There are chefs that I get to work with that inspire and challenge me- say Jamie Oliver, Ed Brown, David Chang, and Nigella Lawson, to name a few. And then there are those who make me wonder how they got so popular in the first place and who the hell follows their recipes?
Have you ever heard of Paula Dean’s holiday salad? It contains the following list of ingredients: lime and lemon Jell-O, cottage cheese, tinned pineapple, pecans and horseradish? The ingredients alone make my nostrils flare, my eyebrows shrivel and my body shake with queasiness. Ghastly ingredients list aside though- you should have seen what the finished dish looked like. It was not fit to eat let alone put on TV. I have a food tasting policy, which is: I’ll try anything once. My policy has forced me to try many a strange thing in my lifetime – chicken feet, crickets and squirrel amongst them and yet nothing could have prepared me for the turn in my stomach I experienced when touching a dab of Holiday Salad to my petrified tongue.
Why I felt compelled to taste this mixture, which is apparently whipped up and served alongside many an Americans’ holiday dinner, is utterly beyond me. This was not an experiment by Heston, but a serious side dish to accompany roasted beef tenderloin- that is a $150 cut of beef next to something resembling frog spawn- only most people aren’t actually expected to eat frog spawn. This is all aside from the fact that holiday salad is in no way a salad at all but instead a gelatin mixture full of ingredients that work perfectly well on their own and in multitudes of other combinations. Airplane food would have looked live five star fare paired next to this unsavoury concoction.
How are Americans’ supposed to know how to cook a healthy well-balanced meal at home when they’re taught to cook rubbish like this?