It’s time for a bit of an admission.
I have not always been the food maven that I appear to be. Oh no. I have a darker, seamier side to my culinary history; A history that I am sure I share with thousands, if not millions of others.
Back in my college days, it was common for me to have blood content somewhere between a Carrie Bradshaw and a Keith Richards. Some weekends seemed like an evening at the Algonquin Round Table, others seemed like an early morning at Studio 54. In short, there have been many times where I have been, shall we say, unsober.
But where I differed from many is that when my inhibitions were lowered, it wasn’t sex that called my name.
No, for me the siren’s call came from the darker recesses of the foodie world. Brightly lit Seven Elevens and AM PM mini marts, Denny’s and Frisch’s Big Boys, and countless one night stands with anything and anyone who would deliver their wares to my door after midnight.
As I am now firmly in the third decade of existence, I look back upon these days with a great amount of fondness, especially in regard to the food. The death dogs and the Grand Slams may have been horrid food, but they and the bliss they induced were incredibly memorable.
Chief amongst these memories are moments where my friends and I sallied forth to the local convenience store to create what we called “Death Dogs”. Their moniker came about, not so much due to the freshness of the hot dogs, but rather due to the sheer number of items we would place on the poor poor hot dog. Chili, cheese, jalapeno peppers, catsup, two kinds of mustard, sauerkraut, onions and relish all were required in order to be considered a true “death dog”. Others in our group, not so brave, would remove one or several of the items, often followed by a fair amount of mocking.
The primary attraction to this dish was not so much the taste, but rather the cost. The hot dogs cost 2 for a dollar. The condiments? Free. One could easily triple the amount of food in one’s purchase by adding the free items.
Harder to explain are the nights spent at Denny’s. Here is a restaurant who has two major markets – Senior citizens in the morning, and drunks after bar closings. Their ties to alcohol are so readily apparent that many Denny’s now serve beer and mixed drinks.
Our crew would sit in the corner both and scour the menu as if we were on death row waiting for our last meal. Every night, each choice would be rationalized. “The salt in the fries will dilute the alcohol, ensuring I don’t get a hangover” or “Greasy foods help sober you up”. To this day I have no idea if there is any scientific evidence to back the claims made on those evenings. In the back of my mind, I believe that these were merely rationalizations for eating at places like Denny’s.
Possibly the scariest part of eating under the influence is when a person decides to invent a new meal, using whatever resources available. Cookie soup was a direct result of these sorts of shenanigans. Cookie soup, for the uninitiated, is almost exactly how it sounds. Place your favorite cookies in a cereal bowl. Cover with milk. Then you would either place the bowl in the refrigerator for 10-15 minutes allowing the cookies to become a chilled soggy mess, or you would simply eat immediately.
Other discoveries included dunking Twinkies in chocolate syrup, Open faced Manwich sandwiches, and my personal favorite, Toritilla chips dusted with cinnamon, and then dunked in a melted ice cream of one’s own choosing.
As I sit here writing this, I am physically cringing at the horrors I have placed upon my body. But I cannot ignore the sheer pleasure that these moments gave, even if only for their inspired idiocy. While some people may say that one should be careful of what one eats when under the influence, I say that you should proudly stagger down the road less traveled. You may eat crap, but you’re sure to have a heck of a food story.
My guess is that some of you already do.