From burnt eggs to brown cheese: Five more terrible foods -- and how we got stuck with them
Like everyone else who eats and drinks, I have a list of certain grubs and sips that are so foul that I won't go near them, and it is a constant source of curiosity for me that other people would -- to the point that some of the grossest edibles are actually quite popular.
Here are five more terrible foods and drinks -- and how we got stuck with them.
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These Italian-style egg dishes are sorta like omelets, sorta like quiche -- and sorta disgusting. I have never had a slice of frittata either in a restaurant or at someone's house that wasn't a messy mashup of half-cooked vegetables; tough, salty meats and overcooked eggs. Most omelets I've had are at least cooked quickly enough to prevent the eggs from burning, and quiches have the benefit of crusts to keep the innards from searing, but frittatas have crackly, brown bottoms that taste bitter and sulfuric -- and the smell of burnt eggs is stanky up there with canned dog food and tunafish farts.
We got stuck with frittatas when the American dining public became interested to the point of mad obsession with rustic Italian favorites sometime in the 1950s. The preparation is rustic, too: They are made by dumping veggies, meat and cheese into beaten raw eggs, the mixture is then slopped into a frying pan, flipped, and duly scorched.
4. Graham cracker crusts
I like graham crackers -- who doesn't? They are crispy, sweet rectangles that are good to dip in things, melt chocolate and well-charred marshmallows on, or just eat by themselves. But for some reason when you crush them up with melted butter and stuff them into pie pans, they become something sinister, they become...useless, annoying filler that takes away from dessert fillings like cheesecake. It's frustrating to cut a slice of cheesecake or Key Lime pie and get a couple inches of the good stuff -- and double the amount of dry, crummy graham cracker crust.
We got stuck with graham crackers when Presbyterian minister Sylvester Graham invented "Graham bread" in 1829. He wanted something snackable for his vegetarian diet, and at the time commercially produced baked goods were chock-full of nasty additives to get the whitest of white flour appearances possible, and brown breads made with whole-grain flours were considered fit for poor people (my, how times have changed). Graham believed his product was more nutritious, and a cure for alcoholism and sexual urges -- he got the first part right, but the jury is still out on the last two.
3. Water with a hint of flavor
Whoever dreamed up making bottled water with just enough flavor to make you want more flavor should be drowned in a giant barrel of Kool-Aid. I get the benefits of bottled water, and I agree with the merits of tasty fruit drinks in bottles as well, but water with just a drop of some sort of fruit flavoring is maddening. Either make it water or make it something else..
How we got stuck with this: I actually tried to discover who invented "hint of" bottled water by searching the magical Internet, and could not find a name (if I had, I would have also sent a strongly worded e-mail message to that person, expressing my displeasure). But I did learn that the history of bottled water is much older than I'd thought. In the U.S., commercial bottled water can be traced back to the 1700s, and it got popular in the early nineteenth century when glass bottles were mass-produced and affordable. The 1800s saw bottles of spring water selling as a more healthy alternative to water from other sources, like wells -- and there was probably some truth to that -- but even in the olden days Americans enjoyed being trendy and drinking bottled water as a status thing. Some things don't change.