Friday, August 15, 2008

Hamburger Helper Stroganoff

Goes well with: avocado colored kitchens, wood paneling, key parties.

What with the summer TV shortage, Robert’s been watching way too much Swingtown -- that ‘70s-set show getting him all fired up to make a box of the era’s suburban kitchen staple, Hamburger Helper. Flavors we considered included Salisbury, Lasagna and Chili Mac, before we settled on Stroganoff. It seemed like the kind that people in the Me Decade would’ve most likely deemed classy.

To go with it beer-wise, we were thinking maybe Michelob, maybe Lowenbraü. But at the liquor store I decided to get a couple of others. First, Molson Canadian Light, because what better way to say you’re a worldly man of the ‘70s than beer imported all the way from Canada?

Then, since Swingtown takes place specifically during America’s Bicentennial Year of 1976, to celebrate our own country's heritage I got Lemp St. Louis -- America’s First Lager Beer. By no means, however, can Lemp claim to be America’s Best Lager Beer. It’s terrible. I have a suspicion that Lemp hasn’t changed its recipe since it was first brewed, or at least since prohibition, back when any beer was good beer. The Lemp label does make reference to beer barons, though, which made me laugh and think of Homer Simpson vs. Rex Banner. I wonder if Lemp was ever smuggled in bowling balls.

Good thing we had plenty of beer handy -- while Hamburger Helper Stroganoff has a delicious creamy flavor, it is also heavily salted down. I don’t think you’ll ever find another more neutral-colored dish, either. Everything came out the same beige color. Even the meat. Much like a swinger’s party, you may enjoy Hamburger Helper when you’re in the moment, but after it’s all over, you’re left with nothing except a big old empty bowl of regret.

In honor of just about the only other thing besides Swingtown on TV right now -- the Olympics -- we’d planned to watch Gymkata tonight, too. Somehow neither one of us has ever seen this ‘80s classic. Tagline: “A new kind of martial arts combat! The skill of gymnastics. The kill of karate.” Due to a Netflix meltdown, however, we got rooked out of that. Next we tried to get Lost Boys: The Tribe, figuring Autumn Reeser plus an R rating has to have something going for it, but I couldn’t find a copy.

So I ended up getting Doomsday. It is to post-apocalyptic sci-fi movies what Lemp St. Louis is to lager beer. It really says something when you’re rooting for the cannibals and the end-of-what’s-left-of-civilization virus to win.

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