smores: the camaraderie of cold

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Just when you think your blood will freeze over, your nose will crack off, your lips have reached ungodly limits of chapness, you see another poor lad pass you by in the same predicament and you both turn to each other for that split second and nod in communal misery. You may even smile, risking further injury to your taut lips. You don’t know him. He does not know you. But for that instant in the universe, you both share the same moment of cold.

I am a South Florida transplant originally raised in the humid tropics of Venezuela, so, believe me, when I placed myself in frigid weather for a ski holiday in Beaver Creek, Colorado last month, I was more than aware of the shock my mind and body lived minute by minute.

Sure I had the layers. Lots of layers. Some looked like glorified skin gauzes (this is the undergarment for the seasoned skier), other items where more chic, with slick zippers and snazzy tags, all intended to create aesthetically appropriate barriers against the arctic air creeping in from the north.

And for the most part it worked. Until the sun set and you were basically on your own- the layers seemed to melt away into thin cotton, the bitter cold too much for them to bear. And just when you thought you could no longer stand it, just when the snowy slopes lost all romance and the snowman kids had built in childhood play lost all cuteness, I saw the Smores Lady emerge from the cozy and toasty lobby of the Park Hyatt hotel way on the other side of where I was freezing. She carried with her trays and trays of goodies and sliced through the unforgiving wind with a bright and cheery smile.

Sue, the Smores Lady, was headed towards one of the numerous blazing fire pits strategically placed throughout Beaver Creek Village. This one was in front of the Hyatt, so it was particularly glorious- loaded up with a ravenous fire and plenty of spark. Its bright light and unflinching warmth invited me closer, bringing some of the circulation back to my cheeks and fingertips.

Then Sue spoke in a chipper voice I thought not possible under such climate circumstances:

“Come join us for Smores Night” she gleamed.

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I looked at her apprehensively. Surely there was a catch here. She was showing off plates upon plates of, what she declared to be, homemade marshmallows: vanilla bean, M&M, Grand Marnier, Mint. Alongside those sat mountains of slabs of Hershey’s chocolate, dark and milk, and alongside that, an endless supply of graham crackers.

Smores night in the bitter cold of Beaver Creek is to an oasis in the scorching heat of the desert.

Where was the credit card swiper to charge you for this delight? Or was this all-inclusive for Hyatt guests only?

The honest Abe in me wanted to clarify that, even though I approached her with the utmost confidence and assuredness (that is just me walking cold, by the way), I was indeed NOT a guest at this incredible and incredibly expensive hotel. In fact, I was staying at a small venue across the road, modern and lovely, but across the road. However, the marshmallows begged me to be silent. They knew I was a foodie. They knew I needed to sample their delights. They needed me to look the other way.

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“Do it for us” they implored, Grand Marnier having a bit of a feisty tone to its plea. Mint wanted me to go for it first:

“Betcha never had a smore like me,” it argued. (It was right).

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But even Vanilla and M&M put up a good fight- knowing in all due right, that they offered a classic and memorable experience I just couldn’t let my conscience pull me away from.

Sue’s smile had either frozen or she was truly, truly nice. She had finished setting up and now handed me a long iron stick for me to begin creating childhood fantasies. There was no charge. There was no room check. There was just the stick.

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What could I do? Raised to be polite, I grabbed it. And then, I went insane. Madly insane. Smored out, I lost myself in a flurry of sticky sweet flavors: mint with dark, vanilla bean with light, slightly toasted, fully toasted, orange Grand Marnier with double graham crunch, and on and on it went, until my belly was full of sweetness, my heart warmed up and my mind swirled with memories of youth and carefree fun. I looked up, liking my sticky fingers to catch the gaze of a fellow stranger enjoying the same sugar high. It didn’t matter where we came from or where we went. What mattered was that we found ourselves side-by-side, warming by the fire on this unforgiving cold night, enjoying a moment of sugar and kindness. We nodded, gave each other a sticky thumbs up and managed to crack a sweet Smores smile.

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Smores

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Marshmallows (any flavor)

One slab of chocolate (any kind)
2 Graham Crackers
Toast marshmallow over fire.
Make a sandwich with this and chocolate in between two graham crackers.
Crunch and enjoy.

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smores: the camaraderie of cold

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