Are you sure that’s going to work?

My elementary self did a lot of stupid things. Sticking my entire tongue to the freezer door, putting raw meat in my hair to make a “headband,” trying out the moldy butter because it looked weird…

I can laugh at all those ideas now, but I must admit, I was a pretty creative child. I remember my 9th birthday, in which I created a makeshift “fair” filled with games made out of disposable cups, plates, and napkins, and another instance in which I added steak sauce to my rice hoping that it would end up tasting like steak. Of course, none of those things worked out. And no, the rice didn’t actually end up tasting like steak.

Recently, though, I have been enlightened with what is called the “bad idea factory–” in other words, making good out of bad ideas. Innovation, after all, needs to start somewhere. How else do you think people came up with everything there is today? If it were you, would you really have thought that pulling that dangling pink thing under the cow and drinking its liquid was a good idea?

You did WHAT with the cow?

We’ve all had our share of bad ideas. Yes, some of them are just hopeless, but why throw our ideas away? It doesn’t always take a ton of thought to develop something worth noticing. The same goes with food–I’m sure a pickle-onion-peanut butter sandwich sounds revolting, but it tastes better than you think. There are tons of food combinations that seem strange, but someone had to put them together to create the delicious foods we know today. A lot of us aren’t willing to go through the trial-and-error it takes to make things successful, but why not? If you need or want something badly enough, you’ll make it happen. Things like this take a lot of improving and refining with new ideas, but that’s exactly why they’re successful–the person who needed a replacement for butter in their cakes probably went through a ton of odd-sounding ingredients before coming up with using applesauce as a substitute (yes, you can use applesauce to replace the butter in select pastries).

On a related yet unrelated note, there are a lot of things I would consider bad or strange ideas, but I never gave them much thought beyond that. One such thing would be salad noodles. Noodles, as in noodles with soup. Not necessarily a bad idea, but interesting, I’ll say. Peculiar.

In Japan, there is a chain udon (Japanese-style wheat flour noodle) shop called “Hanamaru Udon.” I would consider myself pretty acquainted with Japanese food, so when I went to Japan over the summer, I didn’t think eating there would be all that special. They had, of course, all the regular varieties of udon (if you’ve ever eaten udon anywhere, just think of that), but my host sister suggested that I try the “コクうまサラダうどん”– in other words, the salad udon. It looked a little too healthy for me, but I went for it.

“Too many vegetables!” I wailed (inside my head). I don’t actually dislike vegetables, just so you know.

And goodness lord, was I pleased I did. I found a refreshing and pleasant mix of sunny greens, fried pumpkin, delicately flavored chicken, and okra all over a tender bed of noodles in a light, cold soup/sauce, drizzled with a fragrant sesame dressing. I STILL can’t forget it. It might even have been the blooming of my love for okra (which has an acquired texture, if you will).

It makes me wonder, though, what kind of things would have made this a “bad” dish? If there had been beef instead of chicken, would the flavors have clashed? How many times was this improvised before it was put on the menu? Who thought, “hey let’s throw some salad leaves and carrots on these noodles and call it day”? For me, it wouldn’t have seemed like something that would make much profit.
(Then again, I don’t think salads are the best way to dine out. I mean, you’re spending an average of $8, maybe $9 dollars for something you could easily make at home…) Anyhow.

I fell in love with the noodles, and I’m glad I tried it, cause I never would have thought of putting the ingredients together myself. In fact, I tried to recreate it at home, but my lack of skill and ingredients turned it into a proper mess. It was still yummy, though.

Anyway, if you are ever thinking of trying something new, go for it! It’s the first step to innovation; you never know what your creativity can get you. Add avocados to your soup, I don’t know. Chances are, even if it seems like a weird idea at first, you can make it work.

-Ashley

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