Once in a while I take a bite of something so divine that I just want to stop, and never have any other version of whatever delight I’ve just experienced, because there will never be one that is quite as good.
Like right now.
I am eating a PopTart.
No. Not that kind. This is a home-made PopTart from Patty. I am always excited when she brings goodies to sell at the Takoma Park Farmers Market – and that is not every Sunday, since she is also running a farm. When does she even have time to bake? I don’t need to know – I’m just happy when she does.
Patty is part of Audia Farms, which sells herbs and organic veggies and fruits – plus turnovers, pastry-wrapped baked apples, and something called a butternut squash ho-ho. But usually I can’t get past the PopTart. It is amazingly flaky. When I get home from the market, it is just the right amount of warm from my toaster oven, a little brown on top. The insides are oozy with pear jam that Patty made herself. How much purer can you get than that? And she was right when she wrinkled her nose at my remark: “I like the kind with frosting!” Too sweet, she said. Turns out she’s right. This PopTart could not be more perfect, and there’s not a dot of frosting on it.
When I was little, old school PopTarts were part of the standard breakfast rotation – Cheerios, PopTarts, raisin toast, corn toasties (who remembers those?). I loved PopTarts, so much that when I was a young, crunchy-granola mom, I was tempted to buy them even though the commercial variety is full of evil things like preservatives and corn syrup. I did occasionally buy the health food store variety. They were not so great.
Then a couple years ago I discovered home-baked PopTarts at a bakery in Charlottesville, Va. Oh, man. Awesome. They were in a heavy pastry, and gaudily decorated with white icing and colored sprinkles. One was almost too much to eat at one sitting. But I wanted more of that, please, closer to home.
Hence my delight when I saw Patty’s PopTarts, with their much-lighter pastry. Maybe I could recreate this at home? In fact, I’d love to try my hand at some of the classics I remember coveting from other kids’ lunchboxes: Hostess cupcakes with a squiggle of white icing on the top, Ho-Hos, Twinkies, Snoballs. I don’t actually love the taste of these things now – too sweet – but the idea of them still charms me. And we don’t have to swallow what we’re given: We can re-invent it to be something even better.
Or we can let Patty do it. Thanks.