There's something to be said for knowing when to quit.
Although longevity and persistence have their place, in time that thing or person who refuses to give it up (Larry King), gracefully fade away (Bret Farve), or drown himself in his bathtub (Glenn Beck) start to become goddamned annoying.
Like a house guest who just won't leave, some dishes have long overstayed their welcome and should be banished, at least for awhile, to give both diners and the poor cooks who have to make them dozens of times a day, every week, every year, a well-earned break. To quote the great Dan Hicks: "How can I miss you if you won't go away?"
So in the interest of determining whether absence really does make the taste buds grow fonder (not to mention filling a few column inches), Charlie has compiled a list of ten old and in-the-way dishes that deserve to be put down like a rabid dog or, in restaurant lingo, 86'ed. In order of obnoxiousness, they are:
10. Caesar salad
If you've worked "cold side" at a restaurant,
assembling 40 or 50 of these a night (I have), that's reason enough to
give this culinary antique the boot. Despite the fact that almost
everybody makes them, they still almost always suck.
This classic Italian confection went from obscurity to
ubiquity faster than you can say "Parmigiano Reggiano." Unfortunately,
it also went from wickedly delectable to a faux-Venetian version of
Twinkies, minus only the gaudy plastic wrapper.
8. Fried calamari
With the taste and texture of thick rubber bands,
there's really no reason for this dish's existence except to consume
great gobs of flavored mayonnaise. So bread and fry a napkin and drag it
through a bowl of Hellman's.
There's something about this staple of Mexican
restaurants that conjures images of drunken assholes slamming down
tequila shots and bragging about getting laid. The next morning, all
they'll have is a hangover and a date with Mr. Hand.
6. Wacky-maki rolls
If God wanted fish to swim in oceans of cream
cheese, mayonnaise, and "spicy sauce," she would have named the Atlantic
"Sysco" and the Pacific "Aramark." Why not roll up pieces of lint from
beneath the fridge? It can't be any worse.
5. Seared tuna anything
A monster created by chefs too lazy to
properly cook a piece of fish or too cheap to buy sushi-grade tuna
deserves to be put out of our misery. And so do chefs who sell this
stuff at double the price of uncut Peruvian flake.
4. Fettucine alfredo
Whoever Alfredo was, he should come back and
castrate the fucker who decreed that long strands of starch bound
together with cream and cheese reduced to the consistency of library
paste was the pinnacle of Italian cookery.
3. Sautéed chicken breast, any way
Anyone caught eating sautéed
chicken breast at a restaurant, no matter how much gunk the kitchen has
put on it, should be immediately thrown out on their ass. If you won't
eat something interesting, stay home.
2. Molten-centered chocolate cake
Took the chocolate cake out of
the oven too soon? Oops, that'll be $12. It's one thing to make a
mistake; it's another to overcharge for it. I can screw up my own
recipes for free, thank you very much.
1. Caprese salad
Face it, when was the last time you ate a tomato
that tasted like anything but a blood-colored sponge with seeds? When
was the first time? With 50 percent of this dish already horseshit,
what's the point of prolonging the agony?