A Quinoa Confession

With Thanksgiving fast approaching I have a confession to make. I hesitate to say this because it puts my beyond the bounds of my Massachusetts demographic. I’m a college-educated boomer, management level in my career, pro-choice, for gun safety but anti easy gun availability. I’m not a member of either political party and vote for the better candidate–hoping I can find one–but I caucus with the Democrats. I don’t litter. I recycle religiously. But I have to admit . . .

I hate quinoa.

Quinoa is one of the whole-grain, wheat-alternative darlings of the food world right now. It’s everywhere. Restaurants from fine dining to up-scale fast food trumpet the latest quinoa addition to their menus. I’d rather have a cheeseburger.

Photo, Two Healthy Ktichens

Yes, I can spell it and pronounce it but I really don’t enjoy eating it. To me, quinoa is tasteless and grainy. You are supposed to wash it but it’s small enough to fit through the mesh of most sieves. Quinoa may be healthful and nutritious but it comes up short in the toothiness category. I have made it. I have eaten it. But, really, meh.

Quinoa is one of the whole-grain, wheat-alternative darlings of the food world right now. It’s everywhere. Restaurants from fine dining to up-scale fast food trumpet the latest quinoa addition to their menus. Quinoa is the grits of the progressive set. I’d rather have a cheeseburger.

But Wait, There’s More

It gets worse. I don’t like kale either, for all the reasons Susanne Skinner articulated in last year’s “Few Words About Kale” post.

Food fads come and go. Sometimes I’m on board with the latest trend and sometimes the food of the day puzzles me. Sometimes I reject it outright. Just to be clear, I reject quinoa.

In that regard, it’s in good company. For example, I was never fond of raspberries, which had a good long run as a food fad. To me, raspberries don’t deliver enough flavor or juice to compensate for little tiny seeds getting stuck in your teeth.

Deconstructed food also left me cold. Why would I want to eat a deconstructed clam chowder with the potatoes, onions, clams and salt pork piled separately, if neatly, on the side when I can have a good steaming bowl with all the ingredients mixed together, as they were meant to be?

Deconstructed clam chowder at Feastiality in Los Angeles

Deconstructed food also left me cold. Why would I want to eat a deconstructed clam chowder with the potatoes, onions, clams and salt pork piled separately, if neatly, on the side when I can have a good steaming bowl with all the ingredients mixed together, as they were meant to be?

Raw food, ditto. Why go out to eat if no one is going to cook anything? I can peel a carrot perfectly well myself.

And you won’t find me at any of Wylie Dufresne’s restaurants or any other place featuring molecular gastronomy. When is the last time you waited eagerly for the sodium aginate harvest or looked forward to fresh gellan gum? When did anyone ever call someone to the table because their foam was ready? There are trends, there are fads, and then there are gimmicks. Seriously.

Taking Food Seriously

Regular readers of The Next Phase blog know that I take food seriously. I think it’s important to eat good food, prepared well, in a healthy balance. I avoid processed food as much as possible and have a list of ingredients that I refuse to consume altogether, no matter how convenient the meal might be. That means I try to cook with natural foods that include a lot of vegetables, either fresh of frozen.

Norman Rockwell, Thanksgiving, The Four Freedoms

It also means I should love quinoa. And kale. After all, they are both healthful, nutritious, packed with vitamins and minerals. Yes, all of those things are true. But still, meh.

I’m not cooking Thanksgiving dinner this year so the question of whether to include kale or quinoa is moot. In the meantime I won’t be ordering the Lentil Quinoa broth bowl at Panera Bread or their Mediterranean Chicken and Quinoa salad. You see what I mean.

The Real Deal

Yes, I want things to be good for me. Yes, I want to eat real food, not processed gunk filled with additives and artificial ingredients. But I also want my food to taste good. Quinoa and kale just don’t do it for me.

Now that I have admitted this preference, however, I guess I can’t go into Cambridge any more.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.