The other night I invited my British friends over for our monthly get together. After dinner I thought it would be nice if we gathered around the wood fire with our cups of Tetley tea.
When I brought out the graham crackers, bag of marshmallows and slabs of chocolate there were giggles of delight from some of the gals. Memories of days in Brownie Scouts, or Girl Guides back in Britain, were told along with camping tales that strayed from the roasting of marshmallows to animals in the wilderness. My dog Hannah barking at seemingly nothing in the darkness, reminded us that coyotes live just a few hundred yards below our garden in the arroyo and mountain lions are never far away either. A little chill ran up our backs.
But tonight the only movement we could see were far away lights of planes following each other at even distances as they came in from the south, headed to the airport at San Jose. or San Francisco. They looked like shooting stars. An off-the-cuff comment was made that perhaps it was planes such as these that led the Three Kings to the stable in Bethlehem (an idea resulting from more empty bottles of wine left on the table than two hours previously). This reminded my friend Nikki of a complaint made by an American tourist in Windsor, England, who observed, “what a shame that they built the castle so close to the airport!” More giggles all around.
But I digress! Back to the S’mores.There were nine of us and two had never ever tasted a S’more. Now I ask you, how can you live in America for sixteen years and never have roasted a marshmallow? Furthermore, why on earth are they called S’mores? Wikipedia points out the obvious, that it is a contraction of the phrase “some more.” The first recipe seems to go back to around the 1920’s where it was already popular with scouts and camping.
Not one to be left out, the Guiness World Record book shows the largest number of people making S’mores at one time was 423 in 2016 in Huntington Beach, California. Trivia fans, you never know when you might need that fascinating piece of information!
Back around the fire I handed out the one “correct” marshmallow stick (handle, long metal round skewer thing with a “fork” at the end) and a bunch of coat hangers that I save just for this occasion. Over the years, with four grown kids and four grand children, I have purchased any number of manufactured marshmallow sticks over the years (now you can purchase a telescoping kind through Amazon for a mere $20 for four)….but they have mostly disappeared.
How can I end up with just one? Where did all those other marshmallow sticks disappear to? Nothing wrong with a coat hanger or if we were in the forest, a twig. That’s America for you, always marketing something to us consumers. Remember those funny little yellow corn cob holders (Williams Sonoma 8 for $19.95!) that we used once and then they rattle around in that kitchen drawer, poking you every time you search for the apple corer or that gizmo that slices hard boiled eggs.
Marshmallows secured, my friends …..impatient to relive their childhood,….poked the marshmallows into the flames. “No no” I urged, “you need to wait for the coals. “ Poof! They caught fire and there was a lot of huffing and puffing and burnt fingers. Pure bliss spread across my friend Jane’s face when that gooey melted mass oozed out of the graham crackers and made a sticky mess in her fingers. My friend Anita said how she somehow always ended up being the one roasting the marshmallows at boy scout events and never seemed to have the opportunity to make a S’more. So she was very content to make S’mores just for herself.
However, my friend Anita is a vegetarian and I feel simply awful that I did not think at the time to purchase vegetarian marshmallows. Gelatin is the main ingredient of marshmallows (and is also found in gummy candy, yogurt and ice cream). It is an animal protein coming primarily from pigskins and the bones and hides of cattle. Perhaps if more people knew the ingredients of commercial marshmallows, they might want to think twice about popping one in their mouth.
But who knew all this? Anyway, there is actually a National S’mores Day celebrated annually on August 10th. Boy, I must put that on my calendar. I wouldn’t want to miss that big event. Had better order some more of those fancy skewers!