I admit that picky eaters confuse me. When the list of foods that you will not eat is longer than the list of foods that you will eat… what fun is that? But picky or not, we all have foods which we dislike, and cooked carrots were on my dislike list for most of my life. In fact, it was only very recently that I discovered that cooked carrots can actually taste… well… good!
When I was a child I had a long list of foods which I considered inedible, including many classics such as brussel sprouts, eggplant, and especially cooked carrots. Today I happily eat all of these foods. For a long time I simply believed that our tastes change as we age, and while I still believe this to be true, I also wonder if there is perhaps another reason lurking in the corner, one which we may be hesitant to admit, for fear of insulting the woman who raised us.
The more I learn to cook for myself, the more I wonder if it is my tastes which have changed, or if I have just learned to make these foods in a way which is more pleasing to me. For example, and with no disrespect to my mother intended, my mother’s recipe for most vegetables was as follows: cut, steam, serve. This is not to say that she was a bad cook, because she most definitely was not, but that she tended to view vegetables as a source of nutrition and not a source pleasure. So back to my original point, if I was served a plate of plain steamed carrots today, I would probably conclude that I still do not like carrots. But, in Dorie’s hands, with a little added flavor, though hardly much more effort, I have come to appreciate this nutritious vegetable.
Actually, truth be told, the first time I had really good carrots was last year when I took a cooking class. The class was taught by a delightful French woman who taught us how to make ”carmelized carrots” using a recipe quite similar to Dorie’s, but with such a heavy handed dollop of butter that I rather discounted it. I mean, if you add enough butter to anything it is going to taste good right? Even snails!
But then along came Dorie’s recipe for Spiced Butter-Glazed Carrots (published here in Bon Appetit magazine) and completed last year by the French Fridays with Dorie cooks. As the title suggests, there is still some butter in there, but a mere 2 tablespoons for 6 servings is hardly overindulgence. The recipe calls for an onion and some spices to be sauteed with the carrots in a little broth (I used vegetable stock) until soft and flavorful. The result is a side dish tasty enough to be served for company, but also simple enough to make when it is just the two of us. And in our house, that’s a recipe which we would call ”a keeper”.