We all have super-secret snacks that taste straight righteous to us, but would send other people scampering to discharge their tummy floaters into the nearest lavatory. Munchies so bizarre and immoral that a food writer hobnobbing with the gentry, sipping champagne and spearing delicate bits of seared ahi dipped in herb-infused crème fraiche, would never be caught eating them in public.
Still, sometimes late at night I hide out in my darkened kitchen and devour victuals so repugnant that if Dario Argento saw it happening, he would shriek like a speared schoolgirl, stop making films and check himself into the nut hut. Here are my top five shocking secret snacks:
5. Fake crab meat.
Surimi is a Japan-originated word used to describe a mutt slop of mixed fish product that is molded into strips, hunks, bars and chunks and sold under the clever aliases of "imitation crab," "mock crab," "krab" and, my personal fave, "seafood extender." That last one sounds a bit like like a porn name, and I do treat the fake crab I pull out of my fridge a bit like a chilly, plastic bag full of porny goodness. I gently pry open the zip-lock bag, ease my naughty fingers into the opening, ease a piece or two out of the crevice, and place the briny nuggets into my mouth slowly and lovingly. And sometimes I dip my seafood extender in cheap, red cocktail sauce just to show it who's boss. Except it seduces me, so it's probably the snack wearing the pants in my situation.
4. Snack cakes.
Little Debbie is a malevolent whore, but I still friended her on Facebook. I want to take strawberry cupcakes and smear them all over my computer desk and then inhale the purty pink crumbs like a Dyson. I shed genuine tears of joy when I discovered LD's new Banana Pudding Rolls at the Queen Soopers -- you can NEVER EVER have too many variations on the Swiss roll prototype -- and my permanent snack cake fetish is as insane as it is unhealthy. I don't want just one. Or two. I will eat half a box in one sitting and gargle down the last flecks of cheap, waxy icing like I am mouth-holing manna from on high.
3. Vienna Sausages.
My mother would never let us have these when I was a kid -- apparently they are bad for you, or whatever --- so I am turning my repressed childhood deprivation into a big, fat rationalization for my morbid obsession with these tiny, beloved ersatz-wieners. They come nestled in a diminutive can, hugging each other like warm infants, and suspended in this gelatinous half-liquid that tastes exactly like them. Yes, on occasion, I have been known to sip the leftover wiener juice. My mother was wrong -- they aren't bad for you. They are horrendously bad for you, like tonguing a brick of salt over and over until your licker goes numb, and then doing it some more. Every time I stick one in my flapper I'm saving my future embalmer ten minutes of work when I finally kick the can. Take that, Mom.
2. Candy orange slices.
There are so many splendid things about going to the gas station. There are keychains with little stress balls on them, cigarettes are almost always on sale and, deep in the candy aisle, right smack-dab in the middle of two bags of Starlight mints, are the fakest looking/smelling/tasting orange slices known to humankind. These bags are two for a dollar, worth every penny, and they give every current and future dental student the fulfillment of their hopes, dreams and individual retirement accounts.
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1. Bean dip.
There are some snacks so reprehensible they can only be created in your own kitchen, hidden from the light of day like a drooling, ball-gagged gimp in your root cellar. One of my tried-and-true "Jennifood" recipes is a sloppy, nasty bean dip, a monstrosity constructed out of a can of refried beans, a can of enchilada sauce, a diced white onion, and way more grated Cheddar cheese than anyone would think possible. Two minutes in the microwave, and this takes on the texture of toothsome quicksand. It's oodles of fun to take tortilla chips and chase the little onion hunks around in the mock La Brea tar pit like I'm digging for bison remains. And, much like at the famous tar pits, methane gas bubbles are inevitable.