At every social gathering, there’s almost guaranteed to be at least one person who fancies themselves a foodie. You could be at a hot dog stand in New York and they’d find something to get snooty about. One of my favorite cooking-centric stories imparted this philosophy onto me: “taste trumps presentation.” There’s a handful of foods that, no matter how much they show up, are always greeted warmly.
Now, which foods in particular changes depending on who you ask. If you want a good framework to work off of, pasta is almost always a crowd pleaser. Who, aside perhaps from those with gluten allergies, is going to say no to a piping hot plate of spaghetti? Nobody, that’s who. Once you have the pasta as a framework, it’s then just a matter of finding what pairs best based on your own tastes. Little bit of meat, little bit of veggie, and the right sauce turns a plate of 20-minute dried pasta into an elaborate dish.
Experimental cooking is kind of like playing with Legos. Sometimes you just have to try slapping a few things together. Sometimes you end up with a confusing mess, but if you’re lucky, you’ll get a spaceship.