Every food writer loves to share "guilty" pleasures -- gritty eats with which he or she slums it when sublime tacos from phantom trucks or, on the higher end, things dusted with Parmesan and bathed in truffle oil are not available. While we abhor the notion that food should cause guilt and wince every time we encounter a dessert described as "sinful," we acknowledge the relief some food writers must feel when they admit that they actually enjoy dipping pizza in ranch dressing. Low is one thing, but unappetizing is another altogether.
We've been wondering: What do food writers eat when no one is watching, when they're alone, hunched over the counters of their home kitchens? What gruesome snacks do they relish, what aesthetically disturbing concoctions do they scarf when blog posts and lush Flickr feeds are far from their minds? Read on for a motley tasting menu courtesy of the Squid Ink crew.
Elina Shatkin: Jarred gefilte fish. "Preferably with magenta horseradish."
Dommy Gonzalez: The 3/$1.00 brick of ramen. "I take the brick, break in half, stuff it in a big coffee mug, add water and then nuke it for a few minutes. As always, I add something to finish it at the end. My favorite things right now include roasted sesame oil, TJs Jarred Giant White Beans, or a big spoonful of Richard Zarate's Anticucho Peruvian Salsa."
Amy Scattergood: Cookie dough. "Sometimes I mix up a batch of my mother's chocolate chip cookies and just eat the dough. Sophie, age 9, continues the tradition, mixing up batches in the KitchenAid that I have to promise never to bake. Ever."
Jenn Garbee: "Ground flax seed, nuked in the microwave with water like oatmeal, with salt and pepper. When I'm feeling particularly repentant over the previous night's excesses. Good sea salt helps, freshly ground pepper is a must."
Felicia Friesema: Trader Joe's Spaghetti-Os (Joe's O's). "Adulterated with fresh parsley and smoked paprika."
Andrew Simmons: Sourdough bread with Kewpie mayonnaise and Srirachi sauce drizzled over the top. "Stand in front of fridge, bread in palm, squirt sauces, fold, and swallow."
Caroline on Crack: Cheap microwavable popcorn from Trader Joe's. "I try to make it special by sprinkling it with black truffle salt from Spice Station."
Katie Robbins: A rugged Sabra hummus application. "Combine about a quarter cup leftover brown rice, a tablespoon or so of Sabra hummus, a squirt of fish sauce, and a glob of hot mango chutney in a ramekin. Microwave for about 45 seconds until hummus takes on a strange, bubbling paste-like consistency. Eat while standing over microwave so as to be nearby for second helping."
Celia Soudry: Kishka. "Yeah, the intestines filled with starchy stuffing. I eat it like 4 times a week."
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Jonathan Gold: "Truffle oil and parmesan? Are you dating Paris Hilton? Anyway, if I were to feel guilty about a specific food, it would probably be the occasional grilled-cheese sandwich I make with Hook's 10-year cheddar, less because it is unappetizing -- it is the best grilled-cheese sandwich you could ever hope to taste -- than because the sheer cost of the cheese makes caviar seem like an affordable treat."
Robyn Brown: Dutch licorice. "It makes my children recoil in horror. . .I have a terrible habit and go through a terrifying amount of the stuff each month. Muten Drops, mostly, though I'll also do Salmiak pastilles, Schoolkrijt, anything. I am probably singlehandedly keeping Dutchsweets.com in business. To that end, if anyone has a local distributer, let me know."
Lesley Balla: Toasted pita bread with butter and Parmesan cheese, or peanut butter and apple slices. "If I make a TJs run, I can't leave without buying the roasted artichoke and Parmesan dip and rice crackers... so I stopped regularly shopping at TJs."
Barbara Hansen: Gummy watermelon rings coated with chamoy (a Mexican seasoning of chili powder, sugar and salt).