Sunday, November 29, 2015

The #MeaningOfLife: Carb, Cheese, Meat, Sauce, and Sometimes Vegetable

If I recall correctly, comedian Jim Gaffigan had a bit in his stand-up act, concerning Mexican food restaurants in the Midwestern United States. Apparently, Gaffigan was once a waiter at a Mexican restaurant in the Midwest. Gaffigan's humorous observation was that everything on the menu was basically the same thing: Tortilla, cheese, meat, and beans. Burrito? Tortilla, cheese, meat, and beans. Tostada? Tortilla, cheese, meat, and beans. Enchilada plate? Tortilla, cheese, meat, and beans. You get the idea. It's basically true, when it comes to the general American idea of what Mexican food is; anything more or different will stray into (gasp!) a non-superficial study of culture and cuisine.

I've come to realize that Gaffigan's archetypal idea of Mexican food can be adapted to become a formula for many kinds of delicious food: Some form of carbohydrate, cheese, meat, sauce, and sometimes vegetable.

Let's repeat that again: Carb. Cheese. Meat. Sauce. Sometimes vegetable.

The cold-cut sandwich in the photograph above contains most of the elements: Bread for carb, American cheese for cheese, pastrami for meat, sandwich spread (mayonaise with pickle relish) for sauce, and those bits of pickle in the sandwich spread might pass as the vegetable. Okay, maybe there's no vegetable here; that's why the formula says sometimes vegetable.

Related to the introductory paragraph are nachos. Tortilla chips are the carb. Nacho cheese is the cheese. Taco meat is the meat. Salsa, guacamole, and sour cream are basically the sauce. Salsa is also the vegetable.

How about a cheeseburger? Buns are the carb. The slice of cheese is the cheese. The hamburger patty is the meat. Ketchup, mustard, special sauce, and whatever else are the sauce. Tomato, lettuce, onions, and whatever else are the vegetables.

Did someone say chili cheese fries? I did. Carb? Fries. Cheese? Melted, shredded cheese. Meat? Probably bits of ground beef in the chili. Sauce? Chili. Sometimes vegetable? Beans, I suppose ...

Pizza might be the exception that proves the rule, or however the saying goes. Carb? Crust. Cheese? Yes, please. Meat? Sometimes. Sauce? Of course. Sometimes vegetable? Depends on your mood.

According to legend, alchemists sought a magical item called the Philosopher's Stone. The item could transform lead into gold, risking economic inflation. The item could create an elixir of immortality, risking eternal boredom. The third formula of the Stone would have to be, of course, carb-cheese-meat-sauce-sometimes-vegetable. The formula is definitely the inverse of the immortality elixir, but it does tend to make life deliciously ... golden.

Three down, three to go for November. Cheers!

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