Carpe Carbs

When I was in fifth grade I was out riding bikes with some friends.  We ended up at one kid’s house hungry and in need of a snack.  Richie pulled out some ice cream and started dishing bowls for everyone.  He asked if I wanted a bowl.

“Nah,” I responded.  “Could I just have a piece of bread?”

They thought I was crazy.  Still, I got my slice of wonderbread and I ate it.

To this day my good friend Adam still reminds me of the day I asked for bread.  What kind of kid would rather have bread than ice cream?  Maybe a little French kid I suppose – because if their ice cream is anything like their cookies, it’s probably dry and not very sweet – but no self respecting American kid chooses bread over ice cream.  Bread is what you get to eat, as an American, whenever the hell you want it.  If someone offers you ice cream and you have a hankering for more complex carbohydrates, you take the ice cream and then when you are finished you ask for bread.

But I did choose bread instead of ice cream.  And I’d do it all over again.

Of course it’s trendy these days to love carbs.  What better way to go against the grain, so to speak, than by snubbing your nose at the received wisdom of Paleo and similarly inspired diets?  What these carb loving folks mean, though, is that they love the taste of a freshly baked baguette and they prefer their salads loaded with cheddar garlic croutons.  Oh, you love garlic bread too?  Well aren’t you the rare bird.  When I say I love carbs, though, I am talking about all of them.  Not just the butter coated flaky kinds, but the dry and carboardy kinds too.  Matzo crackers, grape nuts and those thin little wafers that you have to get in line for at church.

The drier and blander, the better.

Growing up I used to gather up all the carbs we had in the pantry: saltines, Cheerios, Cheez-Its, and whatever else, and mix them all up into a single bowl for an afternoon snack.  I found that the overwhelming salty fake cheese flavor of the Cheeze-Its was very well balanced by the bland oaty notes in the Cheerios.  If we had any on hand, I’d add peanuts to give it a little more heft and the more refined air of a store bought Party Mix.

One of my vices is plain pasta.  I don’t mean pasta with a little butter and garlic, but just cooked pasta and nothing else.  Something about it makes me feel a bit like a wild hunter-gatherer who has accidentally stumbled into an agrarian society for the first time, back before sauces were a thing.  Sometimes I’ll just grab recently cooked pasta by the fistful and stuff it into my mouth and feel myself transported back in time about 10,000 or so years.

Is it weird to crave such bland and unadulterated carbs?  Maybe.  But look, some people are into some really weird stuff.  If my vices boil down to skipping butter on my pasta and trying to DIY some Chex Mix from time to time – surely I can’t be too far gone.

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