Several years ago I did a post on diets and eating and people's relationships with food. At the time, I lifted this quote from the New York Times:
“The kitchen was full of weird ingredients like quinoa and kale."
I remember thinking at the time "What the heck is quinoa?" I'd never heard of it, so I looked for it the next time I went wandering through Kroger. Question answered, but it raised another one: why tell people to eat quinoa when most consumers are going to look at the price tag and blanch? I have since heard various "experts" opine that one way to solve the obesity epidemic among poor people would be to get them to eat quinoa instead of rice or pasta. Maybe it's a good idea from a nutritional perspective, but I did a quick cost comparison using the prices on Amazon. If I can buy 60 pounds of macaroni noodles for what it would cost me to buy 9 pounds of quinoa, why should I go for quinoa instead? Especially when, let's face it, quinoa isn't a particularly appealing food. I'm willing to bet that in Peru they feed it to the llamas.
I finally tried quinoa today. We were gifted with a free box of Inca Red certified organic quinoa. My curiosity has now been satisfied. Straight out of the box, it looks like bird seed. After it's been cooked, it looks like bird seed that's been left out in the rain too long. It was like eating grits, sort of. Like grits, it has no discernible flavor. It just sort of sits there like a bunch of softened BBs on the palate. On the other hand, grits can be made edible through the application of generous amounts of butter, salt, and pepper. I'm not sure what would help quinoa.
You know, I sometimes think there's a special division in marketing for the various food companies that devises "healthy" foods with high price tags that are specifically targeting that segment of the market -- the owners of Volvos in the parking lot at Whole Foods perhaps -- that associates "high price tag," "organic," and "tastes like crap" with "must be good for you."