Why is it that foods that brought us such great pleasure in our youth so rarely make an appearance in our adulthood? Is it because they're unhealthy? Made by people who have since moved on to the great beyond, or to Florida? Or is it because we simply forget about them?
Here are a few of the foods I relished as a person less old than I am now. Foods I genuinely loved. Foods I thought of as I fell asleep, that made my heart do backflips, that made me absolutely love being alive.
1. Cinnamon toast. I'd slather on the butter from the edges to the center, so any butter left on the knife would rest right in the bulls-eye, melting into a little crater. The cinnamon sugar was premixed McCormick, from the spice aisle, and I always accidentally shook on too much.
2. Butterfish. My maternal grandmother, Eve, always served butterfish, sturgeon, and lox on Sunday mornings. We'd have bagels and cream cheese, too, and little cherry tomatoes from her garden. I have absolutely no idea when I last ate butterfish.
3. Soup nuts. My paternal grandmother, Sarah, used to serve her soup with these puffy, crispy bread pouffs marketed as soup nuts, even though they weren't nuts. The last time I ate, or even saw, a soup nut was probably in the 80s, when Dexy's Midnight Runners ruled the airwaves.
4. Grilled Muenster sandwiches. I used to play with Laurie, Dougie, and Marc, three siblings who lived up the street from me growing up. Their mom made these melted Muenster sandwiches, and cut them up into cubes. Have you ever tried a melted Muenster sandwich? You should. I think you'd really like it.
5. Big League Chew. I don't actually miss Big League Chew, but I do remember shoving an entire pack in my mouth at once. How I didn't choke and die is beyond me. I should probably be dead right now.
6. Date Nut Bread. This I've had, and made, recently. Oh my god. It's just so good. Here's the recipe. You'll see.
7. Baked apples. It's the wrong season now, of course, but a baked apple with cinnamon, butter, and cold cream (not Noxzema) (remember Noxzema? Does anyone still use Noxzema?) was better than pretty much any dessert of my youth.
8. Sarah Bernhardts. I was just talking with cookbook author Jennie Schacht about these recently, because she and I grew up in the same hometown. It turns out that she actually knew the family that owned Jesperson's, the bakery that turned out these insanely addictive chewy almond macaroony things with a hard chocolately cap. I'm not doing them justice. Words fail me. They still haunt me. Now I'm depressed.
9. Fiddleheads. Steamed, with butter and salt.
10. Coconut Froz-Fruit. When I first met Colin, I made some comment about how I needed a coconut Froz-Fruit, and he was like, "What's a Froz-Fruit?" WHAT'S A FROZ-FRUIT? Really, Colin? What's a Froz-Fruit? Tell me I'm not alone in this particular obsession. I mean, I'm not alone. I'm not.
I'm definitely not.