In the comments section of my most recent Snacktaku review, a reader accused me of (and I am paraphrasing here) "eating nothing but crap". Perhaps this review of the healthy, wholesome combination of a vegetable no one likes and chocolate's pale understudy will convince him otherwise.
Sometimes I eat things that only look like crap.
There are worse things for a snackologist to be accused of than tabloid snackistry — pandering to the lowest common denominator with the most sinfully decadent and grotesque combinations. Take cannibalism, for instance. Writing about a cheeseburger stacked with onion rings, cheese sticks, and fudge pop, is much less offensive than cooking and eating human flesh.
But still, my integrity was called into question, which sent me into a depression-fueled bout of introspection, during which I sought solace in my earliest snacking days. The days when everything I ate came through my mother (only literally for the first couple of years), the responsibility of choice not a burden I had to bear.
Those heady days of milk and cookies, graham crackers, vanilla wafers, and Oreos; and in those rare moments of clarity when she realized her son was getting a little tubby around the edges, celery and peanut butter.
Hundreds of years ago Aztec tribes would take the meat of the peanut, a nut native to the Americas, and crush it into a paste. Some claim this was a demonstration of the earliest form of snack experimentation. I'm of the mind that "crushing into paste" was one of the ancient Aztecs' go-to methods for dealing with new things, including corn, cocoa beans, and conquistadores.
What those ancient people had unknowingly wrought upon the world was the early ancestor of crunchy peanut butter. This was likely why the Spanish conquered the Aztec Empire; crunchy peanut butter is a product designed to poison the hearts and minds of men. These days more and more people prefer crunchy peanut butter, a sure sign that we should probably just burn everything down and start over.
In more modern times, advances in technology allowed for a more complete crushing, resulting in the smooth and silky peanut butter many sane people enjoy today.
As for celery, it's a plant that's been growing in the ground since the dawn of time. More accurately, it's the stalk of the apium graveolens plant, which just so happens to grown in a trough-like shape, perfect for filling with things that taste 100 times better than celery. Not a big fan.
The act of combining celery with peanut butter is a result of depression-era families having no money to purchase proper utensils. Relatively inexpensive (because no one wanted to eat it), the fibrous celery stalk was the perfect delivery device for life-sustaining peanut butter. I might have just made all of that up.
It's a marriage that is, at the very least, quite pleasing to the eye. Since the days of Robin Hood, men of adventure have appreciated the combination of green and brown. It's like the thick and powerful trunk of a mighty oak, stalwart and proud, topped by the tenuous beauty of leafy green. Only in reverse. Okay, it's nothing like that.
It's still rather fetching, if only for the welcome sight of undulating waves of peanut butter. It's the sort of substance that enhances anything it's spread upon, be it cheese, chocolate, or chairs, one of which should not be eaten. If you spread peanut butter on Adolf Hitler... well, we would have eaten him, and that, as we established earlier, would be wrong.
It's been quite a while since I've eaten this particular pairing of food and fictional depression-era food delivery device, so excuse me if my technique is a bit off.
It's not that I do not enjoy the taste of celery; I just prefer it in a more diluted form, such as cooked for hours in a stew pot until it falls apart when teeth are applied. Or the sort of celery you find in cans of Campbell's soup, which is probably not actually celery at all.
As a raw vegetable, however, the initial bite into that thick stalk delivers a flavor that my taste buds can only register as "poison". The peanut butter quickly overtakes this venomous suggestion, but peanut butter dissolves rapidly in my robust saliva, soon leaving me with a mouthful of gnarled stalk that I'd rather not swallow. I'd show you the photo of my plate after I spit them out, but I have some compassion.
So the next time you're out at the Walmart shopping for $.99 packs of four spoons and think to yourself, "Hey, for around the same price I can get a massive bundle of apium graveolens stalks", pat yourself on the back for remembering the scientific name for celery's plant of origin.
And try not to eat anybody.