crab: There’s just no way around the fact that these are a complete pain in the ass to eat. There are tools involved. I end up hacking, clamping, and banging away to the point of feeling like some sort of New England version of Dr. Nick from the Simpsons. I don’t want to be handed anything beyond a knife, fork, or spoon (or spork) in order to complete a dinner, much less a mallet. When you finally get the thing open to find so little meat, you come to the immediate realization that you’d need to open at least a dozen to form just one crab cake, much less eat the amount that would qualify as an entire meal. And your hands end up smelling like Old Bay for the next week. Everyone else seems to think blue crabs are great, and it’s nearly impossible to avoid attending a crab boil during the summer on the East Coast, but I guess the potatoes, corn, and pie normally served alongside blue crabs at crab boils are pretty okay. –Matt Duckor, Restaurant Editor
Cupcakes: I just don’t like them. The cake part is usually somewhat dry and the frosting is overwhelmingly sweet, especially red velvet. Why would you soak food in that much red dye? I don’t get it. –Rhoda Boone, Food Editor
Pigs’ Feet and Sauerkraut: Mom thinks it’s delicious. I tried to be cool as a kid and eat them, but couldn’t get past the smell or the idea of eating any kind of feet. Sometimes the family dog was the best member of the family! –Michelle Zotos, Production Coordinator
Sake: I once went out to dinner with a friend and her business associate at 15 East, a Michelin Star Japanese restaurant. The sake tasted like the offspring of an unbearably dry white wine and a bottle of vodka, but my friend seemed to accept the server’s spiel about how fragrant and layered and rare this sake was. When I was poured a glass and asked my opinion, I could only sip, smile and sneak gulps from my water glass between bites. Now when I go out for sushi, I like to enjoy it with a slightly sweet white wine or even a ginger ale. I think something slightly sweet pairs nicely with the fishy tastes. –Samantha Dupler, Editorial Assistant