Thursday, August 27, 2009

In Defense of Junk Food

Yesterday I was out to lunch with my mom and grandpa, and when the waitress asked if Grandpa would like fries or coleslaw, he very disgustedly said, "fries?". She might as well have asked if he wanted arsenic in his iced tea.

"They're just the worst thing," he said after she'd left the table.

"Oh, but they're the best thing," I replied. Of course, I knew what he meant. Anything deep-fried is pretty much a cardiological nightmare, especially given the use and reuse of restaurant frying oils. For a health-minded person like Grandpa, they're absolute junk. Trash. A waste of resources. But to a slightly self-indulgent person like me, they're divine.

Which is not to say that I advocate binge-frying. All things in moderation, of course. But to deny yourself all things "junk"--well, that's just cruel.

Fries, of course, are not the half of it. There are so many wonderful if slightly sinister junk foods to be had. There are the extreme cases, like the "Glorified Hot Dog" that was recently brought to my attention:

The Glorified Hot Dog

Make a slit in a hot dog; stuff it with cheese.
Wrap the hot dog in bacon; bake the whole thing.
Get out the Tums; you're going to need them.

There's the deep-fried twinkie, the deep-fried Snickers bar. Anything you can batter up and drop in boiling oil.

Then, of course, there are less threatening treats: the many, many "junk" items that, if consumed in small portions, won't send you to the doctor to get your cholesterol tested. One of my favorites is the Rice Krispie Treat. (I suppose I should call them crisp rice squares--don't want to infringe on any trademarks here.)

There's the basic treat, the chocolate treat, the peanut butter treat. There's the amazingly sinful frosted treat like the one I had at Disneyland that inspired this post. But be creative. Use those crazy flavored marshmallows and whip up a little something to top it off. Me, I like to melt down the pastel-colored mini marshmallows (they taste vaguely of citrus) with butter, stir in my krispies, and top the final production with a drizzle of white chocolate, thinned out with a little bit of orange juice. During the holidays I crush up candy canes and stir them in with my krispies and mallow, drizzle the squares with dark chocolate, and add a few more crushed canes on top. There are endless possibilities--krispie treats might actually be the world's most adaptable food.

To sum up--sure, it's called "junk food" for a reason. And don't get me wrong--I think you should eat your spinach and get all your fiber and avoid deep-fried anything for your everyday fare. But every once in a while...have a Rice Krispie Treat. Have a french fry. Enjoy yourself and your food.

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