funny

Man Crowdfunds $65,000 Bowl of Potato Salad

handout

 

No, you weren’t redirected to The Onion.
A few days ago, a Columbus, Ohio man launched a Kickstarter campaign with a modest $10 funding goal. He described the project simply as “I’m making potato salad. Basically I’m just making potato salad. I haven’t decided what kind yet.” At $65,274 and counting, let’s just say that he can make any kind he damn well pleases.

Are you wondering why no one has tried this before?
Kickstarter potato salad couldn’t have happened without a recent rules change. Kickstarter streamlined the approval process with its new Launch Now option, and it eliminated a ban on ‘fund my life’ projects, although the site retains the right to shut down any active campaign it later deems unsuitable. And yes, this transition has opened the floodgates with dozens of newly launched, no-frills campaigns for things like a $20 batch of coleslaw, $12 bacon cupcakes, and a $3 pancake that’s sent through the mail.

Of course not everyone can expect to achieve potato salad levels of success.
That campaign had the good fortune to launch during the lull of a holiday weekend when a slow news day garnered it a little media attention, thousands of Facebook shares, and its own Twitter hashtag. It also happens to be a clever skewering of the Kickstarter sensibility that brought us projects like the world’s largest jockstrap, hand-knitted beards, and Grilled Cheese Jesus. The joke’s not on the thousands of people who have signed on to fund potato salad; they’re funding it so they can be in on the joke.

 

Posted in cyberculture, funny | 1 Comment

Thousands Go Hungry as Instagram Crashes

via The Meta Picture

via The Meta Picture

 

It was around 1:30 pm on Saturday when Instagram, the mobile photo-sharing platform, experienced a worldwide outage.
Selfies went un-shared, cats did the cutest things that you’ll never get to see, and cruelest of all, no food photos could be posted just as weekend brunch time was peaking.

The thwarted Instagrammers found a supportive community on the still-working Twitter where they soon sent #instagramnotworking to the top of the trending topics. Much of the turmoil was centered around a philosophical conundrum not unlike the classic inquiry into perception and reality posed by the question: If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?

Screen Shot 2014-04-16 at 12.49.53 PM

There were expressions of anger

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and of frustration

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Some tweeted out tales of resilience and ingenuity

Screen Shot 2014-04-16 at 1.42.35 PM Screen Shot 2014-04-16 at 2.17.34 PM

and others completely folded under the pressure

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Socrates once said that the unexamined life is not worth living. In the wake of the Instagram Crash of 2014, we have to ask: what about the unexamined meal?

 
 
Posted in cyberculture, diversions, funny | Leave a comment

Caffeinated Communal Cat Companionship

image via Chonostöff

image via Chonostöff

 

There are a lot of obstacles on the path to opening the first U.S. cat cafés.
Cat allergy sufferers and animal welfare organizations need to be placated. There are health codes to navigate. And of course there’s the matter of the litter boxes.

What, you might be wondering, are cat cafés?
A cat café is just what it sounds like: a hot beverage, a little nosh, and a whole bunch of kitty cats. Popular in Japan—40 in Tokyo alone, at last count— the bizarre trend first spread to about a dozen European cities and now it’s arrived on our shores. The Bay Area is leading the way with the soon to be open Cat Town Café in Oakland and San Francisco’s KitTea, while Los Angeles, Portland (OR), Montreal, and Vancouver have cat café projects in various stages of development.

In Japanese cities, where household pets are a rarity, the cafés are seen as a kind of relaxation therapy. There are specialty cat cafés featuring specific breeds, or just black cats, or all fat cats. Japan also has rabbit cafés and goat cafés, and currently there’s a penguin bar craze sweeping the country. The phenomenon travels remarkably well: Paris’ Le Café des Chats is already a roaring success with weekend slots booked up to three weeks in advance, and in London, within hours of the announced opening, the website for Lady Dinah’s Cat Emporium crashed as 3,000 cat fanciers tried to book at once.

Commingling the species.
Some locales permit customers to mingle freely, cappuccino in hand, with the felines in residence, while other health codes require a separation between food-ordering areas and cat-interaction space. All of the cafés have human-free zones to enable kitty timeouts for the inevitable bouts of hissing, shedding, hairballs, or other calls of nature. The best of them maintain strict human-animal ratios and keep tabs on feline happiness through cat behavioral consultants.

Now if we could just do something about all those LOL cat memes…

 

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Supergrain of the Future or Dickensian Gruel: The Internet Ponders Quinoa

olivertwist

Please Sir, can I have some more quinoa?

 

MarchQuinoaIn just a few short years quinoa has gone from subsistence staple of the rural poor of Bolivia, to health food store curiosity, to global success. Along the way it’s made friends (a Superfood with a capital ‘S’!), galvanized detractors (The Wall Street Journal recently collated the rancor and called it a backlash), and courted controversy (our appetite for quinoa has priced the crop beyond the means of indigenous farming communities where one in five Bolivian children suffers from chronic malnutrition).

Quinoa is not exactly winning fans for its taste (blandly earthy) or its texture (oatmeal gone wrong), but its nutritional profile makes a compelling argument. It’s more of a seed than a true grain, so it’s higher in protein and lower in carbohydrates than a typical grain, but lower in fat and calories than typical nuts and seeds. It’s one of the only plant-based foods that’s a complete protein, it’s loaded with all the essential amino acids, it has no cholesterol, and it’s gluten-free. It’s a bit much to expect it to taste like a cronut.

Still further proof of Quinoa’s global domination:
Quinoa is March’s Whole Grain of the Month, walking in the footsteps of carbohydrate giants like oats and barley. We had to weather millet and teff month, and amaranth seemed to drag on forever, but finally it’s quinoa’s turn. As you gather the family ’round the quinoa rinsing colander (please tell me you’re rinsing) we turn to the many voices of the internet as they toast and roast this plucky newcomer.

quinoa

 

 

Spoofing all things trendy, the Pinterest board My Imaginary Well-Dressed Toddler Daughter chronicles the fabulous life and painfully stylish wardrobe of little Quinoa and her playmates Chevron, Vyvanse, and Crostini.

astronautmeal

 

 

 

NASA was appropriately lightyears ahead of the curve when, 20 years ago, the space agency explored quinoa’s potential as a candidate crop for Controlled Ecological Life Support Systems, in other words, as an in-flight snack. Declaring it a near-perfect food, virtually unrivaled in the plant or animal kingdom for its life-sustaining nutrients, it’s become a pantry staple in the space shuttle galley.

 

A visual guide to eating quinoa:

do not eat

do not eat

eat

eat

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

David-Lynch-Cooking-Video

 

Filmmaker David Lynch shares inexplicably moody atmospherics and cooking tips in his signature style in the video David Lynch cooks quinoa.

 

50shades quinoa

 

 

 

Of course someone’s written 50 Shades of Quinoa. Was it ever in doubt?

 

 

glutenfreematzoBut is it kosher? Observant Jews rejoiced to see a new face at the seder table after several thousand years of the same old Passover dinner. Even though some quinoa packaging carries the ‘kosher for Passover’ label, The Orthodox Union has not officially given its blessing. As yet, no rabbi has made the trek to the remote growing area high in the mountain region of Bolivia for the necessary inspections.
Posted in cyberculture, food knowledge, funny, health + diet | Leave a comment

For The Terducken Curious

cartoon via Dr. Fun

cartoon via Dr. Fun

 

By now, the turducken should need no introduction.
In the span of a few years, it’s gone from urban legend to regional curiosity to your neighborhood Whole Foods freezer. You can buy fresh or frozen turduckens; free range, organic, and kosher turduckens; turducken for your pet (canned or dry); and a mock tofu-based turducken for vegans (with apologies, the tofucken).

When plain old turducken just won’t do, there are endless can-you-top-this variations like the fowl de cochon (turducken stuffed pig) and the quaducant (quail, duck, and pheasant). At the opposite end of the spectrum is the hotchken, known as the poor man’s turducken, consisting of a humble chicken stuffed with hotdogs. This year’s rare collision of the Thanksgiving and Hanukah holidays is bringing a never-again-in-this-lifetime-please brisket stuffed turkey  (the tursket) to some tables.
For those who like to keep track of these things, the largest documented nested bird roast is the rôti sans pareil, or ‘roast without equal,consisting of 17 successively stuffed birds, starting with a 5-foot long Great Bustard and finishing with a 5-inch Garden Warbler, so tiny that can be stuffed with no more than a single olive.

The turducken effect has spilled over its poultry borders.
A cookie is baked inside of a cookie to create the chocoOreochip, and a cream cheese-frosted behemoth known as the cherpumple bakes entire cherry, pumpkin, and apple pies inside the tiers of a three-layer cake, laying claim to the title of the turducken of desserts. The online magazine The Bold Italic asks the question ‘why stop at the turducken?’ suggesting stitched-together hybrids for every part of the meal. The stufftatobrussyamberry combines stuffing plus all the traditional side dishes in a marshmallow-topped terrine; and the coffwinder brings together a meal’s worth of beverages in nested glasses of a cider aperitif, wine, and after-dinner coffee.

Turn your relatives into a turducken. 
The Bold Italic doesn’t stop with the menu. They figure that a little turducken-style tinkering can keep the inevitable family dramas to a minimum. The cousunclma packs all of your least favorite family members into a single body. 
If only Thanksgiving could really be so simple.

http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_fOzYgq3p3O4/TAgnOAPWy0I/AAAAAAAAAdo/4f4jopg4jAw/s1600/12birds_600.jpgThe terducken– like Russian nesting dolls rendered in pimply poultry flesh

http://www.seriouseats.com/images/20100111-cherpumple.jpg       brusselsThe mighty Cherpumple and the multi-tasking Stufftatobrussyamberry

familyfamilyThanksgiving with the cousunclma–just seat him at the opposite end of the table.

Posted in funny, holidays, Thanksgiving | Leave a comment

Organic Water? What Is Wrong With You People?

ImWithStupid  organic-water-bottle---in2ition

We’re used to extravagant claims from bottled water companies.
It’s pure, it’s natural, it boosts brain function, improves memory, speeds weight loss, super-hydrates, and rotates your tires.
The latest ‘organic’ water claims stand out even in such ignominious company.

There is no such thing as organic water.
Water is an inherently inorganic substance. It’s H2O, hydrogen and oxygen. It’s not alive and never was— that requires carbon. No carbon, no life; which, by definition means not organic. That’s why the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the arbiter of edible organics, specifically excludes water from certification.

Some of what’s passed off as ‘organic’ water is water that’s sourced from beneath certified organic farmland. The Welsh bottler Llanllyr even claims extra purity because not only are their fields certified organic, but nuns have lived above the source for centuries. It’s utter nonsense. Nuns or no nuns, organic-ness doesn’t rub off on the water.

There is one product that can legitimately call itself ‘organic water,’ although you can probably come up with a few of your own choice words for it. WTF?! comes to mind for me.
Koa Water 
squeezes all the water out of organic fruits and vegetables, and then bottles that. Since it uses all organic ingredients, the end product is organic. But is it water?

The company has developed a secret, proprietary technology (they call it the Koa Blackbox) that allows them to extract all of the taste, color, and aroma from the juices. You’re left with a clear, flavorless, calorie-free liquid with no discernible trace of the fruits and vegetables it came out of. In other words, water.

Of course none of this comes cheap.
The price of Lanllyr water suggests that the company compensates the Welsh nuns handsomely for any inconvenience caused by locating a bottling operation on their pristine land. Over at Koa, there’s the laborious extraction process and pounds of organic produce that go into each glass. But if you’ve got any cash left over after paying for your organic water, I’ve got a bridge we can talk about.

 

Posted in food knowledge, funny, sustainability | Leave a comment

Sustainable Farming at its Finest: Pigs Fed on Marijuana Crop Left-Overs

image via BB Ranch

image via BB Ranch

 

The news made for catchy headlines:

A New Take on Grass-Fed Meat
Wake-’N-Bacon
Pigs Living the ‘High’ Life
‘Pot’ Belly Pigs
‘High’ on the Hog

It’s healthy, organic, and local.
That’s why the owner of Seattle area’s Bucking Boar Farm feeds cast off marijuana stems, stalks, and leaves to his pigs.
There’s nothing out of the ordinary about it. Washington State legalized recreational marijuana last year, and crop residue is regularly turned into animal feed. Carrots might be damaged at harvesting or a field of cantaloupes could ripen too quickly. Pigs, which we’ll kindly call ‘versatile omnivores,’ will take it all.

Of course a pig’s diet leaves its mark on the meat. Think of some of the world’s greatest pork products. Prosciutto di Parma is famously flavored by a diet of whey from the local parmesan cheese-making, and Spanish jamón Ibérico de bellota is all about the foraged acorn diet of the Iberian pigs. As for the cannabis diet, Bucking Boar customers rave about the rosy color, beautiful marbling, and a subtle flavor infusion that is especially pronounced in the fat.

The real question on everyone’s mind is Does it get you high?
The answer is no. It’s a tougher call to make for the pigs since they already spend their days lazing about and stuffing themselves on feed. The weed-fed pigs do seem to put on weight faster; the ranch reports a 20% gain over pig that are fed a conventional diet.

It’s cooperative, sustainable farming, and a lot healthier than eating pigs that are stuffed with GMO grains.

The pork is available at the ranch’s own butcher shop in Seattle’s Pike Place Market. You’ll know it by the little marijuana leaf flags stuck in with toothpicks.

Posted in diversions, funny, sustainability | Leave a comment

Be a Bad Ass in a Betty White Kind of Way

image via Granny Cart Productions

image via Granny Cart Productions

 

No wrinkles, no age spots. Is that a new young hand I see pushing the granny cart? 

The granny cart is the right product for right now.
But it’s having a tough time shaking off old associations— of slow-moving urban decrepitude, a loss of youthful vigor—in other words, the stigma of grannies. The new adopters often come to them reluctantly, flashing sheepish grins to other granny carters in recognition of their mutual defeat.

They need to see themselves in the vanguard.
They should proclaim themselves a new generation of city dwellers pioneering a mode of self-reliant, self-propelled, carbon neutral transport.

Granny carters are edgy eaters. 
They put their discernment and sophistication right out there when they announce to the world “I shop on foot. I shop small. I shop local.” It shows that they know their way around urban enclaves and farmers markets and can point you toward the quirky grilled cheese sandwich truck or the neighborhood food artisan who sells small-batch alder-smoked Himalayan sea salt caramels.

There’s none greener.
Reusable shopping bags? Sure, they save some paper and plastic waste, but how many are really carried home on a shopper’s shoulder? Granny carters save on packaging waste and food waste with smaller, more frequent trips, and they limit fossil fuels and greenhouse gases by walking and by skipping the frozen foods aisle (it melts before they make it home).

Granny carters are cool.
Let the mockery ensue, the ‘Grandma’ catcalls, the derisive references to arthritic hips, the comparisons to walkers; cart pushers are unshaken, unwavering. They’re free thinking and defiantly nonconformist. They don’t follow trends, they set them. They’re change agents with the confident knowingness of the righteous.
And you thought they were just schlepping groceries.

 

Posted in funny, local foods, shopping | 1 Comment

Dear Gwyneth.

 

Dear Gwyneth,  
Can I have a word with you, friend to friend?

Please stop writing cookbooks.
I’m sorry, but it had to be said.
And be grateful that it’s coming from me, because there are plenty of harsher critics out there.

The Atlantic Wire dubbed your new one (It’s All Good: Delicious, Easy Recipes That Will Make You Look Good and Feel Great) ‘the Bible of laughable Hollywood neuroticism,‘ and the New York Post likened it to a ‘manifesto to some sort of creepy healthy-girl sorority’ under the headline A Recipe for Ridicule. According to Eater, it’s full of a chatty faux-populism that could only come from a rich person fearlessly boasting about her life of privilege,’ and the U.K. Guardian calls it completely crackpot served up with a hefty side of overprivilege.

Yes, Gwyneth, it’s happening again.
Two years ago your first cookbook inspired snarky critics to hunt down its most unintentionally funny line (sample contender: “I first had a version of this at a Japanese monastery during a silent retreat…”). Maybe it was the way you instructed us to “nourish the inner aspect,” or maybe it was that book’s rundown of kitchen ‘essentials’ that had us scouring specialty stores and digging deep into our wallets, and then wondering what the hell to do with an opened bottle of $40 ginger liqueur, although you did allow that in a pinch we could substitute bacon for duck prosciutto.

I gotta tell you, Gwyneth, sometimes you come off like a modern-day Marie Antoinette.
I suppose I could cut you some slack. You had a posh and fabulous early Hollywood life (is Steven Spielberg really your godfather?), a charmed career (an Academy award in your 20′s!), and some not-too-shabby romances (Ben Affleck and Brad Pitt before the rock star husband). The willowy blond thing doesn’t hurt either. Of course we can’t relate. But the real problem is that you seem incapable of relating to us.

The fact is that really very few of us keep duck eggs in our refrigerators to whip up your omelette recipe, and I for one don’t aspire to a diet based in ‘psychospiritual nutrition’ that leaves you with something you scarily describe as “that specific hunger that comes with avoiding carbs.” And do you know how out of touch you sound when you say things like: “I would rather die than let my kid eat Cup‑a-Soup”?  But when it comes to statements made out of a blinkered sense of entitlement, there is none more clueless than your USA Today interview:  “One of my most negative qualities is this perfectionism that I have, and I think that I unconsciously project that because it comes from self-doubt and insecurity, and that’s the ironic part. I’m so deeply flawed. I’m just a normal mother with the same struggles as any other mother who’s trying to do everything at once and trying to be a wife and maintain a relationship.”

Oh, Gwyneth!

 

image via SFGate

image via SFGate

 

 

 

Posted in diversions, Entertainment, funny | 1 Comment

Food Trucks For Dogs Have Arrived

[image via K99]

[image via K99]

 

Seriously. Food trucks for dogs.
They roll through neighborhoods and downtown streets drawing four-legged foodies with cat meows and cow moos played over PA systems. Menus lean toward meat-flavored ice cream and peanut butter baked goods, and rely heavily on punny names like poochi sushi, spaghetti and muttballs, and chicken with grrr-avy.

Chicago’s Arrfscarf peddles meaty treats like bacon macaroons and beef brisket-flavored frozen yogurt. Central Florida’s Sit ‘n Stay Mobile Pet Cafe serves beef jerky sushi and meatballs made from locally raised, grass-fed beef and lamb. Tiki’s Playhouse cruises the streets of Baltimore scooping $3 cups of Frozen Woofy’s Treats in flavors like Barkin’ Berry and Banana Rama Ding Dong—described by one dog owner as “flavors which would be interesting to me if I were a dog.” And it’s not just a local phenomenon. Big players in pet food are jumping into the trend. Rachael Ray launched her pet food line Nutrish with a food truck that dished out samples of Chicken Paw Pie and Beef Stroganwoof on the streets of Manhattan, and Chef Michael’s Food Truck for Dogs is a project of Nestle Purina PetCare.

Dog owners are known to complain about the limited dining options for pets. They protest health code-imposed restaurant bans and push to expand access to street fairs and farmers markets. A survey of dog owners revealed that 84 percent believe that mealtime is a perfect opportunity to show their dog how much they love him or her. Food trucks finally provide them with the opportunity to share their dining passions with their pets.

Did someone forget that dogs are also fond of eating socks and cat feces?
For all of our own foodie-isms projected on pets, the fact is that dogs have a mere fraction of our taste buds and they will pretty much eat anything. We’re really just projecting our own culinary sensibilities. The problem is we’re also sharing our taste for high-protein, high-fat diets. It should come as no surprise that dogs, just like their human owners, are fat: about half of all dogs in American homes are overweight or obese.

We teach our dogs to heel and to roll over. Now they have to learn that they can’t always have a chicken sorbet.

 

Posted in diversions, food trends, funny | Leave a comment

Everything About Everything Bagels

[image via Chris Piascik]

[image via Chris Piascik]

 

The everything is not the most popular bagel.
That would be plain, closely followed by sesame. But for some, it’s the only bagel that will do. Salty, seedy, and pungent with onion and garlic, it’s the true bagel lover’s bagel.

The everything bagel also has its detractors. They complain that the everything’s yeasty, stinky goodness befouls its milder brethren in the paper sack on the way home from the bagel shop. They whine about garlic breath and the way poppy seeds tuck themselves into the spaces between their teeth.
To them I say: knock yourselves out with a blueberry bagel.

And there’s controversy.
In a promotional post for his 516Ads blog, web entrepreneur David Gussin claims to have invented the everything bagel as a teenager in the early 1980′s. Working an after school job at a Queens bagel bakery, he was inspired to reuse the tasty, toasty, seedy debris he swept out of the oven at the end of a shift. The shop’s customers went crazy for the concoction, and the rest, as he says in a New Yorker Schmear Dept. profile, is history.

Not so, says modern marketing guru Seth Godin. He claims to have originated the everything bagel at least three years earlier, back in 1977 when he was a teenaged bagel shop employee. Godin figures the oversight comes from the fact that the bagel shop of his youth was located in Buffalo—too far off the radar of the bagel elite. Despite a compelling argument from Godin (“…you add the seeds when the bagels are on the wet burlap…the burnt seeds in the oven get pretty incinerated and you wouldn’t want to use em.”) the New Yorker has yet to publish a retraction.

The everything is hands-down the funniest bagel.
There is so much online riffing on the boastful hyperbole of the appellation that blogging pioneer Jason Kottke hypothesized, “If I didn’t know any better, I’d have thought Twitter was built specifically for the purpose of cracking wise about the lack of everything on the everything bagel.” His blog, Kottke.org, rounded up some of the best:

–This “everything bagel” is great. Has onions, poppy seeds, garlic, cheese, q-tips, Greenland, fear, sandals, wolves, teapots, crunkin… @JohnMoe
–The “everything bagel” really only has like three things. Just what I want for breakfast. Lies. @missrftc 
–You might want to scale back on calling yourself an “everything bagel.” I mean, right away I can see there are no M&M’s on here. @friedmanjon 
–Flossing after an everything bagel is important b/c as the name implies, you don’t just have *something* in your teeth, you have every thing@phillygirl

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

You can make everything taste like an everything bagel with a sprinkle of Everything Bagel Spice Mix.

The home gardening adventurers at Plantgasm ask the question, “Can you grow anything from the seeds of an everything bagel? 
Nope.

 

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Starbucks Baristas to Wear Name Tags. Still Can’t Get Your Name Right

StarbucksCup

 

Starbucks has announced that its baristas will be required to wear name tags.
The company has gone back and forth on this for years. The hope is that it humanizes the experience; the fear is that it’s too ‘fast food.’
That’s all well and good, but what about our names?

You know the drill. You order a coffee and they ask for your name so you can be summoned when it’s ready. The cashier scrawls it on a cup, the barista calls it out, and fingers crossed, the name that comes back will be close enough that you’ll recognize it as your own.

Starbucks’ name butchery is legendary. It’s like your name went ten rounds with AutoCorrect: Amanda becomes Tammy, Andrew becomes Stanley, and God help you if your name is Gaelic in origin, has more than two syllables, or rhymes with any part of the female anatomy. Dozens of websites like That’s Not My Name, StarbucksThe Starbucks Name Game, and Starbucks Got My Name Wrong serve as repositories for the most outrageous and egregious of the the cup misspellings.

Meet Minnie
Minnie always orders my coffee. She’s unfailingly polite and an excellent tipper.
Minnie is my coffee name. 
Unlike my real name, Minnie rarely needs to be repeated, enunciated, or spelled out. And it’s a source of mild amusement when Minnie’s Grande is announced.

The Starbucks alter-ego is a common phenomenon.
Some use it in the interest of privacy, some want to avoid the tiresome task of spelling out an uncommon name, and some coffee pseudonyms are just for giggles. I once stood in line behind an iced tea duo of Mary-Kate and Ashley, and have seen tittering middle-schoolers retrieve frappuccinos made for the likes of Seymour Butts and Hugh Janus. One unflappable barista took Voldemort’s order and returned a cup marked He Who Must Not Be Named.

What’s your Starbucks name?
Create your own with the Starbucks Name Generator.

Saturday Night Live nailed it.
Watch this parody of Starbucks’ at-home brewing system to see how the Verisimo can mess with your name in the comfort of your own kitchen.

Posted in coffee, diversions, funny | Leave a comment

Christmas Eve: When the Chosen People Choose Hot and Sour Soup

chineseopensign

This year is 5773 according to the Jewish calendar, but Chinese history only dates back to 4707.
It makes you wonder what the Jews were eating for that first thousand years.

The streets are empty, the storefronts are shuttered, and everyone else they know is in church or sitting down to a holiday meal.
Chinese food for Christmas makes perfect sense.

Jews have a well-known affinity for Chinese food. While it’s impossible to pinpoint the moment when the first Jewish immigrant put down his borscht and picked up an egg roll, in the early 20th century, the tradition fanned out from its Lower East Side New York beginnings and took hold in urban immigrant enclaves around the country. Chinatowns sprouted everywhere the Jews went— Boston, Chicago, Detroit, Toronto; Chinese restaurants were always close by, inexpensive, and stayed open on Sundays and holidays.

But is it kosher?
A lot of Jews grew up with the notion of Chinese food as ‘safe traif.’ Sure, there’s pork and shellfish in there, but it’s hidden in a tangle of wonton wrappers and mu shu vegetables. Don’t look too deeply—at the plate or into your secular Jewish heart— and it’s easy to ignore. And since nearly all Chinese food is dairy-free, there’s a free pass on the prohibition against mixing milk and meat .

The love goes both ways.
Yes, there are Chinese people who like Jewish food, but they complain that they’re hungry again in two weeks.

 

Posted in Christmas, funny | Leave a comment

The 5 Worst Food Gifts This Holiday Season

Remember when fruitcake used to be the worst food gift for holiday giving?
Not any more.
These 5 gifts make a lump of coal look good.

 

Hot Can’s Christmas dinner in a can is a festive meal that eliminates the hassle of cooking. It’s a turkey casserole with all the trimmings conveniently packed in a self-heating can—no potatoes to peel or gravy to stir, you don’t even need a microwave oven. When December 25th arrives, simply take off the rubber cap, pierce the outer jacket with the included key, open the can, and wait 12 minutes for the meal to heat up. Once holiday season has passed, you can hit up the Hot Can website for some Beanz and Balls.

 

Did you think the fragrance world hit bottom with Brad Pitt’s misguided Chanel campaign? Think again. You can smell like a delivery boy courtesy of Pizza Hut Perfume, found on Pizza Hut’s Facebook page. The company press release touts the olfactory delights of oregano and greasy cardboard boxes with “top notes of freshly baked, hand-tossed dough.”

 

 

It’s the horrifying realism that lands the bacon scarf on the list. Extra points for dubbing it Fou-lard, a play on the French words for crazy (fou), bacon (lard) and scarf (foulard). The trompe l’oeil of silk crepe de chine will have you reaching for the lettuce and tomato.

 

If you’re loving the chicken and waffles trend, you know the combination is all about the delicate balance of contrasting flavors and textures—crunchy, juicy, spicy, crispy, fluffy, sweet, and salty, plus a hit of sticky maple. Take away the textures, as Torani has done with its Chicken ‘n Waffles Syrup, and you’re left with a hot mess of sweet, meat, and grease. If you’re not a fan, you already know.

 

The Cooler Fun Wine Rack (get it?) brings nursing bra convenience to holiday imbibing. Just the thing for the flat-chested party girl on your list, the innovative drink-dispensing bra has a secret polyurathane bladder flask that holds 750ml of a favorite beverage. The attached tube allows the young lady to dispense into cups or discreetly drink directly from the straw-like end. Her bust is inflated two full cup sizes when filled, and while she’ll look less remarkable by the end of the evening, after 750 ml (1½ pints) who’s going to care?

 

 

And the also rans:


Frito-Lay’s new line of caffeinated Cracker Jacks. No prize inside?!

 

The Fifty Shades of Chicken Cookbook. Who can be bothered with all that trussing?

 

 

 

 

The Vino2Go Sippy Wine Cup. Cause I’m just not that classy.

 

  

The Mr. Gugu and Miss Go Hamburger Sweater. I think it speaks for itself.

Posted in Christmas, diversions, funny | 1 Comment

Vegan Men Come Out of the Closet

[image via The Vegan Soapbox]

 

The tell-tale signs
Does the man in your life know the proper pronunciation of quinoa?
Has he ever come home with a guilty look and the smell of wheat grass on his breath?
Does he think it’s cute when you refer to lentils as legumes (Silly girl, they’re pulses!) and get hot and bothered when you wear your organic cotton t shirt?
I hate to be the one to break it to you, but your man is a vegan.

The cultural cliché that just won’t die
Real men are supposed to eat meat. Those who eschew animal-sourced foods are, if not exactly girlie, compromised as manly men. Even vegetarians rate their own kind as less masculine.

Meat is the food of men. In ancient societies, a successful hunt was an emblem of manhood, bringing status and signaling readiness to marry. Meat-eating suggests power, vitality, and virility. Nearly every language with gendered pronouns assigns maleness to meaty words.

By contrast a meatless regimen seems mild and anemic. And worst of all, it speaks of compassion. Vegans are tagged as sensitive souls—hugging trees, cuddling bunnies, awash in emotionalism. In other words, feminine.

Finally, vegan men are coming out of the closet.
Bloomberg Businessweek profiled heavyweight, alpha-male vegans like Bill Clinton, Russell Simmons, and Steve Wynn in The Rise of the Power Vegans, and a group called Vegans in Vegas held a first-of-its kind event mixing bachelor party hijinks with vegan-themed presentations in fields like nutrition, fitness, and environmentalism. The online, pro-vegan lifestyle magazine The Discerning Brute calls its content fashion, food, and etiquette for the ethically handsome man, and The Ethical Man recently became the first 100% vegan apparel shop for men. 

Beefcake; hold the beef
40 Sexy Vegan Men shares photos and video of celebrity vegans from the fields of film, music, professional sports, and television. 10 Brawny and Buff Vegan Men gives us exactly that from the chest-thumping world of boxers, wrestlers, and martial artists. And then there was the wildly-popular Vegan Ryan Gosling internet meme (sample entry: Hey Girl, sorry my shirt is off but we’re out of cheesecloth and I needed to drain some tofu).

Do your part to help change perceptions
Encourage your man to come out of the shadows and practice his veganism in the light of day.
Take him on a date to the bulk foods aisle. Start dropping phrases like bioavailability and meat analog into conversations. Learn to love a splash of almond milk in your coffee.
Real men do eat plants; they just need our love and support to do it in public.

 

Posted in cyberculture, funny, vegetarian | Leave a comment

We ♥ Pie

We’re eating more pie than ever.
Pie consumption has been steadily rising for nearly a decade. We’re eating pie in restaurants and cafés, buying pie fresh from the bakery and frozen from the supermarket. Fruit pies, cream pies, nut pies, custard pies— we love all kinds of pie.

What’s not to love?
Pie is edible nostalgia; a big slice of Americana. Seniors and baby boomers never lost a taste for it, and younger generations are drawn to its simplicity and authenticity. It’s straightforward value in a wayward economy. And if you have it à la mode, it’s like you’re getting away with two desserts in one.

What? No banana cream?
Apple pie is the perennial, overwhelming favorite. But there are plenty of shockers in the Pie Slice of Life Survey brought to us by the makers of Mrs. Smith’s frozen pies (you’ll find the survey’s corresponding favorite pie pie chart below). Pumpkin makes a mind-boggling appearance in second place, while cherry pie is relegated to a middling fourth place. Key lime and peach, the southern states’ favorites, both have strong showings. But where’s the strawberry-rhubarb or maybe a little something from the custard family?

20080418piepiechart.png

You don’t have to agree with the survey to show your love for America’s favorite pie with an Apple Pi decal.

We have Luxirare to thank for the pastry insanity that is Pie Pops.

Is pie the new wedding cake?

This is my kind of pie chart.

pie chart of pies via Robyn Lee

 

Are you looking for some good pie (and really, who isn’t)? 
Click on your state to find pie recommendations and reviews submitted by the discerning members of the Pie-of-the-Month Club.

Map  of the U.S.

 

Fighting the good fight:
The American Pie Council works tirelessly to raise awareness, enjoyment, and consumption of pie. It’s the only organization committed to preserving America’s pie heritage and promoting American’s love affair with pies. 

 

Posted in dessert, food trends, funny | Leave a comment

Crazy But True: The Fruit Cocktail Tree

image via Funny Farm

 

The rumors of the hoax have been greatly exaggerated.

There’s been a lot of chatter about a fruit tree.
An Australian nursery has been making a big splash on food and gardening sites with its trees that are said to bear six or so different fruit. The Fruit Salad Tree Company sells a peach-apricot-plum-nectarine tree, a lemon-orange-lime-tangerine-grapefruit-mandarin-pomelo tree, and apple and pear trees that grow red-green-yellow varieties all in one.
Not everyone is buying it.

Crop circles, the Jackalope, and now the fruit cocktail tree?
It sounds like the stuff of fairy tales; a mythical tree from which you can pluck a whole fruit basket of varieties. But it’s the real deal, and it’s actually nothing new.

Fruit cocktail trees have been around even longer than canned fruit cocktail.
They’re not hybrids or genetically modified, but are created by grafting—attaching the fruit-bearing branches of one tree onto the roots and trunk of another. It’s a simple technique that’s been around for centuries; Aristotle wrote of it in ancient Greece, and even the apostle Paul talks about grafting olive trees in the King James Bible. And I do mean simple: cut the branch from one tree and jam it into a hole you made in the other. If the central tissues make good contact, they’ll fuse together into a single, growing organism.

Grafting is also incredibly common.
Nearly every California lemon is grown on an orange tree base, and in Florida most oranges are grown on lemon trees. Most apples come from grafts, and it’s standard practice for grape growers. Kids everywhere grow pomato plants for their school science fairs, grafting potatoes and tomatoes into a single plant that grows tomatoes above ground and potatoes below.

It’s old, it’s common, so why all the skepticism?
A few years ago, there was a well-known hoax involving a 94-year old Welshman and his 30-year old backyard apple tree. The tree was quite a media sensation when it began producing plums and blackberries, drawing horticulturalists and journalists from across Britain. Alas, it was a fake, although the owner claimed to have had no part in it. Gardeners everywhere felt burned, and it seems they have long memories.

The Australian nursery doesn’t send its trees to the U.S., but there are plenty of domestic growers who will ship you a fruit cocktail tree, including Calloway’sHouse of WesleyCitrus Splitzer, and DirectGardening.com. And if you’re still skeptical, you can check the integrity of the grower through The Garden Watchdog.

 

Posted in food knowledge, funny | Leave a comment

Improbable, Inane, Idiotic: The Ig Nobel Awards

Nobel laureates launching paper airplanes at the 2012 Ig Nobel Awards

 

We had the latest installment of the Ig Nobel Awards last week.
This was the 22nd year for the satirical awards, recognizing the abstruse, the trivial, and the bizarrely self-serving achievements from the world of scientific research. Classic winners from past seasons include the Economics Prize awarded to researchers from the University of New Mexico for Economic Evidence for Human Estrus (proof that lap dancers get higher tips when they’re ovulating); the Prize for Medicine given to Bnai Zion Medical Center for Termination of Intractable Hiccups with Digital Rectal Massage (yes, a finger up the bottom works wonders); and the Peace Prize awarded to researchers at  the Institute of Forensic Medicine at the University of Bern, Switzerland who performed studies of the fracture threshold of the human skull to answer the question: Is it better to be smashed over the head with a full bottle of beer or with an empty bottle?

The Ig Nobel Awards (a play on the word ‘ignoble’ combined with the Nobel Prize) are presented each year at Harvard University by the scientific humor magazine Annals of Improbable Research. Presenters always include actual Nobel laureates, winners follow up with a set of public lectures at MIT. This year, as always, the food world was well represented.

In the past, the group has recognized such achievements in food science as:

  • a popcorn chromatography study
  • vanilla flavoring extracted from cow dung
  • the effects of different flavors of chewing gum on brainwave patterns
  • the sociology of the doughnut shop
  • liquid oxygen rocket fuel as a barbecue accelerent
  • beer froth and the mathematical law of exponential decay
  • the efficacy of Coca-Cola as a spermicide

This year’s awards maintained the traditionally high standards of ignobility.
The Literature Prize went to the U.S. Government General Accountability Office for Actions Needed to Evaluate the Impact of Efforts to Estimate Costs of Reports and Studies— described as ‘a report about reports about reports that recommends the preparation of a report about the report about reports about reports.’ There was a winning study in the field of Applied Physics that calculates the balance of forces that shape and move the hair in a human ponytail, and a prize in Anatomy awarded to an international team in zoology, neuroscience, and ethology that confirmed the ability of chimpanzees to identify other chimpanzees individually when shown photographs of their rear ends.

The canon of food science was advanced by this year’s winner of the Fluid Dynamics Prize.
The Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of California, Santa Barbara published its experimentation with the complex interplay of motion between biomechanics and low-viscosity-liquid dynamics. It’s a thorough and systematic examination of speeds, liquid levels, fluid properties, and the particularities of containment vessels, observed through the lens of dynamical systems and fluid mechanics. In other words, they looked at why coffee sloshes when you walk with a cup.

See the complete list of winners from the past decade of Ig Nobel Awards at Annals of Improbable Research.

 

Posted in funny, Science/Technology | Leave a comment

Rectangles or Triangles: Settling the Sandwich Debate

  sandwich cutting diagrams via HolyJuan.com

 

A sandwich is two slices of bread enclosing a filling.
In theory. Most of us treat those bread slices as a blank canvas on which to paint the colors and contours of our appetites, our pantries, and our histories.
Mortadella or tuna? Lettuce or sprouts? White or rye? There are infinite combinations and permutations of taste and texture, each requiring its own tough choices.
But there’s one no-brainer: the cut.

I don’t mean to suggest that the decision is trivial. Quite the opposite. It’s easy because it’s an unwavering, discrete choice that most sandwich-makers settle on in childhood and seldom vary throughout a lifetime (excepting the club sandwich four-triangle imperative, but that mandate takes the decision out of our hands). Vertical or diagonal: it’s easy but never trivial; in fact many individuals believe that the success of the entire sandwich-making endeavor hinges on the choice.

According the Hellmann’s Mayonnaise State of the Sandwich Survey, a full three-quarters of Americans take a knife to a completed sandwich, with 60% making a diagonal cut and 38% slicing on the vertical. There are regional differences. A third of all midwesterners prefer uncut sandwiches, and they are more likely to finish the crusts (73% versus 63% for everyone else).

Hunch, the online recommendation engine much-loved by advertisers, includes a sandwich-cutting question in its data collection, suggesting it believes that these preferences belong in the Hunch algorithm as a signifier of other traits and behaviors. With responses numbering in the tens of millions, Hunch has ascertained that those who cut their sandwiches diagonally are partial to Ray-Ban sunglasses.

Many light eaters advocate for the four-triangle cut.
Assuming that they might not finish the entire sandwich, they like the option of working their way from point to crust. It gives them four chances with a long stretch of crust-free bread and the best access to the sandwich’s midpoint, which is likely to have the greatest concentration of sandwich filling. In this way, not unlike most pizza eaters, they can maximize the meal’s outcome (flavors and proteins) while appetites are fresh, and abandon the skimpily-filled crust ends as they fill up.

The mathematically inclined—teachers, engineers, architects, and the like—also tend to be strong proponents of the diagonal cut.
They argue that while a sandwich’s crust is constant, diagonal cutting increases the ratio of uncrusted to crusted surfaces, thereby increasing your enjoyment. It just takes a little Euclidean geometry.

bisect sandwich.bmpConsider a sandwich made from bread that’s roughly a square with 4 inch sides. That’s 16 inches of crust.
Cut it in half and you have 8 uncrusted inches of sandwich. Halve it again orthogonally and you get 16 uncrusted inches to the same 16 inches of crust.


diagonal sandwich.bmp
Let’s take that same sandwich with its 16 inches of crust, but this time we’ll cut it in half diagonally. Each long, hypotenuse side of the two triangles is going to measure about 5½ inches (who could forget Pythagoras’ theorem?) for a total of 11 uncrusted inches. Halve it again and the uncrusted edges of the four triangles add up to a whopping 22 inches to that same, original 16 inches of crust.


The diagonal cut squeezes 6 more uncrusted inches out of a single 4-inch square sandwich.
I’d say we have our winner.
The great sandwich debate of rectangles vs. triangles is finally settled. What a relief.

Posted in diversions, funny, sandwiches | Leave a comment

We Should All Eat Like Hipsters (and I mean that unironically)

http://packagespeak.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/0222-campbells-Go-Soup-235x300.jpg

 

Campbell’s announced the launch of its hipster-ish line of soups, and the world responded with snark.

The new Go! Soups brazenly raid the hipster oeuvre. You see it in the packaging with its hand-crafted fonts and quirky Millenial models. It shows in the website stocked with irreverent slogans and lolcats where nutrition labels should be. And especially in the soups with their trendy flavors and ingredients like quinoa, chorizo, Moroccan spices, and coconut curry.
Campbell’s has been roundly mocked for its naked pandering and cultural appropriation.

Hipster culinary culture has always been an easy target.
It can be precious and pretentious with its small-batch alder-smoked Himalayan sea salt caramels and secret coffee handshakes of burr grinders, cuppings, and pour-overs. It is, in turn, both elitist and juvenile; hipper-than-thou but captivated by grilled cheese sandwiches. We can take our potshots (and there are plenty of smug, tedious, and irritating targets), but we also need to acknowledge the worthy substance of hipster foodism.

As a group, hipsters just might be the most knowledgeable eaters on the planet.
They have worldly, globalized palates and demonstrate discernment and sophistication in their food choices. They often embrace contrarian diets—vegan and vegetarianism; raw foods; pro-soy; and gluten- or dairy-free—but they can have profound knowledge of the implications and can credibly rationalize these positions.

Hipsters are great food voluptuaries.
All the shared instagram pics and meal-time tweets are not just notches in their vintage whiskey leather belts. They are discriminating sensualists who rightly savor the citrus and tobacco notes of a Mast Brothers 74% Dominican cacao bar and marvel at the tender crumb of a well-crafted white peach and rosemary scone. The mark of the true hedonist, hipsters don’t shy from indulgences but take their pleasures in carefully chosen doses—the better to fit into those skinny jeans.

Hipsters are fighting the good food fight.
They adhere to a culinary narrative that Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma dubbed ‘supermarket pastoral.’ The artisan-made pickles and the free range label on the Whole Foods chicken represent the labors of heroic family farmers who are battling the GMOs and monoculture of corporate agribusiness. The hipsters shop and eat within their cosmopolitan enclaves of visionary butchers and worker-owned collective bakeries, and they see themselves as modern-day urban homesteaders, filling Ball jars with honey from backyard bees.

We might mock their romanticized pretensions, but the fact is, the hipsters are getting it right.
They shun factory farmed meats and chemical-laden processed foods. They participate in building local economies and reviving regional food traditions. Mealtime for them is not a base act of mindless feeding at the fast food trough but a creative, communal endeavor balancing the pleasures of indulgence with mindful moderation.

You know what to look for: a curbside huddle of fixed-gear bicycles; a mustachioed barista manning the Japanese pouring kettles of an independent coffee roaster; a quirky pub with no sign in front and handmade bitters at the bar. You found the hipster habitat. You probably won’t find any of Campbell’s Go! Soup at the neighborhood grocery coöp, but good food is sure to be close by.

 

 

Posted in community, food trends, funny | 2 Comments
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