Screw You, “Ingredient Three Ways”
I have serious issues with dishes that offer the same ingredient “three ways.”
Maybe you like it. Perhaps you think it’s a snazzy way to highlight the good things about an ingredient by using three different preparations. I’m sure that some of you regard it as a fantastic way to turn one course into three unique tastes. That’s one way of looking at it.
Another way to look at it would be that preparing an ingredient three ways is a gimmicky and increasingly overdone preparation that sounds better in theory. Really, is this necessary? I’m not one to try and stifle culinary creativity. I appreciate it when a chef tries to dazzle the customer with a wide variety of ideas and tricks that challenge and expand upon the flavor of an ingredient. But any time I see that tuna or duck or shrimp is being offered “three ways” on the menu, I just have to roll my eyes. It’s a bit much, isn’t it?
I feel quite strongly about this and I know that I have logic on my side, so I present to you a five-point argument explaining why this scourge of the menu must be eradicated:
- Invariably, one of the preparations is not as good as the other two. I have a very particular way of eating my food…I like to reserve the best thing for last. Best to leave on a high note. Would you like to take a wild guess as to which of the three items ends up being the last one on my plate? Precisely.
- Gee, what do you think compelled the chef to dream this whole thing up? Was it a moment of inspiration while traveling the world? Perhaps a late-night conversation over drinks with his counterparts at other restaurants? Hell no! You’re getting lamb three ways because the chef got a good deal on lamb from his distributor. And that’s if you’re lucky. It may be left over from Saturday night’s special.
- The fact that you have to arrange the three items on one plate always results in a ridiculous presentation. You can bet your last buck that they’ll have to dig out the cone, the shot glass or the martini glass for this one!
- I’m a nice guy, so I always let the waiter rattle off the evening’s specials. I hardly ever order it, but I figure it’ll make them feel like they did their best to provide me with a great dining experience. However, as soon as they start running down the list, I immediately regret it…it takes forever and everything runs together. I end up learning nothing. Now imagine having to sit through three minor variations on one ingredient, with the waiter going into excruciating detail on what makes each of the three preparations different. Your time would be better spent finding a nice pinot noir from the wine list.
- I absolutely love the whole tapas/small plates thing. It’s fantastic. So getting three flavors is right up my alley, right? NO! The point of the tapas is that you get variety. I don’t care how unique each of the three ways is. You’re still getting the same primary ingredient three times. That ain’t variety.
So, there you have it. That kind of lock-solid reasoning has chefs coming up with three separate apologies for perpetrating this crime against the diner.
What say you? Want to weigh in with your three way horror story? Have you actually experienced a chef insane enough to squeeze out a fourth way? Do you actually enjoy this trifecta of a monstrosity?