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RAGU-OLDW-MARINANARA-VEGGIES-SAUCE_largeI still remember with horror the time a young teenager announced that he couldn’t eat spaghetti with my mom’s homemade pasta sauce. Oh I could allow for differences in taste, but his stated reason threw me. It wasn’t Ragù (and by ragu, I do not mean simply a ragù, but rather Ragù, as in the label).  It seems that Ragù is what his mom always served, and he just couldn’t enjoy eating anything else. So, this kid was rejecting a home-made  meal for a can of pre-made pasta sauce, and at the time that was something I just couldn’t wrap my mind around.

There but for a crock-pot go I, or at least that’s what I told myself, feeling a bit sorry for this poor gyu who had grown so used to pasta made on the fly that he couldn’t even enjoy the real thing, or at least the Wall family variation thereof. Mom didn’t make everything from scratch (or near-scratch, as the case may be), but when it came to pasta, she put in the effort. On that day I was REALLY thankful, because I really didn’t want to go through life with Ragù as my idea of pasta sauce. Even still, I had to admit to myself, I wasn’t entire without similar quirks.

fudge-browniesBetty Crocker brownies would be exhibit A here. To this day I do not think I have ever enjoyed a brownie that was not a Betty Crocker brownie. Oh I’ve eaten them, dammit anyhow. I have forced other brownies down my throat and sometimes even managed not to cringe or gag while doing so. I can hardly imagine why these other things share the same name as the brownie you can make with Betty Crocker and a couple of eggs. If I had the chance to choose between any other brownie in the known universe, but without Betty Crocker as an option, well I would rather go without dessert entirely. The only brownies I have ever loved are Betty Crocker brownies.

I have no delusions about this. Betty Crocker brownies aren’t culinary genius. They aren’t God’s gift to tongues everywhere. But to me they are most certainly the paradigm case of what a brownie should be. Show me a better brownie and I will only taste one that’s worse.

Which makes me kinda hopeless, I know.

It’s an odd thing when some manufactured food stuff becomes the standard by which home-made meals are judged complete failures, but it happens. And when it happens, it’s kind of hard to explain to people. It’s one thing to insist on high standards, but when your standard is a package label, you can feel awfully silly telling someone who worked damned hard to cook something from scratch that the result just isn’t good enough for your finicky self. Sill, taste in food is certainly one of the habits we acquire from the world around us. So, it shouldn’t be too surprising to see capitalism leave its mark on our taste buds. And yet, I think the weirdness remains. We aren’t really supposed to prefer some of these things by common reckoning. We’re supposed to eat them, because we can, because it’s easier. Most times, folks assume you’d go for the real thing if it was available.

Sometimes that just ain’t so.

grands-flaky-layers-originalAlso my idea of a strawberry shortcake begins with Pillsbury biscuits squashed flat. It’s otherwise normal, but don’t even try to put the strawberries and whipped cream on a spongy cake, homemade or otherwise, because I’d rather just eat the strawberries. When it comes to strawberry shortcake, Mom used biscuits. So, that’s what I want.

Damned silly of me!

I am curious though? Is this just me and that kid? Or does anyone else out there have similarly ironic preferences?