Wednesday, February 08, 2006

gourmet is in the attitude

Once, while talking to my brother on the phone he kept interrupting our conversation to give his wife cooking directions. "How long has it been boiling?" "MJ, check those." "You don't want to overcook it." Since my brother is an excellent cook I figured he had been whipping up some gourmet meal when I called. So I asked him was they were making. "Uh," he starts laughing. "Kraft macaroni and cheese." Kraft? He was fussing over boxed macaroni. I, of course, started making fun of him, but then he had an elaborate explanation of how kraft mac and cheese is only good when the noodles have been cooked for exactly the right amount of time and with the right amount of salt--and if you get it right, the stuff is delicious.

The conversation reminded me that anything can be gourmet. It's not so much about the quality of the food--it's about the fuss.

Take as another example Peeps, those marshmallow treats that used to only be available at Easter but are now in the store year round. Most people hate Peeps. I, however, love Peeps. Love, love, love them. But here's the thing about people who love Peeps: they love them a certain way. No one loves Peeps straight out of the package. You have to age them. It's true. Ask anyone who likes them. To age a Peep effectively, you open the plastic packaging and you let them sit. Eventually, the sugary coating will get stiff and slightly crunchy. The interior marshmallow will remain slightly soft with a bit of chew. Trust me, they're delicious. This week, my fabulous sister gave me a package of heart-shaped peeps with a tube of red CakeMate icing. Yes, that's right--decorating Peeps. (The good thing, by the way, is that if you like Peeps, your friends and family will supply them for you because they think it's so gross that you like them and they are cheap. I haven't bought myself a package of Peeps in years, but I always seem to have them.) Here is my decorated Peep heart:

Clearly, I need to work on my decorating skills and I'm not to sure what I think about this decorating gimmick. But the Peep itself has been aging for about a week and it's just about ready to eat.

For more thoughts on unexpectedly gourmet foods, see lisa b's recent posting on SPAM.


Blogger Lisa B. said...

I cannot share your enthusiasm for Peeps, but I do love all sorts of crap, as I have alluded to before. I think that kraft m&c can be quite delicious, especially if there's broccoli alongside, and fresh grated pepper. If I also have a salad and a garlicky dressing in the bowl (on the other side of the m&c from the broccoli--as you can see, you need a big bowl), I find it all to be delectable.

7:46 AM  
Blogger Sarah said...

Sometimes I crave ramen noodles, so much so that I fish some of the noodles out of the pot to crunch on while the rest are cooking.

9:07 AM  

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