The New Gastronome
Is it really?
by Duru Ozupek
by Duru Ozupek
I’m pretty sure that will be your first thought when you look at these photos. But what if I told you we were thought to think this way? Don’t worry; this is not conspiratorial talk. It is because when you’re a kid, you’re like a sponge; you soak up everything around you. There’s no filter between your brain and your mouth. So note to myself: taste is relative and definitely learned.
I remember my first year in Italy; during the first weeks of the university, we went to a trattoria for a quick bite. It was my first time in a Piedmontese trattoria, so I started to go through the menu and study it patiently. “Wow, they have tripe; good to know. What is Tajarin? Let me google this one. Looks amazing. Insalata russa, yum! Vitello Tonnato?” My Italian wasn’t the best then, but still, I could understand it was veal with some tuna sauce. Eyw! My nose wrinkled in disgust. I didn’t try it until my first study trip, when I felt I had no right to refuse it. How was it? It was so good that I was angry with myself for not having tried it before. Today, it is my must-order dish at any Piedmontese trattoria. It was bizarre that I couldn’t imagine pairing veal with tuna fish. In Turkey, we have a lot of freaky dishes; stuffed abomasum, roasted intestines, sheep head, or even a dessert with chicken breast. So why was I so disgusted about combining these two perfectly everyday food staples? Then I remembered how things work; everything is taught from an early age. We all grow up linked to different customs; the culture, society, or surroundings are constantly teaching us how to live, behave, or even what to eat; therefore, it is evident that where we grow up is a critical factor in food preferences.
Consequently, I wondered, what would a small child choose to eat before they gain their eating habits? Fearless, curious, and free from every judgment. During my interviews, I also discovered how pregnancy can change women. Maybe the motherhood instinct makes them want to give their babies everything, or perhaps it’s just all those crazy hormones; I will never know. However, they also gave me some compelling examples, as freaky as their kid’s combinations.
Now, I dare you to be courageous as a 2yo or careless of judgment as a pregnant person. Take a moment from your boring adult life and try every single of them. What’s the worst thing that can happen?
topped with strained yogurt
As soon as I heard this combination, I knew I would like it. I love Chinese food, and I eat strained yogurt daily. If you are thinking about what strained yogurt is, let me clarify: It is what you call Greek Yogurt. *eye rolls in Turkish* I got myself my favorite noodles and topped a big spoon of yogurt with it. Then, without any hesitation, I started to dig in. Even though I think it lightens the rich flavor of one of my favorite dishes, I loved it. I believe the only reason it is not accepted is that yogurt is not present in Chinese cuisine. And you know what, I might prepare it tonight while I’m watching the second season of Hannibal. Cheers to you, Kavin; I’m sure we will be buddies.
Robbie’s Cheddar Cheese
topped with peanut butter
Ben’s mother, Rosi, was quite disgusted when she told me about this combination. At first, it wasn’t that freaky to me. We always eat cheese with fruit compote; why should this one be that different? I was wrong. Both cheddar and peanut have a very thick texture and flavor. I attempted to swallow a bite, but it lodged in my throat. Have you ever tried that trend of eating a spoonful of cinnamon? No? I did and must say this exactly felt like that. I hated it, but I was determined to make it work. I treated myself with some good cheddar cheese and decided to give it another go by making it a little bit more complex this time: a grilled cheese sandwich with peanut butter. I don’t know if it was because of the bread, better quality cheese, or simply heat; it was divine. I’ll definitely try it again, and next time I’ll bring some cherry preserves into the game. Hey Robbie, wanna join?
Antonio’s French Fries
topped with chocolate
If you have ever been to the United States, you probably saw people dipping their french fries in the Wendy’s Chocolate frost. Obviously, this is something I have tried before; however, I prefer a vanilla shake with them. I think that salty-sweet, hot-cold dynamic works so well. It’s activating so many of our senses. Its taste, its texture confuses your taste buds in a good way. So, as you can imagine, I wasn’t shocked when I heard about this combo. However, I was surprised to hear that you can, but this fast-food appetizer, called McChoco Potato, consists of McDonald’s famous fries drizzled with brown and white chocolate syrup in Japan. After all, it is not that bad! We can all agree that Antonio would make an excellent product developer.
topped with ragout
I can’t believe I never thought of this! When you get back from a party or event, the last thing you want to do is eat something. But you also know that if you don’t have something in your stomach, you’ll be up all night thinking about it. This snack is perfect for that moment when your mind feels like it’s on fire and your body just wants to go to sleep. It’s comforting, but at the same time, you wouldn’t think about eating it with a clear mind. This is exactly what happened to Sonia when she was pregnant. Now, thanks to her, I have my favorite munchies snack!
topped with whipped cream
This one is hard. Even I, a person capable of eating anything, had difficulty accepting this combo in my mind. Stela told me she craved this pairing when she was pregnant with her daughter, and I assumed, “Wow, she must have a strong stomach.” I must admit, I was scared. I closed my eyes and took a bite and another one and another one after. I just couldn’t stop eating them. I could feel the judgy Latino eyes of my colleague, but I didn’t care. The best thing about eating pickles with whipped cream is how your tongue fuses with them; you can’t tell where one ends and the other begins. It’s like a dance between two lovers, maybe a tango. Whatever it is, it’s beautiful. Thank you, Stela, for introducing me to the snack I’ll enjoy while no one is watching, aka my guilty pleasure.
The opinions expressed in the articles of this magazine do not necessarily represent the views of The New Gastronome and The University of Gastronomic Sciences of Pollenzo.
Photos ©Aarón Gómez Figueroa.