It’s chocolate cake with a center that’s basically raw. Tasty, sure, but nowhere near as exciting as you might be led to believe by the fact that it’s appeared on the dessert list of just about every middle- to high-end restaurant in America. If you’re going to serve chocolate cake, serve me a slice of chocolate cake — timeless and delicious.
Nobody’s claiming that deli Swiss is exciting, per se, but it just really has no reason for existing. Try a piece on its own and you’ll understand: rubbery, flat, and tasteless except for a bizarre bitterness and a gross aftertaste. Ditch the Swiss and go for something with some actual character, like Muenster. Or better yet, ditch deli slices entirely and buy real cheese, something that just about every supermarket now stocks.
Go to any cookout or barbecue and you’re bound to find potato salad. It’s an indispensable side dish, one of the unofficial foods of the summer. But what is it, exactly? Potatoes diced up into pieces that are too large to eat in one bite, doused in mayo that’s rapidly going rancid in the summer heat. Redeeming values? None. Even German potato salad, which forgoes mayo for oil and vinegar, is usually greasy and tasteless.
Smoothies have been an obsession for way too long. A liquid dessert masquerading as a health food, smoothies usually contain buckets of sugar and way too much of everything else, like fruits, protein powders, and other add-ins that you may think are healthy but really aren’t. Just eat a banana instead.
Mixed greens, or mesclun, are de rigueur in salads these days. By mixing them all together, their individual flavors get muddled and we lose sight of the fact that these are all separate species of lettuce, each with its own redeeming qualities. Choose one and build the salad around it, as each of the greens in there is tasty enough to stand on its own.
Roasted, sliced raw in salads, straight out of the can… beets taste fine, but are usually nothing to write home about, even the heirloom ones. The fact that they’re on just about every menu now is rising them to a godlike status, but they’re really just another root vegetable, and one that leaves really bad stains at that.
The go-to fish for plenty of people and restaurants, one of the most commonly eaten in the country, is — gasp! — nothing special. It’s actually one of the more "fishy" smelling and tasting fishes out there, so a lot of people who say they don’t like fish feel that way because they’ve only tried salmon. And that famous pink color? It’s artificially added at salmon farms; the natural color or farmed salmon is grayish-white. We’ll be sticking with halibut.
Restaurants like Joe’s Stone Crab have been raking in millions selling this crab claw, and others throughout the country have followed their model and charged exorbitant prices for this overhyped, overrated shellfish. They’re basically tasteless, difficult to eat, and pound-for-pound one of the most expensive foods you’ll find at a restaurant. You’ll be just as satisfied with lobster or even shrimp cocktail.
Don’t get us wrong, real Kobe beef (Wagyu is its American cousin), when prepared and served properly, is a thing of beauty. It’s tender and so ridiculously marbled that every bite just melts in your mouth. But the Prime beef served at most high-end steakhouses is marbled enough, and don’t even get us started on Wagyu burgers: Once you grind it up, it just means that the fat ratio is higher, something that can easily be achieved by simply using a fattier cut of meat, or adding beef fat into the grind. Wagyu (and the burgers in particular) are more or less a con, a way for restaurants to charge you more for the same thing.
Everyone thinks they love nachos, but in reality they’re one of the most flawed foods in existence. Sure, they look nice, but a plate of nachos is nearly impossible to eat: soggy chips on top are covered in cheese and other gloopy toppings, while the ones underneath remain topping-free. One chip can have nothing but sour cream on it; another could pull half the cheese off with it. Nothing but empty calories ruined by poor topping distribution.
The name is French and it’s pretty to look at, but in reality the tenderloin is one of the most tasteless cuts of meat on a steer. Just because you can cut it with a spoon doesn’t mean it’s a great steak; try a blind taste test between a filet and a New York strip and let us know which one tastes better.
Quinoa, quinoa everywhere! This grain has been turning up in everything from salads to veggie burgers to beer, making it one of the trendiest foods of the past decade. But folks: it’s just a grain. There are hundreds of healthy grains out there; choose one that isn’t destroying the Bolivian economy.
Yes, we’re going to come right out and say it: the Cronut, pastry chef Dominique Ansel’s creation that became the "it" food of 2013 and still has folks lining up for hours every morning, is overrated. Really, how could it not be? It’s just a pastry. Deep-frying rings of croissant dough is a novel idea, yes, and it tastes like a good pastry should. But it’s not worth lining up for. Over time people might come to this realization, and the Cronut will recede to the culinary sidelines. Until then? Well, remember that it’s just a pastry.
The boneless, skinless chicken breast rules the culinary landscape. You’ll find them in salads, on sandwiches, gussied up with lemon and herbs, and sold for $24 (with a side of quinoa and roasted beets)… everywhere you turn. While this may speak for its versatility, it says nothing about its flavor, which is essentially nonexistent. Dark-meat chicken has a reputation for being more fattening, and it is; what they don’t tell you is that dark meat is loaded with taurine, which fights against heart disease, lowers blood pressure and cholesterol, and protects against diabetes. As long as you don’t eat the skin (which is loaded with saturated fat), don’t fear the dark meat.
Wherever you go, there is kale. It’s in your salad (seriously, show me a restaurant that doesn’t serve a kale salad), it’s being dehydrated and being sold as snack chips, it’s being blended into smoothies, turning up in soups… it seems like people have forgotten that it’s just a cruciferous green, like collards, cabbage, and bok choy. Yes, it has lots of nutritional value, but it’s nearly impossible to digest, it needs to be tenderized before it can be eaten (and cooking leeches out a lot of the nutrition), and — one important factor people seem to be missing — it doesn’t taste very good. So instead of freaking out about kale, just make sure that you eat some leafy greens once in a while.