Friday Fuck Up: Are Those Tortilla Chips in Your Jell-o?

I confess: I don’t like recipes. That, and my tendency to leave out key ingredients even when they are listed right in front of me, makes me a worse-than-average baker.

It’s not that I can’t follow directions; from K*nex to origami, I have personally experienced the power of step-by-step instructions in my life. When I’m in the kitchen, though, I’d rather be swept up in the moment, adding a little of this, a little of that. Generally, the results are, if not supremely delicious, at least edible. Next time I make tomatillo salsa though, I will do so with recipe in hand.

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I’ll Have What the Doctor Ordered

I must admit, I have probably spent more time in hospitals than someone my age should. Whether it has been for professional reasons, my own health needs or to visit others, it seems like every month I am walking along sterile hallways with my shoes squeaking. Despite these regular visits, whenever I think of hospitals, more than anything else, I always think about hospital food.

Truthfully, I love hospital food! At this point you probably have the image of lukewarm, processed fare being wheeled down the hallway in a large blue cart—and immediately think I am crazy.

Typical hospital food is the same as any institutional cafeteria: half cooked grilled cheese, jello, aluminum tasting tomato soup, stale coffee, etc… Not particularly inventive or interesting, but that is part of why I think I love it so much. Hospitals are always stressful and this familiar food is comfort. Maybe it’s even more than comfort. Maybe it is that hospital food allows us to step away from a family or friend’s bedside to find the cafeteria and forget about things for a few minutes while eating chicken fingers and watery honey mustard. Maybe it’s the reality that when you’re admitted to the hospital, it is extremely monotonous and mealtime is one of the few things to look forward to. Maybe it’s just the ironic fact that a lot of hospital food has enough salt and fat to sedate an elephant. Whatever the reason, bad hospital food is a wonderful thing to me.

After I had eaten some overcooked carrots, roast chicken and a lil plastic cup of cranberry juice the other day, I began to think about all these things. We ask a lot of our food. Besides expecting it to taste great, we expect it to nourish and excite us. We derive parts of our identity from food and impart a great deal of emotional heft to it. Sometimes it serves to expand our horizons and sometimes it just brings us a sense of comfort and safety. The fact that you’re reading Endless Simmer today is proof that food means these things to you, and probably a lot more.

As a few weeks pass, I will start sharing some other food and drink experiences and may even find myself railing against the large conglomerates that oversee industrial food services, but for today, I will give them a pass. I suppose that  comforting isn’t always what’s best but sometimes it is just what the doctor ordered.

(Photo: Jayneandd)

The Top 10 Drinks Only America Could Have Invented

Independence Day 2008 inspired Endless Simmer’s most popular all-time post: The Top 10 Foods Only America Could Have Invented. So by popular demand (actually, by DAD GANSIE’s year-old suggestion), we’ve returned with a list of 10 ridiculous, patriotic ways to wash down all those corn dogs and buffalo wings. Don’t head out to the BBQs this 4th of July weekend without first consulting  The Top 10 Drinks Only America Could Have Invented:

10. Irish Car Bomb


What? You thought this one was invented in Ireland? Yeah, by a leprechaun who needed something to pour over his Lucky Charms. In fact, this often-spilled, rather insensitive homage to the Emerald Isle’s Troubles was first concocted at Wilson’s Saloon in St. Norwich, Connecticut on St. Patrick’s Day, 1979. Only our most industrious country could produce minds bright enough to think “Hey, I can get drunk twice as fast if I just drop my shot right into my beer!” For the uninformed, a Car Bomb is equal parts Jameson Whiskey and Bailey’s Irish Cream, poured into a shot glass. Then you drop the shot into a pint of Guinness and chug the whole thing. Brilliant!

Honorable mentions: Sake bomb (pretty sure they don’t do this in Tokyo), and the Russian Boilermaker (surprise — not from Moscow).

(Photo: Penguin Bush)

9. Long Island Iced Tea


Looks so deceptively refreshing, doesn’t it? Only the most ridiculous place in all of America could loan its name to a drink that basically involves pouring everything behind the bar into one glass. For the record, a traditional Long Island is made from vodka, gin, tequila, rum, triple sec, sour mix and just a splash of cola. It tastes surprisingly un-revolting and (less surprisingly) makes you do some pretty stupid things after drinking it.

(Photo: Krscoci)

8. Venti Double Chocolate Chip Frappuccino


It’s not dessert! It’s coffee! Riiiiight. Only Starbucks could convince the skinny jean wearing, yogalates practicing, yuppie women of America that it’s OK to buy a drink that has more calories than a bucket of lard. But if it’s served in a cup, it doesn’t count as food.

(Photo: Shiok or Not)

7. The Bacontini


If there’s one thing we Yanks do well, it’s obsession. And anyone who’s every met one of us can tell you there are two things we can’t stop talking about: getting effed up, and bacon. So it was only a matter of time before we combined our two loves into one outrageous, trend-ending drink. The bacontini, now appearing on every blog, and soon enough, every bar across the USA.

6. Exercise Beer


But what to do the morning after you wake up and realize you’ve consumed nine shots of vodka and half-a-pound of bacon? Obviously, that’s when you switch over to exercise beer. The latest trend in American brews is super-low calorie beers like MGD 64, Select 55, and Michelob Ultra, which is my favorite because the ads for it actually show people drinking beer and then exercising. Finally, a way to get wasted every night and still lose weight, because you wouldn’t want to do something as drastic as, say, drink a little less beer.

Next: Top 5 Drinks Only America Could Have Invented