Monday, February 28, 2011

The "Little" People

I like orange Hostess cupcakes. Not vanilla. Orange. Yes, I know they are loaded with artificial flavors and pumped out by an uncaring machine. But, after a bad day at work, I stumble down to the candy store in our lobby, head straight for the second shelf and grab a package of those damn orange Hostess cupcakes and an ice cold can of Coke. I pay $2.00 for my fair and sneak off to the emergency staircase where I can eat by myself in shame and peace.

I like Entenmann's cakes. Banana crunch cake. Deliciously moist banana flavored cake with a crumble on top with perfectly diamond drizzles of chocolate over the entire thing.
Louisiana Crunch cake. Bundt shaped moist yellow cake with a crunchy, nutty sensation topped with a decadent coconut glaze.

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?


  1. Dude, chocolate cupcakes all the way. I love those and twinkies but I think my real weakness is donuts. I recently just gorged myself on a half dozen of dunkins, boston cream, chocolate frosted, cake, I was really saddened they were out of the reverse boston cream though. Also I used to love Krispy Kreame but there are none around here. They're so bad for my belly but so dan tasty in my mouth areas. yum!

    I haven't had the banana crunch entemeans though, and I LOVE some banana flavored things. I keep trying to find a good banana split flavored ice cream without nuts.

    I thought foodies were just people who loved food?

  2. Chocolate cupcakes are great, but they would go better with milk and I'm not a milk drinker. Well, soy milk, but it's rare. Go get the banana crunch cake or I'll bring you one next time you're in the city. IT'S WORTH IT!!!!!!!! Krispy Kremes are yummy but a touch too sweet for me. Anyway, after seeing how fat I am now in your museum pics, there will be no cakes or donuts for a good long while. Today starts my detox. =(

    "Foodie" used to refer to people who just really loved their food, but the word has gotten so stuffy, pretentious, and serious over the last few years and it's laughable how crazy some people get about it. I try and catch myself when I start to exhibit Foodie Fever. I love my food and all, but it has to be enjoyable and fun. I like the cheap stuff as well as the expensive stuff. There's nothing wrong with admitting that...unless your Parmesan cheese comes out of a green can. That's just wrong. But, I'm the type of person to go out and buy you the real stuff so you don't have to eat the stuff in the can anymore. =)

    I think that's the difference between me and other people who look down their noses at everyone else who just doesn't know any better. My mom still buys the green can. I have $30 worth of good parm in the fridge right now that she doesn't want to use because it's "too good" for the family. When it comes to my family, though, I'd have to agree with her. (My mom and brother can have the good stuff, though. They're worth it.)

  3. You made me break my 8 day no junk food streak with your stupid pictures. Happy? You're a bully and a pusher!

    I know you won't be on today, but my condolences to you for what's happening today. Like you said, everything happens for a reason and the right time will come again. I'll have enough faith for you, too.

  4. DUDE YOU'RE NOT FAT YOU TINY JERK. lol Squishy girls are cute! You don't have a big jiggly belly like me! :( I just started doing yoga today. Although if you bought banana crunch cake sometime I would be your best friend forever.

    I don't buy the one in the can, but I do like the simple stuff. I guess that's just what I grew up on. Regular ol' spaghetti and hunts sauce and grated parmesan all the way!


  5. Thanks, Josh.(B)

    Noir Josh- I'm not obese, but I'm not exactly sexy skinny, and that's where I would like to get back to. There's nothing wrong with the simple stuff, but people fail to understand that the cheaper products we grew up on were cheaper because low-quality ingredients and fillers were used instead of the things that are better for us. "Quarter Waters" were all the rage in school, but do you know what they were? These tiny colored juices that cost 25 cents each. It was just sugar, water, artificial flavor and food coloring. That's what green-can parm is- fillers and a cheese-like substance. It's loaded with sodium to mimic parmesan, but it's NOT parmesan. You're better off with the real stuff anyway, because a little of the good stuff goes a LONG way. And there's nothing wrong with jarred red sauce. If I'm not making mine from fresh tomatoes, I start with a good jar sauce and add my own stuff to it anyway.

    Next week- YOU, ME & Banana Crunch Cake!!