Lesley Suter: Disagreeing with Ruth Reichl
She did... and lived to tell about it.
What would a Days of Our Lives-themed episode be without a little drama? For me, the heart palpitations came in the form of a difference in opinion with the one and only Ruth Reichl. (Well, that and having Salem’s villain No. 1, Stefano, seated within a crouton’s toss).
Woe is the critic who disagrees with a legend such as Ruth! (And mortified is the lifelong fan—ahem, me—who does so on national television.) So, who is right? Was Douglas’ dish the creation of a “master chef,” as Ruth suggested, or was it a confused cardamom-heavy flop? That the cast of Days of our Lives agreed with me is beside the point (if slightly redeeming).
What is worth noting is the fact that two so-called “pro” palates can, indeed, experience the same dish in such different ways. Such is the beauty of food: it’s subjective. Are you wrong for liking pineapple on your pizza when your friend hates it? Not a bit. (In fact, you’re the smart one—pineapple on pizza is delicious.) But at the same time, does it make your pineapple-hating pal a tasteless nobody? Nope. It just means that, in food as in life, there’s something for everyone.
It wasn’t only Ruth and I who had a difference in taste this episode. If you asked me, Odette’s egg-yolk raviolo was a gorgeous interpretation of a classic Italian dish. But whether or not I think so is irrelevant—it failed to strike a chord with the Days cast, and those were the parameters of the challenge. There were allusions to the cast members not being “sophisticated” diners, and that’s why they missed the subtleties of Odette’s dish. Phooey! Sophistication has nothing to do with it. That implies that there’s a right or wrong way to interpret a dish—that a piece of food can be inherently good or bad regardless of who is eating it. That one person’s opinion is more valid than another. It’s just not true—and that’s exactly why food is so much fun.
I will say this was by far the toughest elimination for me personally. Odette cooks with soul, and I savored every morsel of her dishes. I only wish I could have tasted more of them.