By Matthew Yglesias
Now that this is officially Mark Bittman’s favorite blog, it seems like a good time to mention that if you should ever happen to be cooking the beef stew recipe from How To Cook Everything you must—must—do your utmost to avoid the temptation to modify the recipe by adding crushed red pepper flakes. I know what you’re saying to yourself, “but Matt, this dish would taste great with a little bit of extra heat.”
And so it would.
But there’s a price to be paid. I cooked the dish before, following the recipe, and the results were great. But cooking it again Tuesday night I, well, I thought maybe it would be tasty to add some of that red pepper goodness. And it was tasty. But it also gave me incredibly vivid nightmares that kept interrupting my sleep. By morning, I was exhausted and feeling ill. This actually led to a successful day of blogging (public policy blogging, that is) since I think I do my best high dudgeon when exhausted and ill. Indeed, my work’s never really regained its peaks from 2003-5 when I didn’t know how to cook and would regularly show up hungover and on three hours sleep. But still! I’m old and grumpy now and need my sleep.
And if you want your sleep, you’ll keep the red pepper flakes out of your beef stew. It’s a fine line between stew and chili and you want to steer clear of that treacherous middle ground.