Most underappreciated foods--and where to sample 'em


You're an adult now and your tastes have come a long way since the days of pureed peaches and mushy peas. You've learned to love the earthiness of beets--though maybe you're not quite ready to chew on chicken feet.

Remember that the right chef can do wonders with even the most humble ingredients. Here's our list of five overlooked, unloved, and sometimes off-putting foodstuffs we're excited about right now--along with recommendations as to where you should try them.

1. Tongue Tongue can look a bit unnerving in the butcher's case, between its massive size and papillae-covered surface, so you might prefer to have somebody else cook it for you. Find beef tongue in taco form on occasion at Chef Shack, braised and stuffed between bread as the Chefwich at Victory 44, and pickled in a Heidi's appetizer.

Kale in fine form at Cheeky Monkey.
Kale in fine form at Cheeky Monkey.
Ariella Schreck

2. Kale Nutrient packed and texturally robust, kale's versatility is surprising. Try it cooked at Cheeky Monkey or raw at Jack's and you'll have some inspirational recipes come CSA season.

3. Kombucha Kombucha is a lively refresher--fizzy, it's tangy, it's both sweet and sour--which claims to have about a gabillion health benefits. Restaurants don't typically serve it, but it has made appearances at the Picnic Operetta, and a local maker Unpeeled sells it at local co-ops. We'd love to see what some of our best local bartenders might do with it. If you're willing to work with a slimy, bacteria-blob the size of an elephant booger that's known as the tea's SCOOBY or "mother," you can go the homebrew route.

4. Cauliflower In the veggie pecking order, cauliflower always seems to sit far behind carrots, broccoli, and red bell peppers. But ever since the 112 Eatery introduced its cauliflower fritters, this overlooked veggie has been getting more love. The roasted and chili-spiked versions are both excellent at Pizzeria Lola and Il Gatto.

5. Quinoa This recently "rediscovered" ancient grain-like foodstuff--it's actually more closely related to beets, spinach, and tumbleweeds!--was apparently known as "the gold of the Incas." And for good reason. Containing essential amino acids, quinoa is a rare complete protein, and it's fluffiness--think amped up couscous--adds textural intrigue. It's paired, to fine effect, with citrus and scallops at In Season.

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