Ombudsman: Degrees of Cheating


Earlier this week, BS wrote the post, “Classy Cheating Confessions,” about foods that automatically turn an eh dish into an awesome dish. Endless Simmer defines cheating liberally, and allows for multiple variations and degrees of usage. Some of the commenters on that post chimmed in about their “classy cheating confessions,” as prompted by BS:

Have classy cheating confessions of your own? What stand-by ingredients do you rely on to save a dish?

Commenter Tim, however, disagreed with our calling anchovy paste, truffle oil and ajvar cheating ingredients:

I still don’t see eye to eye with you all on this (surprise!). I don’t think of any of these as cheating. They’re just ingredients. Buying pre-made garlic bread in the freezer section, now that’s cheating! Buying pre-made anything in the freezer section – cheating! But truffle oil, anchovy paste, and prepared horseradish are, in my view, legitimate, delicious ingredients. This is all very subjective, but I think you can give yourselves a break!

Tim makes a good point. Utterly fantastic ingredients are just that: utterly fantastic ingredients. But what takes an ingredient into cheating mode?

Cheating can be anything from using store-bought pie crust to adding truffle oil to save a dish.

The first example is fairly self-explanatory. The crust is not from scratch and buying an integral part of the finished product deceives eaters of a truly authentic baked-at-home experience.

Using truffle oil is a bit trickier. Truffle oil is not something that can be easily made at home, unlike pie crust. But truffle oil is cheating in BS’ circumstance. In this instance, it’s important to note what the truffle oil is used for: to “save a dish.”

BS says:

…it’s made me ten times less creative in the kitchen, because any time I get to the end of a dish and don’t think it’s quite there, I just throw in some TO and call it a day.

BS is using truffle oil as an aide, as a calculator on a test when only brain power is allowed. If his sauce is bland, his dip is uninspired he doesn’t reflect back to think of creative ways to fix it. No, he relies on the ease of truffle oil. And that is cheating.

(Pic: EpicPortions)

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  • Summer March 11, 2010  

    If you’re going to have such a stringent definition of “cheating,” then I think it needs to be noted that cheating isn’t always bad. By this definition, even having salt and pepper on the table would count as cheating!

    I propose that a bad cheat, as personified by the evil that is Sandra Lee, is taking a shortcut that results in a finished product far inferior to one made without the cheat. The pie crust is a good example: a Sandra Lee pie made with frozen or refrigerated crust is never going to match something made by Paula Deen’s loving, lard-slathered hands.

    Since you’ve done a post about favorite cheats, I’d like to see a post about ES-er’s most despised cheats. I have one or two to add that might surprise you….

  • TruffleHunter March 12, 2010  

    I would agree that Truffle Oil is legitimate, but delicious ? That is stretching it too far !

  • BS March 12, 2010  

    I think Summer sums it up well. Cheating, whether using a classy ingredient of a trashy one, isn’t the worst thing in the world (sometimes it’s delicious!), it’s just the easy route. And yes, we always want to make things harder for you.

  • Maggie March 14, 2010  

    I think your graphic answers your question better than anyone else could. Cheating is anything involving Sandra Lee.

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