I begin to ask myself what it could have been, this powerful taste that brought no proof, but the overwhelming experience of wretchedness, of the degradation of the human soul in this age of unreality, of the putrefaction of good sense and beauty and harmony.
And then I dip the pumpkin spice madeleine in the coffee again, and it all unfolds before me. The flavour, haunting in its stupid familiarity, calls into the recesses of my soul. It reeks of burnt beans and misspelled names and lascivious squirts of vanilla syrup from moldy tubs. Suddenly, just as a cup sleeve of corrugated cardboard that seems flat, given a tiny amount of pressure from the fingers, pops into a round window, an effigy of protection from a boiling beverage, the memory takes shape before my eyes.
I am a teenager, in a suburb with no identifying marks whatsoever, its relentless blandness a war against beauty or sensual experience. I do not really like coffee, but I fill a cup with six packets of sugar to make the bitter liquor somewhat palatable. Soon I discover a way to burn even the last trace of flavour away, a corporate solution for any stubborn flashes of creativity that may remain in our hearts, a final goodbye to subtlety and variation and natural goodness, a toddler-like piefication of the world, and the cheerios and the pasta sauce and the Oreos and the egg nog and the low fat yoghurt rise up from my cup of coffee.
(Thank you, Ben, for the photo.)
Did you know that, using only a few simple ingredients, a basic kitchen, and your native culinary inventiveness, you can bake a Demon Thing that will haunt your nightmares until your dying day?
Thank you to Andrew R. for this. I think. I dunno, I’m going to go have a shot of something strong and ponder whether I’m really grateful or not.
Just in case you think I’m about to make fun of maple syrup: I’m a proud, passport-carrying, apologizing Canadian. Of course I’m not going to make fun of maple syrup. I am going to make fun of the State of Vermont. Now, I have nothing against Vermont, it’s a beautiful state, but it must be hard being so close to Canada. It’s just inviting comparisons, and who can measure up to Canada in the maple syrup game? So I’m not surprised that Vermont is feeling a little, how shall we put it, inadequate on the syrup front. It’s almost like Vermont is trying to tell us something about its ability to produce buckets of syrup. I just — I just can’t put my finger on it though.
Thanks to Kate N. for this, whose breakfasts apparently can’t be beat for hilarity.
For those times when vanilla just isn’t bland enough.
Thanks to Jordan for the investigative reporting!
I’m gonna go out on a limb here and suggest that when most people think of Parisian tongue, this is not what they have in mind.
Thanks to Karen for taking this photo of a 1973 Chatelaine cookbook!
There are two kinds of people in the world. People who think cooking is about simplicity, about the elegant combination of a few well-chosen ingredients in order to draw out their natural, unadulterated flavour.
And then there are people who say, “Screw it, let’s just throw throw everything tasty in the bowl.”
I am firmly in the latter camp. If cumin makes it better, then cumin, cardamom, and garam masala must make it much better. If sugar is good, then sugar and butter and rum must be heavenly. So I salute you, Kulu Desserts, for pushing the boundaries of human endeavour. I would eat your Bubble Waffle Ice Cream with strawberries and mango and whatever else you thought to put in there in a hot minute.
And thank you to James for the photo!
Sometimes I ask someone if I can use their photo on Food Gone Wrong, and they say, “No, that was actually good.” But to me, that’s the point. Sometimes food goes wrong and the result is just terrible, something no one would want to eat. Sometimes food looks bad, but tastes fantastic. And sometimes food is “wrong” because it’s not traditional or authentic or sophisticated, but is, in fact, delicious.
So it is with these Nutella kolaches, which my Texas correspondent/spy Kelly found in West, Texas. Are they authentic? Almost certainly not. Would I eat half a dozen of them in one sitting? Probably yes.
And since a good way to bring in the New Year is with abundance, they seem an appropriate way to ring in 2017. Let 2017 be a Nutella kolach for everyone – odd at first sight, unexpectedly sweet and rich once you take a bite.