The Hungry Man Eats

Knowledge and Wisdom in the Kitchen


“Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.” Miles Kington

I was out shopping last week and saw this magnet, it was too good not to buy.

It got me thinking about some of the food combinations I have had over the years that just did not work out, some of them were self-inflicted and some of them were while eating out or at somebody else’s place.

I can think of three types of combination problems that occur:

  • The right food in the wrong quantity
  • The wrong food by mistake
  • The wrong food on purpose, usually because it sounds like it should work, but does not.

The right food in the wrong quantity can sometimes be fixed in the prep stage, but only if you need to add more of something that is missing. It is a lot trickier to deal with too much of something, you have to add more of everything else to compensate. Several years ago I tried to add some interesting flavor to a homemade pasta sauce by adding some nutmeg to it. I added way too much nutmeg and my sauce tasted like a combo of a delicious marinara and French toast. It turns out that ½ t of nutmeg is a good amount to add to 32-48 oz. worth of sauce, but I added that much to a single servings worth.

The wrong food by mistake usually occurs because of mistaken identity or a lack of familiarity with whatever you are creating. Think of accidently using baking soda instead of baking powder, mistaking the salt for the sugar and putting it into your coffee. Or perhaps this priceless gem from Friends where Rachel’s cookbook pages stuck together and she made half of an English Trifle and half a shepherd’s pie and combined them as the Thanksgiving dessert, it always makes me laugh.

The last problem above is the tomato in the fruit salad kind of problem. Just because it sounds good and may make sense from a food type standpoint doesn’t mean it will taste good. This happened to me on one occasion when I was over at a friend’s place and a salad was served. It consisted of mixed greens, French fried onions, ranch dressing and raisins. Let your taste buds imagine that combo in your mouth. Yuck!

Now, if you are the adventurous type in the kitchen, trial and error is part of the process and you never know what could lead to a successful combo, that’s how you get the wisdom to know not to put the tomato in the fruit salad.

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