Archive for November 2007
You’ll hate me for saying this but, “I like imitation crab meat.” Yep, the fake stuff. Painted red with food color, containing all types of minced fish, lots of additives, a smidgen of unnatural things, formed into a tube-shaped or flaky, edible mass . . . so sweet and tasty. Mmmmm. It’s great with pasta and salads; low calories, low fat and quite filling. What more could a person want?
Yeah, Marylanders are fuming while reading this. How could a Maryland boy like fake crab? That’s sacrilegious. You think farcical crab is peasant fish. A little-known historical fact was recently revealed in Crab History Revisionist’s Digest. Apparently, during the French Revolution one of the Palace Guards exclaimed to Marie Antoinette, “Your Majesty, the Peasants are revolting!” To which she retorted, “Yes, they are extremely revolting. So, what’s their problem?” The Guard filled her in, “The city is out of fresh crab meat and the people have no crab cakes.” The Queen proclaimed, “Let them eat fake cake.” This was the world’s introduction to imitation crab meat. Sacrebleu. In Maryland, when we’re born, they feed us crab meat and beer shooters right after the delivery to prepare us for future feasts. When our diapers are changed, we’re powdered with Old Bay. The very mention of imitation crab meat is like the cat crapped in your oatmeal.
The Maryland Crabasm Ritual takes place at hundreds of venues, thousands of times a year. Crabs cannot be priced beyond demand. Crab meat is awesome. I could eat it at every meal. Crab soup, crab cakes, crab balls, crab quiche, crab dip, crab, crab, crab. But picking the meat is downright tedious. They are really terrific, but a couple of things are troubling.
First of all, whichever establishment sells you ready-to-eat crabs, competes with all the other crabmongers for the right to be known as “Over-Seasoner of the Year.” Is it just me, or does the crunchy layer of seasoning indicate a bit of an overload? I’m not preparing to eat the shell so the spice is kind of unnecessary, and fighting through 11 inches of colon-cleansing crust is annoying. And I always end up using the seasoning as eye shadow.
Secondly, it seems like a never ending fight to get to a slight morsel of meat when picking through the suckers. I know the argument of it being a social thing, where those gathered have a few suds, chatting with ground crab meat dribbling out of everyone’s mouth (and the small piece sitting on the side of their face that is driving you crazy, but you don’t have the heart to tell them), sweating and sniffling from the heat of the seasoning, eyes watering from spice contamination, slurring their words from the beer, while cutting their fingers incessantly. “Look at me, I got a big gob!” It’s a fun thing. It’s a feast. Then why do you leave hungry?
Give me a plastic bag filled with fake, chemical-laden, artificially-sweetened, red-dyed, chunks of mystery fish anytime. I’ll walk away with clean fingers and clear eyes and my belly will be filled.
Oops, my fake cake just fell apart. Now, I’ll have to make soup.
Bake My Fish
Jiminy Cricket was born February 9, 1940, when he was officially revealed to the public in the Walt Disney hit film Pinocchio. The Blue Fairy gave him the job as the Conscience of our wooden friend. Jiminy has been an integral part of the Disney operation ever since. He is now 67 and considering retirement. Mature crickets live about 3 – 4 weeks. Jiminy has lived 3,520 weeks, well beyond all expectations.
The phrase “Jiminy Cricket” is a substitute for screaming “Jesus Christ” in anger or frustration. It’s a way of swearing, but not really. “Jeepers Creepers” is another exclamation used as a curse muzzle. Both have the initials J. C. The use of “Jiminy Cricket” by Walt Disney in 1940 was not the premiere of the term, as it had been used in print in the U.S. as early as 1918.
Now, I’m not trying to promote or dissuade any religious belief here, but I do think the correlation between Jiminy Cricket and Jesus Christ is interesting. For the sake of this post, I’ll call Jiminy JC1 and Jesus JC2.
JC1’s job (appointed by the Blue Fairy, mind you) was to keep Pinocchio in line. To make sure he remained good, honest and avoided temptation. For purposes of argument, Blue Fairy is God, Jiminy and Jesus are interchangeable and Pinocchio is humanity. Sounds reasonable, right?
Let’s talk about contrast with regard to fashion and personality. JC1 prefers a top hat. JC2 wore a halo. JC1 likes spats. JC2’s favorite shoe was the open-toed sandal. JC1 wears a colorful collection of vest, tie and tails, sort of form fitting. JC2 preferred loose, flowing robes; usually white. They also had quite different personalities. JC1 is chipper, sings, dances and is altogether upbeat. JC2 was quiet, laid-back, solemn and spoke with a bit of a monotone. At least that’s the way he was in all of his movies.
Some parents name their children Jesus. I’m sure it is out of respect and goes along with a very deep religious belief. Not too many will give their children such a name. I have met people named Jesus and I have met a few who thought they were The Jesus. But, I haven’t met anyone named Jiminy.
Jeepers Creepers, I gotta go.
Bake My Fish
In becoming a more sanitary population, we have triggered the side effect of food allergies. It is now common for people, particularly children, to have allergic reactions to many of the foods we take for granted. Eight foods identified with 90% of allergic reactions are: milk, egg, peanut, tree nut, fish, shellfish, soy, and wheat. I am a big advocate of wheat and all the other vittles that could prove fatal to some. I love them all. There is no religion or cult that can keep me away. Allergic reactions could do the trick.
When I was a kid, PB&J was an awesome sandwich. It still is. It’s the only entree where the recipe absolutely has to include white bread, grape jelly and crunchy peanut butter. Served with a glass of whole milk. Not the sissy, lactose-free, non-fat swill I usually drink. If I’m out to commit suicide, gimme a good freaking dairy product. Throw in some real ice cream. “Give me gravy on my mashed potatoes.” It’s not so funny that peanuts and milk can kill. There are about 11 million sufferers of food allergies. That seems a lot.
Studies indicate parasites might actually be good. Some patients with irritable bowel syndrome can improve when exposed to porcine whipworm, which is a pig parasite. In tests comparing lab rats with wild rodents, immune cells from the critters were tested in petri dishes exposing them to plant protein. The cells of the lab rats, who do not live in infectious and parasitic conditions like the wild guys, had a much higher reaction to the protein. Kids who grow up on farms and are constantly exposed to dirt and animals, are allergic to fewer things than those raised in a more sterile environment. The conclusion is parasites are beneficial. They help us build our immune system.
There is no worse feeling than removing a tick from your pet, child or yourself. We always have that unsettling fear there may be something lurking beneath the skin where the tick was attached. Time normally proves there are no ill effects, but the cringe while you’re squishing or burning the creature takes a little getting used to. Ticks are officially classified as ectoparasites (external parasites), but I don’t believe anyone would suggest they are beneficial.
I applaud our desire to be a sanitary nation. I applaud washing our hands after a trip to the latrine (so many don’t). It’s unfortunate the proliferation of food allergies is a result of our need to be clean. Maybe our children should eat a little dirt when we aren’t looking. Or the next time we yell at them for picking their noses, we can think twice about how hideous it may appear. They could be just immunizing themselves when using their sleeve as a handkerchief.
I need to go and take care of this rash. Thanks for the audience.
Bake My Fish
“Can you hear me now?” We associate those words with the geeky, horn-rimmed Verizon guy, who started out walking through the woods alone and now is leading a pack of poorly-attired technicians. I am not sure what phrase Martin Cooper (pictured to the left) might have used to test his new device. But, one day there may be a church congregation worshipping this man for inventing the cell phone in 1973.
What did we do before Marty came along? Phone booths were a favorite urinal. Disgustingly dirty telephones on the side of lonely roads or in scary neighborhoods were our haven in emergencies or whenever we needed to make that sudden call to check what might be needed from the grocery mart. To the right is the last known working public phone booth in the Washington region. Only a few of the 70s-style booths remain. There’s one in Manhattan, a few classics in Pennsylvania, some on the Jersey Shore, and there are about a dozen Mennonite-built private phone booths in St. Mary’s County, MD.
Although I miss pay phones, I’m convinced they are the transmitter of fever blisters. Hasn’t the number of inflictions gone down over the last couple of years? It seems so to me. The transition from the phone booth, to the phone permanently attached in the car, to the credit card-sized data center that fits in a pocket has been a joy. Escaping it is becoming a chore. I carry my cell everywhere, and now it’s like my “clap on, clap off” emergency button. If I pass out or fall prey to a stray animal, my cell phone is programmed with the ICE (In Case of Emergency) number for my wife. Hopefully, if anything happens she has her cell turned on so the rescuers can do their rescuing.
Everyone has a cell phone. You can’t really argue against the cell as a safety device. It is a comfortable feeling to have your car break down on a desolate road and know your phone will save the day. Aunt Bea never called Andy from a back road. We’re fortunate there is a Marty Cooper.
One day they will be surgically embedding Bluetooth technology in the ear drums of infants in delivery rooms. They’ll be set for life. Speaking of Bluetooth, I have one. It’s a nice addition to the safety feature of the cell. I love using it on the road and having the hands-free option; but only while driving. Today, it has become something of a fashion statement. Wearing the Bluetooth everywhere is chique. We were recently in a restaurant on a Saturday night, when a group of eight people came in for dinner; four wearing a Bluetooth. A Saturday night is the perfect time for cell chit chat, while sitting at the dinner table, proving the Bluetooth is essential for the latest gossip update.
The idea for the cell phone was introduced in 1947 by AT&T, through their research department, Bell Laboratories. Motorola made the wise move of hiring Martin Cooper in 1954. Through the 60s and 70s, Bell and Motorola engaged in a mobile phone development war, and Marty came out the victor. Now we can pick up any forgotten or depleted grocery item on the way home from work. And we get free Caller ID. Martin, you are The Man.
It would seem a reasonable prediction that eventually the Bluetooth and cell phone will be one. We’ll walk around with a plug in our ear and everything will be voice-based. Hopefully, it will include voice recognition. Otherwise, we could really mess with people by randomly screaming something in their ears that might trigger a dial. The ability to be in touch at all times is a good thing. We can’t really get away, but we can’t get lost.
Excuse me. My phone is ringing.
Bake My Fish
Has there ever been a function or event where you didn’t shake someone’s hand? Even with relatives, handshaking takes place. We teach our dogs how to shake hands. “Gimme your paw. Come on, give it to me.” “Good girl.” No one ever gave me a treat for shaking hands. But a day doesn’t go by without a handshake or two.
I take great pain to make my hand worthy of the shake, keeping it clean and drying my palm at every opportunity. The next shake is just around the corner, and you never know who might be the recipient. A shake brings everyone to the same level and makes people comfortable. A kiss on the cheek is sometimes appropriate, but there’s never a question with the shake.
Occasionally a person might take liberty with the shake, and use it as a vehicle to something more lurid, such as a soft touch on the back of the hand being shaken with his/her free hand. Dangerous ground. Back off. Let’s keep the shake professional and above board.
There is apparently some historical truth to the notion that handshaking began with the ancient Europeans, and was more used as a means to see whether or not the Shakee had a blade up his sleeve. Knives were normally hidden up the left sleeve because most fighters used their right hands to slay; therefore, the handshake was originally done with the left hand. Through the years it became a right hand thing, and now I have to worry about clammy palms.
I truly hope my next Shakee is as concerned about the shake as me.
Bake My Fish
I work in Baltimore. Many times on my way to the office, I end up sitting at the intersection of Northern Parkway and Falls Road (since I rarely beat the light), in the right lane to turn south on Falls. This is considered the most dangerous intersection in the city (not relevant, just an interesting side note). In the median strip by the left turn lane to go north on Falls Road, one of two interchangeable bums is probably walking back and forth seeking financial assistance from the cars waiting for the light to change. I know bums is a lousy word. We can call them homeless, derelicts, hobos, or some other derogatory term used to poke fun at two fellows who are obviously down on their luck. They don’t have a lobby group or enough people who care to force us to be politically correct. To avoid being mean, we’ll call them Maynard G. and Crowell.
What strikes me is how many people ignore them. Regardless of the weather, the windows that may have been down are hurriedly closed, and the eyes of the drivers focus on anything other than Maynard G. and Crowell. No one seems to be reaching in their pockets or glove box to scrape together a dollar or some spare change to give. It’s easier to think, “Get a job, ” or “I work hard for my money, why should I give it to these beggars?” I understand. But, let’s weigh the situation with regard to Maynard G. and Crowell.
Maynard G. appears to be the victim of a stroke, industrial accident or birth defect. His right side is mostly paralyzed, yet he treks back and forth at a lumbering pace to gain the attention of anyone who will look. His ability to obtain employment seems thwarted. Crowell, on the other hand, borders on healthy enough physically, but probably suffers from a mental condition, handicapping his prospects of a real job. If you watch for awhile, Crowell always goes to the sign at the top of the median at the end of his walk and touches it in four distinct spots, in a very regimented pattern (some say a cross). Crowell won’t be browsing the Business Casual section of Men’s Wearhouse any time soon. Maynard G. and Crowell’s alternatives are slim.
One day a few weeks ago, I landed in the left lane on the other side of the street (the dangerous side) with Maynard G. approaching me. He had been relegated to this location after being dislodged by candy sellers who took over his other spot. Business for them was very good. I reached into my pocket, grabbed a handy dollar left over from lunch, and held it out for Maynard G., who dragged himself as fast as he could, while I worried the light might change. It was only a dollar, but you should have seen his face.
A lot of costumes worn on Halloween are in the Maynard G. and Crowell vain. When I was a kid, Freddie Freeloader was one of my favorite characters on the Red Skelton show. I laughed, and he received accolades. I didn’t think it was mean; it seemed kind of funny. Pan Handling for a living is an acceptable skit. Maynard G. and Crowell are not amused.
Out of a total population of three hundred million Americans, we spend $20 billion dollars a year on ice cream; candy rakes in $46 billion; $8 billion dollars on beer, wine and spirits; NFL Franchises have a combined worth of $20 billion; and sales during Thanksgiving and Black Friday combined must exceed the annual budget of not just a few small cities.
So, the next time ice cream is on the tip of your tongue, while extravagant chocolate melts in your mouth, probably dessert following the Turkey Dinner you’ll take hours to absorb . . . . . just take a nano-moment to think about Maynard G. and Crowell.
Have a nice Thanksgiving with your family. Enjoy the football. Don’t run out of beer.
Bake My Fish
* The photos were extracted from the Internet. They are not pictures of Maynard G. and Crowell.
Who doesn’t like popcorn? Raise your hand. You can’t. Because you do. It’s salty, crunchy, filling, nutritious, contains a reasonable amount of protein, lots of fiber and cheap. All good reasons to love popcorn. The snack is everywhere you go. Nothing says love like popcorn. Kids always smile when they eat it and popcorn is usually associated with some form of entertainment. The statuette for the MTV Awards is a Bronzed Popcorn Tub. How can something so idolized not be good?
Those of you who remember Drive-In Movies might recall the concession breaks with the animated popcorn and hot dog walking across the screen, followed closely by soda. And how about Jiffy Pop? How many times did you ruin a batch? My Jiffy Pop always tasted like tin foil. Maybe I was eating the packaging.
I won’t go into ancient history (given this is a Boomer blog), so I’ll concentrate on recent events related to popcorn.
The popularity of popcorn in modern times began in the 1890s through the Great Depression. Even though families were suffering during the Depression years, the affordability of popcorn, at 5 or 10 cents a bag, was within reach. Most businesses were going belly-up, yet popcorn flourished. There is a story often cited in popcorn-related writings of an Oklahoma banker who lost everything, and then bought a popcorn machine and started a business close to a theater. His popcorn sales made it possible for him to buy back his farms.
But in the 1950s television started taking the families. People stopped going to movies and as a result, less popcorn was being consumed. But, the people realized television was kind of like the movies, only smaller, and they started wanting popcorn at home. Enter Jiffy Pop and all the other versions of home-popped ecstasy.
Then camethe microwave, and now we are hooked. I love going through the office about two hours after lunch. I smell popcorn. That distinctive smell. You know immediately, “Someone’s making popcorn.” Heads pop up over cubicles, in search of the culprit. The goal is to snatch a few kernels, if offered. If not, when they look away. But get some.
The first use of the microwave oven in the 1940s was to heat popcorn. It probably tasted lousy then, but popcorn has been so perfected over the decades, that Americans today consume 17 billion quarts each year. That’s 54 quarts per American. That’s a lot of fiber. Good for the paper industry.
I have to go. The popcorn’s done.
Bake My Fish