In Praise of Crackers

I wrote last week how irritating it is when food columnists and/or recipe writers try to trace everything we eat back to antiquity. As intellectually lazy as that is, it’s easy to understand why so many writers do it. There’s something deeply attractive about preparing and consuming a food that dozens of generations of humans have prepared and consumed before you. Deep dish pizza isn’t one of those things. Crackers, on the other hand, are.

No one ever thinks about crackers in this way, and I’m not sure why. Probably because they’re ubiquitous. You find them in boxes in stores and supermarkets, in vending machines with peanut butter or cheese spread between them, and in little cellophane bags everywhere from blood donation centers to corner gas stations to the break room at work.

That makes them boring for most folks. To me, that omnipresence is just more testimony to their elemental coolness. Crackers are as useful today as they were for early hunter-gatherers, crewman aboard the Golden Hind, foot soldiers in the Napoleonic wars and astronauts heading to the moon. Seen in that light they are really quite extraordinary things. Or am I just a nerd?

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