What were long considered novelties in the world of pabulum and potables have become all too predictable.
Now, I’m not typically one to take on my counterparts in the world of culinarians, but golly gee whilikers! Enough already with pumpkin-flavored this and bacon-enhanced that! And kale? Who made the executive decision to remove it from my flower bed and make — chips from it?
Let’s be clear: I’m not anti-kale. I just don’t believe that it has earned a regular spot amongst the other leafy greens. How many legit soul food joints offer up kale alongside the house-fried neck bones? Did Popeye eat kale to gain immediate strength? And what self-respecting grandma out there brings stuffed kale rolls to the weekly Bridge game?
If you say ‘pumpkin spice latte’ in the mirror 3 times
a white girl in yoga pants will appear & tell you all
her favorite things about fall. — Elijah Daniel
So expected are pumpkin and bacon — everything — that if the pair of hackneyed ingredients were taxis, I could hail them from a mile away.
Remember when pumpkin was the main ingredient in a Thanksgiving pie? Or the autumn sweet bread of choice? That was before the absurdity gods exhausted themselves of Nutella as the be-all and end-all. Now, flavorless gourds are all the rage in the chi chi cooking magazines.
And coffee shops.
You know, Mama was mad but … how sweet it seemed
She drank black coffee … without a drop of cream
— ‘Coffee House Blues,’ Lightnin’ Hopkins
As if pumpkin-infused macaroni & cheese or chili weren’t the epitome of culinary blasphemy, America’s favorite coffee shop is in its 10th season of selling Pumpkin Spice Latte. It’s an all-time bestseller and, funny thing — it doesn’t contain a single slimy strand of real pumpkin!
There was a time when coffee was flavored like … coffee. And you drank it black or with cream and sugar with your eggs and … bacon. But plain fried bacon seems to have gone the way of the Tasmanian Tiger or the Edsel Pacer.
Now, I’m fine with bacon on the savory side of things — on a hot dog, in a mac & cheese or a grilled cheese, but the world has become mad in its efforts to concoct the funkiest bacon-laden recipes. And each one is worse than the last.
Life’s like a mayonnaise soda
And life’s like space without room
And life’s like bacon and ice cream
That’s what life’s like without you
— ‘What’s Good?’ Lou Reed
It’s not unusual to see a food magazine close-up shot of pecan bacon pralines or bacon bit-topped chocolate cupcakes. There are bacon cheesecakes, bacon s’mores, bacon-topped donuts … Hell, just the other day, I saw waffles with the bacon built right in!
Not only are we killing ourselves by adding salty cholesterol-packed pork belly to everything, we’re also killing the flavor of the bacon (and anything we add it to). Additionally, this (mostly) American contest for the weirdest bacon recipe is driving up the price. I recently paid more than $7 for a pound of packaged bacon. Did we not learn our lesson with chicken wings? (Yes, wings used to be considered a cheap byproduct — until some wise ass decided to dip them in hot sauce and pitch the technique to the entire free world!)
If this madness continues, your children could remember you mainly for your culinary turpitude. Or worse, you might be expected to serve kale dressing and bacon-pumpkin pie during the holidays.
If you like what you read here, please help me spread the word. I’d also love for you to join me on Facebook (click the ‘like’ button), Pinterest and Google+. — Special thanks to Megan E. ‘Awareness Month’ Hawkins at The Underground Writer for editing this piece.
There’s nothing humdrum about meatballs. In fact, just about every culture has it own versions of sphere-shaped fun-to-eat meat. Want to serve these as appetizers? Make the meatballs slightly smaller and cut the cooking time by 5-10 minutes. Serve them drenched in Szechuan Garlic Sauce with toothpicks.
Asian Chicken Meatballs w/ Szechuan Garlic Sauce
2 lbs – Ground chicken
1 cup – Panko or plain breadcrumbs
1 – Egg
1 inch nub – Ginger, minced
3 – Garlic cloves, minced
¼ cup – Cilantro, chopped
1 Tb – soy sauce
2 tsp – Chile garlic paste
1 tsp – Toasted sesame oil
1 recipe – Szechuan Garlic Sauce
Preheat oven to 400ºF.
Combine all (meatball) ingredients and shape into 2-inch meatballs. Place on large lightly oiled or parchment-lined baking pan. Bake until cooked through and lightly browned, about 25-30 minutes.
While meatballs are baking, make the Szechuan Garlic Sauce. Toss cooked meatballs in sauce. Serve with noodles or rice.
Makes about 30 1½-inch meatballs.