Do preserved lemons taste like toilet cleaner? Is it a crime to eat cottage cheese out of the tub? Should you ever trust someone who eats tongue? Ella Doyle discovers which ingredient food writers would like to eradicate from the earth.
Everyone knows a fussy eater. The one who won’t eat out anywhere new, who pushes greens to the side of their plate. The one that thinks Chilli Heatwave Doritos are too spicy, and won’t eat their meal if the components are ‘touching’.
But even the most ambitious eaters among us have that one food item that makes them squirm; their Room 101 of culinary quests. And food journalists, it seems, are no different.
XCityPlus spoke to top food editors and writers about the one food they can’t stand.
Tony Turnbull, food editor at The Times
There’s only one food that I really can’t stomach and that is tongue. It feels so wrong having the tongue of another animal pressing against your own, like French kissing a cow.
On a more day-to-day basis, I have a problem with preserved lemon, which seems to crop up ever more frequently in friends’ cooking. I blame Yotam Ottolenghi. To me, the jarred ones have a scented, slightly chemical tang which puts me in mind of Toilet Duck.
Victoria Chandler, editor-in-chief at Delish
As an editor of a food brand, there are little foods that I actually dislike. But put a tub of cottage cheese in front of me and I’m likely to gag. I’m not sure whether it’s how it looks, or its texture, but I just cannot get the thought of expired, curdled milk out of my head when I see it.
The worst part is, my partner loves to eat a whole tub of cottage cheese a day… with a spoon. Is that a good enough excuse to contemplate our relationship?
Stefan Chomka, editor of Big Hospitality
I don’t know exactly when the idea for putting gold on food came about – the ancient Egyptians reportedly did so, as did the Chinese 4,000 years ago – but I do know when I’d like it to stop. Now.
Yes, it is often used for religious ceremony meals and my beef isn’t with this, but rather its use in the litany of ‘most expensive dishes’ usually found on gauche menus in Mayfair, Dubai and Las Vegas.
Whether draped over the foie gras in a wagyu beef burger, atop a lobster pizza, or even in a sandwich (an edible gold leaf covered rib-eye sarnie can be yours for only £50), gold leaf is the lazier – and far less delicious – one-upmanship from burying a dish under grated truffle.
Gold leaf has no purpose in terms of flavour; it is instead used as a display of opulence, which is ironic given that most dishes that use it look more Bobby George than Giorgio Armani. Restaurant dishes are a place for carrots, not carats – so I say it’s time to ditch those that look like they’ve come from a branch of H. Samuel.
Gold has no taste. As do the people that choose to eat such culinary crimes.
Hannah Twiggs, food and drink editor at The Independent
I’d have to say one of my most hated food items is pre-made jars of sauce. I just think they’re such a cop-out when it’s so easy – and so much cheaper – to whip up a much more flavourful sauce from scratch.
If it’s speed you’re after, you can make a big batch of a base sauce in advance that could be used in so many different meals, from pastas to curries. The absolute worst offender is carbonara – get in the bin.
Lucas Oakeley, website editor at MOB Kitchen
I’m a firm believer that ketchup is the worst food item on the planet. Not only is it over-sweet, gloopy, and gross but it’s also been allowed to run riot and ruin great foods – like chips – for far too long.
For starters, ketchup doesn’t even taste like tomatoes. Ketchup tastes like someone trying to describe the flavour of tomato through the medium of interpretive dance. And doing so poorly.
It’s the condiment equivalent of two lads from the Home Counties wearing gilets and chatting shit about the internal politics of the Labour Party in the smoking area of a nightclub at 3am. By which I mean ketchup doesn’t have a fucking clue what it’s talking about.
Josh Barrie, food writer at The i Paper
Avocados. Mushy flavourless nonsense. Overused, overhyped, and ruining the planet. We need to be a bit more diverse in what we eat. People see one thing on Instagram and go wild.
I’ll eat guacamole at a Mexican restaurant, but we don’t need to eat avocado on toast with chilli flakes and a squeeze of lime every morning, do we?