22 April 2005

Hello God, It's Me, Margarine

If you grew up in the 80s or earlier, you should get the joke in the title. If you're younger than that, then you probably don't get many of the things in my blog. I really should try to be more inclusive. Maybe have some stuff on here about Lindsay Lohan or Hilary Duff, even the Rugrats--and I only know those names from reading Entertainment Weekly, really. I could have a whole tween demographic for my readership, and then I could get emails that say things like "U R 2 kewl!" Or "U R sooooo not kewl."

But I'm going far afield again. Back to the topic: margarine. I don't like margarine. My Mom was in middle school when the very first kind appeared on the scene--no doubt of its own accord, sprung wholecloth out of the procrustean depths. Or just the result of 1950s post-war consumer trends. She talks about how you would snap this little red dot inside the margarine lump, purchased in a plastic bag, and then she and her friends would throw it around in the backyard, to incorporate the coloring throughout. Yummy. After all, you wanted it to look like butter, and be nice and soft and yellowy. All I can think of is a little kid proudly bringing in this ratty old plastic bag covered in dirt and grass and leaking oily residue--I feel the need to bathe just from writing this. Mom's family never ate that, but they did have imitation ice cream when it first came out. Imitation. Ice cream. Even she isn't sure what that was made of. Maybe it was the Splenda of its day: "Made from ice cream, so it tastes like ice cream." ?????? (Which makes as much sense as having 2006 law school rankings in 2005--what if the school blew up? Would it still be #8?) Mom also witnessed the first store-bought pizza and macaroni and cheese. Of course, rural Ohio didn't exactly have a burgeoning Italian population, so I doubt the demand was high for anything like that.

I was relieved in the last few years when all that artificial stuff seemed to have reached its saturation point. Stores were no longer adding aisles devoted entirely to candy and/or cookies. The pop ("soda" for some of you, "cola" for others) aisle miraculously remained one aisle, and the Great Cereal Proliferation, sparked by the arms race between Kellogg, General Mills, and Post, had arrived at detente. Because chocolate marshmallow sugar crusted shredded wheat biscuits in the shape of elmo just weren't selling.

But then, every once in a while, I'll be flipping channels and notice Sandra Lee's Semi-Homemade Show. While the Food Network has created such gems as Everyday Italian, Paula's Home Cooking, and Barefoot Contessa (I watch too much Food Network), the Sandra Lee show was a mistake. A bad mistake. Right up there with designing men's bicycles with the straight bar.

The concept behind the show, if the title didn't tip you off, is to take store-bought stuff, and then add something to it to make it even better. Funny, I thought that was what most cooking involved. I don't exactly get my eggs and flour from the farmer down the dirt road. Anyways, the hardworking Sandra will take something like a store-bought angel-food cake. Decent start I guess. But now we need to make it "fabuluuusss!" So let's add some apple pie filling out of a can into the hole in the center. God forbid some crevice goes unfilled with sugary fabulousness. And then let's take some store-bought frosting (which, if you read the ingredients, is sweetened, flavored, colored Crisco basically--that's right, it's lard, people). And let's mix that with cream cheese (that's the "homemade" part I guess). And then slather it on the poor angel food cake in an inch thick layer. By the way, it's brown icing. I'd guess chocolate, but chocolate and apples? Ewww. And then stick some big sparkly green candles in it. Lovely. I'd be proud to serve it. At a mortician's convention, judging from the way it looks.

My teeth hurt just from watching this, like that first time you eat a Peeps against better judgment. I feel heavier just from watching it, but, amazingly, Sandra is super-skinny. Which means she either has super-high metabolism, is smart enough to not eat her own creations, spends the other twenty three hours a day doing Yoga Booty Ballet (or tossing margarine around in the backyard), or....isn't human.

You'll be comforted to know that she is described as a "lifestyle professional with a devoted worldwide following." I need to get myself a worldwide following...


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