Category Archives: food additives

What the hell is wrong with these people?

Okay. So maybe I’m feeling a little bent out of shape because I made cranberry sauce today and every time I turned my back on the burner, the sauce boiled over, creating a gooey, black, scorched mess which I’d clean up only to have it happen again. And again.

But, despite that, I really don’t think I’m overreacting to a story in which some anonymous, self-identified “experts” at “U.S. News Travel” name America’s Best Fries.

The question that always pops into my little head whenever I see a “best of” list is this: How can they know? Did they go to every single restaurant in every single state (and to be fair every territory as well because if you’re canvassing the nation then it really should be the whole empanada)?

I don’t think so.

So exactly HOW do they come up with the list?

I don’t even know who “they” are – or what makes them the deciders but I’m pretty sure it’s not anyone who has eaten his/her/their way from the redwood forest to the gulf stream waters or from sea to shining sea. Unless, of course, they skipped almost everything in between. Because we’re talking fries here and by the time they traveled from Maine to New York they’d have gained 451 pounds and never made it further than New Jersey.

I’m also pretty sure they believe in the power of google. Or yelp. Or both.

But the strongest possibility is: they just make it up. A couple of drunk food elitists choosing random words out of a paper bag, putting together phrases like “Vietnamese pineapple mayo.”

That’s right. I’m betting they not only haven’t eaten at every single restaurant in every single state – I’m also betting they probably haven’t even eaten at every restaurant on their list. After all – what red-blooded American would order onion-flavored fries with chive crème fraîche? That’s right – they wouldn’t! Probably because they couldn’t pronounce it.

Let’s review. Fries are spuds, traditionally cut into long, thin, four-sided strips, deep fried until golden brown in some kind of fat that’s not good for you so you don’t ask too many questions about it (unless you’re allergic to peanuts in which case you definitely want to know if it’s peanut oil), sprinkled with salt then (if you’re a purist) shoved into your mouth while still too hot giving you that awful pizza burn feeling.

Or you may prefer a healthy dose of ketchup, not catsup, which should always be Heinz  which really is better even though I don’t know why. And which should always be served in a glass bottle, never in those wussy little paper cups that collapse when you empty them, splashing the contents all over your lap.

The only permissible ketchup options are 1) dumping half the bottle directly on top of the fries or 2) dumping half the bottle in a huge blob next to the fries. (Which, if it’s really Heinz and not catsup poured into a Heinz bottle you will not be able to dump anyway. But it could explode.)

I suspect a Canadian plot. After all, poutine made the list, the Canadian national comfort food involving fries, brown gravy, and cheese curds, which, when not being eaten, makes an excellent wallpaper paste.

But whatever you do, even if you are Canadian you are not going to “dip a homestyle purple fry in zesty chipotle aioli.” Or order “fries covered in cheese curd, house-made duck gravy, chives and a duck egg.” Or eat “boats of fries … smothered with onions, peanut satay, mayonnaise and honey sambaal.”

And no sober person would ever add “goat cheese fries coupled with a raspberry sauce” to the “best of” list.

Ever.

So it must have been some drunk Canadians, eh?

Live long and prosper.

Wait, that’s not right. That’s Vulcan. What’s written on the (“Made in China”) box of tea that I just bought is: Long life is in her right hand; in her left hand are riches and honor.

Wait a minute.  Live long = Long life. Prosper = Riches and honor.

Dear sweet Jesus – it’s the same thing! Spock was Chinese! China won the space race!

Or maybe not. That’s the English version. I can’t read the Chinese characters, which may just say this isn’t really tea it’s a bunch of random roadside weeds and you stupid Americans will never know the difference.

In fact, it’s supposed to be a box of premium oolong tea (at least that’s what the English letters say – I can’t read the Chinese characters) that I bought because I read that oolong tea is better for you than black or green tea.  And because oolong tea is also known as “Wu Long” which is a great name for a male porn star.

According to the slip of paper inside, it was inspected by “Hu shanjian.” Or maybe not. The Chinese characters may be mocking me, telling me that no one in China is stupid enough to waste their time inspecting random roadside weeds.

That’s why I love buying random odd boxes covered with foreign words. You never know what you’re going to get. This time it was the ad for “Tiger Balm” hidden inside with the tea bags, with “a tiger in every box!”*

Tiger Balm aims to deliver health and well being through proven oriental wisdom. Our belief is that that no one should be constrained from leading a full and active life because of aches, pains and everyday discomforts.

In other words, you will become very active despite your pain when the tiger starts chasing you.

Or maybe not. I can’t see how it would be legal to sell real tigers. Or real tiger balm.  Even if I don’t know what part of the tiger makes balm. I’ll never know, not just because that thought really grosses me out, but because I can’t read the Chinese characters which may just say this isn’t really a tiger  – what’s wrong with you people? You really think tigers make balm? … Sheesh! Spock should have been Chinese. How in the world did America ever win the space race?

*Before anyone gets their BVD’s in a wad and tells me no way could a tiger ever fit into a small box, please recall this is satire. Of course no tiger, or any part thereof, is in the box. A house cat, maybe. But definitely no tiger.

Another good reason

not to eat bugs:

Man Dies After Roach-Eating Contest

Word of the Day

Castoreum.

Is it:

a. a building which houses old casts;

b. the main ingredient in Castor Oil;

c. an ancient city overlooking the Mediterranean Sea which was the summer residence of  Roman emperors from 350 to 108 B.C.;

d. a food additive made from beavers’ anal scent glands;

e. none of the above?

Yes, I know you are desperately hoping the answer is anything but d. I won’t keep you in suspense.

It’s d.

Or, as the NIH likes to call it, “a natural product prepared by direct hot-alcohol extraction of castoreum, the dried and macerated castor sac scent glands (and their secretions) from the male or female beaver. It has been used extensively in perfumery and has been added to food as a flavor ingredient for at least 80 years.”

Think about that the next time you see the words “natural ingredients.”

Tomorrow’s word: “cochineal” also called “carmine.”

Is it:

a. a small bone in the inner ear;

b. an extinct species related to trilobites;

c. the lead female role in The Barber of Seville;

d. a dye made from ground beetles used by the food and cosmetic industries;

e. none of the above?

Don’t bother hoping.