Thursday, September 8, 2011

soft food, its a bit of a rant

Why is it that everyone wants their food soft?

Every year, our society spends millions of dollars on the toothpaste-toothbrush-dental industry, so I doubt it is because we all have bad teeth.

But we do we all want out food soft? The "best" and most expensive cut of beef is the tenderloin. Everyone loves it because it is soft. The biggest compliment you can give to a meal is that you can "cut it with a spoon" or that it is "like butter". But again I ask, why is soft food good? If soft food is good, why am I not charging $32 for a bowl of pablum?

Let me give you an example. Chef's love hanger steak. You always see it in chefy type cook books. You might see it on the menus of the hipper restaurants. It is a very tasty, very beefy tasting cut of meat. But you know the problem with hanger steak? You have to chew it. I am not saying its tough. I just saying, that compared to beef tenderloin, it is a little more "toothsome." When I serve hanger steak to my customers, unless they know what they are ordering, they will complain that it isn't tender enough. Me, I will always choose a flavourful steak over a bland piece of meat that is "like butter".

Here is another example. Last year I switched to a new shrimp. I did it because I was trying to find a shrimp that was considered sustainable. The options for procuring sustainably wild-caught or farmed shrimp range between devastating to the environment to just really bad for the environment. There is some "laughing bird shrimp from the gulf that is sustainable, but reminds me of the little shrimp you would have in your shrimp and avocado croissant sandwich in the early eighties. There is some "organic" farmed shrimp from belize or honduras which is pasty and bland. You can get beautiful spot prawns from BC, but they are expensive and highly seasonal. And most of them stay in BC. So, I discovered, with help of my fish monger friend Phil, some very tasty shrimp from Mexico. This stuff is caught by small day boat fishermen in the Sea of Cortes. This stuff is considered sustainable, and best of all, it is really tasty. It tastes like the shrimp you would have on the beach in mexico. But you know what? I get complaints. People are so accustomed to the mushy texture of mangrove-raping black tiger prawns, that the extra chew required to enjoy these shrimp is too much for some people to take. You know the difference between a crapy supermarket skinless wiener and the satisfying snap you get from a "european" style frank? Well this shrimp has that little snap. But people say its tough.

So I ask you, what's with all the soft food? We are gifted with agressive incisors, sharp little canines and good solid molars. We spend a lot of money to maintain our chompers. So why are we afraid to use them?

Don't judge your meal by how tender (read soft) your meal is, but by how tasty it is. Sink your teeth in to it, enjoy it!

tune in next week when I talk about "sweet food". Another example of North America's juvenile palette.