In my line of work, there are endless getting to know you games. We cover all manner of things: nicknames, pets, siblings, hometowns, family traditions, and any number of favorites. Favorite movie, class, spot in NYC, childhood tv show, book, food. I love learning all of these things about my students, but I especially love hearing them talk about food (no big surprise there). This semester, a student had one of the best answers I’ve heard in a while to the favorite food question: soup. When pressed for specifics the student stuck to their guns. Just soup. All kinds. I thought this was such a great work-around for what has often struck me as an impossible question. With just one word room was made for savory and sweet, hot and cold, and all sorts of tastes and textures. We paused our go round to talk about favorite soups for a while, and I offered up corn cowder as one of the best.
A few years ago, right around the time that cupcake shops were popping up everywhere in DC, I daydreamed about opening a different kind of bakery. It would feature exclusively bar-shaped treats, offering a rotating selection of brownies, blondies, lemon bars, Rice Krispie treats, pecan pie bars, Nanaimo bars, 7-layer bars, etc. The name would be Square Treats and the slogan would be “Raising the Bar.” My mission was to remind the world that there were many more interesting treats out there than cupcakes. I thought that dessert bars had so much potential for flavor and textural variety, but because they’re so humble, they’d never made it out of the home cook’s kitchen and into the spotlight. My bars would be no ordinary from-a-mix bars, nor would they be, as my notebook scribblings described, “the soggy too sweet afterthought found on a corporate dessert tray.” The bakery would elevate the picnic square to a treat worth waiting in line for.