Finding my inner ‘foodie’
An exclusive feature*
Our world today as we know it is truly so very different regarding food. Years ago food had become a bit static: bacon and eggs, steak and potatoes, cake and ice cream.
Everything now is about being health conscious, organic, free of this, free of that, stripped of allergic items– plus food combinations that test the sensory modes of our taste buds. Yada, yada, yada…. Now living in Charleston, one of the hippest culinary cities in the world, offers me a wide variety of eclectic choices, from shrimp and grits, to oyster stew, to perhaps a low country boil.
All these delicacies seem somewhat tame when you compare them to those of a young artist, trying to make ends meet and living inside a studio apartment in Greenwich Village during the mid-1970’s. The food wasn’t fancy but the culinary combinations were endless. I couldn’t duplicate the Julia Child’s approach (after all, I had to stretch a dollar until the eagle grinned), and secondly, well…story for later.
For me, a myriad of choices could be found within walking distance of my NY neighborhood: the Korean vegetable store, the Italian shop that made scungilli every Friday, or the fact that my building actually sat atop a major grocery chain. Occasionally I did not have the time or money to purchase all the necessary items for a full and healthy diet. If I did manage to cook, food would often stay on the counter or in the fridge until it turned into a dangerous projectile or interesting color combination. What did however last for days were the Oreos or pretzels bought for a marathon bout of writing, or from a previous night’s party. And, this is how I became the “creative chef” that I still remain to this day.
For some reason I always had eggs in those early years, and this proved to be the core of my creativity. SO I figured there were lots of options: eggs and bacon, eggs and cheese. Why not eggs and Oreos? I wasn’t necessarily looking for the eternal hangover cure. All I wanted was a bit of substance that would fill me up and get me back to the typewriter.
I scrambled the eggs, scraped the icing from the Oreos for my coffee and soaked the cookies until they were drenched, then I would gingerly fold them into the carefully beaten eggs. After that it was a matter of simple culinary aptitude. Fry the eggs on high until I could flip the flattened omelet (I only cook on high, no patience for anything more subtle), turn the heat off and while the other side hardens, enjoy the first cup of my icing rich coffee.
But man does not live by Oreos alone. Soon followed chocolate chip cookie omelets, oatmeal raisin omelets, and by far my favorite: the pretzel omelet. You definitely have to soak a Bavarian Beer Pretzel a little bit longer, but it is worth the wait for the extra carbs and salt.
This desire for exotic, or should I say neurotic food, reached its peak about the time a new restaurant opened up in Greenwich Village, The Omelet House. All was well as my friends ordered their favorites one by one until the waiter came to me. “Make mine an anchovy omelet,” I said. The looks from around the table ranged from repulsion to shock. “What?” I shrugged, “It’s on the menu!”
We used to sit up nights with a communal gallon of ice cream passing around raw cookie dough…who knew? If we had taken business classes rather than theatre arts, our lives might have taken a completely different direction. You know what I am thinking here, right?
So if your grandkid wants to mix two different cereals in the same bowl, or asks you to put bits of hotdog into their hamburger, just go ahead and let them. And keep this one thought in mind: if someone hadn’t thought of putting peanut butter, marshmallows and nuts into a pint of ice cream, then it just would be called ‘chocolate’!
Beyond Green Eggs & Ham is an exclusive feature by Steven Ziplow, writer & producer, who lives with his wife in Charleston, South Carolina. He enjoys both sides of his “blended family.” As a footnote, he totally loves the idea of aging and pokes fun at it in his writings. His hobbies include acting, tennis, and replacing non-functioning parts of his body with titanium.