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Best Side Dish Bracket: Hot Division Part 1

Holy shit, children. That’s right: by popular demand, the brackets are back here at Friesen Point. As it turns out, what people like most about me and my comedy is when I nitpick and get way too invested, bickering about things that ultimately don’t matter.

It’s always been my ethic to give my audience what they want, nay what they need, so in that spirit, I’m excited to announce the beginning of the very exciting, 16-seed World’s Best Side Dish Bracket.

The field is broken down into two eight-member divisions: Cold Side Dishes and Hot Side Dishes. Here’s how this is going to work. I will present new match-ups on a very frequent basis, and it is your responsibility to get into the comment section to let your voice be heard. I want this to descend into utterly chaotic, yet respectful, arguing.

Let passions flare! Let opinions be aggressively expressed! Let the milquetoast bullshit stop immediately, because the Side Dish Bracket starts now!

 photo HotDish1_zpsb81c32d5.jpgOh man. It doesn’t get much more exciting than that for an opening match up. One of our entrants requires silverware, the other doesn’t. One requires a dipping sauce, the other could be used as a dipping sauce by someone with a real serious indulgent streak (read: me)

Before we all make up our minds, let’s take a little closer look at our competitors.

Mac and Cheese (2)

 photo Mac_zps400128db.jpg

Did you know that Mac and Cheese was introduced to America by President Thomas Jefferson? That’s pretty cool stuff. I mean, it doesn’t make up for him fathering children with his slaves (or owning slaves to begin with), but it’s a little something.

Pros

  • Crazy versatility. You can put chili in it, now you’ve got Chili Mac. You throw some bread crumbs on top and toss it in the oven, now you’ve got a baked pasta dish. You can put it on pizza, in grilled cheese sandwiches, or fuck around a deep fry it into handy little bites.
  • Closely associated with BBQ and southern food in general, which is pretty great cuisine. If you’re having a side of Mac and Cheese, odds are you’re also having a solid entree.
  • Very simple to make at home. Now, you can even buy packages that include everything. No need to add butter or anything.

Cons

  • It is very easy to eat way, way too much Mac and Cheese, and when you do, you find that the flavor and texture of it is kind of one note.
  • Lot of carbs. But then again, that’s going to be a concern for most of the entrants into this bracket.
  • It feels kind of childish to order Mac and Cheese in public. I would have a tough time asking for a side of Mac from an attractive waitress.

Onion Rings (7)

 photo OnionRings_zps357fac85.jpg

Thomas Jefferson had nothing to do with the popularization of the Onion Ring, mostly due to him being long dead by the time rings ever came around.

Interestingly, the invention of the Onion Ring is the story of corporate hucksterism, with Crisco inventing the dish as a means to get consumers to buy more of their lard. It goes to show; sometimes sneaky intentions can lead to something that’s good for humanity. That’s right; I’m arguing that Onion Rings are good for humanity.

Pros

  • Rings have a great texture. A nice crunch on the outside accompanied by a nice tender inside.
  • The onion has a little bit more of a personality than potato, so does a real good job of breaking up the monotony of living in the world of deep fried sides.

Cons

  • You run the risk of the batter coming off mid-bite, leaving you with naked onion innards. I find that kind of thing to be a hassle, and unappealing.
  • The ring shape doesn’t make for an ideal first dip. Sometimes if you’re not careful, you’ll end up getting dipping sauce on your cheeks, or in my case, my beard. If there’s one thing I’ve got no time for, it’s ketchup in my beard. That, and jokes about celebrities dying.

What’s it going to be, folks? Who’s advancing to the next round? Mighty Mac and Cheese or Orgiastic Onion Rings? Take to the comment section to help decide.

40 thoughts on “Best Side Dish Bracket: Hot Division Part 1”

    1. Ted, your vote has been counted, but I would argue that the reasoning behind your vote is a pretty compelling reason to pull for the Mac. If we just consider the average version of each item, odds are the Mac is going to be better. It’s really hard to fuck up Mac, whereas there are a lot of ways to come up short with Onion Rings.

  1. I believe that personal shame in ordering food should not weigh into such a contest. This is one sided to me. Mac and Cheese is an institution in this country. I don’t feel like there exists such a spectrum of mastery in crafting onion rings as there is with the perfect mix of mac and cheese. There’s some bunk ass M&C out there, but when it is properly formulated, there’s very few competitors in the side dish array, in my opinion. I GOT THE BLUEEEESSSS.

    1. I think your point is valid, but you forget what a big role personal shame plays in my life. I agree with your logic though, that there is a better gourmet discipline to Mac and Cheese than there is to Onion Rings. Of course, that being said, there are really very few things in my life that tend toward the gourmet. Vote counted!

  2. I’m voting onion rings. Mac feels like something that could be available to me at home, even though I rarely make it. Onion rings are a treat only available to me when out at a restaurant. The risk of a bad batch of onion rings make them more rewarding.

    1. Ah, so Justin is drawn in by the danger of the Ring. Fair enough. However, I would posit this as a rebuttal: If Onion Rings are only available to you at a restaurant, aren’t they intrinsically always more expensive a treat than Mac? Also, that means that you can never enjoy Rings in the comfort and tranquility of your own home; while watching Netflix, for instance.

      I guess that’s my argument: a vote for Mac is a vote for Netflix. Or HBO Go.

  3. Mac + Cheese takes it. Versatility wins out for me. Peas? Chicken? Bacon? They’re all part of the dish’s repertoire. And I could go on. The versatility of cheese alone is enough to put this side over the top of nearly all competitors. Onion rings are a dependable standard. But do you want dependable or do you want something more?

    1. Joe, you know I think you’re the best, and I’m right with you in your love of The Mac, but I have to take issue with the fact that you lead with “Peas” when discussing Mac’s versatility.

  4. It’s a poor man’s go to for home cooking, but I do understand that it’s not the sexiest of additions. Unless you put two peas together to look like green tits.

  5. I love Mac but fuck Mac. It’s got way too much heat in recent years. Plus if you toss more than two add-ones into Mac it can basically be a main dish and I ask you dear readers, where do we draw the line on sides? Rings have a much narrower focus and play their part to deliver grease and crunch to your mouth hole but they are very very one note especially if the sauce selection is questionable. I know I started this out by saying fuck Mac but that was poorly thought out. I guess I begrudgingly vote Mac due to versatility and blendability.

    1. You bring up an interesting point, and it’s one that will be explored over and over in the course of this bracket, namely, when does a side cease to be a side? I’m agree sort of with the “More Than Two Add Ins Rule,” but I would add that one of the add-ins has to be one of the Big Four Protiens (Chicken, Beef, Pork, or Seafood, or Tofu, if that’s your thing) in order to qualify as an entree. That said, I have counted your vote and appreciate your participation.

    1. I will count your vote as valid, but I will dock you 3 Friesen Points for not explaining the reasoning behind your vote. (Note: I really wanted to say “reasoning behind your seasoning,” but then I would have had to dock myself many, many points)

  6. I have to go with onion rings. Based on the parameters of this backet mac & cheese’s versatility knocks it out. If you add anything to it that makes it an entree. Onion rings compliment, and don’t try to over achieve! ONION RINGS!

    1. That’s a remarkably sensible rationale, in that Mac is dangerously close to becoming an entree at any moment. That being said, I would posit that even just plain Mac is preferable to plain old Onion Rings. But, everyone has different feelings, which is why we must bracket.

  7. I grew up on Mac & Cheese so I gotta roll with that. Mac & cheese can hold its own against several other pasta dishes, but onion rings gets blown out of the water by every other fried appetizer I can think of.

  8. I didn’t read what anyone else had to say, mostly because I don’t care for others opinions. It has to be Mac & Cheese. I have never bit into Mac & Cheese and pulled out all of the Mac and just been left with the shell that is known as cheese. But MANY TIMES, I’ve bitten into a Onion Ring and removed the entire onion, leaving me with a greasy, salty, oily, breaded mess. Gross. Gross. Gross. Sure, bad Mac & Cheese is bad and good Onion Rings are good, but when the day is over, you know, around 11:30 or Midnight, nothing in this world can help make the following day seem less unbearable then a warm, creamy bowl of Macaroni & Che. That being said, if you think Mac & Cheese is better baked, you’re a fucking idiot. CREAMY, the way God and my Grandmother intended!

    1. First of all, I’m fucking thrilled to see you getting into the act. It wouldn’t be a proper bracket without you. That said, you really need some more Reasoning For Your Seasoning. Where’s the expert breakdown of the challengers that the fans expect from a Nicky Gifts type? I’m still counting your vote, but it’s in protest.

  9. The obvious winner is onion rings. I’ve eaten too many disgusting piles of shit-ass mac and cheese to justify keeping it in the contest. Or are we supposed to assume each offering is of the finest quality? If that’s the case, onion rings still. Good mac and cheese can be delicious, mind you, however it lacks the crunchy texture and dipability that makes a side dish part of a good meal, not to mention the interactive nature of it. Ask yourself: which one can fill in for fries? The answer is onion rings. Also, because mac and cheese can be consumed as a main course, I’m deducting a few points, though it’s almost always a side. It’s an odd comparison, though, because one requires a utensil and the other one doesn’t. Neither is going to make it to the finals, by the way, but in this match up I gotta hand my vote to the onion ring.

    1. Wwwwwweeellllllcome to the bracket, Hank. I take issue with some of your points, but respect your opinion nonetheless. I would point out that if you put some breadcrumbs on top and bake it, Mac takes on a delightful crunch (or you can add bacon). Further, I would say that, while it’s true that you can’t dip Mac and Cheese, you can use the Mac and Cheese itself as a dip for kale chips, or whatever it is you healthy people eat out in LA. Also, I’m a huge fan of you having your mind on the finals already.

  10. Yes, that is the most common use of Kale here in California– as a vehicle for mac and cheese. It’s all a big scam! I’m aware of the crunch-potential for mac and cheese. In fact that’s how any good home recipe will have you cook it, however the dominant texture is without that. You’re asking for trouble by saying, “well, you can just add bacon.” Everybody must agree that that is a universal truth that applies to almost any dish and therefore applies to no dish. Are we answering “Which side dish do YOU prefer?” or “What’s the best side dish?” Similar questions, but not necessarily similar answers or reasoning. I look forward to the next round. *dips kale into a vat of popcorn shrimp*

    1. When I saw this screen name, I was afraid that you were trying to use a different email to get in two votes. I’m not positive, but I think I might have allowed it.

      Your point about everything being better with bacon is well-taken, and I think there’s something to it. However, if we use that as a standard to apply across the board, a couple entries coming up are completely fucked.

  11. What I like about mac & cheese is the versatility you spoke of. You can get a little weird with it and it still tastes good, and I’m a fan of anything or anyone that you can get weird with and increase value & enjoyment in the process. Though it’s listed here in the side dish bracket, I can have even a small amount of mac & cheese and trick myself into believing it’s some kind of acceptable meal. After enjoying some onion rings, my enjoyment evaporates quickly and is replaced by a heavy feeling of guilt for the unhealthy snack I have just masticated on. Post-mastication guilt is a real thing. I also have positive childhood memories associated with mac & cheese, not just from eating it while watching professional wrestling and Boy Meets World, but also from it’s cameo in Home Alone 1 ( http://americaisnotaustralia.files.wordpress.com/2011/01/mac-and-chese.jpg%3Fw%3D640%26h%3D347 ) , and the skateboarding dinosaur commercials that entertained me as a child. Mac & cheese involves a milky ingredient which can be traced back to nipples and anything that’s in cahoots with nipples generally gets a bump from me come voting time.

    With onion rings on the other hand:
    - They’re fuckin tasty
    - I feel like they’d be a better addition to a Death Row meal
    - If I’m out with friends at a restaurant I can put some onion rings around my eyes, pretend like they’re glasses or goggles, and all of a sudden these guys are thinkin’ “Wow, look how silly, creative, and playful this guy is. I wish I had an imagination like that. We need a guy like this in our crew”. If I’m in Chicago or Orlando I could even pretend that they’re rec specs and do my famous Horace Grant impression, sweat included.

    That being said, I’m going with

    mac & cheese.

    I’ll try to be more succinct with my reasoning for my next vote.

  12. As an appetizer, can’t beat a Blooming onion. But as a side, my vote is Mac and cheese. It complements meals more I’d say.

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