15 October 2013

The Coconut

I wanted to write a whole post about the coconut—how much I hate shredded coconut, how gross I think it is that coconut milk/water looks exactly like milk “slash” water and how annoying it is that coconut milk is a “thing” now, how impractical coconuts are, and maybe a brief note on how I don’t know what they are (a giant seed??)—but then I remembered that I have these two pictures of me in Honduras,  and I think they perfectly sum up how I feel about coconut.
Here’s me trying the coconut.  I can’t even remember how I got my hands on this.  I guess someone just gave it to me. I definitely didn’t pay for it and I definitely didn’t break it open myself. 
...And here’s my reaction to trying the coconut.  Right?  Don’t you have such a clear idea of how I feel about coconuts now?

When you travel, you learn so much
About beauty, and relevance, and simplicity, and such
And sometimes in Honduras you learn why you hate the coconut.

13 October 2013


It was recently suggested to me that I write about sushi for Food Thoughtz.  I thought it was a terrible suggestion because the idea of eating sushi is so preposterous to me—as it should be to you (the idea of me eating sushi; I don’t care what you do with your free time)—that it seemed like a waste of time to even address it.  I got so worked up at the terrible suggestion that I started manically listing off all the reasons that I would not eat sushi, and began to realize that there just might be a little post here.

I will be the first to admit that I know next to nothing about sushi.  I know there are different kinds, but it is my understanding that in order to be considered sushi, it has to be rice wrapped in seaweed, and then there’s a little treat tucked into the centre  (presumably it’s now possible to get the rice replaced with quinoa and the seaweed replaced with kale).  The only “treat” I know of is raw fish, and it’s sort of pink looking so I’ve always assumed it was salmon (also because the only other fish I am aware of are tuna and cod, and I’m not sure if cod is edible and I’m certain that tuna is not).
So if this is what sushi is, then there are a lot of problems wrapped up in one little roll.  I would never eat fish, and I certainly wouldn’t ever eat it raw.  I don’t eat my food wrapped in the garbage of the sea, those slimy bits of sea-grass that are so repulsive even to the ocean that they’re always scattered along the beach when the tide is out(and what I have always held responsible for that awful smell when the tide is out).  And then the rice—the one redeeming feature of this mess, the one part I could actually bring myself to eat—is cold?  There are a few things I can bring myself to eat cold: potatoes (if they were fried), plain pasta (if it’s cold not from the fridge but just from sitting out after it was cooked, and only if I just sort of pluck one or two noodles out and eat them. I wouldn’t eat an entire bowl of cold pasta), ice cream.  But rice is not one of them.  I had to stop using a microwave because whenever you use it to heat up rice, it’s never even so you always get a clump of cold rice and I always shudder when it’s unexpectedly in my mouth because it makes me think of what it must be like to eat fish eggs.  So I’m certainly not going to eat a ball of cold rice just to get to some treat in the centre, especially when that “treat” is raw fish.

I know that sushi can be adapted to meet the needs of restrictive diets because the two d-bags I know who only eat organic local vegan food that is gluten free eat sushi sometimes.  I thought there could be no possible way that sushi could be altered enough to meet my dietary restrictions and still be sushi, but I was wrong.  You guys, the Japanese confectionists have done it again!

And here's a link to where you can buy it on Amazon, because you guys!!!!!!, Christmas is coming!

Cold rice and raw fish wrapped up in a seaweed roll?
Throw out the fish, throw out the seaweed
Heat up the rice, and put it in a bowl—
That’s the only kind of “sushi” that I need. 

Wouldn’t that be so much more nice?

Nothing more than a bowl and plain rice?

12 October 2013

The Pea

Nothing else from my childhood elicited as much excitement and pleasure as the first ripe peas in the garden. My appetite for peas was insatiable. I keenly remember being woken up by my mother, cooing softly that the peas were ready, and then immediately devouring every last one of them. When all the ripe and passably ripe peas had been eaten, I moved on to the totally unripe peas, and sometimes just chewed on the empty pods. My left thumb was green throughout summer, not because I have ever had any inclination towards gardening, but because the process of popping open a shell and scraping out the peas into your open palm will invariably dye your thumb green.

No amount of words will ever be able to communicate just how much I love fresh peas from the garden.  I was tempted to record myself making frustrated grunting noises because I think that sound is probably the only thing that could accurately capture how I feel about peas.  But I don’t know how to do that.  And it also would be really weird if there were just sounds of my grunting floating around on the internet.  In lieu of that, here are some things I want to do with peas:

  • Collect a lot of peas—still in their pod—in a bag and sit down with them and eat them.  I want for there to be so many peas that it becomes a mechanized routine: select a pod from the bag; pop open with thumb and index finger; slide out the peas with my thumb and cup them in my hand; put all of them in my mouth at one time; discard the empty pod into the empties pile.
  • Shell a bunch of peas and refrain from eating them.  Pool all of the loose peas in a large serving bowl and then slowly submerge my hand into the loose peas and feel them slip through my fingers.  Then select one beautiful pea, and crush it between my teeth.  Then eat all of the peas in handfulls.
  • Get a large bowl of loose peas.  Put my lips really close to the surface of the peas and then suck them up like a vacuum cleaner.
  • Hold a bunch of peas in the palm of my hand, but keep my palm as flat as would be possible to still hold the peas.  Then eat them out of the palm of my own hand like how a horse eats things out of the palms of hands.

Isn't it crazy to think that I've never had a single lesson on Photoshop?
And that I don't even have Photoshop on my computer? Right?!

Recent scholarly pursuits have brought my attention to the play Woyzcek by Büchner. In it, the titular character goes insane and murders the mother of his child, partially because due to a scientific experiment, his diet consisted only of peas. I know that time is not on our side, but Büchner, are you seriously not reading this blog? Don’t you realize that a strict pea diet could only lead to a life of pleasure and unmeasurable happiness? Don’t you understand that to consume a pea is to conjure up all of your loveliest childhood moments and to journey back to a time when your only worry was awaiting the arrival of the next wave of ripened peas?

In part, I suppose, the play speaks to the dehumanizing effects of medical and military apparatuses—but at what cost? What of the harm done to the gentle pea in the process? In calling into question these governing institutions, was it really necessary to strip away the beauty of the pea and to reduce this once noble pearl of the garden to nothing but an irritable grain of sand that claws away at your brain until you inevitably murder your wife with a blade procured from a wily Jew and commit suicide in a swamp? Büchner, you monster: look into your soul. You will find that the problem is not medicine or science or the military; the problem is you.

It’s probably only fair to mention that the peas in Woyzcek were probably canned.  I mean, of course they were canned peas, right?  It’s just that I never even think of canned peas as even existing, because who even eats those? 

It’s also probably worth mentioning that when I talk about eating garden peas, I mean eating them fresh.  I’ve had cooked garden peas before, and they’re good—better than cooked frozen peas—but whenever I eat them I feel this heavy sense of loss.  They’re so much better fresh.

The oyster creates the pearl of the sea
But the pearl of the land is the ripened pea
Both are divine, natural treasures
Both bring to me the purest of pleasures
But the pearl is merely vanity,
And I must listen to my stomach when it instead demands—
The pea! The pea! The pea!

The Plum

When someone suffers from Selective Eating Disorder like myself, it’s really rare to feel more or less indifferent about a food.  The majority of my posts on Food Thoughtz have been one extreme or the other: I either really love something, or I really, really hate it.  But plums are something that I just don’t care about.  I neither love them nor hate them.  I will eat a plum if it’s given to me, but I would never seek one out on my own.  I don’t think the flavour is great, but nor is it necessarily bad.  They’re kind of pretty, but not beautiful.  And they’re an awkward size.  I guess no one cuts up a plum like they might cut up a peach, but they’re also not really big enough to bite into like you would an apple.  If I believed that God made the world and everything in it, I would assume that He made the plum during a period of boredom and laziness, and then woke up the next morning and never thought of it again.

Whenever I see someone eat a plum, I think that person must have no passion in their life.  How could anyone be passionate about a plum?  There’s really not much there.  The skin has that weird sort of waxy look to it and the inside kind of looks like sickly urine.  If I ever went on a blind date with someone and asked them what their favourite food is, and they responded with “plums,” that would be it.  How could you spend the rest of your life with someone like that?  I bet their favourite tv show is CSI.  Like even now, in 2013.
I wanted to find a picture of me looking particularly indifferent or uninterested, and it
turned out to be the easiest task ever. MM was in the picture so I replaced her face with a
plum cross-section, partly because when I started googling plums, they were all these
red plums with red insides and nothing like these purple plums that I am used to, and I didn't
want my comment about unhealthy and slushy urine to be irrelevant. 

This is just to say
I did not eat
the plums
that were in
the icebox

I don't really like them
and anyway, 
they are yours
and I respect your property

I hope
they are delicious
so sweet
and so cold

09 October 2013

The Watermelon

In 2008, the Hungarian farmers took to their tractors and stormed Budapest with carts full of their own home-grown watermelons—but these watermelons were not for sale. Instead they took them to the doors of the supermarkets and dashed them against the pavement, destroying every single one.  It’s hard to believe that a Hungarian, who for whatever reason has such a strong emotional bond with the watermelon (so strong that watermelons are called “Greek melons” in Hungarian), would intentionally destroy a watermelon.  But it happened, and it happened as part of a protest against the supermarkets selling foreign (from Spain) watermelons for less than the Hungarian farmers could afford to sell them to the supermarkets.  I know: you’re wondering how it is that Spain is managing to undersell Eastern European farmers, but when you think about it, it just makes sense.

I don’t think I have ever been so divided on an issue,  or struggled so much to choose a side.  On one hand, of course I have to applaud the Hungarian farmers for destroying so many useless watermelons, but on the other hand, I want the big supermarkets like Auchan and Tesco to continue paying the farmers practically nothing in hopes that the farmers will eventually stop growing watermelons all together. How can one choose sides when both are heroes?

I first started working on this post last year.  I can’t remember when exactly, but it was when we were reading The Confusions of Young Törless by Robert Musil* in my Modernism class, because I then tried to model this entire post on Musil’s The Man Without Qualities, without having even read the Wikipedia entry on the book.  At the time, it really did seem to me as if the watermelon was a fruit without qualities (and I bet if given the chance, would have sex with its sister, probably the honeydew? And why not? The honeydew is a good looking melon. That instance of incest is, I believe, in The Man Without Qualities… not just a totally random mention of incest, although, I mean, there are worse things in this world than random mentions of incest. Like incest.)  After all, the watermelon kind of straddles the line between liquid and solid.  Like the tomato, it’s held together by a skin, but once you puncture that skin, there’s not much keeping the innards together.  But it would be a mistake to say that the watermelon is a fruit without qualities: it has several qualities, most of them bad. 
Here I am on the famed 2008 Victoria - Nashville road trip.  I think we encountered these
watermelons in rural Arkansas,which makes so much sense.

But let’s get the one good one out of the way first.  I will be the first to admit that there have been times when I wish I could join in on the summer fun of gathering around a platter of watermelon.  It seems like such a quintessential summer experience, and everyone is always enjoying themselves as watermelon juice dribbles down their chin. 

And now onto the bad.  But one time I did get in on it, and I hated it.  The texture of a watermelon has always been troubling for me.  I guess maybe it sort of reminds me of wet sand: it can be molded, but pressing a finger into it will make it sink down and lose its structure.  I didn’t realize how much the texture troubled me until I put the tiniest tip of a triangle in my mouth and immediately spat it out.  It was like… I don’t know, biting into that icy part of a slushy from Shell?  You know, what’s left after you’ve sucked all the syrup out?  It’s something that appears to have a certain form, but once you come into contact with it, that form totally evaporates?  Like if you bit a ghost.

Elizabeth Barrett Browning cradling
a slice of watermelon.
What else is wrong with watermelons?  Well, they’re cumbersome and large.  Or, when they’re not, they’re square, and just … no.  I don’t care one way or the other about modified foods, but I can’t get behind some scientist coming up with a way to make round fruit square to ease the packing and shipping process, just so that we’ll end up with even more watermelons over here. Related to their size, they’re always taking up too much room in a fridge, and there always seems to be a lot of pressure to “eat the watermelon” before it goes bad.  Why not just not buy watermelon?  Or, if you do, couldn’t you go halfers with someone else in town?  Oh, and they’re also at least partially responsible for watermelon-flavoured candies, which I’ve always hated.

I guess that’s about it.


*By the way, I loved that book.  I can’t imagine a book more perfectly suited to my interests: secret adolescent sado-masochistic gay sex in an attic at an all-boys boarding school in the remote outreaches of the Austro-Hungarian Empire?  Written by an Austrian and probably modeled on his own life?  Duh. 

Watermelon— How do I hate thee?  Let me count the ways.
I hate thee for thine depth and breadth and height
My arms can’t reach around, carrying thee is a plight,
And thine consistency is hard to place.
I hate thee, no matter what everyone else might says—

That “in the summer you are a most cool and refreshing bite.”

I hate thee freely, as is my right

I hate thee purely, in the face of others’ praise

I hate thee with a passion bordering on abuse

My hatred for thee is as strong and pure as others’ faith

I hate thee with a hate I shall never lose

It shall be a hatred of you whispered with my last breath

But if the Hungarian farmers should choose,

Then I shall only love thee after thine death!

Has anyone ever actually read this Elizabeth Barrett Browning poem?  Because this was the first time for me, and it’s really, really bad.

03 October 2013

Frozen Pea Update

Dedicated Food Thoughtz readers should know that the President’s Choice petits pois in the white bag are my #1 go-to choice when it comes to frozen peas, but one of the hard lessons I’m having to learn by having a roommate is that not everyone has the same preferences you do.  It can be really hard when you love something so much (the President’s Choice petits pois) but struggle to communicate that love to others, or fail to convince them to switch brands.
This is the situation I currently find myself in.  My roommate is stuck on Green Giant frozen peas … And look, I get it.  I used to get my peas from the Green Giant, too.  I used to wonder who could possibly put out better frozen peas than the Green Giant?  You know?  How could it get any better than this?  But for the first time, I really feel like these President’s Choice petits pois are actually the President’s choice. They are so good.

Anyway, whatever.  This isn’t even what this post is supposed to be about.  What I wanted to say is that because I now live with someone committed to Green Giant frozen peas, I’ve had the opportunity to actually closely examine the packing of Green Giant frozen peas, and … well, it kind of made me uncomfortable.  The frozen peas are described as “Sweetlets: tender young peas.”  Does anyone else find that a bit sexual and inappropriate?  Like that it’s a bit sexual, but then you feel weird about thinking that it’s sexual because of the age thing? Tender and  young?  And that it’s also really weird because it’s frozen peas?

02 October 2013

Salted Caramel

I don’t even know when salted caramel started being a thing, but I’m so glad it’s happening right now and that I got into the trend early enough so that years from now I can look back fondly and say, “I was there.”

I don’t know enough about salt, caramel, or salted caramel to really comment too deeply on this, but it’s relevant to the previous burger disaster because the free milkshake we received was chocolate and salted caramel, and it really helped to remind me that there’s still beauty in this world.

Do you guys even know how good salted caramel is?  It is so good.  My mum sent two of those big bars of President’s Chocolate last year for Christmas, and one of them was salted caramel.  First of all, I really love those President’s Choice chocolate bars.  I think the packaging is really nice, but I’ve also never been disappointed with the quality.  I like the dark chocolate because it’s dark without being too dark, and I really like the milk chocolate and hazelnut, although I don’t eat it as often because milk chocolate can be a lot to take in sometimes.  Anyway, one of the bars was just the run-of-the-mill dark chocolate, but the other one was this salted caramel bar.  When I saw it I thought, no, I’m not going to eat this. If eating one of those Nature’s Valley granola bars has taught me anything, it’s that I don’t like sweet and salty together.

But in a fit of desperation for something sweet, I did try it, and I’ve never looked back.  Since then the only salted caramel product I’ve had is ice cream, and it’s even better than the PC chocolate bar.  By the way, the salted caramel flavour for PC chocolate bars might be only seasonal, and might only be in B.C. — at least it wasn’t available in Montreal last year at Christmas (although that’s hardly surprising because a lot of things aren’t available in Quebec).

How else to wash down a disgusting patty of raw beef
Than with a salty-caramel milkshake digestif?

01 October 2013

Adventures in Eating: An Uncooked Burger

On September 28, 2013, my bf(f) and I took a big step in our relationship when we rented a uHaul and moved in together.  To celebrate, we went out for burgs n’ beer at an untested restaurant.  The menu item was a burger & fries with a Hogtown Ale tallcan on the side — what could go wrong?

The beer, first of all, was delicious (and I even got a few extra taste tests in when the keg taps directly in front of me spewed beer all over my face and hair, a two-time mishap that resulted in a free milkshake).

R and I sat at the bar, chattering happily about what the future held in store for us as we waited for our food.  But when I saw the burgers coming toward us, my heart sank in such a way as to make me fully understand where the expression “my heart sank” even came from because I could physically feel my heart sinking in my chest.  The burger was rare. Like rare-rare.  Like fully pink-patty rare.  When my heart sank as low as it could sink, it triggered a wave of nausea (think of the game Mouse Trap) at the thought of having to consume meat so undercooked.  I tried to brace myself for the experience by telling myself that eating rare meat is common and even preferred in some circles. I chalked it up as a new burger experience for me, since I am typically used to eating well-done burgs.  But when I took the first bite, I knew it was going to be a struggle, and that while, yes, it would be a new experience, it would not be a new experience that I was going to enjoy.

Typically when I eat burgers and fries, I do one of two things: I either eat one or two fries first to whet my appetite, then eat the entire burger, and then finish off the fries, or I eat either all of the fries or the whole burger before moving on to the other.  It’s very rare that I would take one bit of a burger and chase it with a few fries, but that’s what I had to do that night because I was terrified I was going to repay that bartenderess for spraying me with beer by spraying her with vomit.

Definitely the idea of meat not being fully cooked is a huge obstacle for me, but I think the main thing I struggled with that night was the texture and structural integrity of the meat itself.  It was so moist that the burger was less like a patty and more like semi-solidified sludge that had been scooped in between two pieces of garlic bread (because the burger was served on bread, not buns).  I hated that every time I took a bit, the meat spilled forth into my mouth like really watery oatmeal.  Every bite was a challenge, but every bite also moved me closer to finishing the burger and being done with this horrific ordeal.

But you know what? I wasn’t done with it.  Even after I finished the burger I felt nauseated because all I could think about was how it was now in my stomach.  The only thing worse than looking at it and knowing that I had to eat it was knowing that I had just eaten it and that now it was inside of me.

We continued on to our (now) local bar, and I drowned my sorrows in beer and roommate banter.  But still, it sat heavily in my stomach.

When the night was over and I crawled into bed, I again felt waves of nausea pour over me.  At first I thought that maybe I drank too much, but it wasn't alcohol-nauseau.  It was the nausea that can only come from knowing that you've done something wrong, something so horrific and disgusting that your body's only reaction is nausea.  It was the kind of nausea that accompanies seeing a pile of corpses decaying and being eaten by freshly-hatched maggots.  Except that the pile of decaying, maggot-ridden corpses was actually the burger that I ate.

The silver lining here is that we got to share this great chocolate & salted-caramel milkshake.


R & I were both under the impression at times that serving uncooked burgers was actually illegal in Canada. I was under this impression until about 3 days ago.