What happened America?
A prophet walked among you and you turned your back. He brought you boring, life-wearying, carnal-suppressing biscuits and what did you do? You put racy roasted marshmallow and salacious chocolate on it. You didn’t just turn your back, you strutted away with your whale-tail showing. Bravo.
My mother has come to visit –always the best time for carnal cooking– and it’s the 4th of July. A day that is meaningless in Australia but seems to matter to Americans. I decide on themed cooking.
Let’s cook AMERICA!
But what to cook? That is the first question that we must settle. I turn to Pinterest and search *4th of July food*.
Patriotic Devilled Eggs!
Patriotic Oreo Pops!
Patriotic Pretzel Bites!
What? Sure, there are lots of Mexicans in America but the food is still Mexican. What next? Patriotic causa, patriotic lamingtons?
I throw out these wonderful, patriotic suggestions and decide to make s’mores. I have never made or eaten s’mores before. How can I fail when I have no idea what success tastes like?
The marshmallow takes the longest to prepare so I start that first. Sugar, gelatine and water in a saucepan on the stove top, boiling away for twenty minutes.
Now, I want to eat this so I need a vegetarian gelatine. I use agar, a seaweed extract. During my research for a vegetarian gelatine, I discover that marshmallow was first made with the root of the marshmallow plant.
Later, we invented gelatine as a better general purpose gelling agent. Somewhere along the way we forgot that we make gelatine through the boiling of pigs, cows, horses, etc. Some vegetarians found out, became more outraged and agar was re-labeled as vegetarian gelatine. Agar has been in use in Japan since discovery during the 17th century.
Now, once again, everyone can enjoy still marshmallows.
Why did we switch to agar when we already had marshmallow root? And why do we call them vegetarian-friendly marshmallows when marshmallows were originally vegetarian-friendly. From now on I will call marshmallows made with gelatine: meat-mallows.
‘Let it boil steadily for twenty minutes’ the instructions said. You know that feeling you get when things are not going right, but you can’t put your finger on what is wrong. I have that, but I follow the recipe anyway because I have nothing else to try. When the boil finishes I am confused and disappointed because it looks and tastes a lot more like caramel than it does marshmallow.
I let the sticky dark-brown sugar mix cool. As it cools it gels and the stickiness transitions to tenaciousness. I use a spatula to transfer it to a mixing bowl. I do this via a knife, a spoon, six of my fingers, my no longer itchy nose and at least one cat. Nothing I have is effective at transferring the tangle of sugary cobwebs. Everything I have tries its gosh-darndest.
I turn the mixer on and it whirls around. Wee! Most of the rum coloured goop has moved inside the whisking attachment. A safe place, for here the mixture cannot be whisked. I stop, reset the goo and start it again. Repeat. I squeeze some extra lemon juice in to try and moisten the mix. Eventually, some strands get stuck on the bowl’s wall and slowly, oh so slowly, drag the rest of the mess out. After five minutes, there is little change in the colour or consistency.
I can’t make it worse, so I let it whirl. After twenty minutes, it’s almost white.
It even tastes like marshmallow.
I scrap it into a tin to set. Without thinking, I spread the marshmallow across the pan. This resulted in a thin marshmallow when a thicker mallow would have been more authentic.
Let’s avoid the topic authenticity. I’m skimping on marshmallow root and you don’t want to know the shortcuts I took with the Graham cracker.
Graham Cracker, let’s talk about
The base for a S’more is the Graham cracker. This biscuit has invented by minister Sylvester Graham who, himself, was a bit of a biscuit. He had hope that he could suppress carnal urges by a healthy diet of unrefined foods and limited flavour. We may think that the current fad of crackpot diets is a modern thing. I assure you it isn’t.
To make a true Graham cracker, you need Graham flour. Such flour is not available in any of the supermarkets near me. Nor can I just mix equal parts of unbleached white flour, wheat bran and wheat germ. At least not in America. In 1919, the Department of Agriculture deemed that remixing flour’s constituent parts do not make Graham flour. What isn’t clear is whether mixing the constituent parts together succeeds in suppressing carnal urges.
Contact me if you need a PhD topic.
I either have to mill it myself or use whole wheat flour. I check the second draw down and find no flour mill. It’s probably for the best that I go and buy a packet of plain whole wheat biscuits.
Gather around the hearth
We suggestively slip our marshmallows onto skewers and dangle them tantalisingly over the sultry burner. Our naughty little mallows get a bit too saucy and slip off their poles and into the burner.
I turn off the burner, wipe away the goo and turn on the grill.
We slide the pieces of marshmallow into griller and wait until sexy little bubbles form on the top. It’s tempting to eat the ravishing little mallow now, bewitched as we are by it’s raunchy caramelised sweetness. We resist and I seductively slide out the grill, I place a bed down made of half a biscuit and then flip our nubile mallow over, bubbly side down.
Back into the hot grill, it goes. We wait until its voluptuous bubbles burst on both sides. Now, slide the beguiling gooey mallow-biscuit goodness towards you and place upon it the richest, creamiest most sensual chocolate you can find. I like mine dark, Jess finds that too risqué and prefers the allure of milk chocolate. Gently cover with the remaining biscuit half. Press down provocatively and let the luscious mallow melt the chocolate.
Our s’more is ready and waiting for us. An arousing success!