The lowly and simple marshmallow; that is a temptation I simply cannot say no to. And why would anyone? Well, I’m a vegetarian. Not vegan, I eat dairy products but I haven’t had meat or eggs for over thirty years. Marshmallows have gelatin in them. That’s really splitting hairs, I know, but I can’t help being aware that there are cow knees boiled up and squeezed into a goo that makes delicious candies and desserts. Vegans would say I’m a hypocrite for eating dairy but not gelatin. A slacker. Well, I say people are going to eat whatever they want to eat so let them and shut up.
So I did not buy any marshmallows for many years and wondered what I would do if faced with a roasting marshmallow by a campfire and having the munchies to boot. And the most amazing thing is that for at least 20 years, maybe 25, everytime I was at a camp fire someone would say, “We forgot the marshmallows!” Sometimes everyone would not think of it until they got there. Sometimes someone would say “I even bought them and left them at home!” I would nod silently because I knew it was divine intervention….. I was not to eat marshmallows.
I live in a strip of land between Kettle and Stony Point First Nations and know a family that does drumming so a couple of years ago I asked for a session at my home. I invited my neighbours and family and we sat around a campfire listening to the drumming and singing. It takes you to another place. Afterwards my nephew pulled out a big bag of marshmallows. The kids found the perfect sticks and started roasting. I watched them take that golden brown crust filled with delicious goo and relish the flavour. I had to have one. I didn’t like the thought of ‘slipping up’ after all these years and yet I was with first nations peoples who respected the animals they killed and never took too much. Somewhere there’s a really good excuse in there, I thought. So I did it; I had a roasted marshmallow. In fact, I had two. But afterwards I had a slick ring of sweetness around my lips and felt the gluttonous guilt deep within.
My nephew left the marshmallows here. Once, last winter I got the munchies real bad and roasted a couple in my woodstove. The same sickly sweetness, the same lonely shame. There are a few left in my cupboard, hard and yellow, but still good. Just in case I succumb to temptation again.