22 December 2013

Lentil Stew

Anyone who has been on the internet lately is probably aware of my recent live-tweeting of the Book of Genesis.  It was a pretty big deal: two random people retweeted one of my tweets, and another two people favourited one of my tweets.  Suffice to say, it made waves. 

One of the tweets (which was neither retweeted nor favourited, but deserved both) was about the time when Esau was tricked into giving up his birthright by a bowl of lentil soup:

“Once when Jacob was cooking a stew, Esau came in from the field, and he was famished.  Esau said to Jacob, ‘Let me eat some of that red stuff, for I am famished!’ (Therefore he was called Edom.) Jacob said, ‘First sell me your birthright.’ Esau said, ‘I am about to die; of what use is a birthright to me?’ Jacob said, ‘Swear to me first.’ So he swore to him, and sold his birthright to Jacob.  Then Jacob gave Esau bread an lentil stew, and he ate and drank, and rose and went his way.  Thus Esau despised his birthright.”
Gen. 25.29 - 25.34

There’s a lot going on in this passage.  First of all, Esau was always out in the fields.  You’d think that by this point he would have arranged with his mother to have dinner waiting for him or to pack a lunch with him for the day.  Second of all, that’s pretty cold, Jacob.  Your brother thinks he’s dying of starvation and you take advantage of it to get your hands on his birthright?  Esau is your twin brother!  At the same time, it would be really difficult to not take advantage of someone that stupid (Jacob does it again when his father is on his deathbed and steals Esau’s blessing).

Esau is an idiot for two reasons: 1) He obviously wasn’t starving to death.  He was just hungry.  We’ve all been there, Esau.  It feels like you’re starving, but there’s no reason why you couldn’t have followed The Kitchn’s advice and popped a potato in the oven.  2) There’s no shame in trading your birthright for food if you are in fact starving to death, but two points here: a) Esau should have driven a harder bargain, like, “Okay Jacob, I will give up my birthright to you, but you have to cook for me for the rest of my life,” and b) lentil stew?  Come on. There’s no way I would trade anything for lentil soup, even if it was something that I didn’t even want in the first place because I would be so offended at the suggestion.

Does it look like I'm casually relaxing in a bowl of lentil stew? That's the look I was going for, but I have a feeling it
didn't quite work out. Whatever. Do you even know what photo editing software I'm using? The answer is none.
Will someone please give me PhotoShop for Christmas?

Now that I've laid the groundwork for why I am even thinking about lentil stew, let's get on with the post.  I will be the first to admit that I honestly did not know that lentils were for consumption until I was about 9 years-old, and not because I started eating them, but because that's probably the age I stopped using them for craft projects.  Even now I don't have a very good handle on them.  I know what they look like, but I don't know what they are, so I have always thrown them in the legume category, and likewise, I have no idea what "legume" even refers to.  They look like someone cut a bunch of small peas in half and then dyed them different colours.  Why wouldn't you just eat the peas?

The question you're all dying to hear the answer to is: Would I eat lentil stew?  The answer is no, absolutely not.  It looks like diarrhea.  Worse yet, it looks like it induces diarrhea.  Lentils are something that I hope to one day have in jars in my home, but they're not something I ever expect to eat myself.  Of course it should go without saying that another major strike against lentil stew is not just the lentils, which presumably are the primary ingredient, but this is, after all, a stew. 

I want so spend a bit more time talking about the stew aspect, because this post, after all, is supposed to be focused on lentil stew, not just lentils.  While I'm not entirely averse to hearty foods, the word "stew" is really off-putting, and seems to me to resist any stable ingredient list, so you can never really be certain what's in there.  Although in this case you can be certain that lentils are in there, which is the main indicator for me that I would not eat this.  I've actually had some pretty good experiences with stew in the past.  My mum used to make this dish called "hamburger soup," which was actually more of a stew, and when I was in Norway I was cornered into eating a mystery stew that came from a can.  It was pretty good.  But a general rule of thumb for me is to avoid stews.

Reading Genesis got me thinking about just how hard life must have been back then, even if God was your personal BFF and walked among you sometimes. Can you imagine?  Can you imagine how much work you would have to put in every single day just to survive, and at the end of the day, all you got was a bowl of lentil stew?  Not worth it. 
This picture really did not work out the way I thought it would. It was supposed to suggest that the pillar of smoke
that guided the Jews through the desert originated from a disgusting bowl of lentil stew, but now it doesn't look like
that at all. I repeat, someone please give me PhotoShop for Christmas. This picture, if anyone is interested, was taken
during my cross-American journey with my sister in 2008, when this pillar of smoke actually did guide us through
this desert-like region, that may or may not be Idaho.
And unfortunately for lentils, not much has changed--they're still not worth whatever effort you must first put in.  Because we used them so frequently in craft projects, I've always assumed that they're really cheap.  And when a food is that cheap, I assume that the only reason to eat it is out of desperation.  If it's cheap enough that you can easily afford to throw it away on children's art projects that will then actually be thrown away because no one likes those craft projects, it's probably a good idea to just throw them out in general.  I know what you're thinking: isn't rice the exact same?  Well, yes.  But one of the crucial differences between rice and lentils is that when you cook a pot of rice, it doesn't look like it's already made its way through the human digestive system.  Another obvious difference is that rice is not a legume, and even though I still don't know what a legume is, they sound really gross.*  I have just confirmed that lentils are in fact legumes and additionally, legumes are described as being "an edible pulse."  So if you can read that and continue to eat lentils in the future ... There is nothing I can say.  Edible pulse.

*I say this even though I think that peas and green beans are probably also legumes, and they are my top two favourite vegetables. 

What can we learn from Biblical hermeneutics? 
That for the wandering tribes of the Semetics,
Food was a question of necessity and never of therapeutics.
Or that no one in Genesis is as dumb and hairy as Esau

Who for a bowl of lentil stew his birthright he would disavow.

You couldn't pay me enough to eat a stew made of lentil 
 And I apologize if I'm being too judgemental,
But aren't they reserved just for children's crafts?
For these reasons and more, lentil stew gets the shaft.

20 December 2013

Potato Update (3): Potato Round-Up

Here are a few pics I snapped of some of my recent potato meals. They are not in order of consumption.

I ordered these potatoes in a Hungarian restaurant in Toronto.  I initially went to try the cold cherry soup, but it seemed disgusting and wrong to eat that as a meal unto itself (I was right), so I ordered these fried potatoes as a warm-up. They were only okay. This type of potato is really common, but I can't quite put my finger on what's wrong with them.  I guess it's that the shell is maybe too crunchy? I don't know. They're definitely my least favourite "homefry."

Here are some panfried potatoes I made for myself. Obviously they were delicious, because just look at them. Sometimes I cut up the potatoes into little cubes and sometimes I leave them in these rounds. I typically leave them in the rounds when I am too lazy to cube them, but even though there's an extra step involved in cubing, I typically find it to be a faster process. Certainly the cooking time is a lot shorter.

Ho-ho! What a beaut! Obviously these potatoes were the best of them all. With a very small exception, I ate the entire pan.  They looked even better before I ate them because they had had more of an opportunity to brown up, and the onion wasn't so blindingly white. These might have been the best potatoes I have ever made.

These are some mashed potatoes that a Hungarian made for me, with a side of fried ham. Usually I have to add a tonne of butter to the mashed potatoes that I eat, but these were truly perfect: really fluffy and buttery.

Finally, here are some potatoes that were included as part of an all-day breakfast special. Even for me they were a bit too greasy. And the "all-day breakfast place" was running out of fried potatoes by 3 o'clock! How can that even be the case? Is there such a thing as an all-day breakfast without potatoes? How could any responsible business ever run out of them? I got the last few, but it was like half of a normal serving, and I wasn't even compensated with extra sausage!

19 December 2013

"Dear Food Thoughtz:" Hamburger-Pizzas; Breakfast Ideas; & Attire Choices

Welcome to the very first installment of Dear Food Thoughtz, a free advice column where I do the thinking so you don't have to!  All relevant questions welcome.  Email: food.thoughtz@gmail.com
Dear foodthoughtz

Last night I ate pickles on a pizza. Don't freak out - hear me out. Everyone has heard of cheeseburger pizza before. All pizza chains - especially the grossest ones - have it. Who even orders it? It's just ground beef, tomatoes, and the addition of cheddar cheese to the mozzarella.

This cheeseburger pizza was different. It had the regular ground beef, tomatoes, cheddar. But it also had pickles, and mayo and mustard zigzagged all over it.

Foodthoughtz, this was the best pizza I've ever eaten. I can imagine what you're thinking, and let me just say I'm not thrilled about it either. Today I didn't do anything other than wander around aimlessly, crying, wearing tights as pants and wishing I had that pizza.

I need your tough love, foodthoughtz. Help me.

Pining for pizza on the prairies

Dear PPP,

Thank you, first of all, for being the first to write in to Dear Food Thoughtz.  Your support does not go unnoticed.

Now onto the pizza!  I think I'm going to have some surprising advice for you: when it comes to pizza, as long as it doesn't have pineapples on it, just be true to yourself.  If a pizza with hamburger toppings is what you're into, then don't be ashamed!  Honestly, I'm not thrilled about the pickles -- and especially not since M admitted to once melting a block of cheese with old pickle juice in a microwave and then eating it. 

I am not sure why you were expecting tough love from me, or if you wanted me to forbid you to ever eat this pizza ever again.  The mythical hamburger-pizza is actually something I've spent a lot of time thinking about.  Not because I would ever eat one, but because I am fascinated by those who would.  I say "mythical" because we clearly have two very different ideas of what a hamburger-pizza entails.  I don't doubt that your pizza had hamburger-influenced toppings, but it's not, in my mind, a hamburger-pizza.  A hamburger-pizza must have literal hamburgers as toppings.  Pizza Hut came pretty close, but as far as I know, this pizza only exists as a photoshopped image and probably in real life in Japan:

Admittedly this would be really difficult to eat.  I've never understood the appeal of those novelty foods that are, like, 80 burgers stacked on top of each other and then someone eats all of them as one giant burger.  That is so disgusting.  When you bite into a burger, you should be able to get a piece of everything in your mouth at one single time.

Another option that I thought of last night was to have a hamburger baked into a pizza, like a calzone, only to wake up this morning and discover it already exists on the internet!  In a way it bothers me that it's a calzone and not an actual pizza, but this seems like a really practical way to bring these two worlds together.  I honestly don't understand why calzones always get so much hate--they seem delicious--but it's true that they are not pizzas.

Finally, a Burger King restaurant in Time's Square launched a pizzaburger which is probably one of the best fusions of these two foods I've seen because it maintains crucial characteristics of both foods.  It's in the shape of a pizza, but each slice is clearly a bun.  Inside, there's a hamburger patty topped with pepperoni and mozzarella.

So these, to me, are hamburger-pizzas.  You just ate, I don't know, a pizza.  There's nothing to stress out about.  It's definitely not as disgusting as a dessert pizza or a Hawaiian pizza or lord knows what else.  Own it.  I mean, really.  Sure, there are a lot of foods that I think are disgusting, and by extension, I think that the people who eat those foods are disgusting.  But at the end of the day, what Food Thoughtz is really about is acceptance.  Not accepting others for their food choices, but accepting yourself for your own.
Dear FoodThoughtZ advisor:

Could you please comment on what would be an appropriate breakfast to serve for:

    a 32-year old daughter who will eat anything,
    her 3-year old daughter who will eat everything,
    a 26-year old daughter who will eat buns, rice and potatoes,
    the last-named's friend who is a vegan,

all of whom are visiting for breakfast on December 23.
Dear Nameless,

I’m confused as to why you are asking this question at all seeing as you have already answered it: potatoes. 

At least this would be the answer if you had not neglected to mention that the 3 year-old daughter of the 32 year-old daughter does not in fact eat everything; she does not eat potatoes.  There is no reason to force the other guests to abide by her strict dietary needs, so I would still recommend pan-fried potatoes, perhaps with servings of fruit, toast, and yogurt on the side to appease your fickle guest.

Coffee, of course, is expected.

Also, you have the date wrong.  Two of the four will likely be there on the 23rd, but the other two will not be arriving until the morning of the 24th as part of a Christmas miracle.

 dear foodthoughtz

I am really confused. What are you wearing in this picture?
your sister
Dear Inquisitor,

First of all, I am going to assume that your sign off as “your sister” was meant as a ruse to trick me into addressing this response to “Dear Sister.”  It did not work.

To answer your question, it’s a dusty pink boyfriend-style women’s shirt from the Gap that I bought on sale in Spokane.  It’s weird that the style of shirt is called “the boyfriend” given that these shirts are so lesbian-y.  I'm wearing a charcoal-grey cardigan overtop, purchased at the Gap Factory Outlet Store in Toronto.

I assume this question was meant as an insult, but it fell flat because I love this shirt.  In the future, please limit yourself to food-related questions.

18 December 2013

The Sandwich - pt. I

Whenever the topic of my peculiar eating habits comes up—typically with a new acquaintance—the conversation zeroes in on sandwiches almost immediately, as if sandwiches were the be all, end all of the human diet.  They’re not.  It is actually inconceivable to almost everyone that I do not eat sandwiches.  Truth be told, I have had two kinds of sandwiches in my entire life: grilled cheese and peanut butter with slices of banana. 

I want to address grilled cheese first because I’m actually quite fond of them, but I don’t think of them as sandwiches.  I’ve mostly stuck to what I have always referred to as cheese toast: a slice of cheddar cheese toasted on bread or a bun in the broiler.  Every once in a while I’ll have grilled cheese sandwiches, but almost exclusively when I can’t have cheese toast (like in a restaurant).  Grilled cheese sandwiches are good, but honestly I think there’s too high of a bread-to-cheese ratio there.  Also, if you enjoy eating something like cheese melted on toast, it only makes sense to me to divide it up into two separate servings to maximize pleasure.  Once you’re done a grilled cheese sandwich, you’re done.  But eating one piece of grilled cheese takes more or less the same amount of time to consume as one grilled cheese sandwich, and when you finish one piece, you have another to look forward to!  The other benefit of open-face cheese toast in a  broiler is that you can get the cheese to burn a bit, forming those brownish bubbles that are so delicious.
Here's a picture of me eating a grilled cheese sandwich that my sister made.
The peanut butter and banana sandwich will likely come as a shock to anyone who knows me, and so it should.  It was one of those situations where someone you don’t know well and feel obligated to be polite towards asks if you’re hungry, and before you realize that if you say yes they will probably suggest something that you absolutely don’t want to eat, you’ve already said yes.  This kind of situation has happened to me before, and I have successfully managed to back out without committing myself to eating something disgusting and then pretending to be thankful for it, but it can be a pretty difficult manoeuvre.  This is the kind of situation I found myself in when I ate that peanut butter and banana sandwich, and knowing that that’s the kind of sandwich it would be, I decided to cut my losses and just go for it.  After all, I like bread, I like peanut butter, and I like banana, so it really wasn’t as dire a situation as it could have been.  But it was really disgusting.  Banana and bread?  That’s so wrong.  In hindsight, I have no idea why I didn’t just ask for peanut butter and bread.

I have two major issues with sandwiches.  One is that I simply won't eat most of the normal sandwich ingredients: I don’t eat tomato, I don’t eat lettuce, I don’t eat cold cuts, and I certainly don’t eat any of the condiments usually associated with sandwiches, like mustard or mayonnaise.  The second issue is that I have a serious problem with the combination of different textures that I am adamant do not belong together.  A third and more minor issue is that sandwiches are often pre-made, so all of those textures that don’t belong together  in the first place are left to fester, and I can only imagine that a sandwich wrapped in Saran for several hours is probably a lot worse than a freshly made sandwich.

I want to take the same general approach with this post as I did with salads because, like salads, the term “sandwich” applies to an expansive and varied food grouping (although it bears mentioning that the word “sandwich” is much more valuable than “salad,” in that it typically refers to an easily identifiable way of preparing and combining food.  As far as I know, all sandwiches include two pieces of bread with varied ingredients in between, whereas “salad” has virtually no reference point whatsoever).  Having written most of the second part, the post is already over 3,000 words, so bear with me.

The Sandwich - pt. II

Now onto the sandwiches themselves.  As with the salad post, I’m just going to list all of the sandwiches I know of and jot down some of my food thoughtz.  Without further ado, here we go!


I love bacon.  If I could eat bacon for the rest of my life, I would.  But I would only ever eat bacon plain because that is how it was meant to be eaten.  Once I tried bacon in a hamburger and didn’t like it, so I know what I’m talking about.  Bacon is probably the only saving grace of a BLT, because otherwise there’s just a whole lot of wrong going on there.  We all know how I feel about the tomato, so the BLT is  out right off the bat.

I’ve tried lettuce once and didn’t like it.  I didn’t necessarily hate it either, but only because there’s really not much there to feel strongly about one way or the other.  The thing that bothers me most about lettuce is that it reminds me of the word “gnash,” as in “gnashing one’s teeth,” because I always imagine lettuce being gnashed between the two rows of teeth and then a little piece breaking off and forming a film over the top of a molar.  I kind of like the word gnash, but I always associate it with Frankenstein because Mary Shelley apparently loved that word as much as I do.  So not only do I think of a little lettuce-film on a molar, but I imagine that molar belonging to Frankenstein’s monster, and I didn’t particularly like the book. 

It goes without saying that mayonnaise is the most disgusting thing in the entire world.  I probably could have saved us both a lot of trouble and just mentioned mayonnaise at the beginning.

But the problem with a BLT sandwich is so much more than just its ingredients—it’s all of those ingredients together that is the real problem.  First you have either some bread or a bun.  If it ended there, I wouldn’t have a problem (I’m kind of into buns).  But it doesn’t.  Even mayonnaise on a bun, if you’re really into mayonnaise, I could understand.  But it’s when you add the lettuce, tomato, and bacon—kind of the staple ingredients—that things really start to go south.  There will inevitably be little drops of water on the lettuce and the tomato (even if there wasn’t water on the tomato, there’s so much moisture there that it really doesn’t matter), and thinking about these little drops coming into contact with the mayonnaise-coated bun is actually sickening.  At best you could hope that the oil in the mayonnaise would repel the water so that it would sit in little beads on the surface, but the worse case scenario is that the water would permeate the bread, even the tiniest bit.  I cannot abide soggy bread.  Maybe you think this problem would be avoided if the bread was toasted, but you would be wrong.  That would make it even worse!  Because if I have toasted bread, I expect it to be crunchy.  I don’t want to encounter even the smallest dollop of moisture there.  Then add to this the bacon, which is both hot and greasy, and the result  is intolerable.  Hot strips of fatty meat cannot go with moist, cool vegetables.  And then grease + oil + moisture from the vegetables?  No.  Absolutely not.

Peanut Butter & Jelly

Of all the sandwich possibilities, this one offends my sensibilities the least.  I could probably eat this if it became absolutely necessary, although I can’t imagine what situation that would be.  If given the choice, I would probably opt for just a piece of toast with peanut butter, because honestly, I don’t really know what jelly is.  There’s no reason to resort to jelly when there’s always a plentiful supply of jam.  The more I think about it, the less I like the idea of peanut butter and jelly going together.  I don’t think their consistencies are a good match.  I also always associate the peanut butter in a peanut butter and jelly sandwich to be like Skippy or Squirrel, and although I was raised on that peanut butter, I can no longer tolerate any peanut butter that isn’t Adam’s peanut butter.

More than any other sandwich, these are the ones that I imagine tightly wrapped in cellophane at the bottom of some kid’s backpack for half a day.  Thinking about it getting crushed by whatever else might be in the backpack plus the jelly probably soaking into the bread make this sandwich impossible.

Egg-Salad Sandwich

All of the no's in the entire world combined
to make the most decisive NO! of all time.
I can’t even deal with this one.  This is all of my most-hated things combined into one ungodly terror: boiled eggs masquerading as salad sandwiched between two pieces of bread.  One time my mum admitted to bringing one of these onto a plane with her, and I nearly threw up just imagining myself in that situation.  Either situation: bringing the sandwich on the plane with the intention of eating it, or being a passenger and having to be in the vicinity of that foul-smelling concoction.  Watching someone eat one of these things is like a scene from a low-budget horror movie but worse because you have to smell it at the same time.  If these sandwiches don’t put you off food and humanity, I don’t know what will.  Egg-Salad Sandwiches came straight from the fiery depths of hell just so Lucifer could finally prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that Man is a disgusting, foul creature, totally undeserving of God’s love.  ...  Oh my god.  I just made the terrible mistake of googling this and found out that there’s mayonnaise in it—as if things couldn’t get any worse!  No wonder it’s so creamy and vile.  I hate this so much!

Tuna Sandwich

After egg-salad, this is probably the second most offensive sandwich, mostly for the same reasons: it smells foul, looks foul, and it has tuna in it.  Tuna is a kind of fish, in case you didn’t know.  I don’t know if any of you grew up with the same adorable deck of “Go Fish” cards that I did, but up until just now, I always imagined tuna fish were these really small kind-of-cute-for-a-fish fish that were all named “Mac” and smoked a cigar.  They’re not.  They’re enormous monsters of the deep.  I think people keep talking about these things going extinct, but good lord, it couldn’t happen fast enough! 

I’m under the impression that tuna sandwiches are typically tuna-salad sandwiches and that for whatever reason, “mayonnaise” is the key ingredient that makes it a salad.  I’m guessing the same goes for egg-salad.  The salad portion is disgusting enough on its own, but I know that once you try to contain something so unruly between two slices of bread, it’s going to inevitably smooth out once you bite down, and then whatever ungodly creature is actually eating this mess is going to get little bits of tuna-salad in the corners of their mouth and probably won’t realize it for a while.

Chicken-Salad Sandwich

Enough already!  These are all so disgusting I can’t even deal with it.  The thing that really bothers me about the chicken-salad in particular is that, while I have eaten chicken before, I’ve only ever been able to keep it down as long as it was really, really dry.  Any time I have been presented with a moist chicken I've been on the verge of throwing up.  So to imagine chunks of chicken just marinating in mayonnaise is impossible for me.  I don’t even want to try because I’m afraid that if I do manage to imagine it, I’ll never be able to get it out of my head again and I will keep revisiting it over and over and over because moist chicken—especially when it has been moistened by mayonnaise—is a kind of trauma and that's how we deal with trauma.

Croque-monsieur/Ham & Cheese

I could almost get on board with this sandwich, but I think that at the end of the day, I just want my ham on the side.  Once I was accidentally given a ham and cheese croissant and, thinking it was just a plain croissant, actually bit into it.  It was horrific.  I made my tongue into a point and nudged the food out of my mouth because I wanted it to come into contact with as little surface area as possible.  This is how I know I could never eat a croque-monseiur.  But still, this is a huge improvement on all those salad-varieties just mentioned.


The only thing I like about a panini is that it seems compact and highly portable, and because it’s grilled, probably doesn’t sacrifice the integrity of any of the ingredients.  That said, what are the ingredients?  Does "panini" just refer to a particular grilling method? Whatever they ingredients may be, you can be certain I wouldn’t eat them.

Club Sandwich

To give a sense of scale of
how big my "no" is.
What in the hell?  Are three slices of bread in these things?  Is that their defining feature?  I will be the first to admit that the only possible good thing about a sandwich is the (plain) bread, but this is a bit too much.  If you really need that extra piece of bread, couldn’t you just order a side of garlic toast?  Better yet, why not forgo the sandwich all together and just get one of those frozen loaves of garlic toast instead?

Roast Beef Sandwich

I guess the only defining feature of a roast beef sandwich is that it’s comprised primarily of roast beef, and I think (although I am not sure) that the roast beef is cold.  I want to take this example as an opportunity to talk about all sandwiches made up of folds of cold meat.  And then not talk about them, because why that's disgusting is pretty self-explanatory.  Folds. Of. Meat.


What I learned from “The Importance of Being Earnest” is that it is not at all important to be E(a)rnest if it necessarily involves cucumber sandwiches.  It is my understanding that cucumber sandwiches are made of soft white bread cut into small triangles with no crust, cucumbers, and who knows what else.  Butter?  Maybe butter.  Whatever the other ingredient is, let’s hope it’s not mayonnaise.  The point is, I think they’re too soft and maybe too spongy.  Another problem is that I can’t even imagine anyone thinking that cucumber and bread could possibly go together.  I’ve had a slice of cucumber before, and the only thing that could have made it worse would be to have with with a slice of un-toasted white bread, possibly with mayonnaise.  Texture is really important to me, so it might come as a surprise that I find these sandwiches so troubling.  What could be wrong with softness?  I’m not quite sure.  But I do know that the idea of them is disgusting. 
I also picture people making little muffled sounds of satisfaction while their mouths are full of these things.  Or perhaps trying to speak, but spitting out little food-bits onto whoever might be unfortunate enough to be standing in front of them or having little clusters of moist food lodged in the corners of their mouth.  Whoever eats these sandwiches is also probably so self-involved that they wouldn’t even notice how rude they’re being. 

Sloppy Joes

I have no idea if these are widely considered sandwiches or if they are a food group unto themselves. I am going to include them here because I can't imagine writing a whole separate post for something that is so far off my radar that the only reason I even thought about them in the first place is because for some reason I was thinking of Sixteen and Pregnant.  Although I've never seen the show, I assume it's about white-trash middle-America, which is exactly where I place sloppy joes. I don't mean to comment on your class (I mean that both as in economic status but also social refinement and grace), but I've always thought of Sloppy Joes as the ultimate white-trash food.  That being said, it's hardly the reason why I would never eat one of these. I wouldn't eat this because the only people who would obviously have never heard of a hamburger before.  Look, you can either have a bowl of chili or a hamburger, but you can't have them both in the same dish.

Corned Beef

These smell pretty good, but I know they would be really gross.  A good rule of thumb is that if something is supposed to be eaten with mustard, you can be guaranteed that it’s disgusting.  I have no idea what “corned beef” is, but if you’re using “corn” as a verb, whatever it is you’re corning is not going to turn out well.  
"Corn" as a verb is harmful both to language and to foodstuffs, and the adjective is not much better.*  I had ample opportunity to try these sandwiches when I lived in Montreal, but I always opted for a side of fries instead.

Pulled Pork

Although I would never try one, I believe people when they say these sandwiches are good.  Aside from all of the preliminary problems with any sandwich, what really bothers me about these is that the pork is shredded, and I’ve always had a problem with shredded food (also carrots, beets, whatever) because I always imagine someone’s face being forcibly grated on the grater.  It’s always a man saying “Arrrgh!” but struggling to do so because their face is pressed against a grater.  The image flicks off before the eye meets the metal, thank god.


The only thing that could have been more disturbing than that one time my grandfather suggested I marry my cousin Reuben is if he was referring not to the cousin but to the sandwich.  These sandwiches truly are revolting.  It’s sad, because if it just didn’t have the sauerkraut, it would probably be an improvement on the regular corned beef sandwich. 


Shortly after the Subway opened in Grand Forks, I went there with my mum and my sister. I got a bun with a slice of cheese in it and I was not impressed.


In summation, this post was a failure before it even begun.  There was no conceivable way for me to write a truly all-encompassing post capable of explaining all of the different aspects of sandwiches that I think are wrong.  Sandwiches are constantly in the process of being made: they are always being constructed and reconstructed.  There is no singular “sandwich” to which I could refer (they’re very post-modern), so for that reason, this post has been difficult for me, and not just emotionally (see: salad-sandwiches).  I get the impression that a lot of sandwiches people eat are just some random ingredients thrown together between two pieces of bread.  So before I close off this post, I just want to go over some of the major issues I have with sandwiches.

Obviously sandwiches are a problem for me because I don’t like the majority of the ingredients and I generally don’t like my food mixed/touching.  But more than that, sandwiches openly flout the social conventions of decency.  I admit that sometimes I am too strict about mixing foods, but there’s no way some of these ingredients go together.  It’s not even a question of texture, but, like, their very being.  A sandwich is, by definition, layers of ingredients bookended by a bread product, but these strata so rarely go together, and this is not just me being weird about food.  It seems like a lot of sandwiches have un-melted/un-grilled cheese as an ingredient, but that has no place in a sandwich!  It must be jarring and unpleasant to bite into something like that.  Adding a slab of cold meat to it could only make it worse.  If you have soft bread, un-melted cheese, and then a layer of cold meat, what you’re getting is really soft, almost spongy/springy bread, then met by the slight resistance of the cheese, and then the chewiness of the meat.  It just doesn’t make sense.  It’s not that the ingredients are too different to be held together in one element; it’s that they’re almost too similar.  Maybe it’s like orange and pink together—they’re too similar to actually stand side-by-side.  What makes it even worse is that you’re getting this clash from the top and the bottom.  But toasting the bread wouldn’t even improve anything because it’s like setting yourself up for disappointment.  As soon as your teeth touch the bread, you’re setting yourself up for some potentially interesting contrast, but then you get into the centre and it’s just one big mess.  Obviously the salad-sandwiches are the worst culprits.

Things just get worse if you have the audacity to add tomato, lettuce, or other vegetables to this.  There’s a lot of moisture in there, and while I thought I could never possibly defend salad, at least a salad can account for added moisture.  Sandwiches can’t.  The layers of a sandwich are either too similar to one another or else so moist that any boundaries that might have existed between the ingredients are blurred in a really disturbing way.  Not blurred in a potentially beautiful way, but just like, ugh, why did you have to do that?  You know?  I’m not a fan of typical sandwich ingredients at the best of times, but why did you have to do that?  Some people--and I have to give credit where credit is due--will bring their sandwich ingredients with them to work or school in separate compartments do that it doesn't get too soggy and so that the cheese doesn't have time to sweat.  An admirable solution, but here's an even better one: just don't eat sandwiches.

The sandwich is essentially a food of convenience
And in this central quality lies my crucial grievance:
Layers upon layers, it devolves into one sloppy mess—
What’s the point of many if you can’t parse one from the rest?

*A Hungarian had to explain the difference between a verb and an adjective to me because I do not know English.

16 December 2013

Pillsbury Sugar Cookie Dough

Oh boy, this is going to be a difficult one for me.  Ever since I spent a week in Lethbridge with my sister when I was 13 during her first year of university (which, irrelevant, but: we have since both agreed that she was really irresponsible), I have been in love with Pillsbury’s raw sugar cookie dough.  In case anyone is wondering about the connection here—although it should be obvious—my mum bought my sister one as part of a large grocery-haul and it just sat in the fridge.  Every single one of you should be familiar with the product I am talking about because it’s delicious.  I’m talking about the holiday sugar cookie dough that Pillsbury releases during specific holidays (definitely Halloween and Christmas, but I think Easter as well) that has coloured images of reindeer or pumpkins dyed into the dough itself.  It used to come in a tube and you had to slice off the cookies yourself, but now they come in pre-sliced pieces on a flat slab. 
For whatever reason, I was left to my own devices one evening, and I devised to slice off a sliver from the tube in my sister’s fridge without her being any the wiser.  But then I continued to slice off slivers until I had eaten over half the tube.  I was in love.  Ever since then, I have bought this cookie dough at least once a year, and sometimes several times during a single season.  I always go into it knowing that I am a disgusting human being, and with that in mind, rarely feel any shame when I eat the entire package in one evening.  My consumption rates probably peaked during my first year of university in Montreal because I lived in such wretched squalor and subsisted entirely on brown rice and coffee that more than once I suffered from fainting spells and needed to compensate by eating as much sugar as I possibly could as quickly as possible.

More recently, I bought the Halloween cookies this October while R was in New York on business.  I waited for him to leave so that he wouldn’t judge me (only to later find out that he also loves this cookie dough, but only eats it cooked, whereas I only eat it raw).  Again, I ate the majority of the pack in one evening, only to be crippled by pain and nausea.  It states quite clearly on the package that you should not eat the cookie dough raw, which is weird, because it’s not as if there’s any other way to eat it (no matter what R has to say about it). 

This pictures is the worst, but you
get the idea.
Following that harrowing experience, I abstained from buying any more cookie dough, even when the Christmas themed dough came out.  Until R came home from work with a package, and I allowed myself just one measly little raw cookie.  I did not get sick.  I am fairly certain that the reason I got sick before has less to do with the raw eggs and more to do with the sheer quantity I had consumed.

At any rate, no matter what this dough has done to me in the past, I have continued to love it because 1) raw cookie dough is delicious, 2) it is even more delicious when it comes in a package and you don’t have to make it yourself, and 3) there is so much dye in each cookie that it has that amazing artificial taste that I love so much (artificial colours is my favourite food).

It's embarrassing to admit that this was the "best series" of
pictures that I took documenting this moment... but it is.
Even though my hand looks like a novelty gag present from
Spencer's Gifts.

But there’s another kind of Pillsbury sugar cookie dough that comes in a shrink-wrapped tube and resembles a loaf of polenta or some gross sausage-type “food.”  And this is the sugar cookie dough that I am not happy with.  Not because the dough itself tastes any different from the seasonal cookie dough (with the obvious exception of the artificial dyes), but because the package showcases these beautiful star-shaped cookies with white icing and blue sugar crystals and promises “perfect shapes every time.”  And then Pillsbury was too cheap to throw in a complementary star-shaped cookie cutter or any icing and sugar!  And I know they could because I went through a pretty dark phase last year in which my diet consisted almost entirely of those Pillsbury cinnamon buns, which come in one a menacing vacuum-sealed tube that literally explodes open, but which also includes a little tub of icing that fits perfectly in the packaging.

Pillsbury easily could have repackaged these sugar cookies to accommodate the frosting and tacked on a cookie cutter, perhaps to the exterior of the package, for added value.  It wouldn't even have to be a stainless steel one; I would be perfectly happy with plastic.  Additionally, the cookies, when sliced from the loaf, didn’t even make perfect round cookies.  They cooked poorly and ran together and refused to lift off of the baking tray, which is a problem I never had with the seasonal sugar cookies.  When I wasn’t eating the dough straight from the loaf (ew, such a gross sentence), I had to eat the half-burnt/half-raw crumbs with a spoon because that was just the way these Pillsbury sugar cookies crumbled.

This was the most successful baking attempt. The photo
has since been instagram'd to Pillsbury and I am still
waiting for a response or a free voucher or something.
I'm not really sure where to go from here.  I've always found the Pillsbury brand really endearing: the "Pillsbury poke" really worked on me because that doughboy is beyond adorable.  I want to keep supporting this company partly because I imagine some of the money going directly to the doughboy and partly because Pillsbury is owned by General Mills, and I typically like their products (Lucky Charms, Green Giant), but it's hard to stay true to a brand you love when you no longer want to give that doughboy a playful poke in the tummy, but rather a forceful slap in the face. 

These "perfect cookies every time" are as broken as Pillsbury's promises.
To close things out, here's a picture of the wrapper itself:

You might also notice the "Do not eat raw cookie dough" warning.
This, just as much as the "Perfect shapes every time!" claim, is a bald-faced lie.
“Perfect shapes every time” — what a joke!
Forget your tummy, doughboy: your brain needs a poke.
Next holiday season when you roll out this sugar cookie dough,
Remember Pillsbury: you reap what you sow.
Don't be surprised if your sales take a tumble,
Your empire, like your cookies, will inevitably crumble.

But then again, let's stick to reality:
I gobbled these up in their entirety

14 December 2013


Dear friends, adversaries, and dad--

The future is upon us: Food Thoughtz will now be accepting food related problems of all kinds at food.thoughtz@gmail.com. Advice will be doled out in special Dear Food Thoughtz posts at my convenience. 

Because I expect very few to actually use this service, some of the advice provided might be in response to my own problems.