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roseIf someone asked you to close your eyes, then held a rose to your nose and told you it was a daisy, what would it smell like? What if the opposite was done? If you’re told it’s a rose and they held a tulip instead, would you still smell a rose or would the fragrance be different even though it contradicted your expectations?

How would this concept apply with food? If someone told you they were making steak and potatoes out of portabella mushrooms and cauliflower, would you think it would taste the same? Would you enjoy it more or less had you not been told what it should be similar to?

Well, this weekend I went outside the box and made a raw foods version of fettuccine alfredo. The keyword in the previous sentence was “raw” in case you missed it. How do you make fettuccine if it’s a raw foods dish? How do you cook the noodles? The answer is simple. Zucchini! No, that was not a typo. The answer is zucchini.

The zucchini is cut into thin strips or cut with a spiral slicer to make long noodles. This becomes the fettuccine or angel hair pasta, depending on how you sliced it. To make the alfredo sauce, no dairy is needed. Simply blend macadamia and pine nuts along with lemon juice and a few spices and voilà, you have alfredo sauce!

Now, I must say, I really do love fettuccine alfredo. Aside from homemade lasagna, it’s my next favorite italian dish. So, for me to eat zucchini with a nutty “cream” sauce was going to be a stretch, but I tried it. The verdict? Well, let’s just say that rose did not smell as sweet. Did it resemble the original dish in any way? In my opinion, no. So what went wrong? I know other people who tried a similar dish and just loved it. Why didn’t I?

I’m not sure why I didn’t like it other than the fact that the recipe incorporated tastes that are unfamiliar to me. Have I eaten zucchini before? Of course I have, but it had always been deep-fried with some sort of yummy, crunchy batter wrapped around it. Had I ever eaten it raw? Nope. Never. No way. What about the macadamia nuts? I remember as a child sitting down with a plate of nuts during the holidays and cracking them open. My favorite was walnuts. The macadamia, however, didn’t rate high on my list.

So how do I trick my taste buds into thinking this is a good tasting dish? I don’t. There is no trick. I either like the taste or I don’t. I know that after consuming a food or beverage time after time, it’s possible to develop an acquired taste for it. That happened with me and bbq sauce. I used to hate the taste of bbq sauce, but after trying it a few times and finding a blend that was not overpowering in taste, I discovered that I do enjoy it now. At least I enjoy a few particular brands, but not all. Regardless, it was a taste I used to avoid and now I do enjoy it.

However, that same concept did not work when it cames to onions. I’ve inadvertently tried onions a variety of times, mostly due to someone else’s cooking. And each and every time I have spit out the food, not obviously of course, but I have discreetly as possible removed the offending taste from my mouth. Onions and I just don’t get a long. I can tolerate them in certain salsas and in an occasional premixed sauce, but 99% of the time I will absolutely not eat them. I dislike the taste and avoid it at all costs. Period!

Would the same happen with the zucchini and macadamia nuts or would it have the bbq sauce effect? It’s too early to tell. I did take several bites of my “fettuccine alfredo” and tried to like it. I even added many repeated sprinkles of salt and several dashes of pepper to help me eat a few more forkfuls, but after that I had to toss it. If I made it again, would it have a bbq or an onion ending? I’m not sure that I’ll make that dish again to find out.

My ending thought on this is….. Would the dish have been more successfully accepted had it not been termed as “angel hair pasta” or “fettuccine” or even “alfredo”? After tasting a particular dish, the memory of it becomes engrained. It’s easy to recall the taste, the texture and the smell. So did I set myself up for failure in thinking this would be just as good or better than the real thing? That’s definitely a possibility.

Later this week I’m going to try making raw “mashed potatoes”. Now I know it’s not going to taste the same and it won’t be made from potatoes, so will I be more successful if I say I’m going to make blended cauliflower mush instead? Maybe.

Bon Appétit!

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