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What is in this? What I am eating? Don't ask - don't tell!

GraydonCarter Aug 31, 2010 07:41 AM

IHave you ever regretted asking, "what is this?"

"What did the chef do to this that made it taste so fantastic?"

I once asked a baker why her biscuits were so wonderful, and she said the secret was that she used lard. I guess I wish I hadn't asked, kinda ruined the illusion.

Whenever Anthony Bourdain is on some street in Asia, I say, oh, no Tony, just eat it, don't ask them what it is! I don't want to watch you eat monkey brains!

Have you ever regretted asking, what is the secret to this dish?

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  1. b
    beevod RE: GraydonCarter Aug 31, 2010 08:18 AM


    1. m
      mpjmph RE: GraydonCarter Aug 31, 2010 09:20 AM

      Lard is a standard/classic biscuit ingredient, and IMHO much less disturbing than shortening. If lard turns you off, then don't ask/don't tell is probably a good food policy.

      1 Reply
      1. re: mpjmph
        ipsedixit RE: mpjmph Aug 31, 2010 09:57 AM

        I would be surprised if she said she didn't use lard ...

      2. f
        Fydeaux RE: GraydonCarter Aug 31, 2010 10:01 AM

        I remember someone once asking my grandmother what she put in her chicken soup that made it so good. She calmly replied, "I spit in it."

        1 Reply
        1. re: Fydeaux
          kemi5 RE: Fydeaux Aug 31, 2010 10:05 PM

          LOL! Heavily guarded secret recipe.

        2. s
          soupkitten RE: GraydonCarter Aug 31, 2010 10:08 AM

          what illusion?

          the illusion that biscuits are made out of flour, melted snow, and angel farts?

          i mean, i'm against pointless additives, preservatives and chemicals in food, absolutely! but flour followed by some form of shortening in a biscuit recipe, followed by small/tiny amounts of 3-4 other ingredients, fer fook's sake--that's how any biscuit recipe will/should read. lard is a perfectly street-legal ingredient, unless she's labeling her biscuits as halal or something. . . why not celebrate the baker's honesty and use of pure, traditional heritage ingredients, rather than asking her to protect your delicate sensibilities from the real food ingredients in her product by being deceitful, or obfuscating those ingredients somehow?

          *fleeing into the woods with my hatchet and cast iron kettle, now*

          4 Replies
          1. re: soupkitten
            Harters RE: soupkitten Aug 31, 2010 10:23 AM

            Come on, soupy, don't hold back - tell it how you feel. :-)

            1. re: soupkitten
              mpjmph RE: soupkitten Aug 31, 2010 11:15 AM

              I'm pretty sure angel farts go in the sausage gravy...

              1. re: mpjmph
                LoBrauHouseFrau RE: mpjmph Nov 6, 2010 05:23 PM

                And here I was thinking angel farts were what made a soufflé so light!

              2. re: soupkitten
                tatamagouche RE: soupkitten Nov 6, 2010 01:38 PM

                I assume GC means he felt pangs of guilt...I know I did the other day when I was told that the "egg cloud" into which I'd been dipping brioche was made of nothing but eggs, butter, and milk. And I ate like a cup of it. I wouldn't have minded pretending it was made of water vapor.

              3. thew RE: GraydonCarter Aug 31, 2010 10:28 PM

                my policy during my years wandering Asia was taste first, get the identity after.

                5 Replies
                1. re: thew
                  hannaone RE: thew Sep 1, 2010 07:54 AM

                  That was my policy in Korea and the Philippines - Always taste/eat first, then if I liked it enough ask what's in it.

                  1. re: hannaone
                    thew RE: hannaone Sep 1, 2010 08:07 AM

                    i wanted to know both if i liked it and if i didnt

                  2. re: thew
                    JungMann RE: thew Sep 1, 2010 08:11 AM

                    As an Asian cook, my policy is only answer the question after everyone's finished eating. As an Asian eater, there are few items that I personally consider inedible.

                    1. re: JungMann
                      Chowrin RE: JungMann Nov 6, 2010 07:39 PM

                      had something made out of rice, I believe, once, that I swore "could be egg". Please answer if a person at the table might have an allergy! ;-)

                      [thai food with both a coconut and fish allergy, and a severe shellfish allergy is ... interesting in a restaurant]

                      1. re: JungMann
                        tastesgoodwhatisit RE: JungMann Nov 7, 2010 06:56 PM


                        I'll eat pretty much anything, although I do my best to avoid endangered species. I like knowing what it is, if only so I can find it again.

                        So far my enquiries have resulted in such answers as chicken testicles and pig's blood and rice, both of which are very tasty.

                        There' s the old joke about "everything on two legs except the waiter, everything on four except the table and chairs". In Taiwan I find the unexpected comes in not with which animals are being served, but the fact that every single part is used, including things like beef tendons that I hadn't realized were edible.

                    2. bushwickgirl RE: GraydonCarter Nov 6, 2010 04:25 PM

                      My rather uppity ex-MIL once asked a waiter at her favorite restaurant why their vegetables always tasted so good. His reply, "We don't wash them." Somehow I don't think he was serious but it shut her right up.

                      I harbor no illusions about what's in the food I choose to eat.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: bushwickgirl
                        Isolda RE: bushwickgirl Nov 6, 2010 07:19 PM

                        I think I need to send my MIL to that restaurant!

                        1. re: bushwickgirl
                          Chowrin RE: bushwickgirl Nov 6, 2010 07:37 PM

                          i can see that being serious. if you aren't using manure as fertilizer, barely need washing.

                        2. GraydonCarter RE: GraydonCarter Nov 18, 2010 02:23 PM

                          Don't let these bizarrely named foods fool you -- some are meant to protect the identity of the ingredients while others make a dish sound much worse than it is.

                          Posted by Valaer Murray, Editor, The Daily Meal


                          Image Credit: iStock/vinzo

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