Today is, of course, Valentine's day. Legends about who exactly St. Valentine (or Valentinus) was, are many and conflicting. Some say that he was a priest who refused to stop marrying Christians. Others say he was martyred for attempting to convert the Roman emperor Claudius. I choose to believe that, given the choice between dying for his faith at the hands of the Romans, and facing his girlfriend after he failed to get dinner reservations, he chose the easy way out.
So, in honour of the hardest day of the year to eat out, I present my second pet hate of 2014: the three foods on my "do not serve" list. Note that this isn't quite an absolute list: while under no circumstances would I ever voluntarily serve these abominations to myself, I'm too polite to refuse them if I'm served them as a guest. Usually. And I probably won't look happy.
And so, without further ado for the list, but with much ado for its contents, from least to most hated:
- Brussels sprouts: As a general rule, I'm no big fan of the cruciferous family of vegetables: broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, turnip, kale, and so forth. Not cooked, anyway: if you see me wolfing down a serving of piping hot broccoli, rest assured it's only because I don't want to have to eat after it gets cold. Yet, I have no problem with any of those vegetables served raw. Not so with Brussels sprouts, those chewy, bitter, horrid cabbagelike buds, that I can only imagine reach a new level of inedibility uncooked. Exception: Since my mother is polite enough to ask if I want any, I'm polite enough to consent to a few of them.
- Liver: Somewhere, in the distant past, someone (possibly while high) had what seemed like a good idea at the time: "Hey, here's this animal's vital organ that filters out all the poisons from their blood! Let's eat it!" Since then, generations have learned to hate this person. Liver tastes like every toxin it ever removed. It's the reason you'd rather eat the rest of the animal. Whether it's beef, pork, chicken, or fish: "liver" is spelled R-E-T-C-H. Exception: I don't mind pâté or liverwurst, probably because it's prepared with enough fat and seasonings to dilute the horrific, dead-flesh flavour.
- Creamed corn: If you ever followed Smallville, then you know that Lex Luthor's family owned the local creamed corn factory. It was converted into a fertilizer plant, but not before it turned them evil. Creamed corn is, without a doubt, the vilest culinary abortion ever devised by the depraved mind of man. I would declare it a tool of Satan, but after Satan first tasted this sickly, sweet, pulpy, puréed atrocity, he spit it out and cast the rest into whatever pit Hell uses for its own Hell. Every single can of creamed corn has been personally blessed by Adolf Hitler before being put on your supermarket shelf. Exceptions: None whatever. Creamed corn is evil incarnate in food form, with zero redeeming qualities.
An honorable mention goes to tomato soup. I don't mean soup with tomatoes in it, which I often enjoy. I mean cream of tomato soup, as brought to you by the Campbell's company and their esteemed competition. I'm sure that at a status meeting one morning, an enthusiastic young marketing executive asked, "Doesn't anyone think we should taste-test this stuff with consumers?" and was promptly fired. I won't eat it on its own, but since I Have a favourite recipe or two that relies on it as an ingredient, it doesn't go on the hate list.
We should be happy that we have the ability to acquire new appreciation for foods as we mature, otherwise my hate list would include such things as grapefruit, bacon, strong cheeses, beer, coffee, curry, lasagne, Chinese food, cantaloupe, pineapple, lamb, scrambled eggs, and grilled cheese sandwiches. I would be stuck on a diet of peanut butter sandwiches and macaroni and cheese. Instead, so many of the foods I formerly despised are now even favourites. If I'm down to three things I won't put in my mouth on general principle, I feel I'm doing pretty well.