Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Spaghetti Squash: It's not your fault!

Like Erin, I too had a lackluster experience with spaghetti squash in an attempt to prove Mark Bittman wrong. I often use his cookbook How to Cook Everything, which has a blurb from The Washington Post on the cover that calls it "a more hip Joy of Cooking." Bittman's book jacket photo is a little less than hip, more like jazzy (jazzaaay) but the guy does do a good job of providing a recipe for most ingredients that may find their way into the North American kitchen.

So I bring home one of these yellow footballs, all excited for the magic of squash-as-pasta, and I open up to Bittman's entry for spaghetti squash. He gives his advice on preparation - don't slice open but instead stab repeatedly then throw in the oven to bake at 400° for an hour, open it up, and scrape the stringy flesh out with a fork - and then ends the paragraph in a way calculated to let you know that spaghetti squash is only listed in this book because it is part of "Everything," and doesn't count as one of the other "Everything"s that are from very far away and in another language and thus are understood not to be part of "Everything" in English (China, India, and Thailand have been partially annexed through tokens like hoisin sauce and curry).

Bittman concludes: "The flavor is incredibly bland, especially compared to the best winter squashes; but it is a pleasant novelty." I think it's an especially nice [read: bitchy] touch that he uses the superlative "incredibly," like he's about to say something wild about spaghetti squash, and then follows it with "bland."

Now what? I think. I stand there at the kitchen island feeling dumb and wasteful for wanting to cook food only for the experience of "a pleasant novelty." I then decide that it is going to be delicious and all salty and buttery and steamy. And it did turn out to be salty, buttery, and steamy, but was, ultimately, not only incredibly bland, but outrageously mealy, like the worst red apple that's been rolling around in your bag all day. I'm a much bigger fan of delicata or acorn squash.

My camera is broken and won't upload at the moment, but I'll put up pictures when I get it fixed (fingers crossed).

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