There are the pumpkins. There are the fall-reddened maple leaves. And there’s the blob of diarrhea-like pudding that claims to be pumpkin spice Jell-o. Lots of artificial flavor, NO artificial sweeteners — so you know it’s healthy. Same great taste as — as what? As pumpkin spice that grows in the wild?
Thank you to Jenna for this photo, which in the epic catalogue of pumpkin spice-flavored food, is not even that bad.
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.)
For those times when vanilla just isn’t bland enough.
Thanks to Jordan for the investigative reporting!
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.
It’s common knowledge that the first crepe always comes out looking a bit wonky. Reader Jen sends in this picture of her attempt to make chocolate crepes. On the right are crepes 1 to 4, on the left is the final, glorious, crepe 5. With strawberries and maple syrup though, all mistakes are edible.
It’s almost Hallowe’en, and I am out of words. What cannot be pumpkin spiced? What has not been pumpkin spiced? Next October, I predict, supermarkets will replace all the food with one big vat of orange fluid flavoured with pumpkin spice. Customers will come by, take jugs of the stuff home to eat, or simply stick their faces right in it. The truly devoted will jump into the vat and stay there, orange and fragrant till their last breaths.
(Thanks to Sonja for this!)
Are you mourning the loss of your favourite pop star? What better way to commemorate his musical legacy than by baking an unappetizing cake in his memory?
I’m looking forward to Little Red Velvet Cake and Raspberry Sorbet.
(Thank you, Emily, for your Target find!)
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