Thoughts that accompany the photo below: "Out of the 14 or 15 slips of paper I could've chosen, I chose the one that Aaron had scrawled 'FLAMIN' HOT CHEETOS' onto. Surely, Julia would not be so cruel as to do this to me just a little over a month after I had to suffer through trying our viewers' weirdest food combos?"
As much as I wished I were dreaming, it was cold, hard reality delivering my expectations a slap. For our latest video adventure, I was assigned to create a wacky three-course meal featuring one surprise ingredient. I was to select it out of a handful of potential possibilities, which Julia had sent to Aaron beforehand so he could write them down, put them in a bowl, and have me pick one at random to seal my own fate.
Sometimes, you make the wrong decisions in life, and sometimes, the wrong decisions make you. Despite sinking into the black hole of wishing I could turn back time and just pluck another ingredient out of the bowl, I put on my coat, my mask, my shoes, and went to the store and bought four bags of Flamin' Hot Cheetos.
Appetizer: Flamin' Hot Pancake Tartine
Does that garnish hurt your eyes? Don't worry, the shock value of Flamin' Hot Cheetos never wears off. First course: A snackable appetizer in the form of...a Flamin' Hot pancake. Is it avocado toast? Is it a tartine? Is it edible? Questionable on all fronts. Did I like it? Yes, absolutely, 100 percent. The pancake was structurally unsound but confusingly pleasing: soft, moist, plush, with a slightly crispy exterior and a hint of burnt spice, lightly corny, and troublingly maroon in color. Topped with crisp bacon, creamy avo, cool sour cream, crunchy radish, and pickled jalapeños, even Aaron couldn't deny the allure of this concoction. 8.7/10.
The heartburn continued with an even more disconcerting bowl of curry so radioactive red I realized I might die if I kept plowing through this challenge, but there is no way to go but forward in life. Death will come for us all sooner or later. And you know what? This bowl of death tasted darn good. The soft, chewy tteokbokki and Korean fish cakes cooked until almost melting into the creamy mix of coconut milk, diced tomatoes, curry paste, and Cheetos powder, a jammy boiled egg sunken and dyed pink, a gentle snowing of grated cheese—spicy, rich, deeply alluring, and tinged with irredeemably corrupt decadence. 9/10.
Dessert: Flamin' Hot Funnel Cake
Can you see the funnel cake? No? Can you see the sugar? No? I made a batter, it reeked of red death, and I ignored all the warning signs and fried it anyway: It was terrifying as a batter, and even more terrifying sizzling away in the pot of blazing oil, and the horror grew until it consumed me whole. Aaron rated this a weird/10. We ate 3 each. I cried a little afterwards.
May the gods have mercy on me next time if we do this again. I do not have it in me to escape death twice.