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Monday, May 24, 2010

Snobby Palates

I have a discriminating palate. I like good food, which is why I bother making fancy dishes like crepes or lemon orange meringue pie when I could get away with serving  no desert, or opting for something simple like a plain chocolate cake. I understand someone wanting good food.

What I don't understand are people with snobby palates, people who discriminate against perfectly good food simply because its "poor man's food".

A friend of mine once asked me what I feed my family if I don't serve meat frequently, because she can't subside on merely rice and beans. I don't make rice and beans often enough, honestly, and shared a sample of my weekly menu with her.
"Colcannon?!" she said. "Why would you want to serve your family a food that food which was the staple of the Irish poor?"

Colcannon is a mashed potato dish that contains both various greens and dairy. Why would I want to serve it to my family?

  • Its delicious.
  • Its filling.
  • Its cheap.
  • Its nutritious.
  • Its a one pot meal.

Why would I not want to serve this delightful dinner to my family?
The only reason not to eat this food is because of palate snobbery, pompous pickiness, having an issue with food merely because of its origin and nothing else.

I am not a food snob.
I look for foods that are staples of the poor. Porridges like oatmeal, mealie pap, semolina and polenta. Potato and cabbage based meals, as well as bean meals from around the world. I'm always on the hunt for recipes using cheap cuts of meat, like haggis or sausage, because when I do buy meat, I want to get the most for my money. I try to get recipes from the Great Depression Era, Civil War era, and traditional recipes from 18th century hamlets and before.
Poor people once upon a time knew what they were doing. They knew how to feed their family nutritious meals with the little money they had and the resources that were around them. They salvaged what would otherwise go to waste (not so different from my "Don't Throw That Out Yet" series), and they made pretty tasty food, if you ask me.
The poor today don't eat nearly as healthfully as they did once upon a time and are more likely to be obese from their poor nutrition, because prepackaged unhealthy food is much cheaper than prepackaged health food, but when you cook from scratch, you are able to save lots of money while still eating healthy food. (Who votes that the government subsidizes low-cost-cooking classes for low income areas? I'll volunteer to teach!)

I'm not snobby when it comes to food. I want good food. I want variety. I want my food to look appetizing. But I don't discriminate against foods merely because its "poor man's food".

That's all for now- I've got to go back to the kitchen to tend to my watermelon rind and seitan curry currently simmering away on my stove.

Are you a food snob? What are your thoughts on foods originating in poverty stricken areas?

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