Tuesday, December 23, 2008
"this is bizaaaare! this is only the second time I've heard of pupusas in my life, the first time being about... three hours ago when I was paying for my pozole at La Tienda Latina.
Q. Donde esta las pupusas en mi hometown?
A. Ain't nans."
If you want to know what a pupusa is, go to here. I don't know what a pupusa is, having never seen one.
Pozole is red soup with hominy and meat and fresh vegetable shakings and lime.
Monday, December 22, 2008
User Reviews for Chan's Chinese Cuisine
What a trip
10/11/2008 Posted by hello0420
My family and I went to Chan's three weeks ago. Some background info on myself. Born in Hong Kong (where the dim sum is delish) and I own a dim sum restaurant in the northern part of Florida. We decided to go to Chan's to compare the food and the service, and see how we could improve ours. After reading such wonderful reviews in this site, I was hoping to get amazed..but unfortunately I was not. After going to Chan's, I came to understand that mines is the best. In the parking lot-small of pieces of glass and big chunks, so beware where you walk. When we entered we were served tea and we did not know that they charged you 50 cents per person. We were seated near "the bar". Honestly, the atmosphere is a bit tacky and dirty. I did not even bother to ask for water because their glasses looked uncleaned. The food had the same aspect as the restaurant, tacky (old shredded lettuce as a garnish for some stale fried tofu) and the plates has residue on them. After ordered four plates we were out of there. When it was time to pay we received the check of $25 and take into account that we had ordered only four small entries. The owner seemed bothered when I asked her the price of each dish. I'm into the restaurant business myself, and even when I'm really busy... I will treat every costumers nicely if they ever have any inquiries. I warn every person who has the slightest thought of going into Chan's. No offense to the people who wrote previous reviews, but they are just enchanted with the thought of eating Dim Sum. If they ever had really good Dim Sum food and service, their reviews wouldn't be the same . I know that they see a lot of Asians families whenever they eat at Chan's, but most likely they are people like me who were there the only and the last time. I have my Dim Sum restaurant in the northern part of Florida, I don't advertise much because I have plenty of locals who already know of us. Good food and great service makes food yummy and satisfying = )
Chan's is good.
12/22/2008 Posted by NomNomNom
If you want to quibble over having to pay 25 cents for a bottomless cup of jasmine tea, better drive on to downtown Orlando as directed by the gigantic Houlihan's "Ur not a style-obsessed bravenewworld moron, ur axshully a foooodie!" billboard looming over little Chan's. There at Houli's you can get the handcrafted Mrs. T's long island ice teas you're used to in comfortably generic surroundings designed for discerning consumers such as you, all for your comfy accustomed price of $7 or something. If, however, you want to eat some divine dumplings, dump your vehicle somewhere in the substandard parking lot and cast your eyes at something more interesting than the ground as you walk into the place. That way you might observe something other than the broken glass that is underfoot everywhere in every slummy bit of every big glitzy dumb city like Orlando. You might see what is good (and not just good: superior) about that part of town. For instance, that Chan's has planted calamondin trees for hedges. This is particularly valuable when you leave the place packed to your back teeth with deliciousness and need a little eye opener citrus burst to avoid falling into a food coma and tumbling into the street. I love Chan's forever. It (and the other stuff in its environs) is the only reason I can think of to go to that benighted city.
Pros: it's like heaven.
Cons: it's in Orlando.
See, I just don't get this hello0420 attitude about restaurants--that plates and glasses have to be rubbed with a rag 'til they look clean or he will not deign. Does not anyone read. Is my question. Did not Orwell tell you that your glisteny steak on your immaculate plate that all looks so perfect was in fact dropped on the floor and stepped on ten seconds ago? Do you want your life run by people like Gordon damn Ramsey?
In our little town we just lost our best Chinese restaurant because of hello0420 attitude. The health inspector noticed a few roaches and some slime, so they threatened to close the place. It wasn't as if the food was transcendent, but it was pretty great to get a big shovelful of duck for $6 of a Sunday morning. The owner fled town in the dark of night without paying thousands of dollars in back rent before the health department could close him. No more $6 bottomless Sunday duckbowl. Thanks, hello0420.
Across the street from Chan's is a huge supermarket (but not the hugest) where you can get advice about boiling live crabs (paralyze them by putting them on ice), durian fruit (there's one in my car, now, getting all warm and gooshy!) and mangdana essence. Mangdana essence is waterbug squeezins. They're useful in Thai cooking, apparently. If you can't deal with dirt and bugs, stay out of restaurants, especially the ones that look clean: they are trying to hide terrible things from you. Best to eat at the places where they whip the lids off and show you the cooked chicken feet or maybe the bowl of batterfried these. (Image from here: http://duckfatandpolitics.blogspot.com/2008/01/mang-da.html)
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
Part II is stewed tomatoes. You just cut up a bunch of tomatoes and cook them for less time than you cooked the tomato paste tomatoes. If you add olive oil and garlic, your stewed tomatoes will have "depth!"
You do the same thing and don't bother to blanch and remove skins, just obliterate in the food processor about an hour or so into the cooking process when they're all amorphous and gooshy. Cook them 'til they look like the stuff in the cans.
I can't wait for part III: part III is going to be a real nail-biter!
Monday, December 15, 2008
See, 'cause I was gonna make my own paste.
Which I did: I made my own tomato paste.
I made paste out of the purples and stewed tomatoes out of the other three kinds. (I didn't pay too much or any attn to what they all were, but they were essentially your basic snooze-a-rama store tomato, your on-vine tomato, and your high shoulders tomato, in red. I could've gotten yellow high shoulders tomatoes, but I just didn't go for it this time. I just wasn't feeling it for the yellow high shoulders tomatoes. Next week will it be their turn?)
So to make tomato paste what you do is this: cut your purples or plums or whatever into one-inch dice (That implies you have to be precise, but actually you don't. Three-inch wedge works just as well as one-inch dice. Just bash 'em up anywayworks). Put them in a steel stockpot and crank the heat 'til they start jumping around (do not burn). Turn the heat down and simmer for a long time, like an hour. Cool, blast in the food processor, return to boil, simmer 'til you achieve paste. Note that you do not have to parboil and remove the skins. You just obliterate the skins in the food processor. Time saving and less depressing in these scary economic dayz because you're using the whole tomato.
You can't imagine how fulfilling it is to see six pounds of big purple monsters slowly mutate into a cup and a half of delicious paste. You wouldn't think the paste would be so delicious on its own, either--it's just tomatoes boiled down. But turns out you can't resist it! Making tomato paste is really really fun.
Thursday, December 11, 2008
Did you know that I'm not paying for these dozens of clams I'm eating?
Actually I am getting paid to eat these clams.
That is what I am trying to say about get hooked up.
In a economic downturn such as this, it's hard to beat getting paid to eat.
I shall report on the clams and the mystery item.
Thursday, December 4, 2008
If you've had a cooked clam and if you've had both raw and cooked oysters, then when you're thinking about what a raw clam would be like, you're probably close to right texturally, but you might be off on taste. You're also probably thinking, "ew." But it turns out no! They're less "ew" than cooked clams, which have that jaded, raspy-voiced, "left ajar all afternoon on the hot, tar-specked beach" quality we so often find in hard-living bivalves. And raw clams are far less "ew" than raw oysters. They are much more complex than an oyster, too, visually, texturally and tastily. An oyster is just sortof a gray morass. Not so our friend the clam. Not to dis the oysters, cause I love 'em, but boy, these raw clams! They're just great.
Tuesday, December 2, 2008
Because dark meat represents a hurdle for whitemeat devotees.
I've seen a lot of terminology bandied about lately:
-not so fresh
The implication being that white meat is:
Let's take these one at a time, and let's take our time, the better to open our eyes to a new kind of way.
If white meat is fresh and dark meat is not so fresh, the implication is that the legs of the capon, the goose, or the ostrich, died before the breast of the capon, the goose, or the ostrich. Wait, we need to decide on a species. A partridge. We are fixing to eat a partridge. Let's make it Danny Partridge--he's a good gateway free-range bird, since he's the Partridge most similar, phenotypically, anyway, to the Butterballs we're used to.
Okay, so picture this: it's Thanksgiving Eve in Alaska, and Sarah Palin has once again been required by the media to render up a fat load of soundbites. People are bored by her wackedout eyeglass frames by now, so she'll need a dynamic background for her mammerings. That, of course, means her unpaid illegal immigrant farm hand must hoist Danny Partridge up by his Keds, upend him in the giant metal funnel poultry-dispatcher and relieve him of his onerous life.
Consider that done. Now imagine we are looking at the brined, trussed body of Danny Partridge, ready for roasti-
-you know what, this is depressing; I have nothing against that poor little redheaded kid. He had a hard life. Plus the joke is getting old. I'm changing species again.
So Sarah Palin's had one of her howevermany children roast the bald eagle she got from the dude Bush just pardoned last week for shooting all those bald eagles, and the whole Palin clan is sitting down with forks and knives in hand, all ready to eat a really patriotic meal when suddenly the pregnant one's boyfriend pipes up:
"No dark meat for me, thanks, it's never seemed quite fresh somehow."
But all the meat on the bird died when the bird died. So all the meat is exactly the same age as all the rest of the meat. It is all of the exact same freshness!
Plus I'm pretty sure a bald eagle is entirely dark meat. Dark meat is simply muscle that gets used, as opposed to white meat, which is muscle that lies flabbily and unnecessarily and uselessly against the bone merely because it has been bred to be there. Eagles, being wild and free Americans, have not been bred to have useless meat on them. They use their breast muscles to do all kinds of wild free American stuff like fly in whenever they see a knot of buzzards on the side of the road so they can kick ass and get way more than their share of decayed armadillo.
Bristol's boyfriend sure is lucky he signed on with the Palin babymill. He must have spent his whole youth palling around with old washed up terrorists if he thinks it's okay to say the meat of the symbol of our nation is "not so fresh."
Monday, December 1, 2008
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
Take a trip to Walmart and you can check out the success of the “feed people like livestock” plan so far. (There must be someplace other than WalMart to see people so fat they can’t walk, but WalMart is probably the closest.)
This must not stand. It may be looking a lot like Animal Farm around the ol’ homeland of late, but even so, we are not livestock. People do not eat chow.
We should all eat as well as we possibly can tomorrow, so that our thanks will be genuine.
Monday, November 24, 2008
In the case that they're actually feeding you and the food is not wretched and you aren't having to pay for it, you'll tuck away all you possibly can. Eat as if you were at a friend's house, except inasmuch as you needn't worry you're insulting the hotelier if you don't eat your mashed potatoes or your rice or your rolls, and further inasmuchas you don't know these people and won't see them again, so there's no reason to pretend to be civilized and restrained and keep your fork out of the roast beef platter. Stock up now for a leaner later! You'll digest the massive fat and protein bolus eventually, but if you make the experience spectacular enough, your stomach acids will never burn away its memory...
Friday, November 21, 2008
He's right: this thing
is great. My co-worker has one, so I know. It's small and light, so you can pack it, and it makes perfectly acceptable coffee.
Sadly, though, Robin is incorrect that you can rely on a hotel-room coffee maker to heat water sufficiently for this or any other coffee-making method. Sometimes this might work, sortof, but sometimes those things are made out of petrified bullshit whipped into a froth and they won't even sortof heat water--by the time it dribbles into the miniature mug, it's tepid. The ground beans recoil from it and refuse to release their intoxicating oils. That's no hill for a stepper, though, because our Robin has come to the rescue again. His idea about the risk-addicted-college-student in-cup electrical coil has real legs. I mean to thrift one asap and try it out.
I am happy to report that Robin is also right about French presses. How hard do those things suck?
Thursday, November 20, 2008
Steps to Lunch:
Ignore the concierge.
Remember the kindly old bellhop in the elevator who asked you were you coming for the convention and you squealed and threw money at him/her? Throw more money and ask where's good and cheap and nearby to eat.
If you can't get past "Checkers" and "Olive Garden" with the bellhop, try the chambermaid, the bartender, the guy schlepping towels and beverages poolside. Keep trying 'til you get something good. Mostly it's a matter of waiting out the wall-of-schlock concierge talk they've all been trained to deliver because the distant dwellers on Park Avenue who own this place believe you are the lumpen and Olive Garden breadsticks is what the lumpen eat. Try telling the people in the hotel where you eat when you're at home, which, if you have any sense, is where the Mexican migrant workers in your area eat because that stuff is currently the best cheap food available in the U.S.A., unless there's something even better and cheaper I don't know about in which case please bust off and comment because I need to know immediately.
Basically? Where are the recent immigrants eating? That is what you need to know, and since the hotel is staffed by recent immigrants, that is what you are uniquely positioned to discover. Your luxury hotel looks like simulacraland, but in fact underneath its plasticky skin it is a real place with real people in it. It is little Haiti or little Havana or Chinatown under a veneer of American corporate spackle. Bust through and partake.
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
Usually as long as you jump start with one solid, strong cup of your own stuff in the morning you can make do with the convention coffee in the big urns they stick out in the mill-around areas outside the dimly lit, freezing cold little minitheaters where the PowerPoint lurks. But sometimes you can't because the convention coffee is spectacularly bad or because they're stingy with it.
In that situation, you need to know how to pass*.
First, understand that it is not possible that there is NO good coffee anywhere in the tower. Somewhere, somebody, guest or host, is enjoying something hot and strong and black and delicious. It's only the conventioneers that are being served the tepid brownwater. So you shake off your conventioneer skin and you go and get some of the good stuff, and you don't pay for it.
This takes some pre-planning.
Soon after you arrived at the hotel, as you were riding up to your floor with your luggage, did the kindly porter say, "Are you here for the convention?" Of course. And what did you say? Water under the bridge now, of course, but what you ought to have said is, "Oooo, what convention? How exciting!" And then you ought to have tipped the porter as lavishly as possible.
When you unpacked those bags. What did you find inside? Not drab conventionwear, please. The look you want to aim for is upscale and relaxed. Your clothes need to say "on my honeymoon!" or "ready to shop!" or "please direct me to the humidor!" Bring along one convention blazer to put on over your resortwear and render it network-appropriate.
When you descended and registered for this sojourn in corporate limbo, they handed you a pile of badswag. A name tag, an ugly shoulder bag, a stack of literature, possibly a logo-slathered beer coozey or potmetal lapel pin. Most of this stuff should be shoved somewhere out of sight and left there forever, but you are usually required to carry the name tag around. The name tag marks you as Someone Undeserving. Put it on your convention blazer. Carry--do not wear--your convention blazer down to the convention floor and find a place to stash it when you wish to leave the convention floor. Behind a potted palm. In the drop ceiling in one of the restrooms. You will wear it ONLY when you are at play in the fields of the lord of PowerPoint. It will not leave that area until you are ready to pack to go home. Jettison the shoulder bag they give you immediately. Throw it into the hotel pool. You must not carry it, not now, not ever. You will have brought something appropriate to put your various printed-out PowerPoint shows and other essential convention claptrap in. Something that says, "Could you get me a taxi to the theater district?" rather than screaming, "I'm the kind of Willy Loman who will wear any godawful thing, as long as it's free!"
When you go down in the morning, take along a mug from your hotel room (because the room mugs are branded separately from the public area mugs; the public area mugs make you look like a conventioneer) and stash it where you stash your blazer. When you're ready to go for coffee, ditch the blazer, grab the mug and stroll, don't stride, to the restaurant or bar area--wherever they have the good stuff. If you can't find the urn and serve yourself, feel free to ask a hotel lackey--look affable and slightly drowsy and explain that you can't drink the stuff in the room, or better yet, your new spouse can't, so you're down here on a mission. Grin ruefully during the explanation phase and both thank and tip effusively upon receiving satisfaction. (Don't get in a swivet about all the tipping I'm recommending because no matter what, you're spending less than you'd spend if you had to pay Starbucks every day.) Do this regularly and they will allow you to fill your own cup or thermos from home, if you had the foresight to bring one.
*From the OED: pass, v. 43. intr. d. To be accepted as or believed to be, or to represent oneself successfully as, a member of an ethnic or religious group other than one's own, esp. one having higher social status; spec. (of a person of black ancestry in a racially segregated society) to be accepted as white. Later also: (of a transsexual) to be accepted as a member of a different sex.
1929 N. LARSEN Passing II. ii. 38 ‘I see. They were “passing” too.’ ‘No. They weren't. They were white.’ 1953 E. H. BROOKES S. Afr. in Changing World vii. 147 Because of the permutations of nature, a coloured man white enough to ‘pass’ can have children or grandchildren who look ‘Coloured’. 1963 M. MCCARTHY Group xiv. 319 ‘Freddy's parents were trying to pass,’ she went on sombrely. ‘Like so many rich German Jews.’ 1994 City Life 24 Aug. 61 The author documents hundreds of cases of individual women who lived most of their adult lives as menwomen who managed to ‘pass’ in all kinds of situations.
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
You may be tempted because what the hotel serves in the morning and insults the French by declaring continental is usually free. But let's take a moment to examine the fare.
-boiled orange juice
-picked-green napthalene-ripened juiceless fruit
-a selection of Otis Spunkmeyer factory baked goods made out of oses and vapidity
-hard boiled eggs from out of a bucket. It's too much trouble to boil eggs and peel them. So the hotel has Sysco truck in five-gallon plastic barrels full of hundreds of pre-peeled eggs submerged in preservative brine. When and where and by whom were these eggs laid? Boiled and peeled? Sealed in their bucket? You will not be able to find anyone at the hotel who knows. They are "fresh" only inasmuch as the subaltern who ladeled them out of their bucket grave did so this morning. They taste like depression.
RESIST THE CONTINENTAL BREAKFAST
Sunday, November 16, 2008
The first thing to do is take care of coffee. In a pinch you could live on that alone, but not if you're stuck with nothing but the stuff in the hotel.
Grind a ziploc full of your own the morning of your flight. Roll it up and stuff it in a shoe or something. Sometime in the last ten or fifteen years a federal law must have been passed requiring hotels and motels to put a little crappy coffee maker in all the guest rooms, because now they're always there. They're not normal coffee makers, though, since it came out on TV that those things are universally put to use to make methamphetamine and burn down the building. Fox usually shows footage of some flaming fleabag on a back street, but it has to be going on at the DoubleTree, too, because normal coffeemakers have fallen out of favor in the big towers and have been replaced by these truly awful tiny carafe things that take little pre-sealed sacks of Juan Valdez's floor sweepings.
Convention-savvy coffee-lovers know the workaround. Find a sharp--if Homeland Security took your nail scissors, fashion a shiv from a piece of the desk chair. Use this to slit the packet open. Dump out the mummified stuff in it and pour your own in. You'll need to doctor at least two of these packets because the Biscayne Bay Hilton wants the guests on weak coffee so they have to race out of the hotel to find a coffee shop before the grueling morning breakout sessions instead of using that precious free time to get in the manager's face over the fact that a gin and tonic costs $11.43, the elevator call buttons don't work, the construction noise keeps everyone awake all night and the pool they advertised on the website is closed for repairs. Well, not you! Pour yourself a cup of ambition like Dolly Parton says, and head on down to the front desk for a little chat.
NOTE: It is wrong to take out conventional rage on rank and file hotel staff: they are suffering, too. Tip freely and generously, and offer them a decent cup of coffee when they come to clean the room.
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
I finally quit messing around and used the Cuisinart like Julia Child CLEARLY SAID I SHOULD about A THOUSAND YEARS AGO. And I used almond oil, not olive oil. The problem with olive oil I examined in an earlier post: it has too strong an olive tang: it overwhelms your mayonnaise.
Since I was planning to use this stuff as salad dressing, I quit mixing in oil when it got the right consistency. My plan is to use the resultant "salad cream" as a base for a variety of delicious dressings. As is, it tastes exactly like the store mayonnaise that has the royal blue lid and used to have lemons on the label before they changed the label and now it's all white space with like a red onion and some other mess on it. (Mistake! Contact the Obama campaign, you mayo morons: maybe now that he's won they can loan out the outerspace genius agitprop savant who came up with the sun sign. That's the only way you can bail your mayonnaise out now that you've wrecked it on the NewCoke rocks.) My mayo is maybe a tiny bit better than that stuff, but I haven't tasted the two of them right together, and my slight preference for mine may be psychological, because I know it's made with almond oil not soybean oil.
Because it's willing to taste like traditional store mayo, my almond-oil mayo base is perfect just as it is for when I make a bacon lettuce and tomato salad; obviously a garlic-ey aioli would be Wrong For America in that situation. When I want aioli, though, I just throw whatever I haven't used on the BLT salad back in the cuisinart with a pressed clove of garlic. When I want thousand island (which is never), I whizz it up with some ketchup. When I want "ranch" (also never), I throw in whatever they put in "ranch." Ramen noodle flavor pacs?
Woooooo! I am so golden right now!
Unless I'm not.
Because maybe it's at the accessorizing stage when trouble enters paradise because maybe it curdles?
But all that trauma is in the future, though: for now, the potential mayo problems that had me crippled with fear (curdling, tasting like olive diesel, being an off-putting green color, being a pain in the ass to try to make) are vanquished. And that makes this? Another mayo triumph.
Monday, November 10, 2008
Sometimes it helps to talk like that guy in Slingblade who says "mmmmmhmmmm," and sometimes it helps to talk like the guy on Trailer Park Boys who says "noamsain?" These kinds of little tricks can really help loosen you up when you're blogging. Never say I didn't have good tips in this blog. Okay, never say that.
Nom, nom, nom!
Friday, November 7, 2008
after the lights go out?
Neener neener, neener neener, Bwaaaaaaaaaaaammp! Bwaaaaaaaaaaaammp! ... Plink plink plinka plink plong!
(Hello, duh? It's the theme from The Twilight Zone? Like, of course? You poor kids. It's got to feel bad when you find out you postdate your own country's cultural apex.)
What will you do for food after all the grocery stores go dark and the shelves are picked bare of food but for a couple of half-eaten granola bars being guarded by the wall-eyed homeless dude who, in somehow getting his hands on a howlitzer, has proven he has the right skillset for today's jobmarket after all?
How will you get those granola bars from that cranky ol' Tommy Crazy Eyes?
Well, take heart, loyal reader! Because you don't have to. You don't eat granola bars because you've been following the advice of this blog for so long that you've forgotten they--and the grocery store istelf--even exist. You'll be happily unaware that the grocery store has gone dark in the first place. You'll be going about your eating life just as you did before, though with fewer forays into the wild and wonderful side alleys of the WWW for Valomilks and the like, since portals to the WWW will long since have disappeared from the lives of regular people.
But enough dystopian scene setting! To the topic!
Right, okay, so the first way to get hooked up was... oh yeah, oyster tasting. Well guess what! next week we're trying raw clams. Evidently people eat them! Clams are even more mineral rich than oysters, or so I've read. So that's even more nutrition I don't have to pay for. And I have a few more up my sleeve to tell you about in the months ahead. Don't worry! We're all going to be fine.
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
Also: America, do not stay up late to watch Charlie Rose. Staying up late makes you fat, and the fatter you are, the more food it takes to lull you into a state of sleepiness: you can see how this could become a vicious cycle and lead to bad, depression-unready eating and spending habits. Take note, everyone! Our Leader needs our help to stave off the coming economocalypse (boy, does that coinage ever stink. It's no "simulacra-p," that's for sure): He cannot do it alone.
Friday, October 31, 2008
On a FRIDAY? WHY? Who has time to put together a worthwhile costume after working all week? Why can't we just make it a paid holiday? It's the last holiday of the year that doesn't make 87% of people want to kill themselves, so it should be paid. So should the day after it.
I've already said too much on this subject this week. I want to try this one candy called Valomilk. You should google that.
There are two easily googled watermelon brain recipes on our friend, the WWW.
Thursday, October 30, 2008
"This is great!" said my fellow projecteer, upon her first taste of cherimoya.
"It's like a banana... kindof."
"They say it's like a pineapple, but I don't think so."
"No, it's not acidic like a pineapple. At first I thought it was custardy, but it's not, it has sugar crystals."
"Sugar crystals? Are you eating the skin? Because I don't think you're supposed to eat that part."
"No, the sugar crystals are in the pulp."
"They also said it was like a pear, which I agree."
"Yes, it's like a pear."
"It's better than a pear."
"It's not better than a pear."
"I say it is."
"A ripe pear is very good."
And so we came to a shaky accord. Ah, fruit! Most elegant of food groups! Prized bringer of peace!
What reminded me, I'm eating a pear burrito. The recipe is like this:
One Ezekiel 4:9 tortilla.
These things take getting used to, but once you give up on the notion that they're the same as a corn tortilla or a flour tortilla and get into the fact that they're basically horsefeed in a flattened state, you start to like them. (If you've ever stuck your head in a big bucket of that sweet feed they give horses and taken a good long molassesey chevalsnort, you'll know why that idea is appealing.)
One point five slices of basic factory provolone cheese
Paperthin slices of superripe pear, to taste
Arrange cheese and pear on surface of asphalt tortilla, roll into a cigar and eat.
This would be probably a lot better if you broiled it, but who has the patience for that? Well. You know who. MFK Fisher, that's who. But she puts her tangerine slices on the winter windowsill and waits for them to dry just the perfect, perfect amount. Mere mortals cannot approach obsession on this level.
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
Now, reader, as you know, normally I am not one to drag little disputes from the blaaaagcomments all up onto the front page like SOME blaaaaggers. But some things push you past your limits, and one of those is bad candy, for instance the Ferraro Rocher fakety fakewads recently advocated by otherwise reliable commenter, Robin.
They come in gold foil with like a painting of Mozart on them
They are nevertheless not a good thing
They are unmitigated garbage
Do not buy them
These things are meant to LOOK like food but they are not food. Like, okay, McDonald's has salad on the menu, now. Ha, ha! Would you eat that? Ha ha haaaaa! On the other hand, McDonald's also has french fries, and despite the fact that they've messed them ALL up in recent decades, they're still McDonald's fries, and anybody with a brain would eat McDonald's fries. The salad is made to LOOK like food, but it's lying, craw-sticking simulacra-p. The french fries are honest crap, and they're great. Sure: they'll kill you. But they're good. See? McDonald's and WalMart are merchants of honest crap, and when they try to be something they aren't, it's a scary thing. If you want good ch0colate, you have to get out of WalMart and go online or head over to the little annoying hippiemart and buy single-origin stuff. If you can't deal with that, I surely sympathize, but fakety fakeballs are no kind of answer: I'm afraid you're stuck with crap chocolate, so you might as well get the best of that you can and spend a reasonable amount of money for it, not toss over your last few coins for a lipsticked pig in Mozart pantaloons.
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
Monday, October 27, 2008
"Powdered milk is not as evil as Om Nom thinks it is, but it does not compare to regular milk unless put in baked goods or disguised in hot chocolate."
Powdered milk isn't "evil," it's merely revolting. It is not possible to disguise it--well, I guess you could bake with it probably. I never tried. It is the only problem with milk chocolate as most mortals know it: you can taste the sour powdered milk. I now know from reading Candy Freak that it's possible to get candybars made without it, but you have to spend like $46/bar.
"You see, food and its tastes are all a matter of two main things: how open-minded you are to new tastes and what you are used to, taste-wise."
If this were true, we would all prefer powdered milk hot chocolate, because we all grew up on Swiss Miss. In fact, food and its tastes are a matter of one thing: whether you have the sense enough to know what's good when you run up on it.
"Several years ago, I decided on to 'eat to live,' not to 'live to eat.'"
"Eating to live entails figuring out the bare minimum of foods you like and can live with, both money-wise and nutrition-wise."
Then swiftly loading up your trusty handgun and dispatching yourself because if you're eating to live you got no reason to live.
"...Can humans manufacture the vitamins they need from the foods they eat and the sunlight they receive (vitamin D is manufactured by the body due to sunlight expose amounts)? Children who lived in Swiss valleys tended to get rickets much more frequently than those who lived higher up on the mountains. The children in the valleys were vitamin D deficient. So the answer to the question of whether humans can manufacture most of the vitamins they need is 'Mostly, yes, they can, but not entirely.'"
No, given the evidence you provide, "mostly but not entirely" is not the answer to the question you asked. Rather, it's the answer to the question, "can juvenile Swiss valley-dwellers manufacture all the vitamin D they need?" Mostly (they ain't dead), but not entirely (they all done come down with the rickets). About no other nutrient can we tell a gatdamn thing from your example. I must tell you that Juan Valdez concurs with me: he has a mean headache right now despite the fact that he gets plenty of sun. He has been unable to manufacture the vital nutrient, caffeine, and he doesn't get it from his diet since I put him on Postum instead of coffee. (Sue me! I was tired of listening to him crack his knuckles early in the morning.)
"I decided to try to buy as little as possible at the grocery store as I could."
"The rub? I don't really like to cook all that much."
Ay. There is the rub. Learn, yo.
"I am more of an information guy. Ideas are like food to me."
I wonder if the rickety Swiss kids could manufacture vitamin D... from ideas? (You're supposed to read "from ideas" the way George W. reads "from Africa" in that little speech he gave that time about the yellow cake.)
"If a kid grows up only drinking powdered milk (I did not), he is going find regular milk to be a greasy, odd beverage that takes some getting used to."
Wait up because here's another of those ideas for Heidi et al to munch on: what if all milk is revolting? Yes, Pippi! Think on't long and build strong bones the better to ride Mister Nilsson (or was that the name of the monkey? Hell, I can't remember Pippi for beans). Milk sucks. Milk sucks, and that's not just an "idea," it's an obvious fact. Milk sucks. Cream is okay. Whey is bearable. But milk sucks except when it's straight out of the cow. And I know this because my parents tried to get me to like regular milk and they tried to get me to like powdered milk and they made me try chocolate milk and they made me try milks of all butterfat percentages and I hated it all. I did not like anything dairy except yogurt and ice cream and whipped cream and cheese and, of course, glorious butter. I hated milk categorically 'til I tried it fresh-out-of-the-udder, when I loved it, but you can't get it that way in this godforsaken country unless you own a cow, so I maintain that for all practical purposes, milk sucks. O, I drank it when they told me to: one eats what is put in front of one. I ate to live in those days because I had no choice. Now that I have a choice, I live to eat, and I don't drink milk... because it sucks. All those "eat to live" years I drank the stuff, I always knew that it sucked.
"The opposite food plan, 'living to eat' ...says that tasting is one of the most important things a person does. But is it?"
"I find this approach to life to be a materialistic one."
No, it isn't. It's merely sensible. The opposite approach is a self-loathing one. Why would you put something that sucks in your mouth unless somebody bigger than you was making you?
"It is also very expensive to eat that way."
Quite, quite the opposite. Living to eat is far cheaper than eating to live. Take butter, for just one instance. Butter is astronomically better tasting and mouthfeeling and all that than margarine. Margarine's one true advantage over butter is price. My lifelong dedication to butter saved my circulatory system. Now my blood flows free, unobstructed by petrified Country Crock. I don't need a coronary bypass. I save the big money.
It's very important not to piss off your friends. Because: if you don't make them mad, they might invite you over to eat! Now, when you eat at your friends' homes, your little rules about "this or that is off limits" should go where? That's right, out the window or up your undsoweiter. Because following these little rules might what? That's right, piss off your friends. And that brings us right back to the beginning where we did not want to be, damn it. I don't know how to blaaaaag!
Anyway, dinner at your friend's house is the one time when rules like "no supermarket chocolate," and "I do not drink of the orange juice: I only touch virgin citrus with unbroached, blushing peel" are not to be followed unless it's some outlandish kind of crazy situation like your friend tries to get you to drink Crystal Lite or however you spell that crap. MAN that stuff is nasty, OH my god don't drink it. Accept it with huge smiles and glad cries and then pour it in a houseplant at the first op.
Remember: at friends' houses YOU LOVE EVERYTHING!
Without further A., here is its glorious ass:
In response to one "booga," who said that it's unPalin-like to eschew free "yeast rolls" at trough-style family dining establishments, the commenter wrote as follows:
They're counting on you to eat the yeast rolls. Just try not eating the yeast rolls one day and see what happens.
"Are you not yet enjoying those yeast rolls, Mr. or Ms. Booga?"
"Can I tell the chef you're going to be eating the yeast rolls he made for you with his own hands out of love, Mr. or Ms. Booga?"
"Mr. or Ms. Booga, how can we here at Golden Calf get you around a couple or six of these fresh, warm, free yeast rolls today? How can we do that for you the fastest and the bestest? Would it help if the rest of the waitstaff and I all gathered here around your chair and sang and clapped so that everyone in the restaurant could be alerted to the situation, so that everyone could join in encouraging you to fill up on your warm fresh hot delicious gratuitous yeast rolls and quit hitting the buffet roast beef so goddamn hard? Did you somehow miss the four-foot-high neon 'Three Roll Minimum' sign on your way into Golden Calf this evening? Would you like me to call Kevin the Oven Man out here to 'reason' with you, Mr. or Ms. Booga? Because we can make that happen."
Aw, hell yeah, commenter of the gods! Here's hoping we see more of the same sort of golden-baked goodness from you! And thank you, too, booga, for your contribution.
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
-doughnuts at work
-melamine supermarket chocolate
-dopey free "yeast rolls" at feed trough places like Ryan's and Golden Corral
-that orange soupy stuff that they say is "nacho cheese" and it comes in one of those woven wooden bowls at the gringo "fast casual" restaurant before your sucky gringo chalupafajitaplaaaatter or whatever bunk thing you ordered because there was nothing on the menu that was NOT bunk. Don't eat that glue, damn.
-all stuff like the above
See the thing about all this stuff is, it is designed to be not all that great but nevertheless make you ravenous so you eat more food that costs money. It is like if you go to the gentleman's club, what they do on the stage in order that you should order a lap dance and then have your Lancelot urge kick in and get into a bad marriage and end up driving around in a sad kind of "married people" type car. That's what those chips and orange "cheese" really represent. Stay away.
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
Here's the patentable part: treat it like coffee. Add whipping cream (half''n'half if you're a lightweight, but it's 200x better with cream) 'til it's the right color. Add whiskey or your favorite adulterant until it's the right strength. You can add the whipping cream while the chocolate's still on the stove if you want your hot chocolate to burn the roof of your mouth off, but you must keep this brief and get the pot off the stove before you cook the cream. This is the only way to avoid that gnarly boiled milk taste hot chocolate always has unless it is my hot chocolate. Do not add alcoholic adulterants while the stuff is on the stove, duh.
Do not allow powdered milk to touch any part of your person at any time. Powdered milk is why we do not eat the crappy supermarket chocolate offered to us free at shrimp tasting. Powdered milk is foul, and if living through a depression means eating powdered milk, let's just agree now not to live through it.
Monday, October 20, 2008
For an example, let's look at my behavior at shrimp tasting last week. I walked into the lab, selected my two cupsful of shrimp and ate them. You don't HAVE to eat the shrimp to taste them. We have chew 'n' spit going on in the tasting lab, especially when there are spawny oysters. But I always eat the proteinaceous free food unless it is clearly septic.
When I was finished with the taste test, I went over and punched the clock. (We don't actually have a clock, but I like to imagine we do--I'd like it to be like the clock in the Warner Bros. cartoon with Ralph and Sam, the coyote and the sheepdog). Near the clock, I noticed a bowlful of crappy supermarket chocolate. Because two of my fellow shrimptasters were having a spirited discussion about one of their co-workers and how she is an idiot and has an idiot boyfriend and how this idiot and her boyfriend, in cahoots with an idiot boss, have managed to fry three+ motherboards in the past year; because, I say, because of this spirited conversation, I was unable to simply walk out of the shrimptasting lab. Instead, I leaned against the wall next to the time clock and ate a wad of crappy supermarket chocolate about the size of a ground squirrel.
Shrimp: Good Free Food
Crappy Melamine Chocolate: BAD Free Food.
Eat Good Free Food
Don't Eat Bad Free Food.
Friday, October 17, 2008
How (and why) to re-use paper coffee filters.
Maybe you have a coffee maker, in which case you should barter it for a parsnip or a couple of week-old radishes because coffeemakers suck. Or maybe you make coffee with one of those doom-dealing, bisphenol-A-leaching plastic Melita filter holders... like me!
If you can't barter your coffee maker because nobody wants it or because it is the last thing you have from your dear, departed great aunt Sal and if you don't have a gold filter for it, go to garage sales 'til you find one. You will find one. The worse the economy gets, the more truly useless things people try to sell. So saddle up and ride out to the more desperate and refi-ed-to-the-hilt of the subdivisions in your area and you'll be a goldfilter owner sooner than you thought possible.
Unless you use preground coffee flakes, the gold filter will let in grounds and the bottom fifth of your pot of bad coffeemaker coffee will be a stygian, bitter swamp. So you want to double up with a paper filter. (You don't use preground coffee flakes because that's disgusting. If you have any Folgers around, barter for some potato peels.)
Either way, whether you make grody coffeemaker coffee or you make Melita coffee like a civilized person, you still want to scrounge up a goldfilter. It will take the weight of the wet coffee grounds off your delicate paper filter and allow you to use it six or eight times, for a savings of $0.0007*.
Here's what you do:
- Put your precious paper filter in your filterholder
- Put your goldfilter in on top of it
- Thow in your coffee and pour water over it or flip the Mr. Coffee switch
- When the brewing process is complete, carefully lift out your goldfilter and discard or, preferably, compost, the sodden grounds
- Leave the paper filter in the filter basket until it is completely dry (some say this step is a little obsessive, but the fact is, a wet paper filter is more fragile than a dry one, and if your paper filter tears, you won't be able to use it again, and that's anywhere from $0.0001* to $0.0007* down the drain! Just THROWN AWAY! Lost forever! Have you checked the Dow today? HUH?)
- Carefully rinse your filter and allow it to air dry
The individual filter isn't worth much, granted. But coffee filters are a staple, the kind of horribly necessary thing you sometimes have to go into the store to buy. If you go into the store, the chances that you will spend money are much greater than if you do not go into the store. It is possible to go into the store and buy just coffee filters, but no one ever does. If you go into the store, you will buy, say, a pack of watermelon gum. That's a pack of watermelon gum you wouldn't have bought had you not gone into the store. Right? Right: it's simple logic. And that is why you should re-use coffee filters and why you should purchase the sort of toilet paper that comes in bales and lasts forever. You want that kind of toilet paper despite the fact that it's not recycled. The recycled stuff is always all fluffy and loosely wrapped on the cardboard tube, so that a roll lasts only about a fifth as long as the fat, dense rolls that come in bales. The stuff that comes in bales will keep you out of the store longer. Staying out of the store is very valuable. The toilet paper that keeps you out of the store is going to save you so much money, it's worth bringing on The Day After Tomorrow to get it.
Twice I have found paper coffee filters at estate sales. I bought them both times. Does it creep you out to think of anyone using The Paper Products of the Recently Dead? No problies, princess, more for me. In a month or two when the lights go out, you might find your attitude has undergone a change.
You may be tempted to buy a re-usable cloth filter from the store. Do not get the type made of muslin. After about five uses, they clog hopelessly, and no amount of soaking in vinegar or laundering will get them functional again. Perhaps, like me, you have a friend who is a genius with the sewing machine. Try not to torment this friend by asking over and over and over and over and over if she could please please please please make you a functional, non-clogging re-usable cloth filter. Bear in mind that talented seamstresses are much in demand these days. If you keep asking and asking and asking and asking, you may traumatize your friend, and then where would you be!
Thursday, October 16, 2008
This is sortof an amorphous concept, but it's way key. Here's one aspect of it: I get free shrimp and free oysters and occasionally free all sorts of other sea creatures because I signed on to be an oyster taster over to the aquatic foods lab.
Every few months they'll do another experiment where they, for instance, compare oysters from all over the continent to determine whether there are any qualities specific to oysters from a certain area.
Or the industry will come up with some revolutionary (and always revolting) method of processing oysters for shipping or storing and we oyster tasters will be required to eat the proceeds and report the patently obvious: "freezing oysters and then hurling them at a wall to bust them out of their shells and then sweeping up them and a few bits of their pulverized shells and throwing the whole mess in a big ol' plastic bucket, refreezing it, and trucking it halfway across the country may save you $0.03 per oyster in shelling/shipping costs, but it loses you money in the long run because unless they're a stressed out middlemanagement demon tasked with stocking the buffet table for a cocktail party in the ninth circle of hell, there is no one on earth or below who will buy that nasty 'product.'"
By declaring myself willing to eat swill occasionally, I make myself eligible for the occasional supertreat. For instance, sometimes the oysters are good. If you like oysters, good oysters is a reason to eat bad oysters, and that's really saying something, because there is nothing worse than a bad oyster. Nothing. I don't mean "bad" as in "spoiled"--a spoiled oyster isn't the worst thing in the world; eating it would bring on merciful death. I mean bad as in gravely mistreated. But good oysters make it worth it.
Sometimes? They have extras? And they send us home with bagsful. Bags full of live, fresh, salty, happy, icey, bivalved darlings. Two, three, four dozen.
It is worth it.
So that is one of a few ways I'm hooked up. Get hooked up. Find out what's around locally. Nose around. Take all offers.
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
Sour cream makes everything better. Robin suggests putting it on "toast" and "jam or preserves." Of course we wouldn't recommend doing that since toast + jam is death to a neodepression eater (kindling carbohydrates stoke hunger, ramped up hunger --> increased food expenditures, increased food expenditures--> no money, no money --> starvation, starvation --> dEaTh). However, sour cream is an early-depression essential, and it brings us to an important tenet:
It seems counterintuitive, but it is true: some expensive food items are absolutely necessary to successful depression eating, especially in the early days. Sour cream is one of these. Why, I have 1/3 of a pint container in the refrigerator right now, and I use it nearly every day. Here's the basic recipe:
Any vegetable or bean
an exciting spice
saute onions in oil til translucent
add vegetable either before or after onions depending on its cooktime
when stuff is done, add sour cream and butter to taste ("to taste" will = buckets of both at the outset, dwindling to smaller and smaller amounts as you get used to this cuisine/as sour cream and butter disappear from the national larder. YMMV, of course, especially if you acquire a blackmarket cow.)
Add your exciting spice. It could be curry powder if you like that, or marjoram if you like that, or maybe you like chipotle and chile pepper.
Stir and eat hot. MMMmmmmm!
Robin P. also mentions "single-pour coffee." I'm assuming that's your Melita filter coffee? This is my method:
Fill mug, dump mug in kettle. Crank burner.
Grind up pricey beans.
Put ground beans in melita filter baskey over cup.
Water is boiling; dump over coffee.
It drains directly into cup.
Filter re-use is possible. Scroungy kitchen re-uses you may not have considered: that's another post. Have to go eat free shrimp. Free food: that's yet another post.
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
I got some books on freezing at a garage sale for 5 cents each. They show you how to wrap things and stuff and tell you handy tips like for instance, "don't freeze lettuce." Some absolutely fascinating recipes for desserts, since these came out in the 50s. While I can still afford to shop, I should experiment with these desserts and report. Okay: that's what I'll do!
Friday, October 10, 2008
This morning I cut up:
One red pepper
One green pepper
Two two-inch cubes of dried out parmesan I found kicking around the fridge (small dice)
I put all this in a plastic container and threw pesto on top of it.
Here is what you need to make pesto:
$10 bag of fresh basil from the Fruit Viking
1/3 of a $10 bag of pecans from the Lady With The Short Fingers
Wash the basil, spin it in a spinner, sit down in front of the thrilling and terrifying TV news and pick the leaves off the stems. Save the stems. Freeze them in your soupstock ziplock.
Grind everything up in the food processor, adding olive oil to taste. Get that one kind of Cali olive oil. B-something, I think. Barrini or something, whatever, it's good.
You'll get a hoarkload of pesto. Eat several spoonfuls right away. Then freeze half, fridge half. Or freeze half, fridge 1/4, give 1/4 away.
Okay, so $10 on leaves and $3+ on nuts seems like a whole lot of money, but the fact is, a tomato, a red pepper, and a green pepper cost about $2 and that plus a dollar's worth of pesto equals more than enough food to last me the entire day. And it is goooooohoohoooooooooood. It's so good you won't even care that Obama is laughing at you because your 401K is a 101K. Ha ha-mmmmmmmm! That's what you'll say.
Thursday, October 9, 2008
But this is wrongheaded.
Job one in your Desperation Kitchen is to either consume or preserve what will go bad before it goes bad. Do not, in sadly hopeful effort to feed a future which may never come, toss precious, life-giving calories into the inexorably oxidizing maw of the terrible present!
(Instead, eat 'em your ownself.)
Pineapple Fro-YO! A neoDustbowl Receipt!
(See? I spelled it "receipt" 'cause that is the kind of nonsense spelling they used to get up to back in the days of Glen Miller)
I awoke this morning and remembered that there's a depression on. Heart seizing, I rushed to the kitchen, wild to eke out another day or two of hardscrabble existence. "Hellfahr," I said to myself, "there are three fresh pineapples left over from my massive fruit party, and that was like two weeks ago, what am I thinking??"
And it was true: I got these three pineapples for decoration (Nutritive food! As decor! That's actually how we used to think back then!) from The Fruit Viking, whose stall is at the other end of the Saturday farmar from Ditchweed Guy and who is as different from Ditchweed Guy as night is from noontime. The Fruit Viking might also be called the Luxuries Viking. He has greenhouses and can grow anything that occurs to him. So he he outsells everyone at the farmar because he has nothing but amazing and unexpected edible delicacies. Cherimoya once? Okay? Five different kinds of basil? That's the way the Fruit Viking rolls.
So I had been eschewing the Fruit Viking's stall because I had been on that damnation diet for that godforsaken contest I won and then got esscrute out of my prize for by the demonic gym people, and the Fruit Viking was a little disgruntled because I had not been coming around. (When I told him I couldn't buy any fruit because I was on a diet, he said, "We're not allowed to discriminate against different races anymore, but praise heaven we can still abuse the thin." Then he made as if to spit on me.)
The Fruit Viking was finally mollified when two weeks ago I bought three pineapples and a $10 bag of basil to make pesto from. (In the morning! In the Evening! Ain't we got fun! In the meantime! In between time! Ain't we got fun!) (That is what I was singing while I blithely tossed $12 at the Fruit Viking like $12 was of no more consequence than an offbrand Tic Tac) (I was singing it because it is a song of the Gatsby era, I am pretty sure. Anyway, I ain't singing it now, I can tell you that! 'cause we ain't got fun and we ain't got no $12 to spend on no luxury food items from no Fruit Viking!)
So this morning I cut the armor off the aging pineapples. To do this, you whack the top off the pineapple and the bottom. Throw away the bottom (unless it's further into the depression, in which case you might consider retaining it and making a watery, unpleasant soup stock from it). Retain the top and plant it in a pot in a sunny window, or, if you live in a pineapple-friendly climate, in a carefully guarded corner of a brownfield somewhere that only you know about. It may grow into a pineapple. But probably not.
Luckily when I cut off their skins, which is the next step, I found that my three were still in good shape despite my hideous profligacy of the previous two weeks.
You take your knife, which is either a short chef's or one of those nice Chinese knives (or it's a sharpened piece of a drainpipe left over from when you went out and cannibalized the deserted, half-built subdivision for metals to sell at the recycling plant) and you slice down the sides of the pineapple, removing just the barest minimum of skin. there'll be a regular pattern of "eyes" all along the pineapple, and these you pare out with your paring knive (or your scrounged shiv). In this fashion you reduce waste to a minimum.
Now cut the pineapple into rounds and dice. The Fruit Viking sells "edible core" pineapples, so I include the core section with the rest, but let me tell you something, champ: whether your pineapple core is edible or not, you eat it. This is no time to quibble over "edible/not edible." If it's not POISON, you eat it. That's the rule these days.
Freeze the pineapple.
Put about, say, a cup of frozen pineapple chunks in the food processor and grind up. Add enough yogurt or buttermilk to make your froyo the consistency you like. This is liable to be waaay too sour--if you can afford a banana, freeze that, too, and add it.
(But you probably can't afford a banana.)
If you have cinnamon left and it's really good cinnamon, that will sweeten it some. Really good cinnamon is just amazing stuff. It's too bad we won't be able to get ANY cinnamon soon because soon the Internet will go dark and we'll burn the libraries for heating fuel and forget all human knowledge including the route to the spice islands or how to navigate. Better lay in a good supply now!
Frozen fruit + yogurt is an excellent and delicious dessert item. Add whatever sprinkly things you've got around. If you have any Fage, the Greek yogurt, left over from the happy days of yore, your fro-yo will be just that much more creamy and delicious and amazing. Do not fear Fage because it is so butterfatladen. Very soon fat of every sort will be rationed and soon after that there won't be any more fat full stop. Then won't you rue every day you didn't eat that delicious Fage! Certainly you will!
Wednesday, October 8, 2008
"I inflated myself to 150 pounds, deflated to 117 and won a weightloss contest. But the evil Gym People running the contest reneged on the prize. They done me and everybody else in the contest wrong, and now it's time we got a little justice on the diet frontier. Are you one of the millions who suffer from infestations of Gym People? Read on and prosper, for I will not rest until I lead us all to a glorious vengeance upon their noisome, hardbodied tribe."
But since the time I wrote that, my resentment for the gym people has- not lessened! oh no!- but paled in comparison to my resentment of the bankers. This is not to say that my resentment of the bankers has grown, for it has not--there is not room in the universe for it to grow any larger. It's just that I hadn't taken it out to admire it for a while. You know how sometimes a beloved fashion accessory gets shuffled to the back of the closet. It was like that. I was going around everywhere sporting my gym people resentment and all of the sudden I thought to myself, "Whatever happened to my towering hatred of the rich? So timeless! Always in style! Where'd I put that?"
Thursday, October 2, 2008
The reason Stan was canned was not made clear to us; he simply disappeared. It became obvious, though, that the longtime gym rat types all knew the score, so, quietly and subtly, using a combination of poke-in-the-ribs e-mail queries and gentle hinting around the scale at the weekly weigh-ins, my friend and I teased out the story. It was not, as I earlier speculated, that Stan's no holds barred approach to weightloss put the gym in potential legal jeopardy if some too-avid dieter destroyed a vital organ or simply died of starvation. No, Stan was fired because he was having an adulterous affair, and the Gym People--or more accurately, one Gym Person, let's call her Oxana--found it distasteful. So Stan had to go and Oxana needed a patsy to take on the responsibility for the weightloss contest. The new guy needs a name. Let's call him... Scooter? No, no, he's nothing like the infamous Scooter you're thinking of. How about Doogie? Doogie is better. The new guy is earnest, very young and puppycute, and concerned with health, just like the original Doogie.
Okay, so poor Doogie assumes the heavy mantle of Wellness Director and begins to try to govern in a poisoned atmosphere of mingled resentment from the Stan factions and lickspittle fawning from the anti-Stan factions. The exercise classes are tough to lead, the weekly weigh-ins chilly and awkward. Doogie begins to find mornings increasingly difficult. The joy he used to find donning the crisp new polo with the gym logo stenciled on the breast is fast draining away.
Meanwhile, all unaware of the torment in Doogie's heart, of how he is being torn this way and that by Oxana and the Stan and anti-Stan factions, the majority of contestants are wildly losing, losing, losing, ignoring the prominent posting of nutrition advice, ignoring the moralizing e-mail bulletins about how we're all in this for our health. Just keeping our collective, sweat-blinded eye on the $750 prize to come. Until the end when we can no longer delude ourselves about the prize because the prize... does not exist. What is in the envelopes at the awards ceremony is not what was supposed to be there. Our hearts break, and some of us, apparently, start complaining pretty hard.
Because guess what!!
Well, first of all, you have to know that the (alleged) girlfriend of Stan has been sending e-mail the entire contest fomenting for the Stan faction to desert. Actually, many of them did desert in the first weeks after the Stancanning, quite without any urging. I was not in the Stan faction or the anti-Stan faction: I was a stateless, lawless mercenary out for number one. But I nevertheless sent a few sympathetic e-mails to Stan's (alleged) girlfriend implying I was in the Stan faction, simply in order to get all the delicious gossip I could out of her. I think I'll call her Iris.
So! After the final weigh-in, Iris writes a jaunty note asking me what happened and who won. So I explain in minute detail all the woe occasioned by the treachery of the Gym People, I express my sympathy for poor Doogie, who was pulled to shreds, and I also explain that on top of it all, I'm probably going to die of organ failure from all the hotboxing and spitting and chemical abuse I put myself through in an as-it-turned-out-totally-unnecessary struggle to lose eight and a half pounds in ten days to defeat Slick, whom I would have defeated anyway without any of it simply by maintaining bla bla blaaa! Basically, I do everything but come right out and announce I'm taking the Gym People to small claims court (I'm not, since that would be supremely idiotic), and then I ask in a roundabout way whether Stan is hiring a lawyer. Iris ignores that question but she does write back and let me know that Doogie deserves no sympathy since he was nothing but Oxana's puppet,
That Oxana got fired!
That Doogie put in his notice Monday and is quitting!
So Doogie will be free at last.
And now we know that there is a power behind even Oxana. She was Darth Vader and we trembled before her lest she stop our breath. We thought her invincible, but all the time there was a shadowy entity calling bigger shots than even she. The Evil Emperor of The Gym People!
Monday, September 29, 2008
Okay, I renounced the prize money, right? Because after having cheated in, I counted, five different ways for three months, I not only lost a larger percentage of body mass than anyone else, I also achieved a kind of moral nirvana in which I became more honest and true to principle than anyone else in the contest at least and probably the entire country. And once again all because of horseracing, the sport of spotless saints.
At the "awards" "banquet," I found out from the hastily appointed leader of this farcical affair (a sweet, harmless boy who should never have been saddled with this nightmare--he hardly qualifies as a Gym Person, and it is my hope that he will escape before he becomes... Like The Others) that even had I not lost a single pound during that final ten days when I ramped up the cheating to heights never before achieved except by jockeys who are dead today, I still would have beaten Slick. I had only to maintain. So no spitting, no hotbox, no evil, cynical blood donating, no renal failure. When I heard that and thought about the chunk of change I was giving up in refusing to sign the purity pledge, I almost collapsed, and not just because all I'd had to eat that day were a couple loaves of bread and a pineapple and a turkey. I thought I would have to spend the rest of my life kicking myself. But I was very wrong in this surmise. In fact, I have never before been so richly rewarded for momentarily declining to indulge in the delicious falsehoods that are my usual fare. To say I dodged a bullet would be a crime not so much because "dodged a bullet" is a cliché but because it would be such a monstrous understatement.
This post is about what happened at the potluck awards banquet.
First, here is all the bad stuff I nipped neatly around:
*The feeble opener: they announced that they'd changed the rules. Now instead of a first place winner and a second place winner, there would be an overall male winner and an overall female winner. Translation? No glory whatsoever. I could've shambled along in low gear the whole way and been two points behind Slick and still won top honors. Pa to the thetic.
*The bombshell: They announced that they weren't going to award cash prizes. Apparently, any prize over $600 they have to fill out forms with the IRS and you have to report it on your tax return. So why didn't they give the first place winner $600 and $150 worth of Rice-a-Roni? Why didn't they give the second place winner $350 as per the original contract? Because they are a bunch of shifty double crossing GYM PEOPLE, that's why! I shouldn't have trusted a word they said from the get-go!
*The nuclear warhead: the "prize" to the first place winners, plural, male and female, was nine months free GYM MEMBERSHIP and a few hours of time in the company of your choice of the know-nothing personal trainers (Earlton excepted from the know-nothing class). I could have colleagued with Satan and signed their purity pledge. Then I'd've won nine months more of going to Step, Jump and Pump and PowerJamz "classes." Nine months of being told to "engage your core." Nine months of looking at other patrons' CoolerThanThou steel water bottles. Nine months of yogablab, which is Hindi translated into English and then re-translated into new millennium Americanese about breath. I don't want to listen to you tell me to listen to my breath, Gym People. I don't want to hear you say the word "core" or the word "breath." I don't want to hear you tell me to "take it to a march, take the march to the right, now give me a knee for four! Grapevine left!" I don't want to hear you Gym People. I don't want to hear you. Ever. Again. (Earlton excepted. I love Earlton.)
Next, great stuff that happened!
* My friend won! My friend (who didn't cheat in any of the five ways or any other ways that I know of) won FIRST PRIZE! And my friend likes the Gym and the Gym People--all of them, not just Earlton! So the nine months plus training sessions are actually an okay prize, though, of course, bullshit compared to the $350 that would've been the prize had the doublecrossing bastards stuck with the original contract we all signed.
* My friend and I had the wrong guy pegged as Slick! The real Slick was not the demonic blancmange I had been thinking, but this totally inoffensive quiet chappy with a ponytail who never made a moment's trouble for anybody. The other Slick was also pretty inoffensive and quiet and also made no trouble, but somehow the difference in haircuts enabled me to pile on the hate for the imposter Slick. Bizarre, and probably the result of decreased lipids to the brain.
* A little consolation prize: I signed up to bring a quiche to the "awards" "banquet", but the quiche in Q refused to set up in the oven despite the fact that I left it in a full 40 minutes longer than it said to in the recipe. Which meant that I brought something that looked delicious and all Martha Stewart but that nobody obsessed with healthy eating could touch, since it was essentially a panful of lightly browned raw eggs. So I, the purest of conscience and the paragon of low bodymass, wronged, deprived of my prize by the throngs of lesser-thans surrounding me, I at last revenged myself by eating everybody else's food. And I did not have to share my own perfect food with the tiresome children and significant others of a bunch of low-percentile gobblers of steel-cut oats who could not reduce their body mass if they had both hands tied behind their back and their hair was on fire. I went home with my quiche unmolested and put it back in the oven and my friend the prizewinner and I ate a pile of it while we watched the debates and drank elephant liquor (recommended). Then for the next several days I and my other beloved friends and my dear, cherished family polished the quiche off and no Gym Person had so much as a crumb of its delicious pecan crumblecrust. This is my kind of Gym People potluck.
Thursday, September 25, 2008
Do not weep, beloved reader. My attorney says the money is probably "full of white snow. Spiders. SPIDERS!" I don't know what he means, but it sounds negative on the balance.
(That's me in the hat.)
Today I'm having some field peas! You boil them and while that's happening you sear a red or yellow pepper in butter and then you throw the cooked peas in with the pepper and shake on salt and curry powder and grind some black pepper and the whole thing takes maybe ten minutes. The pepper is so sweet it gets candied.
There is still the end-of-the-contest banquet to go to, and I mean to go to it with my quiche. I will report what transpires when I renounce the dough.
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
But now they want us to sign a pledge that we didn't "dope" by doing anything unhealthy or ill advised. As you may have deduced, my last week was pretty much the director's cut of the documentary exposé of everything unhealthy and ill advised. So now I'm in a new competition: a competition with my conscience. Even though they should have made us sign this pledge BEFORE we entered the contest and they did not. Even though the contest is a continuation of a completely amoral and cynical television circus farce where neither health nor morals were considered for a moment. Even though it probably was not just me but a lot of people in the contest who found ways to stretch the concept of "healthy" to include praxis at which Lance Armstrong would recoil.
None of that matters because my conscience is completely perverse. It lies all curled up like a little snoozy worm for months all the while I'm doing something godawful, and then right when I'm about to reap the bounty of my evil ways, it leaps roaring to its feet and suddenly it's the size of the Empire State Building and louder than Megadeth. I may be forced to do something drastic and very unLanceArmstronglike like give back the dough.
There are two things I keep asking myself.
One, do I have renal failure? (It can take a few weeks to show up.) In that case, moral considerations go out the window: I'll need the money for my dialysis treatments.
And two and most of all:
What Would Seabiscuit Do?
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
Monday, September 22, 2008
I weighed in a few hours ago and found that I have achieved the mass of a stunted high school girl. Of course, now I've had six tongue tacos (sans shells) and a pint of guacamole (sans chips), so now I have the mass of a bloated stunted high school girl, and man, does it feel good!
My co-workers are busy stinking the place up with microwave popcorn and various frozen Stouffers preparations. If I had to be them, I'd read Seabiscuit and develop an interest in the fortunes of Poppy's Little Candy Legs, just so as not to have to eat anymore.
Eight and a half pounds in 10 days. All thanks to horseracing. If Slick beats that, then I will be sanguine and shake his hand: he's a champion cheater.
I'm scared of horses, I'm too tall, and I am no good at spitting or hotbox. I didn't try flipping--there was nothing to flip--but I'd bet I'm pretty bad at that, too. Another career avenue closed.
I spent the weekend not eating and trying to give myself renal failure. WHY? Because they moved the weigh-in date up to Monday. Today. Another two days of bending abruptly from the waist to get my head below my knees so as to avoid passing out cold in the grocery store (where I was buying not groceries of course but "Smart Water." It has calorie-free electrolytes!!!). Another two days of not being able to do more than one flight of stairs without a rest or lift heavy things like my car keys.
This morning I awoke at 4:30 and prepared my weigh-in outfit by cutting off all labels and any unnecessary decorative elements. (There weren't any.) Then, since the weather is deliciously cool, today, and thus I can't do poorman's hotbox by sitting in my rubber raincoat in my car with all the windows rolled up in the noonday sun,
I put on my winter silk underwear under some flannel pajamas and layered several blankets on the bed and tied a thick babushka sort of thing over my head and climbed in to roast for a few hours before it was time to go to work. I raised my heart rate by listening to a little NPR about the Mother of All Bailouts. At eight I arose and threw away all the bedding, pausing several times to bend at the waist to avoid unconsciousness. I prepared a simple breakfast of: nothing and drove to work, practicing "spitting" on the way.
Spitting is disgusting, so I won't describe it, but it traditionally involves Jolly Ranchers. They didn't have any normal Jolly Ranchers at the grocery store, just the hot cinnamon kind, and I'm pretty sure you need citric acid to do it right, so I used some "country time lemonade" lozenges I got at the Big Lots. Worked fine, but I had trouble keeping it up longterm. Because it's nauseating.
In fact, this is the most disgusting thing I have ever done.
As a rule I don't like to tell people what to do*, but I'm just going to come out and say this: Don't ever do this crap. Never never never no matter what. Trying to get into a wedding dress by June? Get a bigger wedding dress. Want to be a jockey? Be a really short guy. Do not do this thing that I have done.
Finally, champ, if you're here trying to find out how to give yourself renal failure, forget about it--that's not the sort of coveted information you can get online for free.
*That's a huge lie.
Thursday, September 18, 2008
A pint's a pound.
A pint's a pound the world around. Slick don't seem too literary. He might not know the little rhyme.
Now, though, of course, I've eaten two bananas to keep from fainting dead away in the blooddonor Laz-E-Bwah and being taken to the hospital and hooked up to a disastrously nutritive IV, so now I've got bananas to deal with. Never fear about those bananas, concerned reader. I shan't give you any details, but recall the image of the elephant falling from a great height into a tiny pool of water. It may be a little obscure or enigmatic, but it does offer some clue into what will happen to the bananas. I'm sorry to any delicate first time readers.
Finally, has anyone read _Seabiscuit?_ this is not a plug for that excrescent piece of offal. One of my living aunts tried to get me to read it one time and she almost became a not-alive aunt after I read the first two pages. WHAT was she THINKing? Anyway, the relevant part of the foul thing is available online, as are many other valuable resources. Google jockeys + Jolly Ranchers or jockeys + hotbox or just jockeys + potassium deficiency/agonizing death and you'll get some fun tips for how to lose 13 pounds in 10 hours and then be so weak you fall out of the saddle and have to give up the race to some naturally pipsqueaked jerk and retire and have horrible arthritis for the rest of your life. My God but jockeys have it rough.
I tried consulting the ana kidz, too, but they turn out to be useless in the short term. They are all about the journey. They want you to post pics of dying jockeys and African famine peeps on your fridge to inspire yourself to eat and then heave a quarter of a Hershey's kiss each day for 7 months. I don't need inspiration, you useless damn ana kidz, I need a miracle and I need it yesterday.