There is a lot going on my world that, frankly, I have no intention of discussing here in this space. So instead I will drop some Truth on y'all.
Midwesterners should never have been let in on the invention of the soft pretzel. They just don't do it right.
This thought occurred to me a few weeks ago as I sat in just about the only place in Our Little Town where you can get one of those delights, the Giant Megabox Retailer That Ate Main Street. I have a membership card there that I got when the girls were little and I needed to buy diapers by the pallet, and every once in a while I still head over to pick up a few things. You can't beat them for tires, for example. And it tickles me to walk into a store like that and buy one small item, because I'm just contrary that way.
It was around lunchtime when I was there, and the glorious thing about the GMRTAMS is that you can get a hot dog that could feed a small Bulgarian village and a soda big enough to have its own weather for about two bucks (free refills!), and for an additional buck you can get a soft pretzel.
I love soft pretzels. They are perhaps the grandest form of carbohydrate there is, and in Philadelphia they are an art form. If you haven't gotten a row of them fresh from the Federal Pretzel Bakery at some point in your life, you're missing out. But there are a few rules that need to be followed.
For one thing, they are not to be dipped in melted butter.
I'm not sure when this idea became popular. Probably right around the time the rest of the culture went straight to hell, so it fit right in. People vary as to the exact date this occurred, but most people are sure it happened at some point and it's as good a guess as any.
There are many things that are good with melted butter. Toast, for example. Corn on the cob. Steaks, if you're so inclined. But nobody should get greasy from picking up a pretzel. It's just Not The Order of Things.
You find this all over, though. While it is against nature, it is not specifically a midwestern sin.
Nor is the idea that you have to ask for salt on your pretzel. This is probably due to all the various Diet Mavens complaining that health care costs are going up because people eat poorly and should cut down on salt in order to live longer, and that's a national phenomenon. Phooey, I say. People should put more salt on their pretzels, and then they can die happy but quickly and in the long run this surely saves money for everyone.
Really, it's the same argument that the tobacco companies should have made all along.
No, the specifically midwestern problem with soft pretzels is that they insist on putting cheese sauce on them.
Maybe this is just a Wisconsin thing. Wisconsinites will put cheese on anything, up to and including more cheese. You can't buy a pretzel in Wisconsin without getting a giant cup of cheese sauce to dip your pretzel into, and this is just an affront to all that is decent and holy.
My children disagree with me, but then they are Wisconsinites, so really how can you trust them on this?
No, as every Philadelphian knows pretty much from the moment we enter the world naked and booing the Dallas Cowboys, the only acceptable condiment for a soft pretzel is mustard. That is what God and Nature intended for soft pretzels. There is no grey here. There is only the vinegary tang of Truth.
Just try to find mustard anywhere near where people in Wisconsin sell soft pretzels, though. Try! It's like they're deliberately thwarting the pretzel's true destiny out of some misguided dairy-influenced ill will. Although that seems like a lot of effort, so perhaps it's just because they know no better. Father, forgive them.
I am in Philadelphia right now, though, and I have been enjoying the easy access to properly dressed soft pretzels. Except of course that I am a clod and have somehow managed to baptize nearly every available piece of clothing and hard surface within arm's reach with mustard in the process.
It's a sacrifice I am willing to make.