There are just certain habits you pick up from tradition, from the modeling of whoever taught you how to cook. You do those things simply because that's the way things "aught" to be. I have them and so you do. However, it's difficult to pinpoint them because they come so naturally.
I worked at a greenhouse a couple of summers ago and LOVED the herb selection there. As the season moved on the selection diminished and most the usual suspects were sold out (oregano, rosemary, thyme, basil, etc). One that there was plenty left of was Celery Leaf. I watered them but didn't pay much attention.
One day a customer questioned me about the taste and use of the herb. I claimed ignorance, but offer to taste the herb and give my opinion. To my surprise, it had a pleasant taste, that of celery. Imagine that. I would come to realize later that it was the same taste as that leafy top of the celery that I had been chopping off and throwing in the compost.
I started to imagine what I would use it for. Soups was as far as I made it. I had heard of people using the leaves of celery in that. Life moved on and I really had not thought much of celery leaf until this weekend when I was trimming up celery and preparing to dump those greens down the disposal (man I miss my compost pile). It seemed like such a waste.
Upon remembering my adventure at the greenhouse I decided to take a walk on the wild side and use those greens. I chopped them up and added them along with the lettuce of my salad and I LOVED IT. It's a mild taste (using from the celery heart) but added a light taste. Much of the small diced leaves fell to the bottom of the plate along with actual celery heart, chopped carrots, and pine nuts - all coated in a light layer of Caesar dressing. It tasted wonderful. Next time I might skip the lettuce all together and just go toppings only. I'm kind of crazy with salads that way.
Yes, I know I need to get out more often.
Now I'm on a quest to discover other traditions that have made me miss out on good stuff. Do you have one?