Yesterday The Chicago Tribune ran an article critiquing three hot pumpkin drinks. At first, I was surprised that Starbucks, the place that put the drink on the map with their Pumpkin Spice Latte, came in with a very average "C". Last fall, I looked for excuses to be near a Starbucks so I could get "just one more" before they removed them from their menu, I loved these drinks so much. My autoload Starbucks card recharged more often in October and November than it did the other ten months of the year. I wondered if maybe the critic had gotten a bad drink. If he stopped at a licensed store, like a Target or in an airport, most likely he did. How could the drink I loved be rated so cruelly? And did I need to give Dunken' Donuts a shot?
Luckily, before I could grab my car keys, the caffeine monkey on my back jumped off long enough for me to hear the soft chattering of the good nutrition monkey. And he was reminding me, I'd had only one PSL this year, and I hadn't been impressed. Maybe they'd changed the recipe? No, he chittered on - you no what it was. It was always the whipped cream! A mediocre drink had cloaked itself in creamy, fluffy, thick....fat. When I committed myself to eating better, eating less, and moving more about five months ago, fat for the sake of fat disappeared from my diet. If a food can't stand up without garnish, what kind of food is it? Without the whip cream, the PSL was okay, but certainly no better flavor-wise than what I could make at home with the pumpkin flavored non-dairy creamer I buy at the grocery. Sure, it lacks the caffeine punch, but I can always drink two cups and still save money and fat.
I think that by allowing the whip cream to melt into his drink, the critic discovered exactly why it's there in the first place. You taste that lovely sweetness, and your tongue gets coated with animal fat, and you don't realize that the drink itself isn't a melding of flavor at all. It's pumpkin flavored coffee. Good stuff, but nothing to get addicted to.