If you’ve ever spent more than, say, ten minutes with me, you’ll know that one of my greatest fears in life is that someone, somewhere may be the slightest bit hungry. I carry a big Mom-purse that usually has snacks in it. I have indestructible foodstuffs stashed in the glove compartment* of my car. In my office conference rooms there are large baskets of junk food. I have a drawer in my desk with canned goods and dehydrated proteins. I keep a jar of peanut butter around at all times. When away from home, one of the most important conversations to have at lunch is what to have for dinner and where.
I wish I could say that I had stashes of high quality food, but while I am prone to exaggeration for effect, I am not a liar. In order to remain what passes for fresh, I tend to have stashes of food with a lot of preservatives in them. If you put fresh strawberries in your purse, you will have fermented strawberry mush in no time at all. Strawberry flavored Starbursts, however, last a while. Likewise, I can’t keep grilled chicken breast in my desk drawer or a steak in the pocket of my car door, but I can keep a can of chicken salad with some crackers or beef jerky.
People make fun of me – a lot – for this (those) habit(s). But those same people eat my food. These are the same people who make fun of me for bringing donut holes to almost every pot luck – but who is the one who doesn’t ever bring home leftovers? And why spend time in the kitchen getting the food processor dirty and using fresh ingredients to make a fancy vegetable dip when everyone will just scarf up the one-spoon-and-a-bowl onion-soup-and-sour-cream crapola instead?
Why indeed. I think of myself less as a junk food apologist as someone who is simply more honest than most gourmands. Fancy $3.00 a piece cookies are great and all, but are they really better than Oreos?
Case in point: I gave one of my writing seminars the other day. The kind where we spend all day in a room getting over our fears and ending up with a published short story. (Click here for information about the next one.) I know that food and coffee soothe the savage beast, so I spent a ton on snacks. In addition to the junk food basket, I got fresh baked muffins and cookies; fixins for sandwiches, including fresh peppers, onions, and spinach; cole slaw and potato salad; and bakery bread. My students ate some of that. But I’ll tell you what – they all pulled Hostess cupcakes and Twinkies out of the snack basket. “I haven’t had one in forever!” They said after long, vaguely R-Rated moans. “Lord, these things are good.”
That’s some truth telling right there: a roomful of educated, professional women with a high minded mission will choose snack cakes with a shelf life longer than their own lives over cookies from a bakery. Every single time.
I mean, obviously kale has more nutritional benefits, and you should eat salads and vegetables and lean proteins and whatnot the majority of the time. I’m all for subtle spices and interesting sauces and fig-and-prosciutto flatbreads. But there are times when a Ding Dong or a Ho-Ho can soothe the savage beast like nothing else.
And sometimes, this beast needs soothing.
*Seriously, when is the last time that anyone has ever used the glove compartment to actually store gloves? It’s where you put fast food napkins, straws, expired insurance cards, coupons, and a dried out pack of baby wipes.
If you enjoyed this and want to read more like it, visit Lori on Twitter or on Facebook. For the Best of Lori, read her books, “Mismatched Shoes and Upside Down Pizza,” “The Armadillo, the Pickaxe, and the Laundry Basket,” and her latest release, “You Know I Love You Because You’re Still Alive.”