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Home » Culture and Criticism

The Nause-AA: Round of Thirty-Ew, Flight Puke

Submitted by on August 27, 2012 – 11:01 AM46 Comments

Today’s write-ups by Keckler. To vote, scroll down; to see the bracket, click here. We’ll leave these open a few days, so tell a friend (or queasy enemy).

Remember: This time, you’re voting for the food or taste you like the least. Against, not for, Survivor-style.

1 raisins vs. 9 eggplant
I love eggplant. Fried, grilled, marinara-ed, baba ganoush-ed, and ESPECIALLY kashk-e-bademjan’d. However, I do know that those sensitive to the nightshade family [“tomatoes are also a member” — SDB] can get itchy mouths from eggplant (as well as from potatoes that have gone green from solanine build up) and later in life they might even get intestinal issues. I’ve heard many tales of people having aversions to foods they haven’t even tasted yet that have later resulted in a food allergy. It’s completely fascinating how the body tries to protect us from foods before we’ve even eaten them. But enough science!

I can’t describe my raisin hate any better than I did in this guest blog post at the Bloody Munchkin: “…while I’ve never forgotten about Ants on a Log, until a fellow raisin hater likened their presence in rice pudding to bugs, I never truly thought of raisins as insectile before. Unfortunately, now I can’t stop thinking of them as fat black flies crouching in my food. You know the kind of flies I mean, right? They’re the ones that buzz louder than an electric razor, and summer heat makes these flies drowsy, so when they bump, sun-drunk, into windows, they make a loud juicy sound. Like someone launched a particularly large and wet spitball against the glass” and “When I first read Langston Hughes’ ‘A Dream Deferred,’ in my mind it was always a raisin that festered like a sore, ran, and then dried up (all crustifed) in the sun.” Raisins need to keep on keeping on in this race.

1 raisins vs. 9 eggplant

  • eggplant (55%, 479 Votes)
  • raisins (45%, 391 Votes)

Total Voters: 870

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5 fake cherry flavoring vs. 4 squash
I guess cherry flavoring doesn’t really bug me that much. I sort of love cherry-flavored Hall’s and Luden’s. Plus, I used to dump all the Wild Cherry Lifesavers from the Lifesaver Christmas storybook in my mouth at once and crunch them all until I burned my entire mouth with wild cherry flavoring. …I may have just killed Bunting. Squash, however, is still a nemesis of sorts. I’ve come around to SOME varieties in recent days. Like, the Bunrabs gave me a killer spaqhetti squash recipe that I happily make in bulk whenever the spag is in season. Butternut, however, can bite me since it requires a cleaver to hack it open AND is the one that turns my hands orange and makes my skin peel off like first-stage leprosy. Summer, patty pan, acorn, and (urp) banana squash can all smeg off as well. Squash for the hate.

5 fake cherry flavoring vs. 4 squash

  • fake cherry flavoring (63%, 540 Votes)
  • squash (37%, 322 Votes)

Total Voters: 862

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11 beets vs. 3 okra
Oh, beets. We have a complicated relationship. I roast them, I cover them in mustard-y, garlick-y, lemon-y vinaigrette in a salad that also includes blue cheese, and I can drown out most of their sweetness. I prefer golden or the pretty candy-striped Chioggia beets. The earthy quality of beets that some hate as “muddy,” but which I actually like, comes from a compound called geosmin that beets absorb from the ground. Geosmin is also part of petrichor, that wonderfully musty scent we smell after a dry spell is ended by a good dousing of rain. [“Best factoid of the tourney so far!” — SDB] Highly sensitive tasters will also taste geosmin in carp and catfish. As you all know, I do love me some sauteed okra. Sadly, my love is not strong enough here, so I think okra will slither through to the next round.

11 beets vs. 3 okra

  • okra (63%, 527 Votes)
  • beets (38%, 316 Votes)

Total Voters: 842

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7 prunes vs. 2 turnips/rutabagas
Like most vegetables I have grown to love, turnips are best savored in a tiny form, sliced in half, coated in olive oil, scattered with big sea salt flakes, and roasted until they go slightly golden around the edges. All you do is finish with a little minced rosemary before serving, and I am just so happy. I know turnips have a bite to them, but I like that bite. It melds well with the fat in the olive oil. Honestly, I don’t think I’ve ever eaten a rutabaga, but I do like their Old World name. Prunes, on the other hand, are just giant raisins. However, since they are also formerly-known-as-plums, prunes are a fruit. Which means they will sweet-talk their way out of this round and turnips/rutabagas will keep hate alive.

7 prunes vs. 2 turnips/rutabagas

  • prunes (55%, 462 Votes)
  • turnips/rutabagas (45%, 373 Votes)

Total Voters: 835

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1 zucchini vs. 8 Brussels sprouts
(I seriously can’t believe that Brussels sprouts are here and green peppers aren’t, people!) Okay, my go-to recipe for Brussels sprouts: shred them in a Cuisinart using the 4mm slicing disk. Warm 1-2 TB olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Saute shredded sprouts until bits turn brown and add 2-3 minced garlic cloves off the heat. Throw in some toasted walnuts and salt and pepper to taste. Add a pinch of red pepper flakes as desired. Tuck in.

Zucchini One: cut into long flat strips and grill brown and crispy on a charcoal grill. Dribble olive oil, salt, and pepper.

Zucchini Two: use a veggie peeler to strip zucchini into long, thin ribbons. Heap in a bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together juice of 1 lemon, 2 tablespoons olive oil, pinch of salt, ground black pepper. Dump vinaigrette over zucchini ribbons, add shavings of Parm-reg. Leave for 10-15 minutes to let the lemon juice “cure” the zucchini.

I love Brussels sprouts more than I tolerate zucchini, so I’m willing zukes on through here.

1 zucchini vs. 8 Brussels sprouts

  • Brussels sprouts (57%, 468 Votes)
  • zucchini (43%, 347 Votes)

Total Voters: 815

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5 string beans vs. 13 succotash
Man, this is brother against brother! It’s a Civil War of food hate. Driving my opinion here is that succotash is mildly more interesting than string beans and that Brett made me an awesome succotash rendition when Contigo hosted the Suffering Succotash release party. However, I have to admit that he left out the extruded carrot cubes, peas, and Lima beans but included farro and beautiful Little Gem lettuces AND dressed it all with a killer vinaigrette, so you know, it wasn’t exactly the frozen bag of tastelessness I gagged up on. (Brett’s a genius. If you’re ever in San Francisco, eat at Contigo. Every night.) Yes, string beans are boring, bland, and have the word “string” in them, so they’re moving on to the next round.

5 string beans vs. 13 succotash

  • succotash (79%, 647 Votes)
  • string beans (21%, 169 Votes)

Total Voters: 816

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11 peas vs. 3 chard
I’m pretty meh on both of these. As discussed in the previous round, only Evvia makes peas that I love, and I will flick them out of my fried rice. (Or feed them to my son. Toddlers are helpful like that.) However, chard is pretty okay when sauteed with garlic and hot sausage and stirred into pasta. Still, chard is one of those greens that raises a lot of gorges, so I think it will move forward to the Sweet Sicksteen.

11 peas vs. 3 chard

  • chard (70%, 561 Votes)
  • peas (30%, 239 Votes)

Total Voters: 800

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7 asparagus vs. 15 Lima beans
I do not know how we ranked Lima beans so low. Just as tasteless and bland as string beans and seeming to defy all efforts to beat flavor into their stupid little green pellet bodies — I can’t stand them. Asparagus, however, can be grilled with balsamic vinegar and come out tasting all right. Certainly not flavorless. Still, though, I think asparag-ass is weird and stringy enough for people to vote it on through.

7 asparagus vs. 15 Lima beans

  • Lima beans (84%, 697 Votes)
  • asparagus (16%, 136 Votes)

Total Voters: 832

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  • attica says:

    I love asparagus. (Saute ’em in butter, add parm. Yum.) I haaaaate lima beans. Caulk in a seed pod, is what it is. Mortar is not a vegetable, people!

  • Lisa says:

    Y’all. Y’ALL. Beets v. Okra? WHAT FRESH HELL IS THIS? I can’t choose! They’re both disgusting.

  • JC says:

    The only one of these that required much thought for me was zucchini vs. Brussels sprouts.

    I used to like Nigella Lawson, until I picked up her “Forever Summer” cookbook and opened it to a random page and a recipe leapt off the page and seared my retinas. It involved slowly cooking thinly sliced zucchini in olive oil into green sludge, and then adding pine nuts and yellow raisins (HURL) and desecrating some perfectly good pappardelle by tossing it with that abomination. From that day on, there has only been room in my heart for the Two Fat Ladies and their pheasant gang-bangs, thank you very much.

    Zucchini fried, or in fritters or savory bread I’m fine with – Joy of Cooking has an awesome zucchini-cheddar bread recipe in it, actually. However, I don’t care for the stuff straight up, since by itself it’s thoroughly blah raw or cooked, and as an ingredient in desserts or sweet bread (or with YELLOW RAISINS)? Fuck that noise.

    Also, this is a good recipe I use for Brussels sprouts, and always on Thanksgiving – everyone likes it except for my nieces. I leave the poppy seeds out, though, because what the HELL?!

    Bottom line, between the two in their most natural state, Brussels sprouts just sound more appealing. I voted for zucchini to advance.

  • scout1222 says:

    Most of these match-ups are things I like paired with things I don’t, so they were pretty easy. And then I hit zucchini/brussels sprouts, both of which I like. I hemmed and hawed over how to vote – zucchini is more versatile, and it would be hard to do without it (especially as a vegetarian!) than it would be to never eat a brussels sprout again.

    In all, I made an idiot move and voted improperly – I meant that zucchini is better, and accidentally clicked on it. BAH! Oh well.

  • Jenn says:

    Prunes and turnips, I hate you both! Never speak to me again!

  • emandink says:

    I can’t believe I have to choose between beets vs. okra. Not only do I adore them both, but they both have huge childhood nostalgia attached to them via my grandmother and her amazing farm-cooking. In the end I voted for okra, not because I love it less, but because it is so much easier to totally foul it up by either cooking it incorrectly or failing to rid yourself of the inappropriate pods prior to cooking. Also, roasted beets are infinately easier to prepare and more flexible than fried okra, even if the best friend okra is infinitely superior to any beet ever.

  • Nanc in Ashland says:

    Prunes are delicious in all forms except juice while raisins might as well be rabbit turds–feed raisins to rabbits and look at the results, what goes in looks exactly the same as what comes out.

  • Janie S says:

    You know what can ruin a perfectly delicious Indian curry, like malai kofta? Raisins. Raisins LURKING in the sauce like fat, drowned ants.

    Fucking raisins.

  • S says:

    Here’s why zucchini over the evil fart-sprout: versatility. Without zucchini we have no low-carb lasagna, no zucchini tempura/fritters, no vehicle for hot spiced ricotta. And that’s not getting to all the cold zucchini salads.

  • Jen S 1.0 says:

    There are a few I couldn’t vote on–I have never knowingly eaten beets or okra, and I love both limas and asparagus (sauteed in butter and lemon, YUM) as well as string beans–real ones, not those french ones–and succotash.



    What life-denying, happiness-crushing, puppy-kicking Calvinist came up with prunes? The only reason to eat a prune is to prove to Jesus how much you love Him by sucking the life force out of your food. The greyish-mauve tint, the wrinkled skull like shape, the florpy wet sound–everything about them says I Hate Life.

  • Sarah D. Bunting says:

    @Janie: Sing it. It is a credit to Trader Joe’s frozen verzh that I didn’t notice the raisins for three whole bites. Then a big juicy pod o’ suck rolled out from the rest of the group and I shrieked deafeningly and escorted the remainder to the garbage.

  • Kara says:

    Turnips roasted with sea salt and rosemary is exactly how I make them, and they’re yummy that way.

    I haaaaate asparagus. I’ve tried for years to like it since it seems to show up every-damn-where, but I just don’t. Squash, beets, zucchini, string beans, and peas have no business on any “worst” list, though, as far as I’m concerned. I have all of those things in the joint right now!

  • Chesh says:

    If you take some brussels sprouts, cut them in half, and stir fry them with some garlic and maybe a little soy sauce–or whatever the hell you want, really–theyll come out juicy and crunchy and nutty and tasting of whatever you fried them in. Like delicious mushrooms! If you’ve only ever had sad, soggy brussels sprouts swimming around a Sunday roast or in some terrible Thanksgiving casserole form, you are MISSING OUT. They are perfection.

    On the other hand, zucchini might be “versatile” in that, I don’t know, you can hide it in a lot of otherwise inoffensive foods, but it tastes overpoweringly of nasty zucchini in every one of its forms. Ugh.

  • Kristin says:

    Jesus, Keckler, like beets weren’t bad enough (one woman’s earthines is another’s dry rot), you had to involve blue cheese? Rrrrraaallllllfffff….that is a marriage fashioned in the deepest pits of hell.

    Okra, on the other hand, can be fried!

    Over…send beets on to the next round, people!!

  • Christy M says:

    I love that this bracket challenge had devolved into people onomatopoeia-ing their ralphing vs. people offering kick-ass recipes for pretty much every contestant.

    I don’t like raisins, but I HATE eggplant. Horf.

  • Clover says:

    I like raisins, so long as they’re properly deployed in cookies, bread, certain kinds of rice dishes, etc. So to all you raisin haters, I say, “FINE. MORE FOR ME.”

    Eggplant tastes like snot. The only way to make it palatable is to bury it in enough other, yummy foods to dilute it to one eggplant part per thirty, or thereabouts. (I don’t have the Eggplant Burial Formula at my fingertips, but I’m sure it’s in the appendix of my crusty copy of “Joy of Cooking.”) Anything that’s good WITH eggplant would be even better WITHOUT eggplant.

    True story about squash: when I was very young (three-ish), we visited some family friends and they served some kind of candied squash dish, which I proceeded to shove around my plate without trying it. (I knew instinctively it would be horrible and I would hate it.) My mother whispered to me that I needed to try it because it was the polite thing to do, and that squash was good for me and full of vitamins. I spent the rest of the dinner hour tearing my helping of squash carefully apart looking for the Flintstone’s Chewables, but I never found them. All this got discussed on the drive home, and that’s how I learned that generally, you can’t actually SEE vitamins.

  • MizShrew says:

    Two of my childhood nemeses are here: Fake cherry and lima beans. Horrible metallic medicinal ick and mealy mushy dinner-table horror. Ew-ew-ew-ew-ew!

    I’ve only had okra a few times, but it makes me think of one of those Fear Factor scenes where you have to eat a giant insect. Crunchy outside, slimy inside ::shudder:: I suspect I’ve never had it prepared properly, from what I read.

  • Tarn says:

    Beets v. okra?!? That is the worst, the WORST! How are those not ranked first and first?

    I actually don’t know that I’ve had okra, because it smells so vile and looks so slimy. I know there are methods to avoid the slime, but I don’t trust that the smell can be eliminated. And it is a horrible, godawful smell.

    I know beets are healthy and they show up more often than okra, so I have tried them several times, and each time is worse than the last. “These aren’t so sweet, try these!” Okaaaay, they’re not so sweet, but now they taste like dirt. “Oh, I loooove the dirt taste!” Um. Bite me, geosmin. (Though I do love the smell of rain after a dry spell. I’m not a monster. But I also do not have to eat that smell.)

  • Erin in SLC says:

    Small-plates place here in SLC does a thing with beets and goat cheese and — um, either mint or basil, I can’t even remember right now, but it did in fact revolutionize my outlook on beets.

    As for the damn Brussels sprouts, I refer AGAIN to my gross anecdote in the bracket-announcement thread, to wit: “Turns out it wasn’t Brussels sprouts cooking all week in the next apartment; not unrelatedly, Drew apologizes about the putrefying mouse carcass.”

  • Pam says:

    Re: okra (from the Great Source of All Things True, aka Wikipedia): “The products of the plant are mucilaginous.”

    Makes me think of the Mucinex commercials, which makes me think of mucus, which brings us back full circle to okra. Their ad campaign could read, “Like snot, but not.” Come on, it’s not like that stuff is flying off the shelves and couldn’t use a slogan…

    Still reeling from the defeat of celery in the last round… but I’m comforted by the fact that my real NCAA March Madness brackets tend to fold this same way, and I have obviously survived.

  • Andrea says:

    String beans are only boring and bland if you don’t sautee them in olive oil with salt, pepper, and a shit ton of garlic. When you do that, they taste surprisingly like french fries, and even my husband eats them. :)

  • Anlyn says:

    I’m so sad that eggplant seems to be whomping raisins. I have no real feelings for eggplant either way, but I was really hoping raisins would win this thing. Vile, vile raisins; I would wish you extinct, but I actually like fresh grapes.

  • Charlotte Sometimes says:

    I had to abstain from voting in beats vs okra and zucchini vs Brussels sprouts match-ups because I like all four of them. I’m starting to think I may not be such a picky eater. (I am).

    I think I’ve just been absurdly lucky in having well prepared sprouts and okra. In fact, I had no idea okra could be slimy or smelly. I have wonderful memories of the the stir fried okra I had in China and the okra curries I’ve had in India. And everyone’s right: Brussels sprouts have to be (stir) fried and caramelised and then they are crispy and brown and beautiful. I will admit they smell, but nowhere near as badly as blue cheese or bananas.

    And seeing those two hated foodstuffs next to each other in a sentence means I now need to go gag. Add avocado to the list, and I’d be bringing up my last meal. Blarghh.

  • Yoshi says:

    Keckler, thank you for the sprouts recipe! I tried it last night to great acclaim from my veg-suspicious girlfriend. Also, your book was excellent and I’m recommending it al over the place.

  • Sarah D. Bunting says:

    beats vs okra

    Everyone knows phat beats are more awesome than slimy okra.

    (typo of the week!)

  • Kathryn says:

    I think either my Mother sensed that none of her children could ever like eggplant or she hated it herself because it was never served in our house. My first real exposure to it was working the pizza counter at a deli and baking a pre-made eggplant pizza. Vile. I’m open to the possibility that pizza is a totally inappropriate way to serve eggplant, but the smell of that thing sitting under the heat lamp killed my taste for it forever.

    Interesting that so many people feel that raisins ruin a good curry. I’ve never been that fond of raisins myself, but sauteed with curry powder and onions and then added to chicken and an unhealthy amount of sour cream? THAT is the way to eat raisins. But I’ll give y’all the raisin-hate. Biting into a raisin when expecting a chocolate ship inspires almost as much disgust as realizing the sandwich I’m eating has mayonnaise. Gack…spit.

  • Kathryn says:

    Argh. That should be chocolate CHIP. Although a chocolate ship sounds awesome.

  • MinglesMommy says:

    @ Lisa: “Y’all. Y’ALL. Beets v. Okra? WHAT FRESH HELL IS THIS? I can’t choose! They’re both disgusting.”

    THANK YOU!!! How do you choose between two of the grossest alleged “veggies” on the planet??

  • Jen B. says:

    Sars has a toddler? (see Peas vs. Chard) How did I miss that?

  • Amy says:

    It’s not that I dislike lima beans for their flavor (as they don’t really seem to have much) but rather for their texture. They are akin to chick peas (garbanzo beans), which I also dislike. But raisins are awesome! I love them in cinnamon bagels or in granola cereal. Though I do admit I don’t eat them straight out of the box anymore like I did as a kid. And zucchini? Love it! Grilled, sauteed, stiry fry, fried! Yummy!

  • Carrie Ann says:

    Oh man, I kinda love everything in this bracket–at least when prepared correctly. Okra, I’m looking at you, you fickle bitch. The only thing I really dislike is prunes, which have no purpose except to cause pain and sadness. Really, other dried fruits are so much tastier. Why continue to make prunes when dried apricots accomplish the same goals and taste like sunshine?

  • Sarah D. Bunting says:

    News to Sars, too. Better put out another litterbox…

    (Psst: “Today’s write-ups by Keckler.” hee.)

  • Clover says:

    Because this site has a better excellent-writing-to-juvenile-humor ratio than almost any other, it may be the perfect place to share this anecdote.

    My good pal Rizzo, the foodiest foodie I know, has been trying unsuccessfully for years to convince his less enlightened friends (*cough* me *cough*) that beets are delicious. He even proposed that we have an all-beet potluck in which everyone brought a beet dish and we awarded prizes to the best of the bunch.

    The name of this hypothetical event? A beet-off, of course.

  • Jen B. says:

    1.) How are raisins LOSING?

    2.) Prunes should have a way bigger lead.

    3.) Apparently, I’m so ticked about #1 and #2 that I’m hysterically spreading false rumors about Sars parenting a toddler.

  • Sarah D. Bunting says:

    @Clover: Film it, release it as a documentary, and call it…

    BEET STREET oh come on that’s awesome

  • A says:

    scout1222, I did the same thing (accidentally voted against innocent zucchini). Oh, for the ability to change votes!

  • Tylia says:

    To Jen. B, Word and word. Raisins are losing and prunes are killing it? I feel like I fell into a parallel universe!

    I hate raisins but i hate Prunes more in all of its horrible forms. Prunes, prune juice, prune puree. Prune Juice is so-shudder inducing, I can’t even tell you. Welcome to the TMI segment of this comment, where I tell you that after the birth of my daughter I was really, really constipated and I was ordered to drink prune juice and my husband bought like the costco size prune juice and made me drink the bulk of it and I wanted to die. Prune puree is even worse. The smell, the color. When I was feeding it to my daughter I had to choke back heaves and then she’d have it all over her face and that hideous purple brown color was sometimes too much for me to take.

    Also, suffer my wrath okra. I just had a lovely beet salad last night and I could never fathom having a lovely okra anything ever, so choke on that okra! I also go into PTSD-like tremors when Okra is even mentioned. We use to have fried okra in my elementary school cafeteria and it was like fried slime. HATE! My friends tried convincing me that if I just ate the breaded part around the okra, it would be ok, but that was even a disgusting prospect because the slime would ooze onto the breaded part and ACK! GAH! SHUDDER! HATE!

    Also, also, thanks for the link to my blog you guys. Much appreciated.

  • Lisa says:


  • Tylia says:

    An argument about Okra vs. Beets almost ended my marriage last night. It. Was. Heated! So, uhm, thanks I guess Tomato Nation?

  • KidsDrDave says:

    I couldn’t stand brussels sprouts until I learned how to cook them right at about age 45. I sincerely doubt that such a leap will occur for me regarding lima beans. Is there ANY way to make them palatable?

  • Sarah D. Bunting says:

    I assume you “made up” by making your spouse vote for raisins eighteen times. DIDN’T YOU.

  • Tylia says:

    I tried Sars, really I did. But *GASP* he likes raisins. Really likes them. The other day we were at the farmers market and he tricked me into getting some ‘tropical snickerdoodles’. The tropical part of it was that they put yellow raisins in the snickerdoodles. I’ve made my peace with the fact that raisins have to be in oatmeal cookies, but snickerdoodles? My precious snickerdoodles!?! Is no snack food safe?!?! He ate every cookie. I knew the raisin debate was a lost cause and didn’t even mention it.

  • Sarah D. Bunting says:

    Ew, and YELLOW ones? Geeeee-ross.

  • Tylia says:

    I know! That’s what I said!

  • Keckler says:

    Raisins aren’t as gross as eggplant? T’Nation, I am disappoint.

  • Sandman says:

    I think the pappardelle with zucchini, raisins and pine nuts recipe JC mentions sounds kind of awesome, actually. Vaguely Sicilian, in a Nigella (i.e., a little too rich, probably) way. I’m getting tossed out of the Nation for this, right?

    I’m with Pam on the “Like snot, but not” slogan for okra. If okra wins, there should be t-shirts. Or maybe a cookbook! Divided between howls of outrage, life-like transcriptions of barfing noises, and kickass recipes. Die, Raisins: A Miscellany of Hated Foods, or something.

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