On Spring Street, just across from what we fondly term the dirty playground (where the homeless outnumber the kids), there’s a set of odd neighboring businesses. One sells exclusively rice pudding, the other low fat frozen yogurt, and on hot weekends, the lines are long at both places.
You’d think the pudding eater and the yogurt eater would, let’s say, present differently. I suppose the academic nutritionist could sit (in the dirty playground) clipboard in hand and eye the girth of respective customers, but in our years of living here, as a casual observer, I’ve never seen a difference.
I do, however, notice a difference between (given a general awareness of healthy eating habits) faux foodies and real foodies. Actually, “foodie”, as far as I can tell, merely means you like to eat out, while “real foodie” denotes a person who likes to consume actual food comprised of ingredients not birthed in a lab or produced via atomic collider. Like cake from flour or lemonade from lemons.
For the faux foodie, the holy grail is the zero calorie food that doesn’t quite taste like crap: Willy Wonka in a lab coat and a hair net, glowing oompah loompahs, walls papered with ultra-light candy, and rivers of “chocolate product”.
Let’s take the common meringue. A meringue is a frothy mix of egg whites and sugar. Bad for the 4-year-old in his Spidey Man jammies at bedtime. Good for everyone as a treat (save for diabetics). Zero fat, high sugar. “Faux meringue” has zero fat, weird sweeteners, a library of stuff in tiny print, and glue. It also tastes like moon food, dissolving on the tongue instantly, like a raindrop in the ocean.
To concoct a fake meringue is to concoct fake zero fat food. Fairly extreme. I’m hardly on a mission to convert the faux foodie, but at the very least, for chrissakes, eat a real meringue. It’s easy to make, sweet yet bland enough not to be addictive. And they taste even better on a bench in your nearest dirty playground.
Makes enough for 8
1 cup egg whites (about 8 eggs)
1 cup granulated sugar
2 cups confectioner’s sugar, sifted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Preheat oven to 200.
- Line two baking sheets with buttered parchment paper, butter side up.
- In a mixer, beat egg whites to soft peaks, add the granulated sugar, beating to stiff peaks. Fold in the confectioner’s sugar and vanilla.
- Spoon the mixture into a piping bag or large ziplock bag and pipe large meringues, about 3 inches high and 4 inches wide. Space them an inch apart. You can also drop free form giant spoonfuls.
- Place in oven and back 1 ½ to 2 hours with the oven slightly ajar until crispy outside and soft within. Cool and serve with all kinds of stuff like jam, ice cream, etc.