19 May 2015

Metro Supermarket Irresistible Artisan apple pie

If you guys are not reading the Facebook accounts of grocery stores, you really need to consider starting. One woman posted a comment saying that Metro was advertising 3 Lindt chocolate bars for $5, but when she went to her local Metro store, she was told they did not stock Lindt chocolate bars. Her closing statement was: "Can anybody tell me how I can get three chocolate bars for five dollars?!"

01 May 2015

Booze Thoughtz: Coors Banquet Beer

Because most of the readers of this blog also happen to be related to me, you will all no doubt be aware that I grew up in the peaceful little hamlet of Grand Forks, B.C. Drinking in the bush made up a substantial part of my high school experience. I usually drank beer (sometimes a mickey of Smirnoff), even though I never really started to like beer until I was about twenty-one. It's hard to remember, but I think I mostly drank Budweiser or Kokanee, and sometimes MGD or Heineken. Whatever the brand, I only ever drank generic lagers, which continue to be my favourite beer to this day.

I'm not really in any position to judge anyone's beer preferences, but I've always struggled to understand people who are deeply committed to big brand generic beers, like Budweiser or Kokanee or Coors Light. A lot of people drank Coors Light in Grand Forks, but Coors Banquet Beer was not available in B.C. (or at least not in Grand Forks), as far as I can remember, so it was always a big deal to pick it up in the States. I always assumed this was just because it was so much cheaper in the States, but it turns out that Coors Banquet has a substantial loyal following.

So in the spirit of Food Thoughtz, I broke down and bought two tall boys of Coors Banquet last weekend. These are my stories:

  • It's too expensive. There is no way I am going to spend $2.45 on a tall boy of Coors Banquet when [Old Style] Pilsner is only $2.00 and sometimes inexplicably even less.
  • I hated the first can I had because there was something too sweet about it. The second can was better, in the sense that it tasted more or less like any other generic lager beer. It still wasn't anything special, and not only is Pilsner a cheaper beer, I also maintain it is a better beer.
  • The can design is okay. I kind of like the colour combination of a rich blue and the light beige. I guess the design has a kind of classic quality to it. I don't know. I think it was only just okay.
  • I don't understand why it's called "Banquet" beer. I would be so embarrassed to serve this at any kind of banquet. Unless the banquet was, like, a smörgåsbord of literal garbage.
After I took this picture I moved the can back into the recycling. Unlike
everyone else in this hellish province, I don't throw out recyclables.

In conclusion, yeah, I just don't get the appeal of this beer or why it has such a dedicated following.

Who the hell is drinking Coors?
I guess someone whose taste but not pocket is poor.

13 April 2015

Smarties, revisited

A few days ago an Easter care package arrived from my mum. First of all, it’s probably worth mentioning that included in the care packaged, amongst the home baked cookies, the flax corn chips, and the chocolate easter eggs, were two hair brushes. I now own five hairbrushes. But there was also a bulk bag of Easter-themed Smarties. Easter-themed Smarties are just Smarties, but with only “Easter” colours—if you can even call them colours now that the artificial colouring agents have been removed.

Readers may remember a highly critical review I once wrote about Smarties and how they’re essentially garbage now that Nestle has opted to only use natural colouring agents. I adamantly believed that the best part about Smarties was the taste of the artificial colours. And for the most part, I still stand by this assessment. Any time I have tried to eat the post-2009 Smarties that come either in boxes or holiday-themed packaging, I’ve always been disappointed. But I have to admit that these bulk Smarties were pretty good, even without the artificial colours. I don’t know if this okay-ness is specific only to bulk Smarties or what, but yeah, they were pretty good. They still weren’t as good as the old Smarties, and they certainly looked like they had already been sucked on so that their former bright colours are obscured by the melting chocolate, but yeah. I don’t know. They were pretty good.

I don’t know what this means for me or anyone, but 2015 might be the year that I rediscover Smarties. I also want to add, just as a point of interest, that one time I bought a Halloween pack of mini Smarties because it wasn’t mentioned anywhere explicitly that they were made only with natural colours, and I hoped that I discovered a cache of probably expired Smarties, still featuring the artificial colours. But I was wrong, and I was disappointed.

Ultimately that these bulk Smarties tasted better than their packaged counterpart comes as no surprise. Bulk Smarties from Overwaitea have always been the best Smarties.

In case you're wondering, yes I did manage to pick up a copy of Jonathan Safran Foer's Tree of Codes, published by
Visual Editions  (VE2) in 2010 and now out of print.

08 April 2015

Food Thoughtz Update: Alcohol

Well, everyone. I have finally decided to expand the scope of Food Thoughtz to include alcohol. The series will probably be called "Drink Thoughtz," or something equally unimaginative. I live in a house with a roommate, and these shelves are a big part of our living space and our lives:

Over the past two years, I've really gotten into the world of cocktails—which has in part been encouraged by this unruly liquor collection, but also by Midge Deak's relatively new found interest in cocktails (her favourite drink is something I call the "Midge Deak" and consists of vodka and plain tap water).

The series will likely run the gambit of alcohol, including beers, ciders, coolers, and hard alcohol. Perhaps wine sometimes too, but I am not really into wine unless it's cut with soda. You might be wondering what authority I have to pass judgement on different kinds of alcohol. The answer is precisely none, which is the same level of authority I exercise when it comes to food.

**Update** The famed Midge Deak has recommended the series be called "Booze Thoughtz," and I agree.

06 April 2015

Guest Post: A Response to McDowell

The phrase “going viral” is like “paradigm” and “pro-active” - a buzz phrase that dumb (or simply out of touch) people use to sound important.  But in the case of Adam McDowell's National Post piece “Death to the Chicken Finger” that was all over my Facebook news feed last week, “viral” was an apt metaphor.  Reading it made me queasy, then violently ill, and finally angry that I'd just wasted my time enduring it.

The subtitle (if it's a subtitle but it's been placed by the typesetter above the main title, is it still a subtitle, or is it a supertitle?) of McDowell's piece really tells you everything you need to know about what's to follow:  “How we created an entire generation of unsophisticated, picky eaters – and why we must stop the tasteless cycle”.  I'm loathe to make generalizations about entire generations of people, but there is one I'm willing to make about mine:  We've decided we're experts in everything.  It ought to be difficult to be a snob about fine dining and while simultaneously maintaining a starving artist self-image, but somehow, many of my peers manage to do it.  “Foodie” snobbery has hit the mainstream, and McDowell's Post piece is condescension distilled.

There's a lot wrong with McDowell's piece, and I won't go through it point by point.  Broadly, he argues that kids menus offer children unchallenging, “unsophisticated” food, that children raised on these kids' menus never develop a “refined” pallet, and that they will be unhealthy from eating a limited selection of foods.


The Author, reading the National Post.

The language McDowell uses throughout “Death to the Chicken Finger” simply oozes moral superiority.  It's clear that McDowell thinks you're a better person if you eat gourmet food – that you're more refined, more sophisticated, smarter.  Of course, that's the allure of the whole ___-phile movement – audiophile, oenophile, craft beer enthusiast, “foodie” - the opportunity to prove to yourself you're cleverer than your peers, because you see something they don't, hear something they don't, or taste something they don't.  Never mind that, nine times out of ten, the subtle details people think they're experiencing aren't even there.  It doesn't matter that studies show the difference between that $30 bottle of Shiraz and that $50 bottle of Shiraz are entirely psychosomatic.  The important thing is that you feel superior.

McDowell clearly feels superior.  Of course, there's nothing morally superior about eating pretentious food.  In fact, if you really want to split hairs, gourmet cooking often comes loaded with more moral quandaries than simple eating does.  I'm okay with eating meat, but I'm not really keen on force-feeding geese until their livers rupture, or fishing rare sturgeon to extinction.  I'll stick with my chicken fingers, thank you.

But what of McDowell's health argument?  Kids will be unhealthy if they never learn to eat “difficult” food at restaurants?


How often does McDowell think kids eat out, anyway?  I think I had a fairly typical childhood in this regard, and my family ate dinner at a restaurant maybe once a month, and breakfast or lunch once a week.  That's five or six meals a month at a restaurant, versus 85 meals at home.   I learned to eat a range of different foods and lots of fruits and veg from eating at home, not from being forced, at the age of seven, to choose something random off the adult menu at Ricky's.

Who the hell does Adam McDowell think he is, anyway, telling me I'm “unsophisticated” for liking chicken tenders.  I love chicken tenders.  Adam McDowell can stuff his face with fetid shark and abused goose liver all he wants, but I'll stick to my chicken.

03 April 2015

Canada's Potato Heartland - Results

I've put off confronting this for long enough. The time has finally come to offer some commentary on this highly disappointing poll.

So, I guess by now you are all aware that Taber edged out PEI with a total of 55% of the votes. PEI received 42%, and the University of Guelph received an embarrassing 1%.

I guess that one thing we can learn from this experiment is that the uneducated masses of the internet are frequently, if not always, wrong and that internet polls are not an accurate method for determining where Canada's potato heartland is. We know internet polls are not reliable because PEI is unquestionably Canada's potato heartland.

Sorry for wasting your time, everyone!

25 March 2015

Canada's Potato Heartland: Poll

Everyone, it is of the utmost importance that you participate in this online poll to determine which of the following three places is considered to be Canada's Potato Heartland. The poll will close on April 1, so make your voices heard -- before it's too late!

Which of the following is the Potato Heartland of Canada?

24 March 2015

Guest Counterpoint: The Lemon

The following originally appeared as a comment on my Lemon post and was written by my dad. I feel like it warrants its own separate counterpoint post, so here it is.

I'm sorry; I have been silent long enough. "Truth is not only violated by falsehood; it may be equally outraged by silence." [Henri Frederic Amiel] There is only one nub to a lemon -- on the end opposite to where the stem attaches the lemon to the tree. There is no nub on the stem end, just a slight bump. I'm not a snob about lemons. But the fact is that anyone who actually tolerates RealLemon, much less prefers it to a real lemon, should not be allowed to be the editor and publisher of a gastronomical blog, or even contribute to it. The only difficulty a tyro lemon slicer might encounter in the performance of his or her extremely simple task, is keeping the knife (Victrianox or any other) away from the little green stem remnant at the stem end of the lemon. The nob, or nub, is at the other end and does not pose any problem. The stem remnant can be just flicked off with a stroke of the thumbnail. The other thing you could do to avoid any nub or nob difficulty is what any citrus connoisseur does before wedging the lemon (or lime, or orange, or cumquat etc), namely take your knife (preferably a serrated Victorianox lemon-specialty knife) and cut off the tips on both ends. You don't even have to look and see which end has the stem on it. Just cut them both off. Easy as pie. Lemon pie. Lime pie. Any kind of pie. Just deal with it as if it were a watermelon or a cantaloupe or a honeydew. Exactly the same principle -- just a smaller piece of fruit.

And I hate to say it, but your disaffection for lemon zest is absurd. Lemon zest is the best argument ever put forth for the existence of God. How else could something so good be brought into the world? Do you make your lemon chiffon desserts out of RealLemon? Your lemon-poppy seed muffins? Your faux chocolate chip cookies?

Of all the Herculean jobs
I've ever had in all my life,
The cutting off of lemon knobs
Is fullest of fun and freest of strife.
Deliver us from citrus slobs
Who can not cut around the knobs.

19 March 2015

Important Announcement: Zines Now Available

Attention Food Thoughtz Fans: Today I managed to retrieve the templates from my Food Thoughtz zines, so if anyone wants a copy, let me know. Theft or vandalism of library property is no longer required (although, I guess still an option if your only goal is random vandalism and theft of library property. If this is your interest, please do not involve me in it). As a reminder, here is what the zine looks like:

So. You know. Let me know.

08 March 2015

The Lemon

Believe it or not, I feel almost exactly the same way about lemons as I do about limes: I would like to have more lemon wedges in my drinks, but I often feel that the amount of energy I have to put into the task is not worth the benefits of the results. I find lemons to typically be more difficult to wedge than limes, which I assume is in part because they're larger and more oblong, but also because they have those hard little nubs at either end and I am always afraid that I will put too much pressure to try to get through the nub and then I will cut myself (which has probably happened to me several times, and has probably happened even more frequently to my mum because she cannot go a single day without cutting herself on the constant influx of brand new Victorinox knives that she always insists on buying at the Rock Creek General Store).

Does anyone remember this awesome shirt I got at the Grand Forks
Thrift Shop, circa 2002? I would have paid almost any amount for it,
but the woman let me have it for free because she thought it was too ugly
to be sold for money. She told me that if she had found it first, she would
have thrown it out. It breaks my heart to think of how many gems might
have been lost at the GF Thrift due to overzealous and out of touch staff.

Some of my suffering is offset by the fact that I almost always have RealLemon lemon juice on hand. It's pretty good, and I don't like when people are such lemon snobs. First of all, RealLemon tastes more or less like real lemon—especially when all you're doing with it is adding a few drops to soda water—and second of all, if you just use lemon juice, you don't get all of that annoying pulp and those annoying seeds. I know that RealLime also exists, but ... I don't know. For some reason I can never bring myself to buy it.

I guess it might be worth mentioning to say that I actually really don't like lemon flavouring in most things. I really hate when baked goods have a hint of lemon flavour. Sometimes I will see a cookie—like some sort of chocolate chip cookie or something—and it will look amazing, but then you bite into it and it kind of tastes like lemons? I hate that. There was no reason for me to expect that that cookie would taste slight like lemon, and if I had known that it would, obviously I wouldn't have eaten it.

And I hate lemon zest. I hate seeing those tiny little curls of skin.

The lime and the lemon share more
Than the common family name Rutaceae:
Wedging either is a total chore
And it's more work than I'm willing to apply.

04 March 2015

The Lime

One thing you may not know about me is that I like to add a splash of lime to a variety of drinks. One summer when I was working on the farm I was really into bringing water with a bunch of wedged lemon and lime to work and I found it very refreshing. But I really struggle with wedging limes, so I don't have them as often as I would like to. I guess when I think about it's not really that difficult of a task, but it's a task I really do not like to do.

Another thing that you probably do know is that in one of my English classes we were reading WWI poetry. At first the poems were really celebratory about how great war is and how all of the young men should go to war. And then as the war dragged on, the poems became less celebratory and more about how it was the worst. One poem in particular referenced wheelbarrows full of lime to dust on bodies so they would stop smelling so much. In the middle of reading the poem, the professor interrupted herself and said, Just to be clear, everyone knows what lime is, right? And this awful student—really the worst male undergraduate English student anyone could ever imagine—put up his hand and in the most pompous manner imaginable said, Correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe 'lime' is a small, green citrus fruit. Can you imagine? Can you imagine that in the midst of WWI, limes were so plentiful that armies were trundling through the trenches full of rotting bodies and sprinkling them when lime juice? It's especially unbelievable because wedging a lime is so tedious that I can't imagine any of the soldiers would have time for it. Although I guess they might have juiced the limes in advanced and used spray bottles, but I don't even know if spray bottles were widely available during WWI—much less in the trenches.

Hey. Lime.
Why you gotta take so much time?

20 February 2015

"Dear Food Thoughtz:" Night Snackin'

Dear Food Thoughtz

I need your help determining whether or not I have a problem. My boyfriend has started night eating. After we go to bed - and sometimes even after he has fallen asleep - he announces that he's hungry and asks what kind of meat I have in the fridge. He's very thoughtful, always asking me if I want a sandwich, or a drumstick, or a big slab of ham, but it's weird...right? I can't tell if it's problematic, mostly because his earnesty and determination are really funny. Yesterday I brought him a piece of dry-cured sausage and left it on the counter specifically for his night snack. Was that the right thing to do? The pro is that it made him really happy. The con was that he got back into bed smelling like Spanish chorizo. Should I enable this behaviour? Ignore it? Resist? I have a no-food-in-bed rule, but if he gets back into bed with a chunk of meat in his mouth does that count? Honestly, I'm at a loss.

Amused but confused


Ok seriously. I need an answer here. Last night when my boyfriend came over for dinner, he brought 3 baguettes and 2 sausages SOLELY for the purpose of being well-equipped to night-snack (we were having tacos for dinner, so there was no way to pretend that the bread had any other reason to be there).

Dear ABC,

I regret to inform you, but I'm not sure there's much I can do here. I think this is something that your boyfriend has to work through on his own. Honestly, the best thing he could do is chart his night snackin' in a journal. And then to scan that journal, and submit it to Food Thoughtz. A few titles that might suit the topic are:

  • From Sleep to Snacks: One Man's Journey
  • Somnambulant Snacker: One Man's Journey
  • Snacking While Sleeping: One Man's Journey
  • One Man's Journey: One Man's Journey
  • Midnight Journey to the Kitchen: One Man's Journey to the Kitchen
  • Awake and Dreaming ... And Snacking: One Man's Journey
It would probably be beneficial to stop snacking throughout the night because if he's not brushing his teeth afterwards, it might lead to cavities. I am basically the queen of cavities, so I should know.

18 February 2015

"Dear Food Thoughtz:" Too Close for Comfort

Dear Food Thoughtz

Today was my office Christmas potluck luncheon. It was primarily meat and cheese: meatballs, macaroni and cheese, two meat and cheese plates, and a quiche made with cheese and bacon. I brought homemade eatmore bars. They didn't have meat or cheese in them.

Mid-way through our festivities, my officemate got up for seconds, which included a single meatball, and an eatmore square. She put them on the plate together. Oh my god they were so close together. I've attached a picture of the plate, and her reaction as we all shamed her.

My question is: do you think I should request a new officemate?

Perturbed potlucker

PS she's from France. 

Dear PP,

First of all, apologies for my late response. The good news is that it's never too late to request a new officemate. The bad news is evident in the above photograph.

I must admit, I have a bit of a problem with what you identified as the primary issue here. The problem isn't really that she put the meatball and the eatmore bar on the same plate (and indeed they are treacherously close), but that the plate was already used before she put the eatmore bar on it, and that it was used to hold very messy foods (presumably from previous meatballs), and that those messy foods left a pool of, what appears to be, sweet-and-sour sauce. Or barbeque sauce. Frankly, I don't know the difference.

The weirdest thing here, for me, is that things like eatmore bars don't even need to go on a plate. Like, why risk it? Who likes to live on the edge like this? It's entirely acceptable to cup it in your hand, blanketed in a napkin. Or even without the napkin. It doesn't matter. It's a snack made to be eaten by hand! It just doesn't make sense! That she's French just further obscures things! I thought they were responsible and refined, if in nothing else, at least in food and dining etiquette.

But kudos to your for bringing homemade eatmore bars. I am so sick and tired of cheese plates. Not only will I not eat 99% of the cheese featured on them, the cheddar--which is obviously the only cheese I would eat--is always kind of sweaty. So gross.

Ultimately I think, no, you shouldn't request a new officemate. Seize this opportunity to enrich the life of another human being by continuously shaming her for being so disgusting. Sooner or later she'll learn.

17 February 2015

Guest Post: M&Ms

My cousin Matt wrote a guest post for Food Thoughtz. Even without having read the entire post, I already know it is the worst because M&Ms are not very good. They're not terrible, but they're not very good.

This is my first Food Thoughtz guest post, and I want to us to get something straight:  M&Ms are the best.

Seriously, M&Ms are the perfect chocolatey candy, and I could eat them by the bucket.  Did you know that Amazon.com sells a 1.6 kilogram (that's 56oz or 3.5lbs if you think base 10 measurement systems are voodoo) bag of M&Ms.  I'd only need to buy 54 bags and I could eat my body weight in M&Ms.  I'm seriously considering it.

It's not just that the M&M is voiced by Billy West.  That's a selling point, sure.  I'll eat any candy that's voiced by Billy West.  If Billy West starts voicing candy corn and licorice, I will start eating candy corn and licorice.

Billy West: Candy Salesman

After 70 years of fine food engineering, the Mars corporation has managed to strike a perfect balance between candy and chocolate.  The thin candy shell of the M&M gives it an initial sweetness when you put it in your mouth that gives way to the savoury deliciousness of its chocolate innards when your resistance gives and you finally bite down.  The chocolate inside an M&M is of unusually high quality for inexpensive, mass-produced sweets.  It tastes like real chocolate, not like the waxy brown substance one sometimes encounters in inferior mass-market chocolate bars.

Compare the perfect balance of the M&M to its closest confectionary relative, the Smartie (sidebar:  M&Ms started as a Smarties clone.  Forrest Mars Sr. Witnessed soldiers in the Spanish Civil War eating Smarties, and after returning to America, began producing his own candy-covered chocolates in 1941).  Smarties are a fine treat, don't get me wrong.  They'll do in a pinch.  But their candy-chocolate ratio is all wrong.  They're too wide, too thin, their chocolate core too insubstantial.  Like Who Wants To Be A  Millionaire, Christopher Hitchens, and democracy, the Americans imported something from Britain and  perfected it.

There are two chocolates in a candy shell,
So always be ready to tell,
M&M from the imposter,
Manufactured in Gloucester, 

Don't be deceived by the Swiss Candy Cartel

I haven't even touched on all the variations:  There's Dark Chocolate M&Ms (sublime), Peanut M&Ms (perfection), Peanut Butter M&Ms (heaven), Pretzel M&Ms (I don't even know, I've never eaten them), and plenty of region-specific variations to boot.  Sometimes, when I'm feeling cheeky, I go to the bulk foods section of my local grocery store, completely disregard the sign warning “DO NOT MIX BULK FOOD ITEMS” and fill a single bag with as many M&Ms variations as I can find.  A bag full of these colourful little gems is as close as I've found in this world to the physical incarnation of joy.


Food Thoughtz Brain Thoughtz

Okay, now I have read the whole thing, and I can say with even more certainty that it is the worst, principally because it calls out Smarties as being inferior chocolate-candy sweets. Umm, no. They're not. Or at least they weren't. When Smarties were still made with artificial colours, they were untouchable. Matt talks about the ratio and shape being off, but it is (was) so perfectly on point. In fact, I've always had the same complaint about M&Ms: there's too much chocolate, they're too round, and the shell is too thick. And the shell doesn't even taste good. I also always thought it was really stupid that their slogan was "melts in your mouth not in your hand." Excuse me, of course they actually do melt in your hand. They're made of chocolate. If they didn't melt in your hand, why would you want them to melt in your mouth? I guess that the point of the slogan was that they're so delicious that you can't keep them in your hand long enough for them to melt. But you can, and I did. Whatever. I'm tagging this as "Food I Have Tried But Would Not Try Again" (although, truth be told, I do really like Peanut M&Ms). - FT

16 February 2015

Dr. Oetker Microwave Mug Cakes Baked in the Oven

Over Christmas my sister gave me two Dr. Oetker Mug Cakes to be made in the microwave that I don't own. Since then, they  have been sitting on my shelf, taunting me. It's really frustrating to be so close to a mug cake, and yet so far. I thought about taking them to work and using the microwave there, but it seemed so embarrassing. What if someone asked me what I was doing? I would have to say that I was making a mug cake in the microwave. I couldn't go through with it. Tonight I finally broke and decided to try them in the oven.

I guess it ultimately went fine. I'm not sure what I expected from these mug cakes. They definitely weren't the best cakes I've ever had, and as far as easy-bake cakes go, I would have preferred a Betty Crocker or Sarah Lee cake in a big pan because those cakes are actually delicious. The best parts are the burnt corners. The mug cakes definitely took a lot longer to bake than they would have if I had made them in the microwave: they're advertised as taking only 1.05minutes in the microwave, but took over 25minutes in the oven. My sister suggested I use the oven for another purpose at the same time, but I didn't. I just put two tiny little Pyrex dishes, each with half of one mug cake in them, in the oven for over 25minutes.

I have nothing else to say about this experiment. I was expecting something to go terribly wrong, like that the little glass dishes would break. But nothing went wrong. The cakes came out tasting, presumably, as they are supposed to taste (which is subpar). Here are some photos of the process:

Everything you need to make your very own 1 minute mug cake,
minus the microwave and plus 25 minutes.

Here are these little cakes, ready to go into the oven. I kind of wish I had
stopped here and just drank the batter because it actually tasted better
than the finished cakes.

I wanted to take a picture of how, after 20 minutes, the cake was still liquid,
but I really struggle with holding the camera steady. The end result
might be ... art?

This doesn't look very appetizing, but it looks just as appetizing as the
finished product ultimately was.

Anyway, there you have it. Would I make this again? Yes, because I still have one more box to get through. I'm going to make it tomorrow. I am going to try it as a single cake baked in a slightly larger Pryex container. We'll see how it goes.

12 February 2015

Food Thoughtz Zine

Attention everyone. The semester I enrolled in a De/Construction of the Book workshop, and every part of it was amazing. The final project was to create our own book and present it to the class. It goes without saying that I made a zine of Food Thoughtz poems.

Here's the cover. I made it with letter stamps, and now I need my very own
set of letter stamps.

From the outside looking in. In hindsight, maybe having "Auschwitz"
appear on the very first page was a bit of a mistake.
I really struggled with not making the zine look really bland. So Matthew
Zambri, an up-and-coming graphic designer from Toronto,
drew this grapefruit cross-section for me.
But I did these little burgs myself.
And also these tomatoes.
Here is the colophon.

It goes without saying that this zine is amazing, and you wouldn't know it to look at it, but a surprising amount of work went into this. I typed all of the poems up on the typewriter in the Archives, then I cut out nearly every individual line and pasted it onto a template. The template was also surprisingly difficult to design in order to ensure that everything would follow in its proper order and would be the right way up. What I learned throughout this process is that zine making is not entirely unlike Gutenberg-era printing (for those of you who do not know, Gutenberg invented the printing press).

If anyone would like to get their hands on this zine, tough luck because the original template sheets will be on display in Robarts Library throughout the summer and it is unlikely that I will ever see them again.

01 February 2015


If you're anything like me, then it's only last week that you found out that couscous is technically a pasta. And if you had asked me last week what couscous was, I would have said with utmost confidence that it was quinoa and would have gestured vaguely towards the Middle East or Northern Africa. I would have been as confident about this fact as I was when I called someone out for claiming that "Bern" is a capital city (I then went on to furiously argue that Geneva is the capital of Switzerland and that everyone knows that. It was one of the most embarrassing moments of my life).

If it's true that couscous is a pasta, then that's disgusting. I hate really small pasta. I'm planning to write a post about orzo later on (I really hate orzo). Like, what is the point of eating such small pasta? Why not just eat regular size pasta? I guess couscous is never eaten in the way that what I consider to be "regular pasta" is eaten, but still. The way it is eaten seems really disgusting to me. Isn't it usually mixed like a salad? I'm not sure if couscous dishes are classified as salads or what, but I think it would be really gross. I have this idea in my head that couscous is eaten cold, and if it is mixed up like a salad, then... I don't know. Isn't it kind of spongy and gross? Based on the way couscous looks, I don't think the texture would appeal to me at all.

But now I have asked google whether couscous is a pasta, and the internet seems confused. The New York Times is telling me that it is not a pasta, but only closely related to pasta. A "question-of-the-day" blurb that popped up as the top hit for my search claims that it actually is a type of pasta. At the end of the day, do any of us really care? Couscous is not a food for me. It looks like those beads of silica gel that you get with clothes sometimes. I don't know what purpose either serve nor which one is less appetizing.

Grain? Pasta? What is couscous?
No one on the internet has been able to deduce,
But ingesting it seems like it's probably abuse.
Enveloped garment accoutrements is its only use.

28 January 2015

"Dear Food Thoughtz:" Why Are Kiwis Hairy Fruits?

This installment of Dear Food Thoughtz comes from a four year-old. She is also my niece.

Dear Food Thoughtz/Auntie Sally,

Why are kiwis hairy fruits?


Dear Eleanor,

Kiwis are hairy in order to test our resolve and commitment to the fruit. Nothing in this world is free. You have to work if you want to gain access to that sweet, sweet kiwi flesh. Also, you have to actually pay for the kiwis first. And also, you should know that kiwis are not really that good.

But at least kiwis are hairy on the outside. So are we. Why should fruits be any different than us? And like us, a kiwi’s skin can be removed—if you so choose—before you eat the fruit. A better question to ask would have been: “why are mangoes hairy?” Because those fruits are hairy on the inside, and that really doesn’t make any sense at all.

Please write in again. Your question is better than most others. 

24 January 2015

The Grapefruit

If I was a committed reader of this blog, I might be inclined to believe that the writer of this blog probably hates grapefruit based on an earlier post on oranges. But I would be wrong. Because grapefruits are amazing and delicious. They suffer from many of the same shortcomings that oranges do: they have a thick skin that can be difficult to peel and they’re covered in the same gross layer of pith, and at the end of the day, they just might not be worth the effort. But where grapefruits really depart from oranges is that they don’t taste gross like oranges. They’re also called pamplemousse in French (pronounced: pample-moose).

It’s true: grapefruits are a frustrating and fickle fruit, but that’s why the loving women in your life prepare them for you. One time, as Christmas holidays were coming to a close, my mum cut up and peeled (including every single trace of pith) four grapefruits for me to take back to Montreal. I foolishly left them in my carry-on luggage, and a particularly harsh airport security person tried to take them away from me. I can only imagine that this security guard had a complex because she was a woman working in a man’s world. Thankfully, a more level-headed male security guard stepped in and appealed to the woman’s internal mothering instinct, and argued that my poor mother had probably spent hours slaving over these grapefruits, and wouldn’t it be a crime if I couldn’t take them home with me? The harpy relented and I boarded the plane, grapefruits in tow. 

One of the weird things about grapefruits is that they’re simultaneously one of the most beautiful and one of the most vile and repulsive foods on this planet. There’s something about the colour and those little moist globes of flesh that appeals to my sense of aesthetics. But on the other hand, those beautiful little globes of flesh also kind of look like literal human flesh (that has possibly been boiled or is for some other reason blistered?) or maggots or maggots that have eaten so much human flesh that they’ve turned a pinkish colour because they are engorged with blood. Sometimes I really like to push myself and actually try to hold that disgusting image in my head as I eat grapefruit, but it doesn’t even matter because it tastes so good that the thought of stinking, rotting corpses animated by so many swarming maggots doesn’t even put me off. 

I also used to really like Western Family Pamplemousse pop, and then I thought that Western Family stopped being a thing. I recently found out that is still very much a thing, but I don't think they're still producing the pop. Or else they are. I don't have access to Western Family in Ontario because Ontario is probably the very worst province in all of Canada. 

A pinwheel of globular drops of dew
Tinted a beautiful salmon hue?
Or a frenzied maggot feast,
Glutted on the recently deceased?  

18 January 2015

Greasy Breakfast-For-Dinner Dinner

On my last day in B.C.—which I spent in Kelowna, by the way—my sister prepared an outrageous ultra-greasy breakfast style dinner to celebrate me meeting her boyfriend, who has a similarly  highly evolved palate (devoted readers will know him better as the person who just can't get enough of my invaluable food advice). Anyway, the point is that she threw together this delicious meal that best represents where our tastes overlap (represented below by a Venn diagram).

This breakfast-for-dinner had everything that I could ever want in a breakfast/breakfast-for-dinner: greasy fried potatoes, properly-cooked high-quality bacon, and little sausages that are so small they could probably be described as nugs. My sister was initially going to serve broccoli as well, but I told her that would be disgusting and misguided and would probably ruin the entire meal. She acquiesced and proposed a plate of sliced pears instead—which I approved—but none arrived. I guess one complaint I have about this meal is that no coffee was served. I know that it was dinner and everything, but I like to drink coffee at all times, and it would have gone really well with this meal.

I know what you're all probably thinking: how could anything possibly have gone wrong? But it did. Just when I thought that I had finally made contact with the one person in this world capable of understanding me and my diet, Ben ruined everything by stuffing all of his bacon into a makeshift sandwich  and it was disgusting. It wasn't even the most disgusting sandwich I could imagine, but I really couldn't understand the motivation behind this decision. Bacon is so good on its own. Why would you want to take away its charm by smothering it in bread? Don't get me wrong, I like bread, but there honestly are not that very many situations in which bread actually improves a food. So, for instance, I love eating borscht with bread. In that case, the bread doesn't take anything away from the borscht—it just improves the bread. But when you actually envelope bacon inside of a baguette, you're drastically altering how you experience that bacon, and I can only imagine that it's for the worst.

The moral of this story is to never trust anyone because they will always find a way to disappoint you.

And finally, to round this post out, here's a picture of me and my dad. I'm making a really weird and unfortunate face.

11 January 2015

Phoenix Mountain Pizza Bun

I don’t know exactly how many of my readers are familiar with Phoenix Ski Hill Pizza Buns (probably all of them because I am fairly certain that I am my only reader), but they are the best thing. They are also somewhat of a scientific anomaly because they cannot be reproduced outside of the Phoenix kitchen. I’m not exactly sure what that means for science, but I do know what that means for me, and that is that approximately once a year I get to feast on one of the most delicious foods ever concocted.

Here's the pizza bun that I made for myself on January 4, 2015. It was delicious. The only way it could have been
improved is if it had been prepared on double bun bottoms, instead of a top and a bottom. Every pizza bun
aficionado knows that the best pizza buns come on a double bottom.

Pizza buns are literally just buns with pizza sauce and melted cheddar cheese on top. Back when I first started eating pizza buns, the cheese was just plain orange cheddar, but now it's Tex-Mex shredded cheese, which has really served to improve their quality and appearance. They are typically served with two round pickles, but I learned early on to order mine without, and when I was old enough to work in the Phoenix kitchen and make my own pizza buns, I obviously omitted them.

I also made, what I believe to be, a few crucial improvements to the traditional pizza bun when making one for myself. First, and most importantly, I usually try to make them on two bottom bun halves, rather than a top half and a bottom half. I find that the toppings-to-bun ratio is slightly off with the top half, and that the bottom half is always much more satisfying. Secondly, although not evident in the above photograph, I try to leave them in the toaster oven slightly longer than usual because I like to get a nice browning effect on the top.

Here's the more traditional pizza bun with the pickles. Unfortunately it is
accompanied by a disgusting dish of loaded nachos with pizza sauce
ON THE NACHOS. I made those too.

I don't know a single person who has skied Phoenix since they were little who did not consistently order a pizza bun for lunch. I didn't even know there was anything else on the menu until much later. I've worked in the Phoenix kitchen for the past 11 years—at least one or two days a year—and the most striking change is the sharp decline in pizza bun orders. Presumably there is no correlation between my time working there and their unpopularity, but what are these kids thinking? There is nothing on the menu (anywhere, not just Phoenix) that is better and more satisfying than a pizza bun.

Pro Tip: Try to order them later in the day when the toaster oven is so full of grease that grease actually gets baked into the bun. Delicious.

Kids these days don't know what they've shunned:
There's nothing better than a Phoenix pizza bun.
Just a bun and some sauce and some melted cheese—
The Phoenix pizza bun will never displease.

08 January 2015

"Dear Food Thoughtz:" Gothic Diets

Dear Food Thoughtz,

I am quickly and steadily approaching a mid-life crisis. So I was looking at my life, contemplating whether there was anyhting I should have done otherwise or any things I feel like I have missed out on. After having thought about it carefully, while listening to my favourite Sisters of Mercy album, I have concluded that I really regret that I never had a "goth" period in my life. Whereas my other terrible life-decision cannot be remedied, I feel like I can still become a goth (even though my wife thinks I am too old for it). Anyways, I was wondering whether you have any food suggestions for the gothic lifestyle? Should I eat at all? Should I become a vampire? Should I just lurk around Hungarian pig slaughters? All suggestions are welcome.

Thanks in advance.

Trentagenarian Trent (Reznor)

Dear TT(R),

First of all, your wife is right: you are too old for it. There is no age in which you are not already too old to go through a goth period.

As for the food, is it weird if I recommend pomegranate seeds? They look kind of gruesome and bloody with the benefit of only being one of those things. I guess if you were really going to commit to a gothic lifestyle, maybe I would recommend drinking a bit of blood. I don't know the first things about goths or what they do with themselves or whether they have any interest in blood at all, but as someone who suffered from routine bloody noses as a child, I can say with confidence that blood doesn't taste all that bad. I can't imagine why I would ever try the blood of another person or animal, but when you accidentally swallow some of it or when your nose is bleeding so furiously and you can't get to a kleenex and all you can do is tilt your head back and let it dribble down your throat... yeah, it's not all that bad.

Still. My recommendation is pomegranate seeds.

I don't know what goth or gothic means, so I just put this pomegranate
inside of a gothic hallway.

06 January 2015

The Burger

It’s January, 2009. I’ve arrived in Nashville after eating my entire box of Purdy’s hedgehog chocolates and half of the box intended for my sister (and then demanding that she share the remaining chocolates with me). Days later we were on our way to Atlanta, and during the drive I was haunted by a single thought: that I really, really wanted to eat a burger. Before this time, I don’t think I had ever actually eaten a proper burger. I had definitely just had a plain beef patty, possibly with melted cheese, but I don’t think I had ever had it inside of a bun. And so we did it. We found a burger place in the Little Five Points neighbourhood, and to this day, it remains the best burger I have ever tasted.

Here it is: the infamous Atlanta burger. The fries weren't much to look at, but goddamn was that ever a good burger.

After that first Atlanta burger, I was hooked. Six years later, I just can’t stop eating burgers. I eat them every chance I get and I eat them everywhere. I’ve eaten them all across Canada. I’ve eaten them in Spokane and, more importantly Colville.* I’ve eaten them throughout Europe (usually a pretty disappointing experience) and in various airports. I just got home from eating a burger for dinner, and all I could think about afterwards is when and where I would eat my next burger. In short, burgers are always my number one go-to choice in any restaurant. It should go without saying that I always get my burgers without any dressing: just a plain patty with cheddar cheese and the bun. Sometimes I wonder if the chef gets annoyed with my order. They probably do, but I always hope that they don't because I am never asking for weird additional items, just that most of the ingredients be left off the burger. At the end of the day I guess I don't care all that much about how the cook feels because going out to eat is all about being selfish and treating yourself, and not caring about the people who are catering to your whims.

I've been eating at Hero Burger a lot this year, mostly because it's so convenient, but also because it's
decent enough. My only complaint with Hero Burger, and the other burger chains like it (of which 5 Guys is
hands-down the best option) is that they're way too expensive for what you actually get. For the same price, you
can almost always find a much better burger, with the added bonus of better seating and service.

I was recently asked why it is I’m okay with eating burgers, but not sandwiches. After all, aren’t they the same thing? Doesn’t a burger meet the most basic requirements of being a sandwich? I guess they do, if your definition of “sandwich” is as basic and simplistic as just an item placed between two bread-objects. In that sense, sure, a burger is just a sandwich. But in that case, should it follow that just because I love spaghetti bolognese I should like fettuccine alfredo? They are both, when it comes down to it, just pasta and sauce. Does it make sense that because I like apple pie, I should necessarily also eat some gross meat pie? Don’t they meet the same basic requirements? I mean, they’re both pies. They’re both composed of some filling inside of a closed pastry.

Maybe these seem like unfair comparisons. “Pasta and sauce” isn’t really a category of food in the same way that sandwiches are, and there’s of course a marked difference between a sweet dessert pie and a disgusting savoury pie (although I would also like to note that I don’t really like very many other sweet pies, with the exception of strawberry-rhubarb, and even then, I would always go with an apple pie if the option is available to me). Another issue is that I have already voiced a strong opposition to sandwiches, but given my love for and devotion to burgers, maybe I ought to reconsider this. But should I? No. That would be ridiculous. You would have to be a mad man to consider a burger a sandwich just because its mode of delivery is a bread product.

This year in Toronto has been an especially good burger year for me, but I have yet to find a burger in this city that even comes close to that original Atlanta burger. The second best burger I've ever had was in Montreal, at Burger Ville (actually Burger de Ville), which is a weird chain restaurant in Quebec that serves truly delicious and truly affordable burgers. The only downside is that the interior is not very nice, and it's not a place where you would like to sit and truly savour your burger. There are other places in Montreal that are great, but their burgers aren't quite as good. I especially like Patati Patata, which serves mini burgers (I always get two and a basket of fries). In a lot of ways the burgers aren't actually that good. They're thin and kind of dry and there's too much of a bun-to-burger ratio (to be fair, this might be fixed with more fixings), but overall it's a great little restaurant with adequate burgers.

Here's me eating the first of two baby burgers at Patati
Patata in Montreal. This picture was taken during
my sister's visit. For some reason this was a
really ugly time for me. Not, like, emotionally trying. I
just looked really ugly that week for some reason.

There's honestly not a whole lot I have to say about burgers. In a lot of ways, they're the perfect food: they're fast, they're portable, they're delicious, and they're filling. But it should be mentioned that burger quality is never assured. I have eaten some terrible burgers in my life. As a general rule, I hate seeing anything in the burger other than plain ground beef (such as chopped onions or seasoning), even if I like additional flavours (such as chopped onions or seasoning). I don't like to see any red meat. One time I ate a treacherously undercooked burger and it was traumatizing. But when they're good, they're great.

Here are some different burgers I have eaten.

Here are more burgers that I have eaten.

*Important because as everyone should know, even though Rancho Chico’s is also in Spokane, it is generally considered by all to be the only place to eat in Colville, whereas Spokane also has The Onion, which has pretty decent burgers. So imagine my surprise when Rancho Chico’s in Colville was actually closed on Independence Day and we were forced to go to that weird … what is it? Ronnie D’s? Sandy’s? That weird drive-in fast-food place in Colville. It was great! It was so American!

A burg is enough when my hunger needs sating
And my tum has no voice but the voice of complaining
So many tastes for my tongue to discover
Ground beef, melted cheese--marinating thereunder 
Some burgers I've tasted, some still a wonder
Some were delicious, others better pass'd over
Yet my hands shall not tremble, my bite shall not falter,
My hunger shall not weary, my tastes shall not alter
Those buns and these lips of the loved and the lover.