This week I’m mostly: Confessing Some Weird Food Habits

What odd flavour combinations do you, or someone you know, enjoy? The kind of thing that has others scratching their heads (or reaching for a bucket)? A nostalgic trip to a Turkish kebab shop in Dundee this week has got me thinking.

I’ve always been into food. My best mate Chris reminisced in his best man speech at our wedding that I was the only 15 year old making bruschetta for my pals whilst we drank cheap vodka bought by someone’s older sister. I used to get up early when I stayed with Chris in Carnoustie, creep through to the living room and play Tony Hawks Pro Skater on his playstation for a few hours. When Chris and the rest of the family were up, I’d scramble a load of eggs for breakfast, and we’d drink fresh orange juice (which I remember as exotic, for some reason).

I visited Chris this weekend in Dundee, to catch up on the last few months, and to get acquainted with a new wood-fired pizza joint he’d had his eye on in the city. It was great to see him. Every time we meet, I realise how important friends are when you’ve been a bit low. We started the evening with a few piña coladas – the classic drink of manly men. Chris is pretty heavy handed, and trigger-happy, so we had a wee buzz on by the time we left his flat.

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The pizza place – in the grounds of Taypark House – was amazing. I’d go so far as to say that the dough was some of the best I’ve had outside Naples (the style cooked here). They use three flours to achieve a light and tasty crust, which bakes and chars delightfully in seconds in their 400C wood fired oven (oak and silver birch – yes, I asked). I opted for ‘Popeye’s Pipe’ – tomato, mozzarella, nduja, spinach, and rosemary – and was very, very, pleased with it. To quench my thirst, and keep the buzz going, I had a lovely local IPL from 71 Brewing. The whole place is outdoors, so best avoided in a downpour, but otherwise, heartily recommended for phenomenal pizza, and stunning views of the Tay.

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After eating, we enjoyed a few more cocktailsin a smooth bar, where we continued to catch up – albeit a little more loosely by now. A short walk later, and we were sharing a £10 bottle of prosecco, whilst a group of middle-adged revellers danced to a house band’s shaky rendition of Chaka Khan’s Ain’t Nobody. Excellent!

Now, whilst the pizza was great, there is little that can stave off the munchies once the clock strikes midnight (I once ate 4 full-size scotch pies and a vanilla slice from an all-night bakery after a party). After our valiant efforts to drink Dundee dry, we were hungry, and in search of the dirtiest of late night snacks. When we were teenagers, we used to hang out in Dundee city centre, passing the day by pranking each other, and trying to chat up girls (yeah, we were cool). Those sojourns invariably ended with the same takeaway dish from the Istanbulie, and a train back to Carnoustie. On Friday night, we were overcome with joy to find that the Istanbulie is still open for business, and it hasn’t been cleaned up since we last visited around 15 years ago. We steamed in, and ordered the nostalgic combo: chips, mayo, and pineapple. I think it started as a joke – Chris would shout ‘and some pineapple, please’ just as I ordered, and I’d be left with this monstrous meal – but after a while we were both eating it, and I’m not sure how or why. I’m not sure I’d have it again either, but it filled a gap on Friday, and wasn’t horrendous.

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Evidence. 

Odd food habits are a matter of taste and your frame of reference (Cat’s colleagues think that avocado on a sandwich is maverick, for example), but Cat’s reaction to the story of my Friday night munch (*gagging face emoji*) got me thinking about the weird flavour combos that people are into. Cheese and jam is a classic oddball. Cat likes apple slices dipped in peanut butter. It’s all a matter of taste.

A few other odd combos I like (the ones I’ll admit to, anyway) are: vanilla ice cream eaten with cheese and onion crisps as spoons (blame my mum), Christmas cake or hot cross buns and cheddar (mum again), toast, olive oil and salt (my dad, this time) and chocolate brownies and balsamic vinegar. None of these seem all that ‘out there’ to me, but I guess it’s hard to judge your own taste. Maybe some of the things I eat are even weirder, and I just haven’t been pulled up yet!

One thing is clear, though – most of my food habits are closely associated with people and places I love. I have vivid memories of eating pineapple chips with Chris over the years; of sitting on a beach wall (in Dunbar, perhaps) with my mum eating ice cream with crisps, strangers shielding their children’s eyes from the outrage as they passed; and of accidentally pouring balsamic vinegar on a brownie in a post-party morning-after daze surrounded by pals – none of whom pointed out my error, and all of whom were jealous (probably).

What are the flavour combinations you enjoy, but others baulk at? Is there something you eat that nobody else understands? I want to know what weird and wonderful ways to eat food I’m missing. Drop me a comment below!

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