Log Cabin Chronicles

greg duncan

© 1998 John Mahoney

The Gallivanting Gourmand

Hit me with more smores

GREG DUNCAN

I really should get myself a copy of the Dictionary of Word Origins as I'm constantly wondering where food words come from.

Last week, I asked readers to enlighten me with the origin of the word picnic and a faithful reader provided me with a photocopied page of the aforementioned dictionary.

It seems the word picnic was borrowed from the French pique nique, a word that seems to have originated around the end of the 17th century. It is not clear where it came from but one theory is that it was based on the verb piquer, pick, peck with the rhyming nique added in memory of the obsolete nique "trifle."

Originally, the word denoted a sort of party to which everyone brought along some food; the notion of an outdoor meal did not emerge until the 19th century.

Whew. What a mouthful. Regardless of its origins, picnic is without a doubt one of the most pleasant ways to enjoy a meal.

Canada Day's eve was spent around a where toasting marshmallows was on the agenda. You simply cannot have a fire without roasting something over it and marshmallows provide an easy solution for the combination of kids, sticks, and the craving for sweet stuff. The marshmallow has been around for the good part of a century, although today's version contains very little if any at all of the original ingredients.

In days past, each marshmallow was handmade and rolled by hand and then dusted with starch, sugar, and a little flour. Its prime ingredient was mallow, which grows in abundance still today.

The jet-puffed marshmallows of the 90s are massed produced by the millions in order to meet the demand and contain little more than sugar and a lot of air. No matter, for they are still great toasted over some hot coals.

Sometime around the turn of the century, a group of Girl Guides came up with the idea of placing a toasted marshmallow between two graham crackers along with a chunk of chocolate. Smores were born and I can tell you that the origin of smores is that they are so good that when one eats one, the result is that one asks for some more - hence smore.

If by now you haven't heard of singing pop sensation Britney Spears then perhaps you won't understand why her name has been modified to describe a version of smore that came into creation at last week's bonfire. Nor only were marshmallows in abundance but a fairly large bucket of local strawberries was passed around. For a lark I decided to place a large berry on a stick and heat it up a bit. The result was a slightly warmed juicy berry that had released its sugar. Fruit does this when heated and the obvious thing to do was to place the berry between the toasted marshmallow, the chocolate, and the graham cracker.

An improvement for the sake of ease had been provided by the host in the form of chocolate-covered graham cookies or, more specifically, digestive biscuits that make the whole thing easier. No need for extra chocolate bars and less messy. The result was a strawberry smore that had me wondering why this hadn't been tried before.

The only problem was that we ran out of strawberries so we couldn't ask for smore.

At any rate, I suggest you try this recipe and the kids will love them even more now that we've named them after one of their teen idols. Britney Spears is sickly sweet so it is apt that we named this campfire dessert after her.

Britney Smores

    1 package chocolate-covered digestive biscuits
    1 package large jet-puffed marshmallows
    at least 3 dozen large strawberries
    1 campfire
    sticks for toasting berries and marshmallows
    kids optional but recommended.
Toast marshmallow till golden over coals, do the same with strawberry till it steams a little. Place between cookies and munch away. Follow up with the phrase from Britney's hit single, "Hit me baby one more time."

Editor's Note: Must be the ubiquitous commercial presence of Britney but I recall us dubbing these delicacies "Drew BerrySmores." A snack by any other names tastes as sweet...


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