How many ways can you serve Velveeta?
I wrote a couple of years ago about my on again-off again passion for Flyover-State Soul Food, having drooled over images of Jessica Lange making grilled cheese sandwiches for her kids in the movie Country. No doubt, like any regular middle American, her character was using a pasteurized cheese food product (nowadays shortened to pasteurized cheese product. Same basic idea – it’s not cheese, it’s chees-y).
So, being unpredictable that way, my wife and I binge-shopped today at Rockland’s Hannaford for a variety of goodies you’d otherwise never find in our house. A festival of guiltless fun, grabbing American cheese, White Castle frozen cheeseburger sliders, Velveeta, Spam, and a smattering of other items – some with all the nutritional value of a postcard.
My one-time-only Velveeta ploy
Actually, I exaggerated – we didn’t buy Velveeta today. But I did about a year ago. At the time, I had some company when my wife was out — a couple of guys who enjoyed a variety of cheeses. I put together a plate of different excellent cheeses, including a dozen or more attractively sliced pieces of Velveeta. When they sampled it, they asked me what it was. “It’s a fine Belgian Cream Guibert (pronounced: Gwee-BARE),” I declared (or something very close to that). They flipped over it, and soon enough it was all gone. If they ever read this, they’ll get back at me, for sure.
But I won’t buy these:
It just can’t have the word product on it for me to risk clawing and flailing with the Singles plastic wrapping to get to it. Nope.
I also exaggerated about buying Spam today. We didn’t. But I have bought it in the past – the original full strength high-octane version exploding with salt and that deep-down ham-fat goodness. It powered the American military in World War II, and nearly became the state food of Hawaii. Glorious Spam!
And we do have these in our freezer right now —
Or maybe it’s the store brand. It’s a rare treat for us – no more than once a week.
I actually have a certain amount of respect for these and other food products that make up much of the diet for a large chunk of America. People like food that has some fat in it, has good “mouth-feel,” is tasty and feels satisfying. They just need to eat it less often, I think.
Cheeseburger sliders! Oh. Em. Gee!
Which gets me to the grand finale of our Hannaford “junk food” binge today: frozen White Castle cheeseburger sliders!
I’ve stared at that box I don’t know how many times wandering down the frozen food aisle and never had the raw guts to go for it, but my wife and I did today, giddy with a mix of shame and joy, and ate all six for lunch. You haul these guys out of their plastic wraps and steam them in a basket in your clam steamer. Sliders! True, the beef patties are about as thick as an address label, and the cheese is dubious, but these inhalable treats have square bottoms and round tops! That’s how White Castle has been making burgers for 95 years! In fact, the company’s co-founder is credited with inventing the hamburger bun, and the company has often been cited as the pioneer in fast food burgers, and the true originator of sliders. No mean feat.
White Castle started out in Wichita and spread through the Midwest, but now their 420 stores are scattered hither and yon (New York City, Minnesota, Tennessee, Kentucky, a few other places) and no longer in Wichita or anywhere in Kansas. They are the only restaurant chain in the U.S. that doesn’t have a presence in its founding city. I find that amazing, and not just a little bit weird.
Back to quality food next time, and something else I haven’t thought of. Let’s just get past this Tuesday and see how we feel…
I’m very pleased that the Rockland Public Library has all five of my novels available and delighted that they have permanent repository in a such a fine Maine library. I may do an event there of some kind down the road – we’ll see. In the meantime, see more about my books here –