T for Tom

Honey Butter

Posted in Prose, Trying To Get Published by johnsontoms on September 16, 2012

Honey butter. So sweet, so tender to the taste and quick to satisfy, holding it in your hands and knowing there’s more is a moment near to nirvana. It’s there dribbling warmly off the fired chicken it glazes, giving the combination a sense of the heavenly, like a seasonal treat found only under the Christmas tree. To have it now seems unreal and its delicious yet aromatic texture are too good to easily be forgotten.

But that combination, that utterly fantastic duo of chicken and honey butter that bites crisply but tastes soft and moist on the tongue, is sitting itself on top of a fried donut. Yes, everything you love about fried chicken glazed with rich, syrupy honey butter can be placed on top of a donut. That’s fried also.

This invention of culinary hedonism is called the “Mother Clucker” and can be found at Gourdough’s, a vintage airstream trailer parked in the south of Austin, Texas. Strange and exotic delicacies are nothing new to the city that also popularized the Frozen Banana stand of Arrested Development fame, but I think often that not enough is being said for what these eating habits mean for our generation.

We are the first to openly profess our love for gourmet hot dogs, gourmet pizza, Italian gelato, and now gourmet donuts (say it slowly – gourmet. donuts.). And certainly Gordough’s joins only the growing foray of such ventures, from Voodoo Donuts in Portland to Round Rock Donuts that serves them as large as your head. But the line dividing treats, deserts, and once-in-a-whiles from entrees, meals, and necessities is casually getting blurred.

When eating the “Mother Clucker” it would become difficult to call it an insufficient amount of food, if only for the accompanying guilt. For something that is constructed to be consumed and enjoyed as a desert or a treat only here and there becomes a thing of common consumption when complimented with ordinary food items like chicken and fruit, standing alone for its caloric intake and words like “gourmet” and “huge.” The thing itself becomes the meal.

This is where I get confused. Whatever happened to eating normally, at home with a piece of meat and some vegetables? I’m not asking everyone to be a vegetarian or to slave over a hot-stove, but I’ve on numerous occasions had to break up conversations amongst my friends about the merits of the different items on Taco Bell’s menu. Nothing on Taco Bell’s menu is there for discussion. Fast food should remain only as a quick solution when other options are not present. In the least go sit down somewhere and eat a full-plated meal with all the food groups. Beef substitute does not count.

I’m not even sure where the blame lies or the problem starts, though. More than once I’ve seen my own brother microwave a can of chili, and this consisted of his most adventurous cooking for the entire month. If provided with the proper ingredients and toppings, he wouldn’t even know how to prepare it in order to survive. I’d like to say that eating out, grabbing a bite, or hanging at The Max with our friends after school has caused us to forget the merits of eating at home, and going to college only exacerbates the issue – eating in cafeterias, living in dorms without kitchens, sharing apartments and always being on the go have removed the time we needed to cook from our daily lives.

Years ago places that served $5 donuts would have been laughed out of town. Who would ever pay such an exorbitant amount for something that’s cheap, fabricated, and a replacement for the healthy meals we should be eating? The idea for these places didn’t ever come up because eating habits were mildly regulated at home and in public. The idea is no longer bizarre. It could be that we’re always finding new ways to create comfort in food consumption.

Gourmet ice cream kind of makes sense. After a nice meal it can be pleasant to join friends at the local shop and order up a smoothie. But that’s where I draw the line. Cherries, chocolate, whipped cream, sprinkles, gummy bears, and oh, yes, little bits of cookie dough. On top of our ice cream cone.

Where did we go from eating out a restaurant, where we could get a plate of baked fish and veggies, to choosing instead the ice-cream filled pastry? And how much further can it go? I’ve seen once great eateries turn into crap-filled fry houses, where the best things on the menu are now only served fried and dipped in queso. That may be delicious, but we can’t tell ourselves it’s anywhere remotely healthy, and should not be consumed regularly.

But that’s where we are. We’re sitting there on the park bench under a warm sun and a cool breeze, holding in our hands that sweet, soft, supple fried donut with the fried chicken and melted honey butter, smiling and saying more.

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