Shakespeare thinks that a rose by any other name would smell as sweet, but I’m not sure Brian Wansink would agree. Who, you may be asking, is Brian Wansink? He’s the director of the Cornell Food and Brand Lab where he leads experiments on eating behavior, many of which he summarized in his excellent book, Mindless Eating. According to Dr. Wansink’s research, how much we enjoy the taste of a particular food is directly related to what it’s called on the menu (or in the cookbook as the case may be).
For example, if you go to a restaurant and order the Sizzling Mexican Fajitas you’re going to enjoy them more than if they were called Stir Fried Chicken and Vegetables, even if it’s the same exact dish. So, despite Shakespeare’s assertions to the contrary, there is something in a name.
This might explain why I have been saving Tofu Sandwich Spread for the very end of my year of cooking. Truth be told, I was not even a little excited about making this recipe. Tofu Sandwich Spread? It might as well be called Boring No-Other-Lunch-Options-But-I-Still-Have-To-Eat Spread. I can say this because it’s quite possible I’m the one who named it.
Now that I’ve tried it though (and read Dr. Wansink’s book), I plan to rename it for the next edition of Fresh, Seasonal Recipes. Maybe Garlicky Sandwich Spread? Or perhaps Super-Yummy-Spread-on-Anything Dip.
Believe me when I tell you that this dish does not resemble the dubious white block that stares back at you from inside that liquid-filled package. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not tofu phobic. I love a nice Baked Tofu (see the one on page 89, it’s amazing!) in a flavorful sauce. I’ve just never been one to order a tofu scramble or mock egg or chicken salads that feature tofu. What’s the point? I eat eggs and chicken, so why substitute tofu if you don’t have to? Because it can be delicious, that’s why.
Using tofu as the base for this spread gives you a blank canvas for all of the flavors that you’ll be layering on. With a combination of mustard, cider vinegar, garlic, turmeric and cumin flavoring a nice assortment of crunchy veggies (celery, carrot, onion) you get a flavor burst that, while it may require you to brush your teeth before any afternoon meetings, makes you spend the morning looking forward to lunch.
I brought this spread to work for lunch 3 days in a row (with crackers and some cilantro to sprinkle on top) and even ate it as a late night snack one night when my dinner didn’t take. Please, do yourself a favor, ignore the title and make this spread. And after you try it, give me some suggestions for what we can call it in the next cookbook. Garlic Love Spread? Super Delicious Crunchy Yum? You Won’t Believe It’s Tofu Deliciousness? You can see I need some help here.