Saturday, December 28, 2013

Things That Don't Go Together (or do they?)

I first heard the word "fusion" only a year ago, in regards to combining food elements from completely different cultures and styles into some chimera of a comestible. Maybe it's the sort of thing people have been doing before, but maybe only by accident. "Whoa! We were going to have tacos tonight, but all I have in the meat drawer is italian sausage! And soy sauce! And tzatziki! Maybe a little fenugreek will tie it all together...

When I was younger, everybody had definite ideas about what went together, and what did not. I remember the horror of even thinking that you would wear anything pink in the vicinity of anything red. They were like matter and anti-matter. If you were wearing a pink dress and tied a red apron on, the world would end. Or everyone would look at you and whisper, which might have been the same thing. The same thing went with wearing plaid and stripes. Or stripes and polka-dots. Or polka-dots and plaid. You get the picture.

What I didn't realize at the time was that it was not an absolute truth that certain things didn't go together. It was only the current culture and ideas, and the fashion and food industry that told us what matched and what didn't.

One time I went to my Grandma's house wearing a pretty blouse that was a mix of blues and greens, rich and saturated in color. She could hardly stand to look at it and told me that she was used to those two colors not going together. I remember thinking to myself, maybe back in the old days, NOTHING went with anything else! Hmm! That was about the time my world was rocked when my mom came home with a dress from the mall (sidewalk sale, of course) that had been sewn, ON PURPOSE, with red and with pink polyester double-knit material. Times were a'changing.

When I consider two surprising ingredients that pop up in the same food item, chocolate bars and chile come to mind. Sweet, rich, creamy chocolate candy and spicy, mexican chiles? It doesn't sound nice, not when we are used to dessert ingredients like caramel, raisins, nuts, marshmallow and toffee riding along with the chocolate. But it does go together, in a strange exotic way. How adventurous and clever! you think. What imagination! Until you remember that the Aztecs originally paired chocolate with chiles, and then the Europeans took it and made something totally different with it that we are familiar with today.

Speaking of chocolate, what is this thing with dressing it with salt? Big salt crystals. Or shaking enough salt in the cocoa so you can taste it? The first time it was interesting. The second time was, well, enough. I guess the problem for me is that the difference between just enough salt to be a nice little savory note, and too much is very slim for me.

When we go wine tasting, often a dark chocolate chip is set before me when I'm about to try a rich dark cabernet, or perhaps a port. I used to oblige. Eat it and then nod, yes, dark chocolate does go with this. Yes! I have finally found the perfect drink to go with my dark chocolate M&Ms! No longer do I have to be content with washing them down with milk, or, heaven forbid, hot coffee! A sip of port, an M&M, a sip of port, an M&M! Hmmm, Nah! Forget the candy, give me a thick medium rare T-bone beefsteak to go with my cab. I bet they would sell a lot more wine if they set a platter of prime rib on the counter.

When it comes to jewelry, I'm partial to gold, or rather gold-colored gold. Silver is nice too, and affordable. I never could think of why they made "white gold." Who would know it was gold if it wasn't GOLD? Why not just use silver? Or an alloy? I met one woman who liked white gold so much, she had some perfectly good pieces plated with white gold. She was complaining about some spots where the white was wearing off to show the gold-gold underneath. But then I met my husband, who liked white better than gold gold. And worse than that, he liked the look of the two mixed in one piece of jewelry. That just doesn't work for me, though I do like the look of Black Hills Gold, IF they don't put silver color into the mix!

I like to think that some day I'll be creative and put a few food items together that no one has thought of doing yet, like some one did with spicy, tangy Buffalo wings and Blue Cheese, and become famous. But people are more adventurous now, and it seems like most things have been tried. But you never know. Everytime someone pronounces that everything has been invented, a new dimension of invention is at the edge of the horizen.