Sheila Kennedy’s recent blog post about the demise of the Twinkie being primarily a function of changing snack food preferences and increased awareness of health consequences brought to mind a favorite passage from Neal Stephenson’s “Reamde”:
Having now lived for a few decades in parts of the United States and Canada where cooking was treated quite seriously, and having actually employed professional chefs, he was fascinated by the midwestern/middle American phenomenon of recombinant cuisine. Rice Krispie Treats being a prototypical example in that they were made by repurposing other foods that had already been prepared (to wit, breakfast cereal and marshmallows). And of course any recipe that called for a can of cream of mushroom soup fell into the same category. The unifying principle behind all recombinant cuisine seemed to be indifference, if not outright hostility, to the use of anything that a coastal foodie would define as an ingredient.
The food-as-culture-war thing has been popping up in various ways recently. Papa Johns and Chik-Fil-A are rallying points to culture warriors who seek to thwart the menace of liberalism. That they pick these places while fighting against universalizing access to health care is especially notable. It’s as if they are demanding, even relishing, the right to go from fat to sick to bankrupt. This is somewhat reminiscent of the climate change deniers who demand that FEMA be defunded.
As for the Twinkies, if you can’t make money selling Americans tubes of processed cream filling, what hope is there for any venture, really?