Has Quinoa Jumped the Shark?

(Image credit: Faith Durand)

I’ve been eating (and cooking) quinoa now for a few years and I love the stuff. The slightly chewy texture, the way it wicks up simple citrus dressing, and how it’s just as good cold as hot out of the pot: I have few complaints.

However, in quinoa’s journey from lowly unknown grain to celebrity superstar food, it has picked up its share of haters. Are you still in love with quinoa, or has it become too ubiquitous? Has it jumped the shark?

The quinoa haters fall into various camps, beginning with those who have tried it and pronounced it inedible, like the Undomestic Goddess, who said it tastes “like sand with little pieces of sea shells mixed in it,” and whose kid dramatically turned down a bowl. A recent Wall Street Journal piece quoted another cook who called quinoa “Dickensian gruel.”

Taste aside — I’m convinced that those who dislike quinoa haven’t made it from scratch; I’ve encountered more than a few quinoa dishes at restaurants that were soggy, over salted, or just plain boring. But to each her own… — there are other reasons to reject quinoa as the grain du jour.

As we wrote about back in January, quinoa’s popularity has not come without cost to the communities in which its made; many who once depended on it for a source of nourishment and protein can no longer afford it. So there are others who limit their quinoa consumption for ethical and economic reasons

But then there’s just the sheer trendiness of it. Quinoa, Goji berries, chia seeds. So hipster, so trendy. In this particular argument, I’ll be the first to admit the grain has jumped the shark: I’ve even seen QUINOA in big, bold letters on t-shirts. And yet I still love to eat it.

So what’s your take? Do you still get psyched about a new quinoa dish for dinner or have you long stopped caring about the super grain?