The yogurt parfait as it is commonly sold now offers the advantage of pairing smooth and crunchy, dry and wet, as you do with these two items normally sold in far-removed aisles of the grocery store and sequestered separately, at home, like forbidden lovers, in a high Montague cupboard and cool Capulet refrigerator.
But the problem with the yogurt parfait is that the shallow washtub that the granola is kept in rests in the cup filled with yogurt-fruit mixture, and its bottom picks up some daubs that are then transferred to the tabletop, newspaper, or pant leg where the eater stores it until it can be thrown away. This (Nicholson) Bakersian observation came to me in JFK after setting one such plastic tub on my thigh from a parfait which I took, along with a banana, leaving five dollars on the unmanned counter.
What had happened was, I’d waited near the cash register of the Jet-Go stand for several minutes. I’d walked to the currency conversion counter nearby and asked a woman munching on Cheetos if anyone was working at it. (“Don’t know.”) I’d gotten in line at Dunkin’ to ask there—then abandoned the line because I was certain that the Dunkin’ folk were not responsible for and not tracking the Jet-Go cashier’s whereabouts. Finally, I’d talked to another person who showed up, like me, wanting some of Jet-Go’s healthier fare. We’d shrugged at our shared sense of abandonment and helplessness. Finally, I said, “You know, I’m leaving money and taking this.”
“No,” the woman said in a Scandinavian accent, aghast.
You may think that’s neither here nor there, but I’m only trying to tell you that I wanted yogurt parfait and nothing else; and that I’m not alone, and the yogurt parfait is here to stay, so let’s find a solution to this minor foible of its packaging.
The easiest solution, for the manufacturer to simply dump the granola into the yogurt before shipping, would destroy the product’s chief appeal–the crunchy plus soft. The granola would turn soggy—no culinary tryst; no bonding of land (oats, berries) and animal (milky yogurt); no Edenic comingling of flora and fauna in the freshness of their innocence, like teenagers at a dance. The idea of putting a layer of plastic between the two is no good either because it would sit against the yogurt like a tarp over a swimming pool, coming into messy contact. (You find this in some sour cream containers.) There would still be some mucky thing to either lick clean or toss, and the eater remains delayed from engineering that first scoop in which one makes sure to gather equal parts granola from the top, white yogurt from the middle, and purple fruit from the bottom. No one wants to enter the yogurt parfait experience burdened with a short but pressing to-do list.
I don’t have the answer, but I think if there’s one thing we can learn from the yogurt parfait and they way it has promulgated as a snack item despite its flaw, it is this: some things are worth bringing together regardless of the trouble. Sometimes there is no perfect solution to the risks of a forward-thinking venture. And sometimes the chemistry of pairings is simply irresistible. After all, once we are into bites and mouthfuls, we forget those drawbacks, don’t we?