June 16, 2010

Educational Purposes

The eternally wise Mary Poppins gave us Supercalifragilistic.
Emeril Lagasse gave us Bam!
And I would like to add Educational Purposes to the mix...

In 1993 I was on vacation with my parents in Spain. It became very clear, very early on, that restraint and Spain were two things that simply could not exist together. Spain is a culinary bastion. Besides the riches of the earth and sea around them, the cultural influences from the Middle East, South America, and Africa to name a few, make the food in Spain particularly incredible. From Gambas A La Plancha (roasted shrimp), to various cured meats, to flan, the temptations were everywhere. Indeed the temptations were so great that it became increasingly difficult for us to settle on one version of a dish when look! They have another kind of paella over there that we haven't tried!

Enter: Educational Purposes.

It was my mother who created our lovely little mantra. We just had Jamon Serrano (an aged, cured ham) from the butcher down the block, but those guys over there had been making it for thirty years longer, hmmm, what to do? I mean really, could one beautifully marbled and cured slice of pig be better than another? There was only one way to find out. But what of guilt and excess? Guilt be gone, this had nothing to do with greed and everything to do with exploration and broadening horizons. (Well, maybe a little greed, but mostly lofty intentions.)

The mantra popped up again the first time my Father and I went to Philly. We had our cheesesteak at Pat's but we also had to have one at Gino's - after all it's one of the oldest food rivalries on the East Coast, we simply had to put in our two cents. I like a Philly cheesesteak as much as the next gal, but isn't one cheesesteak basically as good or bad as the next? Yes probably, but we did it anyway for Educational Purposes and if nothing else, it was a hell of a lot of fun.

I'd implore you to not abuse the magic of  Educational Purposes though. This is NOT permission to eat an entire pizza and breadsticks, and curly fries, and a pint of ice cream. Instead, this is permission to explore. Not sure which place has the better empanada? Educational Purposes, try one from both. Exploring Chinatown and see that two bakeries have the same pastry that you just discovered you like? Educational Purposes - check out both.

In fact, I give you permission to be as adventurous as you want! Go to that weird Balinese place down the street. Ask questions and try something new for Educational Purposes. You didn’t like that dish there? Don’t let that stop you - you cross the street and try it over there instead. Let the magic take over and make you that gutsy eater you always wanted to be. And remember, as always, you don’t have to like it, but you have to try it.


  1. I love this SO much, Duchess! And it's just what I needed today. It's been a rough week but I need to buck up and be brave and try things. :-) Thank you!!

  2. As you know, "You don't have to like it, but you have to try it" is the mantra I grew up with...and it always amazes me when people aren't more adventurous with food. I'm using "Educational Purposes" from now on when I'm looked at as greedy or gluttunous wherever I go. I'll just tell them I'm doing research. Yeah. Thanks.

  3. Now, now Dara - This is a gift, just remember that lol.

  4. Oh Rambling, you are so welcome. Can't wait to see what brave thing you popped in your mouth! (that sounded a little dirty huh?)