You'd probably have to travel to Mexico for the Day of the Dead to find a cake this cool. It was on the snack table at the June meeting of Death Cafe Atlanta, held in Oakland Cemetery last Saturday.
The Atlanta group, open to everyone but requiring a reservation, is part of a national movement. Saturday's event was mentioned in a New York Times article, "Death Be Not Decaffeinated: Over Cup, Groups Face Taboo."
Among other reasons, I wanted to attend the event because of my brother's recent death. He spent the last year of his life cranking up his experience of pleasure, reuniting with old friends and drawing his two children closer to his heart.
Have you doubted that love is a burning thing and makes a fiery ring?
Doubt no more!
Allow me to introduce you to 22-year-old John McGuiness. He was arrested last Friday in a jealous rage for allegedly slapping around his girlfriend with her $200 jeans. He had covered them with wasabi sauce, which he also threw into her car's interior.
The Smoking Gun, which has the full story, reports that "McGuinness was charged with three misdemeanors, including assault and battery 'by dangerous weapon/sauce.'"
Be sure to browse the 200-plus comments on the story. They begin with this one: "Total breakdown of social norms. What a wonderful world the liberals have created." Obama is blamed for the act of wasabi terrorism (sans drone). Further discussion devolves into misogynistic attacks on the woman for spending $200 on jeans, supposedly proving that she deserved her fate.
I'm a little bothered that the story didn't explain where you get a bottle of wasabi big enough to launder a pair of jeans. Clue me in.
Should we? From breakfast scrambles to grandma's chocolate chip cookies to spaghetti and meatballs, eggs have become an essential part of the American diet. So essential that today's egg industry is worth $9 billion, according to Josh Tetrick, founder and CEO of Hampton Creek Foods. But at whose expense?
NPR explored the impact of egg consumption on the environment and why Bill Gates is investing in a change - sans chicken.
Another victory for the lungs! Starbucks has banned smoking within 25 feet of its 7,000 locations in Canada and the U.S. As of last Saturday, that means no more smoking on the patio.
As a regular at the Ansley Mall Starbucks - actually, far less these days - I know this is going to infuriate some friends. Fortunately, there are patio tables in the mall courtyard that will lessen the pain of forgoing four cigarettes in seven minutes. My friend Jay is going to be especially pissed that even his electronic ciggy is banished.
As Matt Hennie of Project Q Atlanta writes, the consequences of this at the Ansley store, nicknamed "Bearbucks," go farther than protecting health. It kind of cockblocks the guys cruising one another with a phallic totem between their lips and fingers.
I'm glad for the change, although I understand smokers' anger, being a former smoker myself. I noticed soon after I quit that I became acutely sensitive to the smell of cigarette smoke in public areas and on people's clothing. I think many smokers, if not most, don't have a clue as to how much even a little smoke pollutes the air and generally makes them stink.
It's not green! I'm talking about trendy Greek yogurt. USA Today reports:
The production of Greek yogurt creates a nasty byproduct called "acid whey." The liquid waste can't be dumped, because it would prove too toxic to the environment, ruining waterways and killing fish, reports Modern Farmer.
But with the Greek yogurt market now worth $2 billion and still growing, it's a problem that's only going to get larger. New York State alone produced 66 million gallons of acid whey in 2011, reports the New York Post.
I'm not the only one. Sitting in a movie theater, listening to people crunch popcorn, drives me nuts. Slate writer Rosecrans Baldwin recently ranted about popcorn's undeserved popularity.
Americans consume about 16 billion quarts of popcorn annually. That's 52 quarts per person, which isn't so bad if we're just talking about stove-top corn popping. But not listed is how many of those quarts have melted "butter" pumped on top. A lot, I'd guess - which is a scary thought. A November 2009 study by the Center for Science in the Public Interest found that a medium popcorn at a Regal-chain movie theater contains 1,200 calories and 60 grams of saturated fat (the fat of an entire stick of butter). Popcorn even inspired our obesity epidemic: In The Omnivore's Dilemma, Michael Pollan says that the inventor of "supersizing," David Wallerstein, experienced his Newton moment while observing people in movie theaters. He noticed that although customers were ashamed to hit the snack bar for second helpings, they didn't mind paying more in the first place if their popcorn was served in a bucket.
Twenty. Eight. Years. That's how long the little French-Japanese bakery by the name of Joli Kobe has been baking bread and building a clientele in Sandy Springs. Can you even imagine what this congested stretch of Roswell Road looked like 28 years ago? How much the neighborhoods around it have changed? How the dining tastes of the people around it have evolved?
I went to Joli Kobe not long after it opened. Yes. 28. Years. Ago. It's true. That stretch of Roswell Road wasn't even paved. It was dangerous to walk across the street at night because it was hard to avoid stepping in the piles of shit left by buggy-pulling horses. Mornings, it was usual to see buckskin-clad men lined up outside restaurant kitchen doors with fresh kills, like muskrats and possums. Eventually, Sandy Springers' taste evolved to include other free-range, organically farmed creatures like squirrels and groundhogs.
Okay, not that bad. I spent my adolescence in Sandy Springs and, actually, the area's nickname was "The Golden Ghetto," because it was largely privileged. So, if anything, tastes were as "evolved" as anywhere else in the city, maybe more so. I'm hurt. And so are my deceased parents.
Oy. Whippersnappers! Off the lawn! (But, seriously, y'all read the review.)
I don't watch TV, but the whole celebrity chef thing strikes me as bizarre. I'm glad some of our local chefs have gotten attention - they deserve it - but I'm also aware that some of our very best haven't. I'm guessing that has more to do with stage presence than talent.
The latest outrageous episode of reality programming is from Gordon Ramsay's "Kitchen Nightmares." The couple who own Amy's Bakery Company, Amy and Samy Bouzaglowent, went so ballistic on camera that Ramsay literally walked away.
Since then, it's been revealed that Amy served jail time for bank fraud. And Samy, an immigrant, is under investigation for not disclosing arrests allegedly related to drugs and extortion in Europe. He is banned from France and Spain. Meanwhile, the couple has been waging war with online commenters.
Now, why in holy hell would a couple with such a background agree to participate in a nationally viewed TV program? Did they not realize they would come under scrutiny? Or does the intoxicating draw of fame turn people into brainless zombies?
The report, published this week by the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization, outlines the culinary facts about insects: they're readily available, they take up a fraction of the space that livestock do when farmed (yes, you can farm bugs), they're a low-carbon protein alternative to meat and poultry, and a nutritious and cheap addition to any diet, especially in countries where malnutrition is rampant. In Uganda and Zambia, the report notes, queen termites are so high in nutrients that they are commonly fed to undernourished children.
Wow, a McDonald's manager in New Zealand harassed an employee for being "too gay". He has since been transferred to another store:
A McDonald's manager has reportedly harassed and disciplined an employee for acting "too gay." The branch, in New Zealand, saw the manager tell Sean Bailey that if he "turns anyone else in the store gay, I will punish you and make you lose your job."
"One of my managers said, 'if you act gay on my shift, I will discipline you,'" Bailey told NZTV. "I had to call in sick just because I couldn't work with him, which meant I lost work hours and money...."
Happily, I was wrong. Everyone liked them and the restaurant got the infrequently awarded designation, "I would come back here."
We dined outside and most of us indulged in a scoop of Jake's Ice Cream, next door in the Irwin Street Market...
You may have already seen this, but, if not, it's a good read about fast-food diets and health insurance. It seems that the owner of a Five Guys Burger and Fries doesn't want to pay his employees' health insurance costs, while he serves incredibly unhealthy 2,500-calorie meals to customers:
In the burger master's view, the government is forcing him to "pass on the costs to customers," he said. But he already passes on considerable costs to customers who may never sniff a Five Guys fry. Because he doesn't give his employees health care, they show up as charity cases at the hospital emergency room when something goes wrong. Last year, the uninsured cost the system $39.3 billion. Guess whom the expenses are passed on to?
People get so crazy with fruit.
I'm sure you regularly read Free.Republic.com. Freepers make the Tea Partiers look like socialist anarchists. I once wrote an unflattering comment about them that provoked 500 replies and quite a few on Rick Santorum's site too.
Among recent outrages is this report:
The latest effort to recruit abortionists relies on stealth and fresh fruit. Using a papaya as a uterus, medical students learn abortion techniques under the guise of "miscarriage management."
Granted, the story is pretty damn weird, but not as weird as the conclusions drawn by the site. Even though the papaya's use has utterly no connection to ingestion of the fruit, the story triumphantly concludes this way:
In some places, the relationship between papayas and pregnant women has long been an uneasy one. In some regions of Asia, it was commonly believed that papayas were dangerous for expectant mothers, and modern research has shed light on the reason: unripe papayas contain a type of fruit latex that can induce uterine contractions and potentially cause a miscarriage.
And among the comments:
Well, why the hell not. They teach kids to put condoms on cucumbers, don't they?...So, to these ghouls, women are no more than pieces of fruit.
Researching the site, I have found no complaints about bananas.
Will Margaret Thatcher be elevated to the same level of sainthood as Ronald Reagan? Will her life be as fictionalized? Will those who criticize her legacy be as reviled as Reagan's detractors? You betcha, as the former queen of the formerly fashionable Tea Party might say.
As you may already know, the story's been going around that Thatcher was part of the team that "invented" soft-serve ice cream. Yep, like half the legends of Ronald Reagan, this story turns out to be bullshit, according to the New Yorker, which thoroughly researched the claim. But here's the good part. It's not right-wingers who have spread the story. It's left-wingers:
"An oft-told anecdote in British left circles associates Thatcher with the invention of soft ice cream, which added air, lowered quality and raised profits." In other words, it wasn't Thatcher's supporters who spread the soft-serve myth; it was the left-wingers, who saw in it a suitable metaphor for her policies.
Oh, those cone-head liberals!
Meanwhile, in other news of soft-serve ice cream, the owners of New York's popular Big Gay Ice Cream shops have improved the flavor and texture of Mrs. Thatcher's original product. The shop, famous for its quirky toppings, is now making their basic vanilla, chocolate and "neutral" ice creams with proprietary mixes they developed with the help of an "ice cream scientist." These will be the background to which the company adds their way gay flavors. First reviews are quite positive.
Other news of soft-serve ice cream will be reported as it develops.
Does anyone anywhere not miss their mama's cooking? Every time I go to an ethnic restaurant with someone of the particular ethnicity, they shrug and start talking about their mama's cooking. My favorite such experience was with my friend Long, who is Vietnamese. I took him to Chateau de Saigon, and he went on and on about how much better his mother's cooking is. Meanwhile, with each taste of a different dish, he'd say, "It's not bad." He ended up cleaning every plate of its contents, saying, of course, "It's not bad" after the last bite.
Here are three videos about Chinese food.
My favorite Food Music this week is provided by Jimmy Wong. He loves Chinese food.
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