Often found in Asian dishes, wood-ear mushrooms are chewy, earthy and mild, offering a nice textural counterpoint to crunchy vegetables.

ThisWeek News staffers answer the question: Are wood-ear mushrooms underrated?

Sarah Sole: What a disgusting name.

Lee Cochran: Couldn't say because I've never tried them.

Nate Ellis: Pretty sure I've gone on record as saying nothing you pose in this forum is underrated, Gary. And I'll admit I've never knowingly ingested a wood-ear mushroom.

Chris Pugh: They must be. I haven't heard of them.

Neil Thompson: I have never had a wood-ear mushroom, and I didn't know what it was until I Googled it. So, no.

Dennis Laycock: Mushrooms in general are underrated; they tend to improve anything you put them in.

Lisa Proctor: If I have to do a computer search related to it, it's underrated. That was true here, so yes. One entry I found said “mostly unknown to the world.”

Abby Armbruster: Where can you find them in central Ohio? Ask Tiger Mushroom Farms his opinion.

Scott Hummel: Must be. I don't think I've tried them unless they were in some soup without my knowledge. 

==== Feb. 28, 2020: Do mango and shrimp really go together?

In today's world, chefs and artisans are pushing the envelop with exotic flavors – even with ice cream.

ThisWeek staffers answer the question: Would you eat tomato-flavored ice cream?

Sarah Sole: Eh, I'm good.

Lee Cochran: No. It would seem too much like ketchup on ice cream. I like ice cream and I like ketchup, but not together.

Nate Ellis: I mean, I would, but I can't imagine why or under what circumstances.

Chris Pugh: No.

Neil Thompson: No. That just doesn't sound appetizing.

Dennis Laycock: I would try it, but I don't see it storming the dessert world anytime soon.

Lisa Proctor: Are you thinking about this for Reynoldsburg's Tomato Festival?

Abby Armbruster: While tomatoes can be sweet, I don't know if that's a flavor I would enjoy in ice cream. Although, I do know a place in Columbus that serves pico de gallo-flavored paletas.

Scott Hummel: I'll try just about anything once, but I wouldn't expect to like it.


Feb. 21, 2020: Do mango and shrimp really go together?

Chefs have been matching fruit and seafood for as long as anyone can remember.

ThisWeek News staffers answer the question: Do mango and shrimp really go together?

Sarah Sole: I don't like shrimp, so not for me.

Lee Cochran: Not for me. I eat a lot of shrimp and never once have thought about combining it with mango. But then again, I'm the guy who refuses to put fruit in a salad too.

Nate Ellis: I'm not really one to say who and what should go together and who and what is unholy or should conform to others' beliefs.

Chris Pugh: No, they don't.

Neil Thompson: I've never tried this combination -- and I've never really wanted to -- so I'm not sure they do.

Dennis Laycock: Sounds delicious.

Lisa Proctor: Cocktail sauce and shrimp go together. I think I will skip having mango with it.

Abby Armbruster: I'd rather pair coconut with shrimp – I used to love coconut shrimp when I still ate seafood.

Scott Hummel: Not on my plate. I eat a lot of shrimp. I don't want mango anywhere near it.


Feb. 14, 2020: Any thoughts on frozen pizza?

Frozen pizza is big business in America, with pie-makers making major TV ad buys to show off their creations. Many people love the convenience of frozen pizza while others criticize it as too expensive and not as good as the fresh stuff.

ThisWeek staffers answer the question: Any thoughts on frozen pizza?

Sarah Sole: Thoughts such as, “I'd never eat this?” You won't hear that from me.

Lee Cochran: They are all right in a pinch, especially the higher-end ones. That said, there was a time that I could put away two to three of those $1 Totino's pizzas and didn't mind doing so.

Nate Ellis: I'm forever grateful for my mother and father providing me with it as a young, latchkey child who lacked the ingenuity or motivation to seek out more nutritious offerings after school and during summer breaks from school.

Chris Pugh: All pizzas are delicious. Just remember to warm it up first.

Neil Thompson: It's never as good as a freshly made pie, unfortunately.

Dennis Laycock: Seems irrelevant in the city, when freshly made pizza is a couple of clicks away.

Lisa Proctor: I like DiGiorno. I would rank pizza made from scratch at home in first place, but if I wanted to eat fast, DiGiorno would be the way to go.

Abby Armbruster: I have one back-up pizza in my freezer just in case my day goes horribly and I don't feel like cooking. There's always a way to dress it up, too.

Scott Hummel: I don't eat a lot of pizza, but when I do, I prefer delivery. However, frozen pizzas aren't bad if you decorate them a little by adding cheese and other toppings.


Feb. 7, 2020: Would you ever add bacon to an ice cream sundae?

Bacon is showing up everywhere these days. It's even being added to sweet dishes to provide a salty, crunchy counterpoint.

ThisWeek staffers answer the question: Would you ever add bacon to an ice cream sundae?

Sarah Sole: Yes, I'd try that. The salty-sweet thing could work.

Lee Cochran: I've tried it on doughnuts so why not ice cream?

Nate Ellis: I wouldn't. However, if someone provided me with an ice cream sundae to which bacon had been added, I wouldn't seek revenge or anything like that. I'd appreciate their generosity, thank them accordingly and sample the wares.

Chris Pugh: I wouldn't ruin ice cream by adding bacon to it.

Neil Thompson: I'd be willing to try it, and I think it could be good -- as long as the bacon is crispy so it provides a contrasting texture to the ice cream.

Dennis Laycock: No. The trend of adding bacon to sweet foods must end.

Lisa Proctor: The only things I'm adding are chocolate sauce, whipped cream and cherries. Well, OK, maybe some peanuts.

Abby Armbruster: Not for this vegetarian.

Scott Hummel: Ew. Seriously? Dude, that is so totally gross.


Jan. 31, 2020: Will there ever be a plant-based steak?

Using plant-based substitutes for meat has been growing in popularity.

ThisWeek staffers answer the question: Will there ever be a plant-based steak?

Dennis Laycock: Maybe, but I hope not. I think plants should focus on their strengths and stop trying to pretend to be meat.

Abby Armbruster: As someone who has tried a cauliflower "steak" and a portobello "steak," I'm going to say no. It never achieves what you hope it will.

Lee Cochran: Not on my grill. Nothing against anyone who would want one, but if I want a steak, I want a steak.

Neil Thompson: Before that starts to happen, could we all just agree to end the imitation-meat game instead? I long for the days when we ate plants as plants and meat as meat. I adjure you all: Leave steak alone.

Scott Hummel: I'm sure it will be the most underrated next big thing. But would it really be as healthful, nutritious and tasty as the real McCoy? I think not.

Lisa Proctor: I wouldn't put it past someone to try, but it will not please the people who have had a good ribeye or filet.

Nate Ellis: Maybe. I could see it catching on if Ponderosa makes a comeback, as it seems fast food has is essential to crossing boundaries and popularizing plant-based meats on a national, if not global scale.

Chris Pugh: Anything is possible after the Impossible Burger.

Sarah Sole: Absolutely. 


Jan. 24, 2020: When's the last time you had a samosa?

ThisWeek staffers answer the question: When’s the last time you had a samosa?

Dennis Laycock: It's been many years. I like Indian food but not enough to eat it on a regular basis.

Abby Armrbruster: They're my go-to at Aab India every time. You can't skip those.

Lee Cochran: I can't recall. Best guesses would be a long time ago or possibly never. Didn't seem to leave an impression if I did.

Neil Thompson: Does crab Rangoon count? Then the answer, as of this writing, is Nov. 25.

Scott Hummel: Probably the last time I visited an Asian buffet. It's been a long time.

Lisa Proctor: I haven't yet.

Nate Ellis: April 27, 2019, Nashville, Tennessee.

Chris Pugh: I never had one.

Sarah Sole: I don't recall.


Jan. 17, 2020: Should more garden salads include potatoes?

ThisWeek staffers answer the question: Should more garden salads include potatoes?

Dennis Laycock: No, just as more plates of French fries should not include lettuce.

Abby Armbruster: Heck no. Potatoes are great roasted, and I don't want heavy potatoes weighing down my salads, literally and figuratively.

Lee Cochran: Interesting. I think it would be more of a texture thing. I like potatoes soft; carrots hard. Neither the other way so I'd say no.

Neil Thompson: No. That sounds like a texture nightmare.

Scott Hummel: Absolutely not. Let me be clear: No, never. Keep the spuds away from my lettuce.

Lisa Proctor: No, salads are supposed to be light – not starchy.

Nate Ellis: No. Not unless they're twice baked.

Chris Pugh: Salads and potatoes don't mix.

Sarah Sole: I would enjoy that.


Jan. 10, 2020: Why is it so difficult to find a French dip sandwich in Columbus?

To some, the French dip is among the most satisfying sandwiches: luscious cuts of beef piled high and topped with a slice of cheese on a crusty bun, with beef broth on the side for dipping.

ThisWeek staffers answer the question: Why is it so difficult to find a French dip sandwich in Columbus?

Dennis Laycock: I guess you've never heard of a little place called Arby's.

Abby Armbruster: As the resident non-meat eater, I can't answer this one. I think the last time I had one was during a special at Arby's a million years ago.

Lee Cochran: I've never sought out the sandwich specifically. I've seen it on menus and have tried a few, but it's not a craving that has gone unfulfilled in Columbus.

Neil Thompson: I don't think those sandwiches are hard to find. Jason's Deli has a great one, for example.

Scott Hummel: For me, it's because I never look for them.

Lisa Proctor: They are messy with all of that au jus.

Nate Ellis: Probably because you're not looking for the right listing on the menu. Everyone knows the French dip, at least in Columbus, became the Freedom dip around March 2003.

Chris Pugh: Not enough demand.

Sarah Sole: That's a great question. You know where to go, though? Arby's.


Jan. 3, 2020: What’s the best use for radish sprouts?

Radish sprouts are light and peppery, slightly earthy, and compatible with a number if dishes, from salads to sandwiches.

ThisWeek staffers answer the question: What’s the best use for radish sprouts?

Dennis Laycock: I've never tried them, but if they're as tasty as alfalfa sprouts, I'd say any sandwich could be improved by their presence.

Abby Armbruster: I don't know about the sprouts, but i am a fan of radishes in salads.

Lee Cochran: I'm sure there are more interesting ways of using them, but I'd think on salads.

Neil Thompson: I'm sure it's something underrated.

Scott Hummel: I have no idea, but this question piqued my interest. I'll have to look into those.

Lisa Proctor: I would say a salad, but that does not mean I have added them to mine.

Nate Ellis: So many uses. From accessorizing figurines with facial hair or tentacles, to mashing into a creamy paste and using topically. I'd say the absolute best use, however, is blended up in a margarita and served to your dinner guests.

Chris Pugh: There is no good use for radish sprouts.

Sarah Sole: I hate radishes.


Dec. 20, 2019: Will kale continue to be a hip ingredient in 2020?

Kale picked up steam as a worldwide sensation about 10 years ago, qualifying as a superfood that, as its many supporters believe, is as good raw as it is cooked. Its critics rebuke the leafy vegetable as overhyped and bitter.

ThisWeek staffers answer the question: Will kale continue to be a hip ingredient in 2020?

Dennis Laycock: Is it still hip? I haven't heard anyone talking about it in years.

Abby Armbruster: I was just thinking the other day, “I wish kale chips were more prevalent in sandwich shops” – so my answer is, “hopefully.”

Lee Cochran: Probably so, but not for me.

Neil Thompson: Isn't it always hip to be kale?

Scott Hummel: Not if I have anything to say about it. And I don't, so it probably will.

Lisa Proctor: I think so. Even Grover mentioned it on the Sesame Street 50th anniversary special.

Nate Ellis: Oh, absolutely. You can't go anywhere without seeing the chicest of people – women, men, young and old – talking about kale, ordering it. If you are sizing the kale supply up at the market, typically you get a knowing nod from someone that's like, "Yeah. Kale is the heat. You're cool. I'm cool. Dig it." I can't see that changing in 2020. No way.

Chris Pugh: I hope not.

Sarah Sole: Seems likely.


Dec. 13, 2019: Do you have any food-related resolutions for 2020?

Who doesn't want to get healthy in the New Year -- or at least try in the first quarter of it anyway?

ThisWeek staffers answer the question: Do you have any food-related resolutions for 2020?

Dennis Laycock: I'm going to try to eat more pie in 2020. I think we all should.

Abby Armbruster: I feel like I've fallen off the wagon of cooking regularly, so it'd be nice to get back on that.

Lee Cochran: Much like it's been the last several years: more chicken and veggies with some occasional lean red meats. Never been a fan of sweets or desserts so that's not much of a concern.

Neil Thompson: I think an appropriate resolution is to eat more fruits and vegetables instead of things that are bad for me.

Scott Hummel: I would like to keep fading away from processed foods and move more toward Asian and Mediterranean fare.

Lisa Proctor: Perhaps stop relying on purchased food period, given all of the recalls of everything from romaine lettuce to pepperoni.

Nate Ellis: I'm going to try to eat less of it, but I think I might need professional help to do so.

Chris Pugh: Eat less.

Sarah Sole: I want to incorporate more vegetables into my meals.


Dec. 6, 2019: Are dehydrated ingredients the next big thing in cooking?

Although dehydrated foods are nothing new, particularly for campers, it seems more and more chefs are using those ingredients, from kimchi powder to tomato-skin chips.

ThisWeek staffers answer the question: Are dehydrated ingredients the next big thing in cooking?

Dennis Laycock: Seems like an unnecessary step on the path to good food.

Abby Armbruster: I never understood the hype around dehydrating things. Hard pass from me.

Lee Cochran: They could be, but I don't use them.

Neil Thompson: I don't know anyone who is doing this, so I have to answer no.

Scott Hummel: They were the next big thing – literally – 400 years ago.

Lisa Proctor: I say no. More people are into using things that are fresh, right away.

Nate Ellis: No. Not unless camping without sufficient means to cool or otherwise maintain your ingredients becomes massively popular. Or, if people decide it's just too expensive or wasteful to have refrigerators – similar to the “cut the cord” movement in television.

Chris Pugh: I hope not.

Sarah Sole: Once I start cooking, I'll get back to you on this.


Nov. 29, 2019: Would you try fried salmon skin?

In some cultures, fried fish skin is like potato chips – crispy and full of flavor, finding its way into dishes such as rice bowls and sushi rolls or eaten on its own.

ThisWeek staffers answer the question: Would you try fried salmon skin?

Scott Hummel: Yes, but when I fry salmon, my dogs look forward to sharing the skin.

Nate Ellis: Yes.

Sarah Sole: I would not.

Lisa Proctor: Not a fan of skin as a food.

Dennis Laycock: I would, I have and it's delicious.

Abby Armbruster: As the resident vegetarian here, I have to say nope.

Neil Thompson: Sure. Sounds like it would be crispy and salty, with a fun texture.

Chris Pugh: I make it a point not to eat anything with skin.

Lee Cochran: I never have before, but I won't say I never will.


Nov. 22, 2019: Are tacos more popular than burritos?

It seems any milk not made of dairy is all the rage these days. One version getting a lot of attention lately is oat milk, made by soaking oats in water, blended and strained.

ThisWeek staffers answer the question: Any thoughts on oat milk?

Scott Hummel: I've tried it. Not a fan. My wife, who usually likes that kind of thing, doesn't like it either.

Nate Ellis: Nope. Not one.

Sarah Sole: I'd try it.

Lisa Proctor: I have no idea how oats and milk go together, aside from pouring milk on oatmeal.

Dennis Laycock: I rarely use milk at all in any form, so I'd rather go without than use any of the various substitutes.

Abbey Armbruster: I've tried oat-milk lattes, and they're good, although I won't use it over almond milk or cow's milk as my main dairy source.

Neil Thompson: It's probably not as good as the bovine version.

Chris Pugh: Leave oats out of milk

Lee Cochran: I've never tried it; just regular skim or 1 percent for me.


Nov. 15, 2019: Are tacos more popular than burritos?

Burritos once enjoyed a significant period as the go-to casual dish in the U.S., a counterpoint to the common burger. Now burritos have serious competition from the equally modest taco.

ThisWeek staffers answer the question: Are tacos more popular than burritos?

Scott Hummel: Not a chance, hermano.

Nate Ellis: Yes.

Sarah Sole: Heck yes. My favorite food.

Lisa Proctor: I tend to choose tacos over burritos, but I am probably the odd one.

Dennis Laycock: If not, they should be.

Abby Armbruster: How often do you find restaurants that specialize in burritos compared to the ever-popular "taco bar?" To make a long story short, my answer is yes.

Neil Thompson: Yes. Why? Probably because they are easier to eat.

Chris Pugh: They both are equally great.

Lee Cochran: A big divide in our house. I eat tacos; my wife eats burritos.

==== Nov. 8, 2019: Is za’atar underrated?

Za'atar is a zesty Middle Eastern spice mix that can be used as a marinade for meats or mixed with olive oil and spread on bread or toast.

ThisWeek staffers answer the question: Is za’atar underrated?

Scott Hummel: I've never heard of it, so it just might be.

Nate Ellis: No. But thanks to the genius of Herbie Hancock, I can say that keytar is.

Sarah Sole: I have no idea what that is.

Lisa Proctor: What is it?

Dennis Laycock: No, I want to see za'atar-flavored chips.

Abby Armbruster: I think it's overrated, to be honest. There are other Mediterranean and Middle Eastern sauces and spices I'd rather cook with first.

Neil Thompson: Since I didn't know what it was until now, I suppose it could be considered underrated.

Chris Pugh: Anything that aids memory is a good thing.

Lee Cochran: Since I've never heard of it, probably so.


Nov. 1, 2019: What restaurant pop-up would you like to see?

Some entrepreneurs have tried using the restaurant “pop-up” concept – either joining an existing kitchen or signing a short-term lease – to test out the popularity of their brand.

ThisWeek staffers answer the question: What restaurant pop-up would you like to see?

Scott Hummel: It depends on the time of year. In winter, something seafood. In summer, not so much.

Nate Ellis: Marion's Pizza.

Sarah Sole: A Momo Ghar near me.

Lisa Proctor: A reincarnation of the Florentine that used to be on Broad Street. I miss the fettuccine.

Dennis Laycock: A "coffee" stand that sells hot cups of Asian broths – pho, miso, etc. – for those cold winter mornings.

Abby Armbruster: A few months ago, there was talk of a sushi pop-up coming to Columbus... I eagerly wait for its arrival.

Neil Thompson: I'd love to see a restaurant here that specializes in lake fish like yellow perch.

Chris Pugh: Anything waffle related

Lee Cochran: Anything that would be a little different.


Oct. 25, 2019: Will sourdough make a rampant return?

Good sourdough bread made with starter is the stuff of legends. Crusty outside and pillowy-soft and slightly tart inside, sourdough is good with just about anything, from butter to soups.

ThisWeek staffers answer the question: Will sourdough make a rampant return?

Scott Hummel: I hope so. Oh, how I hope so.

Nate Ellis: No.

Sarah Sole: Hope so.

Lisa Proctor: I'd like to see it rise in popularity but I think several people are into breadsticks right now.

Dennis Laycock: According to Cracker Barrel, it never went anywhere.

Abby Armbruster: Sourdough never left. Lucky Cat makes an excellent sourdough loaf which can be found in grocery stores around central Ohio.

Neil Thompson: I think sourdough already holds a strong position in American dining culture.

Chris Pugh: It's already made a rampant return in my life.

Lee Cochran: It never left in my opinion; love sourdough toast with my over-easy eggs.


Oct. 18, 2019: Are plant-based burgers the next big thing

Veggie burgers are nothing new but the new wave of plant-based “impossible burgers” are said to taste like meat.

ThisWeek staffers answer the question: Are plant-based burgers the next big thing?

Scott Hummel: It's certainly taking root. Who knows how long that fad will last?

Nate Ellis: No.

Sarah Sole: I think they have been pretty popular already.

Lisa Proctor: I have a beef with this whole plant-based burger trend. Just serve the vegetables in the regular way - spoon them onto the plate. Don't turn them into patties.

Dennis Laycock: I hope not. I feel like vegetarian food is best when it relies on its own flavors and doesn't try to emulate meat.

Abby Armbruster: They've already been the "next big thing" as of a few years ago. For this vegetarian, it makes me happy to know that, by now, most restaurants have a veggie burger on the menu.

Neil Thompson: I think they absolutely are a huge trend right now. But I'll stick with the classic options of beef or bison patties.

Chris Pugh: Not in my house.

Lee Cochran: Seem to be, but I'm not interested.


Oct. 11, 2019: Would you drink a vegetable smoothie

Savory smoothies have become a staple for those who try to get more vegetables in their diet. But others take pause, concerned about the flavor.

ThisWeek staffers answer the question: Would you drink a vegetable smoothie?

Scott Hummel: Oh, yeah. I actually drink at least one a week that has spinach in it. Celery is a strong flavor, though, so keep it to a minimum.

Nate Ellis: I'd probably sip one.

Sarah Sole: Sure thing, if it came with plenty of fruit ingredients as well.

Lisa Proctor: I will stick with fruit smoothies.

Dennis Laycock: That greatly depends on what vegetables were in it.

Abby Armbruster: I have before. The "green" smoothies with spinach or kale are good when mixed with fruits like pineapple, banana and oranges.

Neil Thompson: A vegetable smoothie needs to be based on kale, or it doesn't work, in my opinion.

Chris Pugh: Depends on the vegetable.

Lee Cochran: I've drank probably every kind of smoothie possible. Veggies would be no problem, but I'll go one step further than Hummel – no celery.


Oct. 4, 2019: How do you feel about escargots ala Bourguignonne?

Escargots ala Bourguignonne – among France’s most famous culinary preparations – are rich with butter, aromatic with garlic and shallots, and earthy with snails and parsley.

ThisWeek staffers answer the question: How do you feel about escargots ala Bourguignonne?

Lisa Proctor: Ill at ease.

Scott Hummel: I'll bet I ask myself 30 times a day: "Hummel, how do you feel about escargots ala Bourguignonne?" Still thinking about it.

Neil Thompson: Curious. I've had snail dishes a time or two, and I would try it again.

Nate Ellis: Ambivalent.

Abby Armbruster: Escargots can es-car-go someplace far away from me.

Dennis Laycock: Honestly, it's the overpowering garlic flavor of the sauce, not the snails, that puts me off of escargot.

Chris Pugh: I don't feelings about things I've never heard of.

Sarah Sole: I would escar leave it. Yes? No? I'll just see myself out.

Lee Cochran: I've never once thought about that and in 30 seconds I'll forget I ever did.


Sept. 27, 2019: How does coconut shrimp sound?

Coconut shrimp long has been considered one of the classic food pairings, the sweet, toasty coconut playing well with the brininess of the shrimp, and usually a sweet sauce for dipping.

ThisWeek staffers answer the questions: How does coconut shrimp sound?

Lisa Proctor: A little too sweet, but you had me at the word shrimp.

Scott Hummel: I love shrimp, almost to an unhealthful fault. I love coconut nearly as much. I'm not crazy about coconut shrimp.

Neil Thompson: Delicious.

Nate Ellis: It sounds like shrimp with at least a dash of coconut.

Abby Armbruster: I haven't had it since college, but I remember loving it. Coconut matches well with the deep-fried breading of the shrimp.

Dennis Laycock: It's pretty much the best way to eat shrimp, in my opinion.

Chris Pugh: Good, but only if you hold the shrimp.

Sarah Sole: I'm good with just the coconut part.

Lee Cochran: I like coconut and I like shrimp. Not together. As Offspring sang, “You gotta keep ’em separated." 


Sept. 20, 2019: Is it becoming more acceptable to put corn in desserts?

ThisWeek staffers answer the question: Is it becoming more acceptable to put corn in desserts?

Lisa Proctor: Don't you put corn in my desserts.

Scott Hummel: High-fructose corn syrup has been in desserts for decades. Might as well step it up a skosh.

Neil Thompson: Why would you even do that?

Nate Ellis: Not to me.

Abby Armbruster: Absolutely. I make an amazing cobbler that is topped with a cornmeal-cookie crust. I also make a mean corn-and-blueberry souffle.

Dennis Laycock: If the delicious sweet-corn cookie at (now closed) Acre is any indication, yes.

Chris Pugh: Corn and desserts don't belong together.

Sarah Sole: I certainly hope not.

Lee Cochran: I don't eat many desserts and I'm sure as heck not going to put corn on them when I do.


Sept. 13, 2019: Sriracha is best on what dish?

Sriracha has become the new ketchup for people who like spicy food. People use it for everything, from soups to dip for chicken wings.

ThisWeek staffers answer the question: Sriracha is best on what dish?

Lisa Proctor: I'm going with tacos.

Scott Hummel: Sriracha is right in my Scoville wheelhouse at 1,000-2,500 heat units, and I think I like it on Mexican dishes. Maybe not so much on Asian cuisine.

Neil Thompson: This might be strange, but I like to mix it in ketchup. It's an excellent combination.

Nate Ellis: Maybe a couple drops in pho would be alright but I can’t seem to think of anything else I’d put it in.

Abby Armbruster: I'm not saying this is the best application for Sriracha, but usually in my household it's drizzled on top of pizza.

Dennis Laycock: A steaming hot bowl of pho only reaches perfection once the sriracha is stirred in.

Chris Pugh: Only on dishes you don't plan to eat.

Sarah Sole: All of the dishes.

Lee Cochran: I’ve used it on many foods - chicken, hamburgers, fries, Mexican foods – but probably my favorite use is on eggs and potatoes or in an omelet.


Sept. 6, 2019: Are savory muffins underrated?

Savory muffins come in many forms: bacon and cheddar, goat cheese and rosemary, and gruyere with apple and sage.

ThisWeek staffers answer the question: Are savory muffins underrated?

Lisa Proctor: All muffins are underrated.

Scott Hummel: I absolutely think they're underrated.

Neil Thompson: I enjoy most types of muffins, but I think they are rated properly.

Nate Ellis: Compared to what?

Abby Armbruster: How often do you have the option to try savory muffins? Can't say they're underrated if they're not out in the world.

Dennis Laycock: Muffins are not really a part of my life, let alone savory ones.

Chris Pugh: I would rather have savory muffins than unsavory muffins.

Sarah Sole: Probably. I don't think I've had them.

Lee Cochran: Can they be underrated if they're "savory?" 


Aug. 30, 2019: Would you ever eat deep-fried alligator meat?

Described as having a firm – some even say chewy – texture and mild flavor, fried alligator meat is growing in popularity across the United States.

ThisWeek staffers answer the question: Would you ever eat deep-fried alligator meat?

Lisa Proctor: I would never eat anything that could potentially have eaten me or a loved one.

Scott Hummel: I once lived near Okeechobee, Florida, and somehow never managed to try alligator. At some point, I really want to. Might as well start with deep-fried gator.

Neil Thompson: Yes. I think that would be the best way to enjoy alligator, which I find a bit too chewy and dense.

Nate Ellis: Yep.

Abby Armbruster: I'll leave that for my husband to try on my behalf.

Dennis Laycock: I would and have, in the Florida Keys. I wouldn't order it again.

Chris Pugh: Only as revenge for the people that the alligator ate.

Sarah Sole: That's a hard pass for me.


Aug. 23, 2019: When’s the last time you had cucumber-and-tomato salad?

It's the peak of the season for fresh tomatoes, often enjoyed simply in a salad with a few other ingredients.

ThisWeek staffers answer the question: When’s the last time you had cucumber-and-tomato salad?

Lisa Proctor: Never. My cucumber salad is cucumber, onion and vinegar.

Scott Hummel: Less than a week ago. It's one of my favorites.

Neil Thompson: I have no idea. It's not a popular side on most restaurant menus.

Nate Ellis: Never.

Abby Armbruster: Within the last year, probably. There's nothing more refreshing in the summertime.

Dennis Laycock: I have either cucumbers or tomatoes almost every day, but not together.

Chris Pugh: Recently. Pretty traditional dish.

Sarah Sole: I can't remember, but tomato salads are stupendous.


Aug. 16, 2019: Would you ever put balsamic reduction on soft-serve ice cream?

Toppings on soft-serve ice cream can run the gamut, from sprinkles to chocolate sauce.

ThisWeek staffers answer the question: Would you ever put balsamic reduction on soft-serve ice cream?

Lisa Proctor: I don't always eat soft-serve, but when I do it's not with balsamic reduction.

Scott Hummel: I don't want balsamic anything on my ice cream. I'll stick with the traditional syrup, nuts, whip cream and a cherry, thank you.

Neil Thompson: No, I would not put balsamic reduction on soft-serve ice cream. But hot fudge? Yes.

Nate Ellis: No.

Abby Armbruster: Balsamic reductions are great – when they're on a salad or entree. Keep it away from my soft-serve, please. Exceptions can be made in the form of Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams.

Dennis Laycock: That seems like a weird high-art/low-art juxtaposition, but I guess it worked for Lichtenstein, so sure, I'd try it.

Chris Pugh: I wouldn't, and I would be shocked if anyone would have thought about doing this.

Sarah Sole: Gonna save that for my salad.


Aug. 9, 2019: Will cherries jubilee ever make a comeback?

Cherries jubilee, much like crepes Suzette, is one of those flambeed desserts from a bygone era.

ThisWeek staffers answer the question: Will cherries jubilee ever make a comeback?

Scott Hummel: Not in my house. I'm not much into sweets in general.

Nate Ellis: "Shake it, shake it, Sugaree. I'll meet you at the jubilee. And if that jubilee don't come, baby I'll meet you on the run." What was the question?

Chris Pugh: Jean shorts will make a comeback first.

Dennis Laycock: I hope so. The world needs more flaming dishes.

Lisa Proctor: As much as I love cherries, I doubt it.

Abby Armbruster: I doubt it. I prefer cherries in a cobbler or pie.

Lee Cochran: Not for me.

Neil Thompson: Maybe if you have the ability to travel back in time. I think any flambeed dessert will struggle to become popular again.

Sarah Sole: There's always hope.


Aug. 2, 2019: What’s the best use for imitation crab meat?

Imitation crab, or surimi, is a favorite for people looking for a wallet-friendly alternative to the real thing and a common ingredient in sushi.

ThisWeek staffers answer the question: What’s the best use for imitation crab meat?

Scott Hummel: As a nighttime snack and as a cracker dip. My dogs love it, too. They make me share.

Nate Ellis: I don't know. Gumbo?

Chris Pugh: Wallpaper paste.

Dennis Laycock: Probably a California roll.

Lisa Proctor: An advertisement photo shoot for something in which there will be real crab meat.

Abby Armbruster: Philadelphia roll or crab Rangoon.

Lee Cochran: Mixed in with a dip.

Neil Thompson: Probably in crab Rangoon, where you can't really taste it with the dominant flavor of fried wontons and cream cheese, though the real thing always is the best in any dish.

Sarah Sole: Oh, I'd rather not.


July 26, 2019: How do you rate soy milk?

Either for dietary reasons or flavor, many people are opting for alternatives to dairy milk.

ThisWeek staffers answer the question: How do you rate soy milk?

Scott Hummel: I don't care for soy milk or almond milk. I actually like lactose-free regular milk much better than regular milk, though.

Nate Ellis: I don't rate. I try not to hate. I struggle to relate. I like a hot plate. I'm on the fence as it pertains to fate. To be fashionable is to be late. My name is Nate.

Chris Pugh: I don't rate anything with soy in it.

Dennis Laycock: I hardly ever drink milk at all, so I don't have much use for it.

Lisa Proctor: I am not lactose intolerant, so I only use real milk.

Abby Armbruster: I know it gets a bad rep, but I enjoy it. Between soy milk and almond milk, I'm covered -- although half and half is still my No. 1 when it comes to coffee.

Lee Cochran: I'll just stick with regular milk.

Neil Thompson: Below "Malk" from "The Simpsons” - now with Vitamin R. Also, "Malk" now apparently is a real thing, though it's -- thankfully! -- different than the Springfield version: malkorganics.com.

Sarah Sole: Almond milk is superior, but soy is still alright. Dark Chocolate soy, even better. Call me a millennial.


July 19, 2019: How does spaghetti carbonara sound?

Spaghetti carbonara is one of the quintessential Italian dishes that's lauded for its flavor and simplicity.

Although some recipes vary, it starts with a bowl of raw eggs, salt, coarsely ground black pepper, Parmigiano-Reggiano and browned pancetta. Hot spaghetti is tossed in the mixture, somewhat cooking the egg, resulting in a creamy dish with a variety of textures.

ThisWeek staffers answer the question: How does spaghetti carbonara sound?

Scott Hummel: Good. Period.

Nate Ellis: Italian-ish.

Chris Pugh: Hold the egg and black pepper from the dish and we'll talk.

Dennis Laycock: Really good. Though nothing beats puttanesca.

Lisa Proctor: Dry and bland. Give me the tomato sauce.

Abby Armbruster: It always turned me off as a kid, and now that I don't eat meat, I'm even more willing to pass.

Lee Cochran: Delicious.

Neil Thompson: Classic, filling and delicious.

Sarah Sole: It sounds lovely.


July 12, 2019: Is mussels meuniere an underrated dish?

Mussels meuniere is a classic French recipe using mollusks, garlic, bay leaves, thyme, white wine, salt, pepper, parsley and butter. Many people serve the dish with crusty bread.

ThisWeek staffers answer the question: Is mussels meuniere an underrated dish?

Scott Hummel: I like mussels in just about any preparation, but I don't know if it's underrated.

Nate Ellis: Nothing you've ever posed here is underrated, Gary.

Chris Pugh: Anything that rhymes with manure isn't a good pick.

Dennis Laycock: No. Like many crustaceans, mussels are too much work.

Lisa Proctor: I would say so, because I had never heard of it.

Abby Armbruster: Show me this dish on a Columbus menu. I don't think it can be underrated if it isn't in the local vernacular.

Lee Cochran: I've never had it so I don't know that I'd call it underrated, but I sure would try it.

Neil Thompson: Sure. Mussels aren't available on menus as often as I think they should be, and mussels in butter just sound awesome right now.

Sarah Sole: I'm a salmon type of girl. No mussels.


July 5, 2019: Are Pacific Rim flavors the next big thing??

Every year, foodies prognosticate about the next big food trend, and every year some of them are right and others are way off the mark.

ThisWeek staffers answer the question: Are Pacific Rim flavors the next big thing?

Scott Hummel: I certainly hope so -- providing I can afford it.

Nate Ellis: I guess there always has to be something that's the "next" thing, and there apparently are people out there that care about trends. So I wouldn't bet against it. But I can safely say I'm likely to miss that wave or whatever else is deemed "next" or "big" -- unless it's Louisville's 2019-20 basketball team. Because I think they're going to be pretty good -- as long as they get solid point-guard play.

Dennis Laycock: You mean, like, for lollipops? I'll pass on the Salmon Nigiri Dum-Dums, thanks.

Lisa Proctor: Google tells me they are supposed to be big this year. I am going with that.

Abby Amrbruster: Who can guess what the next big thing will be for central Ohio cuisine?

Lee Cochran: I wouldn't mind if it were.

Andrew King: I prefer to interpret this question as “flavors inspired by sea monsters from the movie, Pacific Rim,” which is very interesting to me.

Neil Thompson: Here in central Ohio? It might be cost-prohibitive because I think those dishes rely on fresh seafood and tropical fruit. Still, I've seen several new restaurants emphasizing poke and Hawaiian cuisine, so maybe it's not far-fetched.

Sarah Sole: I'm not really sure what they are.


June 28, 2019: Would you ever consider putting bacon on a peanut butter and jelly sandwich?

Bacon has found its way into some of the most unusual dishes, such as ice cream and brownies.

ThisWeek staff writers answer the question: Would you ever consider putting bacon on a peanut butter and jelly sandwich?

Scott Hummel: I could see that working. Bacon is one of those add-ons that just seems to work in ways one wouldn't imagine. PB&J might as well join the club.

Nate Ellis: I mean, I'd try it if someone gave me that type of sandwich and I think it'd be OK. But I don't think I'd go to the effort of making bacon to put on a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. And if I'm making bacon - literally, not figuratively - I think I'd probably combine it with something else.

Andrew King: I would consider it, but I'm not a huge fan of wedging bacon into situations it doesn't normally belong.

Dennis Laycock: I like bacon as much as the next guy, but this national obsession must end. It doesn't belong on PB&J.

Lisa Proctor: No, no and no.

Abby Armbruster: It makes more sense on a peanut butter-and-banana sandwich, to me. In any case, I don't need bacon on my sandwich.

Lee Cochran: I'd put bacon on almost any sandwich. However, I do not eat peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. I like peanut butter, and I like jelly but no way am I eating them together.

Neil Thompson: Of course. It's bacon. Also, I think it's smoky saltiness and texture would mesh well with a PB&J.

Sarah Sole: I think it would be delightful.


June 21, 2019: Do goat cheese and Kalamata olives belong together on a cracker?

When making a snack, trying to fit in salty, tangy and crunchy in each bite is a worthy objective.

ThisWeek staff writers answer the question: Do goat cheese and Kalamata olives belong together on a cracker?

Andrew King: I'm out on anything involving olives.

Scott Hummel: If goat cheese and Kalamata olives don't belong together on a cracker, I don't know what two cracker toppings do.

Nate Ellis: I'm not going to say they don't belong. But I'm not going to have any regrets if I don't see them all get together.

Dennis Laycock: Kalamata olives are nature's finest food, and goat cheese is right up there, so yeah, this is pretty much a perfect combo.

Lisa Proctor: I could see this being messy.

Abby Armbruster: I am the rare person who does not like Kalamata olives, so just give me the goat cheese.

Lee Cochran: I like goat cheese but am not a fan of olives.

Neil Thompson: Absolutely. I endorse pretty much any cheese-and-crackers combination, which I often find is wildly underrated as an appetizer.

Sarah Sole: Yes, absolutely.


June 14, 2019: Is pimento loaf underrated?

It seems very few people don't have a strong opinion about pimento loaf. It is a lunchmeat composed of finely ground beef and pork, with chopped pickles and pimentos for a tangy flavor.

ThisWeek staffers answer the question: Is pimento loaf underrated?

Andrew King: I would rather skip a meal altogether than eat pimento loaf.

Scott Hummel: It must be.

Lee Cochran: Not by me. I've never eaten it and never will.

Dennis Laycock: No, it probably deserves to stay in the 1950s where we left it.

Abby Armbruster: Olives are not a favorite of mine. I bet Dennis says he loves it.

Sarah Sole: It looks kind of gross but I've never had it so I can't say.

Nate Ellis: Like just about anything someone asks about in terms of being underrated, it's way, way, way overrated.

Neil Thompson: I think it's rated just fine – as something I'm unlikely to eat.

Lisa Proctor: It should be forgotten, as though we never thought to make it.


June 7, 2019: Any thoughts on ghost pepper cheese?

There have always been daredevil eaters -- those who will test their spicy-food threshold. One way to do that is drape a piece of ghost pepper cheese over a sandwich or burger, as the pepper is said to be seven times spicier than a habanero.

ThisWeek staffers answer the question: Any thoughts on ghost pepper cheese?

Andrew King: I am a spice wuss, so I am terrified at the thought.

Scott Hummel: I've never tried it. I'll have to see where it is on the Scoville scale to see if I could even handle it. I love Hungarian wax peppers and young jalapeños, but I have my limits.

Lee Cochran: I like spicy and hot, but I don't go to extremes.

Dennis Laycock: I love any cheese with peppers, but my digestive system would prefer if I stuck to jalapeño or lower.

Abby Armbruster: People who eat ghost pepper cheese live life on the edge. I am not one of those people.

Sarah Sole: It's probably too intense for me.

Nate Ellis: Not unless you ask me to think about it. But if you insist, it sounds really spicy.

Lisa Proctor: Ghost pepper cheese is dead to me.

Neil Thompson: Most hot-pepper cheeses are amazing.


May 31, 2019: Have you ever tried vegetarian sausage?

For years, chefs and food producers have made vegetarian sausage, using a variety of vegetables, some dehydrated for texture, and spices that mimic the taste of real pork sausage.

ThisWeek staffers respond to the question: Have you ever tried vegetarian sausage?

Andrew King: I have eaten delicious vegetarian chorizo, if that counts. Throw it in a taco and you can't tell it's not meat.

Scott Hummel: Yes. I think depending on how it's made, it could be pretty good.

Lee Cochran: I'd refer to my answer on the earlier question of veggie hot dogs. I don't think I ever would. If I want sausage, I'm going to have pork sausage.

Dennis Laycock: No. I enjoy vegetarian dishes but not the ones that try to pretend they're meat.

Abby Armbruster: Indeed, I have. Vegetarian bratwursts, hot dogs and sausages are decent substitutes – but I'd rather avoid the fake meat any day.

Sarah Sole: Yup. At Dirty Frank's. It was delightful.

Nate Ellis: Probably. What's it to you?

Neil Thompson: No. Isn't that a paradox?

Lisa Proctor: Nope.


May 24, 2019: What's the best use for baby bok choy?

With a crunchy texture, and a mild, slightly earthy flavor, baby bok choy adapts to many preparations and is popular in Asian dishes.

ThisWeek staffers answer the question: What’s the best use for baby bok choy?

Andrew King: I think that question is far beyond my culinary knowledge.

Scott Hummel: I have absolutely no idea.

Lee Cochran: I would have no idea.

Dennis Laycock: Probably as a base for some sort of Asian stir-fry.

Abby Armbruster: I don't buy much baby bok choy, but if it's roasted correctly, it is delicious on its own.

Sarah Sole: I don't have a use for this.

Nate Ellis: It's a draw between soups and stir-fries.

Neil Thompson: In shrimp or chicken stir-fry.

Lisa Proctor: I would use it in stir-fry.


May 17, 2019: Do subs taste better toasted?

It's a debate that's not likely to be settled soon. Some prefer the crunchy bread, warmed deli cuts and melted cheese that only a toasted sub can offer. Others prefer their sandwich bread soft and sandwich ingredients chilled.

ThisWeek staffers answer the question: Do subs taste better toasted?

Andrew King: Not as a rule. I think there's a definite place for the traditional cold cut sandwich, especially when you slather it in oil and mayo like some of my favorite spots.

Scott Hummel: Not only do they taste better, but the texture also is far superior when the bun is toasted.

Lee Cochran: Depends on the sub, but, yes, in most cases a toasted sub is preferred.

Dennis Laycock: Absolutely. Especially when the edges of the lunch meat get a little crispy.

Abby Armbruster: My one drawback with Jimmy John's is their lack of toasted bread. I know Quizno's isn't as popular as they used to be, but that's where they thrived.

Sarah Sole: Most of the time, depending on the ingredients.

Nate Ellis: Not necessarily. But subs typically taste better when you are toasted.

Neil Thompson: Yes. It's science.

Lisa Proctor: Yes. It makes the bread better, melts the cheese. It's way more satisfying.


May 10, 2019: How does creamy eel soup sound?

Although it's not as popular in the United States, eel is a diet staple for many cultures across the world. Known for its light taste and firm-yet-yielding texture, it is known to adapt well with many sauces and soups.

ThisWeek staffers answer the question: How does creamy eel soup sound?

Andrew King: It sounds really weird, but I'd definitely try it.

Scott Hummel: I think it could be electrifyingly good.

Lee Cochran: Not very good.

Dennis Laycock: Nauseating. "Creamy" and "eel" are two words that should never appear together.

Abby Armbruster: Any type of eel soup should stay far away from me.

Sarah Sole: It sounds pretty gross.

Nate Ellis: It sounds creamy, slimy, slithery and soupy.

Neil Thompson: Shocking.

Lisa Proctor: Eel-y bad.


May 3, 2019: Is there ever a bad time to put chili on top of grilled bologna?

The full flavor of beef bologna usually needs just a few garnishes: banana peppers, cheese and some mustard. But those who are more daring might pick chili to really give the sandwich some girth.

ThisWeek staffers answer the question: Is there ever a bad time to put chili on top of grilled bologna?

Andrew King: Is there ever a good time to eat bologna?

Scott Hummel: In full disclosure, I rarely eat bologna anyway. Just give me the chili; hold the bologna.

Lee Cochran: I don't think I've ever done that before, and it's been quite some time since I've eaten bologna. But I've put chili on a lot of things, all kinds of potatoes, eggs, omelets, so I'd probably give it a try.

Dennis Laycock: Weird flex. I think I'd eat them separately.

Abby Armbruster: Has this combo ever been attempted? I am not a meat-eater, so maybe I missed the trend on this one.

Sarah Sole: One doesn't come to mind.

Nate Ellis: Yes. But only when you think it's a good time to have grilled bologna.

Neil Thompson: I don't think there's a good time to put chili on top of grilled bologna.

Lisa Proctor: Chili is way too messy. Leave it off any sandwich.


April 26: Is stadium mustard better than regular yellow mustard?

When it comes to a baseball game or backyard barbecue, a hot dog – or even a pretzel – just isn't complete without a certain type of condiment.

ThisWeek staffers answer the question: Is stadium mustard better than regular yellow mustard?

Andrew King: Unquestionably, though I'm not a mustard fan in general.

Scott Hummel: I think it is. I love pretzels dipped in stadium mustard. Yellow mustard is just -- meh.

Lee Cochran: Stadium mustard ... hands down.

Dennis Laycock: No. Nothing beats good old Plochman's.

Abby Armbruster: Depends on the usage. If it's on a hot dog, yes. But if you're looking for mustard to pair with an apple-and-Brie sandwich, then no.

Sarah Sole: Uh. This girl hasn't been at a stadium for a bit.

Nate Ellis: Yes, in every single way. From color to texture, to taste -- and versatility.

Neil Thompson: Yes, especially if it's spicy brown mustard.

Lisa Proctor: I don't know about better, but I always go for the stadium mustard at OSU games.


April 15, 2019: Will apple fritters ever make a comeback?

Apple fritters are deep-fried clusters of batter with pieces of apple strewn throughout and coated with a glaze or rolled in cinnamon sugar.
But are they as popular as they once were?

ThisWeek staffers answer the question: Will apple fritters ever make a comeback?

Sarah Sole: I Googled, and they don't look that great. I'll just stick with apple pie, I think.

Scott Hummel: They'll be like anything else. They'll come and go. I just think they're boring.

Andrew King: I’d look forward to someone making apple fritters sexy and popular somehow.

Nate Ellis: If someone opens a slick-looking, trendy bakery that serves them and has a top-notch marketing team, I'm sure it could happen. If someone posts a picture of one on social media, particular a trending celebrity, and it gets like 1 million likes, I'm sure everyone will lose their minds and start eating them at parties and such.

Lee Cochran: As far as treats go, my go-to list is minimal and this isn't on it. Food items tend ebb and flow in popularity so why not, I guess?

Neil Thompson: Don't call it a comeback. They've been here for years. But they will take a backseat to their more popular peers, apple pie and apple crisp, no matter how they're sliced and diced.

Abby Armbruster: Apple fritters never went away in my heart.

Lisa Proctor: Probably not, due to the deep frying.

Dennis Laycock: I feel like that's always the thing that's left in the box of office doughnuts at 4:30 p.m.


April 5, 2019: Are pickled bamboo shoots unappreciated?

Pickled bamboo shoots are a common addition to Chinese food. Often cut into a flat and rectangular shape, they have a firm, crunchy texture and tangy flavor.

ThisWeek staffers answer the question: Are pickled bamboo shoots unappreciated?

Sarah Sole: I've never had one, so probably.

Scott Hummel: I don't have any appreciation for them.

Andrew King: They seem appropriately appreciated to me.

Nate Ellis: No. They're overappreciated.

Lee Cochran: Not a fan of bamboo shoots, no matter how presented.

Neil Thompson: Since I don't appreciate pickled bamboo shoots – and I never have thought about them until I was posed this question – my answer is yes.

Abby Armbruster: Where can you find pickled bamboo shoots in Columbus? I would probably try them if I could, but I bet I wouldn't become obsessed with them.

Lisa Proctor: I'm leaving the bamboo for the pandas.

Dennis Laycock: They are, actually. Bamboo is one of the best parts of any Chinese dish, in my opinion.


March 29: How do you feel about bacon-wrapped shrimp?

Many chefs view pork and seafood as a natural match, so it's no surprise to see a shrimp tightly wound by a strip of bacon.

ThisWeek staffers answer the question: How do you feel about bacon-wrapped shrimp?

Sarah Sole: Eh, shrimp grosses me out for some irrational reason. I don't think bacon would help me overcome that.

Scott Hummel: As someone who eats as much as 3 pounds of shrimp per week -- no exaggeration -- I will eat it just about any way you can prepare it. With that said, if bacon drowns the shrimp flavor, it's gone.

Andrew King: Like most things wrapped in bacon, bacon-wrapped shrimp is great.

Nate Ellis: Opulent, but got no real quarrel with it.

Lee Cochran: Bacon good; shrimp good. So combined that would seem to be great, especially if cooked on the grill. Now I'm hungry.

Neil Thompson: I am all for it. I am all for most bacon-wrapped foodstuffs.

Abby Armbruster: I understand the combo, but it isn't for me.

Lisa Proctor: I think the taste of shrimp is something that should be enjoyed on its own.

Dennis Laycock: It’s a little much. Serve the bacon on the side and I'll be happier.


March 22: When's the last time you had smoked trout?

To many, smoked trout is a delicacy, the mild and flaky fish enjoyable on its own or served in a dip

ThisWeek staffers answer the question: When’s the last time you had smoked trout?

Sarah Sole: I have never had this. I wonder if I'd like it as much as I like smoked salmon.

Scott Hummel: It's been a few years. Bring me some.

Andrew King: I'm not sure I've ever eaten trout.

Nate Ellis: July 17, 2014. I remember it well.

Lee Cochran: It's been a while, probably when my wife was traveling for her job. That's about the only time I could break the "no seafood smell in the house" rule.

Neil Thompson: I'm not sure, but smoked fish is underrated.

Abby Armbruster: I probably had it when I was a child, but haven't since then. Lake Erie Perch is higher on my list.

Lisa Proctor: I can't say I've had trout recently, smoked or otherwise.

Dennis Laycock: Never. It rarely seems to be on the table for office potlucks.


March 15: Would you dip a chicken wing in hummus?

In theory, a crunchy chicken wing would pair well with lemony hummus. In practical terms, combining the two might not have the greatest outcome.

ThisWeek staffers answer the question: Would you dip a chicken wing in hummus?

Sarah Sole: I mean I would, but hummus hurts my stomach, so I'd probably avoid it for that reason, unless I felt particularly motivated and took a preemptive gas-ex pill. I love hummus, but hummus hates me, a story of love and loss by Sarah Sole.

Scott Hummel: I don't like anything on my wings.

Andrew King: Hummus is a little heavy to be dipping wings into.

Nate Ellis: On a whim or simple to try, but not by practice.

Lee Cochran: I've never understood the reason to dip wings in anything. I tried to dip wings into ranch dressing once and all I tasted was ranch, not the flavor of the wings.

Neil Thompson: No. What's wrong with you? Disclaimer: I despise hummus.

Abby Armbruster: I don't eat chicken anymore, but my hummus is best with tortilla chips or pita bread.

Lisa Proctor: If you're eating a chicken wing, healthy has gone out the window. Go ahead with the ranch dip or spicy barbecue.

Dennis Laycock: If I did, it would be about the 20th different food I've dipped in hummus.


March 8: Should celery be used to scoop peanut butter and dressings?

Celery is one of the world's most versatile foods. It's often a staple in soups, salads and served with chicken wings.

ThisWeek staffers answer the question: Should celery be used to scoop peanut butter and dressings?

Sara Sole: Heck yes. I love peanut butter, and I feel super healthy eating it with celery as opposed to saltine crackers. I'm being completely serious.

Neil Thompson: No, I generally avoid celery.

Scott Hummel: Yes, but only if it's good celery. It has to be fresh and crunchy. Bendable chewy celery is more like dental floss. Oh, and no double dipping allowed.

Andrew King: That's celery's best usage.

Nate Ellis: Dressing is fine, but you really should use a butter knife of other utensil to spread peanut butter on them. Just seems proper and more efficient.

Lee Cochran: Celery is the devil's food. I tried it once and my knees buckled. I will never, ever try it again. Never. Ever. Do with it what you want as long as you keep your distance from me when you do it.

Abby Amrbruster: If you're not turning celery into "ants on a log," I don't know what to do with you.

Lisa Proctor: I enjoy celery just by itself, but I won't say that's the only way.

Dennis Laycock: Well, I'm certainly not going to eat celery plain.


March 3: Is Columbus ready for native Icelandic cuisine?

Because they are surrounded by water, Icelanders are known for their love of seafood, whether fresh, dried, pickled or fermented. Other popular dishes include smoked lamb and skyr, a type of yogurt.

ThisWeek staffers answer the question: Is Columbus ready for native Icelandic cuisine?

Sarah Sole: Yeah let’s do it. I’m not a vegetarian anymore so I’m down. I need to expand my seafood comfort zone anyway.

Scott Hummel: Columbus is ready for any fare from anywhere.

Andrew King: Definitely. Give us some more credit.

Nate Ellis: Why not?

Lee Cochran: It would seem to be a natural addition.

Neil Thompson: I don’t know about Columbus, but I am ready for Icelandic cuisine to make an appearance. I generally support the introduction of more fish-based dishes in central Ohio, and I’d be happy to incorporate plokkfiskur and humar into my diet.

Abby Armbruster: With the newer cheap flights from Ohio to Iceland, I would rather go try the authentic stuff myself!

Lisa Proctor: Although there are a lot of things we Columbus residents are trying, I don’t think we’re ready. Reindeer? No.

Dennis Laycock: If it includes that rotten shark meat that made even Andrew Zimmern gag, no, probably not.


Feb. 24: Should lettuce be substituted for tortillas in tacos?

In the age of low-carb diets, even the tortilla is occasionally being pushed aside. Some are substituting the wrap or corn shell with lettuce leaves.

ThisWeek staffers answer the question: Should lettuce be substituted for tortillas in tacos?

Sarah Sole: What? Like a lettuce shell filled with stuff? That should never happen. Sounds like the wedge salad, another thing I detest.

Scott Hummel: I’m so over food fads and so-called health trends. I watch my carb intake enough. When I want a taco, I want a taco – not some lettuce-wrapped, faux-meat-filled, gluten-free, silken-tofu-for-cheese garbage. People, stop pretending you like that stuff. You don’t like it.

Andrew King: If that’s your thing, cool. But I’ll stick with tortillas.

Lee Cochran: Interesting. I don’t think I’d use a leaf of lettuce to replace the tortilla. While I am a fan of a good taco salad, there are times I want a good, old-fashioned taco. There’s a definite separation in my mind so I’m probably not going to walk around with lettuce taco.

Neil Thompson: It most certainly should not. In addition to compromising the sanctity of taco tradition, lettuce doesn’t have the structural integrity to support the contents of most tacos. Also, you didn’t ask, but a taco using a warm soft corn tortilla is perfect.

Abby Armbruster: I’ve done that before for barbecue tuna tacos – don’t knock it till you try it – but never for actual tacos with beans, rice, cheese, salsa, guac and the like. I would say I prefer the tortilla over lettuce any day.

Lisa Proctor: Substituted? No, I want it all.

Dennis Laycock: I doubt a leaf of lettuce could contain the gallons of hot sauce I like to pour onto my tacos.

Nate Ellis: Sure.


Feb. 18: Do you ever cleanse your palate with lemon sorbet?

Some people prefer the taste of sorbet over ice cream. Particularly tart and refreshing, lemon sorbet has been known to have been served at upscale restaurants between courses so people can cleanse their palates.

ThisWeek staffers answer the question: Do you ever cleanse your palate with lemon sorbet?

Andrew King: Do people actually do this?

Scott Hummel: Nope. Wait ... Nope.

Sarah Sole: I don’t, but I don’t really have any lemon sorbet on hand during my meals.

Nate Ellis: I’ve never specifically sought to cleanse my palate with it but sounds good.

Dennis Laycock: I don’t keep sorbet around the house to cleanse my palate between my salami-sandwich course and Ruffles course, no, but I’ve cleansed a couple of times at nice restaurants.

Abby Armbruster: Only if it’s part of a prix-fixe menu.

Lisa Proctor: This is not a thing for me.

Neil Thompson: If I’m offered it at a restaurant, absolutely. But I don’t go out of my way to get it.

Lee Cochran: One time, while on a trip in Napa Valley. One of the best meals I’ve had.


Feb. 11: Would you try pomegranate gelee?

As its name suggests, gelee is a type of edible jelly, commonly containing fruit. It’s served chilled and intended to highlight the food with which it is served.

ThisWeek staffers answer the question: Would you try pomegranate gelee?

Andrew King: Sure, why not?

Scott Hummel: I’d try it. I doubt I’d like it, but I’d try it.

Sarah Sole: That sounds tasty.

Nate Ellis: Eh, sure. Pomegranate holds up.

Dennis Laycock: Sure, bring it on.

Abby Armbruster: Do restaurants still serve gelees? That was cool about 10 years ago. But either way, I would try it.

Lisa Proctor: I think I would.

Neil Thompson: I will try anything once, and this sounds delightful.

Lee Cochran: I’d give it a try.


Feb. 4: When's the last time you had turnips?

Turnips are root vegetables with a taste similar to a carrot but somewhat tangy. When cooked they're known to offer a bitter taste, so many people mix them with potatoes and serve them rich, fatty foods.

ThisWeek staff members answer the question: When's the last time you had turnips?

Andrew King: I think they found their way into a salad I had recently. I'm extremely apathetic about them.

Scott Hummel: I'd guess right after I got my hide tanned for refusing to eat them. My mom tried to disguise them by serving them with whole potatoes. Nice try, but no thanks.

Sarah Sole: I can't remember. If they're in something, I'm not opposed to them.

Nate Ellis: Too recently to bring up. I’m trying to put that behind me.

Dennis Laycock: I eat the greens fairly regularly. The vegetable part, never.

Abby Armbruster: I had roasted turnips at a restaurant in September. The vegetable was in season and it was delicious.

Lisa Proctor: Whenever my mother last made a boiled dinner with cabbage, ham and potatoes and I was around.

Neil Thompson: I have no idea. I can't even remember what turnips taste like.

Lee Cochran: It would have to be before any recollection of me never having eaten them.


Jan. 28: Would you try kippers?

Kippers, a common breakfast food in England, are whole herring filets that are salted, pickled and smoked. They frequently are served with eggs and mashed potatoes.

ThisWeek staffers answer the question: Would you try kippers?

Andrew King: I had to Google this, but I generally prefer my fish fresh, so I’m going to pass on this one.

Scott Hummel: In can form, it’s a great survival food, like sardines. I like kippers. I don’t think I’ve ever had ithem outside the canned-fish variety, though.

Sarah Sole: Eh, I don’t think. It sounds kinda gross.

Nate Ellis: Yep.

Dennis Laycock: Is it St. Swithin’s Day already?

Abby Armbruster: Only in a foreign country, although I’d probably still pass on that.

Lisa Proctor: Let me get back to you on that one.

Neil Thompson: I already have tried kippers. When my wife and I visited Scotland in 2017, we ate local loch kippers for breakfast on a few occasions. One of our innkeepers, David from the Fern Villa Guest House in Ballachulish, Glencoe, in the Scottish Highlands, proclaimed smoked herring the most flavorful natural food – only a single ingredient: fish – one can eat. He was right: They are oily, salty and delicious.

Lee Cochran: Pretty sure I have when we were guests at a party hosted by a family from Russia.


Jan. 22: Does tofu belong in salad?

Tofu is considered one of the most versatile ingredients in the food word. With a neutral flavor, the bean curd is both healthy and adapts to many flavors.

ThisWeek staffers respond to the question: Does tofu belong in salad?

Andrew King: Tofu needs to be partnered with something more flavorful than lettuce in order to make it good.

Scott Hummel: I like tofu in soups and in Asian cuisines. I don’t think I want it in salad.

Sarah Sole: Sure thing. It belongs in a plethora of places.

Nate Ellis: I suppose you can put about anything in salad.

Dennis Laycock: Tofu belongs in very little, but definitely not a salad.

Abby Ambruster: Hmm ... I like tofu, but I like it better in a bowl than on top of a salad.

Lisa Proctor: I want tofu to belong, but I’m not sure it plays well with others.

Neil Thompson: My opinion is that it doesn’t belong anywhere.

Lee Cochran: Not mine.


Jan. 14: What’s the best use of American cheese?

American cheese has been long slammed by critics for its texture, composition and what they see as its lack of flavor. Still others value it for its creaminess, consistency and adaptability.

ThisWeek staffers answer the question: What’s the best use of American cheese?

Andrew King: My favorite way to enjoy American cheese is by throwing it into the trash can.

Scott Hummel: Are we talking true American cheese or cheese product? If the former, grilled cheese is the best. If the latter, I have no use for it.

Sarah Sole: On grilled cheese sandwiches. Haters will hate, but it has its place.

Nate Ellis: When there’s nothing else to make at home and you’ve decided not to order out it’s good for grilled cheese sandwiches. Or if you wake up in the middle of the night and decide to sit down and eat 64 individually wrapped slices.

Dennis Laycock: Grilled cheese is just about the only thing I would ever make with American cheese.

Abby Armbruster: Grilled cheese, specifically between two basic slices of white bread.

Lisa Proctor: Grilled cheese sandwiches.

Neil Thompson: On cheeseburgers. It’s a classic combination.

Lee Cochran: Giving my dogs their medicine.


Jan. 7: What do you think of putting arugula on pizza?

Arugula is a leafy green vegetable with a sharp peppery flavor that makes it a welcome addition to a salad, soup, sandwich and other dishes.

ThisWeek staffers answer the question: What do you think of putting arugula on pizza?

Andrew King: I think arugula is a better addition to pizzas with olive oil or pesto than red sauce, but I’m generally for it. Arugula is good.

Scott Hummel: Why not? We put spinach and other leafy veggies on pizza. Why not arugula?

Sarah Sole: Sounds good to me.

Nate Ellis: I think it’s OK, but it’s gonna be well down on the list of selections I’d choose. It’d probably have to be some jazzy pizza with bacon and fancy cheese or a veggie pie for it to even occur to me to try it.

Dennis Laycock: Just no. Arugula is for salad.

Abby Armbruster: I’ve had it before, and I think it works well with the right sauce and crust.

Lisa Proctor: Anything remotely leafy will not be on my pizza.

Neil Thompson: If it’s used, it should be in moderation. Pizza is a more appropriate vehicle for pepperoni, mushrooms and jalapeno peppers.

Lee Cochran: I rarely stray too far on my pizza. A couple of meats and some peppers are fine for me.