Secret Food Confessions
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.
Chuck Cook Photography No, these weren't leftovers from a "special" party. We call it "The Feast of Shame."
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).
Phaedra Cook Slit open your box of Peeps thusly to make them stale. Your knife need not be so manly and impressive.
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.
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).
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.)
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.
Fried Chicken and Sweet Stuff
George Payne What if, instead of maple syrup, this came with a small cup of high quality dark chocolate?
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.
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.
Chuck Cook Photography A chef did this. It was awesome.
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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