Open Letter to Marshmallows: A Fluff Piece
by Yardena Carmi
First of all, why? And how? Marshmallows are about the most improbable food item I could think of. Quick research (thank you, Wikipedia) shows that the preparation of the marshmallow plant as a sweet dates back to ancient Egypt and more recently to 19th century France. Produced from Althaea officinalis, a medicinal plant, marshmallow sap was originally used for sore throats, which would explain why eating one plain is about as fun as a head cold. Later, industrial methods swapped out the herbal cough syrup for gelatin and corn starch. The result we have today is still as appetizing as biting into a sand bag.
Seriously though, Marshmallow! You have no, texture, no flavor, no color, no expiration date. What do you bring to the table? Your modern components are quite horrific. Gelatin, corn syrup, egg whites, sucrose, corn starch…these are the contributions you make to our nutrition. Not to mention the truth about gelatin.
You are available in various incarnations including vegan, kosher, and halal, as well a variety of flavors. Marshmallows can even be made at home! But these are all still disappointing. If you’re ready for the facts of life, though, marshmallows can be made by scratch in a time consuming process more like a chemistry experiment than cooking. Although when have those two been any different? Prepare to eat a desert that leaves you vaguely unsatisfied and mildly confused right from the comfort of your own home. Feel free to ponder your actions. Why? Why? (Recipe available here: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/alton-brown/homemade-marshmallows-recipe.html)
But… have you ever eaten marshmallows roasted over a campfire? Well, I guess not, that would be weird if you did it. Or marshmallows on top of steaming sweet potatoes at Thanksgiving. Crunchy, sweet Rice Krispie treats. That one flavor of ice cream with the marshmallow fluff ribbon. Mmmm, alright…You did good Marshmallow, you did good.
P.S. What are your favorite ways to use marshmallows? List in the comments!
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