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Tradition vs. innovation: I'm chowish, he's not

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Tradition vs. innovation: I'm chowish, he's not

zora | May 12, 2002 11:11 PM

This morning, in honor of Mother’s Day, I asked that instead of making breakfast in bed for me, my family go with me to the farmer’s market. We arrived soon after the market opened, because for the past two weeks, I’d been too late to get any blue Aracuna eggs. My husband and daughter stopped at the first booth to look at mint and basil plants, and before I rushed down to the other end of the market, to the booth that has those amazing eggs, my husband told me to be sure to get some rhubarb. When we met up again, my market satchel was laden with the elusive eggs, ten or so long stalks of rhubarb, along with some free-range pork loin and beef short ribs, oak-leaf lettuce, red chard, spring onions and local strawberries. Mission accomplished. Afterward we went to have coffee and muffins at a nearby bakery, and dawdled in a bookstore for a while. I leafed through the new Alice Waters book about fruits, which I hadn’t seen before.

When we got home, I told my husband that I planned on making something different with the rhubarb, inspired by something I’d read in Alice Waters’ book: a compote made in the oven, with orange zest, orange juice and sugar, rather than the usual plain stewed rhubarb sauce we make all the time. He reacted as if I had suggested we invite the neighbors over to watch us in bed, for a change. “Why would you want to mess with something you know is perfect, that we all really like?” The notion of combining two flavor elements that we’d never tasted together, on the recommendation of someone who deeply cares about taste, was anathema to him. He loves rhubarb sauce the way his mother always made it, and that’s the way he wants to eat rhubarb. Period.

I compromised by taking half the rhubarb and making sauce. And I’ll use the other half to make the compote after I get some oranges. And maybe he’ll taste it--he’s already decided it sounds horrible, so I’m not optimistic that he’ll like it. But it sort of exemplified our different philosophical approaches to chowdom. I am restlessly seeking new gustatory experiences, even though it means I am sometimes terribly disappointed. He likes to eat what he knows he will like. Granted, in the years we have been together, his repertoire of likes has expanded considerably, but I have to admit a tinge of envy when I read posts about couples who go off together in search of the best beef tendon pho or tacos de lengua or sesos, which my husband wouldn’t eat if you paid him a million bucks.

How do other ‘hounds feel about sticking with the tried and true vs. taking chowish chances. Are there others in “mixed marriages” like mine? If so, how do you manage?

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