12 September 2014


Look. I don't need you to tell me that there is no discernible structure of reason or meaning underlying my food choices. I know that already: I am a rogue palate. But early on in my life I constructed some general guidelines that served as justification for certain decisions regarding what I would or would not eat. At the broadest level, these include rules like "no mixed food" and "individuals servings of one food cannot come into contact with other individual servings of another food." There are multiple and obvious exceptions to these very general rules: I love spaghetti bolognese, I love hamburgers, I'm generally okay with baked goods which are typically, by nature, a mix of various ingredients. But perhaps the most surprising and flagrant exception to these rules is my love for and devotion to borscht.

Borscht from the USCC. Thank you, graduating class of whatever.

Before we get started, a general note of caution to all the Ukrainians out there: what you refer to as borscht is not borscht. It is two different colours of puke layered on top of each other. When I say borscht, what I am referring to is Grand Forks Doukhobour borscht and nothing else. I also have no patience for that watery vegetable substance that I believe some non-Doukhobour Russian peasants incorrectly classify as borscht.

Grand Forks borscht is made up of 100% cream, 100% cabbage, and about 30% of other vegetables, like potato and carrots, equaling 230% of all of the deliciousness in the entire world. Sometimes there is also dill. Given the makeup of this soup, there is 0% reason for me to like it. I hate cabbage and I don't think that dairy has any place in a soup. But for whatever reason, it just works. I can't figure out if it's because I started eating it at an age before I began to develop a capacity for reason, or if it's just because it's that good. Probably a little from column A and mostly from column B.

There has always been a tradition in Grand Forks of arguments amongst Doukhobours about whose baba makes the best borscht. As someone with no Doukhobour ancestry, I can say with objective and indifferent certainty that the USCC ladies make, hands down, the best borscht in Grand Forks--no exceptions. That borscht is delicious. This is not to say that there aren't other perfectly acceptable borscht recipes floating around Grand Forks. There are. Of course there are. The Grand Forks Hotel used to throw together a decent borscht, there's always some nice looking borscht for sale at the Farmers Market, Megan makes delicious borscht, and every once in a while there will be a great (both in volume and quality) jar of borscht in my mum's fridge, courtesy of one of her friends. All that aside, none of these will ever compare with the borscht on offer at the few and far between borscht feeds at the USCC. I have long maintained that the only reason Grand Forks Secondary School should continue to exist is because inevitably the grad class of whatever year will organize a borscht feed, and hopefully it will coincide with my visit home.

Here's a picture of some borscht that I
discovered in our fridge at home. A
very welcome and pleasant surprise.

It would be unfortunate to finish this post without mentioning the delicious, thick, pillowy Doukhobour bread that accompanies borscht. That bread is the best. It is so good. It's so much better when slathered with about an inch of butter that then melts into the borscht when you dip it in. Pro Tip: the only way to eat borscht is to sop up all the liquid with two slices of break from the outset, and then finish up the stew-like, cabbage-heavy remainders.

There is nothing in this world that I love more 
Than the borscht prepared by an old Doukhobour. 

07 September 2014

Frankenberry Cereal

I've been lusting after a box of Frankenberry cereal ever since I can remember. There were always advertisements for it on American TV channels, but as far as I could tell, the cereal was either never sold in Canada or my mum refused to buy it for me (which seems somewhat unlikely, considering the amount of Lucky Charms I used to eat).

But tonight all of my wildest dreams came true and I bought a box of Frankenberry cereal that was on-sale at Metro. This, along with Count Chocula (another cereal that seemed to only be available to American audiences, but one that admittedly never appealed to me in the same way as Frankenberry), are back for a limited time, presumably coinciding with Halloween. These were part of a monster-themed collection of breakfast cereals produced by General Mills in the 1970s.  Others in the series include Boo-Berry and Fruity Yummy Mummy, both of which I would really like to try, but which I think have been discontinued even though they were briefly revived in 2013.

You can see here that there are about 3 marshmallows
to a bowl of cereal. Pathetic, but also kind of welcome
because the marshmallows are not very good.

 Despite what any sane-minded individual would think approaching this cereal, Frankberries are actually delicious. They taste really similar to Cap'n Crunch's Crunch Berries (also, as far as I know, not available in Canada, but one of my favourites). There are marshmallow bits in there, but I can't figure out why because the cereal-to-marshmallow ratio is terrible.

I guess if this cereal was readily available all of the time, I probably wouldn't eat it--at least not very often. It's good, but it's not as good as Lucky Charms or even Honeycomb or Golden Grahams. It's still a pretty good children's cereal. I like how sweet it is because even though it's good, it's too sweet to have more than one bowl at a time, which is always the problem I have with Lucky Charms. I'm really glad I went for it tonight though, because wanting to try this cereal is something that has been bothering me since I was about four years old, and now I can finally put that to rest.

Even though Count Chocula doesn't really appeal to me (I've never been too crazy about chocolatey cereals, but would definitely still eat them if provided for free), I think I will probably pick up a box if it becomes available.

So, that's it. That's my experience of eating Frankenberry cereal. It was a really solid cereal experience.

Oh. It might also be worth mentioning that when Frankenberry first hit store shelves in 1972, it contained a kind of pink dye that couldn't be broken down by a human body, so it turned poos pink. (Note: the "Embarrassing After Effects" tag refers to this).

Also, in all seriousness, has anyone ever completed any of the puzzles/games on the back of cereal boxes by actually filling in the blanks with pen? Because I never did. I always completed the mazes or matching puzzles, but I never actually wrote on the box. I wondered about this again because of the activity on the back of the Frankenberry box, which, let me just say, is a pretty lame activity for a box of cereal that is only released once a year.

As a child, the cereals I dreamed of were always American
The Canadian counterparts paled by comparison.
Several years later, my dream has come true:
I have an entire box of Frankenberry to munch through!

05 September 2014

Kürtőskalács: Revisited

On Friday a kürtőskalács, the famed Hungarian chimney-cake, arrived for me in Toronto, direct from Budapest, courtesy of LOT Airlines. It was less like what you might expect a chimney to look like, and more like if you encountered a metal chimney and then hammered it flat with a sledgehammer, or if a brick chimney was laying on its side and then collapsed into a flat collection of bricks. It was still pretty good.

02 September 2014

Orville Redenbacher Movie Theatre Popcorn in a Bag: An Update

I just wrote a post about Orville Redenbacher Movie Theatre Popcorn in a Bag, and my review was not altogether positive. I have just completed the bag, and while my review still is not positive, it may be somewhat better. The popcorn turned out to be better, or at least more satisfying, than initially thought. It was still too salty, and I still wouldn't buy it again. But I wouldn't balk at the idea of having another handful if it was offered to me, either.

Is it possible that in my judgement I was slightly too hasty? 
Is it possible that this snack is actually a bit tasty?

Orville Redenbacher Movie Theatre Popcorn in a Bag

Today I tried some Orville Redenbacher movie theatre-style popcorn in a bag. It was not very good. A few good things to know about me going into this post are that 1) I love movie theatre popcorn. It is delicious and I don't eat it nearly enough, partly because I never go to the movie theatre and partly because when I do, the popcorn is usually about $17. 2) I actually really love popcorn that comes in bags, even though I never think that I do and rarely buy it; I typically need someone else to encourage me to buy it. I especially love SmartPop White Cheddar popcorn in a bag.

Here is this gross popcorn. The photo on the left shows the bag in the garbage where it should justly be. The photo on
the right shows the contents of the bag, which will likely also be in the garbage soon.

Given these two facts, I was fairly certain I would like this Orville Redenbacher movie theatre-style popcorn. But I did not. It is too salty and doesn't taste anything like movie theatre popcorn and it doesn't come with a little pouch of oily-butter to pour all over it. It is a really disappointing purchase. It doesn't even come with a free movie theatre ticket, which I sort of thought it would seeing as nearly every box of Cheerios cereal does, and presumably Philip Morris (sorry, Altria) owns both Cheerios and Orville Redenbacher and Cineplex-Odeon. This seems like a really great opportunity for cross-marketing. Although, on the other hand, I bought it for $1 in a Loblaws discount bin.

I had such high hopes for this pre-packaged movie theatre-style popcorn
But its disgusting qualities have left me utterly forlorn!