Belying its implications of bland similitude, mayonnaise has incredible power. I have been adjacent to the unspeakable anguish of a decorated pastry chef having to take over a culinary student’s bowl of mayo because they weren’t whisking it right. It is said mayonnaise was born of war; you are either a speechless accomplice or a nameless casualty of its fumbling towards Thanos.
Thankfully, this isn’t that kind of meal.
An early iteration This Is Why You’re Fat, before it got big, featured a dish of flaming hot cheetos tossed with fried cheese and sriracha. This Is Why You’re Fat was the first food blog I ever followed, and I suppose that dish perhaps has the same relation to my development as a food writer that women’s wrestling had on me coming out.
“Stunt food” was on the cusp of a quiver of consciousness back in those days. I don’t actually know what that means—my wife entered a slash fiction contest once and I kept trying to get her to use the phrase “on the cusp of a quiver” because I’d never read Little Women and assumed it took place in the Antebellum South and that just sounded like something you’d say in that time period to imply someone was getting mighty thirsty.
That now illusive photo inspired me to look at junk food as tools for something larger, more indulgent. No matter how often I try to replicate it from a decade-plus memory, it never seems to measure up to my lofty expectations. I keep wanting it to be more than a snack, like, I want to bite into it and then have my hands uncontrollably come to my mouth and force me to perform a hundred chef’s kisses as electrons or whatever are unleashed onto the 90 percent of my brain.
But trying to recreate the same phantom of an unacquainted flavor is a misuse of flaming hot cheetos, which have a compelling and unique flavor profile all their own. Living in Arizona, you don’t really eat chocolate bars. They melt and it’s not a good look You eat salty, spicy stuff instead. Sometimes you sprinkle it with lucas and shake the bag up. Or you dip them in vanilla ice cream.
It’s not that disparate when you think about it. It’s like dipping hot wings in blue cheese, or a naan filled with vindaloo into yogurt.What gives us the most pause is the vanilla—which also originated in Mexico with chili peppers. We think of it as a catch-all comfort substance now, but it once had a demand as the height of culinary luxury in a way akin to pepper.
So, instead of trying to relive some unacquainted nostalgia, let’s drudge up some actual bygone youth from the source.
So we get a plate of flaming hot cheetos.
Flaming hot cheetos aren’t vegan—my choice to use coconut milk ice cream over dairy has more to do with flavor and texture. The coconut is very subtle, but meshes well with the pepper flavors of the other ingredients. It’s also a little stiffer in application.
So, get a pastry or ziploc bag and cut out a little corner.
Even a small little cut can produce thick, almost udon-noodle-like strands.
And this is why I like using coconut milk ice cream for this—it doesn’t melt as fast, and even though it’s a bit rubbery, you can manipulate it a bit to make sure you get the bite you want.
The ice cream numbs you a bit, giving time for the salty citric flavor of the cheetos and the vinegary smoke of sriracha seep in at their own pace. It’s like the neighborhood cool mom who’s “hip” and locks down the community center until all the kids learn to get along. That’s an informed analogy; I never grew up anywhere that could afford a community center. It’s like a Democrat committed to obstruction, a homely colloquial archetype of fallacy.
If your mouth stings a bit from the sriracha, you can refresh your palate by just scooping some ice cream out with cheetos.
To make sure I wasn’t an outlier, I invited one of my comrades from the East Bay Chapter of the DSA—
over to get their thoughts. Watching me prepare it, they had this expression and tone in their voice you hear in people who suddenly realize that their friend might actually tip over the Blockbuster rack and shout “TEABAGGED” at every available employee.
But after tasting it, they agreed that this realization of my childhood will bring me and my friends more joy than chasing the phantom of yesteryear’s problematic single-topic blogs.
Well, not in so many words.At least, it’s what they implied through their enjoyment. Specifically what they said was “this tastes like the revolution”, which I’m immensely flattered by but would never use to promote myself because now that the revitalized left is becoming aware of itself, it’s biting down on the very millennial culture that instigated it, and as I fail and flounder to be a respectable food journalist, I will fight to keep sriracha and flaming hot cheetos out of the mouths of humorless, self-serious leftists who use the biweekly organizing meeting as scream therapy for how they hate memes and “people calling each other Daddy” as people continue to be detained and deported in our country.
Don’t agonize; organize.
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Author: Jetta Rae
Founder of Fry Havoc. Can be found on twitter at @jetta_rae