Friday, April 12, 2013

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Shameful Pleasures

As a kid, I ate things that, upon reflection, were probably better off uneaten. Not mud or hair or other inedible things that whisper "Let me in" to the unbalanced. Proper food, just...not the way one is meant to eat them. Pats of butter, for instance. Christ, I loved butter. Not on rice or noodles or toast (though that happened as well when Mom prepared meals). No. The best butter (salted, of course) was pilfered little slabs, sheered from the end of quarter-pound blocks while nobody was looking and the refrigerator door stood open. And the best place to eat them? Behind the couch in a sunbeam, hidden from view like some feral little beast with a fresh kill.

The last time I snarfed a tablespoon of butter behind the couch, Elvis still performed for sell-out crowds. While my tastes have evolved, my relationship with food remains just as intense; every once in a while, old memories and primal cravings rise to the surface of my thoughts with sudden, compelling urgency.

And so I found myself recently assembling an old kit I hadn't thought about in decades: a box a graham crackers, a half-gallon of milk, a pint glass, and a spoon. Another ritual from childhood. As precise and predictable as any junkie's kit, this has no name. There is no recipe. It's merely a thing I do. It could not be more simple: jam as many graham crackers into a glass as will fit. Then break more and stuff them into the gaps along the side. Fill just to the top of the crackers with milk. Wait a beat. Dig in. The balance of crunch and mush slides along a tipping scale until, at the end, it's a mess. A slurpy, sloppy, chuggable mess.

I may be a grown-ass man with work to do and bills to pay, but now and again, knuckling under to childhood food cravings allows me to put aside thoughts of that work and those bills.

Repeat, as the shampoo bottles advise, if necessary.

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