Food for the Ages

Once, many years ago, I’m pretty sure in an effort to shock a babysitter, I put blue food coloring in my peanut butter sandwich. It did look horrible, all right, and if I’m recalling this correctly the babysitter did find it suitably off-putting. But there’s a chance I might have found it that way, too, because I don’t remember ever trying that again. Even though it tasted just like peanut butter.

So this week I have put several technicolor foods in my mouth, and while I have been branded a lifelong picky eater, I feel this is a bridge I am willing to cross that many others aren’t.

[I also think that when you get right down to it, a lot of people are picky eaters, but they hide their pickiness better than I do because the things they don’t like aren’t those — chocolate, cheese, spices — universally acclaimed by nearly everyone else.]

Let’s take my Lady Gaga Chromatica Oreos, the ones I bought the day before the Super Bowl simply because they were there. Kara, who is gaga over Gaga, had been on the hunt for more, but she was shopping at City Market and not at Safeway, where there was a display of them front and center for any shopper to see.

These Oreos are pink, ish, with vibrantly green filling. As my Skype lunch friends watched in what seem to be rather horrified interest, I displayed first the intact cookie, which come with a heart, the word “Chromatica” (Lady Gaga’s newest album) or some squiggly thing I have yet to determine what it might be. Then, in true Oreo fashion, I pulled it apart to show off the green interior. Then they wanted to know what it tasted like.

Not, I think, that a single one of them wanted to taste it for themselves: no, they wanted me to be their guinea pig. Which was fine, and it tasted just like I expected it to: it’s the exact same Oreo cream filling, and the vanilla version of the outside. That may not be too helpful to many people, but I have been consuming Double-Stuff Golden Oreos for several years. (Word of warning: once you start double-stuffing, it’s very difficult to go back to single.)

At one point in my life (post blue peanut butter, but back when I still liked chocolate), I used to tell people that the center of the universe consisted of bagels and Oreos. I don’t know why I told people that, but it could still be a truism — at least for me, if not the rest of you.

When I quit eating chocolate I was sad to leave my Oreos behind, but then Nabisco came along to save the day by offering their cookie in a vanilla flavor. (Maybe I’m not the only person on the planet who doesn’t eat chocolate.) And then they double-stuffed it. Could life get any better?

Well, yes, it turns out, it can, thanks to the New Yorker Bagel Company.

I understand that one absolutely has to be from New York City to be a bagel connoisseur and I therefore am hardly qualified to pass judgment on bagels. But like art, I know what I like. For several years now I have been eating bagels made by a company that used to be in Crested Butte and is now over the hill in Paonia. They are not the greatest bagels in the world, and I’m unsure how they can be so consistently inconsistent after these several years of making bagels, but they’re edible enough and I’m shopping locally.

But Kara may have ruined me. Much as she was the one to tell me of Lady Gaga Oreos, she came to work Friday with two kinds of cream cheese, some butter, her toaster oven — and “rainbow” bagels from the New Yorker Bagel Company.

I would have called them tie-dye bagels myself, or maybe used the phrasing I apply to doughnuts with assorted hues and sprinkles on their tops: disco. Whichever, I have to say I have rarely seen anything like a rainbow bagel. It left technicolor crumbs on my knife and the plate, but once again the color was all for show, and the substance of the flavor was . . . really quite good. A basic plain bagel, much softer than my local acquisitions which are all made with sourdough starter. I will probably keep eating my local bagels to support both the breadmaker and my local grocer, but if I chanced upon some disco rainbow bagels, I would buy them.

Now, somewhere in the national (yes, national — sorry if you missed it) discussion of Lady Gag Oreos, someone along the way mentioned an arctic bunker filled with Oreos. And it seems to be true, although the most reliable source I found in my two minutes of research was Fox News, so take that with a grain of salt that you would maybe put in your bagel but not your Oreo.

In an article dated Oct. 25 but without a year attached, Fox reported that Nabisco, concerned about a specific asteroid possibly hitting the Earth, took up the model of the Svalbard Seed Storage Project (I doubt that’s an official name), where seeds from all over the planet are stored in the permafrost that is heating up more rapidly than any other place on the planet.

With one more minute of research it appears that many things are entombed near Svalbard, Norway, kind of like Egypt’s Valley of the Kings (which we ought to note has preserved things quite well for thousands of years) except with food items, if we broadly extend the concept of food to disco Oreos.

The Oreos, which are stored with powdered milk (yuck — that would completely kill the true experience), are packed in mylar to protect them in temperatures ranging from minus 80 to plus 300 (Fahrenheit). No word on whether someone has trekked back to Svalbard to add Gaga Oreos to the vault, sealed with a coded lock. I hope it’s better coded than our front door, which I feel would keep out a determined hacker for all of five minutes.

And while they tell me not to read the comments, and it was on Fox News, I did that anyway, and here is what one reader had to say: “Someday when aliens discover our dead planet, basking in the radioactive glow of Strontium-90, they will open this vault wondering what Earthlings found so worthy of protection that we ensured its survival above our own. They will study the Oreos and milk in an attempt to explain our culture and religion, and I only hope that someone thought to leave diagrams explaining that the cookies must be split apart and the filling licked off first, to properly perform the consumption ritual.”

As I said so long ago, center of the universe.

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