Seven culinary guilty pleasures from quarantine


After a year of mostly enforced solitude, I’ve started to find the short periods spent separated from friends and family to be almost more painful than the long stretches of coronavirus pandemic isolation. Unfortunately, the best remedies for this (exercise, spontaneity, hydration) rarely occur to me first.

Instead, to my shame, I’ve developed a list of seven guilty pleasures to tide me over between periods of socializing and nutritional responsibility.

In no particular order, the list includes the following:

Evian Natural Spring Water

I know that I just mentioned hydration as a step in the right direction, but this is different because it’s bottled, that is, in plastic. So while it might be great for hydration, it is not the best thing I could be doing for the environment (or my wallet) and therefore a self-indulgence.

I have a perfectly good water filter in my kitchen, but the mixture of gorgeous branding, just the right pH and the knowledge that it’s from the south of France (how could I really be expected to resist the romance of that) really just gets to me. It’s hydrating, obviously, but it’s also just a little sinful.

Uncrustables

Constituted primarily from high-fructose corn syrup, hydrogenated oils and processed bread, Uncrustables make for a deliciously forbidden snack. And whether or not you ate them as a child, they carry a comforting sense of nostalgia. These things are barely food, but gosh darn it do I love them.

McChicken Sandwich

Ordering a McChicken sandwich (or, if I’m feeling a little more adventurous, a spicy McChicken) calls to mind one of the many stories I’ve exaggerated to myself over the years: “Chicken is healthier than beef.”

That is, working from a place of deep self-delusion, I can justify eating these things by saying to myself, “Well, a burger would be worse, wouldn’t it?” The simplicity, the elegance, the sodium. And yes, of course, I’m also ordering fries, medium. Because a large is somehow taking it too far.

Cheez-its

We were never allowed Cheez-its at home. They were simply too salty, too processed and much too a-little-bit-of-everything else mother objected to. And so, of course, for the same reasons, they were irresistible. There are plenty of “healthy” alternatives to these things – thank you for trying, Trader Joe’s – but there’s nothing like the real thing.

Girl Scout Cookies

These things pair with tea remarkably well – my favorites are the trefoils (shortbread). But if I were to eat those little things as often as I drink tea, I’d probably be bedridden.

Costco chocolate muffin

While I’m not a chocolate eater, I’ve heard such good things for so long about this muffin that one day, I might actually try one. And that’s really saying something.

Red Vines

I’ve experienced a lot of parental guidance in the sweets department. I wasn’t allowed gum until about the fourth grade, so I think you can imagine my relationship with candy. I’m not saying I’m constantly buying candy in the checkout line. But every now and then, I’ll wander down the wrong aisle and find myself face to face with a giant tub of Red Vines. To date, I’ve successfully avoided buying one. I think I’m subconsciously saving this particular guilty pleasure as a last resort. But the danger remains.



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