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DINING IN

Food critic Tonya Kuxhausen writes reviews of meals she prepares for herself at home. Food is at the center of each article but the whole dining experience is considered and commented on. To paraphrase Socrates, an unexamined meal is not worth eating.

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key
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five hearts
excellent!

four hearts
very good

three hearts
good

two hearts
not good

one heart
yuck!

broken heart
ouch

two hearts

Won't get fooled again?


It was awful. My first mistake was giving Moosewood Cooks at Home another chance. Like every recipe in there, it sounds good enough. But somehow, no matter how carefully I follow directions, it's ultimately disappointing, if not flat-out bad. I thought this one was going to be good (how I was fooled) and healthy (if you could eat it, I suppose it would be).

After going to the Wedge, I set out to improve my Saturday with a good meal. As the preparations progressed, I thought things were going well. I felt hopeful. The green beans washed and cut looked so good and summery. The tomatoes were pretty and firm. It would have been better if I had just eaten everything raw. But I cooked according to the recipe and, leave it to Moosewood, the cooking of it ruined everything. I should have known -- I've always been leery of the mysterious garam masala, and I've never been fond of cumin. I had imagined some kind of creamy, attractive yellow curry sauce, but what I had was a brownish, watery, gravy-like substance that didn't stick to anything or have much flavor. Frankly, it was pretty bad and I would have been embarrassed to serve it to any of my friends. The only flavor I could identify was a weak cinnamon, with some earthy/muddy undertones. I cursed the Moosewood; fooled again.


The Menu (3-02-02)

Curried Mock Duck with Green Beans and Tomatoes
Striato


I was fixated on all the gross substances the "curry" sauce reminded me of. The coconut milk pooling on top of the brown water reminded me of the worst beef broth from childhood. So I picked out the green beans and the tomatoes, which were cooked to perfect tenderness, and I ate bits of the flavorless mock duck. I have to say the beans were really good, waxy with a slight crunchiness, and underneath all that muck, they still tasted beany. And thank god I had the foresight to throw in handfuls of salted cashews -- I tried to focus on their wonderful texture and forget about the mud wash in my bowl. As I ate, I read the Twin Cities natural foods publication (not very good), and occasionally stared at the floor. I thought about summer. It was hard not to feel a little sad.

I had skipped the Moosewood-recommended rice because it seemed too labor intensive and bought another striato at the Wedge (another good move on my part). Rice wouldn't have helped this dish, and it would have been just another pan to wash. The striato was like a good friend arriving at the right time, and it cheered me up immensely. I eased up on the olive oil this time, and spent a little while just admiring the subtle mix of flavors in the bread. I love the striato!

I stood at the stove for a few minutes and picked out some cashews and mock dock from the wok with my fork. I guess I felt full.


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February 20, 2001