It could be a reaction to a childhood spent too often eating bean chips and tofu burgers.
Not my fault. Not my choice. This was 1980s Los Angeles, my home until I was 11. People ate this crap — and fed it to their kids. Wrong, wrong, wrong. Also: Mean.
Seriously, my favorite sandwich to take to school for a while was wheat bread, a little cream cheese, alfalfa sprouts and sweet pickles. What sane child requests — no, demands — alfalfa sprouts?
It’s not all my parents allowed me to eat. If we were really — really — late for school, my mother might drive-thru at McDonald’s to be sure I ate something beforehand. But there was a general theme. A philosophy. Which could be a little gross.
So I know how to eat nutritiously. Correctly, if you will.
And I also like to eat well. I like bone marrow and pork ribs and scallops Provencal and poached eggs and glorious summer tomatoes and farmers’ markets and the tang of an expertly made vinaigrette.
And then there’s the other stuff. The stuff I shouldn’t like — shouldn’t even know I like — that is in some cases not even really food.
I don’t — can’t — eat them all the time. I really don’t hate myself that much.
Spaghetti O’s. Has to be with meatballs. Especially when I’m sick. I don’t know why. Orange sauce hot like napalm suspending overcooked noodles and grenades of a meat-like substance destined to explode in my guts at a future time to be determined and probably make me poo funny. And do I know why they feel they need an apostrophe? No. No I do not.
Frozen, microwaveable burritos. I don’t even know why. Something about them just works for me. The temperature never gets quite right, but yeah. Too frozen in the middle, hot enough to injure on the ends. Or vice versa. Little buggers are unpredictable.
Ballpark nachos. Nothing against the hotdogs. Love me some hotdogs. But there’s something about plastic cheese oozing down around too-salty stale chips and studded with little reefs of from-a-jar pickled jalapenos that really tells me I’m at a ballgame. (The players help, too, of course. And all those people I don’t know sitting around me.) The cheese always winds up getting under part of a fingernail the way barbecue sauce does after plowing through an order of ribs. The smell lingers. I remember going to a game once with a new friend who’d been to a dinner party at my place not long before. I went to get food and came back with these nachos and he started laughing at me, insisting it was in a good way. “I’m just glad to see you eat this kind of stuff too,” he said. I don’t know that I’m in control of myself at that point — I just have to have it.
Cool Ranch Doritos. I can eat them by the bag. I haven’t ever crossed that line, but I have it in me. I know I do.
So far Pittsburgh doesn’t really seem to have a lot of guilty pleasures. People here generally celebrate what they like unapologetically. Which is kind of cool.
Now leave me alone. I just heard the microwave ding.