19 February 2016

"Dear Food Thoughtz:" Freezer-burnt placenta

Dear Food Thoughtz, 
Since you are clearly the expert on food related issues, I have a problem and could really use your help... 
I'm sure I'm not unique in the fact that my freezer is often crowded with foodstuffs that have overstayed their welcome. Normally it's no problem to make more room by simply chucking things out, but I have an item that is taking up a fair amount of space and creating a sizeable dilemma. What should I do with my placenta? There is just no simple solution as I see it. It is just so valuable and I can't in good conscience throw it away, but I'm a bit concerned about cooking it at this point. It's been in there for about 6 months now and is sure to be freezer burned. Do you think this will diminish the nutritional value? Should I just pluck up the $150 and have it made into pills, or can I still get away with making it into a stew or something? Any thoughts you might have on the subject would be greatly appreciated. 
Signed,Placenta Ideas Sincerely Sought

Dear PISS,

First of all, my sincerest apologies for not getting back to you sooner – even I’m surprised that your freezer-burnt placenta wasn’t enough to arouse my food thoughtz. And to be honest, I probably wouldn’t have bothered to get around to this if I hadn’t talked to my mum last night on the phone. She recently sent me a Valentine’s care package (which also had Midge Deak’s belated birthday present inside: two Microplanes), which included some homemade chocolate chip cookies. I had initially request sugar cookies because they’re my favourite and I can’t get enough of that icing, but she sent chocolate chip cookies instead because you don’t have to roll out the dough. Anyway, I called her last night to thank her for the package and she told me that she actually did try to make sugar cookies because she just happened to have some dough in the freezer “from about a year ago” when her and my niece made sugar cookies together. So she took the dough out, and I’m not sure how far she got beyond that. Maybe she rolled, cut, and baked the cookies, or maybe she didn’t get beyond thawing the dough. We’ll never know. But what we do know is that she had to throw all of it out because during its one year tenure in the freezer, the dough had absorbed some foul taste from something else, rendering it unedible.

This story was just the push I needed to respond to your query of over a month ago. My advice to you is to eat it asap. First of all, you might be lucky and maybe that placenta has absorbed the tastes of actual foods that surround it. But secondly, the longer you let that frozen mass of cells sit in your freezer, the more likely it is that all of your other foods are absorbing what I can only imagine to be the totally revolting taste of a human placenta.

I don’t know how you should eat it. Midge Deak suggests frying it up with onions and paprika. Although she has never eaten a placenta, she regularly eats substances that physically and gustatorily (no idea if that’s a word) resemble placentas. Your biggest mistake was probably that you didn’t initially portion it up, because I think that the best way to consume this would be in a smoothie, but it’s going to be a really big pain to thaw out the whole thing just to make one smoothie. Unless your planning to have a pure placenta smoothie, which I wouldn’t personally recommend. Under no circumstances should you spend $150 to have your placenta made into pills. If you have a placenta in your freezer, I’m guessing it’s because you have a child somewhere in your house, and wouldn’t you rather put that $150 towards that child’s education or some frivolous article of clothing for her?

Anyway, that’s about all I have to say. Thanks for your request. Please do let me know how it all turns out.

19 May 2015

Metro Supermarket Irresistible Artisan apple pie

If you guys are not reading the Facebook accounts of grocery stores, you really need to consider starting. One woman posted a comment saying that Metro was advertising 3 Lindt chocolate bars for $5, but when she went to her local Metro store, she was told they did not stock Lindt chocolate bars. Her closing statement was: "Can anybody tell me how I can get three chocolate bars for five dollars?!"

01 May 2015

Booze Thoughtz: Coors Banquet Beer

Because most of the readers of this blog also happen to be related to me, you will all no doubt be aware that I grew up in the peaceful little hamlet of Grand Forks, B.C. Drinking in the bush made up a substantial part of my high school experience. I usually drank beer (sometimes a mickey of Smirnoff), even though I never really started to like beer until I was about twenty-one. It's hard to remember, but I think I mostly drank Budweiser or Kokanee, and sometimes MGD or Heineken. Whatever the brand, I only ever drank generic lagers, which continue to be my favourite beer to this day.

I'm not really in any position to judge anyone's beer preferences, but I've always struggled to understand people who are deeply committed to big brand generic beers, like Budweiser or Kokanee or Coors Light. A lot of people drank Coors Light in Grand Forks, but Coors Banquet Beer was not available in B.C. (or at least not in Grand Forks), as far as I can remember, so it was always a big deal to pick it up in the States. I always assumed this was just because it was so much cheaper in the States, but it turns out that Coors Banquet has a substantial loyal following.

So in the spirit of Food Thoughtz, I broke down and bought two tall boys of Coors Banquet last weekend. These are my stories:

  • It's too expensive. There is no way I am going to spend $2.45 on a tall boy of Coors Banquet when [Old Style] Pilsner is only $2.00 and sometimes inexplicably even less.
  • I hated the first can I had because there was something too sweet about it. The second can was better, in the sense that it tasted more or less like any other generic lager beer. It still wasn't anything special, and not only is Pilsner a cheaper beer, I also maintain it is a better beer.
  • The can design is okay. I kind of like the colour combination of a rich blue and the light beige. I guess the design has a kind of classic quality to it. I don't know. I think it was only just okay.
  • I don't understand why it's called "Banquet" beer. I would be so embarrassed to serve this at any kind of banquet. Unless the banquet was, like, a smörgåsbord of literal garbage.
After I took this picture I moved the can back into the recycling. Unlike
everyone else in this hellish province, I don't throw out recyclables.

In conclusion, yeah, I just don't get the appeal of this beer or why it has such a dedicated following.

Who the hell is drinking Coors?
I guess someone whose taste but not pocket is poor.

13 April 2015

Smarties, revisited

A few days ago an Easter care package arrived from my mum. First of all, it’s probably worth mentioning that included in the care packaged, amongst the home baked cookies, the flax corn chips, and the chocolate easter eggs, were two hair brushes. I now own five hairbrushes. But there was also a bulk bag of Easter-themed Smarties. Easter-themed Smarties are just Smarties, but with only “Easter” colours—if you can even call them colours now that the artificial colouring agents have been removed.

Readers may remember a highly critical review I once wrote about Smarties and how they’re essentially garbage now that Nestle has opted to only use natural colouring agents. I adamantly believed that the best part about Smarties was the taste of the artificial colours. And for the most part, I still stand by this assessment. Any time I have tried to eat the post-2009 Smarties that come either in boxes or holiday-themed packaging, I’ve always been disappointed. But I have to admit that these bulk Smarties were pretty good, even without the artificial colours. I don’t know if this okay-ness is specific only to bulk Smarties or what, but yeah, they were pretty good. They still weren’t as good as the old Smarties, and they certainly looked like they had already been sucked on so that their former bright colours are obscured by the melting chocolate, but yeah. I don’t know. They were pretty good.

I don’t know what this means for me or anyone, but 2015 might be the year that I rediscover Smarties. I also want to add, just as a point of interest, that one time I bought a Halloween pack of mini Smarties because it wasn’t mentioned anywhere explicitly that they were made only with natural colours, and I hoped that I discovered a cache of probably expired Smarties, still featuring the artificial colours. But I was wrong, and I was disappointed.

Ultimately that these bulk Smarties tasted better than their packaged counterpart comes as no surprise. Bulk Smarties from Overwaitea have always been the best Smarties.

In case you're wondering, yes I did manage to pick up a copy of Jonathan Safran Foer's Tree of Codes, published by
Visual Editions  (VE2) in 2010 and now out of print.

08 April 2015

Food Thoughtz Update: Alcohol

Well, everyone. I have finally decided to expand the scope of Food Thoughtz to include alcohol. The series will probably be called "Drink Thoughtz," or something equally unimaginative. I live in a house with a roommate, and these shelves are a big part of our living space and our lives:

Over the past two years, I've really gotten into the world of cocktails—which has in part been encouraged by this unruly liquor collection, but also by Midge Deak's relatively new found interest in cocktails (her favourite drink is something I call the "Midge Deak" and consists of vodka and plain tap water).

The series will likely run the gambit of alcohol, including beers, ciders, coolers, and hard alcohol. Perhaps wine sometimes too, but I am not really into wine unless it's cut with soda. You might be wondering what authority I have to pass judgement on different kinds of alcohol. The answer is precisely none, which is the same level of authority I exercise when it comes to food.

**Update** The famed Midge Deak has recommended the series be called "Booze Thoughtz," and I agree.

06 April 2015

Guest Post: A Response to McDowell

The phrase “going viral” is like “paradigm” and “pro-active” - a buzz phrase that dumb (or simply out of touch) people use to sound important.  But in the case of Adam McDowell's National Post piece “Death to the Chicken Finger” that was all over my Facebook news feed last week, “viral” was an apt metaphor.  Reading it made me queasy, then violently ill, and finally angry that I'd just wasted my time enduring it.

The subtitle (if it's a subtitle but it's been placed by the typesetter above the main title, is it still a subtitle, or is it a supertitle?) of McDowell's piece really tells you everything you need to know about what's to follow:  “How we created an entire generation of unsophisticated, picky eaters – and why we must stop the tasteless cycle”.  I'm loathe to make generalizations about entire generations of people, but there is one I'm willing to make about mine:  We've decided we're experts in everything.  It ought to be difficult to be a snob about fine dining and while simultaneously maintaining a starving artist self-image, but somehow, many of my peers manage to do it.  “Foodie” snobbery has hit the mainstream, and McDowell's Post piece is condescension distilled.

There's a lot wrong with McDowell's piece, and I won't go through it point by point.  Broadly, he argues that kids menus offer children unchallenging, “unsophisticated” food, that children raised on these kids' menus never develop a “refined” pallet, and that they will be unhealthy from eating a limited selection of foods.


The Author, reading the National Post.

The language McDowell uses throughout “Death to the Chicken Finger” simply oozes moral superiority.  It's clear that McDowell thinks you're a better person if you eat gourmet food – that you're more refined, more sophisticated, smarter.  Of course, that's the allure of the whole ___-phile movement – audiophile, oenophile, craft beer enthusiast, “foodie” - the opportunity to prove to yourself you're cleverer than your peers, because you see something they don't, hear something they don't, or taste something they don't.  Never mind that, nine times out of ten, the subtle details people think they're experiencing aren't even there.  It doesn't matter that studies show the difference between that $30 bottle of Shiraz and that $50 bottle of Shiraz are entirely psychosomatic.  The important thing is that you feel superior.

McDowell clearly feels superior.  Of course, there's nothing morally superior about eating pretentious food.  In fact, if you really want to split hairs, gourmet cooking often comes loaded with more moral quandaries than simple eating does.  I'm okay with eating meat, but I'm not really keen on force-feeding geese until their livers rupture, or fishing rare sturgeon to extinction.  I'll stick with my chicken fingers, thank you.

But what of McDowell's health argument?  Kids will be unhealthy if they never learn to eat “difficult” food at restaurants?


How often does McDowell think kids eat out, anyway?  I think I had a fairly typical childhood in this regard, and my family ate dinner at a restaurant maybe once a month, and breakfast or lunch once a week.  That's five or six meals a month at a restaurant, versus 85 meals at home.   I learned to eat a range of different foods and lots of fruits and veg from eating at home, not from being forced, at the age of seven, to choose something random off the adult menu at Ricky's.

Who the hell does Adam McDowell think he is, anyway, telling me I'm “unsophisticated” for liking chicken tenders.  I love chicken tenders.  Adam McDowell can stuff his face with fetid shark and abused goose liver all he wants, but I'll stick to my chicken.