The Disgust Response

When it comes to food, I don’t use the word “disgusting” very much. People like what they like — you might personally dislike something, but like… that doesn’t mean that it’s objectively gross or weird. It just isn’t your preference.

But there was one comestible that I used to think was absolutely vile: honey mustard sauce. You know those little rectangular cup things that sometimes come with things like chicken nuggets? Painfully gross. I had a friend in high school who would take those little packets and spread honey mustard sauce all over his pepperoni pizza. He had a lot of problems in life, and honey mustard was but one of them. Rest in peace, Chad Weaver, you honey mustard loving freak.

I hated, hated, hated honey mustard. People would always give that stock line of “oh, you just haven’t had good honey mustard sauce, that’s why you don’t like it!” And then they would make honey mustard sauce, and I’d taste it, and I’d be like “yeeeeaaahhh, I don’t like this either. Sorry.”

Then, I met an intelligent, lovely, and talented person, who I ended up marrying a few years later. She was a vegan and a complete whiz in the kitchen. After about a year of dating, she told me that she wanted to make one of her favorite dishes for me: honey mustard tofu. Her mother’s honey mustard sauce recipe, but made vegan (depending on your stance on whether honey is, itself, vegan).

The words rang in my ears. “Honey… mustard… toooooffffuuuuuu.”

Mortified, I started to question my choice in romantic partners. What horrible decisions had I made in life that led me to this point? What was wrong with this seemingly wonderful person that I was dating? What hidden traumas did she carry with her that would drive her actually enjoy honey mustard? What madness plagued her?

I was torn. Being a good Midwesterner, it’s against my nature to offend someone — especially a romantic partner — by refusing a home-cooked meal. However, the disgust response is a product of evolution, and you can’t fight against a force of nature like that, right? Right?

Romance is a hell of a thing.

So, I set my jaw, grit my teeth, and heard myself say “Oh, great, sounds good!”

She toiled in the kitchen while I sought refuge in the other room. My mind reeled, and my fight-or-flight response triggered with a theretofore unseen strength — how was I going to survive this? Could I have a friend call me with a fabricated emergency, creating an excuse for me to leave in a haste? Could I feign a sudden illness? Climb out the window, hitchhike to another state, and fake my own death?

The clock was ticking. I heard clanking and simmering from the kitchen, and my anxiety climbed to new heights. I was trapped. I was going to have to bite the bullet and eat this god forsaken meal. I sat down at the table and was presented with a bowl of brown rice, topped with tofu cubes and a thick, troubling honey mustard sauce. I poured an extra large glass of water to help me get through the tribulation that I was about to endure. I took a reluctant bite and…

Woah. This stuff was good. And I mean good.

I still hate honey mustard, but I love this honey mustard. Maybe it really is the best honey mustard sauce on earth, or maybe what they say is true: love conquers all.


Honey Mustard Tofu

Ingredients:
4 Tbsp margarine
1/4 cup Dijon mustard
1 tsp salt
1 tsp curry powder
1/2 cup honey
3 lbs tofu, vegan chicken, or other protein

Directions:

  1. Melt margarine in shallow pan
  2. Add additional ingredients and whisk until thoroughly mixed
  3. Bake tofu in oven, covered in honey mustard sauce
  4. Serve over rice

Protip: If you want to make this stuff extra fancy, you can use different types of honey or dijon mustard. We once made it with orange blossom honey and it was sublime. It’s simple, delicious, and filling — if you want to really get fancy, serve it with a side of oven-roasted brussel sprouts and prepare to transcend time and space into a plane of existence that can only be described as true bliss.

Protip #2: When we make it these days, we usually double the sauce and make it in a saucepan on the stove-top, halve the amount of tofu, and just pour the sauce over the baked tofu.

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