C and I classify recipes based on their ice cream equivalent. When we say something is “Vanilla” it means that the recipe lacks creativity, flair, a certain joie de vivre (if you will). The problem is that we have different definitions of “Vanilla”. If I see a recipe for chocolate chip cookies with sea salt I think ‘that is marvelous and definitely not Vanilla’. C will say, I see your Sea Salt Chocolate Chip Cookies and I will raise you a Zucchini Cookie. The creativity there is just overboard. There has to be some line that once you cross where you no longer can call it what it is. A Zucchini Cookie isn’t a cookie, it’s a health bar at that point. Another example, me and C are at an Asian Fusion restaurant and scanning the menu her eyes catch on a a savory pancake with onions, peppers, the works while my eyes land on a more traditional stir fry topped with a carrot slaw. As I write these posts on this month’s topic I am coming to the realization that perhaps I have too many food dogmas. Maybe boundaries aren’t the best thing? I will think about it a little more, but for now, remember I am a recovering picky eater. I suppose C just has a higher threshold for creativity when it comes to recipes, she can tell you all about it as she scrolls through foodgawker.
First off, I am so glad that writing this post has served as a sort of therapy for my J. In the wake of a savory-sweet food trend, you can hardly call throwing some sea salt on a chocolate chip cookie inventive. I am not saying that combination would not taste good together, heck I would eat the whole batch, I’m just saying that following a trite trend is not creative. A while back I was browsing foodgawker (as J mockingly mentioned above) and I came across a recipe for cornbread waffles with chili on top. Now I don’t eat meat so I was not contemplating making this recipe, but I applauded its creator for thinking about food in a different way. I worry that we are stuck thinking that tuna should be turned into a salad, that cucumbers can only be cut horizontally, that muffins have to be circles and so on. To me, “vanilla” is food that is predictable. I much prefer the flavor I can experience like dark chocolate with olive oil and sea salt or banana french toast. Cooking is a true art form and it is a gift that many trained chefs and talented home cooks will share their recipes with us. In how many other artistic disciplines to artists give you a “paint-by-numbers”, a look behind the scenes to their masterpieces? Use these recipes as inspiration and think about things a little differently!
For the last time in the month of May we will agree to disagree.