The weirdest argument I've seen in some time, arguing against people who only like foods with bold flavors:

"This is first-class fustian. If you are unable to enjoy simple, traditional fare that has been properly prepared with good ingredients, the problem is not with the food; it is with you. To purloin a phrase from Slate food writers, you're doing it wrong."

If you watch Top Chef, you're familiar with both the assumption that French food is the height of culinary sophistication, and that other large and complex cuisines are local and parochial: there is no shortage of instances where a chef is condemned for "just" cooking Mexican or, worse, "Asian." It's weird to see this argument deployed against home cooks who like to take advantage of the wide variety of ingredients now available to make food they find to be interesting. Though I often make an analogy between reading and cooking, I'll point out a disanalogy here: cooking at home is almost always better than the alternative--sometimes not much better, but from a health and flavor standpoint, usually preferable. The gradual accumulation of skills can result in definite improvements over time. I once hot-sauced everything within an inch of its life, and now no longer do so; my favorite thing to do with many vegetables now is just to wash them and eat them raw. Also, and this cannot be stated forcefully enough: everyone has to eat, tastes differ, so everyone should just go ahead and eat the things that they like, provided they maintain a healthy balance.

It's a weird argument to be making for several reasons. First, it assumes that "traditional" fare is "American" fare which is French, German and English, with perhaps a side of Italian. None of the first three are known for assertive spicing which, it has to be said, makes them the exception rather than the rule. If your family is of Asian descent, or African, or South American, then none of this will apply. And I would suggest that each of those is closer to the heart of American cuisine as it stands today than French (which required a nouvelle revolution in order to be at all palatable to modern tastes), German, or English. Second, it assumes that the purpose of spicing is to cover over a lack of good ingredients, an argument so obvious as to be ridiculous and one that entirely misses the point. It's obvious that the purpose of spicing is to cover over non-ideal ingredients because the purpose of almost all cooking for almost all of history has been to compensate for less than ideal cuts of meat, vegetables, etc: the omnipresence of braising as a cooking method should indicate as much. It's unclear why the use of local ingredients with strong flavors--garlic, onions, ginger, fish sauce, a wide variety of dried chili peppers*, cilantro and cumin--somehow renders these no longer "simple" or "traditional." Third, while we're at it: I have no idea why anyone's opinion of the comparative merits of a apple tart and an apple pie should be a cause of distress. We have the phrase de gustibus non est disputandum--in Latin, no less!--for a reason.

Now, if the argument were instead that certain dishes, modified to add extra spices from outside the recipe itself, cease to be precisely those things, that I would have no issue with; if this were an argument about requesting foreign spices to add to a restaurant's offerings, there might be a point. But I will also point out that a drop of sriracha on well-roasted potatoes will bring out a smokiness that gets lost with just salt and pepper.

*Sriracha is, after all, just chili peppers and garlic set in a small amount of liquid.

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