Saturday, October 11, 2008

What Not to Serve at Your Next Party

How bored am I? I was sitting around thinking about what to eat when a minor miracle happened: Someone took pity on me and invited me over for dinner. The wife is making red beans and rice. I happily accepted and began to look forward to a combination of southern staples: RB&R and Saturday night football.
Then, I thought about my buddy JJ’s point of view on Red Beans and Rice. He has a long-standing position that it is the most overrated food item. That’s not a knock on the dish or the people who serve it. It’s just the idea that culturally, we are expected to get excited about eating it.
In our kitchen, we have a spoon holder which pays tribute to, you guessed it, red beans and rice. Actual beans, rice and spices are encased in Lucite with a description of the Louisiana delicacy which says, “A Southern tradition served on Mondays using red beans, spices and the ham bone from Sunday’s dinner and served over rice.” I didn’t know that and certainly that’s not the context in which I will enjoy my RB&R this evening. I also sincerely doubt a ham bone will be involved.
As I contemplated this, I started wondering about other foods about which people might secretly have a lack of enthusiasm. So, I sent a text message to many people in my contact list asking them this question: “What is the most overrated food item?” This doesn’t mean you don’t like the food. It just means it doesn’t rise to the level of culinary or cultural expectations it engenders.(Hey, I told you I was bored). I have been surprised by the responses, because most of them involve Southern staples. Here’s a sample:
• JJ: Red Beans and Rice (of course)
• Chris: Cornbread
• Ray: Chili
• Sara: Steak (Steak? Really?)
• Brant: That cranberry stuff at Thanksgiving
• Tony: Crawfish
• My cousin Ron: Gator (I told him I didn’t think gator was highly rated. Maybe it is in Haughton)
• Rocky: Fried Catfish
• Sandy: 3-way tie between okra, grits and anything “chicken fried”
• Jim: Sushi
• Charlie: Chicken fried steak (That’s two for steak, I think and two for “chicken fried”)
• Steve: Rotel and anything made with Rotel (this is party sacrilege)
• Mike: sushi (with the comment “I mean, really!”)
• Tommy: anything made with cornbread
• Todd: catfish
• Irv: caviar (I give Irv credit for this, because I don’t think I’ve ever actually tasted caviar to know whether or not I agree with him.)

So, catfish, cornbread and steak lead the balloting. That rules out a lot of restaurants around here.

Updates: Kay, a wildcard entry, agreed with Irv. Mark put sushi in the top spot with a 3rd vote. Cliff weighed in with tuna casserole. Dave and Shannon say ribs.
Butch, who once was a full-time touring stand-up comedian, cleverly offered "parsley." Lori came out of her shell to say "snails."
Late entry from my thoughtful pal Patrick, who writes, "(Red beans and rice)is a sentimental favorite, but I see your point. I'm not really sure why oatmeal exists. My vote is for oatmeal."
My wife is of a similar mind with Brant, except she took on a holiday staple straight-up, saying "turkey." Matthew offered "capers," although I would put them in the same category with Ron's gator.

For me, upon further review, it’s lobster. I’d eat it if it’s put in front of me, but it’s a whole lot of work and is really expensive. Plus, there’s not much to it without the butter.
Isn’t that true, though, about many things in life?

Happy eating.

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1 comment:

Dave and Shannon said...

My vote is for Ribs--alot of work for little payoff, and there's always another part of the cow or pig that's better.