That's the Thing
It's a progressive era, and I feel I can come out of the closet with this:
We all get particular cravings. As I sit here typing this, my frequent yen for sushi is flaring up, and it's not even ten in the morning. That causes some raised eyebrows when I admit it in mixed company, though nobody bats an eyelash when someone else admits to eating a pound of Starburst jellybeans in one sitting. This kind of bias cannot be allowed to continue. The sweet tooth majority gets all the press in our society, but that's over. I'm compelled to speak up for the silent millions who must share my devotion to the more savory aspects of the flavor wheel. It's time to garner support for the Salt Tooth.
Now, I like dessert as much as the next guy. Hell, I devote a full section of the blog to it. A well-made key lime pie will make my day. All that aside, I never crave sweets. If you told me tomorrow that I'd never again be able to eat another candy bar, I'd be disappointed. If you told me I could never experience another unagi platter, I'd lose my damn mind. My mom could spin you stories of how, when I was growing up, my after-dinner answer to "What would you like for dessert?" was, more often than not, "The rest of the wild rice."
My love of salty food is so broad that it gets broken down into sub-cravings. Sometimes, my urges are focused on strong, fishy flavors -- anchovies, sardines, smoked trout and/or salmon, sushi, caviar, pickled herring, and so on. Sometimes, the focus is more on the general snacks that incorporate salt, like pretzels or chips. Whoever thought up the sea salt/vinegar combination deserves a Nobel prize. Then, there are times when my taste buds call out for savory sauces. This is where the words "soy" and "Worcestershire" get thrown around a lot, and Chinese restaurants find their phones ringing off the hook. There's almost no end to the delights a salt tooth can seek out for himself. Strong cheeses. Spicy soups. Margaritas.
As I call attention to the plight of the poor, ignored salt tooth, a conflict brews. Just as the Civil War tore households asunder, I must, in the interest of full disclosure, report that I live with a sweet tooth. Check that, I live with King Sweet Tooth. While I'm tossing capers onto my sandwich to give it a salt boost, he's digging around in the cabinet to make sure we have enough cocoa powder. At barbecues, my plate is loaded with gherkins, his with brownies. A friend of mine once gave me tins of sardines for Hanukkah. All he asked for one Christmas was for his mom to make a chocolate pie. In truth, the war analogy is not a particularly apt one, because our parting of the ways actually benefits both of us. I'd imagine others would get a bit snappish to find their Valentine's Day candy plundered by the loved one who gave it to them, but I'm content to hand over the buttercreams if he doesn't object to me snatching the dill pickle off his plate at delicatessens.
My salt cravings are strong, but I'm not ruled by them. I can generally fight the urges, if need be. LabRat is not so fortunate. He's a full-fledged addict, and when the sweet tooth calls, he cannot help but answer. Not only that, but I learned soon after we started dating that he is almost constantly under the thrall of his "thing". No, not like that, perv. LabRat's "thing" is the food that he's completely devoted to, eating it at every opportunity, until he finally gets bored with it, and moves on to the next "thing". I generally cast around for variety in my salt fixes. LabRat demands consistency.
Shortly after we met, and started spending more and more time together, I noticed that LabRat was awfully devoted to Fudgsicles. Once in a while, we'd get the variety pack of popsicles (banana, root beer, lemon, and lime for me -- cherry, raspberry, grape, and strawberry for him), but the lion's share of his attention went straight to the chocolate.
One day, we decided to try a couple of the Mrs. Edwards ready-made pie slices. LabRat got the Butterfinger pie, and that was all she wrote for the Fudgsicles. Every day or so, another small box with a single slice of pie would appear in the freezer, only to disappear soon after. Hilariously, LabRat would never buy the full-sized pie, claiming he only wanted one slice. This particular "thing" was the only one that was tragically not terminated by LabRat himself. The pie was discontinued, and his ravenous sweet tooth was forced to find another outlet.
After a brief foray into a gummi bear "thing", he found a doozy in ice cream, which spread into a multi-month, three-part "thing", starting with Breyers vanilla ice cream with Hershey's syrup on top. This combination held strong until it became a bit too tame (or too vanilla, dare I say), and he moved on to the Reese's Peanut Butter Cup flavor. This lasted for a good, long while until the grocery shrink ray hit. Then came the pinnacle of the ice cream "thing": Haagen-Dazs Vanilla Bean. Not just "vanilla". "Vanilla Bean". Even this resident salt tooth must admit that it's an extraordinary flavor. LabRat would have happily taken his paycheck in pints of the stuff, given the chance.
His passion for it eventually waned, though it took several months. He had a little withdrawal, even spending a couple of weeks without a "thing". It was not to last, though, and just about the time we moved into our new apartment, the Little Debbie Nutty Bar "thing" took root. I'm firmly convinced that the sale on multiple boxes of Little Debbie products offered by the local grocery store came about because they noticed that Nutty Bars were flying off the shelves. They just didn't realize they were all flying to the same place.
A couple of weeks ago, I noticed the Nutty Bars weren't omnipresent on the kitchen counter anymore. There goes another "thing"! I was curious to see what would take their place. Then, we made one of our occasional jaunts to the nearby Steak 'n Shake. I, of course, was all over the chicken fingers. On a whim, I also decided to try their new specialty shake, made with Hershey's Special Dark flavoring. LabRat asked for a sip, and his eyes lit up. Uh, oh. Sure enough...
We're well into this new "thing" now. And I got him hooked by giving him his first taste! This must be how drug dealers get started.