In the latest episode of The Food Feeder, we point out the existence of a Cheetos-flavored macaron (not to be confused with a macaroon), which Manhattan's Macaron Parlour unleashed just before Halloween. And to our surprise, people seem to like it.
But what's the point in taking a classic French confection and fusing it with a famous American junk food? There is an excellent argument for the answer to be "publicity." And while that may very well be true, I also see an interesting trend in our ever-changing food culture. Cooking can be a creative pursuit, and like all creative pursuits, it has its own movements and phases. As for things like the Cheetos macaron? You can file under "pop art."
The biggest proponent of this artisanal junk food movement seems to be Christina Tosi of Momofuku Milk Bar. She is, I think, its Andy Warhol, taking back the pop culture from our childhoods and our cereal aisles and turning them into something greater.
But don't let the sense of whimsy and humor in, say, an ice cream made from Cap'n Crunch cereal milk, distract you from the serious work and technique that goes into making it. There is brilliance in the salty-sweet Ritz cracker crust that surrounds her grapefruit pie. This isn't some Top Chef quickfire challenge in which contestants are asked to futz around with trashy ingredients. This is the act of taking history, skill, and effort, and using it to elevate something common.
Like Warhol, her food probably annoys or confuses the hell out of some people. But unlike most periods of creative growth and experimentation, this one has the benefit of tasting really damn good. Artistic expression, I think, goes down way easier when presented in the form of a cornflake cookie.
Would you try the Cheetos macaron? Tell us in the comments if you think it's a food fail or creative artistic expression on a plate.