Thursday, November 1, 2012

My To-Fu Is Stronger Than Yours

I'm always trying to eat healthier, and my wife is always wanting to try new things. Personally, I could do without new things; new things seem like a lot of trouble, mostly. However, in my pursuit of healthy foods, I find that I do have to embrace new foods and replace old favorites. So, out with the beef and pork, and in with the fish and vegetables. If chicken didn't taste so good and go with everything so perfectly, I might give that up too. But of all the new things that I have been willing to try, tofu has always been at the bottom of the list. Actually, not even really the bottom of the list. More like at the top of another list titled "Things I Will Never Try Even Once, Even If They Pass a Law." Some of my wife's adventurous culinary spirit must be rubbing off on me, because for some reason, this weekend I suddenly decided to try the tofu. Of course she jumped on board immediately, and we decided on stir-fry - easy, familiar, wholesome stir fry - as our first foray into fru-fru tofu domain. Before I knew it, we had bought it, added it to the meal plan for both us and the kids, and committed ourselves to making it.

Of course, we didn't tell the kids that we were making tofu. After all, dinner is difficult enough. Why complicate the matter with truth and openness? So we let the kids stay out of the way while we made it, hoping it came out right. We followed the recipe precisely, or so we thought. See, these so-called "ethnic" ingredients are hard to come by sometimes, and we can't always run out to specialty grocers, so we do what we can with what we find at Publix. So if the recipe requires, for examples, 2/3 cup of stir fry sauce, we grab the only one that Publix seems to have, and figure it'll have to do.

The stir fry looked absolutely beautiful, just like in the picture online. Perfect color, texture, and even great presentation over white rice. We pulled out the chopsticks, just to be extra fancy. I planned on telling the kids that it was tofu only after they had eaten some and made an unbiased judgment about it. As it happened, we never got around to that part. From the first bite, it wasn't the taste or texture of the tofu that we noticed first. What got our attention was the flames of spice and retribution coming out of our mouths. Turns out we used 2/3 cup of spicy Schezuan sauce instead of regular stir fry sauce. I like spicy foods, as long as they actually taste good, and even I couldn't take more than two bites without being overcome. My daughter, who despite her half-Jamaican heritage hates spicy foods, wouldn't take another bite, and drank an entire ten ounces of cold apple juice at once to stop the burn, and then ran into the kitchen for bread or milk. My wife, who has been suffering from heartburn now in the last months of pregnancy, refused to even swallow the first bit, and spit it out into her napkin, just so she'd be able to sleep that night. On the other hand, my son, fresh out of football practice, ate his entire serving without once looking up or stopping.

So despite our best efforts to eat healthy, we had to chuck the tofu and pick up McDonald's instead. My wife and I were pretty disappointed, but at least my daughter was happy.

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