Every child has had this conversation with its parents at least once:
Child: “Veggies. Blech.”
Parent: “It’s good for you.”
Child: “But it tastes awful.”
Parent: “Yes, but it’s good for you.”
You see what happened? The parent admits that yes, the food they are serving their pride and joy tastes like crap, but expects said kiddie to eat it anyway. To be fair, the parents will also eat it. Like my mother once told me when confronted by a dish of cabbage: “Think of it as medicine and swallow it.”
Here are six vegetables that automatically go on the medicine list.
What’s the point? I can understand and, to a large extent, forgive leaves such as spinach. They might be an acquired taste but eventually they contribute something to the dishes that they join. But lettuce? How many times have I bit into a delicious sandwich and found it contaminated with a faint taste of water – the overwhelming flavor de lettuce?
Its primary purpose in sandwiches and salads appears to be that of liquid repellent. A bun with its lettuce raincoat to help defend it against the sneak attack of the sauces, be it mayonnaise or ketchup, won’t end up all soggy. But is that a good enough reason to eat it? I’m sure you’re grateful to your raincoat in the monsoons but would you marry it? Then why would you want to eat your bun’s raincoat? I’d rather eat a soggy, saucy sandwich any day.
The cucumber has exactly one thing going for it: its name. It’s a pretty funny name. Cu-cum-ber. Heh. Unfortunately, my taste buds don’t have a sense of humor. They’re all about the taste. I had high hopes from the British in this regard. I’d heard so much about their amazing cucumber sandwiches, especially when consumed with tea. I was all jazzed up about them.
Imagine thin slices of freshly baked bread, their crusts removed, delicately slathered with butter, filled with tender shavings of fresh, juicy cucumber, just sprinkled with a hint of lemon. Sounds delicious, yes?
Just substitute the red meat of your choice for ‘cucumber’ and it will be. Delicious, I mean. Vegetarians can try tomatoes or something, I suppose.
The name says it all. The only way this thing is palatable is if you cook the hell out of it or else somehow fundamentally change the way it tastes. Sauerkraut, kimchi, borscht, coleslaw, my mother’s preparation – they’re all remarkable for one thing: none of it tastes like actual cabbage. Most of it still tastes horrible, but it tastes a different kind of horrible. Okay, so my mother’s cabbage doesn’t taste horrible but that’s only because she’s my mother and would bop me on the head if I said it did. Oh, and coleslaw – anything with a million tons of mayonnaise poured over it has to taste good.
The first time I saw a pumpkin hollowed out for Halloween, I was struck by the sheer genius of it. Here at last was a reason for this thing’s existence. Lovers of pumpkin pie might disagree but I’ve never yet seen a single pumpkin based dish that made any sense to me. You can puree it into soup, bake it into pie, try and kid me that the curry tastes good – but you can’t fool me. I know what that gloop tastes like and it’s – not – good.
Is this even a vegetable? Why does it taste like camphor then? It does taste like camphor! Well, actually, I’ve never eaten camphor but I’m sure it’d taste just like celery if you ate it. It has that weird “toxic fume” flavor to it. You know something is awful when even alcohol and peanut butter can’t save it.
I know what you’re thinking. “But – but – the potato! That doesn’t taste bad. It tastes good!” You’re darn right it tastes good. Too good. There’s reason in everything, people and there’s no need for a veggie to taste this good. In fact, this one tastes so good, it does the very opposite of what a vegetable is supposed to do and can actually be bad for your health. That’s how good it is.
There’s just no way to ruin this vegetable. You can bake it, fry it, boil it, mash it, grate it, make it put on a dress and dance the can-can. It’s all good. So obviously, it’s bad for you – unless you like mashed/baked potatoes without any butter. Then you’re all good.
Sigh. Life just isn’t fair.
[Originally published at Desicritcs.org]