My favorite snacks while reading or writing mysteries are carrot sticks, apple slices, and cherry tomatoes.
Ha ha ha. If you believe that, you'll believe anything I write from now on!
The truth is, I'm a sweets muncher. I can multitask-sweet munch with almost any other activity. Sometimes I even munch and munch at the same time, with, say, a few M&Ms and a couple of chocolate-covered raisins for a token nod to health.
But there's ONE thing for sure: I do not like Mystery IN my Munchies. No BBQ flavoring in my chips nor a nacho additive to my pop corn. No re-invented oreos with rainbow filling. I don't even need the double filling; just the no-nonsense, old-school cookie, please.
It gets harder and harder to find plain food these days. Think you pulled a bottle of water from the shelf? Look again. It's probably orange water, or lime, or pumped up with a hi-energy element of the periodic table.
Is nothing sacred?
Answer: no, it's all about options these days. Where there was one version of your favorite munchie, now there are a dozen. It comes bite-size, strawberry-flavored, reduced fat, sugar-free, gluten-free, vegan, bacon-flavored, salt free or with sea salt or cracked pepper, compacted into a bar, or shaped like a pizza, produced in a factory where nuts may or may not be present.
I remember the small grocery store across the street from my building when I was a kid. Tony and Mike had everything in stock—meat, produce, canned goods, crackers, cereal, even newspapers.
"We need some tuna and mayo, please, " I'd say, in my six-year-old voice.
One of the brothers would hand me the only options for each. No questions about chunk, solid, oil, or water (mercury was included whether you wanted it or not); no options for lo-fat or soy. No ingredients listed on the label.
The shop is gone now, maybe because it would have taken every shelf in the store just to carry all the different kinds of potato chips that are around today.
Choice is good, you say, and I agree, except for times like the following:
Last week I wanted to make the novelty cookies seen in my entry in the Cozy Food cookbook: "hamburger" cookies, for a family party. The ingredients list was simple—vanilla wafers, some kind of thin, round chocolate cookies, and red and green tube icing (for the "ketchup" and "lettuce.")
I picked the items off the shelf, went home and laid out the supplies for the cookies. What do you know? I'd inadvertently selected "mini" wafers instead of the NORMAL size I'd had all through my childhood. Of course the whole scale was thrown off and I had to go back to the store. This time I read the fine print and the project was successful (see above).
Choice is good, as long as you're paying close attention. Mysterious bells and whistles can take you far off course.
And I'm not just talking about cookies.