polarising foods

From my vast experience both eating and talking about food, I’ve noticed that there are certain foods that seem to polarise opinion: you either have it one way or the other, or maybe not at all.

What prompted me to think about this was a certain lunchtime conversation at work last week. The impetus for this conversation was none other than the humble avocado, a simple fruit with neither a very strong aroma or taste. Actually, it is perhaps this very quality that gives it the scope necessary for dividing opinion. I don’t remember exactly how the conversation started, but I think someone must have been eating something with avocado in it (which was savoury), which prompted one colleague to comment that avocado is much better with sweet accompaniments (e.g. honey). This, in turn, triggered a rather passionate discussion about why avocado is better in sweet/savoury contexts – an almost too passionate discussion, considering what we were talking about.

So, basically, some people like strongly prefer avocado with honey and/or sugar, or with condensed milk, but the other half of the table seemed to think this was odd, and would rather have it in a salad or on toast or something. And thus a line was drawn. As for myself, I don’t mind it either way. I grew up eating avocado with honey and a sprinkling of raw sugar – sometimes on toast, sometimes just the avocado, honey and sugar. When I discovered how amazing avocado on toast drizzled with sweetened condensed milk was (despite how messy it is to eat), honey lost pole position. (Granted, this particular revelation came about from a recommendation to improve the condensed-milk-on-toast experience rather than with a view to enhancing the avocado-on-toast experience.)

I was never really a fan of avocado in savoury sandwiches (toasted or not), so at this point I thought that that was it – avocado on toast surely couldn’t get better than that. Well, no, apparently it can. Last year I discovered, via a website that a regretfully cannot remember the name or address of, the delicious simplicity of avocado on toast with lemon juice and cracked pepper. This also has the added benefit of not having as many calories and hence as much guilt as is associated with excessive condensed milk consumption. It is also easy to prepare and not as messy to eat. This is now my preferred option.

I really did not expect to write three paragraphs about avocado, but when I think about it, I don’t know how I expected to write any less than three paragraphs about it. Nevertheless, let’s move on. Another fruit that gets thrown around in the sweet vs savoury debate is pineapple. The usual point of contention here is whether it is acceptable to have pineapple on pizza, and there seem to be only two sides to this. No elaboration needed (but, personally, I don’t like pineapple on its own – I’d rather it were on a pizza or in a cake; just cooked somehow).

Another one that has popped up in recent memory is that of crustaceans, especially crabs and prawns. The issue here, however, is not about taste. Perhaps it is a generational thing, but apparently I’m not the only one who believes that the effort-to-reward ratio for eating (hard-shelled) crab is simply not worth it. Prawns have a similar issue, but not as bad – at least the shell-to-meat ratio is more favourable, and it generally requires less effort to eat prawns than to eat crabs. In either case, I’d prefer to be able to eat the shell: soft-shelled crab, and prawns cooked in a way that renders the shell crispily edible. (Yeah, “crispily” is probably not a real word, but it will have to do for now.)

There are, of course, lots of other foods that people just do not sit on the fence about, and, as much as I would like to, I could not possibly go through them all. Examples include oysters, licorice, durian, and raw tomato (I can’t remember specifics, but I feel like raw tomato is one of those things that a lot of people have told me that they absolutely refuse to eat). If you have some examples of your own, you’re more than welcome to share!

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2 thoughts on “polarising foods

    • You’re not alone on that one actually! So, so many people I know absolutely hate cilantro (or we call it “coriander” here). As for me, it is actually one of my most favourite herbs, so this sort of passionate dislike is something I just cannot comprehend.

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