Wednesday, December 08, 2004

An Experiment in Midwestern Cuisine Goes Horribly Awry

I have been spending my spare time pouring over the plethora of blogs inundating the internet, trying to figure out what is working and what is not. What I’ve found is there are a lot of people out there who are extremely talented at building eye-catching, attractive websites but stumbling across one with content that I would consider having appeal outside of the author’s immediate circle of friends is a rare prize. I’m not saying the other blogs are bad by any means, there is actually some really good writing out there if you look hard enough, but it is just focused upon a very small target audience, amusing enough to peruse but not enough to return. I have launched The JEP Report with a different purpose than theirs, hoping that it will become more widely read.

With that in mind, I decided I needed a gimmick. The most successful blogs, meaning the ones where the authors were offered book deals, dealt with a defined subject and stuck with it. One successful blog dealt with the breakup of relationships. Another chronicled a blogger’s efforts at cooking every recipe in a certain cookbook. I needed something like this. Then, as if handed a mandate from God, a discussion about movies gave me an idea. Two movies played a part in this inspiration. The first, “Supersize Me”, chronicled director Morgan Spurlock’s experience with trying to survive off of nothing more than McDonald’s food for an entire month. The second, “Harold and Kumar go to White Castle” portrays two dope-smoking morons’ experiences while trying to satisfy a biblical case of the munchies. I put the two together in a stunning example of unoriginality and decided to record my experiences of trying to live off of White Castle hamburgers for 30 days.

For those of you deprived readers that have never seen “Harold and Kumar” or have never traveled through the Midwestern United States, let me describe a White Castle hamburger to you. It is a tiny thing, easily able to fit in the palm of your hand. It is a thin square hamburger patty, no more than 5 millimeters thick, that is fried (or, more accurately, boiled) on a flat grill in water, grease and onions. The bun is placed on top of the hamburgers as they cook and allowed to soak up the steam, grease and whatever else is on the grill for extra flavor. It is a Midwestern delicacy, strangely delicious and easy to eat but a little hard on the digestive tract, hence the reason they are affectionately known as “Sliders” among knowledgeable fast-food aficionados. They are typically consumed just after one has been forcibly ejected from a sleazy watering hole a half hour past closing time by a couple of steroid-addicted ex-felon bouncers but just before he makes a desperate incoherent phone call to an old girlfriend at 4:00am. They are a cultural icon in the quarter of the United States that rests east of the Mississippi River but north of the Mason-Dixon Line.

On the first day of my experiment, I swung through the White Castle drive-thru on my way to work and ordered ten hamburgers, a sack of fries and a large Coke. My wife does not usually let me eat those things regularly, so this was a covert operation. In a frenzied blur of culinary ecstasy, I wolfed down the entire order in the restaurant’s parking lot with a feeling of inner wellness that fell somewhere between ecclesiastic rapture and anti-nutritional orgasm. I then slowly made my home, savoring the onion aftertaste and trying to devise a cover story to give to my wife that would explain my loss of appetite. As I was pulling into the driveway I decided to feign a stomach ailment. Knowing what the side-effects of a White Castle meal usually were, I knew I could pull it off easily with corroborating symptoms. Pulling it off for a month without ending up being the subject of an invasive intestinal scan would prove trickier however, especially since my wife works in the medical field.

There was little to note after that until late in the evening. I passed on dinner and got a couple of hours rest on the couch, which is a rare luxury when you have kids. After the children went to bed however, things started going horribly awry. It started with a rumble in my stomach that slowly began working its way through my abdomen. It eventually became pressure and before long, had transformed itself into real pain. The discomfort ended as a deafening warning shot that sent the dog scurrying for cover and drew disapproving facial expressions of disgust from my wife, who had tragically sat herself downwind. I think that she was probably on the verge of following up her dirty look with a verbal bludgeoning, but after a quick look at my face, she apparently reconsidered. It was painfully obvious that I was in real trouble. I had damn near lost complete control.

To make a long story short, my toilet seat now has nail marks gouged into the bottom of it while my toenails have torn the wallpaper to shreds. The softest toilet paper on the market now feels reminiscent of coarse grit sandpaper and after performing more paperwork than an IRS agent at an Enron audit, I have been sorely tempted to put that half gallon of orange sherbert in the freezer to use in ways that the people at Ben & Jerry’s could never have possibly imagined. My dog, who has always been gun-shy, has developed a nervous tick and the interior air quality of my home has deteriorated to levels that can’t be good for the kids. On account of that, I’ve called off this exercise and resigned myself to the fact that I’ve had better ideas.

Back to the drawing board.

5 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

5:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
Ah yes, the "Slider". One of the many reasons to NOT live in the midwest. For some reason, after a hard night of drinking you can't avoid them. They should open a franchise on the north side of the border between San Diego and TJ. As I understand it White Castle food causes leopracy.
Maybe you should try living on Zorbas Coney dogs or Buddy's pizza. Sadly in California one can not find a good coney or a decent pizza anywhere but I bet you can't get a fish taco!

8:42 PM  
Blogger JEP said...

Yes but in Tijuana, you have those hot dog vendors selling the dogs wrapped in bacon with chile sauce. Similar effect.

8:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh yeah, I forgot about those. I wish I had one right now!

12:49 PM  
Blogger JEP said...

You and me both, man.......

6:56 PM  

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