Saturday, March 10, 2012

Velveeta? Just Gotta Say!


A peek inside how my brain works.

Lately, I've been working on a series of collaborative stories with the incomparable, and my dear friend, Ashley Blade. She's great and she's an extraordinarily lovely lady.

I love these stories probably a little more than some of the others I've started lately. It might be why the other stories still remain unfinished on my hard drive.

And, this might be why I've gained several pounds lately. I'm a munchy writer. This is not the exception this go round either.

Last night I was working on the story and bam--hunger gnawed at me as I pondered the next story in the series. Finally, after about two minutes of struggling to get my head back in the story, I decided, food was a lot easier to be had than the elusive transition that was giving me fits.

Which brings me to my blog post. Don't ask me what happened as I was rifling through my cabinets and cupboards for a snack or maybe a half-plate of deliciousness. It's dark in my cabinet so I normally just grab whatever my hand comes to first.

First thing out – Manhatten Clam Chowder. Nope, not in the mood for that.

Second thing – Rice a Roni. Maybe, but it was butter and herb flavor and I simply put had a taste for something else.

There was much exasperated sighing at this point. I couldn't find the transition for my story and now food was eluding me. It wasn't as if I was going to make myself a five-course meal but just something to nibble on.

Okay, so the story is still rolling around in my head and truthfully, sometimes, I don't understand how my brain works – Course Correction (working title for the story) equates to cheese dip. I smacked my lips and went – yes, that's what I want.

Really? Okay, that was what I was thinking as I grabbed out the can of Rotelle. This spicy tomatoey yummyness is a whole other blog post. Then I headed to the fridge for my favorite of ingredients in cheese dip.

Seriously, by this point I was thinking I might need real therapy. A story about a very logical character meeting her mate equates to cheese dip? Uh. Anybody know a good therapist.

I digress and back to my blog post. I am a great lover of food especially snack foods. Munchy, crunchy chips, crisps are like my fav. Add cheese, well – we have a winner.

My brain went, well, wacky as I grabbed some melba toast I had bought while I was at work the other day. Luckily, the box was not crumbs at the bottom.

Cheese dip. Say it with me—cheese dip.

I had all the appropriate ingredients. Cheese- check. Salsa—yep.

Truthfully, what more could be in cheese dip?

Okay, my rendition of cheese isn't surprisingly not really cheese. It's Velveeta. That long, yellow rectangle that vaguely resembles something like an oddly shaded mozzarella (sans the mozzarella taste) and an under-aged sharp cheddar cheese that's a little too squishy.

The fact is-which shouldn't surprise anybody- Velveeta isn't really cheese. Well maybe it is. I think it might not be. Being that hungry, I personally didn't care by that point. Still, story in mind, and being about to go insane with hunger pangs, I chopped pseudo-cheesy wonderfulness and dropped it into a pot and added the whole can of rotelle.

Stir. Stir. Stir. Box is staring at me. Stir. Stir. Stir. I finally give up and read the box, because stirring cheese dip while it melts is about as mentally stimulating as making instant mashed potatoes.

The label isn't really all that helpful.

It is a pasteurized prepared cheese product. I think this is the manufacturer's way of saying it was a science project gone wrong with stunningly serendipitous results.

Looking at the ingredients label almost proves this point. After going through the list of nonmilk and milkfat stuff we are shown the obvious chemical additives to this wonderfully melty stuff that is a staple of tail-gate parties and chippy-dippy stuff the country over. Calcium Phosphate. Sorbic Acid (this is a preservative). Sodium Citrate. Sodium Alginate. Citric Acid. Enzymes. Apocaratenal (or whatever that word is). And, Annatto (which gives it color). Granted, the manufacturer is nice enough to tell the consumer it contains less than 2% of these ingredients. That's a relief. I don't think Kraft Foods would like to inadvertently turn consumers of this product into nearly embalmed zombies who glow orange beneath the full moon.

Finally, I found something that says cheese. It isn't actually cheese either. It's a cheese culture which is used to start the culture process in all cheeses. It is also all the way at the end of the list—which if I understand the way this is supposed to work—cheese culture is the least amount of an ingredient Velveeta contains. I already know it is less than 2% thanks to the manufacturer putting it after 'contains less than 2% of' line in the ingredients list.

So, in actuality, what is Velveeta, because let's be honest—it doesn't really sound like a cheese. Cheese should have great names like Gouda or Feta or Riccota. I think the only thing they got right was the 'ta' at the end.

Spring forward to me indulging in pumpernickel melba toast and cheese dip. A quick internet search gave me the basic history. According to the Kraft website—Velveeta was first produced in 1918. So this is a pre-World War Two creation—and was most likely found in many a soldier's meal kits during the 'War to End All Wars' and its sequel because, and knowing my own habit for slicing into a block and placing the remnants into a zippie bag only to use the remainder a month later, it has a half-life of about a thousand years. It's spun off into a spread, shells and cheese and several other convenience packaged, prepare it because your kids won't eat anything else save Velveeta staples that take up space on many a mom or dad's pantry shelf.

And I can attest to the fact it was more than a little yummy.

This is a wonderful enigma of not cheese but is close to cheese and has been a part of my life since I was very young. By the time I put the leftover dip away, I really didn't care what it was made of, but I had accepted it into a very exclusive list.

Drum roll please.

Velveeta wins a slot in my rarely seen, because it is truly terrifying to imagine what it is like to be in my imagination, foods that I would take into space with me.

It is also one of those foodstuffs I firmly believe will be around in the year 2100 and beyond along with SPAM, Rice-a-Roni and Campbell's Baked Beans. Why? Well, because all of them are also a part of my lackluster culinary arsenal. Yes, I love Spam—particularly Spam with Cheese – yummy. (But that too is another blog post).

So, hat's off to Velveeta. It makes my list of something one of my characters will indulge in at some point in an upcoming story.

I do ask you to shed a few tears for the manufacturer because you never know what I might do with it or to it. Velveeta glue—maybe? My character ran out of photon torpedoes and substituted Velveeta—you never know.

What about you? What common foods do you think will survive and become a part of an intergalactic pantry?

Leave a comment for a chance to win a prize.

Until the next time – Best -- Bella


  1. I don't need the prize. I just had to read what your brain was up to today. Therapy is a strong consideration.... :D But then, I'd have to join you for agreeing.

    Nothing like melty cheese and chips. ;)

  2. Hugs to you - passing the cheese dip!

  3. LOL! I love glimpses into your imagination. They are always fun and original :)

  4. Love it! Love it! I think my space food would have to be Little Debbie Oatmeal Sandwich Cookies or Twinkies. Something sweet that also has a half-shelf life of 1,000 years but oh so yummy!

  5. Thanks so much, T -- it's original. I'll give you that.

  6. NR - twinkies. Yeah-- probably so. I will think on that one, but great answer!

  7. Congrats to Novel Romance - she is my winner. Will send you an e-mail soon.