Tuesday, June 15, 2010

No Food Snobs in this Kitchen

The other day, Chef Matt and I were on a semi-date (which means that only one child was present, the non-mobile one), so we decided to go out for dinner. We drove by a number of options -- including a hole-in-the-wall Chinese restaurant, spotted with the Asian Takeout Radar -- when he cried out, with absolute sincerity: "Oh, there's an Old Country Buffet. I'd eat there."

I have nothing against a buffet. When one is broke and hungry, buffets are a good option. What is so amusing to me, however, is that my husband the chef, who can pinpoint ingredients in dishes with razor-sharp accuracy and savors foods such as beef tartare and seared scallops, is willing, even excited, to eat canned corn and bulk mashed potatoes that have been sitting under warmers for a half-hour and have likely been handled by two dozen people.

Common belief about chefs says that they are food snobs, and I suppose that is true for some. Matt is a bit of a garbage disposal. He won't eat melon ("too watery") or raw onions ("then that's all I can taste"), but otherwise he is open to just about anything that resembles food.

He eats large quantities of Kraft mac-and-cheese and canned soups, loves Taco Bell, will never say no to a frozen pizza, and (although I have never seen it) will eat hot dogs dipped in applesauce.

He has tried, and loved, Scottish haggis, sweetbreads and tripe. If you're uncertain about exactly what those foods are, imagine innards on a plate.

In many ways, this is blessing. Whatever crazy concoction I put in front of him, he will eat. He can always find something he likes on a menu and is more than willing to indulge my fast-food or Dairy Queen cravings.

Food appreciation is all about situation. Braised short ribs at a fancy restaurant will elicit a different assessment than a quarter-pounder with cheese. I have to be impressed, however, that he can turn off those super-sensitive taste buds and eat drive-through cheeseburgers with the same enthusiasm as he eats expensive delicacies. A food snob he is certainly not; I like to think of him as an equal-opportunity-eater.

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