I long to be the kind of person who roasts my marshmallows with patience and caution, holding them at a safe distance from the fire, rotating diligently, waiting for the outside to turn copper and the inside to go molten. In this ideal state, the marshmallow will yield to the weight of the graham cracker, spilling out of its belted restraints, its heat melting the square of chocolate beneath.
In reality, I am too focused on the s'more itself to put enough care into roasting the marshmallow. I have no concept of longterm gratification. Instead, I'll roast carefully for, oh, 20 seconds, then feel the force of impatience thrust my stick-wielding hand so that the marshmallow is directly in the flames. And, no surprise here, the marshmallow catches fire, turning into what looks like a charcoal briquette.
I'll frantically blow it out, then turn to those around me and tell them, Of course this is what I intended! This is how I prefer my marshmallows, gosh darnit!
Well, what about you?
Why should anyone care so much about roasting a marshmallow? Consider it a litmus test of your ability to cook any ingredient over an open flame.
Cooking with Fire author Paula Marcoux, told The Art of Manliness that while the marshmallow is “the lowest common denominator of campfire cooking,” it “is a great learning tool. Its sugary ingredients make it highly responsive to heat, so that to toast one is like roasting real food on fast-forward." Pay attention to that process and you'll be able "to approach roasting anything—a chicken, a hog, an eggplant, a fish (things you really don’t want carbonized on the outside and raw in the middle)—with a refreshed understanding of the task.”
Guess that means I shouldn't try roasting a fish any time soon. What about you?
Are you a 1 or a 10 or somewhere in between? Tell us in the comments below.