The progression of my mental state kinda cracked me up today.
Yesterday, I did not run. I did not run because it was raining, which doesn’t keep me from running usually, but also because my left hamstring was tight (that’s new) and my right leg was feeling “nervy”. I was just feeling sick of dealing with it all and didn’t feel like doing a speed workout on bum legs in the rain. And then, of course, there is the rest of my personal issues that are really getting me down and of which I won’t rehash in this post. So for all that, I didn’t run. And, of course, I didn’t feel good about it.
Then today I packed my bags to run, but I wasn’t even sure what sort of running I would do today. A long run to make up for yesterday? A normal run to just maintain? The speed workout I was supposed to do the day before? I trudged through work as usual and at some point I realized, I wasn’t going to run….again. I just wasn’t. I was feeling depressed and the idea of running, whatever sort, just didn’t motivate me, nor did I feel I could muster the motivation to not only run, but enjoy it if I did. So I decided not to run….again. Riding home and just holing up in my house in front of my computer sounded more appealing than anything else. Then something funny happened.
I was avoiding work and browsing the internet when I came across this article on The New York Times site.
The short of it is, the author discovered peanut butter and pickles as a complementary meal, was shocked to find that not many others have tried this combination and sought out fellow PB and pickles lovers. Now, if you don’t already know this about me, I LOVE peanut butter…to a dangerous, maybe, degree. I eat it every day. I put it in my oatmeal in the morning. I mash it up with bananas as a snack. I mash it up with avocado and soy sauce to spread on toast. I make peanut sauces for my pasta and thai noodles. I eat it straight from the jar with raisins. I eat it straight from the jar all by itself, when I’m depressed and when I’m ecstatic. No matter.
So when I read this article I suddenly got really excited. Just the night before I had posted a photo of Peanut Butter and Co’s White Chocolate Wonderful on my facebook page, which started a thread of excitement by my many friends who also share my PB affinity and from those who had no idea this existed and is vegan. The owner of Peanut Butter & Co. was interviewed in the NY Times article. Anyways, I got excited because of all the other foods I’ve mixed peanut butter with, I’ve NEVER tried pickles…and pickles and peanut butter is one of those old recipes people often reference, though I had yet to try. So I thought I’d take the peanut butter and pickles combination one step further and mix it with the Peanut Butter & Co. flavors, to not only see how I liked the combination, but how I liked it with a little something extra.
And here’s the funny thing. I got so excited about conducting this taste test that my entire mental state did a 180 on the spot and suddenly I was excited to run! Admittedly, I told myself that if I was going to stuff my body with bread and peanut butter that I should probably do a run first and go into a little caloric deficit. So, I told myself I wasn’t allowed to experiment unless I completed yesterday’s speed workout I did not do. And so I did it!
I excitedly bounded down to the track, knocked out 6 x 800’s w/ 200 recovery all around 2:30 and then finished off the 12 miles with a run around the city. It was awesome. Then on the way home I stopped at the grocery store and picked up Peanut Butter & Co.’s (I should get sponsored for name dropping them don’t you think?) White Chocolate Wonderful and Dark Chocolate Dreams, a loaf of bread and a Clif Builder Bar because I was already dying of hunger after the run. Then I got down to business…what follows is my official taste test. I would say, “Don’t take my word for it”, but yeah, “Take my word for it!!!” 🙂
I started off with the best of all the peanut butters, White Chocolate Wonderful, which is so sugary and white chocolatey tasting that it’s almost hard to call it peanut butter. It’s more like some sort of peanut filling you’d find in a candy bar. It’s probably best eaten straight from the jar lest any other flavors take away from it’s pure awesomeness, which is exactly what happened with the pickles. These two flavors did NOT mesh well. At first bite the sweetness of the peanut butter overpowers the vinegary saltiness of the pickles and subsequently the two never complement each other or make something awesome as one. They just fight the whole time and the sweet chocolate always wins. The pickles end up more as an annoying distraction. These two flavors FAIL together.
Next up was the Kroger brand (local grocery store) Natural Creamy, which consists of nothing more than ground up peanuts and maybe a miniscule amount of salt. This is how peanut butter should be….just ground up peanuts. Period. This is also what I believe food connesieurs use when they couple peanut butter and pickles together, so I was very curious to see what might happen. I was VERY pleased. This was the winner, for sure. The first bite you taste the vinegary bite of the pickles, followed then by the descending flavors of salt to sweet in the peanut butter…and then something else happens. The two flavors embodied by the pickle and the peanut butter magically blend together and something else entirely comes out of them. THAT flavor is what sells everybody on this combination. It’s not the pickles and it’s not the peanut butter, it’s the flavor that comes from both of them together, as if an entirely other ingredient was added at the last second. This is the pairing that makes pregnant women go nuts over this stuff (and obsessive distance runners). Now, how to explain it. I’d say it’s an intense saltiness, but that sounds a little off putting and excessive. It’s a salty flavor for sure, but almost a simultaneously sweet flavor as well. It swims around at the back of your mouth and leaves an almost refreshing aftertaste. It’s just…well…awesome. That’s all. You MUST try it and that’s all I can say about that.
Admittedly, after the failure of the White Chocolate test, I was a little concerned the sugar in the Dark Chocolate Dreams would have the same disappointing result. I was pleasantly surprised. The first taste was interesting as the two flavors of dark chocolate and salty vinegar didn’t necessarily mesh together, but they also didn’t fight each other. It was like they WANTED to pair up, but had just enough subtle differences not to. It’s like an 800 runner dating a marathoner. They have their similarities, but there will always be a gap of understanding between the two (hah! Brilliant!). Further tastes had a similar effect where the sweetness of the chocolate peanut butter was quickly lost and I was left with the dark chocolate flavor mixing with the saltiness of the pickles. Elvis Presley was apparently an evangelist of the peanut butter, pickle and bacon sandwich, and I think the taste of this combination must somehow mimic the chocolate covered bacon fad (“bacon hype is stupid”) that is currently sweeping the nation. A more appropriate comparison would be chocolate sprinkled with sea salt. It’s not a terrible pairing and has it’s place, but it still doesn’t compare to the foundation of straight peanut butter and pickles.
And there you have it. Peanut butter has now taken an even stronger hold in my kitchen as I can see myself going to town on one of these combinations after a heavy sweating, sodium depleting long run on a hot and humid day, or after a brutal track workout of 800 repeats. Feel free to let me in on any peanut butter pairings I have not listed in this post…I’d love to experiment!