Sunday, February 16, 2014

A Valentine's Day Adventure

For Valentine's Day, Joey and I decided to treat ourselves to a nice dinner.  We went to a fancy Italian restaurant in Lincoln Square.  Due to romantic mood lighting and not wanting to set off a huge flash, there are no pictures of this adventure.  Only my word.

We ordered Prosciutto con Melone as an appetizer to share.  Joey ordered fancy-people Margherita Pizza, and I decided to go with Conchiglie Ripieni Marscapone (Italian for Spinach Stuffed Shells and Meatballs).

My meal was not very adventurous, but the appetizer and Joey's dinner counted.

Our prosciutto came with dried figs on the side.  I like Fig Newtons, but eating the dried skin of a fig?  Without a cookie surrounding it??  No thank you!

But then I remembered that I am a grown up.  I shouldn't have to disguise fruit with a cookie in order to eat it!  I'm 25, not 5!  So I ate that dried, little, cookie-less Fig Newton.

Dried figs taste exactly like Fig Newtons!  Dried figs are awesome!  Doesn't that make me sound so posh?  "Pass me the dried figs, wouldn't you, dear?"  That's pretty posh.

Joey's pizza also counts as an adventure.  His Margherita Pizza was essentially dough that was covered in mozzarella cheese and whole slices of tomatoes.  Tomatoes are disgusting.  They are the worst and I hate them.

But then, once more, I remembered that I am a grown up.  A grown up who was at a fancy restaurant with her grown up boyfriend!  So I bit the bullet and ate a slice.

The tomatoes were unexpectedly sweet.  They weren't crunchy, like I thought they were going to be.  The pizza wasn't bad.  It wasn't Martino's, but it was okay.

I definitely won't be putting tomatoes on my salad or anything.  Raw, they're still ultra gross.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Avocados Are So Healthy

"Avocados are so healthy!" said everyone who's ever heard of avocados.  Thug Kitchen (lots of language!) even suggests you use avocado on your sandwiches instead of mayonnaise.  (Never gonna happen.  I love mayo!)

Emily eats avocados by themselves.  Just with a spoon, using the avocado skin as a bowl.

I don't think I've ever had avocado.  It just looks like something from outer-space.  I'll go ahead and add it to this list.  But I also hated Worcestershire Sauce without ever having it before.  So I wanted to give avocados a shot.

Joey and I decided to make "Cheater's" Guacamole.  I liked this recipe for two reasons:
  1. No tomatoes.  Tomatoes are gross.
  2. No jalapeños/chiles/some other horribly spicy ingredient.  All those things are the worst.
We put in garlic powder, onion powder, a pinch of white pepper, and a pinch of paprika as our seasonings.  We also paired the Guacamole with Quesadillas.  Because cheese makes everything better!

I made the Guacamole, and Joey made the Quesadillas.  I made him taste the Guacamole a couple of times along the way to see if I was seasoning it well.  In the end, it looked a lot like mashed potatoes.

Mashed potatoes FROM SPACE!

The Quesadillas (this is something I have never said before) had too much cheese.  I couldn't even finish mine!  And cheese is my favorite food group!  The Guacamole was a little too heavy on the lime.  We need to scale it back next time.

Did you notice that I said, "Next time?"  That's because the avocados are pretty inoffensive.  They don't have very much flavor, or their flavor was overwhelmed by the limes.  Guacamole isn't that bad... so long as there are no tomatoes in it.

But I don't care how healthy avocados are.  They will not be used as a sandwich spread.  I will never stop loving mayonnaise.  Never!

Monday, February 3, 2014

But What Happens When You Grow Up?

Last week, the Chicago Tribune ran a short article about picky eaters.  While I can't find a link at the moment, the article suggests making dinner into a game.  Children receive stickers when they eat very small amounts of the "Do Not Eat" food.  The idea is if they can stomach small amounts and get a reward, they are more likely to accept larger portions of the food without a reward after about three months of the game.

That might work.  But what if your dad is a picky eater?  He didn't encourage you to eat Brussels sprouts because he didn't want to eat Brussels sprouts.  He decided to make mac and cheese instead.  What if he unknowingly passes some of his food prejudices on to you?

Now, I want to be very clear.  I love my father.  He is wonderful, and loving, and a great father.  But he didn't really make it his top priority to encourage adventurous eating habits.  My mother is nowhere near as picky as the rest of us, but she was overwhelmed by a family of picky eaters.  How was she supposed to encourage my father to eat foods on his "Do Not Eat" list?  He's a grown man!  Is she supposed to give him stickers??

This brings me to my point.  How do you encourage a picky adult to eat gross food?  My father had a Pakistani friend growing up, so he's always liked (very) mild curries.  Now, he's eating curries that are more spicy.  While this doesn't seem like a huge progression, talk to my mother.  She can finally cook more recipes from her beloved Indian cookbooks.  Is my dad going to head up to Devon Avenue any time soon and sling back some Aloo Gosht?  No, almost certainly not.  But he's making progress.

I think picky adults change their habits more gradually (if at all).  My father created a baseline of curry tolerance as a child, and now he pushes that tolerance the very slightest bit 2 or 3 times a month.  He's not really looking to branch out much further than curry.  When we went to a Mexican restaurant, he ordered a hamburger.

Stickers probably aren't going to work for me either.  But I really want to expand my culinary horizons.  Am I doomed to the kids' menu forever?  Clearly not.  Since August, I have discovered that I like beans, green peppers, and Worcestershire sauce.  I've come to terms with the fact that I might have to eat chicken some time, although it will never be as delicious as pork.

My "Do Not Eat" list is very long and won't be conquered in three months or probably even three years.  Stickers are not going to motivate me to change.  Only I can do that.  Wish me luck!