I try to incorporate at least two meatless meals into our menu each week. No, it’s not to be all cool and participate in “Meatless Monday,” it’s for budgetary and dietary reasons. I do realize that those are two of the main benefits touted my MMers, but I have been doing it long before I ever saw anything on a blog about MM. What’s interesting to me is that I often cook meatless meals unintentionally, but when it comes to planning for them, I often feel stifled, especially in the winter. So, I often scour through blogs, looking for new and exciting (but not too unusual) meatless recipes. Many, predictably, rely on quinoa or legumes. I make falafel regularly (though I don’t deep fry them) and I have a great recipe for Sweet Potato and Black Bean Tacos.
But, a lot use mushrooms as a meat replacement. I once tried a meatless fajita recipe that used portabella caps. I find that when I try to replace meat in dishes, I’m often dissatisfied. I think it’s partly because it just doesn’t taste as good without the meat (I’m definitely a carnivore at heart), but also because, and this is difficult for me to admit, I don’t particularly love mushrooms.
I know. I know. The thing is, I like the flavor it lends; there’s a phenomenal mushroom soup at a local restaurant here that I almost always order as an appetizer. Even little Sous Chef likes it. But I decided a couple of days ago after making a mushroom stroganoff, that I just don’t love mushrooms. It was an incredibly disappointing realization, let me assure you. First, because I had spent a good sum of money on mushrooms for that particular dish: it called for baby bellas, shitake, and crimini mushrooms. Quite the array, no? And after munching through dinner, I decided that, though I dismissed my mom’s complaints for years, she was right. Mushrooms are a little spongy if they aren’t cooked properly and that’s unappealing. But it was also disappointing because I feel like mushrooms are one of those foods that are a bit elitist. If you claim to like food and have a discerning palate at all, it’s almost a given that you will like mushrooms. Some people might not like mushrooms, but anyone who truly appreciates food does. I feel like sushi has similar connotations: anyone who doesn’t live under a rock likes sushi, and if you don’t like sushi, somehow you are not as intelligent or refined or cultural as those who do. It’s actually kind of embarrassing to admit that you don’t like sushi. You tend to get a reaction with a raised eyebrow: “Ohh, you don’t like sushi?” as if eating raw fish was so completely normal and plebeian.
Part of my problem with sushi is that I don’t like fish to begin with. But somehow, that’s not quite as embarrassing to admit as not liking sushi, which seems a bit backwards to me. And the thing is, I’ve tried to eat sushi. Okay, mostly I’ve tried to eat California rolls or tempura rolls. But I didn’t particularly care for those and if I don’t like those, is there really any way that I would like more adventurous rolls when I won’t even eat cooked fish? If I end up at a sushi restaurant (obviously not by choice), I do my best to eat the four pieces of California roll that come with my bento box, but usually only get a piece or two eaten before deciding that no, I definitely don’t like it. I think it’s sad, really. We live in a world that claims equality and pushes for acceptance, yet you are judged for not liking certain foods. Of course, I judge others. I judge those that give their children soda or excessive candy (I saw a picture of a nephew of mine eating Halloween candy. Not too scandalous until you realize that he was a wee nine-months old at the time…). And I judge those that eat fast food. I suppose the difference (and the way I justify my judgements while being irked at being judged myself) is the nutritional aspect. It is harmful to eat fast food and soda, but omitting mushrooms or sushi from my diet is hardly going to hurt me.
So. Consider this my confession that I love food. I expect it to taste fresh and wholesome. But I don’t like sushi or mushrooms.
And I’m a hypocrite.