Tuesday, October 27, 2009

You Say Po-tay-to...I Say Not-Hot-o

I watch a lot of Man v. Food, Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern, and similar shows featured on The Travel Channel. The hosts of these shows journey across the United States and to all corners of the world to consume unique delicacies that whet the appetite of some and make others dry-heave in disgust.

Well, I stumbled on my own unique delicacy this morning: Having purchased too much for dinner last night at my local Wawa, I refrigerated the surplus, which included a medium "loaded potato" soup. As you can imagine, a thick, cream-based soup congeals quite a bit after sitting all night in cold air. Refrigeration highlighted the flavors, with each seasoning tasting nearly as strong as the potatoes themselves. The smokey bacon flavor wasn't gamey at all, and the fire-roasted onion provided enough early morning bite to really wake me up. Aside from the succulent chunks of potato, the soup itself had a texture more grainy than Icelandic skyr, yet smoother and less chalky than nutria gumbo. I quite liked its pasty consistency and wished I'd had a bagel on which to spread it. Soup on a bagel? It might sound gross to some, but it would be heaven to me. The soup's color remained an off-white, dotted with specks of black pepper...not unlike stewed tuna eyes and lemon ants over pickled lamprey, so prized by the hardy residents of St. Petersburg, Russia. As you'd expect, the soup's aroma possessed that earthy, potatoey scent common to a tuber, but I also detected hints of coriander, which may or may not have been mold. All in all, my refrigerated, semi-solid soup was a delicious surprise and speaks to the power of cold leftovers.

Officially known in their native tongue as Waw'a ("Children of perpetual convenience"), the people of Wawa possess a zest for life that's reflected in the culture of their surroundings and the foods they prepare. Just because you don't have to travel thousands of miles to get to one doesn't mean that their cuisine is run-of-the-mill. My loaded potato soup, so good fresh out of the crock pot, was even better the next morning. If you love food, you really need to visit Wawa, take home some of their culinary masterpieces, and put them in the fridge. Great food, friendly inhabitants, and an ATM that doesn't require a service charge. Is it any wonder I hope to return to Wawa again and again? So remember: If it looks good enough to eat...refrigerate it!

(Photo of Andrew Zimmern copyright The Travel Channel; photo of soup copyright Wawa, Inc.)

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