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Politically Incorrect

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Politically Incorrect

Read this and you may never eat again

A few months back, Dustin and I were creating ham sandwiches for lunch when I bemoaned the fact we had no regular potato chips… because nothing tastes better than a ham sandwich crammed full of those crispy critters. It got us discussing the odd foods that can sometimes be paired together with surprisingly tasty results. I mentioned to Dustin how in our youth, my friends and I used to dump peanuts into our Coke. He was stunned. I thought everyone did that, but maybe it was just a southern thing. Then he mentioned one of his own favorites, dunking French fries into his Wendy’s Frosty. I was stunned. Yes, French fries with gravy, that I can understand, but in ice cream? Really?!

I recalled that conversation when I came across River Journal columnist Marianne Love’s post on Facebook about her successful planting of garlic and blueberries, which engendered lovely springtime visions in my brain until Cory Meyers—an SHS alum who’s now a photojournalist for an Iowa newspaper—showed up to comment. “Garlic bread with blueberry jam…” he wrote. “Yum!”

When you have an image that awful stuck in your brain, the only thing you can do is try to replace it with another one. So I sent an email to all our River Journal folks to find out what odd, yet delicious, food pairings they would recommend.

Who knew that peanut butter was the one food that seemingly goes with everything?

“When my brothers and I were kids, we ate (and loved) peanut butter and mayonnaise sandwiches,” offered Sandy Compton. “My dad would add a big slice of Walla Walla sweet to the combo, and the first time I had the guts to try that, I was amazed at how absolutely great it was. Texture, flavor combo, crunchiness factor were all superb. Crunchy peanut butter made it even better. The only trouble was (and it didn’t affect my dad this way), that an hour later, I would be suffering from what I was sure was terminal angina. After a few hours of that, I would swear never to eat one again.

”However, it was a good enough combo that I kept forgetting how bad the reaction was for quite a while, until I finally swore off for good. I haven’t had one in years, but thinking about it now, I’m salivating.”

As I told Sandy, I don’t see anything in that combination that could be responsible for angina, or even heartburn for that matter, though the vomiting the combination should induce might well cause a few heart flutters.

Marianne herself, though she was silent on the blueberry jam/garlic bread potential, also sees peanut butter as the perfect base to build upon: “Potato chips in peanut butter sandwiches,” she offered, and added, “any flavor except those gawd-awful vinegar or jalapeno combinations.”

Marianne is also a fan of buttery syrup on sausage, but I think just about everyone is so I expect that doesn’t count as an odd combination.

Michael White said, “About as crazy as I get is bananas, honey and peanut butter all mixed up together on crackers or bread.” At first, that doesn’t sound too bad—my father was a big fan of peanut butter and banana sandwiches—but then you have to stop and think about… bananas on bread. Yech.

Idaho Representative George Eskridge is another who builds on a peanut butter base. “Until I got on the weight loss program, I really liked peanut butter, jam and cheese sandwiches. Not good for keeping weight and cholesterol down,” he admitted (after bypass surgery, George is conscious of those issues) but it really tasted good!”

Kathy Osborne agreed with the flavorful combination of fries and milkshake and said she first did that at Connie’s Restaurant when she was a teenager. Ernie Hawks said food combinations take too much preparation, though anyone who’s seen him eat can tell you that he’s willing to ingest things that simply would not appeal to a normal human.

Fascinated (in a truly appalled kind of way), I expanded my food combo pool, and posted the question at Dave Oliveria’s excellent blog for the Spokesman-Review, “Huckleberries Online.” That’s when things started to get really weird (though peanut butter remained popular).

“Back east we eat marshmallow creme and peanut butter,” offered Cis (Gors, of the “From a Simple Mind” blog fame). “It is common, but some out here thought that was weird.” Really, Cis? Weird? Then she added, “Also, peanut butter and relish is good.” No, Cis, I don’t think it is. Liz not only didn’t think that first combo was weird, she gave it a name and some history: “Cis,” she wrote, “Fluffernutters are pure awesomeness! They are the official state sandwich of Massachusetts; did you know that?”

Of course, Massachusetts does provide its residents with access to health insurance.

Scootermom voted for peanut butter and pickle sandwiches, saying “Yum! Perfect combination of creamy and crunchy.” (She should try Sandy’s dad’s sandwich.) And in a warning to parents everywhere, she added, “Ate them in summer camp when I was a kid, and just never outgrew it.” There’s an argument for nurture over nature for you.

KeithErickson concurred, but modified the recipe a bit. “Gotta have thick slices of garlic dills and slap it on whole wheat bread,” he said. JT modified this further by adding… mustard.

Peanut butter fan JeanC (you can visit her website at purple-ducky.com) goes for peanut butter, Miracle Whip and lettuce on white bread. BandR likes “Super thin-sliced corned beef lunch meat (or pastrami will do in a pinch)” with his peanut butter and CindyH topped that with her dad’s favorite sandwich: fried bologna and peanut butter.

Marmitetoasty (she’s English, you know. Read her thoughts at marmitetoasty.blogspot.com) spoiled my lunch, dinner and breakfast the next morning with the following: Marmite (thick), crunchy peanut butter, cottage cheese with pineapple, and cucumber slices dipped in malt vinegar. “Have to put the layers in the right order,” she said, and then cut the sandwich “from corner to corner into a triangle.” Marmite, for those of you not in the know, is a rather disgusting food product in and of itself. Wikipedia describes it as a “by-product of beer-brewing,” that is a “sticky, dark brown paste with a distinctive, powerful flavour, which is extremely salty and savory with umami qualities, somewhat comparable to soy sauce.”

This food madness is not limited to writers and bloggers, by the way. The same question, posed to a group of Sandpoint-area business people, revealed that Angela Potts (owner of Summit Insurance) and Colleen Ankersmit (with Selkirk Press) are also peanut butter and pickle fans, while Dave Sleyster, who owns Energy Electric, votes with Marianne for potato chips on peanut butter. Pete Merritt, a mortgage loan broker with Panhandle State Bank, joins Sandy in his fandom for peanut butter, mayo and onions. The RJ’s Larry Fury (and his mother, he says) are also peanut butter/onion fans though Larry’s favorite is the peanut butter/pickle combination and he likes a little mayo on there, too.

Now that I’ve wrecked the joys of a simple peanut butter sandwich for all you readers, let me move on to the truly odd combos that were offered.

Dick Cvitanich, Superintendent of the Lake Pend Oreille School District, likes his hot, buttered toast with a healthy topping of mayonnaise. Keokee Publishing’s awesome designer Laura Wahl likes strawberry jam on her ham sandwich. Tonya Clawson, married to humor writer Scott, enjoys gravy on her pancakes. (Seriously. She does. Scott is a fan of peanuts in Dr. Pepper, which seems pretty normal about now.)

HBO’s Phaedrus likes canned corn on top of Totino’s frozen cheese pizza (no word on whether he likes that cooked or raw), while JeanneSpokane (jeaniespokane.blogspot.com) likes sauerkraut on her pizza.

Hang on, it gets worse.

BethB (accidental-rabbit-trails.blogspot.com) gives this recipe: “One slice of bologna with mustard on top, with one square of American cheese on top of that, topped with raspberry jelly, rolled so that bologna is your outer layer,” and adds, “The cheese can actually be any square of cheese… just needs to be in that perfect square form.” Florined—here you go, Cory!—likes garlic bread with jelly. (Cory said he was just joking, by the way, though after triggering all this, he vows to try the combination.)

Amy Whalen, owner of Graphic Ink, swears by chocolate and cheese (layered together like a sandwich), Blacky Black (sales manager at Alpine Motors) goes for garlic-stuffed green olives with jalapeno cheese (that’s not a cold remedy, but it probably should be), and Shannon McGlashan, who owns White Cross Pharmacy, gives a hat tip to Nonnie’s Wine Bar in Priest River and its offering of alfredo nachos, which she describes as “fabulous!”

My own David has been known to use a donut hole to wipe up the egg yoke left on his plate, which I once thought was awful. Over at HBO again, Sisyphus (43rdstateblues.com) wrote, “When growing up, my momma used to make cow’s tongue in cherry sauce,” but I think he’s lying. I hope he’s lying. And Lynne’s offering was a hot, shredded wheat patty with a fried egg on top, but said she only eats that, “When I don’t feel good.” That combination, we’re led to believe, makes her feel better.

Not long after our conversation, Dustin created a “fan page” on Facebook—“I only get a Frosty at Wendy’s so I can dip my fries in it”—and challenged me to make one of my own for peanuts and Coke. I declined the challenge, but after hearing about the disgusting things my friends eat, I think I’m going to go ahead and join the 143 others who are already a fan of Dustin’s page. Or the page that beat him to it—“Dipping your Wendy’s French fries into your Frosty”—which has 86,725 fans.

Gil Beyer says French fries and Frostys are a “staple” in his family that goes back 15 years, and therefore I must lead a sheltered life, so the next time I’m in Coeur d’Alene, I’m gonna buy a Frosty and some fries and do a little dipping. Until then, I think I may just go on a diet.

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Landon Otis

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