Monday, February 28, 2011
The "Little" People
These are my two most favorite flavors. Regular old pound cake comes in at a close third. When I'm having a horrendous day, I've been known to run to my closest bodega to grab a box of Entanmann's and a 2 liter of coke. If it's an exceptionally BAD day, I would add a pint of Ben & Jerry's. (Not something I would suggest doing when you're chugging Coke.)
Yeah, I can make my own cake. I can name every single ingredient that goes into it, unless of course I get lazy and buy a box of Duncan Hines, instead. (That, by the way, is my box mix of choice, when people ask me. If you can't make it from scratch, Duncan Hines is perfectly fine.) Anyway, yes I can make my own junk food, however sometimes there is nothing better than timeless classics. These cakes are timeless classics.
Why would low-cost, low-end junk food fall into a category I call "classic"? Because these items are the at the core of why I love baking. When I was a kid, on a Friday payday, my mom would pick us up from school, walk over to the video store for a couple of movies and head home after stopping to pick up a pizza and a box of Entanmann's. Good times.
I don't care that people scoff at me for enjoying these low-brow snack foods, if they even call them food at all these days. I know I have a handful of bakeries I can run to before heading home, but I like what I like when I need it. They're timeless. They haven't changed much since I was a kid, except that the sizes have gotten smaller.
I think people dislike Foodies so much because of the pretentiousness of the word. To be a Foodie means you only enjoy the rare, expensive, and high-end. Or the exact opposite- you only enjoy the weird, gross, gritty, nasty-bit "cheap" cuts. I always thought a Foodie was someone who thoroughly enjoyed their food and had an adventurous spirit to try new and different things. It's snowballed and mutated to over-indulged, rotund, over-fed food snobs who wouldn't be caught dead in a chain restaurant for ANY reason whatsoever.
I'm a bit of a food snob myself. I'd rather slit my wrists than find myself at a Crapplebee's. It's not because it's low-end and cheap. It's because I have never enjoyed ANYTHING I've ever ordered there. Not one dish has ever been good; not even the flat soda. Ruby Tuesday is a close second to that. Although their seafood dishes have potential, overzealous line cooks are heavy-handed on the seasoning and two bites into the dish, my sodium is spiking and I'm gulping down my two-for-one fruity margaritas. (My mom's favorite.) It's been consistently over-seasoned. Olive Garden. I don't love it. But, I don't hate it. I always get the ravioli portobello there and it's always been the same and okay. (Maybe because it comes from the same pre-packaged plastic baggies each time.) Admittedly, I haven't been to an Olive Garden in about 5 years. I don't really miss it, but I could hang if a group of people voted to spend their cash there.
Some of my favorites? TGIF's. People laugh at me, and I kinda laugh at myself, but for $10-$15, I walk out satisfied. It's not 4-star cuisine, but the waitstaff is always friendly and attentive, the food is always what you expect it to be, and the desserts aren't bad. The Cheesecake Factory. Their menu reads like a bible. There are a couple go-to entree's that I enjoy; fish tacos, crispy spicy beef, and luau salad. But, most of the time I'll just order an appetizer; avocado egg rolls, sesame crusted raw ahi tuna, or Vietnamese lettuce wraps. I like ordering an app. The portions are huge. I can't eat that much. I don't like carrying around leftovers through the mall, and I want to have room left for a slice of cheesecake for dessert. Recently, the Cheesecake Factory has added smaller plates for about $3 or $5 a plate, like tapas. Corn fritters, crab cakes, fried zucchini, and salmon tartar. There's a nice selection and I've had most of it. I've been to the Cheesecake Factory the most out of all the chain restaurants. Fantastic service. Tasty, consistently cooked food, and an overall happy food experience. The most I've ever spent on a lunch or dinner there? Maybe $20 - $30 a head, even with the dessert. Not bad for a casual meal.
My foodie comrades may look down their noses as the "little" people of the food world. My family didn't go to the neighborhood Italian places everyone else in my school went to; Umbertos, Luigi's or Jonathan's. They were not cost-friendly for a family of five. These places are not as friendly to non-regulars; people who didn't know them from little league or the local police/fireman softball games. Though we've lived in the neighborhood since the 70's, we were not "part of the neighborhood" so to speak. TGIF, Houlihan's, Bennigan's, Red Lobster(for special occasions), Friendly's, & IHOP didn't care about that, though. They were friendly (Well, I use that term loosely for Friendly's) and the food was affordable and consistent.
These things may be the "little people" of the food world, but if it wasn't for the little people, the "big people" wouldn't be standing so tall, would they? This baker got her start eating Hostess & Entenmann's. I'm not ashamed to say that. Where did you get your food love spark?
Posted by Katherine at 3:59 PM