Some people are naturally adventurous, while others tend to be cautious and seldom step off the beaten path. The same thing is true with foods. Often, we learn our habits about food when we are very young and never stray from that path.
So how do we get stuck in the culinary ruts as far as what we cook, serve and eat?
Sometimes, it’s the fact that we were raised with the same sort of mundane routine and tendency to never venture off into the realm of new recipes. Other times, we are seeking the safety of familiar dishes and limited ingredients. On occasion, it’s budget driven and only limited ingredients fit into a restricted budget, establishing a pattern.
While it is simple to know that every Tuesday, we are going to cook peas, steak, baked potatoes and garlic bread…it’s also limiting ourselves. Those limits don’t allow for changes in diet, and make new things rather frightening when faced with the prospect.
So how do we know if we’re in a culinary rut? Make a list of the foods that you cook and serve. How many dishes are on that list? In the last month, have you served 2 or more recipes more than three times? If so, it’s time to put a bit of fire under the pot and infuse some creativity into your cuisine!
Look at the things that you do cook. What do you LIKE most about those recipes? Is it the ingredients? The cooking method? The length of time to prepare and cook the dish? Is it the seasonings used?
Next, start making your battle plans. Don’t shake things up too much too fast though. If everyone in your family is used to roast pork on Sundays, suddenly presenting them with a vegetarian dinner might be a bit of a shock! Instead, look for something using pork but in a new presentation or seasoning combination. Change the side dishes the same way. If they are used to seeing a can of corn heated up alongside the pork, perhaps you could introduce them to corn pudding or New Orleans style Macque Choux? Instead of dinner rolls from the bakery, perhaps some herb biscuits would be appreciated.
Do the same thing with seasonings. Don’t suddenly start using a lot of exotic herbs and spices or it will shock the palate, and when one is in a culinary rut, shocked palates are not usually appreciated. Some seasonings, especially strong flavored ones, are an acquired taste and the first reaction is often a “yuck” rather than a “yum”.
So if your family has slid into a culinary rut, make changes slowly, to prevent shocking the palate too much. Stick with dishes that aren’t too radically different from the norm at first. Encourage everyone to try new things and expand the horizons of their palates, and they will discover that the world is full of fascinating recipes just begging to be tried.