Momentary Food (Monopole Pizza, Burning Man & Mountain House)

Posted: August 20, 2011 in Uncategorized
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Momentary Food

I first learned about momentary food as an undergraduate at the State University of New York (SUNY) at Plattsburgh.  You see in the old days there was a great little place called the Monopole, and although it was a bar, the main attraction at the Monopole, was Monopole Pizza. 

 You see at midnight, one or even two AM after you had imbibed way too many dollar beers at Woodstocks for Midnight Buzz, you’d wonder over to Monopoles, stand in line, fish a crumpled dollar from your pocket and then buy a slice of pizza.  Usually, you’d have to wait for a fresh pizza from the oven, get your slice and then immediate bite into the slice, and just as immediately the sauce would squirt and burn the shit out of the roof of your mouth.  You’d jump around, drink some beer and then do it all over again, burning your mouth, again.  By the third or fourth bite either the pizza had cooled or the nerve endings in your mouth were so completely shot that they no longer recognized pain and you’d finish your slice of pizza, and happily start the long walk back to campus.

 At some point in every young student’s career at Plattsburgh, maybe on a sunny and balmy forty degree day in March, shorts on, having blown off afternoon classes to enjoy the heat wave, you’d say hey, let’s go to Monopole and get a pizza.  So you scamper downtown with a friend and get really excited.  At a buck a slice a whole pizza would cost twelve dollars but a whole pie is only eight bucks!  Saving four dollars in those days was a REALLY big deal.  So you got a beer and sat back and waited for your pizza, then it would come to your table in all of its steaming glory.  Being sober, you feel sophisticated because you know to wait a couple of minutes to let it cool down so you don’t burn your mouth.  Finally, with great anticipation, you bite into your first slice and completely understand the definition of momentary food and one other very important truth.

 Momentary food is the realization that a particular type of food is perfect within a certain moment,  outside of the parameters of that moment, the food tastes like shit.

The disappointment was unbelievable when this happened to me, being a big pizza fan I couldn’t believe I’d ever eaten this crap.  Then, thinking on it, you realize that wow, drinking alcohol really does impair your judgment (very important truth).  Not only does this explain why you eat Monopole pizza, but also clears up how I woke up in a lot of strange dorm rooms in those days.

One of the most common places you experience momentary food is while camping, including all manners of canned goods, snacks and freeze-dried meals.  All of us have some food that when you’re tired and hungry taste just awesome in camp.  My experience with this came in the form of Chef Boyardee beef mini-raviolis in a can, which I coincidentally discovered as an alternate to Monopole Pizza one night at a convenient store while walking home drunk in Plattsburgh.  As I was saying, in camp fabulous, but one night after work, tired and hungry and not wanting to cook.  I remembered I had a can tucked away and pulled it out, popped the top and sunk in a spoon.  That’s right, I eat these uncooked.   As I with mouth drooling anticipation sunk my teeth into the first bite I realized I had a disease, momentary food amnesia.

 Momentary food amnesia is a condition by which even though you have confirmed an item as momentary food, you once again try to eat it outside of the moment because you’re a dumbass.

 Given my in-depth experience with several various and assorted types of momentary food, as well as being the person who defined the term, I can say with great authority that Mountain House Beef Stroganoff is the definitive gourmet momentary food, to the point of actually removing itself from the category (and yes Mountain House, I will take a free case as payment for this endorsement, please deliver it before Burning Man).  The majority of the Mountain House stuff is great camp food, although most of it is definitely momentary food, try eating the damn freeze-dried ice cream when you’re not camping.  Also one side note, never, I mean never, under any circumstance buy or eat the Mountain House Pasta Primavera, it’s the last meal little Regan had before she got all green, wonky and head spinney in the Exorcist. 

However, the Beef Stroganoff is so damn good that you can come home from work, dig it out of the camping box, boil water and eat it right out of the bag and feel like it’s a home cooked meal.  If you want to really do it up, you can dump it into a bowl.  I can verify this friends, I did it tonight, and now I have to buy another bag for Burning Man.  Bon appétit!

  1. Effin Krissel says:

    First, a tip of the hat to the man who really helped me understand importance of pizza to mankind.

    Second, thanks for clearly defining a universal experience. Think we’ve all been there, but I like the phrase you’ve coined “momentary food.” As for the amnesia, hopefully this is call to humanity to recognize, and try to avoid, our dumbassed tendencies.

    Well done, Z.

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