Over the summer, my sister came home from the grocery store and gleefully plopped a large canvas bag on the counter. Amongst the usual orange juice gallons and Hamburger Helper boxes, I saw a zombie-apocalypse sized stash of tiny, beige seeds. If these pebbles were supposed to be our food, I was moving out.
“Did you get this stuff at PetSmart?” I asked her.
“No, stupid. It’s quinoa. It’s, like, the greatest food on the planet,” she replied in a huff.
She proceeded to boil this “quinoa” in what looked like a cauldron from Harry Potter and store vats of the stuff in the chasms of our refrigerator. She worshipped the grain, I, however, was not convinced, and my opinion hasn’t changed much.
Look, I get it, so-called “superfoods” are all the rage these days. Chewing food is even out of style. We have to pulverize everything in our fridge into juice to “cleanse” our bodies. And all of these new, trendy ingredients have some amazing qualities.
Chefs and health fanatics around the world praise the low-fat Peruvian seed known as quinoa (pronounced keen-wah). Of all the whole grains, quinoa has the highest protein content, so it’s perfect for vegetarians and vegans. Quinoa also provides all nine essential amino acids, making it a complete protein. The grain is gluten-free and cholesterol-free, is kosher for Passover, and is almost always organic.
That being said, I can’t get over one undeniable fact- eating quinoa is like voluntarily spoon-feeding yourself birdseed.
First of all, it’s practically flavorless. It’s got a hint of nuttiness and is a tad bitter if left unwashed. But at its core, it is a product that truly cannot stand on it’s own. You have to drench it in oil and vinegar or honey and fruit to give it any quality flavor. I know many who claim to “crave” the tiny seeds, but I’m not buying it.
It is impossible to get past the texture. The millions of tiny seeds get trapped in places never before explored in the human mouth. I guarantee you, 5,000 years from now archaeologists will be digging up the remains of some angsty college vegan and find some quinoa lodged in her molars. Truthfully, I’m not sure whether to chew it, automatically swallow it or slap it around my mouth as if I have no teeth.
I’m all about health and embracing the world’s miracle foods, but as for me, I’m going to skip this quinoa trend and enjoy foods that both my body and my taste buds love. I know there are plenty of quinoa-rookies shoving spoonfuls of the stuff in their mouth and faking a smile right now. I say to you my brothers and sisters, put your spoons down!