Tag Archives: Chow

A Clean, Well-Lighted Sandwich

It is Sunday night; I’m bundled in my favorite loungewear hoodie, sipping some ice water, and hearing the fire engines roar past. This past week was long (too long), and the weekend felt painfully short after such a hectic spell.

Still, I feel rejuvenated & ready to start my week. I had some gorgeous meals this weekend: brunch at Chow with Courtney, where I had mimosas and fries and a gussied-up peasant sandwich of ham, roast tomato, gouda, aioli, and a fried egg on grilled sourdough; dinner at Nombe with Alex and Willow and Joe, where our table spilled over with food: miso and bacon-wrapped mochi and a delicately gridded grilled eggplant, which was drizzled with miso. A chocolate souffle that really wasn’t, but that was a solid dessert nonetheless. My cutest meal was at Jay’s Cheesesteak 2, the Western Addition cousin to the Mission shop. Friday, I had plans to meet Sabina but no time to run home for food, and I found myself wandering Divis in search of a bite. I considered (briefly) Bus Stop Pizza, but reasoned that any pizzeria named after a bus stop couldn’t provide more than novelty. The brand-x sub shop next door was empty but for a forlorn clerk wielding a baguette. In light of my unwillingness to venture more than a few blocks from the Page, Jay’s became my last chance.

But what a phenomenal chance! I desired only the most basic food; if I’d had my way, I probably would have conjured up a peanut butter sandwich on thick, seed-crusted bread. Jay’s offered a close second: a no-frills BLT served on toasted baguette. It’s tough to tell in the photo above, but the cook made the bacon precisely as I like it: half a step too close toward burned. Nestled in its wreath of shredded lettuce and mayonnaise, crowned by tomatoes, that bacon was crisp salty satisfaction. (Sometimes, all it takes is salt.)

I felt ultimately cozy in that dim-lit shop, alone except for the cook, the clerk, and another diner, reading the Guardian and pausing, now and then, to take a thoughtful bite of fry. I’m already excited to go back — not as the result of a pre-planned trip, mind you, but the next time I find myself in the neighborhood, in want of a fine, simple meal.

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Rethinking the Halloween Hierarchy

This morning, Chow published a hierarchy of commonly-distributed Halloween goodies. I was thankful to read an article that wasn’t about how to avoid overindulging during Prime Candy Season (“Take your children’s candy, place individual pieces in sandwich baggies, fill the baggies with water, and throw them in the freezer. If you want a fun-size Twix, you’ll have to defrost it! Plus, no one likes candy with freezerburn!). But, I have a bone to pick with Mr. Norton. A few bones, actually.

I think we’re all in agreement that full-size candy bars were the Ultimate Halloween Jackpot. My sister and I knew which houses annually gave full-size bars, and we’d hit those residences first before we began our rounds proper. Why plan your visits sequentially and take the chance that the stash of big bars might be depleted? Norton hit the nail on the head with this observation.

 

Don't leave these guys out in the cold -- they need love, too!

 

Norton’s logic breaks down almost immediately thereafter; he claims that fun-size Snickers bars are the next most coveted item. Reading this, I was flabbergasted. My only thought? Oh, heeeeellllll no! I realize that Mr. Norton’s so-called “evidence” is largely anecdotal and that his sample size is probably no greater than ten, but his assertion that fun-size Snickers reigns supreme is ass-wrong. Begrudgingly I admit that Snicker’s is “America’s favorite candy bar,” though god knows why; the combination of nougat, runny caramel, and peanuts (the lowliest of the nuts, and not even nuts, at that!) always nauseated my childhood self. Really, I chalk Snickers’ popularity up to America’s bad taste. Harumph!

But I digress: in my neighborhood (and family, and mind), other candy bars were far more popular than Snickers. Milky Way and Milky Way Midnight, for example, were more coveted simply because they were rarer. Kit-Kats were good because they could be eaten in two perfectly equal bites (one stick at a time), and Mounds and Almond Joy won us over because their “fun-size” versions seemed larger than the other fun-size bars.

I’m wary, too, of Norton’s snub of fruit-flavored candies of all varieties: “[they] sort of miss the point: the mass accumulation of pounds upon pounds of cheap, mass-marketed chocolate products.” Is that the point — the sole point? For me, Halloween was about the accumulation not only of huge quantities of candy, but of a great assortment of candy. How boring it would have been to have a pillowcase filled with nothing but Crunch bars! Necessarily, I liked some candies more than others. As most kids do, I spent hours sorting my haul, piling candies based on their classification (chocolate or non-chocolate) and appeal (favorites, pretty good, so-so, or won’t eat). (Note: There was very little in the “won’t eat” pile.) I’d work my way through the favorites; once those were gone, I’d move on down the line until I had nothing left but those oft-demonized, black & orange-wrapped peanut butter taffy. My dad ate those.

So, Mr. Norton, while I applaud your revisiting of Childhood Candy Hierarchies, you could have done better. Much better. Halloween candy collection is much more nuanced than your article leads the reader to believe, the classification of and sorting of and obsessing over the candy a ritual that deserves much greater study than what you’ve provided. Next year, give me a call — I’ll shed some light on what lies inside the pumpkin pail.