[Introducing Zack Brown, a professional project manager, member of Knuckle Salad’s Experimental Dinner Club, and analytical mind. Today, he judges the second match of the first round of Munch Madness 2014, and he asks…][divider]
Who will EARN victory?
Kraft mac ‘n cheese topped with applesauce
“Kraft macaroni and cheese with applesauce poured over top.”
Chocolate ice cream & watermelon
“Chocolate ice cream & watermelon, it sounds weird, but it’s the BEST combination ever! My dad always ate it that way when I was a kid, so I grew up thinking it was normal, until I was a teenager.”
I was super excited when Kristina asked me to be a judge for this year’s Munch Madness. I’ve taken part in it the last few years, and those who know me know that I love food, normal, good, exceptional… even exceptionally weird, sure.
As a preface to this first match-up, I want to say a few things. It’s my contention that there are only two types of people who would enter a snack into this competition. The first type is someone who genuinely has a love affair with their snack – someone who knows what they have done is wrong; UNNATURAL; illicit – someone who is now confessing their love to the world in hopes that a stranger (me and you) will validate this bawdy pairing.
Second, there are the vanguards of anonymity; the globetrotters of secondhand gluttony. Yes, I speak of that person who has made up a combination as unlikely and vile as possible KNOWING that another person must consume this concoction. I’ve got my eyes on you.
Sadly, I will invariably disappoint both types. To those who love these foods, I will make them faithfully as instructed, but I am not going to get it perfect. In advance, accept my humblest apologies. To those who wish to torment my tastebuds, all the same I will soldier on!
So, as Kristina mentioned, I like to deeply analyze (overthink) and I try to be as fair as possible. To do that, I need to set some ground rules for these recreations. First: I will attempt to eat all entrants under the same condition/level of hunger; and eat the two presently competing at the same time. Second, I will eat them under the exact conditions as submitted and if there are not obvious instructions, I will use available recipes or my best common sense guess as to the intent of the creator. Third, I will use a common set of judgment categories for all entrants. Rather than a scoring system, I will award a winner in each category to determine the overall winner.
With those disclaimers and guidelines, my first task is to judge Kraft Mac & Cheese with Applesauce against Chocolate Ice Cream and Watermelon. To save some space, and scratch the itch on my poor man’s toe, I’ll be referring to these as Komachee and Chocomelon henceforth. Read on for my breakdown of this wildly anticipated match-up of mildly comical comestibles!
- Snackability – how easy is it to make and then eat?
- Komachee – this takes approximately 8-10 minutes to put together end to end. It will have to be served in some sort of container. Let’s be honest – this is actually a meal someone decided to get saucy with when these were the last two food items in their house. Wasn’t it!?!?
- Chocomelon – also needs to be served in a container due to the ice cream, additional time if you are cutting the watermelon but still significantly less than mac & cheese
- Availability – how easy is it to get these ingredients at any time, how likely is it that they are in your kitchen?
- Komachee – both of these items are available at virtually any grocery store, as well as some drugstores and gas stations
- Chocomelon – now, I highly suspect that the person who submitted this is very particular about their ice cream, but even if it isn’t an expensive brand, this could affect availability greatly. Also, watermelon is not available year round in all stores. Certainly watermelon is not in your fridge year round, right? Right?
- Edibility – what’s it taste like? Can you… eat it?
- Komachee – mac & cheese is typically served hot. I didn’t warm the applesauce up, though I wondered if I should. The balance of hot and cold serves as a precursor for the counterpoint of rich pasta and cheese with sweet applesauce. The aftertaste reminds me of sour apple gum. Very interesting and somewhat unexpected.
- Chocomelon — I immediately thought of Neapolitan ice cream when reading this assignment. The taste is not so different either. Watermelon contains much more water than strawberry and retains its crunch under the melting ice cream. Still, some of the refreshment you get from biting into a watermelon is dampened by the heaviness of the ice cream.
- Komachee – well, you pair soft macaroni with strained apples and what you have is baby food. It’s baby food. That doesn’t stop me from eating it, but it might stop some.
- Chocomelon – crunchy watermelon with creamy ice. I would de-seed the watermelon before combining these or you are going to be spending more time than you bargained cleaning your spittoon!
- Komachee – I know that mac + cheese is a contentious item because people are VERY particular about how they cook it. Personally, I like to put some Chachere’s on mine (I would put it on the applesauce too, srs). Even knowing all the different combinations, I doubt many people have put applesauce and pasta together before
- Chocomelon – like I said, I saw the combo and it made sense to me – but often things that are the most brilliant are those that seem obvious. I’ve never heard of anyone else combining these foods, but I am fairly sure this dish has accidentally happened at a picnic before
- FamSnack – is this just for one weirdo, or does it suit all? I’m using my family unit of one me, one lady partner, and one two-year-old eating machine as a test
- Komachee – two-year old approved, adults were non-committal
- Chocomelon – liked by all
- EARN Eat Again Right Now – which one earned it?
- I would actually eat them both again, but having to pick right now, and any multitudinous potential right-nows, I have to go with the ice cream. I can’t guarantee I will want sour apple with me at any time during the day. Actually, being lactose intolerant, both of these are dangerous. But that’s the game we play isn’t it.
(as nice as I can naturally make it look)
Chocolate ice cream with watermelon was a pretty clear winner in this contest for me, taking five of seven categories. Kraft Mac & Cheese with Applesauce should be tried for those who are adventurous. It’s a very interesting taste. Especially those of you that are babies. Babies should try it.
Is chocomelon cut out for the finals? I’m not so sure. There are great other combintions out there that I personally would consider snacks faster than I would watermelon, but it’s not up to me alone to decide. Go check out all the matchups and follow along to see who will reign supreme!
If you are going to go try these yourself, adventurer, here are some thoughts. Try changing the type of cheese contained with the macaroni to try and lessen the bite the applesauce has. Caramelized or spiced sautéed apples would improve the texture while maintaining the flavor contrast. For chocomelon, sea salt or coarse ground salt would be a great addition, and potentially some fresh mint if you can stand that strong a flavor.