It's really not even his fault that he'd never heard of or tasted yuba, essentially the skin that forms on the surface of boiled soy milk as it cools during tofu-making. There's a lot of food out there in our world to try, and it's good to see Patterson approaching it with an open mind.
Whoops. Cancel "open mind."
Patterson delights — much to his avowed surprise — in his first experience with yuba, admitting, "To my American mind, tofu meant dull, bland hippie food."
Wait. This guy is a professional chef? And he's getting paid to write about eating?
I just don't see how you can go into either occupation without attempting to settle your own personal misconceptions, your distrusts, your prejudices about food — or at least lying about it.
And yet he comes out with this inane remark?
Jeffrey Steingarten made a similar confession (and OMG, I think it was in the Sunday Times magazine too) about not being able to stomach some food or other. At the time, I thought he was shredding his credentials by saying so.
Now, ditto with Patterson.
I really don't want to open a can of worms, but this is the Patterson who tinkled all over San Francisco restaurateurs last year with his snarky article (in the Sunday Times magazine!), arguing that Alice Waters keeps them from being brave in the kitchen. The same Patterson who hasn't been entirely successful in running his own restaurants here in the Bay Area. (Link, third item.) That's water under the dam, or over the bridge, or however that cliché is supposed to go. Fine.
But I was finally ticked off enough to get bloggy wit it when he described the making of yuba in Sunday's article:
Know how milk forms a skin when it’s heated? Same idea. Soybeans are processed with water to make soy milk, which is then warmed; the skin that floats to the surface is carefully removed."Floats to the surface"? Ew, double-big Shrek-in-a-hottub Ew! What does Patterson think is going on down in there?
The skin does not float to the surface! It develops on the surface, right on top! Ever had chocolate pudding?
However, there are some things that do float; ask any plumber. Patterson's article is one of them.