John Grindrod: In the world of food, what’s your kryptonite?


First Posted: 5/30/2014

Of course, you know Superman’s weakness even if you haven’t poured over those comic books the way I did when I beat a path a couple of blocks east on my childhood street of Latham Avenue to get to that comic-book rack at Pangle’s to grab the latest episode of the Man of Steel.

The dreaded kryptonite is, in the Superman anthology, a fragment of the exploded mythological planet, Krypton, Superman’s home. Like a lot of words that become geographical eponyms, in other words, specific names of places that become common nouns, the word kryptonite now has come to mean, according to Online Slang Dictionary, any person’s quintessential weakness.

And, when it comes to food, I think most of us have our kryptonite, those foods that, when we buy them, have a shelf or fridge life of mere days on strong-willpower days or, on weak days when we yearn for the comfort certain foods provide, a few hours.

While certain foods are indeed kryptonite that are capable of bringing so many of us to our knees first before rising to devour it, the fact is one man’s consumable kryptonite may not be another man’s.

For Elvis Presley, it was, as all devotees of The King know, fried-in-butter peanut butter and banana sandwiches, often prepared by his longtime cook Mary Jenkins Langsdon, who revealed in a 1996 BBC documentary that Elvis used to say that the only thing in life he got any enjoyment out of was eating and that, “he liked his food real rich.”

Another Elvis gustatory kryptonite was called Fool’s Gold Loaf, a special concoction dreamed by then-owners Cindy and Buck Scott and their chef Nick Andrulakis of the Colorado Mine Company Restaurant. The recipe calls for a fully buttered loaf of Italian bread, hollowed out and filled with a pound of bacon slathered with copious amounts of peanut butter and grape jelly before being baked.

David Alder, author of The Life and Cuisine of Elvis Presley, relates in his book the anecdote where it first became evident E was truly hooked on the Fool’s Gold Loaf. It was on the first day of February in 1976 when, while in Graceland entertaining a couple of pals late in the evening, Presley decided he needed what he thought was Denver’s best sandwich.

So, he had his chauffeur drive him to the Memphis airport while the California Mining Company was called and an order put in, and, after a two-hour flight, the plane touched down in Denver at 1:40 a.m. There, awaiting Elvis, his two pals and the two pilots, were 22 freshly made Fool’s Gold Loaves. The men spent three hours eating and drinking champagne and Perrier. After they were done, they flew back to Memphis, arriving a little after 7.

Now, if you’re thinking Presley’s gustatory eccentricities were aberrational when it comes to other celebs, of course, you’d be wrong.

For my beloved Jerry Seinfeld, who’s iconic sitcom ended 16 years ago last month leaving me with a dual sense of bewilderment and abandonment that lingers to this day, his kryptonite is a toasted bagel sandwich with peanut butter, honey and cinnamon, which he said he ate compulsively as a young comic coming up in the 1970s. As a matter of fact, a Greenwich Village restaurant, Peanut Butter and Co., has named that very sandwich after him.

According to Fox News M website, for Angelina (no last name needed), she of the very puffy lips, and the Jolie-Pitt kids, that irresistible munchy is indeed crunchy, as in crickets. Says A-J-P, “My boys love to eat crickets. They are a lot like potato chips”

Ninety-year-old crackerjack Betty White lists hot dogs, Red Vines and potato chips as her must-haves.

And, for pop singer Taylor Swift, who never met a boys-are-mean song she didn’t like, it’s Cinnamon Toast Crunch and Pop-Tarts that ring her taste-buds bell.

So, I wouldn’t worry too much if, like me, there are certain foods you just can’t keep for more than a day or two once you bring them home. After all, most of us have our kryptonite. The way I look at it, as long as I’m not crossing over into the insect world, I’m OK.

For the record, mine are Cheez-Its, Cool Ranch Doritos and Gouda cheese.

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