Twenty-Ninth Thing: Rainbow child

As long as I can remember there have been fads and fashions regarding what we should eat. I recall when sundried tomatoes were all the rage (though last year’s news might have finished their popularity) and blueberries were long crowned an ultimate superfood, which all but guaranteed eternal life – until some of our native soft fruit got in on the action.

One idea that first entered my consciousness a few years ago, but still seems to be accepted wisdom is that when it comes to a balanced meal, a rainbow of colours is the best option (and no, this doesn’t mean a bag of skittles has you covered). Different coloured fruit and vegetables offer different vitamins and minerals, and therefore the wider the spectrum on the plate, the healthier the meal.

This is in contrast to an artwork by Sophie Calle, The Chromatic Diet, that I first came across in a fantastic exhibition, Treat Yourself, at the Science Museum, London, in 2003. The concept is that for a week, each day is a different colour and foods need to match the colour, in the monochrome meals were then photographed. If you’re a creative cook, it’s a project that certainly inspires you to think how you might do it yourself.

Sadly for me, there is no all blue meal in the project. Lots of people seem to think blue is so unnatural a colour in food, that it is unappetising. Oh the drama when blue smarties were introduced in 1988. And then withdrawn. And then reintroduced!

One day I will certainly cook a blue meal and it won’t all by tinted with artificial blue food colouring. Between blueberries (superfood or not); stilton and other blue cheeses; blue smarties (now with ‘all natural’ colourings) and blue corn, there are some varied tastes and textures to work with.

Blue corn is something I stumbled across last week in a local deli. When pressed into tortillas, its rather more purple than blue, but blue corn is a proper thing (not just a branding gimmick) so obviously, I had to try it.

I thought this would also be the chance to try out one of the life hacks from the link in a previous post. Taco baskets here we come…

Or so I hoped. In reality, the corn tortillas were rather too brittle: even when I took the advice of other websites and sprayed them with water or rubbed in oil… after a few minutes in a hot oven, a split had occurred and the best I could manage was something resembling a used handkerchief to hold the filling.

Nevermind. The rainbow fillings (black turtle beans; browned quorn pieces in red chilli sauce; white rice; green avocado; red tomatoes; green olives (with pimento) and yellow cheese) were most delicious, which just goes to prove that it’s how it tastes rather than how it looks that really counts. Or, to put it more crudely, it all goes down the same way.

Tools / special requirements: Will try again with flour tortillas before I give up on the baskets idea!

Time taken: 30 minutes.

Things learned: As Greta Santagata says “We have a lot to thank the cyanobacteria for, but for me there are two main reasons. First, no oxygen would in our atmosphere if it weren’t for these little creatures. Second: blue Smarties.”

Satisfaction (1-10): Aesthetics: 2. Taste: 10

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