Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Two Minutes Hate

Don't Drown Your Food

It drives me nuts when someone gets a plate of food at a restaurant and the first thing the do is douse it in salt and pepper.  I'm not talking about a restaurant you go to all the time and you know the dish is going to need some salt.  I mean when you go to a new restaurant or try a new dish.  I am a firm believer that the chef is much better trained in the culinary arts than I am and knows better than I how to balance the flavors of the dish.  I always take a bite of my food before deciding if it needs additional salt, pepper, ketchup, mustard, or whatever various sauces.  Even the simple French Fry I will usually try plain before starting to dip into the ketchup.  I think this works really well for me and I decide that most of the time meals don't need more salt, pepper, or whatever.  The chef did a really good job and me adding spices will only make it taste like salt or pepper instead of what it is actually supposed to taste like.  I always thought tasting first should be common practice but it is definitely not.  I see it all the time but it is especially noticeable when traveling for work and I am with someone who has never been to this town, let alone state, and the first thing the do when served their food is heap on the salt.  Bleh.

I guess I took the lessons of Louis the Lifeguard more seriously than other people.

Now, I kind of hanker for a hunk of cheese.

End Hate


Lax Guy said...

Wow, it's like we are of one mind! That is one of my biggest pet peeves. Not only is it a question of "Does the dish need more salt to improve its taste?" but also, "Do I need more salt in my diet?". Americans consume a tremendous amount of salt as it is because of all of the prepackaged food we eat, so adding more salt to anything is always a risky endeavor. Most chefs know exactly how much salt (and pepper) should be used to balance a dish properly and blindly adding more is an insult to that chef. It is also rude to the other diners - especially the person that chose the restaurant.
The worst thing I've seen is my cousin - she used to salt the fries at McDonalds! And she would salt the ketchup (already salty itself) before eating a single fry.
My wife's family is also full of blind salters. Both grandmas salt everything before tasting. Her younger sister (now 10) used to be a blind salter until I broke her of the habit. Even though she is still picky, she rarely salts anything.
When I entertain, I never have salt or pepper on the table. As I am the chef, I feel it is my right. As a sociologist, I understand the blind human behavior of seasoning untasted food. Not putting them out there prevents that behavior. The funny thing is, nobody asks for them before tasting... And very few do after tasting.

Michael said...

Exactly. Salt's not a bad thing (well maybe the new Angelina Jolie movie is - I can't decide from the trailer) but most dishes already have the right amount baked in. Adding salt you are basically just tasting salt.

I love McDonald's fries...but man are they salty. I know people that put extra salt on them too...and it makes me gag. That much salt just makes your mouth dry. If I see McDonald's taking out a fresh batch of fries, I try to get them to get me my order BEFORE they salt. It's about a 50/50 - some say they "Can't due to company policy" because they are finished.