Wednesday, November 13, 2013
milking my memories
This may look to you like a box of Whoppers -- what Americans usually think of when they hear the term "malted milk balls." Or, as my father called them: "malted moth balls."
But, for me, the box is crisp (sometimes damp) dark nights on the unlit streets of Oak Grove. Going door to door with my brother telling the neighbors to cough up the candy or dire (unspecified) things just might happen.
A cross between Obamacare and the Mafiosi. The day, of course, was always 31 October.
When I saw the pictured box at Comercial Mexicana -- one of our large grocery establishments that masquerades as a department store -- it brought back the smell, the feel, the sounds of those fun nights in the 1960s. So, I thought I would try to resurrect the taste, as well.
As you know, I do not care for sweets -- and I really do not care for chocolate. But I have always been very fond of the malt ball that hides under the cocoon of sugared paraffin.* I grabbed a box and dug into it on the drive back from Manzanillo.**
Have you ever found a product that you liked as a kid? Maybe Twinkies. Or those Hostess fruit pies sold in the high school cafeteria. Remember how good they were when you were young? Pure ambrosia.
And remember what happened when you tasted them as an adult? How dreadful they were? What happened? Did the recipe change? Did we develop better taste as adults?
I don't know the answer. But that was exactly my reaction to the Whoppers. The coating has always tasted a bit like a brown candle to me. It is not really chocolate at all. For me, that is just fine.
But the big disappointment was the center. I always looked forward to the crunch of the malt ball with its yeasty tones. Even that was missing.
It must have been the heat and humidity, but each center was reduced to a gummy caramel. No crunch. No yeast. Like a box of Milk Duds that have gone very, very bad.
There is a lesson, of course, to be learned from these attempts to buy memories. It can't be done. We have already paid the price of memory by experiencing it the first time.
The Whoppers do not matter. But those chilly October nights will always be a part of who I am.
And I will always have my brother to experience new things. Like the Baja 1000. And that is where we are headed today.
* -- If you are fond of malted milk balls, I strongly recommend you try Maltesers -- the British version. Far superior in all respects.
** -- Before you reach for your "what about your diet" lynch kit, all of these events happened in late October. Long before my days of diet reform.