August 30, 2010
Deep Fried Experimentation

Why is it that every time I reveal to folks that I ate the donut burger at the Indiana State Fair, they cringe and act sorry for me? Sure, the next morning was a little rough with the headache and lower intestinal issues. And yes, there might be some immeasurable damage to the inner balance and workings of my body chemistry. But regrets? No way. A juicy cheeseburger with perfectly cooked bacon, fresh lettuce, tomato and onion snug between two griddle-warmed Krispy Kreme donuts  is not a recipe for regret. It is a recipe for pure culinary awesome. What I might have sacrificed in body I gained back tenfold in spirit.

Prior to eating the donut burger I had a go at deep-fried pickles. This was not a success. Whereas the donut burger is a romance of opposites, the fried pickle seemed like an experiment gone wrong. I still ate a basket worth, I owed it to the Fair, my wallet and the pickles. What I love about pickles is the cool crispness of them. Unfortunately, this cool crispness does not survive a plunge into scalding cooking oil, not even with a protective layer of batter. Yet again, there is a spiritual lesson in even the fried pickle; a contemplation on the order of things, the nature and integrity of materials, and our impulsive, messy and beautiful human obsession to push the limits.

Experimentation should not reside solely within the field of science. It is applied curiosity. Failed experiments are important too! If something does not run the risk of potential failure, it really isn’t an experiment. Experimentation allows us to disrupt routine and invite opportunities for self-discovery. It stimulates dialogue and challenges social norms (and our own norms) that may be nothing more than the baggage of our fears. There are limits to experimentation, and it can be dangerous (i.e. the fried pickle). But there are still countless opportunities for us to safely experiment within societal norms of acceptable behavior. In other words, try something new.

My wife and I have been trying to encourage our 6-year-old to eat his vegetables. He primarily eats things that are white or yellow or orange. While we are mildly concerned about his health, we are more concerned that we cultivate in him an ability to try new things. Eating your vegetables is just as much for your soul as it is for your flesh. So maybe you already eat your vegetables. Maybe you think of yourself as fairly educated and cultured, but are you getting variety in your diet? Are you taking risks to learn more about yourself, engage with your neighbors, deepen your understanding of the world around you? Are you only eating cultural carrots? Have you tried deep frying them?

Written by Michael Kaufmann, the Council’s newest staff member. Read more about Michael.

Posted In: Featured Article

2 responses to “Deep Fried Experimentation”

  1. I would have liked too see you sample the deep fried butter stick at the Del Mar. Fair. It is not for the faint of heart.

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