I grew up in a potato chip-free household. It was also a sugared cereal-free household, a packaged cookie-free household, and a frozen entree-free household.
The no-junk-food rule had a few exceptions, of course, saved for rare, very special occasions. Sleepovers with my best friend meant Pillsbury cinnamon rolls. Girl Scout season meant one box of thin mints. There was a short period of Ellio’s pizza, which mostly made my mom’s life easier while she raised a painfully picky daughter. My sister and I were allowed cheddar goldfish, and sometimes, Dad would scoop up a bowl of Mom’s chili with a couple handfuls of baked Tostitos.
In general, however, our cabinets held no traditional SAD snacks. When I wanted to munch after school, I would take a plate of peanut butter crackers, a slice of cinnamon toast, or a glass of chocolate milk. Even as I refused to eat produce in those years, my mom certainly wasn’t providing me with anything particularly unhealthy.
I remember first tasting Oreos and Pirate’s Booty at the age of sixteen, while spending a summer studying film in Philadelphia and enjoying my own kitchen for the first time. My roommates brought in the snacks, and I got curious. I believe my mom heeded my request for Pirate’s Booty a single time after I returned home. These packaged products did not have a place in our house.
Years later, I credit my mom for the fact that I have no taste for “junk food.” Snickers bars, Gummi bears, Coke, Doritos – I never acquired the palate for them. My high school friends used to search my cabinets in vain for something to chew, and they settle usually for plain popcorn or a bar of chocolate. That was as junk-y as my mom allowed.
It’s rather ironic, then, that my most recent culinary obsession is inspired by a bag of potato chips. Specifically, the salt and vinegar variety.
I stumbled upon this preparation for string beans back in August, and each week, I continue to bring a bag of beans home from the farmers market in order to roast up another batch. I don’t anticipate the yen for these to end until string bean season has passed us by.
The beauty of these beans is their versatility. They are an easy side dish, and I’d be willing to wager on their ability to convince staunch vegetable-haters to put some green on their plate. They are worthy of cocktail hour finger food, and they could certainly be served in place of that bag of Lays when salt-and-vinegar-snacktime cravings hit. They’re yummy. Promise.
I’m on my fifth week straight of these guys. We’ll have to wait and see just how long the devotion lasts.