Friday, August 28, 2009

Double-Down Eating

Who dreamed this up? This is the "KFC Double-down "sandwich." Hey, for those of you who want to skip the carbs in a regular bun (you know, that delicious combination of sucrose, starch, and bleach that keeps your mayonnaise in place), this may be for you! What's in this new creation? Two slices of bacon, pepper jack cheese, swiss cheese, all smothered in the Colonel's sauce, and then wrapped up in--two original recipe chicken breasts. That's right, fried chicken is the new bun. Estimated calories and fat? Really, if you're going to eat one of these things, does it matter? Someone estimated it to be the equivalent of three Big Macs. Someone else was quoted as saying that the KFC Double-down will probably become the latest "iconic, ironic" food.

I happened to hear about this newest KFC horror on the same day I was listening to a couple of late-20-or-early-30-somethings on the radio, laughing it up about the things they had eaten recently. One of their examples was Cookie-Cake-Pie. When I looked it up on the internet, I found this: Cookies, cakes and pies are basically the holy trinity of baked goods. Separately, each is wonderful in its own way. Cookies and milk after school. Birthday cake. Christmas pie. But what if--just what if--all of this awesome-ness could be combined into one singular sensation? Right. What if. The person posting this recipe says that the creation weighs more than a Thanksgiving turkey when you pick it up to put it in the oven. Excessive? Perhaps. But everyone who tried it all but licked the plate clean.

After the Cookie-Cake-Pie desecration, my radio friends went into paroxysms of laughter and delight over their recent memories of eating Funnel Cake, one of those State Fair-inspired fried dough creations (evidently any food sold at a State Fair can be deep-fried) where, if you're not careful, you end up choking on the powdered sugar you inhale into the back of your throat as you (evidently too-eagerly) bite into the thing.

And then in keeping with the "fried" theme, these guys went into their next riff which was about the best way to deep-fry a Snickers bar. The "boys" (30 is the new 15?) yukking it up on the radio pointed out that it's essential, if you want to get this one right, that you don't just deep-fry the Snickers bar; first you must dip the Snickers in batter. Batter-dipped, deep-fried--and then smothered in chocolate sauce and whipped cream. Good Lord.

Continuing to laugh, the two radio guys got a little more serious when they asked, "What does it say about our generation that cake or pie isn't enough, but that we need Cake-Pie, or that we would even think to "supersize" a Snicker bar?" What, indeed? I thought that was a pretty interesting question, really, since I raised one of "their generation" myself. When my kid was little, I remember the due diligence I put into giving him better food than I got when I was a kid. I fed him homemade baby food; he got homemade snacks made from a book called Taming the Candy Monster; I packed his school lunch with care--all in response to my own childhood, where breakfast was likely to be a bowl of Corn Pops, lunch a choice between peanutbutter and jelly or baloney sandwiches (on Wonder Bread, of course--"builds strong bodies 8 ways!"), and dinner often something yummy and nutritious like a frozen chicken pot pie, with never a green leaf in sight. [All this from a "stay-at-home" Mom, which begs the question, What in heck was she doing all day?--but I digress.) I only want to know, with food like that, which I don't think was atypical 1950s food, how in God's name did my generation manage to live to adulthood?

So you can probably understand why it's a little bit disturbing to me to hear men the age of my own son laughing about the most over-the-top-disgusting, "ironic" thing they've eaten that week. I'm sure these two radio guys also had mothers, who probably, just like I did, packed their school lunches with healthy intent--even hoping, perhaps, to include a subtle lesson for later about good food habits. The only way for me to make any sense of of these 30-somethings' descent into "outrageous food" is to put it on a par with my own generation turning away from our parents' alcohol and cigarettes and turning on to psychedelic drugs. Same sort of concept, I guess, with probably also similar hazardous health results if the habit is continued.

So double-down on that ironic food, guys, but don't forget: it's a long life, and you may find someday that the real irony is having to carry around that super-sized junk in your trunk.

Update: From Texas, I think I just found the mother of all ironic State Fair fried foods: deep-fried butter. No kidding. Here's how it's described: "It's like a mix between a biscuit or a croissant that is just stuffed to the gills with butter on the inside," Abel Gonzales Jr., 39, the dish's mastermind, told NBC News.

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