Roasting S’mores with Shinazy
To my six-year old unblinking eyes Bucks Lake was a playground dwarfing my corner park. But instead of playtime, the first night required setting up shelter before dinnertime. Dinner? How was my grandmother going to cook dinner when there was no stove in sight?
From the back of my grandparent’s sky blue 1949 Plymouth emerged a black, crusted cast-iron caldron. Were witches coming to dinner? Was I going to be dinner? I think Gigs could see I was going into shock because she handed my cousin Donny & me the pot and told us to unpack it. It took both hands for me to lift the pot’s lid. My struggle was rewarded; there inside I found Treasure.
As I stared at the chocolate bars, graham crackers, and marshmallows I knew these supplies were for more than one night’s worth of sweet heaven. The visual delight swept my mind – no more recurring dread concerning toilet tissue hanging from a bent branch hidden in the forest pretending to be a bathroom.
I would have been happy eating the chocolate directly from the wrapper, but first we had to go on a hunt for the perfect stick. It seems the Art Of S’mores requires a twig long enough to avoid scorched fingers and thick enough to withstand several roasting. (After a few stick-scavenging years I learned the best tool had a knob toward the end to keep the marshmallow from sliding into the fire.)
Dinner in stomachs. Sticks in hands. Logs a blazing. We were ready. But we had to wait. Painfully wait. Wait until our bonfire waned to a soft yellow-orange glow dancing among the embers.
Donny and I were the same age, but we had different approaches to the art and science of s’more building. He enjoyed plunging his stick into the tiny surviving red flame to create a marshmallow torch. His charcoal mess would ooze off his stick, dissolving the chocolate. His fingers and hands covered with goo … and dirt.
As if preparing for a culinary cook-off, I laid my ingredients in line on a napkin, snapped my graham crackers in half along the indented crease – no odd spaces. There had to be four, not three or five, chocolate squares. And there was the skill of the roast, resulting in Goldie Locks pillows, still cylindrical in shape, and clinging to my stick. Delights: hot creamy inside, warm crusty outside.
My latest s’more experience was at the Half Moon Bay Ritz Carlton, sitting by the cement-block fire pit, with a box in my lap containing artisan dark chocolate, organic crackers, and non-gelatin marshmallows. There’s no stick hunting at the hotel, they provide bamboo skewers. I’m a dark chocolate lover and an organic food supporter, plus I like the idea that my food contains no animal hooves, but I miss the ritual and anticipation of childhood s’mores.
Wait … no one is stopping me from going camping and capturing this memory. I’m ready. Let’s pack the car and go, but first I need to stop at Whole Foods for authentic s’mores supplies.
photos courtesy ChritopherS_Penn & JuliaManzerova