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Toasting the Perfect Marshmallow

It happens every summer.

At the Memorial Day barbecue, Uncle Louie throws a punch that knocks Uncle Leo off his pins!

At the company picnic, Mr. Smythe, the plant manager, dumps a pitcher of birch beer over his secretary, Miss Caruther's head!

Finally, at the Labor Day Picnic / Block Party, the Kowalskis and the Murphys get so enraged, neither family speaks to this day.

The cause of all this turmoil?

A simple, soft, springy, sweet, snowy white object: the marshmallow.

That's right, folks, believe it or not, the innocent marshmallow.

How can that be? you may ask.

Well.....I'll tell you.

Ask anyone for the perfect way to toast a marshmallow, and I will bet you dollars to cents, you will hear as many different opinions on that simple subject, as you may hear when asking the question, "boxers or briefs?". ( another subject for another time)

Uncle Louie: "Ya take da marshmeller, and ya jab da stick in it. Den ya hold the whole shebang over da fire. When da little sucker goes up in flame, ya blow it out. Done. Finished. Dat's it. And hey, kid, youse can do it wid a fork over da stove in winter. Same deal. Only, don't tell yer mudder, she'll moider me."

Uncle Leo: (first mumbling something unrepeatable under his breath) "First of all, you must use the perfect utensil. In my years, I have found bamboo skewers to be best. Mr. Wong graciously lets me borrow them from his restaurant. Of course, you must buy quality marshmallows, never ever buy the "store" brand. ( a genteel shudder here ) Gently place the marshmallow against the point of the skewer and ease it on. Hold the skewer with oven mits, so as not to burn yourself during the toasting process. Hold the the marshmallow suspended well above the flame. Patience is the key! Turning in a consistant manner will be best. Frequently check the color of the morsel, never do we want it to be brown. A more golden hue is best. Remember, patience! The heat will toast the morsel to a golden brown on the outside, and delicately heat the inside to a consistacy that will tease your tastebuds. That, contrary to Uncle "Loose Screw" Louie's idea, is the way to a perfect marshmallow."

Next we see the famous round-house punch, and Uncle Leo sprawled over Aunt Janie's petunias!

And the infamous "Birch Beer Shampoo" episode? Well, the company lawyers have explained that until the litigation is over, none of the witnesses may speak on the subject. (suffice it to say, Miss Carruther's has developed an irrational fear of pitchers of foaming soda)

As far as the Kowalski and Murphy families? Let's just say, that the neighborhood does not seem the same anymore since the barbed wire went in, and the Dobermans came to stay.

Ah, the marshmallow. Wars have been fought over less.

Folks, I am here to tell you, (having been one of the survivors of the Kowalski/Murphy War) that to toast the perfect marshmallow, is truly a personal experience!

The old cliche, 'to each his own', serves well, when discussing this tasty treat.

However, as promised, here are two versions (thanks to Uncle Louie and Uncle Leo), that may serve to edify the un-initiated, into the wonderful world of toasting marshmallows.

The Unlce Louie Way (a.k.a.: "Burnt Offerings")

One marshmallow (brand not important)
One stick (or fork, if toasting illegally over the kitchen stove)

Take the marshmallow, jab the stick (or fork) into it.
Place marshmallow end of stick directly into flame.
When marshmallow is on fire on all sides, remove from flame.
Blow flames out.
Eat burnt marshmallow.*
*Note: if using fork, try not to touch it with any part of your mouth, or tongue, as it may cause severe burns. (and try explaining tine marks to an emergency room doctor with a great sense of humor!)

The Uncle Leo Way (a.k.a. "Skewer Sweets")

One marshmallow (preferably the most expensive brand)
One bamboo skewer ('borrowed' from Wong's Chinese Buffet)
One oven mitt (the one from your kitchen is acceptable)
One fire extinguisher (handy in case Uncle Louie is around)
One paper plate (never styrofoam, recycling is important)
One plastic fork (not to be confused with the metal ones used by Uncle Louie)

Gently ease marshmallow onto skewer.
Place oven mitt on your dominant hand.
Hold skewer above a safely contained flame.
Rotate skewer continuously.
Check color of toasting marshmallow every thirty seconds.
Rotate skewer some more.
Check color every ten seconds.
When found to be the perfect golden brown, remove marshmallow from heat source area.
Gently place marshmallow on paper plate.
Using a plastic fork for leverage, ease marshmallow off skewer and onto plate.
Remove oven mitt.
Snap used skewer in two, and throw in trash recepticle.
Eat marshmallow off of paper plate in human bites using a utensil like a mannerly person.*
*Note: if you see Uncle Louie hanging around during this process, do NOT under any circumstances smirk at him, you may just end up in the emergency room with the shiner of your life!)