Years ago I used to torment a fellow game warden every chance I got. Joe worked in another district, but a couple of times a year we'd end up working together as part of a group patrol effort at which I'd do part of the cooking. Pulling practical jokes can be somewhat hazardous, especially when they are pulled on someone of Joe's size and with his boxing experience. In this case, though, Joe was outnumbered and that gave me confidence to pull this trick almost every time we worked together.
Now it's no secret that I like onions and use them a lot in my cooking. Joe was, and still is, of the opposite opinion. He even groused one time about putting his sack lunch in my cooler when he smelled the sliced onion on my sandwiches! Anyway…at days end every one would gather at the Mack's Inn patrol cabin for dinner. An idea came to me, one evening, when I saw Joe picking green onions out of his salad before eating it. The next time instead of green onions, I very finely minced a chunk of purple onion. When tossed with all the other ingredients, the onion all but disappeared. You guessed it, Joe was half through his salad before he noticed. Everyone else was through with dinner before Joe finished picking out all the bits of onion. It was hard to hear, or take seriously, Joe's threats because of the laughter from the other guys! From my perspective, there is nothing better than a joke that works every time! The last time Joe fell for this gag was the last time we worked together.
When I made the transition from game warden to cookbook, author and cooking show host it became socially unacceptable for me to pull gags like this on unsuspecting folks. As my wife puts it, people who I've just met expect a certain level of decorum above what one would find amongst a bunch of game wardens. As part of this transition I now focus on pleasing as many people as possible when cooking.
A couple of years ago a student came up with a great method to handle the situation of a given recipe containing one or more ingredients some folks may not care for. That night the class was cooking Mexican dishes, one of which called for diced black olives. Zeeta, one of the students pulled a sour face and exclaimed "Ugh! I don't like olives, leave them whole so I can pick them out easier!" Though I laughed along with everyone else I've since taken her suggestion to heart when cooking for folks who don't care for certain things like onions, mushrooms, etc.
Should I ever get a chance to cook for Joe again, I'll leave the onion chunks big enough for him to pick out!
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