It must be the canicule–either that, or all the fuss surrounding the anniversary of the moon landing–but I find myself regressing.
Home alone for almost a week with no one around to criticize my eating preferences (most of which have been squashed either by Swiss family pressure or new international health-food regulations) my brain has melted and I have been hit by a wave of nostalgia—back to those hot Canadian summers of my youth where we made pancakes down by the river, had liquorice twists for dessert and smoked dried burdock stems.
It started in my local supermarket the other day when I spotted a package of passion-fruit jelly powder. As it was in the section with the sophisticated mousse au chocolate and the panna cotta, I figured it must be superior. The result was a pleasant pink colour but the flavour was a mixture of compost and rotting carrot. After eating one bowl, I sadly melted the rest down the sink and had to add a splash of javex to clear the air.
In my kitchen cupboard I have popcorn, marshmallows, cheezy doodles, and peanut butter. In the fridge there are hot dogs and processed cheese slices. Reasonable donuts, bagels and acceptable corn on the cob are to be had just a short drive away. However, it’s what I do not have that is eating me up. And what I need is hot dog relish.
Now, I have known short rations in my time. In Canada there were week-long Algonquin Park canoe adventures where we survived on space food. The northern Ontario lakes had turned acid and there were no fish to be fished. The dehydrated scrambled eggs I still recall with a shudder. Just like the astronauts, we drank Tang using the leaf-tasting lake water.
I am not a complete wimp. In Japan I have eaten miniature jellyfish that have been placed on sizzling hot rocks. They are ready when their internal organs explode. In Turkey I have chosen a sheep head from dozens on display on towering shelves. I think I passed out before I ate the eyeballs. In Korea I have eaten fermented cabbage that tasted like sewage.
To complement a good wiener mustard, ketchup, and relish are all essential. For decades I have lived without the third ingredient, but have missed it with each and every hot dog.
Today, in desperation, I looked up relish recipes and much work is required—chopping vegetables, marinating, macerating, cooking, canning, and waiting. You cannot make one jar. You must make about five gallons.
As the obsession reached a peak this afternoon (along with the temperature) I found a couple of American food stores in the area. They have relish. They deliver.
Just knowing it is there helps. As the evening cools, the urge is fading. I sure hope it doesn’t get any hotter tomorrow; I will have to put in an order.