Barker’s vile, bone-deep, pupil-dilating hatred for scalloped potatoes was injected into his psyche early in life. He can’t remember the first time he was served scalloped potatoes, but he is confident that after the first taste of those thin compressed cardboard disks covered in the paste of a semi-edible chemical concoction, his reaction was extreme in the worst possible way.
And so it was with eggnog. A slower, denser, bloated form of milk, somehow related to eggs but by which way, he wasn’t sure. Even an association with Christmas couldn’t make him like the stuff. It was a mutant dairy product that couldn’t even be saved with generous doses of rum.
But then, everything changed for Barker. Within one four hour window of time– a window into which shone the brilliance of culinary enlightenment, he discovered a joy which led to an infatuation with scalloped potatoes and eggnog.
It was marriage that brought him to the door of Mother-in-law Mildred for Christmas. Upon arrival at his bride’s ancestral home, he was presented– within a matter of hours– with a plateful of scalloped potatoes and a glass of eggnog. Knowing his long history of repulsion towards both, one might think it would make for a most awkward situation. What would happen? Would he force them down to be polite, and then worry about enduring the agony on every subsequent visit? Or would he put his tongue down, refuse to consume, and offend someone who could make his life miserable for the next number of decades?
Neither happened. A third, more unpredictable outcome ensued. For you see, Barker failed to recognize that he was actually drinking eggnog and eating scalloped potatoes.
The reason for this lack of recognition was simple. Both the scalloped potatoes and the eggnog were real versions of the real thing. Made from scratch. Made like they were meant to be made– not mass produced in some cavernous factory in New Jersey or bought during a frenzied 50% off sale in the Walmart grocery department.
The scalloped potatoes were made with actual potatoes, actual grated cheese, actual garlic, actual flour, and all the other actual foods that went into their making.
The eggnog had real eggs, real cream, real milk, real sugar, real nutmeg and was cooked over a real stove in a real pot and stirred by a real person.
Barker’s newly discovered enjoyment of eggnog and scalloped potatoes could have been the happy ending to this story. It wasn’t, for Barker began to wonder (as was a tendency of his):
Why does the International Food Corp. want to radically assault our culinary cultural norms by producing foods which share nothing more than a name with their original form?
After weeks of agitation and mental anguish, he was out for a walk on a dark night– a walk in which he stepped into a pothole he’d never potholed before. Immediately, as he lay within the broken asphalt, he was struck with a rare form of mental clarity. He had his answer:
The minds of humanity have been tricked by a simple reality– that chasm between the idea of something and the actuality of it. As long as we think we’re eating scalloped potatoes or drinking eggnog– providing it’s laced with salt and sugar–– we’re good with it. Add to this the convenience of do-nothing food preparation, and you’ve got a sure-fire product.
The next time Barker went to the grocery store, in an act of profound defiance against the tidal pull of manufactured food, he bought himself a potato peeler.
This is the most simple recipe I have found, particularly if you are averse to raw eggs and having to wait extended periods of time before drinking the stuff. For my first batch, I halved the recipe and ended up with plenty for four. (It’s VERY rich, so you only really need small cups of the stuff.)
Makes 6 cups.
6 large eggs
1 cup granulated sugar
2 cups whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
3/4 cup rum
Freshly grated nutmeg, for serving
What to do:
1. Separate egg whites and yolks.
2. In a bowl, whisk the sugar with the egg yolks into a paste.
3. In a pot on the stove on medium heat, add the heavy cream and milk. Warm until small bubbles form around the edge of the pot.
4. Pour some of the milk mixture into the egg/sugar bowl. Whisk, then pour back into pot.
5. Keep at medium heat and stir until thickness desired. (This may take a while, depending upon the amount of heavy cream you’ve used.)
6. Add rum.
7. Cool outside (if winter) or in fridge. In retrospect, I may try drinking it warm.
8. When serving, sprinkle with nutmeg.
Note: You can add whipped cream to thicken at the end.