I think it was sixth grade. I had invited the coolest girl in school over to my house to hang out. When I say cool I don?t mean popular, running with the ?in? crowd. I mean cool in that she had thick tortoise-shell glasses and listened to the Happy Mondays. She also had a Swatch watch. I thought she was so cool.

We were down in my basement. I think we were listening to SWV or whatever it was that I was into at the time. That?s when it happened. It was a mortifying experience that still causes me great mental anguish and self-doubt whenever I try to evaluate how cool I am.

She asked me if I liked Pearl Jam. I responded ?I don?t know, I?ve never had it. What do you put it on?? Oh, the horror! How was I supposed to know about the up-and-coming Seattle grunge scene? She looked at me, disgusted. ?Duh, it?s a band,? and I think her exact words were, ?you renob.? I can?t exactly remember what ?renob? was slang for in sixth grade, but it hurt.

Since that day I have gone on a worldwide search for some kind of pearl jam, something that I can slop onto my bread and use to mend my bruised ego. Something to validate myself. Alas, the mission has been unsuccessful.

But what I have found is an amazing assortment of condiments which can greatly add to or diminish the flavor of a Triscuit, a slice of Wonder Bread or a crumpet.

First off, we have God?s gift to spreadable condiments: Nutella. Nutella is a chocolate hazelnut spread. It is thick like peanut butter but magically melts in your mouth. You can spread it on anything and have a sinfully sweet snack.

My favorite is to eat it on toast, of course. You can also mix it into brownies or dip apple slices in it, or lick it off your boyfriend?s body, not that I have any personal experience of this sort.

My friend used to take her jar of Nutella and put it in the fridge until it reached a fudge-like consistency. Then she would eat the whole jar with a spoon. In one sitting. This, however, is not recommended.

The antichrist of bread toppers, however, is known in the Southern Hemisphere as Vegemite, and as Marmite in the Northern. This stuff is bad. It?s like licking battery acid. I have personal experience of this sort.

I don?t care how cool you think Vegemite might be because Men at Work sing a song about it, but it is just wrong.

When breweries clean out their vats after emptying out the beer, they scrap out the insides, all the yeast extract and crud that formed at the bottom, place it into yellow bottles and market it as Vegemite, which thousands of Australians slap on to sandwiches.

By the way, both of these products are available at Wegmans and other stores in their international food sections. No doubt, the next time you are thinking about putting some Pearl Jam on your Limp Bizkit, put some Nutella in your Cake Hole instead.

Bon apptit!



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