Summer Bites


What is it with summer that brings out all the culinary kill joys?  The elitism associated with summer food is ridiculous. I love a good Farmers Market and heirloom tomato right along with everyone else. But, I’m exhausted by all the sound and fury that now goes into preparing dinner. Grocery shopping or dining out shouldn’t make you feel like an idiot.  People have asked me this summer if I’m a localvoire or if I’m embracing the slow foods movement.  Localvoire just sounds scary.  Like you’re a member of Hannibal Lecter’s supper club and I thought slow foods meant using the crock-pot.   The pretentiousness has even invaded that scared backyard experience known as grilling.  Pimping out your grill, I think, reached an apex this summer with introduction of the $35,000 Talos outdoor cooking suite.  I could remodel my entire kitchen for $35,000 and besides grilling is a pretty fundamental experience.  Put raw meat on top of fire.  Fire cooks meat. Eat meat.  Now, grills look like stainless steel edifices with searing stations and enough BTU’s to launch the Space Shuttle.  (Dare I say, the bigger the grill the smaller the you know.) Then there’s the grilling pizza stone, slider burger press, jalapeno pepper roaster, meatball grill basket (Really, meatballs on the grill?) and all those fancy rubs and “finishing” salts.  You know the cooking contest I want to see?  My father with his Weber charcoal grill, lean ground beef and pepper grinder versus a Cookout Czar with his massive grill and assorted accessories.  Winner – my dad.

Cupcakes: I’m also sick of the on going, I thought it would be over by now, cupcake craze. Let’s be honest about what a cupcake really is – a sneaky form of portion control. While you can cut yourself a gianormous piece of cake and call it one slice no such luck with a cupcake.  I figure to equal my one “self cut” or “custom” slice of cake I would have to eat at, the very least, a half-dozen cupcakes.  Hmm, what statement sounds like you are less in need of lap band surgery –  I enjoyed one slice of cake or I just inhaled six cupcakes?    In my neighborhood three cupcake bakeries have opened with a single chocolate cupcake going for almost $3.00.  That’s crazy. I can buy a box of Duncan Hines for 88 cents that makes two dozen cupcakes and I can lick the bowl. Advantage – Mr. Hines. Last night I found myself watching Cupcake Wars on the Food Network featuring salmon cupcake. Yeah, you read that right, fish cupcakes.  Aren’t fish cupcakes a direct violation of the bakery code of conduct?  I believe it’s item 419, sub section 3:  “Thou shalt not add meat, poultry or fish to a baked good that requires frosting.”

Cake Dudes:  The Cake Boss and all other cake guru’s are also starting to bother me.  First, those cakes “iced” with fondant are not exactly a taste sensation.  Buttercream, as any chunky girls knows, is the only frosting that really matters.  Fondant is made from sugar and gelatin.  Once again, people – it’s not frosting if it doesn’t contain butter. Plus, it seems like the cakes are baked way too far in advanced and then hermetically sealed with fondant?   We’re not talking just baked freshness here.  Also, have you noticed that they put the cakes in their vans without any kind of saran wrap or anything.  Think of the carpet fibers, insects, spewing saliva, and sneezes that must float around and land on the cakes.  One time, Duff, the Ace of Cakes guy, drove from Baltimore to the West coast with a wedding cake in the back of his van, totally, uncovered. Ick.  By the time it got there it probably had a whole assortment of gas station and roadside rest stop smells embedded in the fondant.  Tasty – maybe not.  Aromatic for all the wrong reasons – definitely.

McDonalds: Everyone needs to back off and leave McDonalds alone. Lawsuits aimed at McDonalds because we are a nation of fatties is just so wrong.  No one is forcing us to shove those yummy, greasy, salty french fries into our mouths.  It’s called free will and our free will wants to repeatedly experience frygasam.  I have a long, intense and complicated love affair with McDonalds. This summer it really heated up when I began emotional cheating on my husband.  My affections and down right lust have been directed at the Reece Peanut Butter Cup snack size McFlurry.  It’s like I’ve fallen in love all over again. Remember when you first fell in love?  The unfettered happiness. The giddy feeling you would get when you saw each other.  The excruciating loneliness of being apart.  That’s how I feel about my snack size McFlurry.  It’s a cold, crunchy, kind of love wrapped up in smooth creamy goodness.  We have clandestine meetings, usually at night, in the McDonalds parking lot.  I make up some lame excuse about needing something at the store, eagerly drive to Micky D’s, my heart rate climbing as I get closer to my beloved. I order my snack size McFlurry in a kind of sexy rasp, then drive to a secluded area where no one can see me making out with that one-of-a-kind spoon.  Sure, I feel bad and ashamed afterwards.  Sure, I tell myself, as I’m wiping off peanut butter cup residue off my face, that it will never happen again.  But, the emotional pull is just too great.  I’m afraid I have found my soul-mate and its name is McFlurry.