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Food critic Tonya Kuxhausen writes reviews of meals she prepares for herself at home. Food is at the center of each article but the whole dining experience is considered and commented on. To paraphrase Socrates, an unexamined meal is not worth eating.

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two hearts

Chocolate in my peanut butter

Today I had a peanut butter and chocolate chip sandwich for lunch. I ate at my desk at the advertising agency where I work while staring out the window at the river and contemplating life.

The sandwich was OK. It started as just a regular peanut butter sandwich. I made it in the morning at home with just regular ingredients. I used soft whole-grain bread, leftover from my car trip to Nebraska (for peanut butter sandwiches on the road). I can't remember what brand it is, but it's very good. It's in a green bag, available at Lund's and Rainbow but not at the Wedge. It has flax seeds in it and maybe cornmeal or millet. The slices themselves are somewhat multicolored, more rectangular in shape. It's incredibly soft bread with really good flavor. It's excellent with peanut butter. Lately I'll eat a peanut butter sandwich at work for breakfast after working out. Usually, I like peanut butter and nothing else on the bread. No jelly to make it sweet and ruin the taste of the peanut butter.

The Menu (04-30-02)

Peanut butter and chocolate chip sandwich

That's why I'm picky about the peanut butter. It has to be good. My favorite kind is the 100% natural Real brand peanut butter, crunchy. It's so good. I eat it by the spoonful if I'm feeling down or weak. I like it because it's salty and fresh tasting. It has a nice oily viscosity unlike the organic stuff you can buy which always seems dry, crumbly, and unspreadable. I don't like Skippy or Jiff. With a spacefood-like texture, grocery store shelf-style peanut butter like that hardly seems like food. (Is it even made with peanuts?) It's just not satisfying in the way that real peanut butter truly is. It's way too sweet and it leaves me feeling undernourished and grumpy. Sometimes I'm intrigued by creamy peanut butter; I like the smooth spreadability and the even texture. Ultimately, though, I find crunchy peanut butter more enlivening and rewarding. It never fails me.

So I brought the peanut butter sandwich from home, wrapped in pretty pink cellophane, but it got somewhat smushed in my bag underneath my running shoes and math book. I added the chocolate chips from the stash at my desk. I'm always eating spoonfuls of peanut butter with chocolate chips, but I've never really had a sandwich like this before. The chips I have at work right now are the second-rate Guittard brand. They're better than Nestle (barf), but not as good as Ghiradelli. I think they're the best you can get at the lesser of the grocery stores in town. They have a smooth, somewhat waxy texture. They melt nicely in your mouth but they do have a faintly grainy afterfeel -- too much sugar. The flavor is rich and bitter, with hints of real vanilla. It's perfect for a sandwich. I think the package is funny. It's a metallic gold with the distinctive script "Guittard." I don't like the name.

Anyway, I peeled apart the bread and pressed a handful of chocolate chips into the peanut butter and attempted to seal the sandwich back up without the chips falling out during bites. I did a pretty good job at this. I think the soft bread helped, since it sort of held the chips in place around the edges. The sandwich had an entirely solid composition. The thick layer of peanut butter and liberal scattering of chocolate chips made good sandwich insides. I would say better than peanut butter and jelly (no jelly-induced stomach ache to suffer through afterwards). But the bread stood out as not so good with the addition of the chocolate chips. I think a plain white bread or hard, crusty roll (hmm...striato?) would improve the sandwich. The wheat/flax/millet combination doesn't go well with chocolate. Eating a sandwich like this reminded me of Koogle. Am I the only one who remembers Koogle from the 1970s? The creamy, sugary peanut butter with chocolate mixed right in (not swirled throughout like Reese's). I can remember the taste so well. Totally artificial and delicious not even like chocolate, but some rich, dark, and sweet earthiness hidden in the peanut butter. God I'd love some Koogle right now. Totally old school, totally lowbrow.