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Saturday, October 22, 2011

Shitty Food Made Edible Through Good Memories

As a victim of frequent jibe towards my predilection for junkier foods, I think it's due time I pause and tap into the part of me that longs for the Flamin' Hot Lays or barf-resembling diner dressing. While I would never actually buy a bottle of Thousand Island Dressing from the grocery store or even purchase a bag of any other Frito-Lay brand potato chip labeled as "flaming hot", I am so OK with ordering a house salad with Thousand Island dressing from Pann's or Norm's solely based on the power of nostalgia. In fact, I will only consider a house salad if it's at one of these two establishments. I am aware that this "salad" is really just shaved carrot, fuchsia confetti (cabbage perhaps?), a cherry tomato or if I am particularly lucky- two pieces of large iceberg lettuce leaf and a curiously coral dressing completing a just barely justifiable salad dish.

The list of food  I hold in this regard can be extended to Pixy Stix straws, BBQ ribs of the cheapest quality (depending on the sauce, if the sauce is good I'm game; it's that specific smokey BBQ sauce I can't resist- unless the meat is rubberlike and dangerously inedible I just can't pass on this option; on that note, I also welcome Tony Roma's or similar caliber shoestring onion rings) and Filet-O-Fish sandwiches, a pleasure I reserve for long road trips where my options are limited and memories of Happy Meal lunches on the indoor carousel of an Inglewood McDonald's sparkle silently within my subconscious.

While my palette has refined itself, over the years, with a collection of tastes carefully acquired by way of overcoming mild-trauma and just plain growing up as an avidly healthy and normal diner-outer have overtaken my tendency towards a more processed diet. Much like geological forces slowly shape the world around us, my taste has become a complex Grand Canyon and I am constantly finding seashells made out of frozen Gansitos, buñuelo and walnut Brownie Bites (the ones in the red and white bag that got discontinued!) on the floor of my metaphorical gastronomical gorge! This does not mean my parents fed me shit, by the way. My mother hand-made us breakfast, lunch and dinner- fresh food made with love- but hey, you eat out once or twice and fast food is had on Fridays and the children stay happy, the world keeps turning and my associations with such experiences are apparently fond and deep.

The things we do because of such memories! You make excuses (unknowingly). You let things slide. You forget your current, present-time standards and act from the heart and from the gut. In the mysterious place where this happens, I also store the lyrics to the cool song I heard maybe four times on the radio when I was 14 which I'm able to recall at any given time or place even though I can't remember the chorus to the new Lady Gaga song I hear everywhere you go. My mysterious ability to recall the phone number to the beloved Jino's Pizza (310-674-7400) also resides here, as does the foundation to maintain decade-long, special friendships despite age-acquired disparate traits- and of course, the ability to eat the aforementioned vomitous dressing.

With that said, Frito-Lays (perhaps this a great thing) altered their recipe for the "flamin' hot". It's spicier in a much drier way now, whereas in the 90s it was almost sweet. bFor this reason, and because of their hideously red rebranding, I don't pick these up as often as I used to when they were recontinued a couple of years ago. An abomination of similar proportions- the new McDonald's Apple Pie. I immediately stopped ordering them after they ditched the bubbly crust with filling that tasted oddly like Chinese Fried Wonton dough.

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I'm an LA transplant now living in Brooklyn. I develop film projects by day, write at night, and have a dangerous predilection for vintage Robinson Golluber scarves- this blog serves as a tiny window to everything else I do when I'm not satisfying those first three passions. I'm trying to blog more and tweet less @annabelleqv. What about you?


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