The High Cost of Cheap Food

As any real food dork will tell you, one of the best things that can happen is when people will tell you what they WANT to eat. Not “oh, anything is fine, really” or “I don’t know, Chinese or Italian” or “Whatever is easiest, really.” That’s a pet peeve of mine. If I go to the trouble of asking, it means I want an honest answer. The more complex or obscure, the better. My ideal dinner conversation would go something like this:

Me: “What would you like for dinner?”
You: “One time I visited Latvia, and I ate at this buffet, and they had this kind of meatball thing and it had some kind of meat, and then also a flavor that was like rye bread. And then there was this cake that had apples, but was orange and had a layer of like, pie crust or something. I want those.”
Because then? I get to research, and make something that will be appreciated, loved, and maybe even teach me something. Plus I get to look like a culinary wizard, and I’m a fan of that.
So the other day, when Chris idly picked up my King Arthur Flour catalog, pointed to the pork slider on the front, and said “THAT LOOKS SO GOOD,” I stored it away in my little nuggety brain to surprise him with the next day.
That is the nature of marriage. Tiny little surprises and paying attention to whims. Also, not snoring and then acting all affronted and saying “but I wasn’t even ASLEEP” when your wife, who has been ACTUALLY awake, calls you out and lovingly tells you to STFU or she’ll put one of the socks you left on the stairs in your mouth.
I’m not going to bore you with a recipe for pulled pork. First, because it’s so simple that Emmett could do it (spice rub, bottle of beer, braise in heavy pot for 3 hours, or until tender, cool a bit, and shred). Second, because some of you are vegetarians and deserve love every now and again. And third, because I have a really good story about the side dish. But for fun, I’ll show you a couple of pictures of the smoking gun in action (hitting it with a shot of applewood smoke after being coated in Rudy’s BBQ “Sause.”)



I don’t think sliders are complete without some kind of slaw. The variations are endless, and can be whatever you’ve got on hand, or whatever tickles your fancy. In this case, I decided to go with a version of slaw that is beautiful, incredibly nutritious, and every bit as delicious as a mango salsa, only with better texture.
I should have just said “screw it” and gone with frozen green beans or something. After Vitamin Cottage did not have jalapenos, and could not explain to me why they didn’t, I was at a loss. I was on the other side of town from any of the reputable grocery stores, and the only store on the way home was Wal-Mart. I HATE Wal-Mart. But all I needed was jalapeno, and in a totally not-racist way, I will admit that if I need popular hispanic items, Wal-Mart is a sure thing.
I grudgingly drove over, locked my door and went inside. I never lock my door. I can’t imagine someone wanting to break into my car and steal my half-wet swimsuit, a pack of diapers, and 62 empty cans of Red Bull/Monster/protein shake. But Wal-Mart is a special place, so I elected to protect my aluminum investment. My two jalapenos cost me $0.14. I can’t even get a single dried lentil at Whole Foods for $0.14. I paid with a whole dollar, which made me feel both wealthy and stupid, and walked back to the car with my pesticide-riddled jalapenos in hand. Whatever. Sometimes, a jalapeno is just a jalapeno.
I unlocked my car, strapped in the baby, and turned the key in the ignition…
My car alarm lost the plot entirely. I couldn’t get it to silence for love or money. Every two minutes, it would stop beeping. I would try to unlock it again, then turn the key in the ignition and…
I was furious. It went on for 10 minutes. I tried to get out of the car…
At this point, the car was upwards of 90 degrees inside, and I had a crying 9 month old in the backseat. I called the Subaru dealership for help.
“Did you try pressing the unlock button?”
“I will kill you in your sleep.”
I tried everything he suggested, at which point he said that I should get it towed to the dealership for trouble-shooting.
I was near tears myself, and the baby was starting to be alarmingly sweaty. It was time to call a tow truck, and then sit inside a Wal-Mart until help arrived, with my car seat, diaper bag, a pissed off infant, and my FOURTEEN GODFORSAKEN PENNIES WORTH of jalapenos.
I punched my steering wheel, while singing calming songs to the baby, then put the key in the ignition one last time, out of habit.
You’ve got to be shitting me.
We drove home, unloaded our jalapenos, and made some slaw, while I angrily ate a brownie that I had slated for Chris’s dessert. Emmett ate the frosting, because he was pissed off, too.
Here’s your slaw recipe.
Spicy Mango Slaw
-1/2 head red cabbage, finely sliced
-1/2 C red onion, diced and deflamed (by soaking in cold water and a little vinegar for 10 min)
-1 ripe mango, sliced
-1 jalapeno, finely diced and seeds left in, if you’re man enough to handle some heat
-1.5 T honey
-1.5 t salt
-2 T red wine vinegar
Stir it all together and let it sit at room temperature for about an hour to marry the flavors. Taste and adjust sweetness, salt, and tang to your preference.
It’s pretty, isn’t it? And a great way to eat your colors without resorting to the half-empty bag of skittles collecting lint in the bottom of your purse. Now slap some on a pulled pork slider like so

Or on a barbecue portobello, if you’re a vegetarian. Beware, though, it’s got heat. I’m a fan of less bread, more filling, so mine looked like this

I will usually be the first one to tell you if a dish is good, pretty good, or amazing. I don’t post the truly terrible stuff usually. So please believe me when I tell you this was outstanding. I sat there the whole time we were eating, wondering who I could take the leftovers the next day. Who would appreciate how fantastic these were. Some of our friends live in another town, or are out of state, or don’t eat spicy food, so they were all out of the question. But it’s the kind of thing that NEEDS to be shared. Evangelical pork n’ slaw.

Mango and pork are the Brangelina of foods, running around, being beautiful together, stealing other peoples’ babies.
Plus, if I managed to enjoy each bite of this, instead of silently resenting it for almost making me live in a Wal-Mart with my baby (as is probably pretty normal in the South, if Lifetime movies are telling me the truth)…then it’s pretty magical indeed.

4 thoughts on “The High Cost of Cheap Food”

  1. You can always share your tasty creations with me! Mmm sounds delish… and the car thing… that was the gods punishing you for shopping at Wal-Mart! Food Karma…

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