Obviously this is a carefully monitored personality test disguised as a simple snack choice located in the hallway of a University of North Alabama building. Your choice — a handful of sour fruity yumminess or chocolately nutty goodness — says a lot about you. Naturally, I would choose fruity chocolately sour nuttiness, but that’s just me.
This is what happens when you live in a small town and you don’t go to the movies very often: You are amazed at the new Coke machine in the Malco lobby, with its touch screen and ever-changing video display with enticing buy-Coke-products ads. And then there’s the adjacent candy vending-machine, perfect for creating your own movie-watching snacks. My movie-lobby dream machine? One from Starbucks that lets you brew and enjoy your favorite espresso or coffee drink — or at least get a chilled DoubleShot.
Has anyone else noticed that Starbucks now is selling all sorts of individually packaged not-so-bad-for-you snacks? Most Starbucks have a display of these right up front as soon as you walk in the door. You’ll find such health-food-store classics as Annie’s Snacks White Cheddar Bunnies and Snack Mix, FoodShouldTasteGood chips and allergen-free Lucy’s Cookies, among others. There also are several fruit items aimed at the kids, gluten- and wheat-free granola bars and — my favorite — Sahale Snacks nuts and nut mixes. This is what a trip to Starbucks has been missing, seems to me. Previously, if you wanted something to munch on along with your coffee, your choices were limited to something out of the pastry case — or a trip to the nearest convenience store. And while I’m a huge fan of Starbucks’ Lowfat Raspberry Sunshine Muffins and Chocolate Mini Sparkle Doughnuts, I do know that indulging every time I order a grande non-fat dry cappuccinno isn’t a good idea. I imagine these are a boon for parents with youngsters in tow, although probably they’ve probably gotten smart by now and just use the drive-in window. Anyway, I’m always a fan of crunchy and salty packaged goodness, so I hope these stick around.
I love food that comes in shapes — makes eating all that much more fun, you know? Yes, I know that marks me as holding on to my inner toddler. That’s why I’m so glad I’ve got Captain Adorable, my 18-month-old grandson, around now so I’ve got an excuse to appreciate goodies such as these ghost-shaped marshmallow/graham cracker cookies and these heart-shaped peanut-butter and jelly sandwiches. Actually, the cookies are from the dessert and bread chef at Crocodile Ed’s, a newly opened restaurant in Florence, Alabama, http://www.crocodileeds.com. She makes delicious breads, cakes, pies — and handmade marshmallow/graham cracker cookies — that she sells from the restaurant and at the Jack O’Lantern Farms market on Thursdays and Saturdays, http://www.jackolanternfarm.com/. Her Apple Ring (what I call an apple tart) is beyond marvelous, believe me. And the peanut-butter and jelly sandwiches? My daughter, Capt. Adorable’s mother, made them for lunch for me and the Captain one day. I did share!
Am I the last person to find out about fried okra? I’m not talking about the okra your mama slices and sprinkles with cornmeal or flour and fries in an ancient cast-iron skillet. That’s what “fried okra” always meant to me — up until this week, that is. Because now when I think about fried okra, I’ve got a completely different picture: Whole okra pods fried to light and crunchy deliciousness and sprinkled with a bit of salt. I’d had fried green beans before and was sort of underwhelmed, but I promise you, fried okra is incredibly tasty and addictive. I found them at a Fresh Market produce section and because I’m a junk-food connoisseur and cannot resist anything new — Oil! Salt! Crispy goodness! — I had to try them. And am I glad I did. Everyone I’ve shared with loves them, too. There’s a hint of okra’s signature “slimy” taste and a definite sort of fresh-from-the-garden flavor that reminds you you’re eating vegetables. And vegetables are good for you. Okay, these are fried vegetables. But still.
On the other hand, learn from my mistake and ignore this new product at Target: S’mores Tortilla Chips. You would think that chocolate and marshmallow and tortilla chips would be a great combination — well, I did, anyway — but they are not. Somehow, the usually rich and sassy combination of sweet and salty flavors did not work here. Instead what you got was something akin to the fancy candy bar you picked up on impulse from the clearance rack right before you got to the cash register and then when you got home you realized the expiration date was 2002. But you bit into it anyway. And were very, very sorry.