Wednesday, November 1, 2017

PTown Chefs Have Made Me Like Foods I Had Always Hated

I love to visit a new restaurant I've never tried, and order the most unusual thing on the menu; whatever sounds the strangest. It started about 30 years ago when I wandered into a little Thai restaurant with a lengthy menu of things unfamiliar to me.
After about twenty minutes of reading descriptions and ingredients I settled on chicken with chilies and mint. I've never cared much for mint, and this was the weirdest sounding thing on the menu, so I ordered it, along with a couple of other dishes that were more familiar and sounded like safer bets.
To my delight, this dish was so tasty that I returned often and ordered the same thing each time, along with something else that sounded risky from the confusing menu descriptions written in broken English.
The Canteen's Brussels sprouts in an Asian fish sauce are amazing, and a best-seller.
These days I'm more familiar with the world's cuisines, but I still scour every menu for something unusual, or I'll order something I don't like, as long as it comes from a chef or a restaurant I trust. 
In fact, many a Provincetown chef has made me adore foods I had never before enjoyed.

Case in point: the lowly Brussels sprout. My mother was an excellent cook, but the way she made these, boiling them into oblivion, they were so terrible that even my dad, who had learned to eat anything while surviving the Great Depression as a young man, had trouble choking them down, and they made the house smell funny for days, so we hardly ever had them. Of course, I never "learned to like them."
Fast-forward a few decades, and 2,300 miles to the east, to Provincetown, where a little restaurant called The Canteen is serving a very popular dish called "Crispy Brussel Sprouts in Fish Sauce." I ordered them on one of my first visits there, right after they opened, confident that these chefs would make me love their sprouts, and I was right. I now order them on nearly every visit, unless I go for breakfast, which won The Canteen its third Best Bite award from TheYearRounder. Read my post from this spring, on Friday, April 7th.
Another food I've always hated is Coleslaw. Those thick, tasteless, mayo-based sauces and bitter cabbage always made me gag, but Fanizzi's changed all of that with their delicious slaw marinated in a light, slightly sweet vinaigrette, with no gloppy mayonnaise. It is so good, I now look forward to having it with my Friday fish fry or a burger. It's made me brave enough to try other coleslaws around town, and I've now found a few that I like almost as well.
So next time you go out to eat, take a chance. Consider trying something unusual, or ordering something you may not think you'll like. Broaden your horizons, taste something new, try something a little risky... With the great chefs and restaurants we have in Provincetown, you just might find an unexpected treat somewhere, like some of the unusual choices on The Canteen's menu. How about Fries With Eyes - fried smelts with a choice of sauces. Sounds risky, doesn't it? They're next on my list to try. Bon app├ętit!

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