Lucy Corry’s Blog: Crimes against food
From spaghetti in a can to letting egg yolks go to waste — Lucy Corry acts as judge in the court of taste.
I don’t think I’m a fussy eater. I grew up in a large family and I went to boarding school, so I’ll eat pretty much anything.
But every now and then I see or taste or read about something that just sets my teeth on edge. Here’s a short list of what I consider to be crimes against food:
1. LETTING EGGS GO TO WASTE
One Christmas, I witnessed a family member drop six egg yolks down the drain while making a pavlova. “WAIT!” I shouted, “STOP!” She paused and looked at me, but the orange suns still slipped into the gaping mouth of the waste disposal unit.
“I couldn’t be bothered with them,” she said in a tone that brooked no argument. Because it was Christmas, and her house, I held my tongue. But I felt generations of my parsimonious Presbytarian relatives wince in my DNA.
Egg yolks are gold in the kitchen and can be frozen for longer storage just like egg whites. They can also be turned into these cupcakes or whipped into this sumptuous meringue buttercream. One egg yolk forms the base of this classic aioli.
Out of the kitchen, one egg yolk also makes a fabulous vitamin A-rich face mask (just smear it on, let it dry, and gently wash it off). Egg yolks are also beloved by dogs — or at least my dog — and make a bowl of stinky dog biscuits seem a bit more inviting.
2. MEALS TO MAKE A MAFIOSO WEEP
Spaghetti in a can. Lasagne toppers. Pineapple on pizza. Carbonara with cream. Supermarket ‘ciabatta’. There are so many crimes committed against Italian food you’d need a Corleone or Soprano-style family take down to wipe them all out.
Most ‘Italian’ food in New Zealand bears as much resemblance to the real thing as the Tuscan-style McMansions blighting many of our towns and cities look like Italianate architecture.
3. PRE-MADE SALAD DRESSINGS
The gluey, permanently emulsified dressings on supermarket shelves remind me of the liquid in lava lamps. And yet people willingly buy them and pour them over unsuspecting salad leaves. It’s a travesty!
4. DOUBLE DIPPING
Dipping a pre-nibbled or licked cracker, or chip, or celery stick into a pot of hummus or guacamole, or anything else, is a truly heinous act. My husband has two acquaintances who are chronic double dippers and I’m convinced it’s a sign of other personality flaws.
5. NUGGETS, ‘FILLETS’ AND CHUNKS
Take a stroll down the supermarket freezer cabinets the next time you’re on an outing (being careful to stay two metres away from other shoppers) and you’ll spot box after box of dubious ‘meat’ or ‘fish’ products.
I completely understand why people buy these items (which are usually covered in crunchy batter or crumbs), but they aren’t food. Despite trying hard to keep an open mind, I put ‘chicken-free chicken’ in this category too. And luncheon sausage.
I’ve never eaten melted plastic but thanks to margarine I think I have a good idea of how it might taste. Butter is better, like the advert used to say.
7. COOKED AVOCADO
Remember when avocado fries were a thing? Apparently — because the internet has a short memory — they’re back. Nothing makes me feel queasier than the thought of warm avocado, except the thought of warm avocado bathed in seasoned crumbs and dipped into boiling oil.
8. EATING OUT OF SEASON
With a bit of basic food education, everyone in Aotearoa would know that it’s best to eat certain fruits and vegetables at certain times of the year, because that’s when they’re in season, plentiful, delicious and cheap.
Then we could wave goodbye to abominations like those weird, vacuum-packed ears of sweetcorn tucked into fruit and vegetable shelves all year round, or tasteless American stonefruit in July.
9. BAD BISCUIT ETIQUETTE
I suspect the phenomenon of the empty biscuit tin may be endemic in households across the land at the moment.
This is when someone eats the last biscuit or cracker and returns the empty, crumb-laden tin to the cupboard instead of washing it and putting it away. I was hoping my family would learn the error of their ways over lockdown, but I think it’s going to be a much longer-term project.