Wednesday, February 27, 2008


The latest Saveur magazine showed up in the Mailbox d’Elisson a couple of days ago. Every issue has a theme; this one’s focus was on butter.

No, no mentions of Last Tango in Paris, the movie that did more to change the public’s perception of the Noble Fat than the revelation that margarine, rather than being a healthful alternative to butter, was loaded with deadly trans-fats.

But reading about all those butter-drenched dishes (Risotto! Hollandaise! Shortbread!) made me think back upon the day when I encountered an unexpected pleasure:

The Best Fucking Saltines On The Planet.

It was some 22 years ago, and I was having lunch at the Capital City Club in downtown Atlanta, one of the “oldest and most prestigious social clubs in America.” I, along with my immediate superiors, was the guest of one of our customers, the owner of a growing flexible packaging business. Our host was a courtly Southern gentleman of the Old School, and the genteel atmosphere of the Capital City Club reflected his taste and discernment. We were seated; we ordered our luncheon; we discussed Business Matters.

I tried very hard not to release any Wayward Farts as we waited for our food to show up. That would have been...improper. And unbusinesslike, to boot.

But as I sat there, sphincter tension ratcheted up to the breaking point, I noticed a little silver dish of saltines sitting in the center of the table. I tasted one. Then another.

Normally, saltines are Desperation Food. They’re dry and uninteresting, especially without some sort of meaty or cheesy topping. But these - these saltines were marvelous! They had a rich, unexpectedly decadent flavor, one that hinted of dairy and salt.

They were the Best Fucking Saltines On The Planet.

It was all I could do to keep from wolfing down the entire contents of the little silver cracker-dish.

I couldn’t restrain myself. I had to know. What made these saltines so extraordinarily good? I got the attention of the waiter and asked him.

“Well, suh,” he answered, “we take regular saltines and soak them in melted butter.”

Ah, yes. That would explain it.

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