Sunday, September 19, 2010

Better Than Sex? My Ingredient Virginities

Well, I've just watched last week's episode of Iron Chef America, "Battle Truffle," and at one point Alton Brown declared to sideline reporter Kevin Brauch that, "white truffles are better than 97 percent of the sex you'll have in your life."


As I think about that, it dawns on me that I've never tasted truffles in my life. That is, it's barely possible that I've had something that had truffles in it... but more likely not, and in any case, I've never tasted them in a situation where I knew what I was tasting. Aside from knowing that they're somehow related, taxonomically, to mushrooms, I have not the first clue what truffles might taste like.

The same is true, it's slowly dawning on me, about more than a few of the ingredients that crop up on the food TV shows I watch: High end ingredients like sea urchin roe (uni), foie gras, and wagyu beef are mysteries to me, but so are more pedestrian things that turn up in the Chopped baskets, like celeriac (celery root), parsnips, and tomatillos.

When I first started watching Chopped, I used to pause the DVR just as each basket was revealed, and try to imagine what I would make with those ingredients... but I had to stop doing that, because far too often there would be at least one ingredient in the basket whose taste I had no clue about.

I'm'a hafta' fix that. For the stuff I can just pick up at the megamart, it should be easy to break my ingredient cherry, but it's going to take a bit of figuring to get my truffle on without breaking the bank. I'll let y'all know how it goes....


  1. There's a reason I don't watch those kinds of shows, and even prefer the earlier seasons of Good Eats. He hadn't run out of basic ingredients to cover.

  2. There's always truffle salt. ("It smells like a foot. Actually, if a foot could have its own foot, it would smell like a foot's foot.")

  3. Not the parsnips. Parsnips are gross. ;)

  4. Dietra (aka ursulamajor)September 20, 2010 at 8:23 AM

    So funny. I watched the same episode and thought the same thoughts about truffles. I've cooked for a living at some pretty nice restaurants and for some reason just haven't knowingly encountered a taste of truffles. Vowed to fix that soon.
    Oh, Carlie. Parsnips are a perfectly nice addition to a roasted root veggie plate. But that's just me.

  5. I suppose I must wonder at this juncture just how much actual sex AB has actually had ;-)

    I have had white truffle - I frankly don't really recall it specifically. It wasn't bad at all, but I suppose not all that memorable. White truffle oil upsets my wife's stomach something fierce though - we learned that at a rather disappointing anniversary meal at the Escofier room at the CIA two years back.

    I thought the black truffle would be the bank breaker? Surely the white isn't all that bad? I can go right down the street and get either at our local Adams market though - and we are haded to Cape Cod on the evening of the 8th - Yell if you would like me to obtain one for you! (I believe I recall seeing this TINY glass jar with a TINIER bit of black fungus in it and priced at something like $97 o_O )

  6. Jack:

    Don't rag on AB's love life: His wife actually encouraged him to quit his job and go to culinary school. THAT's better than sex, even if white truffles aren't.

    Besides, maybe he was really just taking a shot at KB's sex life, eh?

  7. Let's see if I can comment, now....

    (Oh, and howdy.) :)


  8. Bill - point taken, but still - you have to wonder... how would he KNOW? ;-)