Midnight snacks, again
Posted 07 February 2003 - 04:11 AM
My favorite topic on your website is the Breakfast/Midnight snack column. What is your criterion for which snacks make the cut...to be written about? Do any of your snacks actually inspire articles? And what are your all time fave breakfast and midnight snacks?
(I sent in a response to your recent contest..I am the person who suggested a chipotle chile...how wrong could I be? )
Posted 07 February 2003 - 10:18 AM
I started the breakfast and midnight snack diaries as an exercise in writing about the purely animal appetite that only emerges in total privacy. There's a paradox there, but it's one writers have always had to deal with: how much to tell and how to face the consequences afterwards. I imagine some readers wonder how I could still be alive after years of consumption of butter-fried doughnuts and sandwiches made of sausage skins, and maybe it's my dirty little secret that some nights I just eat an orange or a stack of crackers. That was the virtue of the daily entry, but I felt pressed by that to act out more, which I didn't like. This way, the series is instinct driven, even if it isn't a total picture.
Favorites? My favorite breakfast is probably a fried egg mashed on buttered toast. At least it's what I go for when nothing else appeals. My favorite midnight snack would most likely be curling up next to a prime rib roast, although I've never had the chance to do that properly. And let's not forget Swedish meatballs.
Posted 08 February 2003 - 12:52 AM
Laurie Colwin wrote a wonderful essay about private appetites. She said that when you ask people what they eat when they're alone, they always say "Oh, just a salad," but then you find out that they secretly eat stuff like fried spaghetti with hot sauce and grape jelly or sliced white bread dipped in mayo and pudding mix. (Ok, I made the second one up, but the recipe Colwin included was a spectacularly repulsive-sounding mix of eggplant with soy sauce and yogurt.)
I started the breakfast and midnight snack diaries as an exercise in writing about the purely animal appetite that only emerges in total privacy.
I think one of the differences between the stuff Colwin was writing about and the midnight snacks you write about so beautifully is that her "secret appetites" seem mostly to be gratified by whatever can be dug out of the back of the fridge; I don't think anyone goes out and shops for the jelly and the hot sauce in anticipation of dinner. Your private meals, by contrast, seem to be very deliberate.
What a pleasure it is to see you here. I was given a copy of the original edition of "Simple Cooking" about.....gee, 15 years ago? I took it with me on a project that turned out to be a misery and a half, and the only thing that kept me sane was curling up in my horrid hotel-room chair in the evening and reading your essays.
Posted 08 February 2003 - 12:01 PM
Posted 09 February 2003 - 09:43 AM
I wonder if people's private appetites tend generally to be down-market. The Colwin example I quoted certainly is; you just know that the grape jelly getting dolloped over the fried spaghetti is Smucker's or the supermarket house brand -- nobody is using imported Swiss jam for this kind of thing. And a few months ago, when I surveyed some colleagues on their guilty pleasures -- the stuff they secretly craved but generally avoided eating -- the No. 1 response was Kraft Mac 'n Cheese. Original recipe, please. Mine was Captain Crunch, and my wildly status-concious, rigidly vegetarian boss confessed to a secret longing for Spam.
As to what you say about Laurie Colwin, it may be that her private appetite didn't follow her to the supermarket, wagging its tail.
The 20-year-old kid in the art department -- the one with the metabolism of a hummingbird -- didn't understand the question, so we all banded together and shot him.
Edited by mags, 09 February 2003 - 10:08 AM.
Posted 09 February 2003 - 10:14 AM