Today’s lunchtime news chum brings together three topics that are all follow-ups to previous posts:
- Sexism. A few days ago, I wrote about sexism, bringing together articles about Angelina Jolie, Merida, and Proms. First, I’d like to note that it looks like the Merida makeover has been rescinded. Alas, sexism hasn’t. Two articles illustrate that quite well. In the first (h/t Andrew Ducker), we read about a female engineer dealing with the sexism of her on-site coworkers. You would think people know better these days. In the second, we learn about the problematic outfits that female MMORG characters seem to always get. Game designers do this, and then wonder why their games don’t appeal to anything other than teenage boys.
- Elections. A few days ago, I wrote up my analysis of the sample ballot for the Los Angeles Municipal Election next week. A few more election articles of interest. First, here are two articles (one and two) providing basic comparisons of the mayoral candidates. Secondly, the Jewish Journal did some character studies of each candidate (Mr. Twinkledum and Ms. Twinkledee). I keep telling myself it will be over on Tuesday; I just hope we get something better than the projected dismal turnout.
- Garbage. Almost a month ago, I wrote an article that linked to an LA Times article on a pig farmer in North Las Vegas. This enterprising fellow was using buffet slops to feed the pigs that he fattened up, slaughtered, and then sold back to the buffets as ham. The LA Times had another interesting article on recycling wasted food. This time it is the Kroger chain (Ralphs in Los Angeles) that is taking old food, turning it to slop, and anaerobically processing it to generate methane and generate energy. Much as I hate to see food waste (we waste far too much), it is good to see it put to somewhat of a good out (and much much better than using food-grade food to produce energy).
Music: On a Clear Day (You Can See Forever) (Original Broadway Cast – John Cullum): “On a Clear Day (You Can See Forever)”
If you follow my blog at all, you know I like to do things in threes. So today, as we’re still in Las Vegas, I bring you the story of three chocolates:
- Vosges Haut Chocolate. We hit this store on the way to the Elton John concert. They had lots of tasty samples, but alas they didn’t have any of their bacon+chocolate out to try. We did, however, pick up a blood orange caramel chocolate bar. Yummy.
- Max Brenner. This was a chocolate store plus restaurant that we hit after the concert for dessert. We ended up getting “The Spectacular Melting Chocolate S’Mores Sundae, which consisted of milk chocolate ice cream, pure vanilla creme, milk chocolate fondue, chocolate chunks, marshmallow fluff, and whipped cream, garnished with toasted marshmallow fluff and served with a white chocolate ganache, with two chocolate-covered graham cracker cookies on the side.
- Ethel M. The third chocolate in our story is Ethel M, which we visited this afternoon for the store and the factory tour. There we picked up a 16-pc box with goodies for all: dark and milk chocolate sea-salt caramels, dark and milk chocolate raspberry satin cremes, dark chocolate lemon satin cremes, orange liqueur dark chocolates, amaretto liqueur milk chocolates, Irish cream liqueur chocolates, milk chocolate truffles, dark chocolate truffles, and cinammon truffles…. plus some pecan brittle. Oh, and Ethel Mars looks a lot like Mary See. Coincidence?
P.S.: The peppermint oil did a wonderful job of calming down my sunburn.
P.P.S.: Today we hit the Riviera Buffet for lunch. The old girl (the hotel opened in 1955) is getting sad. The food was only average (although the price was low), the buffet was empty with no line, and you had to go in the back because the escalator was under repair. Further, the casino was very quiet. It is one of the few 1950s hotels with the original building still standing (i.e., the 9-story hotel wings — the only other are the two-story wings at the Tropicana). After lunch we went across the street to Circus Circus, and it was equally quite (although with more kids thanks to the Midway). In general, the North End of the Strip is currently dead. It is being dragged down by the empty lot that was the Frontier, the partial development that was the Stardust and was to be the Echelon and will be the Resort World Las Vegas, the unfinished hulk that was the Thunderbird (oops) Silverbird (oops) El Rancho (oops) was to be the Fontainbleau, the land from the El Rancho Vegas that has never been redeveloped yet, and the closed Sahara that is transforming into the SLS Vegas. Here’s hoping that the North Strip can come back as strong as the Mid- and South Strip.
Music: Zumanity (Cirque Du Soleil): “Entree”
Today’s end-of-the-day news chum brings together a number of articles all related to dining or food:
- Truly Honest Reviews. What do you get when your food critic is 4-years old? You get this wonderful series of pictures wherein a 4-year old reviews Mission Chinese in San Francisco.
- Loving That Chinese Food. Let’s continue on the Chinese food theme. Here’s a guy that has eaten at almost 3,000 Chinese restaurants, and has kept a written record of all of them. In doing so, he’s traced the history of Chinese food in Los Angeles.
- An Apple A Day. My favorite type of apple is the Newtown Pippin. Alas, you never see them any more — nor most of the old varietals. This article explains why you only see 5 types of apples, and what one man is doing about it.
- Coffee, Tea, or …. Before there was Starbucks, and before there was Peets, there was Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf, a local chain in Los Angeles. They still do their roasting locally, and here’s a picture essay to prove it.
Today’s collection of lunchtime news chum is all related to food. The first item is a bit frivolous, but the latter three taken together present a chilling picture about what we — and our pets — eat.
- He’s The Man. CGI has come to the Kool-Aid man, and with it a new backstory and family life. No longer content to just crash through walls, we’ll learn how he gets dressed in the morning, and what he does during the day. However, there are so many questions it makes the mind boggle. What does Kool-Aid man look like before he showers, as he doesn’t have a lid? When he urinates… well, you get the (umm) pitcher.
- Recycling the Scraps. The LA Times has a really interesting article on a Nevada pig farmer. This farmer makes a living by taking all the food scraps from all the buffets in Las Vegas, cleaning, heating and mixing them, and feeding them to his pigs… which he subsequently slaughters and sells back (as meat) to the casinos. What struck me most was the line: “He grabs chunks of ham and slices them to piglet-mouthed size.” Yup. Pigs are being fed on ham.
- Our Dog Food Contains Real Dog. Pigs, it appears, aren’t the only cannibals. Slate has an interesting article on what goes into the meat and bone meal in most pet food. Shockingly, the answer might include other pets. Euthanized shelter animals sometimes end up at rendering plants, along with all other sorts of stuff (including lots of biochemicals). After reading this, I’d think twice about commercial food.
- Human Food Isn’t Safe Either. Lastly, all the antibiotics being fed to animals is having a side-effect: We’re starting to see anti-biotic resistant bugs in our meat. A recent study showed that antibiotic resistant bacteria was turning up in 81 percent of raw ground turkey, 69 percent of raw pork chops, 55 percent of raw ground beef and 39 percent of raw chicken bought over the counter in 2011. The rate of occurrence in salmonella superbug strains in chicken rose from 50 percent in 2002 to 74 percent in 2011.
Yes, I know it’s not lunch. It’s been one of those busy days. So here’s your lunchtime news chum, and then I’m off to eat Pesach leftovers. Oy, do we have leftovers!
- The Shape of Things. After 17 years, Pepsi bottles are getting a makeover. An easy-to-grip design, youthful packaging and visible brand elements are features of the new look that the company hopes will stand out on shelves. Now if they could just do something about making the product healthier.
- My Kind of Spice. I hate peppers, especially bell peppers. But I love, absolutely love, horseradish and mustards. Here’s an interesting article about a family that’s in the horseradish business. I thought about making my own horseradish this year, but after reading this article, I’m glad we didn’t find anything but the prepared stuff.
- Pink Champagne. Pink champagne is completely unrelated to pink lemonaide. It is actually much harder to make and get right than normal champagne. Want to know more about the bubbly drink? This article will tell you all you want to know.
Music: 2001: A Space Odyssey (Soundtrack) (The Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra): “The Blue Danube (Reprise)”
This collection of lunchtime news chum articles all have to do with food and drink, so hopefully you can sink your teeth into them:
- Coffee. A new coffee has come on the market: Death Wish Coffee. According to the LA Times, a 16-ounce shot of Death Wish hits you with roughly 660 milligrams of caffeine (vs 320 mg for a normal cup of Joe). It is also more expensive, on the order of $20/lb. As for me, you won’t see me drinking it; I often say that coffee only belongs in ice cream or covered in dark chocolate.
- Tea. You see, I’m a tea drinking. In fact, every morning I make almost 2 litres of tea, and drink it over the day. In the pot I put 3-4 tsps of loose tea. So naturally I was worried when I saw this headline: Warning: Excessive Tea Drinking Can Be Hazardous to Your Health. The risk is skeletal fluorosis, and it occurred to a woman who was drinking 1-2 gallons of black tea daily. Of course, this was no ordinary tea. According to the article, “She told doctors that she drank a pitcher of tea every day for the last 17 years. This wasn’t your typical tea — she brewed hers with 100 to 150 tea bags per pitcher.” Wow. That’s strong tea.
- Schmaltz. Passover starts Monday evening. Traditionally, Passover cooking often uses schmaltz, which is really just rendered chicken fat. Most cultures have something like this: ghee, lard, and so forth. In our health-conscious society, these fats have often been eschewed (gee, I love that word) for “healthier” fats such as olive oil. However, according to NPR, lard and schmaltz are making a comeback.
P.S.: Alas, there will be no Kosher L’Pesach Coke in California this year .
Music: Snoopy (Original London Cast): “Mothers Day”
It’s Saturday. Time to clear out the bookmarks from the week that didn’t form into otherwise coherent themes. As always, these are news articles or other items that came across my RSS feed during the week:
- Where Does Your Money Go? Have you ever wondered, as you buy things from corporate America, exactly which billionaire’s pockets you were lining? This special report from Forbes allows you to map corporate brands to the wealthy people behind them. Some of these I knew, such as the folks behind Aldi being behind Trader Joes as well. Some I didn’t, such as the Koch Brothers being behind Brawny, or some of the same folks being behind both Burger King and Budweiser. It’s like a giant game of concentration.
- Historical Money. In the musical Tenderloin, one of the songs makes reference to a “double eagle”, and I’ve always wondered what that was. I found my answer in this Mental Floss article, which looks at 10 of the lesser known coins in the US. This is more than just Suzies and Sacajaweas. It is things like Gold Buffalos, Unions, Stellas, and various odd coin denominations such as ½¢, 2¢, 3¢, 20¢, half-dimes, and $3. Speaking of the ½¢, here’s another related item: Why are coupons worth 1/100th of a cent? Hint: The answer goes back to trading stamps. Remember those?
- Food Issues. Another twofer of food items. The first looks at a niche in the world of Chinese restaurants in Monterey Park, CA: Organic Chinese Food. Monterey Park is an Asian community east of Los Angeles, home to loads and loads of great Chinese restaurants. Many of these place the emphasis on quick and cheap. A few are bucking the trend attempting to go for organic and healthy cuisine (something that would go well in West LA), and the article looks at their struggles. Also food-related is a petition effort from a number of food bloggers to get Kraft to remove the food dyes from their Mac&Cheese. Of course, what they fail to realize is that one eats Kraft Mac & Cheese expressly for the food dye (it’s a food group, don’tcha know?); if you want healthy food for your family, don’t depend on the corporations — make it yourself! Great mac and cheese isn’t hard to make.
- Plumbing Issues. This one I discovered through Boing Boing: An article about a fellow who buys a new house, has a drain problem, calls a plumber, and enters into the rabbit hole of plumbing problems. This is something I’ve run into — especially the situation of tarpaper sewage pipes, which we had in our front yard (our house was built in 1962). Plumbing is one of the reasons I hate houses built on concrete slabs — I still remember, as a kid, having plumbing leaks under the slab and having to rip up the carpets and jackhammer the floor.
- Body Issues and Acceptance. One of the folks I read on Livejournal is TheFerrett. A wonderful writer, he often has very insightful essays (for example, his recent essay on being the dumb one in the room). This week he reposted an essay he had originally posted over at Fetlife, a fetish-oriented bulletin board. This essay looked at body image from the genitalia point of view, noting that whatever you’ve got, there’s someone else that finds it sexy. This essay hit a nerve with a lot of people — it is a very positive statement of body acceptance, and one that many people need to remember. It is something to think about everytime you see a couple and go: Why is he/she with her/him? The answer is because each has something the other loves. Related to this: The Nu Project kickstarter, as of when I write this, has about 3 hours left. This is your last chance to get the Nu Project book at a discounted price; the Nu project presents pictures of women of all shapes and sizes, taken in their homes, demonstrating that all bodies are beautiful.
Music: If Not Now When? (Debbie Friedman): “Kumi Lach”
In addition to looking at the election results over lunch, I’ve been thinking about food. Specifically, I’m thinking about the collection of food related articles I’ve got on my “News Chum” bookmark just waiting for some discussion:
- Phil O’Fish. We’re getting into that Lenten time of year, so what better than an origin story about the Filet O’Fish sandwich. It seems that it was invented by a early franchisee in Ohio, and won a competition against the McHulu sandwich, made of a grilled pineapple slice on a bun.
- Coca-Cola and Consistency. No, we’re not talking the chemical consistency of the cola (ooo, alliteration), but consistency of Coke’s Orange Juice products. It appears that intense science and mathematics are behind coming up with an orange juice product that is consistent across the year. If you ever want to learn what really goes into your fresh orange juice, this is the article for you.
- What Goes Into a Can Of Coke. Have you ever wondered what it takes to make a can of Coke? Wonder no longer. This is a fascinating read, if only for its different way of looking at things.
- Disease or Fad. An interesting piece in USA Today looks at the “gluten-free” craze of late, asking whether it is a lifestyle or a diet. As I’m married to someone who is Celiac, I’m glad to see more GF products out there, but I also fear that this diet-fad will crash, making things harder to get one day. How often do you see Atkins stuff these days?
- Aged Foods. We’ve all heard of aged wines and aged cheeses and aged beef. Here’s a new one one me: aged canned goods. Specifically, some folks are advocating aging canned goods — well past their best buy dates — to create new and unusual flavors. I’m not so sure about this one. I don’t think I’d have the guts to try it. In other disgusting news, the Daily Cal has a report on whether you can eat your own poop.
On that note, I think I better go finish my lunch before I lose it.
Music: The Best of Chet Atkins (Chet Atkins): “Limelight”