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The Cake/food is a LIE!

The other day for a stew I bought a couple of "purple sweet potato" and was ultimately disappointed when I peeled them and discovered that they were a decidedly NON-purple colour.

What foods or ingredients have you purchased or used and found that it wasn't what you expected at all.

And I'd like to stay away from foods that surprised you by simply TASTING bad. That's too simple. :)

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  1. The first time I opened a fresh coconut I was probably 7 or 8 years old. I asked my Uncle to buy one because I was curious about learning how to get the meat out. I was expecting something entirely different. From the meat to the water inside to the taste. At the time, I suppose I was expecting something much sweeter and akin to what comes in those baking bags of coconut. I love the mild taste of fresh coconut today but back then I thought, what will I do with all of this white, rock hard, coconut once I figure out how to remove it from this rock hard shell.

    15 Replies
    1. re: HillJ

      I had this experience with coconut milk. For some reason I thought when I opened the can it would hit me in the face with tropical smells ala pina colada and it was kind of just thick white milk.

      1. re: HillJ

        I had the same experience at the same age. My mother bought a coconut at the grocery store to shut my younger brother and I up.

        We ended up going to the second floor of the house, opening the window, and throwing the coconut at the garage down below. It shattered into pieces all over the driveway.

        And we each got grounded.

        1. re: nothingswrong

          That's hilarious....I wasn't a renegade until much older. Ha!

        2. re: HillJ

          I have fond childhood memories of fresh coconut. My father loved them, but they were expensive. Mom would buy one once a year. We'd gather round while Dad put a hole in it to drain the water into a glass. We'd each get a small sip and then Dad would finish it off. Then he'd crack open the thing and pass around pieces of the meat. So delicious. So special.

            1. re: debbiel

              debbiel--my memories are so similar, but it was Mom who loved fresh coconut. Only she and I loved it, but what fond memories of sharing that experience of opening it, savoring the water, hacking out the meat, shaving off the skin, then eating piece after piece of fresh coconutmeat.

              1. re: debbiel

                The best part of a fresh (green) coconut is the jelly inside. You don't get that with the dried up, brown things you find in the groceries around here.

                1. re: JayL

                  And I've yet to have one of those. I have friends from Trinidad who miss their coconuts terribly!

                  1. re: debbiel

                    My wife is Trinidadian as well.

                    We had buljol tonight for dinner...one of my fav Trini foods.

              2. re: HillJ

                Count me in on the coconut experience as well.

                1. re: cleobeach

                  Hasn't been fun! I had no idea a simple coconut could hold so many nice memories for some many of us!

                  1. re: HillJ

                    Another coconut story, my son had the opposite of our shared experiences.

                    When my son was about 4 yo, we were on vacation in the Virgin Islands, having a beer at a roadside stand.

                    A construction worker was getting off work and had a bunch of coconuts in the back of his pick-up truck. He asked my son if he ever tried coconut. He grabbed one out of the truck, whacked it open and poured the water into a cup for my son and then opened it and took the meat out. My son drank the water and ate a good portion of the meat.

                    Months later when my son had sweetened, shaved coconut on a dessert he said "I don't like this type of coconut" and made a face.

                    1. re: cleobeach

                      One more coconut story: we were in India, staying at a resort, and I was in absolute awe watching the workers cut the coconuts. They were smiling at my ignorance. Next morning's breakfast: a shy worker had his hand behind his back, then flourished a freshly cut coconut, just for me. He opened it, then expertly cut it open and listened to me ooh and ahh about its deliciousness.

                      1. re: cleobeach

                        Coconut comes in so many diff forms and not all coconut products are created equal. Some preparations I really like and some are dreadful.

                2. Midknight,

                  If it was an "okinawan" or "polynesian" sweet potato it is not purple when raw. It will have some purplish flecks in it, but the overall color is white. Somehow during the cooking process the entire flesh turns purple.

                  1. Some of the purple beans turn green when you cook them, but I think the color of the skin determines the nutritional value, so you're getting some nutrients that may not otherwise be found in a white potato or sweet potato or a green bean.

                    I was recently gifted a bunch of persimmons by a friend and I have never tried them. They are delicious! I ate several tropical fruits when I lived in Singapore that I would never have tried here (or found here if I wanted to) like custard apple, dragon fruit and lychee, that have since become my favorites, so it works both ways.

                    1. I'll take one for the team.

                      Red velvet cake (since you put cake in your title).

                      The first time I had it, I was in my early 20s. I expected some amazing, blow-me-away, special flavor because of all that red food dye. Not sure WHAT flavor I was expecting, but wow was I disappointed.

                      I still don't "get it." Someone feel free to explain.

                      14 Replies
                      1. re: nothingswrong

                        When I asked that question a few years back this link was presented as one answer:

                        1. re: HillJ

                          Interesting. But it still doesn't explain why so much food coloring is added. I'm all for artificial ingredients, but whenever I see red velvet, I cringe a bit. I imagine myself just guzzling red dye #5 or whatever and it seems unnecessary.

                          There are so many delicious cakes out there. I'd much rather eat another than one that needs to be dyed to be special. As far as I can tell from tasting them, there is little reason to want the cake other than its looks.

                          I still wrinkle my forehead when people tell me red velvet is their favorite.

                        2. re: nothingswrong

                          I'm totally with you on not getting red velvet cake. Personally, I *don't* like food coloring and don't see the point of adding it to food. And the taste of a red velvet cake? Nothing special at all.

                          1. re: LMAshton

                            The overwhelming flavor in RV cake is cocoa, which also helps explain why it's soooooo dry and needs tons of cream cheese icing. :)I think people loved it when it came out because it was different and maybe a little trendoid (my STARS! RED cake?) and then it enjoyed a retro resurgence. It is totally nothing new; my ex-husband's mom has been making it since the 1950's.

                            1. re: mamachef

                              Except that it's not as chocolatey as a regular chocolate cake. The chocolate flavour is rather... faint, which means that it's just blah.

                              1. re: LMAshton


                                a handful of us tried this recipe some time back. as RV cakes go, it was darn tasty. but, still not a cake I run to..just wanted to give it a try.

                                1. re: LMAshton

                                  Exactly my point, re the cocoa. When the recipe was developed, it would've been Hershey's exclusively. I imagine something better could be made these days, with better grades of cocoa available, but I still shudder at the food color. (identical color results can be achieved using high-pigment commercial baking dyes - like, a toothpickful, which I'd way rather do.)
                                  *It was just brought to my attention that the dry texture I was weirding on is the point of the "velvet" reference. Okay*
                                  Anyway, I may try one of the revised ones sometime, just for grins.

                                  1. re: mamachef

                                    Yeah, I didn't use some huge amount of red dye. I used a small spoonful of red powder and it worked just fine. The quality of the cocoa makes a big diff for sure. But over baking it, using a ridiculously sickly sweet frosting (I made the cooked flour frosting) is also personal taste (and not my own). But for the wow factor, for someone who wants to experience a RED cake...well, there's none better to do that.

                                    The number of RV spinoffs has also (in my op) ruined the true intent of enjoying a RV cake. When you see RV everywhere, cheesecake, cupcakes, brownies, cookies, etc. it starts to change the big wow and the enjoyment (at any level).

                            2. re: nothingswrong

                              I listened to those who told me that the secret "wow" factor of RV cake could only be unlocked if I followed the alleged "original" recipe that uses *beets* not red food coloring. I spent the greater part of a whole day in pursuit of the RV Holy Grail.

                              The result was just as dry and tasteless as the other versions that I've tried (the color was admittedly very nice). I'm from New England originally. A good Whoopie Pie beats the pants off any RV cake IMHO (apologies if I've yucked on your yum)

                              1. re: nothingswrong

                                Repulsive stuff in every way shape or form!

                                1. re: nothingswrong

                                  The first red velvet cake I had (1950s?) was good, but I didn't think it was fabulous. When I asked the friend of my mother's who made it why it was called "red velvet," she said it was because it contained tomato soup. I thought tomatoes were a pretty dumb thing to put in a chocolate cake. Today I think red food coloring is even dumber!

                                  1. re: Caroline1

                                    Caroline1, growing up in New England, tomato soup cake (or quick bread) was very common. It was more of a spice cake/bread. I don't recall that it had cocoa but I was young and could be wrong. IIRCC, tomato soup was used because it was very cheap and added some tartness and moisture, not unlike buttermilk, I think. Thank you for reminding me of tomato soup cake. ☆☆

                                    1. re: MrsPatmore

                                      It could be a regional thing, but there are multiple recipes on the web for red velvet cake made with tomato soup. A cursory bit of research on the web tells me the origin of the cake is pretty much dimmed by time, but that it's not an ancient recipe and that the use of "color enhancing ingredients," such as beets, tomatoes or red food coloring, most likely had to do with compensating for a changed chemical reaction in the original recipe due to a change in cocoa powders that occurred when Dutch process cocoa became popular and the cake would turn out a grayish color instead of the intense rich reddish brown cooks of the day expected. As the saying goes, we eat with our eyes first!

                                      I have recipes for chocolate cake that taste soooooooo much better and chocolatier than any red velvet cake I've ever tasted, so given a choice, for me red velvet cake is always a "pass" '-)

                                2. The purple potatoes I bought about eight years ago were beautiful, deep purple and about the size of a golf ball. They lost most of the color in the salted water and were a decidedly weird texture and sweetness that i hadn't counted on. I put them in the "no" pile and moved on. I think it was my preconcieved notion that they were like a new potato rather than a sweet potato cousin.

                                  1. When I was 11 or so, while on a grocery errand, I noticed a bottle of malted milk tablets, and if that had been a cartoon you would have seen an illuminated light bulb above my young head. I added the bottle to my basket and when I got home dropped two tablets into a glass of milk. Imagine my disappointment when I didn't get anything that resembled a dairy drink!

                                    1. Chocolate Turtles that contained no turtles.

                                      1. Back in August 1971, my family went to Japan to visit relatives. Japan in the summer is hot and humid, and one day we were waiting for a train and my mom wandered over to a vendor who was selling frozen confections. Mom neither spoke nor read Japanese, but she knew a Fudgesicle when she saw one. After she pointed at the Fudgesicle and paid the man, she was practically giddy at the thought of chocolaty creamy goodness on a stick. She ripped off the clear plastic wrapper, stuck it in her mouth, and without even taking it out, said, "Thith ith not a Fudgthicle." She turned to my brother, who had clearly not been paying attention, and said, "Wanna bite?"

                                        What Mom and brother bit into was clearly not a Fudgesicle, but was a frozen bar of mashed and sweetened brown beans. Sure, those can be tasty, but not if you're expecting a Fudgesicle!

                                        3 Replies
                                        1. re: ricepad

                                          Hah! Yeah, I can buy red bean ice cream here in Singapore. Red beans are commonly used in desserts. But no, not what I would have expected, either.

                                          1. re: LMAshton

                                            A guide to Taiwanese ice cream colours (based on personal experience)

                                            Dark reddish brown = red bean (not chocolate)
                                            Purple = taro or purple yam (not grape)
                                            Light brown = sesame or peanut
                                            Green = green tea (not peppermint)
                                            Medium orange = mango (not orange)
                                            Orangy-yellow = passion fruit
                                            Black = black sesame or black sugar (not chocolate)
                                            White = vanilla or coconut

                                            1. re: tastesgoodwhatisit

                                              Yup, most of those flavours, probably all, can be had here, too. Except green usually means pandan here.

                                        2. Legumes that are pretty in their dried form. The supermarket bags of 15-bean soup mixture are very attractive (toss out the bouillon powder) but cook into a collection of dull shades and shapes of brown. Worst supermarket offender is the red lentil, which not only turns yellow, but disintegrates. Premium online beans have all sorts of ways to betray you.
                                          Most heinous is the Christmas Lima Bean, which is gorgeous and festively named. It's a butter bean, a simple butter bean.
                                          Not bad, but certainly not special, especially when the color cooks away to sad mottled brown.

                                          3 Replies
                                          1. re: greygarious

                                            YES! I was so disappointed the first time I cooked cranberry beans. They're so lovely in their dry form.

                                            1. re: Wahooty

                                              I came across them many years ago fresh. The shells were so lovely, I had to buy them for a dinner party side. They cooked up so plain and brown. They tasted great but i thought they would be gorgeous and they weren't. I even showed my company the beautifully colored shells to prove that they were pretty. I am silly for getting bent cuz they tasted fine.

                                              1. re: suzigirl

                                                Yep, like gg says...perfectly good beans/lentils, just aesthetically disappointing. I still think the prettiest beans when cooked are the ones that look the most like their dry counterparts - white, black, red.

                                          2. Not a lie, but a big comedown. I was in Mexico and had my first encounter with nopales. I thought they'd be something...other. Imagine my disappointment in finding it (they?) tasted, to me, pretty much like green beans. On the purple potato thing, last week I was surprised to have red skinned potatoes that did have a lot of red clear through them. Enough that my strange-food suspicious husband said, "What are these?" Potatoes, dear. Just potatoes.

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: Jeri L

                                              Ha, I use nopalitos all the time in chicken and dumplings (I make big fluffy dumplings and this version gets cilantro and jalapeno added in) and yeah, totally taste like green beans.

                                            2. That is pretty interesting because the purple sweet potatoes I have been buying are very purple inside and out.

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: Scarlet347

                                                They have been purple in my experience as well.

                                              2. In London I once ordered Spotted Dick for dessert, albeit with trepidation.. Imagine my disappoint!

                                                1. I am constantly disappointed with balsamic vinegars. I love vinegar but I think it is the texture to me balsamic is similar to a syrup.

                                                  17 Replies
                                                  1. re: MamasCooking

                                                    Aah! I could drink it. I put it on everything. The more syrupy, the better :(

                                                    1. re: nothingswrong

                                                      The more syrupy the better, really.

                                                      Usually the more aged the BV, the thicker it gets. The water evaporates over time...and since the good stuff is aged in wooden casks the moisture is allowed to evacuate making it thicker as the decades go by.

                                                      1. re: JayL

                                                        Yes I know, I have grown quite a balsamic collection, even buying $80-$100 bottles. Right now I'm actually stuck on the Balsamic glaze from Trader Joe's, which came in at around $4. I've been squirting it on everything.

                                                        I just thought MamasCooking's comment about the texture was interesting, as the thickness of balsamic is so enjoyable to me.

                                                        1. re: nothingswrong

                                                          I love that Blaze glaze! I bought it at Costco. At the time, I bought six bottles thinking it would not be avail all the time...and at my location it isn't. I didn't realize TJ's sells it.

                                                          1. re: HillJ

                                                            Yes, they do! I had an hour to kill recently before a dinner and there was a TJs down the street. I made myself peruse EVERY SINGLE item on the shelves out of boredom. I ended up with some crunchy breadsticks and the balsamic glaze and wound up eating half the box back in my car like a crazy person.

                                                            Can't say if it's as good as whatever you've been having, but I freaking love it. Drizzled on pasta, on bread, etc.

                                                            Sometimes I make a plate of pita chips, cover with shredded cheese, then nuke in the microwave for a few seconds. Then drizzle the balsamic on top. Mmmm...

                                                            1. re: nothingswrong

                                                              This is the one I bought @ Costco. And apparently the company also makes fruity blaze glaze. I've been considering the fig blaze glaze next.


                                                              At Costco the blaze glaze was demonstrated drizzled over shards of parm. I was hooked! $4.95/bottle

                                                              1. re: HillJ

                                                                Ohhh... I've seen that stuff. Online. I was going to order bottles in all the different flavors like a year ago and then got distracted (as often happens to me when shopping).

                                                                It's good stuff? I'm almost done with my bottle from TJs, maybe I'll order some of yours.

                                                                And yes, I eat it off parmesan often, but I like to have some bread under there too. I make ghetto bruschetta with sliced Italian or French baguettes kept in the freezer. This is a late night routine. Pop a slice or two in the toaster, drizzle with olive oil, scatter with cheese, then top with the glaze.

                                                                I eat them standing up in the kitchen with a Coca Cola.

                                                                1. re: nothingswrong

                                                                  I think you're going to really like this brand of Blaze based on your enthusiasm alone. If you buy the fruity versions, I'll be curious to hear what you think and how you used them.

                                                                    1. re: HillJ

                                                                      Interesting! I wonder if they sell those packs in stores?

                                                                      My mother is a Costco fiend and she's been asking what I want for Christmas. Perhaps I'll send this to her.

                                                                      I'm not a fan of fruit in savory things (like salad). Not sure how I'll like the Strawberry variety. I think I could get down with the Fig though. We will see. If I end up getting this pack, I will post a full-length review, complete with ghetto bruschetta taste testing photos. And cheese. This is exciting me. Thanks for the tip!

                                                                      1. re: nothingswrong

                                                                        Strawberry I've had on ice cream actually and it's delicious. I think the fig would be amazing on grilled lamb.

                                                                        I have not seen this collection in the store, only online.

                                                                        But it was enough balsamic to split btwn 2 friends and we all enjoyed it. I didn't wind up with the fig on the split though so I've been curious ever since.

                                                                        1. re: HillJ

                                                                          Well, I'd originally heard of that brand via a food blogger who's obsessed with the fig balsamic. It got me all hot and bothered and it's been on my radar ever since. I've just never seen it in stores, and I don't have a Costco membership.

                                                                          One of these days when I feel like spending some money, I will order the set. Maybe I'll taste the berry vinegars and then wipe the caps clean and re-gift them to my foodie brother if they're gross (shhhh!!!!!!!!).

                                                                          1. re: nothingswrong

                                                                            You are a hoot! Have a happy holiday, nothing!

                                                                            1. re: nothingswrong

                                                                              I have not had fig or berry balsamic but those are two of my most coveted flavor profiles so I should reconsider my disdain for balsamic and give them a try if the opportunity ever presents itself.

                                                                2. re: nothingswrong

                                                                  《 I ended up with some crunchy breadsticks and the balsamic glaze and wound up eating half the box back in my car like a crazy person.》

                                                                  +1 for this. I want to party with you.

                                                      2. Growing up, we never had hot cocoa made from scratch. I discovered that the instant hot chocolate tasted better dry from the envelope than when diluted in milk or water. I encountered actual Hershey's cocoa powder when I was a young teen; I believe my sister bought it for a project. When no one was looking, I eagerly scarfed up a spoonful and . . .bleh.

                                                        Fortunately, that didn't discourage me. I learned to make cocoa from the recipe on the can and I've been making it from scratch even since.

                                                        1. The purple sweet potatoes [probably purple yams, actually] that I get are a streaky off-white when first peeled, but turn a distinct blue-purple when boiled and mashed. They were delicious and I have been told that whatever the cholesterol-lowing substance in regular sweet potatoes is, the purple ones have something like 4 times as much.