Relish Not

I listen to NPR, as required by my “urbane liberal” membership. If you listen to NPR also, you know that the passage of the seasons can be marked not only by the weather, but by the reappearance of certain set pieces, regular as clockwork, like old friends.

Or, in the case of Susan Stamberg’s cranberry relish recipe, mortal enemies. Stamberg recites this little bit of culinary performance art – originally inflicted upon the world by food writer Craig Claiborne – every Thanksgiving, without fail. She always talks about how her revolting concoction of cranberries, onions, and horseradish “sounds awful, but is actually delicious.”

I am here to tell you: the woman is lying.

I’m an adventurous, nontraditional eater, who enjoys strong tastes and rough contrasts. The Stamberg relish recipe has no redeeming qualities. I would not feed it to a rat. It is so utterly vile that it transcends mere loathsomeness. It is the Platonic ideal of repulsive food. Through some sort of near- miraculous negative synergy, it takes three foods which are versatile and delicious and turns them into a foul brew that does violence to the very concept of food.

Here’s a better cranberry relish recipe.

Peel the oranges and grapefruits and chop them very coarsely; you want 1 inch chunks about half the size of your thumb. Put cranberries in the food processor and pulse until coarse (you don’t want to liquify them). Put cranberries, citrus, and walnuts in a large bowl and toss thoroughly; add the sugar at this stage if you want it, but I prefer this dish bitter (the juice from the oranges will give you some sweetness). Put in your refrigerator to macerate overnight.

Eat with a very, very large spoon. The longer this sits in the refrigerator, the better it will get. So make enough that you have lots of leftovers.


(Thanks to Stewart Clamen for the title of this article.)