Archive for Worth a Fork

Pizza alignment

Makes sense to me:

In fact, I don’t think I’d change a single topping in this chart.

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We’ll have what they’re having

There was a time in my life when Friday night was steak night. Rebecca Black isn’t quite so bound by tradition:

I had no idea this, um, challenge was a Thing.

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No prunes involved

I want it anyway:

Wonder if it uses all 23 (so it’s said) flavors.

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Burned out early

Rob O’Hara reminds us how the Scoville scale works:

The Scoville chart measures how hot things are in Scoville Heat Units (SHUs). Think of the hottest jalapeño that’s ever burned your mouth. Jalapeños have an average SHU rating of 5,000. Habanero peppers, which many people claim is the hottest thing they’ve ever consumed, start around 200,000 SHUs. At one million SHU, the Bhut Jolokia pepper was once considered to be the hottest pepper on the planet until the arrival of the Carolina Reaper, which measures 1.5 million SHU. There are a ton of videos on YouTube of people eating Carolina Reapers. Almost all of them end with tears, vomit, or both. The video by these kids is one of my favorites. Seemed like a good idea at the time!

Which brings us to the Black Reaper, whose very name suggests the fires of hell:

It’s 2.2 million SHU, or roughly 40% hotter than the Carolina Reaper.

And no, I did not want to eat that — in chocolate, or otherwise.

Instead of eating the entire bar, I compromised and had a small sample — and by small, I literally mean the size of a freckle. The basis of comparison I’ve been using is, the piece of chocolate I tried was roughly the same size as a single pebble of beef from a Taco Bell taco. It was tiny. My friend Tim and I (and later, our friend Emily) all had pieces the same size. For me, the heat was intense, and immediate. First, my mouth caught on fire — and then the back of my throat, followed by the back of my head, and then my ears. The intense heat lasted roughly five minutes, but I continued to sweat and feel hot for a full fifteen minutes.

I drank about 1.5 liters of Pepsi-Cola just getting through reading that.

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Soaring wings

Fifty years ago, I was winding up my days in high school, and as an actual senior, I was granted the privilege of actually leaving the campus at lunchtime, which was pretty astonishing considering the campus was located in downtown Charleston, South Carolina, a crisply compact little zone that looked like the 18th-century design it was. It didn’t take me long to memorize the street grid, such as it was, and find some favorite places. If I’d skipped breakfast one morning, something that happened too often, I zipped through the old College of Charleston plant, came out on King Street, and betook myself to Woolworth’s, where the lunch counter would happily deal me a couple of chicken wings at a quarter apiece.

Any of the canonical pieces could be had, of course, but two decidedly oversized wings for half a buck made more sense to me than peeling off a larger sum for one of the more favored pieces. Half a century later, Woolworth’s is long gone, and the lowly chicken wing has come into its own: I had a craving yesterday, and ordered up a box of sixteen, for which I paid $15. And it should be noted that these pieces were technically fractional wings: you unhinge a wing, and you end up with three sections, one of which is typically discarded in the Wing Biz. So really, this was a box of eight wings, at perilously close to two dollars a piece. Not that you can eat anywhere in today’s Charleston for that kind of money.

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Evidently they’ve seen me eat

The sign says “Meals for One”:

A whole hell of a lot of stuff from Nabisco

Now if you’ll excuse me, Double Stuf Oreos await.

(From reddit via Miss Cellania.)

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I see it as an entrée

But then, the strict order of courses has never been my choice:

(Via Will Truman.)

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For goodness’ sake

Fill up the hippy hippy shaker:

Possibly apocryphal bag of Hippy Salt

Keep it on your shelf next to the carbon-free sugar.

(Via The Questionist. Musical reference here.)

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Scampi-er than usual

What’s in your seafood?

When two British universities embarked on a study to analyze the presence of micropollutants in aquatic wildlife, they found something they surely didn’t expect.

Researchers from King’s College London and the University of Suffolk found illicit drugs like ketamine and cocaine in the inhabitants of Britain’s waterways. Though the study’s focus did include both illicit drugs and medicines in its quest to assess how consumer products are negatively affecting rivers, freshwaters, and natural environments, finding such drugs was still a shock.

The study, published in the journal Environmental International, revealed just how polluted these waters are — to the point that every single sample of freshwater shrimp (Gammarus pulex) contained trace amounts of cocaine.

“Such regular occurrence of illicit drugs in wildlife was surprising,” Dr. Leon Barron of King’s College confessed. “We might expect to see these in urban areas such as London, but not in smaller and more rural catchments.”

“I’ll have the shrimp with not so much cocaine in it.”

To begin the study, the team collected samples from five catchment areas and 15 various sites across Suffolk County. Rivers used as sample sites included the Alde, Box, Deben, Gipping, and Waveney.

Though cocaine was the only drug found in all collected samples, the presence of ketamine, Valium, Xanax, pesticides, and other pharmaceuticals were certainly widespread among the tested shrimp as well.

The observed levels of these compounds were, fortunately, mere trace amounts. The study’s lead author Thomas Miller, however, remained adamant that this is no cause for celebration.

Cite: doi:10.1016/j.envint.2019.04.038

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How strict a diet?

Similarly, Ron Darian: “Ants can carry twenty times their weight, which is useful information if you’re moving out and you need help getting a potato chip across town.”

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Keeping kosher

Tierra Farm, about 20 miles south of Albany, New York, is my go-to place for bulk dried fruits and such. Also granola, if I don’t want any right this minute:

Tierra Farm keeps kosher

I must have missed this the last few years; I’m pretty sure they’re not big enough to keep two sets of email addresses, Jews and non-Jews. Not a problem for me, anyway.

And what’s with the Comic Sans?

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House Mondelez enters the fray

Yes, children, it’s Game of Thrones Oreos. The embossing is GOT-specific, and the packaging is — well, you’ve seen it — but it’s still at heart an Oreo.

I scored a package of these in Westeros at Walmart for $2.98 yesterday.

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Pass the bread

I found this on Quora, and I have to admit, I never thought of that:

Here’s a secret from my time as a server: bread has a very specific and very manipulative purpose.

At an Italian restaurant I worked at, we had to have the bread at the table within two minutes of their arrival. We had to calculate the amount (one loaf per three people), brush them with oil and sprinkle them with salt.

After taking their order, we needed to check on the bread and bring refills within five minutes of them finishing the bread, until their meal came.

Why?

Because customers are pains in the ass when they’re waiting.

Bread is a distraction mechanism. When you’re waiting at the table, everything feels like it’s taking longer. As soon as you have some bread to occupy yourself with, you’re not going to be bothering me for entertainment and demands while I take care of my other tables. You’ll experience time in a much shorter, less intrusive way, and you won’t be complaining to me that your food is taking forever to come out, when really it’s only been ten minutes, and the kitchen is busy.

So, to recap: bread is offered to you because you are impatient.

Obviously I’ve never waited tables.

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Range of temperature

Oh, I’m sorry: that should be “Temperature of range.” And if you’re doing serious baking, you’re probably doing it at 350°:

Surprisingly, you should not bake your marijuana brownies at 420°.

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Go, you bacon fat, go

There was a time when fat was actually valuable:

WWII poster to support the Fat Salvage effort

The American Fat Salvage Committee was created to urge housewives to save all the excess fat rendered from cooking and donate it to the army to produce explosives. As explained to Minnie Mouse and Pluto in one wartime video, fats are used to make glycerin, and glycerin is used to make things blow up.

One pound of fat supposedly contained enough glycerin to make about a pound of explosives. Patriotism aside, many American housewives were not enticed. Only about half donated their excess cooking fats. Saturated fats were of little health concern at the time and cooking grease was hard to come by, especially once rations were imposed.

And schlepping a pound of grease across town to the collection point probably wasn’t all that much fun.

Still, the program started out with high hopes:

Mass-produced butter and lard were not readily available in stores, vegetable oils were expensive, and everything only became pricier during the war. At the start of the fat salvage program, a study found that almost three-quarters of households saved cooking fats for reuse (Southerners were the biggest fat savers). Doctors and dieticians at the time were more concerned with vitamin deficiencies caused by wartime diets than the consumption of excess fat or salt. Collecting the fat after frying up some bacon or roasting some beef was a practical and economical way to run a household. And there was a lot of leftover fat because Americans ate a lot of meat.

Until rationing kicked in, and they didn’t eat so much.

The product made from all this glycerin was propane-1,2,3-triyl trinitrate, but you know it better as:

Nitroglycerin is a dense, colorless, oily, explosive liquid most commonly produced by nitrating glycerol with white fuming nitric acid under conditions appropriate to the formation of the nitric acid ester. Chemically, the substance is an organic nitrate compound rather than a nitro compound, yet the traditional name is often retained. Invented in 1847, nitroglycerin has been used as an active ingredient in the manufacture of explosives, mostly dynamite, and as such it is employed in the construction, demolition, and mining industries. Since the 1880s, it has been used by the military as an active ingredient, and a gelatinizer for nitrocellulose, in some solid propellants, such as cordite and ballistite.

Far as I know, this is the only song that mentions the stuff:

Explosive, indeed.

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I think I’m gonna cuke

Then again, I’ve eaten things more horrible than this in my life, and probably so have you:

(Via Miss Cellania.)

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We’re only trying to help

If this is your argument, it’s well past time for you to shut the hell up:

The only way this could be more annoying would be if the government were doing it.

Which, of course, they are.

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Back when we had the meats

And I mean, we really had the meats:

Arby's coupon

Oh, and an order of potato cakes.

(From Bad Menu via Miss Cellania.)

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I may have had that before

Might not have been the same name, though:

Various menu items containing chicken

I probably shouldn’t ask General Tso, either.

(From Bad Menu via Miss Cellania.)

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Yet she persisted

Vashti wasn’t always a good cook:

When it was time to be a wife and cook things on my own, I was happy that I lucked out and married a guy who grew up in a household of cookers and loved to cook himself.

But then he found a job that required him to work nights and the responsibility of cooking fell on me, I knew making sandwiches wasn’t going to get me too far or him for that matter.

I was a horrible cook, besides cutting up “seasoning” onions [that was an issue in itself], cilantro, and tomatoes. It was possible that I could potentially kill you with a meal.

She got better; to my knowledge, she didn’t kill anyone.

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Orange you glad

There once was a store a mile and a half from me, but it closed — only to reopen in an even closer location.

And Whataburger HQ has moved to San Antonio, as I discovered on a trip to Corpus Christi in 2008.

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No candy hearts for you

Or for me, either, come to think of it:

For more than a century, Sweethearts have helped romantics express their softer sides. The pastel-colored, heart-shaped candies are stamped with cutesy phrases: “Be Mine,” “Me & You,” “Love Me,” “Marry Me.” Sure, it’s not poetry, but it certainly gets the point across. And the treats have become a confectionary tradition, particularly on Valentine’s Day.

Except in, um, 2019:

The New England Confectionery Company (Necco), one of the oldest candy companies in America, had been making Sweethearts since the turn of the 20th century. But Necco, recently beset by financial woes, abruptly shut down in July after being purchased from a bankruptcy auction by Round Hill Investments, reports Clair Robins of Candystore.com. In September, Round Hill sold the SweetHearts brand to the Spangler Candy Company, but not in time for Spangler to produce enough candies for Valentine’s Day.

And if you’re truly desperate:

For those in need of the conversation heart candy fix, you can still buy Sweethearts on Amazon, but just be aware that they will have been produced prior to July 2018.

The candy can’t be any more stale than the sentiments.

If you can’t wait until 2020, you can always write something on a Necco wafer. They’re supposed to be back in stores in November 2019.

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Needing more than Mrs Peel

One of those legendary Roberta X footnotes deals with the uncertain fate of the banana:

There have only been two varieties of dessert banana sold in the U.S. and each one was essentially a cloned plant. The Gros Michel was gone by the end of the 1950s, all but eliminated by Panama disease. It was replaced by the Cavendish and if you’re under 50 years old and haven’t traveled, Cavendish may be the only dessert banana you have ever tasted. Panama disease is going after Cavendish bananas now; there’s a disease-resistance Gros Michel under development but you might bear in mind that the old song, “Yes, We Have No Bananas” refers to some of the earliest banana crop shortfalls in the 1920s — and, perhaps, to the power of positive thinking!

Artificial banana flavor, the sort you find in dollar-store pudding cups, tastes very little like any actual bananas, so don’t expect the chemists to save you.

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As Arthur Treacher rotates on his axis

Well, it definitely sounds flaky:

Fish and chips are set to go vegan as Quorn launches an alternative made with protein derived from fungus — to help create a similar flaky texture.

The meat-free brand is set to release breaded and battered fishless fillets in March, both of which took five years to produce.

If they ever try this at Captain D’s, old man D will be busted down to ensign.

(Via Kim du Toit.)

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Not the Hershey highway

But it had to be said, if perhaps not by me [warning: autostart video]:

Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory isn’t the only place to house a river of chocolate.

A section of Interstate 40 near Flagstaff, Arizona, was covered in the cocoa confection after a tanker trailer carrying more than 40,000 pounds of the liquid overturned Monday morning around 9 a.m., Arizona Department of Public Safety Public Information Officer Bart Graves told ABC News.

The truck originated in Ontario, Canada, and was headed to Henderson, Nevada, Graves said. Authorities believe the tanker overturned after the latch between truck and the trailer became unsecured and the trailer became separated from the truck, Graves said.

If you’re headed that way, bring your graham crackers.

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Make a meal of Deborah

Little Debbie has several snacks for you, of varying levels of delight:

And since you’re going to ask, this is the source of the title.

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Quality controls

Rob O’Hara recounts a life lesson from years ago:

Loverboy was a film released in 1989 that starred Patrick Dempsey as a college-aged pizza delivery driver, moonlighting on the side as a gigolo. To request Dempsey’s dating services, all female customers had to do was order a large Loco pizza with extra anchovies. Loverboy may have been the first time I actually saw a pizza with anchovies on it. I certainly had never seen one in person. I understand that anchovies were one of the traditional Italian ingredients served on pizzas; that being said, nobody ever accused any of the pizza joints I worked for of serving traditional Italian cuisine.

The man who called Pizza Inn that evening wasn’t looking for gigolo services (at least I hope not). The guy was legitimately curious to know if we could serve anchovies on our pizzas. My boss must have heard me repeating the request back the caller — I may have even been laughing at the time. Before I had a chance to say another word, my manager had literally snatched the phone’s receiver from my grasp and taken over. After apologizing for my ineptitude, my manager told the customer we would gladly put anchovies on his pizza.

After finishing the order, my manager turned to me, and I’ll never forget what he said.

“Never tell a customer we can’t do something.”

Then he handed me five bucks and told me to get my ass to the nearest supermarket and buy a can of anchovies.

And you know what? This almost worked.

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If you knew sushi

Remember when you had to go out back to eat worms?

Bait sandwiches at Lucas Foods

(From Bad Menu via Miss Cellania.)

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Don’t think I’d want this in a taco

More mysterious than Mystery Meat! It’s:

Meatless Meat for sale

Were it not the middle of farking December, this would seem to be a good time to invite the invisible girlfriend over for some serious grilling.

(Jennifer saw this up around Edmond.)

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By odor of the Food and Drug Administration

Hmmm. Maybe I need an Uncommon Scents category:

Fine Land Corp is recalling its 12 ounce (340 g) Meiqili Durian Candy in plastic bag with clear window because it contains undeclared milk allergens. Consumers who are allergic to milk allergens may run the risk of serious or life-threatening allergic reactions if they consume this product.

The recalled “Meiqili Durian Candy” was distributed in retail supermarkets throughout the East Coast in Connecticut, New York, Philadelphia, Virginia, Maryland and Boston. The product is packaged in a 12 oz.(340 g) plastic bag with a clear window. It is labeled as a product of China and has a UPC code of 4-897055-795465-0.

Meiqili Durian Candy

No illnesses or allergic reactions involving this product have been reported to date.

(Via Fark.)

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