A little over a year ago I was very involved in a local chapter of Toastmasters.
Toastmasters is an organization that helps people of all walks of life with their
oral verbal communication skills. For example our chapter had a couple of life coaches, some moms, immigrants who needed to improve their confidence with English, an iPhone app developer, a highly successful CEO entrepeneur, and the CFO of a large public company… all sponsored by some huge engineering firm.
Anyway, one of the activities at Toastmasters involves pulling quotes out of a box and spontaneously jawing about whatever is on a card for about three minutes. I volunteered to moderate this activity one week, and because I can’t do anything the regular way, instead of using the proscribed plastic box with the canned — literally canned (“boxed” really) — cards, I made my own… entirely from headlines from America’s Finest News Source.
I also hand-wrote the headlines on the backs of my business cards, so that whenever someone pulled one, they were forced to topdeck one of michaelj’s cards (that’s how I roll).
Because that’s how I roll.
People didn’t get what America’s Finest News Source was / is from the outset, and were reading the headlines straight (maybe they were just not as madly creative as I was / am). Anyway, this is one of the headlines I used:
You can click the above image if you actually want to jump over to The Onion.
“Area Woman Will Eat Anything With Tuscan in Name”
That’s a softball!
Anyway, I was thinking about this… Of course it’s hilarious to wag your finger at / turn your nose up to birds who order things with “Tuscan” in the name, but aren’t we vulnerable to the exact same kinds of behavior? I know I am.
Here is a list of five ingredients that I absolutely fall over backward for every time I see them in a menu.
#5 Pepper / Chiles / Chipotle
Peppers — and extensions and / or specific iterations of peppers — are like the Made to Stick of food preparation. If you staple a pepper onto something where it doesn’t seem like it belongs… Bingo, ya got me.
For example, chile rubbed… anything.
Or Jacques Torres Wicked line (hot chocolate and / or dark chocolate solitaires and / or candy bars) that have ancho and chipotle peppers in them. “Are you ready to be naughty?”
I once ordered a Wicked Peanut Butter* Mocha at Jacques Torres and every man in the line immediately changed his order to match.
“Is that good?”
“Only if you like flavors.”
I think my attraction to peppers stems from some desire for my food to have taste. I mean if you take a perfectly good whatever and then kick it up a notch… You grok, no?
In this case I am basically a one-man extension of the Top Chef judging panel. Add bacon, win.
I mean I love bacon so much — probably not a surprise.
I will often switch my order preference from something on the menu to something else simply because the something else comes with bacon automatically; conversely, if you can add bacon for $1.00 or whatever, I am running sick ads. Admit it, you would too.
#3 Peanut Butter
Peanut butter is my literal restaurant kryptonite. If there is something peanut butter on the menu, I just immediately order / add that thing. Part of my obsession with Tasti** the past couple of months comes from frequenting specific branches that have peanut butter sauces and / or sundaes on the menu. This is kind of weird insofar that I love nuts and peanuts are not even close to the top of my list of nuts; but add peanut butter to an otherwise reasonable menu option, and I will usually topdeck that.
Garlic is a transformational ingredient.
Like I was walking down the street in Minneapolis last week and overheard two kids talking about the steal they got on French Fries. They were $9 … but for a “big plate” of garlic French Fries. Do you know how much a potato costs? I don’t know if $9 is a reasonable price for a sliced up, deep fried, potato even in a top flight steak house… But add the word “garlic” to the name? All of a sudden you dress it up like a big blue ribbon on gigantic, recently hosed-off town sow.
These six letters, lined up in this particular order, are a combination of yellow, wood, kryptonite, lead, and mercy. Basically any weakness any superhero can have, that is what rib-eye is to me.
I was recently at an awesome restaurant with my wife, and she took recommendations from the waiter. He suggested some kind of curry fish (typically curry would fall under the “pepper” category, and get a certain amount of extra ups from YT in terms of predilection to order). However there was rib-eye on the menu.
This was not a restaurant known for steaks. They were known for their insane view of the city (and it was in fact superb), but according to my wife, the curry whatever kind of fish was one of the best meals she had ever eaten. I, on the other hand, got a thoroughly mediocre steak (probably not even prime).
I would order the rib-eye again; every time. That is because rib-eye is a combination of yellow, wood, kryptonite, lead, and mercy; any weakness any superhero has, that is what rib-eye is to me.
Can you imagine what would happen if there were, say, a garlic rib-eye on the menu? They actually have that at Plataforma.
* Jacques Torres peanut butter is actually “European” and full of hazlenuts. Mise.
** Speaking of Tasti, we are about to bust out some great content for Flores Rewards. Go check out the still in utero http://FloresRewards.com now!