There are plenty of opinions out there about trends that are played out. People are sick of small plates. Down with communal tables. Recently, there was even an internet screed against bar food (what's up with that?). All of this is basically a backlash against trends in dining in general — a way for us overfed writers to find something to complain about that's actually probably not all that bad. Oh, poor baby has to eat off a small plate at the communal table.
This list isn't about things we're sick of. It's about things that should never have happened in the first place. It's about food that we never, ever want to see on a menu or in a restaurant or at a wedding buffet or ANYWHERE, ever again. Not in cookbooks. Not in magazines. Not in chain restaurants. Nowhere. Here are the 5 things that no one should ever make or serve again.
5. Bourbon-glazed anything
Bourbon's proper place is in a glass, although using it in pies, chocolates and other desserts is fine. However, I've never come across bourbon in savory food, other than as an ingredient in barbecue sauce, that wasn't awful. As a glaze in particular? Gross. If you see “bourbon-glazed” anything, it usually means that whatever poor ingredient slathered in the “glaze” has some overly sweet corn-syrup-based nastiness all over it, be it pork ribs or salmon or some undeserving vegetables. Bourbon glaze is always sticky and cloying and horrible. Soy sauce is a seasoning. Bourbon is a drink. Keep your soy sauce out of my cocktails and your bourbon off my fish.
4. Raspberry vinaigrette
Let me guess. You've got some arugula, right? And some goat cheese? Maybe some pecans? Hmmm … now … what would every chef with zero imagination and even less taste put on this perfectly decent salad to ruin it completely? Raspberry vinaigrette!
Listen, I almost always hate any kind of berries in my salad, but raspberry vinaigrette goes way beyond that. It's like taking a nice, healthy plate of food and covering it with melted Jolly Ranchers with balsamic thrown in. All sweet dressings are disgusting, and raspberry vinaigrette is the pretentious king of sweet vinaigrettes.
3. Wasabi (or anything) in the mashed potatoes
Thank sweet baby Jesus, wasabi mashed potatoes are a thing that went out of style a long time ago … but I'm not just talking about the dish, I'm talking about the whole concept of stuff in mashed potatoes. I don't want wasabi in my mashed potatoes. I don't want chipotle in my mashed potatoes. Horseradish? Nope. Sundried tomatoes? God, no. Butter, cream, maybe garlic. That's it. Mashed potatoes are delicious — keep that other crap out of them. Which brings us to…
2. Lobster (or anything) in the mac-n-cheese
Here's one of those examples where something is completely ruined by someone trying to make it fancy. Mac-n-cheese is good because it's simple, slutty food that doesn't need stupid ingredients like lobster thrown in to make it better. In fact, lobster ruins mac-n-cheese completely. But I'll go farther than that and say that I don't want anything in my mac-n-cheese except, you know, pasta and cheesy gloop. I'll accept breadcrumbs on top, but that's as far as it goes. Peas? Nope. Bacon crumbles, or ham do NOT make mac-n-cheese better, they are just salty distractions. Truffle oil? Don't even get me started. Which brings us to…
1. Truffle oil on anything
A colleague and I were discussing this list, and she suggested that every entry, 1-5, should be “truffle oil.” To truffle oil-haters, there is no worse ingredient, and no easier way to ruin a perfectly good french fry, soup, or dish of mac-n-cheese. It has an acrid flavor that tastes like a synthetic, ramped-up version of the real thing and also kind of like someone poured mushroomy chemical all over your food. It's a cop-out of the highest order as well: a way to make food seem sexy without actually doing anything to that food to make it taste better. It's the fake boobs of food. It's a crutch, and a hard addiction to kick, I'm sure. But the sooner we give it up, the sooner we can move away from trying to artificially enhance our food and back towards the good ole days when we didn't need fake fungus to make us feel fancy.
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