Saturday, August 30, 2008

WTH, TGIF? YOU TOO, Pizza Hut!

When College Roomie and I were on Girl Trip '08, weary from our outlet mall excursion and in need of sustenance - we skipped lunch!! - we decided to partake of local delicacies and, well, we ended up at TGI Fridays instead. As chain restaurants go I don't mind Fridays; it's consistent, it's tasty, and our server in Williamsburg kept the iced tea flowing.

The Dragon Chicken I ordered has an Asian flavor and was billed as being a relatively healthful dish. Chicken, soy sauce-based glaze, veggies, rice. All good. And "topped with pico de gallo."


Pico de gallo is a tasty Mexican/Central American condiment. Who thought that combo was a good idea? Why did my tongue do trans-continental flights for the first few bites before I scraped off the pico de gallo? Since when does Asian cuisine include tomatoes???

It just wasn't meant to be. Not that we need to apply a hazmat/Ph.D. nuclear fusion-level restriction on food fusion, but for God's sake put some thought into it and have a little respect for the cultures from which the foods and spices and styles come, because it can be done really well but is often disastrous. Years ago, when airlines used to feed passengers, I was bumped up to first class and got a hot meal. My seatmate's dish was elbow macaroni with a creamy queso and salsa concoction with alleged flecks of ground beef AND pepperoni. He asked, "In what country does this mess naturally occur?" and wisely munched on his peanuts instead. That sums it up, I think.

The marketing is another story. A few days ago Sweetie got the mail, handed me a Pizza Hut ad and said, "Only Pizza Hut would call macaroni & cheese with bacon 'Tuscan'." Being part Tuscan myself, OUCH.

Breathe... breathe...

This week's Learn To Cook/No-Fuss recipe is stylistically consistent throughout - Sloppy Joes! Could you buy a jar of Sloppy Joe sauce at the store? Sure. Can you pronounce everything on the label of the jarred sauce? Maybe. And really, it's just not that much work to make your own, and you don't have all the sugar/corn syrup/high fructose corn syrup/corn syrup solids (get the point?) when you make it yourself. The leftovers make great lunches, and the meat freezes well.

You'll need:

Ground meat - the recipe calls for beef chuck but really, you could use pork or chicken or turkey.
1 onion
Fresh garlic
1 can (14.5 ounces) "tomato puree" - which is Martha Stewart for "tomato sauce"
Light brown sugar
Vinegar - cider vinegar is preferred, but if you have plain white vinegar that's fine. If you have fancy-flavored vinegar (thyme-infused sherry vinegar, for example) it's not going to work here
Tomato paste
Worcestershire sauce
Hoagie/sub rolls

These other ingredients are called for in the recipe, but I consider them completely optional. When Sweetie made this recipe recently he left them out and we didn't feel anything was missing.
Chopped fresh cilantro (optional)
Pickled jalapeno chiles (optional)
1 ripe avocado (optional)

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