5 Things You Should Never Put In Your Potluck Dish
You're probably not going to bring triple garlic dip or raw shellfish to a friend's get-together, but there are some less obvious foods to avoid, too.
By Lynn Andriani
Green Bell Peppers
While red, yellow and orange bell peppers hog the spotlight, greens are often maligned because they can taste bitter (as none other than Alice Waters declared in Chez Panisse Vegetables). Because they are harvested before they're ripe, they'll never taste as sweet as the other varieties. Another downside to being picked early: The skin is harder to digest and can cause people to burp.
Instead, try: Tomatoes. They can be stuffed and roasted just as peppers can, yet tend to be easier on people's palates (and stomachs).
Disliking this herb -- a cornerstone in Mexican and Thai cuisine -- might not just be all in a picky eater's head. Some studies have linked an aversion to cilantro with specific genes involved in taste and smell, which suggests that the reluctance could be rooted in a person's DNA.
Instead, try: Italian flat-leaf parsley. Its herby flavor will brighten any dish that you'd ordinarily add cilantro to, but it's much more widely liked. Typically used in Italian cooking, parsley goes especially well with tomatoes, whether in black-bean salad or salsa-like dips.
You may love goat and blue cheeses (and we're right there with you), but it must be said that they aren't the most commonly adored dairy products out there. Even varieties that lack that punch-you-in-the-face smell still have a distinct taste many people just don't enjoy.
Instead, try: Shredded Parmesan or cheddar. They're milder options for topping salads yet still deliver some oomph. If you want to bring a cheesy dish to a party, try a spread that uses Parmesan and sour cream or yogurt as a base.
Red onions can add a critical zip to green salads and sandwiches and are often served raw because of their gorgeous color, which fades when cooked. Still, they have a pungent taste that can linger for hours or even days, and some people suffer indigestion or heartburn after eating them.
Instead, try: Watered-down red onions. Soaking slices of the onion in a bowl of cold water for 10 minutes before adding them to a dish will significantly lessen their bite. Or use scallions instead -- they give dishes a subtly sharp note but aren't as strong.