I wrote two reviews for WindyCitizen’s Pitchfork blog: one on the food at the ‘Fork, and the other on the Flaming Lips’ set that closed the event. Check them out if you are so inclined.

My take on days two and three coming up today or tomorrow…

So in response to my previous post, Deanna asked why I decided to become a vegetarian.  Rather than reply directly to her, I’d thought I’d share my reasons here so any one who stumbles across this page can read them. There’s a few reasons (and I’m using bold type to allow folks to skim)…for the first, let me paraphrase Jules (Samuel L. Jackson) from Pulp Fiction…

My wife’s a vegetarian so that pretty much makes me a vegetarian, too. This totally over simplifies it and isn’t the main/only reason, but I’m a guy, it’s cool to quote Pulp Fiction. But in reality, Debbie decided to become vegetarian, we discussed it, and I was pretty quickly on board. I thought I was going to be 85-95% vegetarian at first, but wound up being about 99% over the last three months. More on that in a minute…

So, Deb was a vegetarian for a while a few years ago, and we have both been very concious about what our family has been eating over the past year or so. With two special needs kids, we’ve been trying to cut out the junk and eat organic, first for the kids and then for ourselves. We started down that path and then when we went almost organic, Deb read Skinny Bitch, then I did too (see review). The book is pretty much a vegan manifesto, and a little bit heavy handed for me, but what I took from it is that all of the bad stuff that we were trying to avoid in mass-produced food existed in most meats. We considered going hormone-free, free range, etc.- but what gets us is that all of the “healthy” meat winds up at the same slaughterhouses (a USDA requirement) as the high-density feedlot animals. So while I’m not a card carrying PETA member nor plan to become one, animal treatment and health does play a part.

Another reason is that overall, I’m trying to eat better/lose weight. I’m 40 and can stand to lose 20 pounds. I figured trying a vegetarian diet would help. What I didn’t anticipate is that while my meat intake went down, my pizza intake went up considerably. Nevertheless, I’ve lost a few pounds and my clothes fit a little better.

I’d also thought I’d try it out to see if it made me feel any better. And it does. While I have enjoyed a few Burger King veggie burgers, for the most part this keeps me out of the fast food joints. I have swayed back to the meat side a couple of times- mot recently for hot wings and a kosher dog at a baseball game.  We do eat the occasional seaood item too, which makes it more bearable to dine out – there’s only so much pizza, pasta and salads you can order, and the choices at many places can be limited. We’re also less concerned about the humanity of “aquaculture” (catchy, no?), although I have a book on the topic I’m about to read.  But in all, being almost 100% meatless has made me feel healthier and generally be in a better mood.

So there’s my long answer to a short question :) I’m happy I’m doing it and will likely keep it going for a while, but I think I will still have a steak at my annual holiday outing with the guys from work.  Ultimately, I feel that any lifestyle choice- including diet- is up to the individual to find what works best for them.  I’d never thought I’d live a life without bacon, but I am, and I really like it.

Disappointing, maybe, but by no means unsuspected or surprising. We’re going up here for the Great Lake Brew Fest next week, and I know they plan to tempt me with sausage. Free sausage. We’ll see what happens.

A Tiny Fruit That Tricks the Tongue (New York Times):

reblogging onemoretimewithfeeling:

“At flavor-tripping parties, guests find that miracle fruit makes everything sweet.”

TV: This seems too weird to be real, but there it is in the NYT

If you go searching through your desk and find one of these:

Understand that over time, the marshmallow has turned into some sort of space age plastic, with an unforeseeble gumminess and an odd aftertaste.

I’m not saying that if you find one lying around that you shouldn’t eat- but now you are informed. Proceed as you will.

Since my blog has made it’s latest return, not a ton of folks have stopped by. (For those of you that have, thanks for making it back. Based on the feedback I’ve had thus far, I need to do more Urologist jokes.)

Anywho, the spammers know I’m back, as my inbox has started to come alive with trackback and comment spam. Most of it is the usual- a poor graphic of some stock tip that keeps going up and up, where I can get funny ringtones or play online poker. I got one today that made me pause and actually read it. It was from someone identified as Kit and the subject line was:

Stir in basil, garlic, and pepper flakes; cook 1 minute.

O.K., it’s lunchtime, it’s food, I’m going to open this one. In the message itself was this:

Pour into glasses and garnish with mint sprigs and fresh raspberries. red potatoes,
cubedMelt and Saute:1 T. Again, trim close to the bone to remove as much of the
meat as possible. olive oilPrepare and Set Aside:4 oz. apple cider vinegarTaste;
Add for Flavor and Set Aside: Tabasco to tasteBlanch about 2 Min. Unique
skyscraper planned near ParisHome:: Web Directory:: Heating Systems News:: Free RSS
news:: Free Newsletter:: Tell a FriendClientfinder. extra-virgin olive oil1 T.
Bring to a boil and simmer 1 minute.
Remove from pan and keep warm.
poverty, joblessness and problems with the healthcare system continue to

So it’s spam, no big surprise. But I couldn’t help but notice the food and drink theme running throughout. Alright spammer, lets make this recipe.

I’m going to take this step by step. First, the subject line seems more like a finishing touch, so that’s how I’ll treat it. I’m going to pull out some of the othe garbled stuff and put it in order. I used every word below and added none of my own. Punctuation, well, that where I added my own spices to the mix.

E-mail Casserole
Recipe by Tim V and Kit

Prepare and Set Aside:

4 oz. apple cider vinegar
red potatoes, cubed
1 T. olive oil. 1 T. extra-virgin. olive. oil.
Web Directory
Heating Systems News
Tabasco to taste

Melt poverty, joblessness and problems with the healthcare system and saute.

Again, trim close to the bone to remove as much of the meat as possible.


Tell a Friend.

Add for Flavor and Set Aside: Free RSS, Free Newsletter,Unique skyscraper planned near Paris home.

Blanch about 2 Min.

Continue to bring to a boil and simmer 1 minute.

Stir in basil, news, garlic, and pepper flakes; cook 1 minute.

Remove from pan and keep warm.

Pour into glasses and garnish with mint sprigs and fresh raspberries.

Sounds delicious, eh? I think it could use a little further tweaking. I ate this an hour ago and I’m still pulling chunks of Heating Systems News out of my teeth.

That’s a darn good question. Idaho lawmakers want to turn their backs on the spud and remove the "Famous Potatoes" motto from their license plates.

The head of the Idaho Potato Commission replied with the line I use for the title above. I can’t agree with him more.

I’d like "Famous Potatoes" on my plates, whether they are license or china.

If there was any shred of a theme to the foods I gravitated towards in 2005, it would have to be my unexplainale cravings for mexican food. It seemed that was my choice more often than not.

So when the Chicago Reader ran a food feature on unusual Mexican specialties and wher to find them, I read it with relish (salsa?) I even found a featured resturant in my hometown of Berwyn, not far from where I currently live.

What’s the the regional speciality at this eatery (which, by the way, is El Chimbombo)?

Tacos de ojos.

Those of you who have a passing knowledge of Spanish just re-read that. Yes. I said:

Eyeball Tacos

Now I would consider myself an adventurous eater. But eyeballs? Could, Would, Should I try it? Would Debbie ever kiss me again?

The article ran a month ago. I’ve mentioned it to others. No one else was the slightest bit interested in trying one.

I can’t stop thinking about eyeball tacos. I think I want to try one.

Until, that is, I did research for this here article.

I found a picture. I will not reprint it here. This is nothing you want to see.

I read two articles- both, oddly, sampling tacos de ojos at Chicago’s Maxwell Street Market. One person didn’t have the courage to try one. The other- at the food blog ExtraMSG.com- tried it and wishes he hadn’t. I considered reprinting some of the descriptions here, but they’re really just too repulsive. Follow the link at your own risk, and don’t plan on eating for a while…

So, I think I’m likely going to pass on tacos de ojos for now. I’m shifting my thought towards huitlacoche, the mexican corn truffle- or the fungus that grows on corn. Some call it "black corn smut" (wasn’t that a Soundgarden song?) I found a blog that liked it and a blog that hated it.

Anyone want to join me on this one?

Know of any good Finnish restuarants?

Know of ANY Finnish restuarants?

I’ve never had Finnish food, and if you listen to French President Jacques Chirac (who claims it’s the only thing worse than British food) or Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi (who said he had to "endure" Finnish food), I guess I’m not missing much.

But I will investigate further- I can’t fly to Finland any time in the near future and the Finnish speciality shops seem few and far between, so I will turn to the web to see what is has to offer.

There are over a million and a half hits on Google for Finnish food. Add Delicious to the search terms and you’re quickly down to 287,000. Not a good sign.

I quickly found the link for FinnishFood.Net- a website selling Finnish Food. Here’s how their catalog breaks down.

Bakery products-> (54)
Coffee, tea & cocoa-> (13)
Condiments-> (28 )
Confectionary-> (161)
Conserves-> (29)
Flour, porridge, mixes etc etc-> (48 )
Jams-> (5)
SEASONAL products-> (1)
Specialities-> (45)

Heavy on the sweets, but I think most ethnic food websites are. Hey, do you move do another country and miss your favorite ketchup? Well, maybe, but sweets would seem to be what most people might miss.

Clicking on confectionary, things break down this way:

Chewing gum (12)
Chocolate (48 )
Christmas Confectionary
Licorice (18 )
Other (34)
Salmiakki (26)
BIG treats-> (23)

Salmiakki? What’s that? Well, I looked it up- and I think I’ve tried it. Roughly speaking, it looks like liqourice, sometimes tastes like it and is quite salty, as its chief ingredient is ammonium chloride. Ammonium chloride is used in dry cells batteries and fertilizers…oh, and in Finnish candies and vodkas. If this was the stuff I had, I remember it being somewhat foul, but I also remember somehow liking it, too..

Other Finnish treats from the site:

I really dig this gum package. This kid’s from another era, but that won’t stop him from blowing bubbles, no sir..

I like a candy bars with a simple name…Jim is simple.

This was described as being hot and spicy fruit flavored candy. Why did somebody decide to make this in the first place, and why do I want to try it? (and did I just answer my own question?

This was described as "traditional old style meat soup, nothing else is like it." Somehow, I think this statement goes beyond marketing hyperbole.

All told, they’ve got some quirky foods, but nothing too different from any culture. Chitlins, anyone?

I also saw this on a different website discussing Finnish food:

Sausage is the basic Finnish fast food. According to a saying ‘A Finn is never too full not to eat a bit more sausage’. Grilled sausage is served at every jazz, rock and other music festival, and at sports meetings, fairs and agricultural shows.

My thoughts:

  • Great saying
  • Sausage at a rock concert? Good call.
  • Sports Meetings? That’s excellent.

In othe Finnish news, I saw on the news recently that the annual Wife Carrying Contest occured in Finland. The contest, you may guess, involves a man carrying a woman (it doesn’t have to be his wife) through a course complete with dry and water obstacles.

The prizes to the winner include high-tech cell phones and rye bread- and the wife’s weight in beer.

Finland, your heart is definitely in the right place. World leaders, have some tradional meat soup and chill out.

To the brave yogurt-making men and women at Yoplait:

I hope this blog entry finds you well. I enjoy your products several times a week- keep up the good work.

I do have a question for you, most likely directed to your marketing folks.

I noticed today that the Yoplait Light Blueberry flavored yogurt is called Blueberry Patch.

Why is it named after the place the fruit came from, rather than the fruit itself?

Your cherry flavor is called Very Cherry- certainly the blueberry yogurt’s intensity is of a level to merit a Very tag as well. Additionally, you chose not to call the cherry yogurt Cherry Orchard. Wise move.

Suppose you were to expand into other foods- would you name them this way?:

Salmon: Mountain Stream
Steak: Cattle Ranch
Rhubarb: It was growing there when we moved in
Hot Dog: Miscellaneous Bin

I think not. So I offer you the following alternate names for your blueberry product:

Very Blueberry (keeping with you established brands)
Awfully Blueberry
Blue’s Cluesberry (expand to a younger demographic)
The Bluest of all the Berries
Midnight Blueberry (appeals to fans of Foreigner singer Lou Gramm’s solo career)
Vida Bluberry (Fans of the early 70′s Oakland A’s will be thrilled)
You’re my boy, Blue!berry (If there’s ever an Old School 2)

I have offered you several mediocre choices. Change your product’s name post haste!

The CD Junkie

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