Ready? 1. For the rest of your life, you get to dispense one condiment out of each fingertip of your right hand, defining "condiment" liberally. Which five do you commit to?
Let me begin by saying that I am very impressed by this question. What a challenge! As for my choices, let's see ...
- First, I guess, would be mayonnaise. It's my default sandwich spread, and Hellman's is my brand of choice.
- Next, I suppose, comes ketchup. *I* don't use it except on a burger, but my kids are all big fans, and I can't keep up with their usage. Just two days ago I was caught with an empty bottle in the fridge, and, well, abuses were heaped. It's true that I soon won't be living with any of my kids, but hey, I've got a grandchild now, so I've got to be ready.
- Third, I'd like a mustard, but I can't decide which. Honey mustard is my favorite all-purpose dip, and yellow mustard is best on a hot dog, but for sandwiches these days all I seem to want is that weird brown seedy kind (I mean the hardcore whole-grain variety -- the middle one in the picture on this page). Now, I am not devoting three whole fingers to mustard, so I need to pick one. Since I don't dip that many foods anymore, I think I will go with the seeds. They'd work on a hot dog in a pinch.
- I think we are up to four now, and I'm ready to invoke the question's "liberality" clause. Can I have basil pesto? You know, the kind in the jar? I use this stuff as a sandwich spread at least as often as I use it as a "sauce."
- Last, I want a relish of some sort. There was a time when I'd've said Branston Pickle (small chunk) without thinking twice, but in the thirty years since my taste buds were changed by my 1980s sojourn in England, they've gradually reverted back to their American biases. That means either sweet pickle or sweet pepper relish, and I think I will go with the latter, even if it does make for a non-standard hot dog. It's good on so many things!
2. What is the best way to spiffy-up french fries?
If they aren't good enough to eat on their own -- fresh, hot, and well salted -- then I don't want them. That said, My favorite fries *are* gussied up, just not with a condiment: they're those those crispy/coated ones. Again, fresh, hot, and salted will content me.
All that said, this is the perfect space to tell you about the very decadent french fry dish I ordered a few weeks ago at a local restaurant. I can't call them my favorite fries, since I've only had them once and I'm pretty sure that my living past age 60 (I'm 58) requires never eating them again ... but that brief, shining meal sure was a major mouth party. According to the menu, "Loaded Pork Fries" come topped with pulled pork, bacon, BBQ, and cheddar, but I'll confess I didn't detect the bacon as a separate element. It was basically a really good, tangy-sweet pork barbecue over fries, all under a not-too-thick blanket of melted shredded cheddar (none of your slimy commercial cheese sauce; real cheese). I can feel my arteries hardening just writing about it.
3. The restaurant is out of your favorite salad dressing. What do you order instead?
Balsamic vinegar & olive oil, or even just the balsamic vinegar. Barring that, I could eat my salad "undressed," with salt and pepper only. I learned to do that when I lived in England and sometimes found that the only available dressing was that mayonnaise-y "salad cream." I love me some mayo, but I don't want it on a garden salad.
4. How do you like to modify your favorite heat-and-eat food?
I don't, really, because my favorite heat-and-eat product (Trader Joe's Chicken Soup Dumplings) is already perfect.
I think a question more guaranteed to have an answer would be, "What's your favorite heat-and-eat food to dress up/modify in some way?" In that case, I would say Pillsbury sugar cookie dough-in-a-tube. Instead of slicing it, scoop out balls of dough and roll in cinnamon-sugar: easy-peasy snickerdoodles! Yes, I know a real snickerdoodle has that unmistakable bracing high note from the cream-of-tartar, but the fake ones are sooo acceptable in a pinch.
5. In what way do you play with your food?
I don't. When I was a kid, though, I always ate a Ho-Ho/Yodel by peeling off and consuming the chocolate coating layer first. There was a sweet spot (ha-ha) which, if you started there, allowed you to peel off pretty large intact strips (always the goal) of said coating. Good times.