Secret Food Confessions

Categories: Off the Wall

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Chuck Cook Photography
No, these weren't leftovers from a "special" party. We call it "The Feast of Shame."
No matter how well-educated one becomes about food, some cravings never go away. Some are born in childhood. My husband complained for years when Grape Tang was discontinued and gets bizarre cravings for the crime against nature called "circus peanuts." Supposedly, it's a candy; a mind-boggling, rubbery lab experiment gone awry that is orange, shaped like a peanut, and tastes like banana dipped briefly in nail polish remover.

Yet, this scathing assessment comes from someone who dips fries in the country gravy intended for my chicken fried steak and eats every bag of Cheetos® out of the variety packs at the office. Really, who am I to talk?

It's not just us foodies. The pros are as likely to love of junk food as we are. The first pre-opening party of a high-profile restaurant featured an elaborate tableau designed by the chef... of tortilla chips, salsa, gummy worms, cheese balls, Sriracha, Funyuns® and microwavable chicken strips.

Ironically, as I was researching this article, Sam Brown came out with his own guilty pleasures confession last week. Maybe memories of overstuffed Easter baskets brings back some sort of primal longing for the days we could live on nothing but sugar and fat (and not gain a pound).

Names have been withheld to protect the rest of the confessors (and because I don't want to be banned from their future parties).

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Phaedra Cook
Slit open your box of Peeps thusly to make them stale. Your knife need not be so manly and impressive.
Marshmallow Peeps®

More than one pastry chef holds a candle for these neon abominations. Are they really made of marshmallow, or a byproduct of Styrofoam production? After seeing what they do in a microwave, I'm just not sure. Some swear that Peeps are best when allowed to get stale and chewy. Want to try it? When the Easter Bunny brings yours, slit the packages and wait a few weeks.

Raw Dough

A chef confessed that he's never gotten past wanting to taste raw dough; no big deal, right? After all, ice creams with cookie dough and brownie batter have become so common as to be mainstream. However, he's referring to the savory stuff, like bread dough. Raw flour, milk and salt is tasty? I suspected he was a Play-doh connoisseur in his youth. When I delved deeper, he merely sent this link (Warning: adult humor).

Totino's® Pizza

Ah, these were a mainstay in my broke teenage and college years. When they were on sale, four of these cardboard wonders could be had for five bucks. When pizza is $1.25 each, you just know they're using prime ingredients (such as "pepperoni seasoning"). Ideally, one served Jeno's pizza rolls on the side. (In fact, the combination was so ubiquitous that in 1993, Totino's, a subsidiary of Pillsbury, must have noticed the trend and rebranded Jeno's. That's why they are now known as Totino's Pizza Rolls.)

My creativity award goes to the chef who confessed making sandwiches with them. How? Well, you bake them, layer one with deli sliced turkey and top it with the other. I suppose for light appetites, you could just use one and make a fold-over.

The same chef claims the Totino's three-meat pizza is delicious dipped in Kraft® Sundried Tomato Vinaigrette. (More popular: dip it in ranch dressing, or I suppose you can make this stuff.)

Cap'n Crunch®

Some of us will never outgrow our fondness for the sugary cereals advertised during Saturday morning cartoons. Perhaps none inspire more passion than Cap'n Crunch. I've watched my husband fawn over any product that hinted of "Crunch Berry" since we've been married. I'm sure you've heard of Rice Krispie® treats, but have you had Cap'n Crunch treats? Go to Ooh La La to get your fix. Former Top Chef: Just Desserts contender Rebecca Masson recently made a batch of Cap'n Crunch macarons. (I think that the best pastry chefs understand junk food love; occasional indulgence in sweets and treats helps grown-ups hang onto happy parts of our childhood.)

By the way, I have it on good authority that blue curaçao in milk tastes like Fruity Pebbles®. Use this information at your peril.

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George Payne
What if, instead of maple syrup, this came with a small cup of high quality dark chocolate?
Fried Chicken and Sweet Stuff

Combining fried, savory, salty foods with something sweet hits more of your taste receptors, hence the rise of the unlikely-sounding combination of chicken and waffles. It's the maple syrup that brings everything together. Of course you want it on the waffle, but a little drizzle on the fried chicken too is simply required.

One friend has confessed to a new invention though; dipping fried chicken in chocolate. "Think of it like mole," he said. "The contrast between the spicy chicken skin and the sweet (but not too sweet) chocolate is the key."

Mole is a combination of many spices with chocolate all ground together in a paste, so while I can see the similarity, let's face it -- this is the most low-rent mole ever.

Chalk this one up as the flavor combination that has potential to catch on. Also, you can batter your chicken with Cap'n Crunch. Or, go to Zelko Bistro, which offers Captain's Crunch Fried Chicken.

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Chuck Cook Photography
A chef did this. It was awesome.
Snobs?What does this reveal about foodies? For a group often accused of being snobbish, these silly combinations are cheap and hilarious. People who understand the intricacies of fine food also understand that, for most people, the best part of eating is about much more than survival. As creative beings, we need to have some fun with it too.

Thanks to everyone who dared to share their food confessions with me. What's your secret craving? Let us know in the comments.



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Location Info

Zelko Bistro

705 E. 11th St., Houston, TX

Category: Restaurant

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Amy Garcia Leonhardt
Amy Garcia Leonhardt

My mama used to make amazing flour tortillas.  I would spread Miracle Whip on them, add a cheese slice and nuke it.  I would wash it down the tangy, melty goodness with a Nestle's Quick. My friend's and husband think it's gross and I don't eat them often but every once in a while I can't resist.

malmal
malmal

I love peeps!!! I love to stock up after Easter when they go on sale 75% off :)

LW
LW

On the topic of Fried Chicken and Sweet Stuff - Church's fried chicken and one of their biscuits with an extra packet of honey squeezed on top is divine.

Terry Alexander
Terry Alexander

Chile Con Queso Tostados and cheese enchiladas from Casa Ole'. Brings back memories from my childhood when that was the only game in town.TA

Lindsey_Veggie_Frenzy
Lindsey_Veggie_Frenzy

Casa Ole was always the only Mexican restaurant in Orange, Tx where I grew up, and I still flock to the one on 290 when I need comfort food for Chili Con Queso Tostados and cheese enchiladas... my Houston friends make fun of me for such 'petty' tex-mex, but it's what I love and reminds me of home!!

Nicholas L. Hall
Nicholas L. Hall

I once nearly choked to death on a 36 pack (or something like that) of Peeps, which a high school friend had dared me to eat all at once. It was all going fine until he made me laugh. Aspirating marshmallow fluff is not fun. 

Miss Cleo
Miss Cleo

Mother's Iced Animal Cookies.  My mom lurves those bright red Spanish Peanut Patties that you get at the counter of some Tex-Mex places.

Urban Swank
Urban Swank

On any road trip I always have to grab a couple of packages of the GRANDMA'S Vanilla Sandwich Creme Cookies from a local convenience store! Still eat them and indulge from time to time. I guess some old habits never die.

trisch
trisch

Four generations of moms who were gourmet Chinese cooks, and our family's guilty indulgence is Kraft mac 'n cheese smothered in "stroganoff sauce" made from ground beef and Campbell's cream of mushroom soup. ~drool

Cheflambo
Cheflambo

Peeps are a running joke in my family too.  My brother would take one of his, hold it up for us all to see and say "Look!  Im Ozzy Osbourne!" just before he bit its head off. 

Chuck and I must have been separated at birth. I, too, occasionally like those funky circus peanuts (my dad was the biggest fan of these ever - mom still rolls her eyes at the memory)  These days all I have to do is think about them, and the taste and texture come back to haunt me.  The feeling passes. 

Sam Brown
Sam Brown

Pei Wei. I hate to admit it, but Pei Wei Spicy is something that I just have to eat, usually after 5-11 beers.  At least I get brown rice with it.

Mern721
Mern721

Velveeta for my grilled cheese sandwiches!

Megan
Megan

Supermarket Chinese food.  Several of the supermarkets in Kansas City have in-house kitchens that put out Americanized Chinese food (sesame chicken, orange chicken, beef and broccoli, etc.).  Too sweet, no chile heat, full of fat and sugar, and for whatever reason, I sometimes have a craving for it.

Jamie
Jamie

I break down every 6 months or so and have to get Whataburger! Something about that yellow-mustard slathered burger and those salty, salty fries...

No
No

JCI and Delaware Punch. It was a sad day when the capricious weather gods took Delaware punch from us forever!!

Christina Uticone
Christina Uticone

Frozen fish sticks & tater tots! I had the flu a couple of weeks ago and I craved them so badly. I resisted though :)

Honcho
Honcho

I confess that I have a fondness for Kraft Mac and Cheese. Even the great Calvin Trillin felt the same way. Not bad company.

phaedracook
phaedracook

Us too! We both find them too sweet for our tastes now. I must be getting old.

Ms. Pants
Ms. Pants

I don't like the taste of Peeps but it's become a family tradition to give the same box of them back and forth throughout family members for each holiday.  We had one box going for almost 5 years until it got lost in a move.  The current box is only 3 years old.  And I'm pretty sure I'm getting it for my birthday this year.

Tham
Tham

I used to have a craving every holiday season for Cordial Cherries. I have since outgrown it. 

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