I was never a picky eater when I was young. My parents never had a problem with me not joining the “clean plate club” for dinner – meat, veggies, fruit, dairy, never ever an issue. Well, almost – I couldn’t stand mayonnaise, ketchup, or cooked carrots. The mayonnaise I’ve gotten over now that I learned how to make my own from scratch, and I totally blame the ketchup thing on an insanely terrible meatloaf that was lathered in it at least 1/2″ thick (to cover up the awfulness of the meatloaf) that was made all too often when I was little. To this day I cannot eat ketchup. And as for the cooked carrots? Eh I’ve learned to deal with them – my parents were always nice though that if they made carrots for dinner they would always set aside a few chopped up raw for me to eat while everyone else enjoyed the cooked version, and that seemed to be a good arrangement for the most part. They still do that for me if I go visit. But in general, I always was willing to try new foods. New never meant scary to me, it was always exciting – maybe I’d find some new flavor to fall in love with! Ha, you see I was a foodie in the making even when I was young
Living in Europe I’ve made it a bit of a point to try new foods, especially if I find something that I wouldn’t normally find in the U.S. Even if we don’t know what it is (and can’t figure it out by reading the description), I’ll often pick something up anyways just to experiment. Some foods we’ve tried have been local to Suisse (like gorgeous mirabelle plums that I cannot wait for them to appear again), and some have been a little more exotic (like dragon fruit) – after all, how does one know if one likes something without trying it??
This weekend we went to Torino, Italy where much delicious new food was had. After we recovered from the shock of an entire kilo of strawberries at the market only costing €3.50 and seeing some of the beautiful sights, we went out for dinner and I had steak tartare for the first time ever in my life. Steak tartare is a raw beef dish, and if done right can be absolutely fantastic. I don’t know why I feel like I always had some mental block about steak tartare – maybe it’s because I’ve been told growing up as an American that if meat is not cooked to XX temperature that it’s completely unsafe to eat. But this was really fresh, and wow delicious. Not a strong seasoning, and just a garnish of olive oil and sea salt was all that was needed. The wine we enjoyed with it was quite nice too.
I love when trying new foods yields such tasty results. These zucchini blossoms where another “new food find” here en Suisse that I knew I just had to try. Ok, I’ve seen squash blossoms in the U.S. before, but never bothered to pick them up and try them. These blossoms in the market were just staring at me, so bright and colorful and delicate, I just couldn’t resist and knew I had to give them a whirl
To prepare the squash blossoms, I followed the advice of one of my favorite chemists/gluten free chefs, Erin Swing, who has posted some great detailed instructions about cooking pan-fried zucchini blossoms. I found them quite fragile when I was trying to cut out the stamens and fill them with my favorite Swiss herbed chevre. Then I coated them in a little gluten free flour, and my husband fried them in olive oil. I didn’t quite realize how heavy they were actually going to be (hello, cheese and fried, I should’ve known haha), so I paired them with a quick mushroom risotto I had made. So this bowl you see above actually fed the two of us an entire meal, it was that rich. If you make fried squash blossoms, I highly suggest putting them on top of a salad or something green and light. Don’t pair it with risotto, lesson learned!
As for the taste? I actually tasted a lot of zucchini elements (no big surprise given that they came from a zucchini plant) – I thought they worked really well with the goat cheese, and now it’s making me think that I need to pair zucchini and goat cheese together more. I love the delicate crunch from the frilly flowers, and well in all seriousness, anything fried with cheese is bound to be tasty. I think as more of them come to the markets I will have to try other ways of preparing them too – I’ve never cooked with flowers before, and it’s so much fun making such exotic looking dishes!
What new foods have you tried lately?