As I have mentioned in a previous column, I grew up a dedicated picky eater. So much so that I did not like any condiments. When I saw the word “sauce” on a menu I would instantly tense up, wondering what sorts of mysterious and unfamiliar ingredients might be contained inside. I always ordered my food sans sauce, so it’s safe to say my childhood was full of dry sandwiches, burgers and chicken nuggets.
As I grew into the mature food connoisseur I am now, I have come to appreciate sauces for all they bring to a meal — especially plain, greasy food that can otherwise come up lackluster. Below are some of my favorite combinations and some that were suggested to me.
Barbecue sauce and macaroni and cheese
This is my signature combination — one that all my closest associates know, or fear, me for. I first experienced this life-changing harmony of sweet, creamy and salty flavors while eating a barbecue plate in which my pulled pork touched my mac n cheese, lacing it with a smoky sweetness. Now, whenever I go to Chick-fil-A or Wawa, I can’t eat my macaroni without barbeque. One macaroni and cheese cup pairs perfectly with one and a half packets of barbeque, creating an exquisite pairing that is sure to have anyone with sophisticated taste hooked.
Pizza and ranch
This combination is more common than my last, though it is certainly riddled with controversy. I personally find that the subtle herbaceous and tart, creamy flavor of ranch pairs perfectly with the acidity and sweetness of the tomato sauce to create an elevated bite of pizza. I do, however, think this should only be done with thicker crusted pizza from somewhere like Pizza X, Mother Bear’s or Domino’s. For those living on campus, be sure to check out the chicken bacon ranch pizza from Wright dining hall; you won’t be disappointed.
Hummus and potato chips
It’s non-traditional, but you have to try it. I often get quickly tired of eating potato chips, as they are rather greasy and tasteless. Introduce your favorite hummus into the mix — I like Sabra roasted pine nut — and you have a delectable combination of tartness, crunch and salt.
Cream cheese and eggs
I hope I don’t receive hate mail for suggesting this combination, but it came into my life in Wright dining hall when I accidentally got too much cream cheese for my bagel. As an avid cream cheese enjoyer, I spontaneously decided to finish it with the rest of my eggs. The meal wouldn’t be complete without a healthy dose of Cholula hot sauce on top of the eggs, though. Think of it as a modified buffalo dip flavor profile.
Fries and mayonnaise
When IU freshman Julia Berman, my dorm hallmate, goes skiing at Perfect North Ski Resort, her trip cannot be complete without one thing — fries and mayo. This is a well-loved, albeit non-traditional, combination for many. While I feel like the greasy, plain flavor of fries is best complemented by a more flavorful, perhaps acidic sauce, I can understand how the comforting simplicity of fries and mayo might be the perfect ski day combination.
Pretzels and ranch
Another snack Berman recommended to me was Rold Gold pretzels dipped in Hidden Valley ranch. She could not describe exactly why she likes the combination, but it makes sense that the saltiness of the pretzels with the creamy, tart flavor from the ranch would be a satisfying snack.
If you have a strange condiment preference or food combination you swear by, send me an email at email@example.com so I can give it a try!