Food for thought

If we didn’t know it before, the credit card bill from our spring break trip to Hawaii confirmed it: my family is a bunch of foodies.

Indeed, while vacation planning for most people involves booking activities and scheduling day trips, my wife, kids and I spend the weeks leading up to a big trip poring over restaurant guides, picking out delectable-looking places to eat.

The problem with delectable is that is frequently comes with a less-than-appealing price tag. That’s not always the case as every now and then you can find a hole-in-the-wall hidden gem, but most of the time, you pay a bit extra for a fancy meal. And the fact that my kids, who apparently have developed sophisticated palates, have graduated from the kids’ menu. Paying full fare for their table fare still gives me sticker shock.

We weren’t always foodies. I still appreciate a good hot dog (and yes, I say that even knowing how they’re made). We have at least one box of mac and cheese in the pantry at any given time. My wife is perfectly content with brand-name coffee out of a can from the supermarket, and in our household, we drink wine out of a box, frequently in coffee mugs.

I think our first steps down the gourmet path came during our first winter in Alaska, 15 years ago. We invited some friends over to watch the Super Bowl. Thinking football party-type food, I mixed up some canned chili and melted Velveeta cheese, with a bag of nacho chips for dipping. Stadium food at its finest, right?

Our friends, however, had a different take on the whole meat and melted cheese thing, and showed up with baked Brie and pâté. While I may have snickered at their choice of football food, I had to admit that it was pretty good.

Ever since then, our Super Bowl gatherings have taken on a gourmet flair. We make baked Brie almost every year, both as an homage and an inside joke. We’ve tried all kinds of other dishes as well. In fact, my kids say the food is the best part of football — they couldn’t care less about the game itself.

We now cook some kind of out-of-the-ordinary meal almost every week. Some of the dishes we’ve tried have become favorites and are cooked up on a regular basis; others have fallen into that “no one likes that except you” category to be saved for when “except you” is home by himself.

And whenever we travel, culinary excursions are part of the itinerary. For our recent vacation, we kept it simple for breakfast and lunch — scrambled eggs at the rented condo for breakfast, peanut butter and jam for lunch (albeit strawberry-guava or pineapple jam). We definitely splurged on dinner though — fresh fish with exotic names, dishes created with flavor combinations you just won’t find at your local diner. Forget the beaches, clear blue water and gorgeous scenery — the food is what makes it paradise for us.

But now that we’re home again, and the credit card bill has arrived, I’m starting to wonder if maybe we shouldn’t rethink this whole foodie thing. I think we’ll be paying off the bill for this trip right up until we head out for our next trip.

They make gourmet canned chili and processed cheese products, don’t they?

Reach Clarion editor Will Morrow at

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