This sounds more serious than it actually is, but I just ran out of tofu.
For years I’ve bought the stuff, meaning to incorporate it into our eating lifestyle, and I have: we’ve eaten chocolate tofu pudding (silken tofu pulverized in a blender with sugar and cocoa); tofu scrambled eggs (soft tofu mashed with spices and fried like eggs); tofu tacos (firm tofu crumbled with onions and fried like hamburger) — and they all tasted about as good as they sound.
But I never let things go, even when the pop medical news journalists announce that we don’t have to eat the stuff after all, because maybe it’s not as good for us as they’ve been trumpeting for so long. True to the way I live most of my life, I finally discovered a decent use for tofu long after I stopped looking.
I stir fry it as part of a Thai food entree.
Well, duh. Common sense shouts that food unusual to the American palate generally tastes best in its original habitat, and Asian cuisine has incorporated something like tofu well into a rich history that does not include chocolate pudding.
But for awhile there, I was reading healthy lifestyle cookbooks, you know, the ones that extol the fresh, peppery taste of dandelion greens straight from the lawn (Yes, I did that, once. And no, we don’t spray our lawn with pesticides; I’m honestly not THAT dumb.)
The soup course consisted of vegetable stock, boiled without salt, with a cup of detritus stirred back in for textural interest.
The main course: broiled “steaks” of mashed black beans and ground green peas, which the book insisted tastes like something “just off the ranch.” Well, I suppose there are a lot of things you can pick up off the ranch that aren’t meat.
Beverage: water. Starch: You don’t need it. Vegetables: That’s all you’ve been eating. Dessert: mock-chocolate fudge drops made with no chocolate and sweetened by boiled, pureed raisins.
“Your family will never know the difference!” the book promised.
Are you kidding? The dog knew the difference, and you do know . . . the types of things that dogs eat?
These recipes must have been written by the same disconnected souls who advise in women’s magazines:
When you feel like a doughnut . . . have a rye crisp cracker!
Craving chocolate? A tasty prune will satisfy!
Bagels for breakfast? Not when there’s hot creamy oatmeal on the table! (Bagels are chewy, not creamy.)
Perhaps the problem lies in seeking substitutes for the real thing — deceiving ourselves that there is no difference between the two — as opposed to learning how to cook, and eat, satisfyingly savory food that doesn’t come out of a white bag, isn’t laced with unpronounceable additives, and isn’t marketed by a pasty white computer-animated snowman creature.
No, it won’t taste like a Twinkie. It may take a while to get used to this. But it is possible to adjust our palette to appreciate real, cool food like Parmesan cheese; chicken bussed by lime and garlic; hot fresh bread straight from our own ovens; even vegetables stir fried and coated with green curry paste which, if I can find in my isolated hamlet, anyone can.
I read once that the fewer ingredients you use in a dish, the better quality they need to be, and, ergo, the better the result.
Like this: Mac and cheese from a box, or pasta and white sauce (butter, flour, milk) with real cheddar cheese. Guess which one not only tastes better, but is better for you?
Do yourself a favor this year — learn to cook.