Overrated/Underrated: Appetizer/Side Dishes

March 04, 2008 | Comments (0) | by Chaim Witz

As usual, I will state my unfounded opinions as if they were truths. If you're looking for logic behind my reasoning...well, if it's logic you seek, you're probably not a regular reader in the first place. I will cover all forms of appetizers and side dishes. No ethnic food will be left behind. Well, maybe some will. My choices are arbitrary, my decisions final.

Will this finally be the column where I bite off more than I can chew? (Rim shot)


Toast: That's right bitch. Toast. 2 slices. The first one is buttered. The second slice, chunky peanut butter for protein and substance. You're ready to dive into another mind numbing work day. Feeling saucy? Try it with some jam (not jelly fool) or cinnamon and sugar. It's not an appetizer, but one could consider it a side dish to a bigger breakfast. Shut your mouth fatboy.

Edamame: It's soy beans, so you're supporting Midwest values. They're healthy too, a rare trait for an appetizer. It's like Chinese peanuts. A little salt on top and you're ready to roll.

Samosa: The Indian crab rangoon, these fried triangle treats are filled with everything you could possibly want out of life. Meat, potatoes, chili powder, onions and peas. Ok, maybe not the peas part. But slap my ass and call me Judy if these things don't make your privates tingle.

Falafel: Bill O'Reilly made it infamous. I'm bringing it mainstream. Try it, seriously. They're like hushpuppies, but green. Based on the little research I've done, they're made from chick peas. Better than dude peas I say.

Chicken Tenders: They've always played second fiddle to the more popular 'wings', but chicken tenders are easier to eat and just as tasty, provided they are hand-breaded. You've got a variety of dipping sauces (ranch, BBQ, etc) at your disposal and if you want, you can order them lathered in buffalo sauce. They work as both an appetizer and a main course, with fries. Those flattened, frozen dinner types don't count. I once beat a waiter to death with one of those.

Goat Cheese: People gasp in dismay and clutch their babies to their chest at the mere mention of goat cheese. Don't be a racist, just try it. Goat cheese, mixed with marinara sauce. Dip some garlic bread or toast points in that shit and it's like the Lord has given you a new lease on life. Where do I sign Lord?

The Forgotten Potatoes: Hash Browns. Mashed Potatoes. Tater tots. Often times these potatoes are assigned specific meals and not allowed to live their lives. Sloppy Joes/Tater Tots. Eggs/Hashbrowns. Steak/Mashed Potatoes. These potatoes should not be pigeonholed. Order tater tots with your breakfast and mashed potatoes with your sandwich. The status quo is overrated. The potato rebellion is at hand. Where will you be?

Naan: Indian bread that is as soft and fluffy. It's like eating a buttery cloud.

Rated Correctly

Crab Rangoons: Deep fried wontons filled with cream cheese and crab? Any time you can deep fry any kind of cheese, you're golden. Add a little crab for class? Mouth orgasm.

Everything Nachos: You really can't beat a giant plate of tortilla chips topped with every topping known to man. Ground beef, chicken, cheese, refried beans, scallions, tomato, onion, lettuce, jalapenos...and a dollop of guacamole and/or sour cream on top. Great for sharing. The one exception is when places use Cheese Whiz as the cheese topper. This effs everything up. The chips get all soggy and the whole middle of the platter turns into a hot, nasty mess that you have to eat with a fork. That's a hassle.

French Fries: They're a staple side dish of every good American sandwich for a reason. Would you like fries with that or our 'homemade chips'? Are you kidding me?

Breadsticks: Hard to go wrong with these, provided they're buttery and you've got some sauce.

Spinach and Artichoke Dip: Once trendy and overrated, this stalwart has held it's own and carved out it's own little identity in the sea of appetizer options.


Wings: Wings are fine. I love wing sauce like I love your mother. But c'mon. They're messy, blue cheese is wildly overrated, and they're served with celery. God forbid you accidentally rub your eyes after you eat wings. That kind of searing pain is the equivalent of sports bar waterboarding.

Calamari: Again, nothing wrong with calamari. But only once in my life have I ever had calamari that knocked my dick in the dirt. Most times you eat it and think to yourself, 'Yep. That's calamari.' Nothing more, nothing less.

Kettle Cooked Chips: Since when did these damn things become the side dish of choice at every sandwich shop in the world? Why kettle cooked? What does that even mean? I go to Panera Bread. My options for a side are kettle chips or an apple. What? No. That's just ridiculous.

Quesadillas: See 'calamari'. This is the grilled cheese sandwich of Mexican food.

Antipasto: I'm not entirely sure what this is. Ignorance is bliss. I believe it's an assortment of cured meats, cheeses, olives and peppers, served cold. I see it on every Italian menu and wisely choose to forgo it every time. These seems like something that the hobbits in Lord of the Rings would pack in their knapsacks when preparing for a long journey. "Excuse me Pippin, could you pass me the cured meats, please?"

Onion Rings: Often times too greasy and too slimy, these are just too hard to get a good 'do' on. The worst is when you get the pre-breaded, frozen kind that are 90% soggy breading. To be fair, hand-breaded ones, with nice thick onions, are a different story. One of the few things that taste really good with ketchup.

'Mini' Sandwiches - I'll take 'hearty' over 'cute' thank you.

Eggrolls - Eh. It's an obvious and generic choice. Too often they're soggy and uninspired. Spring rolls on the other hand are borderline underrated. It's all in the wrapping.

Crab Cakes - Kind of like soccer, crab cakes have potential, but have failed to capture America's imagination.