By Melanie Scott
What summer really means: the junk food group
It’s hard to believe. The ice just melted, the sun just came out, the patios just opened – and the days are getting shorter. Canadian summer . . . the season that will pass you by before you can say ‘ice cold beer on a sweaty terrace’. So many impatiens to plant, so little time.
Summer is the only time we get to dig into really local, seasonal produce and bump up our vitamins and minerals. Nothing beats a salad made with fresh-that-day baby spinach and strawberries. Just drop by one of our local markets and take advantage of the pickings – heaven on a plate.
But here’s the thing: the summer food groups, far removed from those to be had in winter, are not limited to things green and from the ground. Take the beige group, poutine being at the top of the list. While many of us shun this Quebec delicacy in winter and indulge, instead, in salad that has travelled a gazillion miles from Chile or melons that made the trek from South Africa, come summer we can’t get enough of it. All those casses-croûtes between here and Kaz make for a veritable feast of beige. Poutine with foie gras . . . poutine with smoked meat . . . poutine with extra gravy and extra curds and extra salt.
Also in the beige food group is the pogo (or the corn dog for those from SoBo). This gourmet treat can only be eaten one way: in mid-afternoon, when you realize you forgot to have lunch, and you can smell the grease in which these babies are cooking from a mile away, served dripping hot with bright yellow mustard in a slimy paper sleeve. Beat that for flavour, Gordon Ramsay.
As for the fluorescent food group: Popsicles simply do not taste the same in the middle of February. During the cold months, just the thought of indulging in anything that’s psychedelic gives us the shivers. The thermometers go past 20, and we become junkies looking for our next bright blue fix.
And then there’s white: soft ice cream. Forget the Haagen Dazs with its bits of fancy crunchy stuff and injection of real cream. We’re talking the white goo that emerges from that shiny, stainless steel machine by the side of the road, made with calcium sulphate (a major component of gypsum plaster) and corn syrup solids, among other delectable ingredients, dipped in the brown wax that’s advertised as ‘chocolate dip’.
The epicureans who serve up these gastronomic goods should probably be charged as dealers of substances that can cause grievous bodily harm. Just think of all that sludge creeping through your inner person, slowly making its way to your vital organs. But heck . . . it’s summer. Time for a basket of deep-fried zucchini with a side of sour cream dip. If the zucchini is from a local farmer, all the better.