Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Ice Cream Season's Coming!

Well I guess it’s that time of year again when the heat and humidity get the best of us. That’s right, it’s time to get in touch with our inner nine year old. You remember him or her, the kid who ran like a world class sprinter chasing down the ultimate in summer time feel good foods in the form of a thatched roof truck playing “The Entertainer” in the key of crazy…I see you remember now and so do I, It’s time for Ice cream.

I’ve spoken about it before and I think it’s worth mentioning again that my formative years of ice cream eating were not kind to me. If my therapist is correct, everything that has ever gone wrong in my life can somehow be traced back to that Friendly’s in Worcester Massachusetts. More specifically, that ice cream eating sidewalk that always managed to get me to part with my single scoop of strawberry.

But then again what would he know, he doesn’t believe cats can talk. A sentiment The Cat most certainly does not share, and has written the shrink several letters (letters that are now in my “permanent record” just in case something should happen) to the contrary. But aside from all my therapist’s thoughts on cats, lime flavored Jell-O and my unhealthy obsession with all things being symmetrical…let us return to the topic at hand.

After my unfortunate first impressions, ice cream decided to let bygones be bygones and came back into my life. No silly people, it didn’t just jump back in feet first as in, “I’m an ice cream cone, eat me!” It came back in a smooth and gentle manner known as soft serve.

I was perhaps six or seven and playing what most boys play in between the dreaded haircuts on the final day of school and picking out corduroys for the return to hell (translate-second grade)…that’s right…baseball. I wasn’t very good as a baseball player. Let me rephrase that… because I could throw the ball a great distance, I was always put in the outfield.

As most pee wee baseball players can attest, a six year old outfielder has as much chance seeing a ball come to him/her as I have of receiving the Nobel Prize for physics. Being A.D.D. the only action I saw in the outfield were the bugs I swatted at. The thing I liked about baseball was hitting, (and I could hit it a ton) the little containers of Tropicana orange juice from concentrate (the “Gatorade” of its day) and the soft serve we would go and get after the game.

Didn’t matter if we won or lost, we all got to pack into the back of our coach’s one ton pickup with stake body sides and go to the Creamy Cone where the coach would buy us all an ice cream. It was a bonus if we won because on the way there, we would get to scream like little banshees “We’re number one” at anybody who would listen. Yes young and gentle readers, this was at a time when sadly… kids were allowed to win or lose.

They were also allowed out of the house without a helmet, a neon yellow safety vest, glow sticks, nap sacks, allergy meds, their own personal water supply or capri sun! Besides…when you’re a six year old doing the serious business of ramp building with a two by ten and a cinder-block …all that stuff is just gonna weigh you down when you’re trying to run back to your house to have your mom douse your road rash in a bottle of Bactine, a half a box of Band-Aids and tincture of iodine. If only I managed to clear that tenth Tonka Truck…Things would have been different and I wouldn’t have been screaming like I was on fire from the application of iodine.

Anyway, I remember distinctly the first time we got to do this because we had won the game. I wasn’t aware there were rules or protocol for the ice cream ordering, so when everybody else was getting cones and I came back to the picnic table that my team was at holding a banana split (I got this out of fear of dropping my ice cream, and because I loved banana splits)…I found out this was a no-no.  But from then on it was all good.

We could only get vanilla chocolate or swirled, but then you could add “Jimmies” (some call them shots or sprinkles) multi colored or chocolate or you could add a shell. A shell was something you could dip the ice cream in that came in flavors from cherry to butterscotch…I always got vanilla dipped in a cherry shell. I’m not sure what was in “the shell” and I’m not sure they even make it anymore… but something that solidifies at less than freezing can’t be good.

After all the good times I had with soft serve I decided to repress my emotions towards hard ice cream and decided it was time to get reacquainted. I fell in love again in one fell scoop… her name was Heavenly Hash…and I was smitten. Where did this come from?! I asked…” Something your mother picked up” dad replied. My dad was a serious ice cream eater and didn’t believe in silliness with regards to his ice cream. He was a straight up French Vanilla or Coffee man.

I liked the vanilla just fine…excuse me French Vanilla. My dad sneered at plain vanilla and explained to me that French Vanilla was better…that was it…just better. I have since found out, French Vanilla is different because it is supposed to be made with real vanilla bean, have a higher milk fat content and is made from a custard base meaning egg yolks were added… all these things mean more flavor either by fat or vanilla bean…fat and flavor both get a thumbs up in my book…just as soon as I put this bowl of ice cream down.

With vanilla I had learned to “top it” with everything from blueberries my mother canned in summer, to maple syrup we damned near had kept a keg of… so as long as you didn’t mind getting creative, vanilla was a solid blank canvas. But Heavenly hash, here was something that needed nothing but a spoon. Heavenly hash for you ignorant of this incarnation of heaven…is vanilla and chocolate ice cream mixed with chocolate chunks and swirled marshmallow fluff….wait for it…and walnuts!

Yup, walnuts… and seeing’s my mother used nuts in everything from breakfast cereal to brownies to Rice Krispy treats…I was a lover of all things nutty. This might actually explain a lot of past relationships I have had. But I digress; here I was with the perfect ice cream. Oh sure I’d add the odd bit of maple syrup now and again, but for out of the box instant pleasure…Heavenly Hash was where it was at.

I was twenty or so living on a steady diet of Ramen noodles, Tanqueray Gin, and thinking of you calls from a company silly enough to give a twenty year old man-boy a line of credit large enough to buy top shelf gin and a TV. I had an oddball job working third shift which allowed me to play golf and drink beer at a time of day most people found shocking on their drive into work. The downside was that on weekends I’d be up when most normal people were sleeping or doing whatever it is normal people do.

So Saturday night was the night I liked to do my grocery shopping. Keep in mind this was before I fully appreciated food, and a shopping cart full of ramen noodles and minute rice brought no shame unto me. It just meant I could buy other important things like fresh limes and ice cream. Chunky Monkey, what in the name of fruit stripe gum is Chunky Monkey?!  Banana flavored ice cream with chocolate chunks aaaaaaaaand…walnuts…winner winner chicken dinner! In the cart it went and from then on I was a changed man.

I started on Chunky monkey which I found to be a gateway drug into other Ben and Jerry flavors. Yes, Ben and Jerry... my two newest BFF’s have been there beside me for quite some time and have rarely let me down. Sure there were the oddballs like “Oh Pear” and “Makin Whoopie Pies,” but seriously who was eating these anyway? I stuck to several favorites in my ice cream rotation.

Over the years of chronological adulthood I have fluctuated in weight and from time to time have been tempted while dieting with such things as sorbet, frozen yogurt, Italian ice, rice cream, low fat ice cream and smoothies. I decided in the end to just leave the frozen stuff alone until such a time came where I could eat super premium ice cream again.

Not too long ago I decided it was time to drop some winter weight and figured I’d give the Ben and Jerry’s Greek Frozen Yogurt a try. Yes I know, Greek frozen yogurt…how very trendy Pav! Yes it happens to be right now, but I have been eating Greek yogurt since before Archimedes knew what 2+2 equaled… ok maybe not that long, but I’ve been eating it since before it came a “style”. Style is a fancy food word people use to pretend there as good as something done the correct and probably more expensive way so they can make money off from the name and make you hate the original.

In this case the folks at Ben and Jerry (as Ben and Jerry themselves have been off fighting oppression brought on by “The Man” ever since selling the company and making more money than “The Man” himself) are just using the word Greek to coincide with the Greek style yogurt craze. As if the word Greek were magic, and would magically turn ass flavored frozen yogurt into something delicious. This isn’t a review in which I’m going to break down the three flavors I’ve tried into cute little sentences like… The fruity blueberry flavor danced on my tongue…. Or… The peanut flavor was so ethereal, I thought I saw God or at the very least one of God’s cousins…

Suffice it to say the stuff didn’t completely suck, but it wasn’t good either. I suppose from a marketing standpoint it’ll be successful but as far as I’m concerned there is just no reason to eat it. There’s no reason to eat it or the other low fat, no fat options of ice cream and it doesn’t matter who makes them. Ice cream is a cool treat to eat at any time of the year, but especially in the summer.

It brings us back to the summers of our youth, when all was good in the world and the only things considered “Diet” were skim milk, Tab and Cottage Cheese. Maybe it’s all about moderation. I envy folks who can pick up a pint of ice cream and it lasts them the better part of a decade. Me, I sit down to watch a baseball game and by the time the national anthem is over, I’m fighting to get the lid away from The Cat so I can throw the container away.

So make the most of these hot days and get yourself a cone or a pint. Give some random kid a buck to go chase down the ice cream truck. Go down to the Creamy Cone or Tasty Freeze or whatever it was in your town and buy a stranger a smile with the simple gift of a swirled with jimmies, and while you’re at it…get yourself one too. Oh, and if you’re a baseball coach, don’t go too hard on the little redheaded kid who mistook get an ice cream for… get the most expensive sundae on the menu board!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Foie Gras, The Writer Who Knew Too Little

You didn’t strike me as a shy person responding on my page Spence Cooper, but I’m a little confused as to why you didn’t respond on the site you wrote the story for which was Friends Eat. So that we are all on the same page, I’ll go ahead and "cut n paste" your entire response to me. Seems only appropriate as I’m convinced it’s how you “wrote” your entire story…here is your response to me and going forward your hack story (I mean story in the most rudimentary way possible) will be in bold italics:

“If I had included more quoted material from those you were in agreement with, and less from those demented "anti-meat people", I doubt your judgment would be as harsh.”

 “And besides, duck or goose, humanely killing animals for meat is one thing, but the barbaric process of producing Foie Gras is inexcusable cruelty for the sake of momentary hedonistic pleasure.”

My judgment wasn’t on the story Spence, but rather on the irresponsible way in which it was written and presented.  It was a hack story and there wasn’t an original thought in the entire thing.  I’m not a journalist Spence so cut me a little slack here… I’m guessing two of the founding precepts of journalism are not “Remember to cut and paste.” Or “When reporting, always have an opinion and make sure your story reflects that.” 

I see you got the notes from your readers that Foie Gras can come from either Duck or Goose and also is not a Pate….Good for you for fixing that. Just one more thing Spence…and again I’m no fancy journalist like you, but shouldn’t fact checking be part of your writing “process?” After all, Foie Gras is an organ…it actually the liver. It’s a thing…Foie Gras is not made from other things to make it Foie Gras. I guess pushing an agenda can make you a bit blind to facts…. But you may want to change it again.

Now unlike you Spence, I’ve actually been to Hudson Valley Foie Gras and cared enough about the subject to learn about it… next time you do a story on something I suggest you …. Oh I dunno… maybe do some research. Since you didn’t  I’m willing to take a little time and educate you on the subject using your so called “story” to help illustrate just how uneducated both you….and the people you cut and paste from ….are… on the subject of Foie Gras.

“Foie gras production involves force-feeding restrained ducks by shoving metal pipes down their throats multiple times a day, called gavage, and pumping them full of grain, or corn and fat, which leads to acute hepatic lipidosis, or fatty liver disease, which in turn leaves ducks suffering with malfunctioning livers that are ten times their normal size”

You think a metal tube is uncomfortable Spence? How about a whole fish expanding a ducks throat to 3 and 4 times its normal circumference….yet ducks  manage to do that all by themselves…. Maybe we should pass a law regulating the size of fish ducks can swallow in the wild huh Spence?!  A Ducks Crop can hold over 3 cups of food at a time and when left to their own devices and food supplies being bountiful, they will eat that much voluntarily. But maybe with some therapy Spence, we can help them with their eating “issues.”

Hepatic Lipidosis… Wow Spence, very fancy name. Fortunately for Ducks and Geese they don’t get this disease as they are waterfowl and their livers get naturally fat just before migration, it’s an energy storage system….kinda like how us humans get a gut, our body’s way of dealing with feast or famine. (Incidentally this is the same age at which the Ducks at HVFG are being fed larger amounts of food.)

“Our lawsuit is based on the fact that the PPIA dictates that diseased animal organs are supposed to be condemned by USDA inspectors, and foie gras is — by definition — a diseased organ. Thus, USDA should do its job by banning the sale of foie gras nationally.”

Yeah except the “disease” of which they speak doesn’t occur in waterfowl….opps! Guess someone forgot to do their homework!

“Force feeding causes a number of injuries: bruising or perforation of the esophagus; hemorrhaging and inflammation of the neck resulting from the repeated insertion of the pipe to the throat; and asphyxia caused by food improperly forced into the trachea.

Quite simply, no it doesn’t…and besides that, you can’t sell and make money off an animal that is dead. A healthy well cared for animal is in the best interest of the farm.  Oh, and ducks don’t have a gag reflex so they’re not choking…. Furthermore Ducks can have the esophagus blocked fully and still breath fine… “Remember swallowing whole fish?!”  Yup that’s right… they can breath and eat at the same time….imagine that Spence.

 “Wounds of the esophagus may subsequently become infected. Force feeding also results in numerous illnesses and disease, including hepatic lipidosis, bacterial and fungal infections, malnourishment, and lameness. For these reasons, mortality rates for force-feed ducks are 10 to 20 times higher than those for non-force fed ducks.”

Well pigeons “MIGHT” fly out of my ass dragging barbed wire Spence… The beginning of the paragraph is saying things that might happen. Hell with the same logic, people might spill hot coffee on them and get burned. Does that mean we should pass a law saying coffee cups should have warnings…oh, so you’re the guy they did that for!

Mortality rate for Ducks at HVFG is about 3 percent… If you think the ducks in the wild are living better than that Spence. You’re delusional! Hell, there are whole countries of people that don’t have mortality rates that good! The USA infant mortality rate average for the last three years  is 7.07…does this mean we should ban having babies Spence?!

You cut and pasted (THEN BURRIED): “…USDA would not allow a diseased organ to be sold, and called the production of foie gras “a reversible, healthy process in an animal, beyond question.””

HOLY SCHNIKES …The only fact based piece you bothered to put in your story Spence…good boy!

Look, let’s cut the crap and call this ban what it really is… one step closer to banning all meat. If you read PETA and National Humane Societies propaganda, you’ll see they are against all killing of animals for meat or otherwise. This isn’t a ban on Foie Gras, it’s a ban on meat eaters Spence…Wake up and smell the hamburgers before you’re eating tofurkey on a gluten free bun. Can the foie industry use regulation or at the very least oversight? Perhaps. Does it need to be banned outright…. No way in hell.

Look the bottom line is this Spence; these animals are raised for human consumption…period. If you find that hard to swallow then grab a granola bar (minus the honey) and speak up. Otherwise, don’t tell me what I can and can’t eat. The best we can do while they are being raised, is to do so in a respectful and reasonable manner. But in the end…they will look nice, and taste delicious with some reduced red wine sauce and Pommes Anna. Oh and Spence…don’t use the word “hedonistic”, especially when you wrote a story on Foie Gras and you don’t even know what it is to begin with. It only makes you sound…moronic.

Bon Appetite!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012


I haven’t done one of these in a while, but every now and again I think it’s good to lick a finger and stick it…. In the air to gauge which way the wind is blowing in the world of food. There are a lot of good things happening that have drawn some negative attention, and in my opinion a lot of crap still getting the usual praise. Let’s dispense with the negative so that we can all put down our forks from anger, and extend a cold pressed olive oil in peace.

Let’s start with pink slime and three cheers for getting rid of something I think we can all agree is truly evil. Thank heavens there is only one remaining plant still open and we have managed to put hundreds of people out of work! I’m just glad there is no other food product out there that is just as awful…like say… mechanically separated poultry (a.k.a. MSP).  Oh…. wait just a minute!

How is it pink slime got such a black eye and yet MSP got a pass? Now both are gone from the nightly news and everybody’s happy?! We are eating MSP in record amounts, and everybody is petting each other on the back for downing the evil “pink slime” while shoveling MSP into their faces in the form of chicken patties and cheap assed hot dogs.

 Nice going America! Due to a little one sided reporting and knee jerk reactions you managed to put a bunch of people out of work…just what this country needs. The good news is that now these folks are out of work, they will have to cut back on their food budgets and buy those cheaper hot dogs and processed chicken patties…maybe they can eat their way into a job in the MSP industry!

Milk, we need another milk like Taco Bell needs another way of stuffing the same five ingredients into a tortilla! When I was a kid we had whole milk which most people drank, and skim milk which near as I can tell nobody but kindergarten teachers and already too thin people drank. Milk actually had body and taste to it and now drinking milk is like having sex in a canoe…f’king close to water!

Then you look at the variety and types of milk available as if cows weren’t doing a good enough job in the milk production market. We decided to milk goats and sheep, why stop there?! I mean hell, gerbils, hamsters, guinea pigs and cats aren’t doing much…. Let’s get them in on the game! Of course animal milk wasn’t good for the lactose intolerant crowd, which is oddly growing by leaps and bounds each year…so we started creating other milks.

So we started making milk from Soy, Almonds and Rice. I’ve tried soy milk and if I’m being honest, I’d rather drink hamster milk. I think somebody realized how bad soy milk sucked so they started adding vanilla to it to make it palatable. They could add bacon and fairy dust to it and I still won’t drink it.

Almond milk I’ve had on accident and found it to be surprisingly good. But given the fact I don’t drink much milk these days in lieu of a diet low in bland milk and high in Jameson, I doubt I’ll be lining  up for almond milk anytime soon. As for rice milk I mean really, what’s the point?! The only milk product I buy on a regular basis is half and half for use in my crappy coffee each morning.  I’d rather buy double cream, but they don’t sell it in half gallons.

Pie pops and cake Pops. First off let me set the record straight by saying popsicles sucks. The only food worthy of sticks that doesn’t suck… is meat! Popsicles from my childhood bring back nothing but memories of falling chunks of sugar water covered in ants and chills up my spine from trying to bite into them…the same chills I get today by the mere mention of popsicles or seeing a political ad.

So when the same A-holes that brought us cupcakes in the form of tiered wedding cakes, bunny rabbits or precious little cupids started jamming sticks in balls of cake and selling them for a dollar or more a piece. I hated them instantly and more intensely than anything I have ever hated before…well except perhaps for the hate I feel towards people who insist on putting flax seeds in everything…

Pie pops are cute and I’m sure they are tasty, but to fill my need for pie I’d have to eat a dozen or so of these little bastards. What did that pie ever do to you to make you want to shrink it and shove a stick in it?! I pray in the name of all things that are good and delicious to eat, that when you die and go to the giant pie in the sky… a slice of blueberry shrinks you down, shoves a stick in your ass (to replace the one that was always there) and drops you in a precious display vase for other pies to eat. Stick with torturing cupcakes and leave the damned pies alone!

I’ve heard that the filled donut will be taking the place of the cupcake and for my money they can’t do that soon enough. I just feel bad for what must be thousands of fondant factories that will have to be shut down. I like the thought of filled donuts being the next trend. I picture them filled with things like maple cream and bacon lardon then turned into a tower of croquembouche awesomeness.

It’s bad assed and bad for your ass, so it makes it harder for some putz to start futzing with it. Well of course, first will come the eyes…then a tail…maybe a few little licorice arms and legs...then the damned fondant…. Oh for the love of Pete…fire up the damned fondant factories, miss cupcake over here’s got an idea! Anyway, enjoy the crème brulee filled donuts while you can.

Pig parts are something people like to bitch about as being overdone, and if the parts were dry tasteless and covered with fondant I’d say you got yourself a point. The fact of the matter is, it’s delicious, comes in a bazillion cuts and breeds, is moist and flavorful, goes better in bahn mi or an Italian sub than a pie-pop, and the kicker of them all is it’s just so versatile! I mean seriously, anything that goes with chocolate, ice cream and maple syrup then can stand alone in Korean BBQ…sign me up.

Bunnies and Goats…oh my! That’s right folks, make way for fluffy the bunny and kid the goat. I know what you’re thinking people and you’re right, bunnies and goats are cute…and if they weren’t delicious they’d make good pets. This is kind of like saying if frogs had wings, they wouldn’t bump their asses when they jump…who cares… it’s delicious.

Brace yourself for the coming of delicious and cute little critters. Asshole California Anti Foie people make a note… cute animals should be your next target on the “We want to tell you what you can eat campaign!” Goat makes quite possibly the best chili I ever had, and if bunny will make it better, I’m all in.

The last good thing that needs to continue in spades is Korean food of all kinds…from BBQ to Kimchi and everything in between.  We need some bold flavors like that added to our boring diets. I think we’re ready for it. I mean after what seems like nearly 20 years of testosterone fueled macho B.S. for all sauces hot and Buffalo wings that can melt your face, our palates deserve something spicy and flavorful like Korean food. Now if we could just get rid of the tough guy who dares you to make it too hot to eat…here’s a ghost pepper…bon appetit!

What is on your food radar my dearest warm, sensitive and gentle readers? What foods do you want more of, and what foods do you wish would take a hike? Where are you on Scotch eggs? Thoughts on Sriracha? Food Bloggers? Cookbooks and Cookbook Authors? Things made out of Rice Krispies? Fancy Gelatin desserts? Sushi? Things covered with fondant? What’s that shit on my Pizza? You tell me… I’m pretty good with most things as long as they are genuine, and not tortured or contrived. Hit me with it now, as there is only one post left before I’m ass deep to a ten foot gorilla in the St. Louis food scene…

Saturday, May 19, 2012

St Louis...Can't Wait!

Since I was a kid I always loved going to new cities and finding out what new and wonderful things there were to eat. On a Trip to the Canadian Rockies I discovered Rocky Mountain Oysters, My brother discovered Giardia. Giardia for those of you fortunate enough not to be in the know is a lovely little infection caused by a microscopic parasite. It basically turns you into a human sea cucumber, where you are turned inside out faster than a turtleneck on wash day.

A second example was a trip to Baltimore to visit family, and I found “The Crab Cake”… My brother found something that more closely resembled “The Trots.” I felt bad for my brother on that trip because I got the chance to go see my Yankees Play the Orioles in the old Memorial Stadium. I got to see Goose Gossage pitch, a two dollar hot dog, a power outage during the game, the Yankee’s winning, and lots of boxing after the game in the parking lot… which turns out not to be boxing at all. My brother got a fever and hallucinations that made him think he was being poked by purple monkeys…either way, we both got to see something new.

That was the summer of seventy-eight and darned near every summer since then I have gone to a new city and tried new and different foods and experiences. Last summer was a bit of a mixed blessing as I was in Knoxville, TN. I hate saying that because the people of Knoxville were so wonderful and inviting. The city itself is well laid out and the nightlife was FABU… but then there was the food… or lack thereof.

Now before you start hating, there was some good food going on. The bacon and smoked jowl from Benton’s in Madisonville is in a word amazing. Café 4 on Market Square does some pretty plates and the brunch was without a doubt…great! I Loved Soccer Taco for their Lengua, Cachete, Pastor, Bouche, and Chorizo Tacos… plus their Sunday menudo to help fend off the occasional demon that was trying to split my head open and made my eyes look like two tomatoes in a bowl of buttermilk .

Ali Babba’s on Kingston Pike for…well for damned near everything! Downtown brewery has some good beers. Sangria’s on the square shouldn’t be missed for all the tastiness they offer. The Shrimp Dock on Kingston Pike does a nice Po Boy and thankfully had some Cajun ingredients worth checking out. Last but not least, Preservation Pub… I never ate there, but the people and the vibe are awesome plus they make a mean Guinness so, thanks for that!

That all being said I can’t recommend a single place for breakfast because beyond Cracker Barrel, IHop and Waffle House, there are very few “breakfast” places. I drove from one end of Kingston Pike to the other one morning looking for a “Diner” style dive, and was directed to go downtown for Pete’s… it wasn’t bad, but it was a much uninspired menu.

There is another actual “Diner” in the Knoxville area that I went to but it felt like more of the same and I never went back. Not sure if “corned beef hash” or hash in general is a northern thing… but someone in that town should look into it. Biscuits, ham, bacon, sausage, gravy, toast, hash browns and eggs are not a complete breakfast menu for the love of….PETE?!

I’m not a sushi fan to begin with really, but the three places I went to used more cream cheese in their sushi than a cheesecake factory…Seriously, cream cheese in sushi?! I am far from what people would consider an expert in the world of sushi, but even I know there is something criminal about this concept. No matter,  Knoxville isn’t what one would call “coastal” so for my money, the importance of a good sushi restaurant is nil.

So goodbye Knoxville for now, and hello St Louis! I have been talking with many people in St. Louis and I have to say, I’m super thrilled to be going there. It seems to be nearly the antithesis of Knoxville from a food standpoint. But that’s not saying a lot as Knoxville isn’t a very high bar to surpass. In all fairness you’re talking about a city that is less than half the size of St Louis so it’s not a good comparison and I’m sure there will be things I miss about Knoxville that St. Louis can’t offer. But from what I’m hearing so far, I can’t imagine what that would be.

So let’s see what I’m thinking of trying in St Louis, and you tell me what I’m missing:

Beer: Schlafly is the biggest of the craft beers in town, wides selection and it has two brew pubs, both with good food.  The better food is probably at the Tap Room but the Bottleworks has the Wednesday afternoon farmers' market.

Perennial is one of the newer craft breweries.  Large format, probably most creative assortment out there.

Urbanchestnut:  Great rehab on their midtown building, beers are good styles most German in nature.

4 Hands:  Down around the Soulard area, they have hosted a few food truck nights.  Plus they have good beer.

Farmers' Markets:  complete rundown the Post Dispatch website, probably on their Off the Menu blog section.  Wednesday is the Bottleworks afternoon market, really good stuff there with usually a live bland and you can drink beer while your shop.  Saturday morning has the Tower Grove market where there is a little bit more ready to eat food, KDHX live performances, and some good growers.  Soulard is a crapshoot.  You need to be able to see the people who are sellers and who are growers.  There are some good farmers there, most on Saturday.  It's technically open Thursday through Saturday, but most of the booths are open on Saturday.  There are also Kirkwood, Ferguson, Clayton, and Ellisville markets.

Food:  Lots of food trucks lately, look for the Sauce Magazine food truck friday when you get here.

BBQ -- Pappy's and Bogart's specialties to look for would be rib tips and snoots.(I’d like a few more recs on BBQ)

Sandwiches - Winslow's Home is a great general store, serves great breakfast and lunch.  Blues City Deli has a great selection of sandwiches.  Gioias Deli for a hot salami (this one just makes me chuckle for many sophomoric reasons…and in ordering it I hoping they have a number system!

Breakfast/Diners/Donuts -Look into Donut Drive in, World's Fair Donuts, etc.  Brand new is Pint Size Bakery, and while they don't have donuts, they have a lot of great pastries.  For diners, there is a great tradition in STL for these, like Eat Rite Diner (notice bullet holes about the juke box).  The Slinger is a must, but then again, you must be drunk to truly appreciate it.  Other Breakfast spots would be Half & Half.

Good Food:  Sidney Street, Niche is great, wonderful ingredients with great execution.  Farmhaus is casual, small plates.  Very good flavors. Salt is somewhat new, also small plate like 5 Bistro is very locavore, somewhat Italian in approach and really good. Harvest and Riverbend

Seafood Market: Bob’s

Pizza: Pi Pizzeria The Good Pie. Joanie's

Sausage:  G&W Sausage.  Go on Saturday morning, you'll be greeted by a can of Busch beer.  Salume Beddu has heritage breed meat going into their salumi.  Farmer's Larder sells at local farmers' markets and they make great sausages and bacon.

Mexican can be found all over town, the main hub is on Cherokee.  La Vallesana is the grand daddy of them, but it recently got a facelift.  So, I miss the grime a little and the menu has gotten a little americanized.  There are plenty of other good places down cherokee, including a grocery store.

Asian - Look into the Thai get together in Florissant, I think it's the 3rd sunday of the month at  a local temple.  For Vietnamese, I like Mai Lee.  There are plenty of other ones, but Qui is a madman and will take good care of you.  There's good Korean, I like Korea House but also look into U City Diner.

Chop Suey Shops get a St. Paul (when I saw this I thought it was secret code for something, but apparently Chop Suey culture is strong in St Louis and so is a sandwich called a St. Paul…I guess I’ll just have to find out for myself)

These are recommendations and a few notes from Bloggers, Friend’s and Chefs in St Louis, but if you have something I need to see, drink or eat I’d love to hear it! Meet you in St Louis…Louis….sorry, I did the musical when I was a kid and I think of it every time I hear the city mentioned.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Response to a "Foie Gras" Hater

This is in reply to a meat hater...oops! I mean "Foie" hater...but really what's the difference?! The person is Amy Rebecca, a blogger. The following is a rant mostly how she is appalled by the mudslinging and people being insulted by foie gras proponents. The story is here LAist ...

I am truly appalled at the mud slinging and verbal harassment that the pro foie gras chefs resorted to. I have not been as involved in the fight to ban foie gras, but after participating in the demonstration outside Melisse and witnessing the way they treat people, I'm all in. After reading all of the comments on the Facebook event, I decided to take screen shots and document what these people were saying. After I told Chef Dan Moody (Daniel Rogers on Facebook) to behave like a gentleman, hewrote a preemptive blog accusing me of breaking the law. I guess Dan didn't know I'm a blogger and I don't take shit from anyone. As much as I truly despise everything about foie gras and the killing and torturing of any animal, I would never attack the opposition in such a crude, vindictive way. What I say to my friends is one thing, but what I say online is strategic. Anything you write online can come back and bite you. I know I'm fighting for what's right and I don't need to fight dirty. I have the truth on my side. I know that foie gras will get banned, and these online assaults are a testament that the other side is scared. Bullying is always done out of fear and insecurity. This is a classic case. What I find highly inappropriate is that Dan, a chef and businessman, would choose to represent himself and the content of his character in such a negative light. If foie gras really isn't bad, then why would they need to call us names? Now I highlight Dan because he was the most vicious and vocal of the lot, but there were others. After a pro foie gras twitter account retweeted me, another swarm of chefs and foie gras lovers began attacking me online. Why are they so defensive? Do they not realize they're fighting for diseased liver?!Chris Liberti decided to take it upon himself to throw every possible derogatory term and logical fallacy he could think of on twitter. How is this kind of childish behavior going to help the pro foie gras cause? It takes a certain type of person to advocate for such horrific animal cruelty. It's no wonder why they're throwing such verbally abusive attacks at me. I'm asking Dan Moody to apologize for his incredibly rude remarks, not only to myself, but to the other women on Facebook who were attacked. According to his website, "Chef Dan believes that food and the act of cooking are also important ways of expressing love, showing hospitality and ultimately bringing people together." I beg to differ. I ask people to boycott Dan Moody until he learns to have respect and compassion for other people and animals.

Here is my response: 

Amy, that was the most brilliantly organized pile of disingenuous babble I have ever read.
Nicely played "Women of FB" card...after telling readers "I don't take shit from anyone!" of course this was after poor little ole you asked someone to behave like a gentleman...So which are you? A wounded fragile flower "Woman of FB"... Or a bad assed blogger with a mouth like a sailor? You can't have it both ways.

What you don't know about waterfowl livers astounds me, and I'd venture to guess you don't bother to do any allow me to enlighten you. The USDA specifically prevents "diseased" livers from entering the food system and has gone as far as to say that enlarged waterfowl livers are NOT diseased. But why mess up a nice little story with facts. So much for having truth on your side.

I might be more inclined to be against Foie Gras if animals were raised solely for the liver and then everything else was discarded... but it's not. Every part of the animal is used...from the feathers to the meat. This brings me to the real reason you're hiding behind the "Ban on Foie"...The best part said it yourself.

"... the killing... of any animal..." You threw in torture as an afterthought, but I and everybody else... knew what you meant. That's fine that you don't want animals to die for the sake of human consumption.

It's a rational thought to have and people grapple with this every day. But don't drape yourself in the fabric of a"just cause" and pretend it has to do with suffering and torture, because you have seen plenty of film footage showing you this isn't the case. Instead you'd rather force your beliefs of a "Meat Free World" on everybody, disguising it as a fight for poor cute little ducks. Who wouldn't get behind that...right?!

So in the end, let us have rational, honest discourse using facts. Let's not resort to verbally abusive attacks against each other or attacks against others families or loved ones as has been done. But most of all, let us all be honest and call this what it really is... a fight for the right to eat meat. Meat of any kind...The lucky ducks just happen to be a cute animal. Where is the outrage over grass fed beef?!

Foie is just one little battle for the greater cause and it's a slippery slope...let's not go down it. Because in the future after all the meat has been banned, somebody might just want to ban you from eating fiddleheads because of the screaming they hear when the fiddleheads are picked...and that someone is going to be me...someone get me some vinegar to go with these screaming fiddleheads...

As an afterthought to my response...The fact that she asked people to boycott a restaurant which would not only effect the owner and Chef... but also all of the restaurant's employees...just goes to show how compassionate these people really are. I pick on Amy but in all fairness it's not just her who feel this way. It's a vast majority of the so called "anti foie" people.

Most people who think they are anti foie are so, because they saw some tired film footage the media pulls out every time Foie is protested. We have all seen it, of the birds in cages or a dead duck lying on a dirty floor in some dark barn. I mean if that's all I knew of foie gras, I'd be against it too. Fortunately for me I have seen places like Hudson Valley Foie Gras and have seen the in well lit barns with well cared for ducks in a clean environment.

If the anti foie gras folks were honest with themselves and everyone else, they would show how these ducks are truly raised and slaughtered, then let people decide for themselves. But that wouldn't help their cause would it? I'm not trying to force people to eat foie gras. It's not for everyone, and if they decide not to eat it then so be it. But if you decide to eat it, these people would like to force you not to...even if that means verbal or physical attacks. Hmmm, harming humans in defense of truly sad. 

Before you decide if you're for or against it... get the facts, and maybe visit a place like Hudson Valley Foie Gras. And before you listen to some person tell for the millionth time how ducks are fed having a metal funnel jammed down a ducks throat, ask yourself this question.... are these anti foie people stuffing food down their own throats with plastic....or metal utensils? The metal funnels by the way, do not puncture the ducks esophagus and they can breath's how they are able to swallow fish whole in the wild.

So thanks Amy for showing me this side of you. I'd like to say it was enlightening.... but in the end, it was just more of the same. 

Saturday, May 12, 2012


When it comes to food, what do you find crazy? No I’m not talking about putting ketchup on a hot dog or piling prosciutto di San Daniele high on top of wonder bread, then covering it with American cheese to make a bastard sandwich. I’m asking you what you won’t eat. What foodstuff do you find so vile that you just can’t imagine eating it? Where do you draw the line? For me it started out with my brother and I eating ants…how far can I go?

I never knew it, but I was an adventurous eater from a very young age. My mother would cook up something called poor man’s steak for my father once in a while when I was about three or four. It was cooked with bacon and onions and I supposed it was just a cheap cut of meat. I had no idea what liver was but I suppose my parents called it poor man’s steak to avoid the connotation liver carried with it amongst little kids all over the country, and my brother and I were none the wiser. It’s one of my favorite things to eat to this day.

I remember being in a coastal restaurant when I was a kid with my family and suddenly the word “Mako Shark” caught my eye. I was probably twelve or so, and was just coming off a two year bender of nothing but fried chicken or cheeseburgers every time my family ate out. I was ready to expand my horizons, and shark was it. I remember everybody being excited to see if I’d actually eat it and what would it be like. It was fine and truth be told, it was probably just swordfish as it tasted exactly like it…but the child beast of eating was born.

This experience brought me some notoriety amongst my family and peers as a daring eater. I liked this reputation but like anything in life, it’s not what did you do yesterday…it’s what are you going to do for me today? Translation, dance for me circus boy…dance, what else can you entertain me with?! So my eating of strange items continued and I was on to Rocky Mountain Oysters…

For vacation the next summer my parents thought a leisurely drive to Calgary, Alberta Canada from New Hampshire would be a good idea. It was a quick little jaunt of over twenty five hundred miles each way, and if done today would cost as much as an MIT education in gas.

 It was fairly uneventful going out there and the most exotic thing I ate was a pizza in Calgary that had pineapple and shrimp on it for twenty two dollars American. These were 1982 dollars, and adjusted for inflation those dollars today could buy the full tasting menu at Le Bernardin with enough scratch leftover to get an hour long massage complete with a happy ending. Seems to me the only one who got screwed back then was my father, who begrudgingly shelled out the cash.

After going to the Stampede and the world Scout Jamboree my brother was participating in, (or was supposed to, but instead got galloping dysentery two days into the event, and spent the next week and a half shitting like a cow in fresh grass and eating whatever it is you eat from an IV jammed into your arm and a bedpan jammed on your hind end) we went to Yellowstone National Park. There was a restaurant in the town of Gardner, MT that had something called Rocky Mtn. Oysters on the menu.

Sight unseen I decided to try them and was pleasantly surprised with how good they were. I always believed deep frying was a no brainer in the making anything taste delicious department. So when I was told they were bull testicles I was shocked and at the same time relieved to find out after the fact what they were. But because they were so tasty, I had no problem in eating them again. My association became taste rather than the unfortunate waste product of something that gives me a stomach ache to think about.

I have few food aversions and can eat anything you and I might consider normal day to day fare. The toughest thing for me to eat is a raw egg which isn’t really done today, but when the film Rocky came out and me and my classmates were aspiring to be bad assed thugs at the age of eight…drinking three raw eggs was the way to do it. I choked them down one at a time and found the last one lingering just a bit in the form of stringy wet dog snot…it was dry heaves for the next half hour but I managed to keep them down. My friend Jeff was not as lucky, nor was his mother’s seven foot fake Ficus tree.

After high school my brother was stationed in England and I got to not only visit him, but I got to try my first blood sausage. This was a surprise of sorts as it’s part of a “full breakfast” and I never gave a thought to the color. When checking out a butcher shop in the town of Ipswich I found out what was in it and again was glad to know afterward due to certain mental or psychological associations.

I’ve had a goodly number of things from chitterlings in Mississippi to Haggis in Scotland, Horse meat in France and a lot of “odd” things in between. I’ve had bugs and grubs in a wilderness survival school and lutefisk in Minnesota (Thanks for the heads up on the gravy and potatoes after I had finished eating the lutefisk!) … So when I saw my friend Roddy’s stories on both Balut and Balutomelet come out, I couldn’t get my head around why I would try Balut.

Balut is a street food in the Philippines, and sometimes eaten as an aphrodisiac. I don’t care if it made me hard as Chinese arithmetic and last longer than the energizer bunny…I couldn’t get my head around the contents. I don’t think it’s a bad thing, I just can’t imagine sipping the juice from the shell and eating the contents without wanting to produce a Technicolor rainbow onto the sidewalk.

I can’t imagine eating fermented shark fin, and I’m pretty sure live spiders, eyeballs, warthog anus, cod sperm and cobra heart aren’t in my future either…there are some things I just don’t need to eat. I understand they are edible and some folks even consider them a delicacy. When a Namibian tribesman makes dinner then tells me warthog anus is delicious while offering me a bite, I’m just gonna have to take his word for it and ask for a rib. I’ll take the risk of offending their delicate sensibilities, rather than risk 5 days of hallucinations and explosive “purging.”  

What about you kindly adventurous folks? What are your limitations? What is the food you’ve always wanted to try, but didn’t have the opportunity to? What is the one or multiple things you would absolutely not try? What is the thing you look at and without hesitation say to yourself…”No F’king way!”  Do you think these folks eat this stuff because they just want to experience everything the world of food has to offer, or is it because it’s some barbaric game of one-upmanship? Where is your line drawn?

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

My Brother and Food

With my brother coming up for a visit today and after not seeing him for a while it got me to thinking. Where does he fit in with regards to my life in food? My brother has, over the years, become quite capable in the kitchen. He hasn’t however, always been that way. I think the first thing I can remember about him with regards to food took place in the little tiny back yard of our childhood home a three family house in Worcester, Massachusetts on the corner of North Ashland and Elm Park…

I don’t recall the circumstances as to why we happened to be where we were, but I do recall it being one of those glorious summer days you have when you’re a kid. Translation…No bills and not having to check the weather channel to see how hot it was, so as to gauge just how miserable a day it was going to be. I was perhaps two which would make my brother about four. We were fascinated by what appeared to be some sort of black candy.

It must have been candy as I was shoveling it into my mouth as only candy can make a child shovel things. I don’t know how many pieces I ate, but I’m sure it was more than ten. This must have been a proud moment for my big brother to witness as all he kept cheering me on. It was shortly after the cheering started when my mother who had been hanging clothes out on the line began to take an interest…”PAV!”

It was all a bit of a blur from this point, but I recall having my mother brushing my hands in between dry heaving and half crying. As it turns out, the candy was actually black ants. Bear Grylls didn’t have anything on this two year old extreme eating machine! Mom made a call to my childhood pediatrician Dr. Cohen…and was relieved to find out eating a black ant was not life threatening…just stupid. Lucky for me stupid doesn’t equal life threatening or I would be dead several times over.

We were always walking when we lived in Worcester, but I remember on the occasional walk we would stop at Friendly’s for an ice cream. My brother being nearly two years older than me had mastered the ice cream cone, and being a newbie in the ice cream eating world I had not realized the art involved. I recall time after time of walking mere licks away from the place only to have the ice cream dropping to the ground in front of me, and leaving me with a hollowed out cone of nothingness.

Luckily my brother was always there to spare a few licks for his down and out little brother. Settle down people, it wasn’t out of love…but rather at the insistence of my mother. Ah, kids…I’m sure in between crying and screaming that it was his ice cream there was love someplace. My parents had befriended the elderly retired woman who lived upstairs. She was from Vermont as were my parents, and to my brother and I…she became our Nana.  

She was our babysitter when my parents had a rare night out, and always wore an apron where she stashed cookies or other treats for my brother and I when she came downstairs for a visit. It became a game for my brother and me to rifle through her apron pockets to get to the goodies. This was always a good time until one day when the landlord stopped by to renew my parents lease. He happened to be wearing a suit jacket which had all the earmarks of apron pockets…only bigger! My brother and I set to work frisking through Mr. Bernstein’s coat pockets until my mother walked back in the room having completed the paperwork. She had to kindly ask Nana to stop this cookie delivery system.

My brother was in ninth grade, and as was compulsory back then…. was taking home economics. I remember being fascinated by the thought of actually cooking in school. Then I started to hear about what he was learning to make and was severely unenthused. Wow, you really made toast and hot cocoa?! You managed to put together an actual sandwich?! Sounds like a tough class…Why can’t I be “cooking” hot cocoa instead of figuring out where the hell X was in Algebra class?!

It wasn’t until one Saturday morning he promised to make my parents and I breakfast that I actually witnessed his first culinary triumph…enter the Dutch Baby pancake. My brother after being covered from head to toe with flour and confectioner sugar, actually managed to make each of us a real honest to goodness Dutch Baby! They were fluffy yet crisp, and had edges that were perfect for holding a large amount of maple syrup. Physics alert here folks…When you cut into those edges, the pool of maple syrup won’t actually stay inside and you’ll find yourself shotguning the several ounces of syrup your mother told you not to pour on it in the first place.

Unfortunately that was the high water mark for my brother’s teenage culinary career. I'd like to say I was having hockey practice, but in reality it was probably a parent teacher conference... the kind my smart brother never seemed to have. These were the kind of conferences where the teacher (at this point quite possible on anti-depressants or pain killers because of me) would regale my mother with fun little anecdotes. Like how young Pav was reading Spanish text books in French class, or how can he possibly be getting ninety plus on his test scores when he never does homework?!

At any rate, my brother was saddled with the task of making dinner on this particular evening while I enjoyed what seemed like a four hour car ride from the school that was only four miles away. He opted to make spaghetti which he had seen and at times even helped me make. After cooking the spaghetti for what must have been a half hour, or approximately 23 minutes too long. He decided that it would be perfectly fine to leave it in the colander without rinsing it.

I don’t think my brother realized at the time that foods could be cooked on temperatures other than high. As a result, he burned the sauce and rather than turn the heat down, he just continued to scrape it up from the bottom of the pan until there was a nice even distribution of black bits throughout the sauce. When my mother and I walked in the door my brother was just finishing the cremation of the sauce and looking all pleased then confused when my mother asked what was burning.

“Nothing” replied Bryan. It’s odd how you can smell burned food and yet you don’t see any smoke. If you asked Harold McGee he would probably chalk it up to the Maillard reaction or deeply caramelized amino acids and my brother could have felt better about this disaster of a meal. Mom being mom said nothing about the disaster, but instead set about to serving it. The spaghetti had turned into a dome of starch solidified to the point of not separating. So after cutting out two wedges of spaghetti cake and topping it with a scoop of black and red sauce…we began to eat…with me laughing and pointing every chance I could…

My brother went away to the Air Force to become an air traffic controller and was stationed in England for a few years where I got to visit him. By then he had moved into a house with two other roommates off base. They kept the house at a steamy fifty or so degrees Fahrenheit, and ate what bachelor guys eat, which is to say…not much, and cheaply. Bryan made a dinner of ramen noodles and what he and his roommates called “funk.”  Cooking funk is when you cook ramen noodles as per the instructions, then throw in any manner of extras such as mushrooms, a can of vegetables, leftover Chinese food, really just anything and then top it with hot sauce.

I was glad he had moved on from his spaghetti days and didn’t let that deter him from finding other foods he could violate with extreme prejudice. But young men being young men and drinking more meals than they cook, food just wasn’t that big of a deal. I adopted the “funk” method myself a year later…and we went our separate ways with regards to food.

I would get calls from my brother from time to time telling me of this dish or that dish he was making, and did I have any thoughts on the matter. I’d give my input and we’d talk food, sports and politics for a while before bidding adieu. Whenever he would make it to my parents’ home for a visit, my father brother and I would grill out on the deck and talk.

We would talk about the time my father bought half a dozen donuts (he loved to have an old fashioned cake donut with his coffee and morning paper) and my mom removed each donut from the bag, took a small bite of each then placed them carefully back in.

My father came to the kitchen, carefully poured his coffee, unfurled the paper and reached into the bag to get a nice donut. Seeing a bite mark he set the donut down and reached for another, then another…more surprised each time until we couldn’t hold the laughter anymore and busted out laughing. These are the kinds of food memories I love, and Bryan was there for just about all of them. It was then I realized where my brother fit in with my life in food.

Food, it unites us. I believe it’s the thing that most closely ties all human beings together. It’s the thing we all need and can appreciate. It’s the offering of a simple bite of food that can show compassion, love and care. It doesn’t matter if that person is a loved one, or a stranger. Even when it’s not done quite to perfection you know the love is there. Whether you make a joke of it or appreciate it, you know deep down that person cared enough to try. It is what we use to celebrate life, and it’s how console and comfort ourselves with death.

Go share some food people. Make it something simple, make it from the heart…but share it and take comfort in the fact that the other person will get something from it. When I pick my brother up at the airport today, we are going to go to my mother’s house and we are going to cook. I think on the way there I’d like to stop off at the Hispanic market and get him something special, something that when he eats it…I can cheer about… I just hope black ants are “in season”…

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Food Desert Full of "Happy" People

I visited the topic of food deserts before, and I was pretty sure they were about as real as the dream I had last night of swapping spit with multiple supermodels. I’m sorry to say it was just a case of too much Ice cream, and The Cat taking advantage of my slumber by licking the excess Chunky Monkey off my face. As for the “Food Deserts”, I was right…excuse me for a moment while I go gargle with bleach to get the taste of Iams “Savory Salmon” out of my mouth.

“But Pav, the president’s wife said food deserts are real!” I’m sorry dear naïve reader, but president’s wives, much like presidents and other assorted politicians…say a lot of things. They also kiss a lot of babies and shake a lot of hands, and sadly there are never enough baby-wipes and hand sanitizer afterwards to get the dirt and smell off either the baby or your hands. Just because the first lady said food deserts exist, doesn’t make it so. If that were the case I’d be the sexiest man on earth because I tell myself that while brushing my teeth in the mirror every morning.

Well, ok let’s leave the poor presidents and their wives out of this for a moment shall we? She wasn’t the only person jumping on the deserted food island. In fact, the USDA even has a food desert finder. Here’s one reliable piece of entertainment information everybody should make sure to keep close at hand. Remember when I told you I grew up approximately ten miles from the town where my family had to go for the nearest grocery store? Well it turns out not only that grocery store my parents went to, but five others including a Wal-Mart and a Target are all…get this…IN A FOOD DESERT! Well, according to the USDA anyway.

This makes sense because a town with twenty five thousand people should have at least what…ten or twelve supermarkets?! As it is there are six… which if the population were split evenly between all the markets, each market gets just over four thousand people. I don’t know how you could be in less of a food dessert unless you built a supermarket for each person in town.

Let’s see how that would work…..  Store Manager “Come on in Mr. Pav…we’ve been expecting you!” Today we have some lovely specials including” *interrupting* Me~ Ummmm, I’m actually only in here for a Sentinel and a pair of tube socks…actually skip the paper as I already heard about Fred’s cow getting out and hitting Bob’s car…Bob’s gotta be pissed.

Dr. Helen Lee of the Public Policy Institute of California was one of several groups that published its findings with regards to “Food Deserts.” Dr. Lee found that urban communities have double the amount of fast food joints, but also double the number of supermarkets per square mile than its suburban counterparts. On top of that they also had three times the number corner markets per square mile. So even if your supermarket was perhaps a bus change or two from home, at least you are well within range of a corner store for the odd orange or head of lettuce…right?

I read an article in The New York Times that used Dr. Lee’s findings amongst others that basically all said the same thing…food deserts are a bunch of hooey. If somebody would like to pay me to do a similar study I could do something useful with the money like an exploration into the underprivileged low self-esteemed women of The Bunny Ranch, and ways in which I might boost their, as well as my own morale and self-esteem…I think two or three million might just do the trick…errr…tricks.

After reading the stories in the NYT I like to read the comments to see what the knee jerk bobble-heads are going to have to say on the matter. “We need to educate people more with regards to nutrition so that people can make better healthier decisions with regards to their food options.” Yes, by all means…let’s spend more taxpayer dollars because someone doesn’t know an apple is healthier than say…an apple pie.

Correct me If I’m wrong, but I’ve been getting nutritional and food education since nutrition amounted to a square with four food groups!  Join with me in a trip down memory lane if anybody else remembers this…Mulligan Stew. This started in 1972 and was shown when I was in elementary school. I’m sure my school was not unique in this respect. If we want to get down to the nitty gritty, the USDA first started distributing nutritional information to schools in 1916 with a wheel, then moved to a square and today is up to…oh hell I don’t know… an isosceles trapezoid.

So education and taxpayer’s money is not the answer. Full grown adults do not need to be told fruits and vegetables are better for them and their families than a jumbo-sized meal at a fast food restaurant. If you’re a concerned adult/parent and you care enough about yourself and or your family, you will make sure they eat fairly healthy on a regular basis. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see the bigger underlying problem… it just takes someone who’s ready to cut through all the PC crap.

Lazy people exude and nurture laziness and as a result will most likely develop a poor diet and become overweight as a result so the true and underlying problem here is not lack of education, its laziness. This will happen if that type of person lives fifty miles from a grocery store, or right in the middle of a produce aisle. Oh you don’t like the term “LAZY”? You say it’s too mean spirited and judgmental and you’d like a positive name? That’s easy…from here on out gentle readers; we will call them “HAPPY” people.

That same “happy” person living in the produce aisle will take it a step further by picking their chair up and moving it to the center of the store, where they can be closer to the chips and soda rather than pick up a knife to do a little prep on some fruits and vegetables. Because the little effort in the front end will pay dividends as long as the peanuts, pork rinds and root beer hold out. In other words, they are being rewarded for their lack of effort.

This type of person isn’t of a particular color, gender, race, or religion. This type of person has no boundaries and doesn’t live in any specific neighborhood. But this type of person does have similar traits with their peers. They have the government provide excuses for them in exchange for the honor of being labeled a victim, and as a result of these hard earned accepted excuses… see if this sounds familiar…they are rewarded for their lack of effort. They are rewarded with promises and programs, in exchange for their last shred of dignity and self-respect in the name of progress.

Yes, not all people fall into the “happy” category. There are long term health issues, and for the poorest of the poor there are programs that can help them. Sadly, these are usually the same programs being abused to their very limits by the class of people I was just speaking of…the happy victims. This is not what people want to hear as it doesn’t leave you feeling like just after your first kiss, or as though you were cuddling with a teddy bear and sipping cocoa. Reality is a nine headed serpent beast that could peel your head like an orange and vomit into your open skull, maybe that’s what you need right now, and I’m sure I will be poked with the shit end of the stick for saying so.

People want to hear that “hey, with a little education…of course they’ll start making a fresh nutritious meal for little Timmy every night instead of two double hippo burgers, a side of potato thighs and a lard ass shake.” But deep down, after you pull your mush filled head out of your collective asses… you know better. Americans are a positive people; they want to believe in nothing but the best can come from fellow citizens. People in hell want ice water, but that ain’t happening anytime soon either.

All the money in the world won’t fix “happy”. All the government programs in the world won’t fix “happy”. “Happy” people are going to have to fix “happy” themselves. The sad thing is, as long as they are being lauded, revered and rewarded as the victim….where’s the incentive to change?! There is none. I’m not a politician, and like them I don’t have the answers. I don’t know if the carrot and the stick routine would work for “happy” people the way it does for the rest of the world.

But we will never find out if we don’t shut the tap off that’s dumping money in their laps, take the binkies out of their mouths and let them ride a block or two without training wheels. I understand risk and reward just like the happy people do. I also understand the reward will also take a little effort on my part. Some people are just “happy” enough to throw caution to the wind and let it all ride on risk… I’m just getting tired of paying the tab when there marker is called.

Go ahead and call me a hate monger, a cold and callus bastard with no regard for human pain and suffering. Then when twenty years goes by and things are still status quo…don’t come bitchin to me. If you let a child go to sharpen his pencil ten times a day to get out of school work, tomorrow he/she is going to try for twenty times. When you finally say enough is enough, he/she makes due with what they’ve got. The answer isn’t, let’s send them up  forty times... I'm sure it’ll make their classwork four times better!