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The Best Thing I Ever Ate?

October 2, 2009

I just discovered a show on the food network called “The best thing I ever ate.” The topic this week was, “the best thing I ever ate with my hands.” The concept is that they ask a group of chefs and tv personalities what is the best thing they ever ate with their hands then they film them eating that thing. I was perplexed by the show. They interviewed 8 people and these are the eight things that were picked.

– Sweet and spicy fried chicken
– Panzanini, which is fried dough stuffed with meat and cheese. kind of like a calzone, but fried.
– Sliders(mini burger) with grilled onions and American cheese.
– Sugared donuts with three dipping sauces: chocolate, ginger butter and blackberry jam
– (The Spotted Pigs) deviled eggs and devils on horseback
– Fried beef tacquitos in red sauce with melted cheese
– A Pupusa which is a griddled corn cake stuffed with cheese and meat served with shredded cabbage and hot sauce
– And last but not least, A chocolate cupcake with coconut cream cheese frosting.

My dream to get our country to embrace fresh local foods and produce seems impossible today. In the list of eight favorite foods to eat with your hands on the food network, a television network specifically designed for the purpose of food, there were arguably 4 vegetables: corn, onions, tomato (sauce) and shredded cabbage. There were, arguably, 4 kinds of fruit: blackberry (jam), prunes stuffed with pear(wrapped in bacon), and shredded coconut. 4 of the eight were deep fried. Four contained melted cheese & 2 were desserts. On the “best thing I ever ate” blog there are references to past “best” categories including “best bacon,” “best pizza” and best “totally fried” food. This kind of reminds me of the classic riddle, which came first, the chicken or the egg, but in these terms the question is, which came first, the chicken or the deep fryer?

I grew up in Boise Idaho. There is a man who lives in Parma Idaho who is referred to as Parma John. He grows a particular kind of very small very sweet fresh strawberries that smell as I suspect heaven must smell. I Have seen similar berries come from small farms in Washington, new york and new jersey, so I know that there are other people in this country who are familiar with these strawberries, but does this flavor, which I would consider superior to anything ever to grace a deep fryer, simply not have the impact of fried cheese, or is it simply that so few people have ever tasted such a wonder. I have met adults who have never eaten any fruit other than apples, oranges and bananas in their life. Those fruit are at your disposal at every grocery store in the country. Fresh local produce, unfortunately, is not.

It should also be noted that you can fry anything, anywhere at anytime, and cheese is readily available but certain fresh produce is available only in the time of year when it is ripe. Growing up, my father had planted peach, apricot and nectarine trees in our front yard and in the summer they would ripen one after the other and we would go into the front yard and pick them off the tree and eat them still warm from the sun. A fresh nectarine is another of the greatest flavors I have ever tasted. I have had nectarines from grocery stores and farmers markets in Idaho, seattle and NYC, but none have the flavor compared to that right off of the tree. These items are not readily available so I have made a list of my favorite all time snacks which you can pretty much find anytime of the year, allowing some adjustments for season.

“the best thing I ever ate with my hands”
Alex Cardoza


This plate contains soppresatta, cheddar cheese, sliced apple, radishes, a few almonds, cherry tomatoes and toast. this is a great snack anytime of day and also makes a nice breakfast. It is quick and simple and can be eaten by everyone in any season.

Any combination of these things will work fine for such a plate.

– cured meats/deli meats
• Salami, soppresata, prosciutto, roast beef, pastrami, etc.
– Cheese
• Hard or soft, parmesan, Cheddar, swiss, goat, sheep or cow.
– Fruit and vegetables
• Anything in season. Cucumbers, Berries, peaches, carrots, tomatoes, apples oranges or anything you can get
– nuts
• whatever you have, almonds, peanuts, cashews, raw, roasted or salted.
– Bread or crackers
• some fresh bread from a good bakery or a nice crunchy cracker.

Cheese and cured meats do not have a season and can be kept for a decent amount of time without going bad. dried fruits and nuts will keep for a long time as well. they are good things to always keep around. Consider this a great alternative to frozen, microwaveable snacks.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. D.D.O. permalink
    December 31, 2009 4:39 pm

    Right on. I have tasted those strawberries and I agree. I have also had cantaloupe that was so incredible that I ate a whole one in one sitting. I will add that I smoked, then seared a fresh duck breast and served it with a reduction made from blood orange juice and huckleberries and that was PFG as well. Keep up the good work

  2. Julia permalink
    March 27, 2010 11:27 am

    cheese does sort of have a season though. especially goat’s cheese, whose fat content is especially good and high right after kidding/weaning. farms that don’t follow the natural cycles of their animals have subpar cheese. so, it is possible to eat cheese seasonally as well…

  3. Anonymous permalink
    December 25, 2011 7:24 pm

    I agree with the fact that cheese is seasonal, I love to make cheeses for my family and animals that eat flowers or clover definitely taste different than those not fed from the field.

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