The “Otherwise, Trash” Trend
“Otherwise, Trash,” my column about using scraps of food we might otherwise throw away, has become the media-darling of Purple Kale Kitchenworks, and remains the most searched of “2 minutes to dinner” entries. Publishers who want to make the column into an impulse-buy book tell me that being an expert on re-purposed food carries a certain culinary clout; it is a status-marker of the homesteading noblesse.
I get why “Otherwise, Trash” garners such attention, but the buzz about frugality misses the larger point. Frugality might energize our creative efforts, but, at Purple Kale, this perspective is part and parcel of the investigative exercise that is, simply, Good Cooking. Seeing food for even more possible uses, asking where it can lead, is part of a larger program meant to teach cooks how to put food, not recipes, first. “Otherwise, Trash” is rooted in Purple Kale’s ingredient-driven approach that places primacy on flavor and process, one where, as is the case with this flow chart, ingredients that are “trash,” often play a pivotal and energizing role in the flow of culinary ideas.
In other words, “Otherwise, Trash” illustrates a point about the vast possibilities of individual ingredients, not just what’s left over. An approach that asks “what else can leeks do?” and “how far can this potato take us?” is basic resourcefulness—just good thinking. It is a habit of inquiry that will outlast political support for sustainable cuisine or current fads of frugality, especially in cooking moments (say, blanching peas) that aren’t bursting with trendy possibility.