27 January 2014

Pasta - Part I: An Introduction

Dear readers, you might be in for a long haul on this one.  One of the good things about being a picky eater is that on top of avoiding a bunch of really disgusting foods, you will likely become really passionate about the food you do like.  Pasta is one such food for me, and you guys, I really love pasta. 

Probably more than any other food type, pasta has remained the most reliable across time.  I’ve made similar statements about rice and potatoes—both of which are major staples in my diet—but neither have proven to be as consistently delicious or trustworthy throughout my life has pasta has been.  When we would go out for dinner to a restaurant when I was younger, plain pasta with butter was almost always not only a viable option, but one that I took extreme relish in.  There has only been one exception at the Sheraton Hotel in Spokane in which I didn’t get the pasta dish I expected (I touched on it briefly in a Dear Food Thoughtz post), but I see no reason for rehashing that one particular anomaly again here.  As I grew older and as my tastes evolved into the perfected and crystalline state they are today, I began to experiment first with plain tomato sauce and later with bolognese.  Actually, now that I think of it, there was a second incident in which I accidentally ordered a pesto lasagna not realizing what it was, but I take full responsibility for that mistake, and because it was a lasagna, it’s beyond the scope of my present purposes.
You know, I’ve always thought that the Catholic belief in transubstantiation was a bit farfetched, but I’ll be damned if pasta doesn’t transform into something divine when cooked.  Is there a more convenient food on this earth?!  It can be stored forever in its dry form,* but boils into perfectly soft and starchy entity in a short period of time (much shorter than rice, which shares the same storage benefits, although for some reason I always think a mouse will get in there).

  Its quick prep time and long shelf life make it perfect for round-the-clock feasts.  For whatever reason, I have a really hard time measuring pasta quantity, but it ultimately doesn't matter because if you cook too much you'll eat it anyway because it's delicious, and if you cook too little it only takes about 5 minutes to make another batch.

Another great benefit to pasta is that the possibilities of different pasta shapes is limited only by man’s imagination.  To help alleviate the pressure of choosing the best pasta shape, I have compiled a non-exhaustive list of some of my favourites (as well as some of my least favourites), followed by a brief brand sampling and some of the ways that contemporary health crazes have sought to degrade this noble food.  This post has been divided into three parts because it ended up being approximately 4,000 words.

*Here's a fun fact about me.  When I took the Food Safe course offered at Selkirk College in Grand Forks, I scored about 99% on the exam.  The instructor went over the exams and explained any of the questions that people got wrong.  And then she came to the one question that I got wrong, which was a multiple choice question about what food poses the greatest risk when raw.  The possible answers were things like meat, vegetables, fruit, whatever.  But pasta was also an option, and it was the option I selected.  My reasoning was that everyone knows that raw meat can be dangerous, but no one would suspect it from pasta.  So I actually selected pasta, and I got it wrong.  The instructor wasn't even willing to go over that question for the class because she assumed someone had just accidentally circled the wrong answer. 

Pasta - Part II: Different Types of Pasta

Spaghetti: Spaghetti is what most of us have in mind when we think of pasta, and with good reason.  It’s quick to cook and it provides an excellent base for sauces.  Wrapping it around a fork is both fun and challenging.  Although it lacks some of the qualities of other pastas, such as crevices for storing sauce of cheese, it more than makes up for this because not only can you often trap sauce or cheese between the layers of pasta as you wind it around the fork, but because you never have to grab the pasta with the tines themselves, they're left free to pick up meat clumps.  Spaghetti provides a great opportunity to choose your own pasta-sauce ratio. 

Vermicelli: Some of you might find this hard to believe, but there was a time in my life when I wasn’t willing to eat spaghetti and would only eat vermicelli.  I’m not sure what I was thinking, but I guess I thought that spaghetti was too thick and too dense—essentially that it was too much pasta.  It’s really strange to realize that I thought this way because it’s not like I was pairing it with anything else at the time except maybe some parmesan cheese. 

Spaghettini: But then things got even worse when I went down another size to spaghettini.  Have you ever eaten spaghettini?  It’s really skinny, but I used to love it.  And then one day my mum overcooked it into a big mushy blob and it made me so sick that not only could I not eat it at that point, but I would never be able to eat it again.  I love having spaghetti bolognese, but I honestly have no idea what it would be like with spaghettini because I can’t go near that pasta again.  Overcooked pasta is bad at the best of times, but when you’re cooking a pasta as fine as spaghettini, you really must remain vigilant because if it’s overcooked, you might as well put it straight into the garbage.

Fettuccine / Linguine:
I have no use for this pasta.  I can’t figure out why certain dishes require this type of noodle, but I don’t eat those dishes and I can’t imagine how this pasta could benefit me.  I don’t know anything about the history of pasta, but these noodles have always seemed like a totally unnecessary evolution of spaghetti.  Like one day a group of people were sitting around together and one of them said, “You know what would make spaghetti even better?  Flattening it!”  And everyone became really enthusiastic because it did seem like a good idea, but once it was done, no one could figure out how exactly it had improved on anything at all and eventually it was relegated to the sea food dishes because the only person stupid enough to eat sea food (in general, but here specifically with pasta) is also stupid enough to think that there is a benefit to a flat noodle.

My life will never be any better than it was at this
precise moment.
Radiatori: I have tweeted about this pasta before, and I stand behind that tweet: radiator pasta is, hands down, my favourite kind of pasta.  There is no wrong way to eat this pasta.  If you have it plain with a little bit of butter, it’s going to be great because droplets of melted butter will melt into the folds so that when you bite down, it will squirt out into your mouth.  If you have it with just melted cheese, it’s also amazing for the same reason that the cheese will melt into the folds.  I don’t know how serious you guys are about melted cheese on hot foods, but it’s really important that the food that you’re melting the cheese onto is porous or has folds so that there’s somewhere for the cheese to go.  There’s nothing worse than investing a lot of energy into grating cheese only to have it end up as a lump at the bottom of the bowl.  But if you pick the right base food, that cheese will coat it and seep into it, and it will be the best thing you’ve ever had.  The same goes for bolognese sauce, although admittedly bolognese is the most forgiving.  Even with a pasta like spaghetti, which doesn’t have any pockets to hold butter/cheese/sauce, the sauce is still going to coat it.  And if you’re twirling it around  a fork then you can usually trap some of the sauce between the coils of pasta, so you really don’t have to worry too much about your sauce-to-pasta ratio.  The main benefit of radiator pasta over other forms is that because of their ruffled and folded edges, radiators typically manage to have the largest surface area, which means there’s more to be covered by sauce or cheese.  But it also means that it’s dense, yet airy.  This is probably the best quality a pasta can have, and one that is shared by rotelle, fusilli, and rotini.  Radiator is the best at achieving this delicate balance by far, and that is why it is my favourite pasta.
  
Rotelle / Wagon Wheels This is probably number two on my list after radiator.  I love this pasta and I don’t know why!  There is definitely something magnetic about it because one time my niece was eating them and accidentally dropped one on the floor.  She was just little girl and I don’t know how much floor-dirt babies can eat, so I sacrificed the noodle to the garbage.  But then she had a major meltdown and refused to eat anything else, and eventually I just took her out of her high chair.  The first thing she did when I turned my back was go straight to the garbage, fish out that one noodle (it was literally in a garbage can, sitting amongst garbage), and pop it into her mouth.  And then she just stopped crying.  I realized at that moment that although my niece and I have almost nothing in common (she won’t eat potatoes), there is a little bit of me in her because losing even one wagon wheel pasta is a huge tragedy and it’s definitely something that warrants a tantrum.  But what makes this pasta so much better than others?  I can’t say for sure, but I suspect it has something to do with its wheel shape (duh).  What I mean is that when you consider a wagon wheel and how the spokes are there to maintain the circular shape and ensure that the wheel doesn’t just collapse, then you’ll understand what’s so great about this pasta.  It’s really sturdy, but because it’s also soft pasta, you exercise so much power over it.  You can break it at will!  One of my favourite things to do is to push a full wheel up to my top front teeth, hold it in place, and then burst my tongue through the spokes.  Admittedly this pasta is not the best for sauce because there’s not much to hold onto, but it still works really well with butter or cheese.  Obviously all pasta is good with butter, but the shape of the wheels gives something for the cheese to melt onto and stick to.  Unlike something like penne, where the cheese typically just slips off, the various spokes provide the cheese something to hold onto.  If you’re really lucky the cheese might melt over the entire surface of the wheel so that you end up with something that resembles a drum.

I put zero effort into this one, but it was still a great excuse to remember that 2008 USA Sista Road Trip.


Conchiglie / Shell Pasta: There was a time in my life when I refused to believe that anything was better than shell pasta.  It was probably around 2007.  By then I had probably already had radiator and wagon wheel, but for some reason shell pasta was just really doing it for me.  Shell pasta has a lot of really great design features (actually it only has one, but it’s really great).  Because it’s shaped like a shell, it functions as a pocket  to catch whatever you drape over it—it’s like eating a spoonful of spoons, but the spoons are made of pasta and are edible.  One minor complaint about shell pasta is that it can sometimes be difficult to spear them with your fork, but it’s not difficult enough to stop you from enjoying this fine pasta.  Life is always placing obstacles in your way, and you just have to learn to overcome them.

Conchiglioni: For anyone who doesn’t know, conchiglioni are those giant shells that you’re supposed to stuff with something.  You probably can’t eat them plain, although I have thought about it.  I’ve thought about these giant shells a lot, actually.  Whenever I am in the pasta aisle I spend a lot of time staring at them and daring myself to buy them, but I haven’t taken the plunge yet.  I’m waiting for someone to stuff them with spaghetti sauce, grate some cheese on them, and pop them into the oven to bake. *cough*  Probably delicious, right?


Here is some penne that I ate one
time. It's totally smothered in cheese.
Perfect midnight snack.
Penne Rigate: Penne is a difficult pasta for me and I never really know how I feel about it.  One thing that I definitely do not like about penne is that it takes a lot longer to cook than any other pasta I typically eat.  The pay off, I suppose, is that penne is a lot meatier than other pastas so it makes sense that it takes so much longer to cook.  Penne is a perfectly acceptable pasta choice, but because there are better shapes out there, it’s not one I often go for.  If I do have penne, I typically have it plain with cheddar cheese because I don’t think it’s really a sauce pasta.  Because it’s a hollow tube it seems like there’s a lot of potential there to catch sauce or cheese, but it never really works out that way.  It should go without saying that the only penne worth eating is rigate.  I can’t imagine anyone ever opting for the smooth penne.
*NB. I didn't mention penne lisce because I can't imagine anyone even eats that. 

Macaroni: Macaroni is another kind of pasta that while I really like, I don’t actually eat very often.  It never seems worth buying macaroni because the shape just isn’t as good as other pastas.  I usually eat them as the pasta component to macaroni and cheese, but just because they’re the expected pasta to have in this dish, that shouldn’t stop you from experimenting with other forms, too.  Shell pasta is particularly good in macaroni and cheese, and I bet wagon wheel or radiator would be amazing as well.

Orzo: What the hell is orzo?  Rice-shaped pasta?  I hate it.  In general I’m not a big fan of mini-pasta (there are also tiny shells or those star-shaped things), but orzo is the absolute worst.  It’s like a bunch of slimy maggots and has neither the good qualities of rice nor of pasta.  One time I had to eat it and it felt like reverse-vomiting.  Maybe you’re thinking that all eating is reverse-vomiting, but this actually felt like someone recorded a video of me puking up rice and then played it in reverse.  It felt like watching that.

Fusilli: This is the most under-appreciated of all the pasta shapes that I eat.  I really love it, but for some reason I don’t buy it very often and I certainly don’t praise it as much as I should.  It has a lot of the same benefits as radiator pasta because it has a lot of surface area as well as nooks and crannies for sauce and cheese.  Radiator is better only because it has a more satisfying texture to it, partly because there’s more ridges to it, but also because for some reason it’s just better if it’s slightly undercooked.  For some reason I think this has to do with it being kind of a cube-shape, but I can’t justify that logic in anyway.

Rotini: This pasta is possibly slightly better than fusilli even though they are very similar in shape.  The benefit is that rotini is slightly tighter, so it’s denser to bite done on, but there’s enough space between the coils to give the pasta nice bounce.  Again, I don’t buy this pasta nearly as often as I should.

Farfalle / Bow Tie: I’m all for novelty-shaped pasta, but this just doesn’t do it for me.  It doesn’t have enough body to it.  It's like cutting a square from a sheet of lasagna noodles and twisting it.  The little gathering of pasta in the centre is the only thing that gives this pasta any sort of shape, and I hope that by now that you have realized that one of the most important qualities a pasta can have is good dimensions.  Farfalle just doesn't cut it, but I think I have seen it used in soup a few times, and that would probably be okay if you're into that kind of thing.  

Lumache / Snail-Shell: This is another pasta shape that I don’t have too much experience with, although I have nothing against it.  Now that I’m thinking of it, maybe I should buy a bag because it seems like this pasta merges the best qualities of macaroni with the best qualities of shell pasta.  They would probably make an excellent base for macaroni and cheese.  So if anyone is wondering what I want for my birthday (it’s coming up, or will be depending on when you’re reading this), you could get me a bag of lumache and I’ll try it out and get back to you.
Pasta art in Barcelona.
Lasagna Noodles: The only reason to eat this pasta is if you’re eating lasagna.  There’s no other way I’m going to cut my pasta with a knife.  Now might be a good time to mention that I absolutely hate it when people cut their spaghetti in half.  The same goes for people who break their spaghetti in half before cooking it.  I can’t even eat that garbage.  No one is more spoiled or coddled than me, but it takes a special kind of uselessness to only be able to eat spaghetti that has been halved.  You wrap it around your fork.  In hindsight, this note probably would have fit better under the spaghetti heading.

Tortellini: Olivieri tri-colour three-cheese tortellini is one of my major weaknesses.  I cannot exist in the same space as this pasta without eat it all up immediately.  Sometimes I am so full that I can’t move except to bring another forkful to my greedy mouth.  This pasta is delicious, especially when smothered in butter.  I went through a weird phase when I was really obsessed with grating parmesan on top of it, but I’ve since outgrown that and don’t like it at all anymore.  The orange colour is my favourite, but I had to find out the hard way that even though the green ones are my least favourite, if you remove all of the green ones, it really takes away from the overall experience.  I have never had any other form of tortellini and don’t even know if they exist.

Ravioli: I think I have had ravioli once in my life—in Italy (yes, Italy)—and it was fine, but ultimately unnecessary. 

Pasta - Part III: Brands, Alternatives, and Final Thoughtz

PASTA BRANDS:


Obviously there are numerous pasta brands out there, but here’s a small selection of what’s available.  These are the brands that I most often encounter.

Barilla: Even if barilla hadn’t made those weird anti-gay comments, they’re just not a very good pasta brand.  I haven’t bought this pasta very much in the past because it’s typically more expensive than other brands, but when I have, I’ve always had a hard time cooking it properly.  It seems to always be undercooked, and there is practically no window during which to extract the pasta at its perfect consistency.  And while I like the idea of pasta coming in the box, it usually find it to be more of a hassle than a bag.

Maybe it’s worth touching on the gay scandal that rocked Barilla in September 2013.  Essentially the Chairman stated that Barilla supports “traditional” families, and that if you disagree, then you can eat another brand of pasta.  And you know what?  If you disagree, you can just eat another brand of pasta.  It will probably help you to realize that Barilla does not produce a quality product.

De Cecco
:
This brand also comes in a box, but I still really like it.  I think the design is pretty good (Old Country, but not too Old Country).  I usually go for this pasta when I want to step up my game.

Catelli: Do not even talk to me about Catelli because I hate it.  Even if I didn’t hate it, it’s almost impossible to find a Catelli product that isn’t whole wheat or “smart pasta.”  I don’t know what the difference is between the two, but if there is one, I hate them both.

Primo: Of all the pasta brands, Primo is the one that I’ve probably eaten the most.  It’s cheap, most grocery stores carry it, and they’re usually the only brand that I can find in a generic grocery store that makes wagon wheels.

Italpasta: Italpasta has been my go-to brand recently.  It’s cheap and I think the quality is good.

PASTA DEGRADATIONS:


Look, if you can’t handle pasta, don’t eat it.  If it doesn’t feel good in your body, then maybe pasta is not for you.  If you feel guilty for eating pasta, then stop it.  But for the love of God, do not subject the rest of us whose digestive systems are tough enough to handle it to these revolting pasta-tweaks or pasta-alternatives.  Have you eaten whole wheat pasta?  It is disgusting.  It never cooks properly.  It’s brown.  That is not the pasta for me.  Brown rice pasta or black bean pasta, although I have never tried either, are similarly disgusting.  Is it even pasta?  I have no idea, but whatever it is, it’s clogging up my pasta aisle.  “Clogged aisles” is probably how you feel when you eat pasta, so stop doing it and stop searching for “healthy alternatives” that mimic pasta.

BOLOGNESE SAUCE:


I was originally planning to write a separate post for bolognese sauce, but because I’ve already mentioned it so many times throughout this post, it makes more sense to throw a little something together right now.
It’s hard to imagine that bolognese sauce is a fairly recent addition to my life.  I’m sure I had eaten it before, but I don’t remember getting serious about bolognese until that one time I was stranded in Ancona and there was nothing else to eat.  If you’re wondering whether it was particularly high-quality sauce because it was in Italy, the answer is no.  Italy, like anywhere else in the world, probably does have really good bolognese sauce, but I bet that what counts as “good bolognese” would be inedible for me because it probably includes fresh ingredients, and I can’t stand fresh ingredients in a sauce.  Bolognese sauce should always be made of canned crushed tomatoes and one small tin of tomato paste (do not consider getting any other form of tomato, such as diced or whole, because you’re going to have to puree them anyway, and you probably have a pretty cheap hand-blender that doesn’t puree very well, and you’re going to end up regretting your decision), the cheapest ground beef you can find (I always pretend that I like lean, but I actually like the regular ground beef because grease is so good in spaghetti sauce), one onion, some garlic, and then whatever spices might be available to you.  What I’m getting at is that the kind of spaghetti sauce I like is the sauce most readily available at fast-food stalls in ferry terminals in Ancona.  It is worth noting, however, that I have not limited myself to fast-food spaghetti bolognese.  Far from it, I actually orchestrated an elaborate marriage scheme in order to secure myself a life-time supply of spaghetti bolognese: I scoured the entire globe until I found the best bolognese chef alive today, and then I married them. (Boldog születésnapot, keleti szépségem.)

But it might be unfair to give Ancona full credit.  Previous to this experience in 2005, I had already started to get involved with baked lasagnas that were cooked with bolognese sauce and thankfully without ricotta cheese or bechamel sauce.  At that time--sometime during high school--I didn't consider the possibility of eating pasta with bolognese sauce.  It is typically the case with me that even though I like a certain kind of food in a certain kind of way, I am still unwilling to try that same food prepared in a slightly different way.  Even though lasagna should not be considered a direct cause of my later love of bolognese sauce, I think on some unconscious level it probably opened my mind to the possibility, and for that I am eternally grateful. 

Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?
Thou art more starchy and more satisfying.
Summer is an unknown, but come what may,
Thou are steadfast and always appetizing.
Beads of melted cheese on thine ridges shines
My love for thee has not once been dimmed
Come hither! Prick thyself on my fork tines
Sauce, cheese, and pasta: mine bowl hath brimmed!
My commitment to thee cannot be sway’d
When thou art absent I am at my low’st
Accept this sonnet as my love display’d
I hope the gesture will not go unnotic’d
So long as men can breathe, or eyes can see,
So long lives thee, and thou give life to me.

25 January 2014

"Dear Food Thoughtz:" The Dangers of Dumpster Diving

A friendly Dear Food Thoughtz reminder that the garbage you're eating might be poisoned.  If you think you've been poisoned by garbage in the past, please write in at food.thoughtz@gmail.com
Dear Food Thoughtz

Is it acceptable to eat food out of a dumpster? I have a friend who is an expert dumpster diver. There is no limit to what he will find in - and pull out of - a dumpster. I mean, seriously, no limits. Cigarettes, gatorade, organic pineapples, rice flour, power tools, vacuum cleaners, lawnmowers, elliptical machines you name it. When we were younger I used to accept his dumpstered wares without a second thought - I was a broke philosophy student with no life prospects and no standards, who was I to judge or turn down free food? But now I have a job where the dress code is "business casual", and I have a kid, and a pension, and I wonder if it is okay to keep eating from the dumpster. I really need you to answer this now, because he just gave me a case of Campbell's chunky chicken noodle soup, the kind that is ready to eat, and I'm freaking out about whether I should be eating it. And feeding it to my child.

Sincerely,
Divided on dumpstering

PS We had chunky chicken noodle soup for dinner tonight. And also lunch yesterday.
PPS He said he checked with Campbell's and there have been no recalls on the soup...yet.


Dear Divided on Dumpstering,

Sometimes when I am walking to school I will see a bottle of Nestea just sitting out in the open, on a bench or on the edge of a planter or on a desk in an empty classroom.  Sometimes I slow down and pretend that I have to tie my shoe so that I can get a better look at the bottle.  Sometimes it is still sealed.  And sometimes I think about taking it, because free iced tea, right?  I mean, I’m not going to spend $2 on a bottle of Nestea myself, but sometimes I really want it.  Why shouldn’t I take it and enjoy?  Eventually someone is just going to throw it out anyway. 

But aside from the humiliation that accompanies picking up a bottle of juice off the street and drinking it in full public view, the main thing that always stops me is that episode of Criminal Minds.  I know you know what episode I’m talking about.  It begins with a father and a son driving back from a movie, and during the drive, the father begins to hallucinate and I think he ends up killing his son.  And then it turns out that there have been several similar cases, and somehow a bunch of random people with no connection to one another have been drugged with LSD (or something like LSD) because they all took a wrapped candy from a candy dish in a bank—some of which had been poisoned.  It was all a test run and the unsub’s primary target are all of the high-ranking members of a corporation that recently screwed this guy over somehow, but of course the team figures it out before the damage is done.  I mean, I think that boy still died and definitely a woman died.  But still.  BAU!  BAU!

And so I always think: what if?  What if the reason this sealed iced tea is just sitting out in the open, free for the taking, is because some asshole has drugged it with something?  Did you ever consider that maybe the reason Campbell’s hasn’t issued a recall is because they’re not the ones who injected their own Chunky Chicken Noodle Soup with LSD?  Did you consider that someone might have bought a case of it, laced it with drugs, and then put in a dumpster knowing that someone wouldn’t be able to pass up on that bargain?  Did you consider that?!

ps. Hope you don’t get botulism!  Or something even worse…

20 January 2014

"Dear Food Thoughtz:" A Different Kind of Picky-Eating

In today's edition of Dear Food Thoughtz we deal with the worst kind of picky-eaters: raw food enthusiasts and carb haters.  As always, please send all questions and concerns to food.thoughtz@gmail.com

Dear Food Thoughtz

I am the mother of a three year old, which comes with a number of anxieties. Chief among them is that I am going to ruin her life forever by imprinting horrible habits and patterns of thought onto her as she grows up. One of the areas that causes me the most concern is the issue of food. Fortunately, my daughter loves to eat, and to eat widely. However, recently, she has shown a penchant for raw vegetables, to the exclusion of most other things. I know that to any other parent, this preference seems like a dream, but for me it is becoming all too real. I can barely get her to choke down one or two mouthfuls of carbs before she's screaming for another carrot of handful of snap peas. I don't want to cause some sort of life-impacting trauma, but I also can't stomach the thought of raising some sort of raw food asshole.

Sincerely,
Mindful mother

Dear Mindful Mother,

I hate to be the one to tell you this, but your daughter sounds like the kind of homeschool brat who, at the age of five, during a forced socializing meet-up for other homeschool kids, will proudly proclaim that she’s on a raw diet, that she doesn’t eat gluten, and that she’s “allergic to additives.”  Worse yet, she will probably be “accepting” of other people’s diets, but claim that they are just “not for her.”  And even worse yet, she’ll probably fit right in with the other homeschoolers, and they will remain her only friends for life because when she goes away for university, she will find that she just doesn’t get along with anyone else.  Fortunately, there are a lot worse “raw vegetables” she could be gobbling up than carrots and snap peas.  Unfortunately, I happen to know that she also reaches out her greedy palms for more disgusting vegetables, like kale and probably tomatoes.

But as for what can actually be done about her diet, I’m a bit conflicted.  On one hand, I want to advise you to start forcing potatoes of all kinds on her.  But on the other hand, I know from extensive personal experience that few things in this world are as cruel as forcing unwanted new-foods on a child and it really can be the source of a trauma that will cripple her and her relationship with food for the rest of her life.  The same thing happened to me with a forced salmon pie, and for the first time in my life, my mother finally owned up to it (or at least admitted its possibility) this Christmas.

Unfortunately the best advice I can give you is to simply wait it out.  You might want to try to influence her subconscious by playing sleep hypnosis tapes at night about how delicious carbs are (this might mean recording your own), but hopefully this will be an inevitable realization for her anyway.  If all else fails, relinquish custody to the state of Hungary and they will whip her into shape.  It is my understanding that they take a fairly dictatorial approach to force-feeding pre-school children during rigid lunch routines.

17 January 2014

The Cranberry

Can someone please tell me definitively whether or not cranberries exist in any state other than the following: (canned) cranberry sauce; frozen cranberries; dried cranberries; or cranberry juice.  Is there such a thing as a “cranberry”?  Has anyone ever seen one?  Are they really harvested in revolting swamps?  If anyone read this blog or cared enough about it to comment, the answer would probably be yes.  I’m sure that someone, somewhere, knows what a cranberry is, but I have never seen a cranberry—neither in its natural environment, nor for sale in a store—and it seems really bizarre to me that there is an entire culture of food that surrounds a particular “berry” (is it even a berry?!) that no one seems to eat in its natural state.

Frozen Cranberries
: Of all the manifestations of the cranberry, the frozen cranberry seems the most capable at signalling towards a natural cranberry.  Presumably frozen cranberries are actual cranberries that have been frozen, and so perhaps by examining the frozen version, we can better understand the elusive cranberry. I once bought a bag of frozen cranberries as smoothie ingredients because they were on a steep discount and because I initially mistook them for raspberries.  By the time I had realized my mistake, I thought I might as well see this thing through to the end (smoothies provide a really safe environment for trying new foods).  Their contribution to my smoothies were not remarkable in any way.  I tried one in its frozen form and did not like it.

Cranberry Sauce: I know that a lot of people are really into this and that it’s considered a staple at Thanksgiving dinners, but argh, this is disgusting.  Maybe on its own it’s not too bad (although probably still not very good, unless you add sugar to it or something), but I have never understood the appeal of drizzling a fruit sauce over meat.  Worse yet is that unless you eat your turkey on a separate plate or bowl, that sauce is inevitably going to come into contact with whatever other food you might happen to have on your plate, like stuffing, mashed potatoes, or steamed vegetables.  Unfortunately I think this might be part of the appeal for a lot of people.
I'm really getting into the idea of me riding on top of certain foods as if they were a hot, metal goat.


Dried Cranberries: I’ve never been able to figure out whether or not the term “craisin” refers strictly to dried cranberries, to a mix of raisins and dried cranberries, or to a process of fusing grapes and cranberries together into one fruit before the drying process occurs.  But whatever that word refers to, it doesn’t really matter because when you already have a plentiful supply of raisins that exist in this world, why would you ever need dried cranberries?

Cranberry Juice: Alleged health benefits aside, pure cranberry juice is overpriced and disgusting to boot.  If I’m going to pay $9 for 1L of juice, I want to be able to actually drink it.

Cranberries in juice form brings up an important point: aren’t these berries disgusting?  If they do in fact exist in some sort of pure form, shouldn’t they not?  Based on my experience with the juice and the frozen variety, they really don’t taste very good.  I get that they’re supposed to be a super-food and loaded with a bunch of whatevers, but so are a lot of other things. Including the other berries, like strawberries, raspberries, and blueberries—all of which are delicious.  I'm here to tell you that you don't have to limit yourself to this one disgusting berry (which may or may not actually exist), because the world around you is bursting with delicious berries, if you'll only open your eyes to it.

 Have any among you seen the cranberry in its natural state?
Or is it less what is is, and more how it can be used to create?
It comes to us as sauce, dried fruit, or over-priced juice,
But for such a “super-food,” it’s kind of a recluse.
 

15 January 2014

"Dear Food Thoughtz:" Spam Induced Nausea

Welcome to the third installment of Dear Food Thoughtz!  Today we are dealing with inadvertently ordering Spam and tips on how to overcome an eating slump.  As always, write in to food.thoughtz@gmail.com.
Dear Food Thoughtz,

Is there any acceptable use for spam, in food or otherwise?  Living in the Philippines I have had it served to me under the following names: bacon, ham, pork, sausage, and baboy.  I've never had it served to me as "spam" because I would never order it if they called it "spam," having never considered spam suitable for human consumption.  What are your thoughtz on this matter?  Do you have any idea how do I can ensure that people stop giving me spam when I order real food?

Dear Anonymous,

Thank you for your question; it will allow me to tackle two issues at once, both of which I consider to be very important: 1) is it ever okay to eat Spam, and 2) what do you do when you’re in a foreign land and can never be certain of what you’re ordering.

In short, the answer to the first question is no.  My wife eats Spam with frightening regularity, and it makes her sick every single time without fail.  And knowing that she is eating it also makes me sick, so it’s important to consider the feelings of others when you decide to eat something like Spam.  Your life is not your own, and your choices can negatively impact those you hold most dear.  I don’t believe that meat should ever be sealed in a tin or a can, so the Canard en Conserve is equally revolting to me, even though it’s served in a swanky French restaurant in Montreal.

I actually had no idea that Spam was a real food until fairly recently.  I assumed it was some kind of made-up food that they referenced in TV shows all the time, and as a result, some company decided to start manufacturing tins of it.  Kind of like the promotional Buzz Cola or the rip-offs of Duff beer, both from the Simpsons. 

Unfortunately there is so sure way to know what exactly you’re getting when you order a dish from a restaurant.  One time during a family trip to Spokane, probably to see Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat, I ordered plain spaghetti in the Sheraton hotel restaurant.  I was very clear about what I wanted: absolutely plain noodles with some butter.  Would you believe me if I told you that when the dish arrived, it was covered in some kind of green, like parsley or basil or something?  Just the other day when I ordered a burger from Montana’s Cookhouse Saloon I was very explicit about not wanting any vegetables or sauces on my burger, and sure enough it arrived with lettuce, tomato, and a pickle.

My point is that while you can never be 100% certain of what you’re getting in a restaurant, there are some steps you can take to ensure that what you’re ordering is as close as possible to what you’d like to consume:

1. Trial and Error.  Although time consuming and potentially costly, sometimes the best method is to try out as many restaurants as possible.  In my case, I almost always order the same dish at every restaurant, so it’s easier for me to whittle the list down to a choice few selections where I can be confident that I know what I’m getting and that I will like it.  Presumably it would be more or less the same for someone with a more varied diet because if a restaurant can do one thing well, then it’s probably likely that they can prepare other dishes to your liking as well.

2. Be as Specific as Possible.  This doesn’t always work, but it’s probably your best bet.  My most complicated order is usually a burger, and I always try to make it very clear that I want it absolutely plain, with no vegetables and no sauce, but that I do want a slice of cheddar cheese.  And then I repeat again that all I want is the bun, the burger, and the cheese but nothing else.  This usually works for me.  

Your situation seems to be a bit different, however.  It seems as though the restaurants you have visited in the Philippines are deliberately deceiving you.  I have had similar experiences in the States because menus will often say that an order comes with cheese, but then when it arrives, it’s processed cheese.  Even if you ask the server whether or not it’s real cheese or processed cheese, they will lie to you—albeit in good faith—because they honestly believe that processed cheese is real cheese.  There is very little you can do in these situations except know thine enemy.  

I don’t know how comfortable you are with sending food back, but perhaps you could ask the server a series of questions about whether or not you’re getting a sausage or a slab of Spam, and then carefully describe what a sausage is to you and make sure that your definitions match.  Then, if the food you’re served is actually a slab of Spam and not the agreed upon definition of a sausage, you have just cause to send the food back.  Personally I would not be comfortable with this.

Another option is to just forego any menu item that could potentially be Spam.  It can be difficult because frankly, what is the point of going out for breakfast if not getting two sides of meat?  But if you’re only other option is eating Spam, it might not be a bad choice. 


3. Shame Them.  When a restaurant serves me something I don’t want to eat, I don’t send it back, I don’t force it down, and I don’t try to be discrete about my disdain.  For example, when my Montana’s burger arrived, I placed the unwanted vegetables on a napkin in the centre of the table for all servers and patrons to see.  This technique will not benefit you in any way.  You’re not going to get your meal refunded and you’ll be lucky to even get an apology.  It’s highly unlikely that anyone even cares that you did this.  Still, I always seem to get some satisfaction out of it.

4. Better Safe than Sorry.  This is my golden rule, and admittedly it's a lot easier for someone like me to follow it than someone with a more varied diet.  However, the onus is on you to figure out what the Philippines excels at across the board that you would also eat, and stick to that one thing or couple of things as closely as possible.  I really did only eat rice during the seven months I was in Central America because I knew that whether purchased at a tin shack on the street or in a mid-range restaurant, the result would always be delicious (except for the time that I was poisoned, although to be fair, that rice was also delicious).

5. McDonalds.  Just go to McDonalds.  It still counts as cultural engagement because McDonalds are different all over the world.


Dear Foodcritique Extraordinaire,

Recently I've been grappling with anxieties, fears, worries and disgust with humankind and myself. This in itself would not be a problem, however, I have also become disgusted by food, especially cooked food and vegetables. The only kind of food I feel like eating is sangria made by the Pourboy.

What should I do? What kind of diet do you suggest to a nauseated human being?

Best wishes,

Hateful Hermit

Dear Hateful Hermit,

Your question is an interesting one, and one that I myself often struggle with.  There are two routes you could take with this:

1. Move to Toronto to be closer to Pourboy.  If this option is not feasible at the moment, then:

2. Ease yourself back into a normal eating routine by preparing inoffensive dishes that you can consume without thinking about what it is you are consuming.  I would recommend either rice or oatmeal.  Although both are cooked foods, they're also essentially just a pile of mush and the experience of eating them can easily be transformed into a mundane task that you simply have to complete, and therefore shouldn't induce any sensations of nausea.  The result should be one of two things: either you get so sick of eating rice/oatmeal that you're willing to eat anything else, or getting used to eating cooked food that is so bland and inoffensive will actually help you to get over your current state of disgust and lead you back to all the normal foods you previously consumed.  A third option is to give into your nausea and subsist entirely on alcohol, cigarettes, and coffee.  Although it will inevitably wreak havoc on your body it is also the diet best paired with Weltschmerz or Sartrean nausea.



11 January 2014

Broccoli

Broccoli is often the quintessential food that picky children hate to the point of becoming a cliché. So maybe it’s a bit weird or unexpected that I like broccoli, but I really do, and I can’t recall ever having a problem with it.
Just picked up these crowns today at Sobey's.  Lately I've had really terrible luck with broccoli in Toronto and I have
been forced to throw a lot of it out.  I have really high hopes for these ones, though.  They look absolutely perfect,
and I love when grocery stores sell them without too much stem.
 But not all broccoli is created equally.  In order to be worth eating, broccoli should be prepared in a specific manner.  Ideally it should be steamed, but it should always be undercooked—there are few things in this world worse than mushy broccoli.  Although perfectly acceptable plain, it’s value is really augmented by the addition of either butter, or better yet, grated cheddar cheese or cheese sauce.  It also pairs well with cauliflower and carrots, as shown below:
Broccoli, cauliflower, and carrots: cooked to perfection and ready for consumption.
You can notice in the above photos that I am always careful to ensure that each piece of broccoli that I cut up is a tree unto itself.  Sometimes you have to sacrifice the integrity of a tree if it is simply too large, but as a general rule I like to maintain this structure.  In fact, I cannot abide halved trees or a crown that has been recklessly cut up.

It is also worth mentioning at this point in time that broccoli can also be consumed raw, and that is perfectly fine, although rarely preferable.  Raw broccoli almost stings your mouth, so it's always recommended to cook broccoli if possible.  Of course, some events lend themselves better to raw broccoli, such as casual get-togethers in which people nibble rather than feast.  Although, it is generally ill-advised to cook broccoli for a dinner anyway because it's difficult to gauge how another person likes their broccoli cooked.

There are, however, two major concerns that must be voiced in any broccoli review.  The first is that cooking broccoli produces a horrific odor, and if you live with another person, you should be careful to cook your broccoli only when that person is already at home, or when you can be absolutely certain that they will not be returning for quite some time.  Few things in this world are more cruel than having someone come home to a house that reeks of recently-cooked broccoli.  The second concern is that selecting a perfect crown of broccoli is no easy task.  Often grocery stores are left with an abysmal selection of broccoli.  Either the flowers have started to yellow (or worse yet, brown), or the stems have turned rubbery or have gone white and hard inside.  In recent months I have become increasingly vigilant about the quality of broccoli I buy because I am convinced that last winter I ate some broccoli that had gone bad and suffered mild food poisoning as a result.  The best broccoli will have a mix of rich, forest green colouring and a more vibrant bright green.  The flowers will also be tightly packed and probably quite small.  You should be wary of a crown if the flowers are starting to pull apart, and avoid it at all costs if there is any sign of yellowing/browning.
This picture perhaps better captures how I insist that my broccoli be prepared for cooking.  Although it looks like
there is some yellowing on the flowers, I can assure you that is due only to the poor quality of my phone.
Despite some dangerous pitfalls, broccoli remains one of my favourite all-season vegetables.  Unlike peas and green beans—which are my favourites—it is usually possible to get high-quality broccoli at any time of the year, making it one of the most versatile vegetables.  It is our extreme good fortune that quality carrots and cauliflower are two other vegetables that can often be purchased during any season.

Did you know that broccoli is cousin to the cabbage?

For me, such knowledge should cause long-lasting diet-restricting damage.
And yet, I continue to eat this little cabbage-tree—
Less out of necessity and more just for glee.
You don’t always have to love the family you wed into:
Ignore the blood line and slice that broccoli head in two,
Slather it with butter or grated cheddar cheese,
Because sometimes it is better to not see the forest for the broccoli-trees.

09 January 2014

@foodthoughtz is trending

08 January 2014

New Year, New Me: This Green Vegetable Smoothie

Continuing the inadvertent 2014 trend of trying new things that began with a walnut, over the holidays I tried a sip of a smoothie at the Wooden Spoon Bistro.  No big deal, right?  Wrong.  This smoothie had kale and avocado in it and I even knew about the kale before I tried it.  (The taste, in case anyone was wondering, was neutralized by agave nectar).  To be fair, had I known there was also avocado in it, there's no way I would have tried it.  But things get stranger: I actually really enjoyed it.  I'm not sure if I would have wanted the entire smoothie for myself, but luckily my three year-old niece guzzled the whole thing down before anyone else had a chance.


Since trying this smoothie, my what had hitherto been an unquenchable thirst for trying new foods has kind of petered out.  But still, even if that's it for me in 2014, I've had a pretty good run.


Burger Round-Up

I am currently on hour 55 of my 64+ hour trip home.  So far I have consumed 3 airport burgers, and one Kelowna burger at The Keg before taking the Greyhound to Vancouver.  Here is a brief overview of those burgers:

1. The Keg:
No photos exist of this burger experience, and frankly, if photographs are supposed to serve as memory keepers, I’m glad: eating at The Keg isn’t really an experience I am eager to remember.  The burger tasted a bit strange, possibly because I believe it was prime rib burger (I have no idea what that might mean) or possibly because there might have been BBQ sauce on it.  The fries were truly terrible, which was surprising because I expected The Keg to, first of all, have steak fries, and second of all, have good fries.  Adding to this already disappointing dining debacle, the waitress was truly abysmal, and at one point referred to my empty plate as “that little guy,” as in, “Let me get that little guy out of the way for ya!”


2. Vera’s Burgers:

Vera’s Burgers are all over Vancouver and are always being touted as “Vancouver’s Best Burger.” You’d think that with all that bragging, they might actually be able to produce a decent burger, but you would be wrong.  After The Keg, this was the second worst burger on the trip.  Everything about it was terrible: the bun, the meat, the cheese, the packaging… It was really disappointing.  I think my burger might have been composed entirely of chunks of ground beef that broke off from previous patties.  I have eaten at Vera’s once before, and I remember thinking that it was okay, but not amazing.  
This burger didn't even register as okay.
I friggin' hate it when buns have a hard shell.  So many unnecessary crumbs,
and it really takes away from the overall experience.
 3. Moxie’s Burger:

You guys.  You guys.  Air Canada put me up in the Sandman City Centre in Calgary after my connecting flight to Toronto had been cancelled and I couldn’t be rebooked until 5pm the following day.  In addition, they gave me a dinner voucher and breakfast voucher to use at the in-hotel Moxie’s restaurant, and another $10 to spend on lunch at the airport.  The Moxie burger was pretty good, and while I couldn’t put it in my Top 10 Burgers, it did taste better because it was free.  I had fries on the side and the waiter didn’t know what malt vinegar was and claimed that they “didn’t have any,” which I find really hard to believe. 

I have no idea if that pickle that was skewered atop my burger was edible or plastic, but I didn't appreciate the gesture.
 4. Montana’s Cookhouse Saloon Burger: 

Okay, despite a few drawbacks, this burger was by far the best of the four and in general is just a really solid burger.  At first I was a bit put off by the high prices because my $10 voucher wouldn’t cover the $15 burger, but then I noticed that they had an “unloaded” option for $11, and I went for it.  And let me just say thank you, Montana’s Cookhouse Saloon, because I have been waiting for an “unloaded” option at a cheaper price for my entire life.  But let me also add, why doesn’t anyone who works at your restaurant know what “unloaded” means?  When my burger arrived, it was topped with lettuce and tomato, and with a larger pickle-quarter on the side.  I promptly put it on a napkin so the waitress could see how she had failed me.  (I didn’t get a refund though.  Montana’s Cookhouse Saloon, if you’re reading this, please give me a free unloaded burger).  Once again, the waitress had never heard of malt vinegar, but she was decent enough to inquire about it for me, and obviously they had some because obviously.  Take note, Moxie’s.  Once again, the fries left something to be desired, but were undoubtedly improved by the malt vinegar.




06 January 2014

Hungarian Cold Fruit Soup

Wow.  I don’t even know how to start this post because I still can’t get my head around this.  Cold fruit soup?  At first I thought that perhaps the name didn’t translate very well from Hungarian.  But it does.  “Leves” means soup.  And then I thought, well, okay, this is just an unfortunate instance of poor naming that doesn’t really capture the essence of the food itself.  But it kind of does.  It actually is just cold fruit soup.  My relationship with this soup has run the gamut of emotions, from total revulsion to piqued interest to disappointment, and finally to indifference.

 Although I had all the opportunities in the world to try this soup during my many sojourns in Budapest, I never did.  The reason should be fairly self-evident (it's marketed as cold fruit soup), and I long considered it amongst the most depraved of all Hungarian inventions--of which there are many, and if you ever have the pleasure of meeting a real-life Hungarian, they will undoubtedly list them all for you.  I have never considered food to be a meaningful way by which to engage with a culture, but every time I was reminded of the existence of cold fruit soup, I had to stop and wonder what kind of miseries a people must endure to bring them to this dish.  I imagined a starving family, huddled together over a small fire in the midst of a harsh winter, with nothing to eat but some left-over fruit preserves from the fall and doing what they had to to survive.  The image did not appeal to me.
Okay, well, here it is.  The blobs are chunks of cherry.  At first I was pretty excited because I thought it would be like
the chunks of cherry in Activia yogurt (JLC: if you're reading this, hi!!), but it was not like that at all.

I also could never quite understand when one is expected to eat this soup.  I get the impression that it is often served as a main course, but because it's cold and because it's made of soup, it didn't make any sense.  Shouldn't it just be a post-meal dessert or a poor substitute for ice cream?  It really should not be a meal unto itself.  I don't know how many times I will have to say this in this post, but it is quite literally cold fruit soup.

By imagining how it might first have been developed and by trying to figure out when one is supposed to eat it, cold fruit soup slowly wormed its way into my brain, and I became obsessed with trying it for myself.  This was a pretty new phenomenon for me, because even though I am often intrigued by different foods, I almost never want to try them.  I'm not sure what made this instance different.  But I did try it.  I happen to live about two minutes from one of the few remaining Hungarian eateries in town.  I went with a real Hungarian, who described the soup as being "okay."  I was less generous in my evaluation.

Whenever I take a chance on a new food and try it, I always think it warrants a long post about my experiences.  But the bottom line is that this is a cold fruit soup, and it really doesn't warrant any discussion whatsoever.  Actually, I believe it is a disservice to culinary culture to give any more attention to this food than it deserves, which is none.  To quote one of my (few) instagram followers and real-life Hungarian:
There is nothing left to say about a food that is composed of three elements, the most crucial of which being "soup," and as nagymarcipan correctly pointed out, a soup must be hot and it must be savoury.  The Hungarian cold fruit soup is, then, composed of contradictions, and the second two elements--that it is cold and that is made of fruit--seems to negate the possibility that it is even a soup to begin with.  This food might have been more successful with me if it had been marketed as something else, like a compote or a sauce.  I mean, maybe you could drizzle this over some ice cream and it might be okay, but as it stands, this is not a food I will try again.

I'll leave off on one final note.  In John Hawkes' moderate masterpiece Travesty, the narrator claims that "the greater the incongruity, the greater the truth."  Before you get excited by the prospect that Hungarian cuisine can be justified by literature, it bears mentioning that this very same narrator makes this statement while recklessly driving a sports car at top speed through the French Riviera with the end-game of murdering his daughter and his daughter's lover (who also happens to be the narrator's best friend and the narrator's wife's lover) by crashing into a metre-thick cement wall, and is guided by the life-philosophy that willed destruction is the purest form of poetic expression.  So while Hungarian cuisine cannot be justified by this text, it nevertheless is hauntingly analogous to the current state of Hungary.  Sometimes unreliable narrators are the most reliable of all.

When I married a Hungarian I was not told
That one day I would eat a fruit soup served cold.
Had I known about this in advance,
I probably would have called off the entire romance. 

02 January 2014

"Dear Food Thoughtz:" Pickle & Pudding Problems; Heartbreak

Welcome to the second installment of Dear Food Thoughtz.  Today's installment tackles a disgusting pickle addiction, my struggles with a steamed Christmas pudding, and eating emotions.  Email questions to: food.thoughtz@gmail.com

Dear Foodthoughtz!

I am writing you because I am in a terrible pickle. Although, not really. By which I mean that actually I am not in a pickle or in pickle juice—and this is part of the problem.
All my life I have had a burning passion for sour and savoury things, disjunctively and conjunctively. I love chips, cheese, yogurt with salt in it, pickles, pickle flavoured chips, mustard, nuts... you name it. As a teenager I survived for years on sauerkraut, apple and pickled peppers. However, in the recent past, I got married to a person who is averse to all things pickly (although she is acceptant of some savoury things, and vinegar on its own, or as a chip-flavouring). To be honest, at first I have tried to conceal my desires. I have abstained from pickles, or consumed them away from home. I have been pickle-free for 6 months, except for the occasional slice of pickled cucumber on my burger.

As you can imagine, these unhealthy, restrictive behaviours soon took a toll on my health. I began craving pickles. And by craving, I mean CRAYving. I wanted to be showered with sauerkraut and bathed in picklejuice. It did not take long to give in to my secret desires. I became a secretive picklemuncher, snacking on stashes of sauerkraut under my bed and picklejars hidden in the toilet-tank. At this point I fear that the smell might betray me and that my secret will be discovered.

I don't know what to do. Should I reveal my secret and face my wife's contempt and disgust or should I try to suppress my burning desires for acids?!

Help me! Please!

Sincerely,

A sourpuss

Dear Sourpuss,

This is a tough one to answer.  Of course you should by now be well aware of my thoughtz on pickles.  You are a depraved individual for whom very little can be done.  It seems as though your addiction is one that is ruling your life and could potentially ruin your marriage.  In general, I would rarely recommend attempting to overcome any kind of addiction because it will probably lead to a life devoid of meaning, but because the future of your marriage hinges on your ability to exercise restraint and self-discipline when it comes to pickles (and presumably, by extension, all savoury preserves), you are in a very precarious position.  Here is my advice:

Your wife seems like a reasonable and level-headed individual, so perhaps you can strike a deal.  There might be something that she is deeply attached to that you want her to give up, and perhaps you can use this as leverage.  It might even be something as simple as a ratty old t-shirt.

Ultimately, if you can manage to keep your depraved dietary addictions to yourself,  and ensure that pursuing your love of all things pickled does not infringe on your wife's highly-evolved culinary sensibilities, this shouldn't really be much of a problem.  What might be a problem, however, is storing your pickles in the toilet tank.  I would be worried about fecal contamination, the possibility of which is probably increased by such a revolting diet.

Dear Food Thoughtz

Tonight I watched you eat a steamed Christmas pudding that had fruit and carrots in it. I feel confused, like I don't even know you anymore.

Your sister

Dear Concerned Reader,

No one is more confused than I am about that steamed Christmas pudding.  Honestly, when I saw it approach the table afire, I hope that it might entirely be consumed by flame so that I wouldn’t be put in the position of having to eat it.  Unfortunately I was put in that position, and in order to avoid being rude, I forced it down.  Thankfully it was mushy enough that I didn't need to chew before swallowing, so it wasn't as difficult as I initially thought it would be.  It was also served with whipped cream, and I made sure to keep a stash of whipped cream untouched in a corner so I could cleanse my palate afterwards.

Dear Food Thoughtz,

What is the best food for soothing compounded heartbreak?
 
Dear Anonymous,

Pizza.  I think pizza is probably the best food for heartbreak of all kinds.  It's also the food I turn to during periods of elation.  Pizza is always the best way to deal with extreme and oscillating emotions.  It is best consumed in bed.  Just bring the whole box in with you and settle down with some TV.  One great thing about having emotions is that they can almost always be eaten.

01 January 2014

New Year, New Me: Trying Walnuts

Today is New Years Day.  Today is also the day that I tried a walnut for the first time in my entire life.
video
I had been pretty dismissive of them in the past, but I must admit, they're not the worst thing I've ever had.
Pictured here is the walnut that I tried in my sister's palm.  Let's hope this launches her long-awaited career as a hand model.