16 June 2014

The Crabapple

Can someone please confirm for me whether or not crabapples are actually edible? Because I know about the jellies, so don’t even start with me, but is it possible to just pick a crabapple off of a tree and eat it? And if it is possible, is it possible to enjoy it? Crabapples look like apples born in reverse: they are born like rotten, shriveled up little apples and then … well, I guess they also die that way—this isn’t Benjamin Button. 

But really, aside from the jellies, is anyone eating these things? Is anyone even eating the jelly? And if so, why? Do you think it’s the case that anyone who eats the jelly honestly doesn’t know that a whole other host of jellies and jams exist in this world? Like strawberry jam? Raspberry jam? Blueberry jam? Grape jelly? Orange marmalade? Peanut butter? Regular butter? Any of these options would be better than crabapple jelly. Lord knows I’ve never tried it, but my only encounter with crabapple jelly is as something that appears to be recycled through various people as Christmas presents. It doesn’t really seem like anyone is eating it. Its value seems to be as a generic, kind gift to give to someone you’re not very close with but feel obligated to do something for. And then that person passes the same jar onto someone else that they have a similar relationship with. It seems entirely possible to me that there are only about 2,000 jars of crabapple jelly currently in existence in the world today, and that these jars are passed around over and over again until someone finally throws one out and someone else finally makes a new jar. It would probably be a pretty interesting social experiment if everyone wrote their name, the date, and who gave them the jelly on an attached sheet—like that book exercise, where you write your name on the cover or register online, and then when you’ve finished with the book, you leave it in a public space and someone else repeats the process.

It’s weird to me that crabapple trees are even still alive. I think that if I encountered one, I would be terrified that it was a sign of the apocalypse and wonder how I missed the first five seals. This will take some pushing and pulling, but after all, isn’t that what hermeneutics is all about? (It’s worth noting that now that I have read the first three books of the Old Testament I consider myself a bit of a hermeneutics scholar.) The sixth seal of the apocalypse references a fig tree casting off its unripened figs (Rev. 6:13), so if you ever see a fig tree shaking off her little figs, you know that the apocalypse is upon us, that repentance is futile, and that you’re most likely going to Hell. But if you see a crabapple… I don’t know, isn’t it kind of like a slow and resilient reminder that the apocalypse is coming? Its fruits are always untimely—there is no time for them—and they are always falling off the branches. I don’t really have the patience to continue with this train of thought. Honestly, it might be the case that there’s just not much here. 

I will try to end on a somewhat positive note: during my time at the tree farm I had to work closely with different strains of crabapple trees, and some of them are remarkably beautiful before the fruit begins to form. I even brought home a weeping crabapple—the most beautiful of the crabapple trees—and it promptly died. Crabapples are the worst. More like crapapples, am I right? 

(Finally: it’s worth noting that when I google image’d “crabapple,” google suggested I might also want to browse pictures of Lil Wayne. And you know what? I did.)

Why is this apple known as a crab?
Because it’s crinkled and gross and resembles a spherical scab.
And why does such a fruit exist in this world?
Only because the Apocalypse has not yet unfurled.
And does this awful thing have any practical use?
Only to bestow on others as less of a gift and more of an excuse.

13 June 2014

Booze Thoughtz: Rosé fröccs with a single frozen strawberry

Hungary has a long list of accomplishments under its leather-satchel-affixed belt: it was a Hungarian who first isolated vitamin C; it was a Hungarian who invented the rubik's cube; and it was a Hungarian who invented the ballpoint pen (fun fact: his name was Bálpont Zoltan, which is where we get the word "ballpoint" from*). But perhaps their greatest achievement of all is fröccs, a delicious wine-soda water hybrid that probably isn't Hungarian in origin at all, but rather Austrian (?), which is why we normally refer to the drink as a spritzer and not a fröccs. Even so, my first encounter with the drink was in Hungary, and even though I also procured a wife from Hungary, by far my greatest takeaway from that proud nation has been fröccs. 

Recently, as I was browsing the fröccs hashtag on instagram, I came across a delicious looking rosé fröccs with a frozen strawberry as an icecube, and I had to have it. A week later I bought one of the cheapest bottles of rosé I could find a proceeded to recreate the drink. The results were anticlimactic. It wasn't bad by any means; just uneventful. A normal food critic might not even bother with a review of such an unimpressive drink, but here we are. The strawberry, despite being a better-than-average organic Ontario strawberry, did nothing to improve the taste of the fröccs. In fact, its addition wasn't even noticeable. The biggest disappointment, though, was that the strawberry actually tasted worse when infused with wine than it did in the first place.

So while the drink wasn't terrible, I definitely wouldn't recommend trying this on your own. Or, I mean, do, but be prepared to be underwhelmed.

*Not true. His name was Bíró József, which is why the English call it a biro.

03 June 2014


Confession: I've never been exactly sure what a falafel is.  At first I thought it referred to a bunch of stuff in a pita. Then I found out that it actually refers to brown chickpea balls that are sometimes served in a pita. And then I learned that falafel can actually refer to the pita as well as long as the brown chickpea balls are one of the leading ingredients in the pita. And finally I just googled "falafel" and now I'm pretty sure they're actually cartoon bull testicles. I think they first appeared in a Picasso painting but now for the life of me I can't find that painting.
This definitely is not the painting I had in mind. I was thinking of one that
was sort of a rusty-brown colour... The more I try to remember what painting
it was, the more I begin to suspect it might actually just be that
painting of Simba that Rafiki does in the Lion King

But all of this is beside the pint point because whatever a falafel may be, what I know for certain is that I don't want to eat it. Even outside of the pita and on their own these things just do not appeal to me at all (although admittedly a pita packed with shredded lettuce and an unidentified white sauce is far less appealing to me than the plain falafel itself). It seems like they would be really dry and crumbly and would fall apart in your mouth. Without ever having eaten a falafel, I'm certain that is what would happen--which is weird, because "crumbling apart" isn't really a quality anyone ever looks for in a food and nor is it a quality one might associate with testicles (at least not healthy ones). It seems bizarre, then, that the (imagined -- can someone please confirm whether or not falafels are actually crumbly?) crumbliness is a foremost quality of this food. Maybe it is the pita, full of sauce and vegetables, that is supposed to counterbalance this flaw, but if the only way to make a bad food better is by making it worse, there's a problem. The dryness also makes me suspect that falafel might taste like how B multi-vitamins smell, which is something like being trapped in a small space with a bunch of mostly dried-out manure. I hate those vitamins. Of course I'm also afraid that if I bit into one of those testicle-esque falafels in might explode with semen (perhaps that mystery white sauce in the pita is not such a mystery after all).
All this being said, if you do like falafel that is great news for you because they are readily available and often dirt cheap. Just be warned that the reason they're so cheap is because they're made of dried manure packed into cakes using semen, all with the ultimate purpose of resembling bull testicles.
Harvested from the genitals of a bull
Is the trendy, affordable, and enigmatic falafel.