Friday, November 12, 2010

Dunkin' Donuts Sausage Pancake Bites?

When I was twelve my parents' high societal aspirations were realized in the form of a small equity share in a winery, in Idaho. All of this meant that they shelled out some decent amount of cash up front for: a.) the status it lent; b.) annual receipt of some cases of Idaho 'red wine' never to cumulatively exceed (let alone match) the dollar value of the equity share and c.) invitation to the hoity-toity holiday party at the winery. I don't think there was ever a whiff of a profit, though the wine had cool, Western labels and attained some limited popularity vis a vis marketing space in the Orvis Fly Fishing catalog.

Anyway, I had nothing on the calendar that weekend more important than putting on a gay sweater and accompanying the rents to a party I legally couldn't enjoy. There was a lot of pomp being passed around, like pate and fungal cheese from Europe all candle-lit and set to the soothing melodies of a chamber quartet and washed down with chilled Idaho Chardonnay, misting the outside of plastic cups with condensation.

I was bored out of my gourd and shambled around the scene ambivalently as it dawned on me that nobody wanted to talk to a 12 year old. Then I spotted a waiter carrying a plate of what appeared to be tater tots. Like any red-blooded Idahoan, I would never pass up a tot, particularly amongst the exotic culinary surroundings I found myself in at the time. The tot was familiar, comfortable, home.

I turned on the closing speed and snatched two handfuls from the waiter's tray, and popped one in my mouth without thinking first that they were a little larger than your standard tot. Biting in, I experienced the unique dissonance of food texture expectations flipped upside down. Instead of hot, pillowy potato beneath the crispy-fried exterior, there was a flaccidly-resistant, flan-like firmness followed by a briny gush of hot moisture.

Revolted, I choked and gagged up the uneaten half from my mouth into my hand for inspection and found this strange interloper in tot form with shimmery vittles dangling from the wad of gray-matter at the center of the fried batter crust. Years later I would say it looked a lot like the halved-orb in the Dunkin' Donuts signage for their new Sausage Pancake Bites, but with more guts hanging out of it. (Funny that Dunkin's putting this out there to entice people to try these things.)

The waiter, at first taken aback by my eagerness, was now half realizing the pratfall I'd walked into and relished the opportunity to ask if I'd enjoyed the Rocky Mountain Oyster: calf testicle, battered and fried.

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