When Bad Ideas Happen to Good Ingredients
This is a tale of woe. Or maybe it’s a tale of, “Whoa. That’s disgusting.”
It starts at a farmer’s market, where I spy gorgeous bundles of rainbow chard. The colors are so bright and special, they’re irresistible. I buy one and immediately plan a meal around it: quiona and lentil stuffed chard.
I can’t wait to wrap the leaf around a delicious grain salad, and tie each one into a little bundle with the colorful stem. This is going to look so cute, to photograph so well. What a fantastic recipe. What a great blog. I bet it goes viral on Pinterest. There will probably be a city-wide rush on rainbow chard at farmer’s markets this week, because people can’t hardly wait to recreate this special, summery, healthy meal. I’m excited.
Last night I spent an hour and a half in the kitchen, assembling the salad, blanching the leaves, combining the two into perfect little wraps. They looked great. Then I bit into one. It was messy, bitter and stringy. Kind of hard to eat. A little fussy: wouldn’t it just be easier to eat the salad with a fork? I pushed these doubts to the back of my mind and served the wraps to my husband.
Alan is a good recipe tester. He’s got a pretty diverse palate and he’s willing to try anything. Most of the time, he enjoys things that might scare other eaters away, and throughout our relationship I’ve seen him embrace foods he thought he disliked. So when he took one bite of a chard wrap, set it down, and moved all of the rest of his wraps from his plate back onto the serving plate, I knew the dish was bad.
Still, I tried to talk myself into liking it. Chard, quiona, lentils, feta, shallots: all great ingredients. I didn’t want the time I spent in the kitchen to be wasted. Alan might not like the wraps, but maybe it was still a good dish. I took one more bite.
Nope. Couldn’t do it. The wraps were cute, but they were difficult to eat, didn’t taste good, and had a stringy texture. I couldn’t pretend like this was a dish I was proud of. Alan went back into the kitchen to fry an egg, and I ate chips and salsa.
Failure in the kitchen carries a lot of anxiety for me. Am I not good enough to create my own recipes? Did I waste time, energy, money and groceries on something that didn’t turn out? Should I force myself to eat it anyway? Am I a bad – person, budget follower, eater – if I throw out a dish that didn’t work? Should I look for a way to salvage it?
How do you handle a failure in the kitchen? And do you know any great rainbow chard recipes?