What happens when the garlic in your marinara, the onions on your burger, the pastrami on your rye, or the beer in your glass turns your mouth into a fetid stench cavern that wafts out fumes of chi-destroying sulfuric necrosis with every uttered breath?
Reach for a mint, of course!
But this isn't about the kind of mint that you buy in the grocery check-out lane, mostly because I am a gum chewer (Orbit Citrus Mint gum rocks my world). I'm talking about those post-food-coital (or "foital") epicurean lovelies that provide a creamy, dessert-like effervescence that calms not only the sweet tooth, but the odoriferous maelstrom waiting to assail your friends and family.
Many restaurants offer these mints in any number of incarnations, although most times one merely gets the regular red and white hard peppermint lozenge wrapped in clear cellophane (boring!). Below, however, are a couple of my favorites.
1. Andes Mints -- The Olive Garden consistently gets a few things right, and this two-toned chocolate-mint rectangular bit o' orgasm is at the top of the list. Even if the breadsticks weren't hot and the service was less-than-stellar, you can always count on finding a few pieces of salvation (more their salvation than yours, if you really think about it) resting on top of your bill at the end of the meal. It is the kind of mint that makes me wish my kids had an allergy to chocolate or mint, just so I would feel more justified when I rip the candy from their grubby little fingers, cackling wildly with my minty-chocolate-outlined mouth as they cry and cry and cry. Cruel Mom - 1, Crying Kids - 0.
2. Chalky-Silky After-Dinner Mint Thingies -- Look, I don't know what the formal name is for these little treats, but all I do know is that they are otherwise known as "Breath-Freshening Crack" in Gouda Lingo. I've often seen these mints sitting in bowls in some restaurants, with a handy spoon with which to scoop and line one's pockets with hours upon hours worth of lusty mouth-chilling fun. Annoying is when they are individually wrapped, because it becomes particularly problematic when you're driving down the road from the restaurant, and you're frantically trying to gnaw into the packaging material when all you want to do (other than rear-end the moron in front of you for not turning off his blinker) is sink your teeth into another one of these undeniably weird, yet orally compelling palate-cleansers.
3. Hickory Farms Melt Away Mints -- I imagine if a Hershey Kiss were to go on Extreme Makeover and get a cacao-extraction and peppermint implants, this is the slutty little delight would strut from the doctor's office. My grandmother got me hooked on these things when I was a wee lass. In a crystal dish they would sit on her ancient wooden television console, tempting me and yes -- taunting as well, and I would quiet their insults and badgering by swallowing them every chance I got. They are buttery. They are minty, and the nonpareil embellishments on the bottoms make them crunchy as well. I would call them "after-dinner" mints, but all-too often I've wanted to make them the main course.
What about you? Got a favorite?