Thursday, August 8, 2013

Oh Pinterest, You Evil Temptress

Not too long ago I was seduced by Pinterest for the first time. We had been dancing around each other for a while, hesitant to define a relationship. It dangled all kinds of beautiful things in my face, and my willpower began to crumble. Then, one day at work when I was hugely pregnant and hungry, I saw a picture of S'mores bars and all bets were off.

I stopped at the grocery store on the way home, emboldened by the short ingredient list and the fact that, like any good American, I've made many a S'more around a summer campfire. And then Pinterest deceived me. The picture showed a crumbly bar with perfectly melted chocolate and a picturesquely gooey marshmallow filling, without any sort of warning that cooking with marshmallow fluff will destroy you.

The stuff is like thick, gloppy cobwebs. It doesn't mix well, spread well, divide well, or do anything well except aggravate anyone who touches it. Trying to layer it over graham cracker crust is probably not even possible, so I tried to spread it over the chocolate bars, first with a knife, then with a spatula, then with a spoon. I stopped spreading and just started throwing globs of fluff in a fit of slightly hysterical frustration.

This is where Pinterest failed me. The picture was so pretty, and the recipe came from a blog that looked far more professional than mine, and so many other people had repinned it that I figured it had to be relatively easy. We live in an era of DIY "Food Network" simplicity, and Pinterest does nothing if not foster this false sense of comfort in our abilities. Look at all this amazing stuff that other people do so beautifully! You can do it, too! I promise you won't end up angry in the kitchen with marshmallow fluff all over your counters and hands and oven.

I am no stranger to images of perfect food, professionally staged and floating next to a recipe: we have about 75 cookbooks in our house. Pinterest is a different animal; it's this endless dream list of gorgeous things and brilliant ideas, floating out there on the cloud for us to drool over, largely because these things and ideas are often the work of regular people and not always a professional chef who had to go through the rigmarole of publishing an actual book. In a way, it's empowering and seductive. A casserole or dessert on Pinterest seems far more attainable than something in "The French Laundry" cookbook.

Therein lies the danger. Suddenly, you're wrist-deep in marshmallow fluff and you end up with a whole section of bars with no chocolate. You go back to the picture online and cry a little inside because that is decidedly not what your bars look like. And then you say a little prayer of thanks that your husband and co-workers aren't sticklers about pretty food, and resign yourself to the fact that you are not actually going to be the next big thing in the world of food blogging.

And ultimately, it turns out okay. Because ultimately, you have S'mores bars.

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