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More Cowbell

Posted By Mark Sisson On February 22, 2007 @ 3:07 pm In Diet,Health,Hype | Comments Disabled

What is it with every restaurant cramming fifteen different flavors into their recipes these days? First we had egg rolls. Then we had avocado egg rolls. Now it’s Southwest with-a-hint-of-tang spinach egg rolls [7] – and they come with avocado-ranch dipping sauce (what a relief).

Snacks are no better (not as if they ever were). Joel Stein [8] has a pretty humorous piece in the February 2 issue of Time that addresses the current trends of making “lowbrow highbrow”. I’m with you, Joel. Making a potato chip organic isn’t doing anyone any favors. We don’t need multi-grain nachos. We need to lay off the nachos.

But I digress. My personal peeve is the overwhelming onslaught of flavor – excuse me, “zest” – in every menu item these days. Sweet isn’t enough. Salty doesn’t cut it. It’s got to be salty and sweet and sour and possibly Asian-spice-infused. Chicken? Good luck with that one. Buffalo wings are neither buffalo nor wings, but you can get them in a tangy sesame-crusted sour sauce.

I’m not sure what’s behind food marketers’ move to infuse every molecule of product with simultaneously sweet, sour, spicy, cool, tangy, creamy flavor. The experts say Americans are becoming aware of global “flavors” like never before, and we want exotic tastes: spices, curries, garlic, heat. I’m right there with you – bring the taste. But whipping up an assertive stir fry is a bit different from ripping open a bag of wasabi-ranch fried carrot-esque crunch sticks. I don’t want a buffalo-bleu-cheese-pepper chip. I don’t want a chip, period.

More is not more. When the local joint stuffs five hundred flavors into the latest tortilla de obesity menu item, your tongue may be amazed, but your stomach will be left just trying to cope. Pick a side, already! All this bedazzling of snacks and reincarnated burrito wraps equals a lot more sodium, sugar (wait, corn syrup) and artificial flavoring.

Besides, guys, until you can deliver a deep-fried daquiri ice curry ball, and make it taste good, I’m just not impressed.

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