Amy Tries Again


The Legacy of Peanut Day – or – Personal Growth
September 23, 2010, 1:15 PM
Filed under: Miscellanea | Tags: ,

It occurs to me that it has been some time since I began this blog. Given my usual short attention span, it is quite miraculous that I am still at it six months later. I’ve been reading over some of my old entries and musing upon whether I have properly embraced my philosophy of Trying Again. Don’t get me wrong, I have been pleasantly surprised (or at least less unpleasantly surprised than I expected) by pretty much everything I’ve re-assessed. Peanut butter did not make me vomit. Going to the football was kind of fun. I haven’t even had any recurring nightmares from the horror film (more on that in an upcoming post, actually).

But still. I’d had the vague idea that all of this effort would make me more open to the rich tapestry of life. I would be adventurous and carefree! I would probably acquire a pith helmet from somewhere and go on expeditions.

Bring me a time machine and do not talk to me about steampunk.

 

Instead, I am slightly more open to trying different foods. It’s a start.

Now, I love Vegemite. I am a proud Australian. I am susceptible enough to advertising to connect these two pieces of information. For many, many years, I refused to let any imitations (Marmite, Mightymite, whatever Dick Smith’s no doubt hilariously named version happens to be) pass my lips. They were WRONG and BAD and NOT TO BE TRUSTED.

However, when A Certain Young Man Of My Acquaintance did the shopping and returned home with Mightymite instead of Vegemite (I believe it was on special), I had a choice. I could cling to the point of view I’d established circa 1989 (I was given what I thought was a Vegemite sandwich at my friend Carlie’s house. IT WAS NOT VEGEMITE) or I could attempt to act like an adult and just eat the damn yeast extract. (Adulthood has to start somewhere.) As I’ve concluded so many times before – it was fine. It was just different – sweeter, and a bit jammier in texture.

(I am not going to comment about the whole New Vegemite debacle as it is not 2009.)

 

Resigning myself to the fact that many of my tastebuds had died off, I threw caution to the wind. I ate chocolate with actual nuts in it of my own free will. I tried rocky road. I ate a very coriander-heavy curry (I have always been quite anti-coriander). The results varied from edible to actively delicious (let the record indicate that I like coriander now). Frankly, it was a bit disappointing. I had hoped to be right about something.

I consoled myself that I had, in some way, won by the experience, and this cheered me up. Winning is even better than being right! I have even, post Peanut Day, voluntarily eaten peanut butter. No, I haven’t had a change of heart – it is still nasty stuff – but it’s been downgraded from kryptonite to snot or something. Now, when A Certain Young Man Of My Acquaintance taunts me cruelly by eating his devil butter from the jar, threatening me with a spoon of the dreaded stuff and attempting to breathe its foul scent in my direction, I am able to calmly relieve him of his spoon, have a taste, and pronounce it perfectly delicious.

It is a lie, but it is a victorious lie.



Peanut Day, part the third.
February 17, 2010, 3:04 PM
Filed under: In Which I Try Again | Tags:

It’s almost over.  I have been going against my every instinct all day for your amusement, and it’s almost over.  After the surprise of actually liking Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, I was almost ready to call it a day.  After all, I’d already had an epiphany.  But no: I am a woman of my word, so I pressed on.  I posted a video a little earlier on of my experience with foe number three:

SATAY.

Fine dining.

I made a stunningly authentic tofu veggie satay from a jar (I added some peanut butter, chilli and green curry paste to the sauce in order to jazz it up a bit – it was somewhat bland).  The round, crinkle-cut carrots in the frozen vegetables I used are possibly this dish’s crowning glory.  I don’t want to brag too much about my cooking skills, but after producing this bad boy, my flat now has a Michelin star.

Anyway.  Although this was no doubt a pale, deformed shadow of a proper satay, it was still a decent example of a popular westernised version of satay.  People purchase and consume this devil sauce in alarming quantities.  I was not looking forward to it.

Let me give you some background – I have a history with peanut sauces.  As a child I was fortunate enough to have reasonably culinarily adventurous parents.  Though I sometimes really would have preferred to go to McDonald’s like a normal person, I ate spicy foods, loved garlic, could handle chopsticks as well as a fork and could never get quite enough pickled anything.  I did have a few foods I disliked – tofu, capsicum and eggplant were the worst offenders – but I happily eat and enjoy them all now.

Except, of course, for peanuts.  The very worst food on the planet (according to me as a child, at least) was always Gado Gado.  It’s an Indonesian dish my parents cooked fairly regularly, and I HATED IT.  This is Gado Gado, should you not have encountered it.  It’s not technically a satay, but is fairly similar.

(I had hoped to visit my Esteemed Mother this evening and have her cook me some of this foul stuff, but my Esteemed Mother has far too busy a social life and told me she couldn’t do so on Peanut Day itself.  This is probably just a ruse to get me to eat peanuts on another day: I think she believes me to be taking an interest in them.  She is wrong.)

It was with Gado Gado, most hellish of all dinners, firmly in mind that I tried my tofu veggie satay tonight.  It was pretty bland and mild, but not as bad as I was expecting.  Doctoring it a bit (including supercharging its peanut quotient) was an attempt to get it closer to Gado Gado, but it was still fairly plain.  Meh.  Not great, but I could manage it.  And then…the aftertaste.  It all came rushing back.  It lingered on and on, and the only way to get rid of it was to take another bite.  Wary of falling into a satay loop, I managed to get through it, but it was not very nice.

Satay: still no dice.

Time for the final challenge!

SALTED PEANUTS!

Staring into the abyss.

The texture of these isn’t as horrid as I remember.  They feel the same under the teeth as a macadamia nut, the least horrid of all the nuts.  They do seem to squeak against your teeth a bit, which is unpleasant.  Flavour wise, they taste a lot like everything else I’ve eaten today, only less artificial.  Salt helps.  In conclusion: not scary.  Not too disgusting.  Not too great, either.

So to sum up today?  I really feel like there’s an element missing from peanuts that used to be there when I was little.  The smell and taste – that peanutness – is there, but the centre of that taste, that bitter twist behind my tongue that made me feel I might actually be sick – just isn’t there anymore.  Is it because my tastebuds have died off and I’m actually experiencing a different taste to that from my childhood?  Or do I simply have a more mature palete?

I don’t think I could ever actively LIKE peanuts in general: but today, I’ve found that I can eat them if I have to, that they can be inoffensive in some dishes and that it there IS a peanut based product out there that I actually like.  If I hadn’t done this, I may never have found that out.

That said: peanut butter is still gross.

Peanuts: SUCCESSFULLY TRIED AGAIN.



Peanut Day, part the second.
February 17, 2010, 10:38 AM
Filed under: In Which I Try Again | Tags:


Peanut Day, part the first.
February 17, 2010, 8:34 AM
Filed under: In Which I Try Again | Tags:

Hey hey, it’s Peanut Day!  As threatened, I will consume nothing but peanut products today.  Here’s to not vomiting!

Let’s leap headlong into this thing.  I slept in this morning as my subconcious obviously wants to avoid this nonsense, so I do have the advantage of being very hungry.  Hungry enough to enjoy the dreaded nut?  Ladies and gentlemen: the first opponent!  Strangely textured!  Foul smelling!  It’s…

PEANUT BUTTER ON TOAST!

Sorry, toast.

(Some ghastly flash in that pic, but I like to think it makes the peanut butter look startled and uneasy.)

This looks gross.  I got chunky peanut butter as it seemed more hardcore.  If I’m going to eat peanut butter I don’t want to do things by halves.  It’s kind of hard to spread.  Smells peanutty.  I can’t think of anymore observations to make in order to delay this, so here goes.

*NOM*

There is PEANUT BUTTER in my MOUTH.  It’s sticking to the top of my mouth!  Oddly enough, I’m glad it’s the chunky kind.  I don’t think I could deal with this just being the gluey pastey stuff.

*NOM*

I’m about halfway through the first slice.  My goal is to make it through both slices, and I’m feeling optimistic at the moment.  Don’t get me wrong, it’s an unpleasant taste, but it seems to have lost the explosive foulness I vaguely remember as a kid.  (Of course, a lot of my tastebuds have died since then.) The ghost of it is there though – something almost bitter that makes my tongue curl.

*NOM*

There’s a very slight sweetness to the peanut butter that unnerves me somewhat.  I’m not good at salty and sweet at the same time, it confuses me.

*NOM*

I’m thinking fondly of all the other things that this toast could have had on it.  Vegemite.  That would have been great.  Cream cheese.  Ah, cream cheese.  No!  Toasted cheese and tomato!  I can almost imagine I’m eating something that is NOT peanut butter for about half a second, but then it comes rushing back and I am very disappointed.

*NOM*

I’ve still only eaten one slice.

*NOM*

This is like enduring a long plane flight.  It’s unpleasant and boring and doesn’t smell great, but I probably won’t die unless things go horribly wrong.

*NOM*

I found a tiny corner on the second slice that only had margarine on it!  Cheered me right up.

*NOM*

Are you supposed to put margarine on as well?  Do people ever put other things with the peanut butter, PB&J aside?  Can it go with savoury things?

*NOM*

You should probably just talk amongst yourselves for a while.  This could take some time.

Still at it.  I’m flagging, but I only have about a quarter of a slice left.  Definitely slowing down, and the yuckiness is kicking in again.

*NOM*

So…close.  I feel a bit like having a tantrum from cranky exhaustion.

*NOM*

I’m chewing the last bite!  It’s nearly over!

OVER!  Who wants a free almost-full jar of peanut butter?  I’m going to make myself a nice cup of tea.  I need a palette cleanser.

It wasn’t as bad as it could have been.  It was like someone poking me repeatedly in the face for three hours (while making loud noises) as opposed to being brutally murdered.

SEVERAL HOURS LATER:

I have recovered somewhat from my first encounter with the peanut.  I am also hungry again.  It’s time for:

AN ASSORTMENT OF PEANUT-BASED LOLLIES!

A dubious feast.

I decided to sample the following: peanut brittle, a Picnic bar and (I found some, Kris!) Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups.

I began with peanut brittle.  The peanuts are quite upfront, aren’t they?  Big nasty chunks of them.  I liked the stuff in between the peanuts – the brittle, I suppose (my lovely assistant Courtney pointed out that it’s toffee) – as it reminded me of the good part of caramel popcorn.  I will admit that it was less unpleasant than I thought it would be.  Once you get used to the fact that the peanuts are not going away, it’s not so bad.  I am not a huge fan of nuts in general, but different kinds of brittle – macadamia nut perhaps – could be okay.

I can already sense a theme to my findings today.  Peanuts are gross, but less gross than they were once.  I’m not enjoying them, but I haven’t gagged.  I honestly thought I might (I would have as a child), so I’m surprised.

Moving on!  Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups!  They look like sweet little cupcakes, and part of me expects them to be hazelnut chocolate (no idea why).  OH.  The outside layer isn’t dark chocolate, it’s paper.  Ooops.  (The whole thing was wrapped in foil, so I kind of thought that was it for packaging.)

Oh my god.  Is this for real?  Ladies and gentlemen: I have only taken a few bites.  However, let the records indicate that THERE IS A PEANUT PRODUCT I LIKE!  I am VERY surprised.  These are pretty good.  They still have the peanut thing happening, but it WORKS.  It’s like salty chocolate.  I thought it would just be chocolate with peanut butter on the inside, and it kind of is, but it kind of isn’t.  You should eat some.

I will state it again: I like Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups.  I kind of wish I had bought more than two mini ones.  Anyway, I’m going to eat the other mini one and then report on the Picnic bar.  (I have to say this one more time: I like a peanut product!  This whole lark has just been made worthwhile already.  Thank you, Kris.)

So.  Can the less exotic Picnic bar surprise me just as much?  Let’s see.  They’re pretty ugly creatures.  Hmm.  This is like a Twix with peanuts grafted beneath its skin.  I’m tasting lots of pleasant things, like chocolate, wafers and caramel, and while there’s a peanutty element to the whole shebang for obvious reasons, it’s not drowning out the other tastes.  Maybe the Peanut Butter Cups have softened me up somewhat, but it’s not bad.  It makes the whole thing less sickly sweet, which is what can get overwhelming about chocolate bars.  An odd aftertaste, but passable.  I probably wouldn’t seek one of these out, but I wouldn’t run screaming from one either.

Who’da thunk it?  Peanut-based lollies = not really too bad.  Still can’t get over the fact that the Peanut Butter Cups tasted good.  It confuses me – I thought I found peanuts as close to their natural state as possible LESS gross than heavily processed, but those gosh darn Americans pulled one over me.

Tune in later this evening for part 2 of Peanut Day.  Hardcore girl-on-satay video action, and the final confrontation – me versus an actual non-tampered-with peanut (well, a salted peanut).



Announcing…shudder…Peanut Day.
February 14, 2010, 2:53 AM
Filed under: In Which I Try Again | Tags:

Well.  I am going to leap straight into this Trying Again malarkey.  With this in mind, I declare this Wednesday, 17 February: (gulp) Peanut Day.

It burns!

On this day, I will eat peanuts with every meal.  I don’t work Wednesdays, in fact the only thing I have planned for this particular Wednesday is a doctor’s appointment (which may come in handy if I happen to come down with TOO MANY DISGUSTING PEANUTS DISEASE).  I will devote myself to the hated nut, and see what happens.  If you are allergic to peanuts: do not come near me on Wednesday.

Anyway, I will require a menu.  So far I’m thinking:

  • Snickers Bar
  • Satay
  • Plain old peanuts
  • Disgusting peanut butter ruining perfectly good toast

But what else?  I googled ‘peanut recipes’ and came up with ungodly lists like this.  (I can explain their enthusiasm for the peanut fairly easily: they wish to sell them.  I cannot think why on earth anyone else would ever wish to experiment with Peanut Soup.)  I’m overwhelmed.

So does anyone know any peanut-based dishes that they consider to be particularly tasty?

P.S.  Just a thought: you can’t develop a peanut allergy over the years, can you?  I am really not keen on going into anaphylactic shock.