Good food and bad food are such absolute terms. Nevertheless, there are those who might deem sourdough bread, mature Cheddar and pata negra to be good whilst condemning sliced white bread, American cheese slices and processed luncheon meat (Spam) as being bad. That would be a mistake, as without the so-called bad stuff, some of our favourites wouldn't be half as tasty. Not convinced? Well, let's look at some classics that are enhanced by being a little bit bad.
Foccacia is my favourite bread, but I'd never dream of using it in a bacon sandwich. And nor should other posh breads like sourdough and ciabatta ever be used. Brown bread? You will be if you try using it in a bacon sarnie that I'm going to eat! That's because bacon sandwiches should be made with soft white bread that's pre-sliced and comes out of a plastic bag. At a push, soft white rolls, such as baps or barm cakes, are allowed too.
Amongst burger die-hards, only one cheese belongs in a cheeseburger: American cheese. That's right, those processed cheese slices (like Kraft Singles) that many people don't actually regard as being cheese. So whilst many cheeseburgers may use mature Cheddar, Stilton or Brie, the burger fundamentalist will ignore these real cheeses in favour of their beloved American cheese slice.
Chinese Hot Pot
There are few finer foodie sights than watching a Chinese hot pot in full flow. As a big cauldron of broth bubbles away, all kinds of goodies are thrown in. My favourites include crab legs, prawns, fishballs, thinly cut beef, enoki mushrooms, pak choi and, of course, noodles. However, many hot pot aficionados will eschew these treats, and make a beeline straight for Spam. I'm not kidding; many Chinese prefer Spam (or the Chinese branded Ma Ling Luncheon Meat) above all else in their hot pot.
In terms of these 'bad is good' examples, there is only one that I believe 100% in: the use of soft white bread in a bacon sarnie. When it comes to cheeseburgers, I happen to prefer American cheese but that's only because I'm partially lactose intolerant, and I have trouble with some real cheese. Otherwise, I couldn't give a toss what cheese is used. On the matter of Spam, I'm afraid I'm a bad Chinese in that I'm utterly indifferent to its charms.
Anyway, what do you guys think? Is my stance on bacon sandwiches, complete bollocks? What about the burger fundamentalists and their insistence on American cheese? And then there's the question of Spam – although, personally, I'd sit that one out. The Spam lobby are a vociferous, and at times scary, bunch. I'm more frightened of them than I am of the burger mob! Oh, and whilst we're at it, I'd also love to hear of any further examples of when bad stuff makes good food taste better.