Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Day 22: Foods That Totally Make Me Lose My Head

Do you have these foods, Readers? The ones that turn all your healthy resolve to mush, that beckon to you across a crowded buffet table and aren't satisfied until you ravage them? And they don't have to be difficult to procure, or labor intensive, though they can be. They just have to be irresistible, plain and simple. The mouth wants what it wants.

Here are a few of mine:

hash browns - Nestle any kind of potatoes up against my eggs besides these and I have no time for them. If you don't believe me, ask my husband--they go straight on his plate. Your mashed, your smothered, your diced. But julienne those same potatoes into fine shreds and fry them all brown and crispy, and I'm a goner. The eggs will be left forlorn; the browns rule the day.

rich vegetables - By which I mean the kind that are served in fancy steakhouses. Candied carrots, creamed corn, and broccoli with cheese sauce. Broccoli with cheese sauce is kind of obvious, I mean, it has cheese sauce. Creamed corn is a similar story. But candied carrots? They make me swoon. I mean, they're vegetables and they're CANDIED. I like the ones that are caramelized almost crisp on the outside--lacquered, if you will--and meltingly sweet and tender inside. Excuse me, I just blacked out for a second.

Mexican Coke - This sounds sort of naughty and believe me, it is. Most Coke in this country is made with corn syrup, but some countries still brew theirs with real sugar cane. One of those countries is only a few miles from here, and you can buy boxes of their Coke at Costco, in heavy, satisfying glass bottles. It's so good it almost becomes some other soda, but I don't want to get carried away, because I love the inferior Coke, too. This just takes it over the top. Someone offers me one and I'm nodding and drooling even though inside I may be screaming "No, thank you!" There's no help for it--I have a Coke problem.

hot cherry stuff - I don't know what it says about me that I grew up the daughter of a woman who works true magic with a pastry cutter and fresh fruit (apple and blueberry are the family stars) and I only get dopey over store-bought cherry, the kind with neon, viscous gloop from a can. In college, they put out bowls of the stuff for ladling over cake, and I used to horrify my tablemates by sitting down with a massive serving of nothing but. "What the hell is THAT?" someone once asked. "Cherry slop!" I announced happily, just before inhaling it. I vividly recall a middle school refectory lunch in Utah (I was teaching there at the time) with a bounty of fresh, hot cherry turnovers. Readers, I believe I ate four, and this was after two barbecue sandwiches.

s'mores - Perhaps because I grew up near the beach, nothing tastes quite like a blackened marshmallow freshly pulled from a coat hanger, a square of Hershey's, and two plain graham crackers, with that final satisfying "smoosh" that turns three disparate ingredients into a melange of sublimity. There was a brief fad a few years ago of fine-dining establishments offering an elevated s'mores dessert along with their creme brulees and pot de cremes, but the whole enterprise smacked of sad wanna-be striving. They always went and ruined the simplicity with "house-made" graham crackers and "meringue" marshmallows (the very idea!) and a slab of bittersweet Valrhona, and when I took a bite I instantly felt embarrassed for them. S'mores are a communal dish, prepared in the dark amongst slightly drunken friends, redolent of woodsmoke, with a light crunch of sand between your teeth as you savor that first bite. They are hot, cool, soft, chewy, crunchy and melty all at once, a contradiction that perfectly complements your feelings for the teenage boy at your side, whom you desperately want to make out with but kind of hate at the same time.


Mary said...

Any kind of ice cream. ANY!



Melanie Sheridan said...

Mac n cheese (homemade)
Mashed potatos (real ones)

Damn, now I'm hungry!

Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

Potatoes in any form, but especially hash browns or home fries. I love a good skillet breakfast with potatoes, eggs, peppers, cheese . . . yum!

This is not the best thing to be thinking about at 10:43 p.m.!

Anonymous said...

I love those candied carrots too. There's a good recipe for them in JOC! :) Made them at Thanksgiving, very popular. Lix

Jenn said...

S'mores and Hash browns... yum yum yum and a big bowl of scooped ice cream.

Missing those foods amongst the falafel and schnitzel and burgers and pizza we've been eating all summer!

storiesoftravel said...

For those in the south - corn nuggets - take corn -off the cob - mix in some kind of fattening -attery clogging something - now fry it - THEN dip it in ranch dressing - does this not sound like heaven!

just in case..
1 (11 ounce) can creamed corn
1 (11 ounce) can whole kernel corn, with liquid
1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 egg white
2 tablespoons milk
salt and pepper to taste
3 cups vegetable oil for deep frying

In a medium bowl, stir together the creamed corn and drained whole kernel corn. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil, and coat with vegetable oil or cooking spray. Drop spoonfuls of the corn mixture onto the sheet, and freeze until firm, about 3 hours.
Heat one inch of oil to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) in a large deep skillet, or fill a deep-fryer with oil as directed by the manufacturer.
Mix together the cornmeal, flour, egg white, milk, salt and pepper in a medium bowl. Dip frozen corn nuggets in the batter, and quickly fry in hot oil until golden brown. Remove to paper towels to drain.