Don’t say I didn’t warn you: The following idiosyncratic food pairing may gross you out. Then again, it probably won’t – you likely have your own quirky snack habits that make other people wince, the details of which you pull out in social situations, as a way to alternately wow and entertain old friends and new acquaintances alike.
In fact, you may very well crave taste combinations that render the following about as disgusting as PB & J, and if that’s the case, put it here. I want to know all about it.
Anyway, here it is. My high-school aged sister is visiting, and as I was unpacking groceries, she moaned something to the tune of, “Mmmm, cottage cheese.” Then she started to sheepishly-but-confidentially tell me that she likes potato chips in her cottage cheese. I stopped dead in my tracks, spun around from my station organizing the dairy products in my refrigerator, and asked her where, exactly, she learned to dip potato chips into cottage cheese.
And was she sure – absolutely, positively sure – that she didn’t learn it from me?
Because in fourth grade, at my BF Michelle’s house, I became privy to the winning fusion of not just potato chips, but barbecue chips and cottage cheese. Sometimes we were dippers, yes, but most of the time we used this delightfully violent (for nine-year-olds) method: Place chips and cottage cheese together in a bowl, then, using the tip of a spoon, shatter the chips until pieces are the desired size (taking care not to miss a single chip, nor to let chip pieces fly, in the process).
Eat by spoonfuls.
Reason number one this is gross: It involves chips, period. I don’t, these nose-in-the-air days, regularly partake of chips. I cop to enjoying a small smattering of processed foods now and then, but chips have zero redemptive qualities. Zero nutrition. Blah, blah, blah…
And yet, I was inspired to tuck a bag of popped barbecue potato chips (that’s right, the innovation is popped. “Never fried. Never baked,” the bag promises) into my cart at Trader Joe’s. If I couldn’t be the one to introduce little sis to the concept, at least I could be the one to instigate her barbecue-version coming-of-age.
Now, with my grown-up sensibilities in tow, I’m trying to figure out why barbecue chips and cottage cheese taste so dang good. I’ve concluded it can’t be nostalgia alone; if I were the nostalgic type, I’d still be eating Twinkies and inhaling powdered Jell-O from the bag.
It’s a balance thing, I’m sure. If you take it apart, you’ve got a mix of textures and flavors that tend to befriend each other across the food spectrum. You have crunchy with creamy (think pralines and cream, crunchy peanut butter, tempera-flaked California rolls). You’ve got the spicy-salty-sweet thing going on (the same examples, and more, apply). And there’s the added bonus of tang, reason enough to prefer barbecue to plain potato chips in this case.
What I really want to know is, can I use my adult knowledge of flavor and texture to justify liking this stuff? Or is it regression, plain and simple?