A friend was telling me about a time when she was broke pretty much all time time, and learned to cook an amazing number of dishes just using potatoes and onions.
My reaction was, "Yum! Potatoes Lyonnaise!"
Potatoes and onions are cheap food, but capable, in the hands of a clever cook, of being made into very sophisticated dishes.
It got me thinking, what other food out there is excellent, but gets no respect?
- Lentils — Lentils are considered poor people's food everywhere they are a common part of the diet, from Egypt and North Africa to India, probably because they are cheap, plentiful, and thus become a staple of the diet of the poor. But cooked properly, lentils have an unmatched taste and texture all their own, and can be prepared to rival any legume. In the winter I often prepare a dish that includes lentils, olive oil, onions, and tomatoes. Served with coarse homemade bread and butter, and a good red wine, it's just wonderful.
- Peanut butter — I love peanut butter, and can eat it straight out the jar with a knife. When I was poor, PB & J sandwiches on thick slices of homemade bread (also cheap) sustained me, and very nicely, too, thank you. I don't eat it as much now because it's so high fat/high calorie, but from a standpoint of taste, I still love it. William F. Buckley, also a PB fan, one said that only its low price keeps peanut butter from being recognized as the gourmet food it is.
Anyone else have any suggestions? What other foods out there are fit for a gourmet, but get no respect?