I think about food a lot. I know that must come as a big shock to all. Sometimes I get random food thoughts which morph into entire columns when such thoughts are allowed to run rampant. Other times a thought runs its natural course and stops far short of my word limit – still worth a mention, but not quite column-worthy. This is a collection of some of those random thoughts, in no particular order, with absolutely no theme. Welcome to my mind.
Heard of Bacos? Perhaps your first thought upon seeing that word is of Betty Crocker’s Bac-O’s, bacon-flavored bits which Betty’s own website describes as “made from the goodness of soy.” They are even Kosher. Thus, not a lick of bacon in them. Yet as a kid, when Bac-O’s and the like were invented, to our delight my mother cooked with them often. I ate them by the handful. I wasn’t prejudiced against crunchy bacon-flavored pieces made from the goodness of soy. But those are not the Bacos I’m talking about. It’s not even pronounced the same. This one is pronounced like “taco”, because that’s what it is – a taco with a shell formed from pieces of crispy bacon. They are on the concessions menu at Fifth Third Ballpark in Comstock Park, Michigan, home of the minor league baseball team, the Michigan Whitecaps. That’s a long way from here, but there’s a recipe on bacontoday.com. Need I say more?
I’ve mentioned before that The Wife will sometimes beg off a certain restaurant, or leave her coat in the car on a cold day, just because she doesn’t want her clothes to smell like whatever is cooking there. Barbecue joints, my favorites, are particularly suspect. She doesn’t want to come out smelling like smoke, while I am working against her, intentionally seeking it out. Her favorites are not safe, either – she’ll eat the fajitas every time but doesn’t want to smell like them. That got me to thinking about a potential culinary scent collection. Bacon is a natural thought, but somebody already did that. You can even get a bacon air freshener to hang off your rearview mirror. What about that smell of Grandma’s house at breakfast, infused with fresh-brewed coffee that will soon be converted to red-eye gravy? I love this smell, and should I patent and bottle it, I think I would call it “Eau de Café” by Jean Lee. (But I’ll keep my day job.)
Mega Stuffed Oreos. I had to buy them myself, because my family bought a package and ate every single one of them before I ever knew they were there. No big deal, because I always scan the Oreo department to see what new flavor combo may have appeared since my last visit. Now the question is, are you crème or cookie? I thought I was crème until I got the Mega Stuffed. Way too much crème. Just sayin’. Somehow, though, I managed to get them down.
I don’t often watch the entertainment news shows like ET and Inside Edition and the like. But I happened to surf by one recently and they mentioned Alicia Keys’ pre-show ritual. As the story goes, she drinks a glass of gummy bears that have been melted in hot water. Something about the glycerin in the gummies that she thinks is helpful for her voice. When I first heard it, I thought they said she dissolved them in hot butter. Either way, it’s odd but intriguing. I haven’t tried it. Yet.
My favorite snack these days is a pretzel rod dipped heavily into a big jar of Nutella. Have you tried Nutella? It lives near the peanut butter in the grocery store – and if it makes you feel better, it tastes an awful lot like creamy, dippable chocolate, but is chock full of healthy hazelnuts. I remember seeing it as a young man, but it always seemed kinda’ exotic. Or expensive. I don’t remember. But then we moved to the Middle East and for reasons I cannot explain, there was Nutella everywhere. Every grocery had it, in name brand and several copy-cat versions. So we started keeping it around and putting it on just about anything we’d put peanut butter on. And more. Four days out of five Daughter takes a Nutella sandwich to school. (Remember, healthy hazelnuts. Manganese. Copper. Good stuff like that.) If I get a sweet craving, I can just eat a spoonful of it and be satisfied. For a minute or two. A second spoonful is often required. But it’s way better on a pretzel rod.
I forgot to tell about another of my favorite finds on my recent trip to Baton Rouge. At Jerry Lee’s (the Cajun grocery) I picked up a bag of cracklins, thinking I would bring them home and put them in cornbread or something. But I got hungry on the way home – needed something salty to go with my boudin sandwich – so I opened them up. And I’m telling you – these were the best thing in the cracklin/pork rind family that I have ever had in my life. Ever. Ever. They looked and tasted like chunks of puffy bacon. That may not necessarily sound good to everyone, but trust me. Best ever.
On the same trip, near the Mississippi-Louisiana line, I got a little tired and needed something different to nibble on. (Didn’t want to go through the whole bag of puffy bacon before I got home.) I got some Elfin crackers out of the vending machine at the welcome center – they were cheaper than anything else, crunchy, and there were lots of them in the bag, therefore meeting all of my qualifications. As I munched, I got to wondering about the unique flavor, so I read the ingredients to see what it might be. Natural flavor, it said. So does that mean I now know what a Keebler Elf tastes like?