November 09, 2009

Buy American! You Have No Choice!

What is this nonsense! The internet is the planet Earth scrunched up and rolled skinny and sent through wires and even through thin air, so that you can be more cosmopolitan, a man/woman of the world, by exposing yourself to faraway cultures as no armchair traveler of previous generations ever imagined possible. Yup. You do that, right? Yeah, me neither. I just find music on YouTube and say "Do want!" Sometimes the music is foreign. I am more cosmopolitan by accident. When the music is foreign Amazon might not make it available for purchase, not even on import CD. That's the nonsense. Why even GIVE me the internet if I can't use it to BUY stuff?!

108 Sketches is J-core, a.k.a. electronic music from Japan. A shared project for two of Japan's more beat-happy DJs, t+pazolite and RoughSketch, 108 Sketches is thirteen tracks of hand-molded electricity. Yes my friends, this album is why they invented electricity in the first place. Listen to track 1.

Track 7, "Bloody Serenade", is the most viewed of the bunch on YouTube, so I'll buck a trend by embedding track 2 for its overlooked and demanding bouncy club sound.

By now you are either angry and shutting down your computer so you can rant to people you know IRL about how the internet was intended for making cosmopolitan men/women of us all and not for watching still pictures from a so-called video site while stupid music shouts at you, or you too are saying "Do want!" I'm not sure there's any way to feel something in the middle. If you do want, tough, because I have yet to find a legal way to buy 108 Sketches. I don't do torrents. Society punishes me for my law-abiding ways by not letting me buy just anything I'd like. Bastards.

What's the point in giving us a way to expose ourselves to faraway cultures if we can't buy all the Japanese hardcore and gabber we require to make our ears bleed on a proper schedule?!

Where's my One World Order already!

RoughSketch's MySpace

t+pazolite's MySpace

More blogging about 108 Sketches

November 08, 2009

In Defense of 100% Pure Maple Syrup and Other Foodie Splurges

"The fact is I have no problem with the notion of spending large amounts of money on hugely expensive restaurant experiences.... How much would you be willing to pay to see your football team play in the Super Bowl? $200 a ticket? $400 a ticket? $1,000 for a really good seat? You wouldn't think twice about it.... What does that money buy you? Nothing but memories, and the right to say you were there. Serious gastronomy is no different."- Jay Rayner, The Man Who Ate the World: In Search of the Perfect Dinner

And with that bit of foodie apologetics, we dive into the question we should all be asking ourselves: How much am I willing to pay to eat well?

Eating well- oh, what a  bad reputation that phrase has!- doesn't mean eating like a snob. In fact, it shouldn't. If you're eating something you don't really like because someone told you that the food is special, noble, and that its royal gloss would somehow rub off on you, you're not eating well. You're just being gullible.

Eating well- serious gastronomy- for me is spending $6.50 on a 12-ounce glass jug of pure maple syrup because there's no reason to subject myself to a plastic squeeze bottle of more conveniently priced "pancake syrup". Not every marketing venture to come out of the Age of Industry was meritorious. Synthetic treacle is not meritorious.

I ate pancake syrup on my pancakes, waffles, and french toast for three decades. Ignorant and a product of marketing ventures, I simply did not know any better. That's my defense. That will be my defense before the Throne of Heaven if it ever comes up.

Recently, while purchasing ingredients for a french-toast recipe I found on a recipe site, I noticed a $6.50 12-ounce glass jug of pure maple syrup standing on the highest shelf in the breakfast foods aisle. I realized that if I was going to go to all the trouble of making french toast from scratch I should probably pour something expensive on it.

I had no clue what I'd gotten myself into. On a Monday evening I dredged and fried my french toast. Plated my serving and melted some margarine into the chunky, browned slices. Then I opened the glass jug, curious to know what a little luxury tasted like.

The maple syrup didn't TASTE like anything by itself. That's not how it was meant to work.

No more viscous than water, as subtle as the serpent and sneaking its way into the aromas of the cinnamon and egg-spiked milk, the maple syrup was no condiment. Pancake syrup had always been a condiment. Real maple syrup was the final ingredient to the recipe, the "one more thing" that took innocent sweet bread and grew it up to know the difference between good and evil flavors.

I could have spent that $6.50 on anything but at that moment I would not have spent it on anything else.

In other words, the stuff is worth the money. THAT is eating well.

Any food that is worth the money is eating well. Whether you're replacing ground cinnamon with firm stick cinnamon you grate yourself or paying $300 a head at a restaurant famous for its toro tuna, it's about making your little pocket of the world that much more pleasant. Life is too short for chewing fast.

We don't have to spend a lot to make meals and treats our happy places. We just have to know how much we're interested in forking over and for what. Today I plan to splurge on natural peanut butter for a cookie recipe I like the sound of. Because if I'm going to go to all the trouble of making baked calories from scratch I should probably throw something expensive into the mix.

November 04, 2009

Thoughts on a Book I Haven't Yet Read

It’s that time of year again… that time when we give thanks to God on a November evening and enjoy the company of our loved ones around the well-browned and juicy corpse of a giant bird. OH SO TASTY GIANT DEAD BIRD!

Ambivalence ftl. :/

I like animals. But if I don’t eat one every so often, I feel famished. Something to do with having thousands of years’ worth of carnivorous ancestors. Even if I’m not eating something’s leg or ground-up flesh, I’m partaking of their bodily functions. Eggs and milk. I’m a monster. Not that my dog minds, he’s living in a bubble shelter of societal taboos and eats every scrap of leftovers he can beg off of my table. Never mind that in other lands, *he'd* be on the table. He’s too busy nomming the chop of some nameless slaughtered pig to wax philosophical.

Vegetarianism is a lifestyle choice that I admire and applaud for its aim to live without killing. Meat is something I feel I have to eat as a matter of destiny, the price I pay for being born a member of the master species. The simple fact that we require vitamin B12 and that particular vitamin can only be found in meat and dairy cannot be overlooked.

This month Jonathan Safran Foer’s latest book, Eating Animals, has hit store shelves and readers with a message of ethical vegetarianism. I haven’t read it yet. I wonder how it will change me when I do. Every book I read changes me. I surrender my future to a writer’s force.

Foer’s style and prose voice floor me; His first novel, Everything is Illuminated, reduced me to tears because I knew that I could never write so well. Foer has said that the greatest writing advice he’s ever received was “Feel more.” His books make the reader feel more as well, through his character’s desperate words and leaking hearts. I almost fear what his plea for ethical vegetarianism- damp with freshly cut emotion and human honesty- might do to my stomach. Never mind what it might do to my head.

Because ethical vegetarianism is the only motive for a meatless diet that makes sense to me. Thousands of years’ worth of carnivorous ancestors make a joke of the claim that people are not meant to eat anything more than fruit and celery. Vitamin B12 and iron requirements rule out the claim that vegetarianism is healthier than a meat-inclusive diet. Human omnivores cover the globe, eating animals on six continents- proving that the practice is not merely the thoughtless whim of a few uncivilized psychopaths.

But nothing makes the practice a laudable one. It’s relaxing and pleasant to watch the budding of fruit on the branches of a tree, and to smell hearty clumps of earth hugging the roots of ripe vegetables harvested from a leafy garden. Nobody enjoys watching hamburger get made.

Jonathan Safran Foer takes the ethical route in Eating Animals, by all accounts. If you don’t want to watch hamburger get made, then face reality and recognize that not looking at something doesn’t keep it from happening. Giving an industry financial incentive to make hamburger- that’s what makes it happen. Stop buying ground chuck! Buy potatoes! You’d watch a potato harvest any day of the week!

Do potatoes want to live? Do steers want to live?

Should I rule over the weakness of my hunger and seek my vitamin B12 in dairy products alone?

Writing and food alike share this in common: both are art. Both are as much of the soul as they are of the body, and decorate our lives. Both affect us.

If a book called Eating Animals affects my head enough, will it affect my stomach as well? Will it change how food affects me?

(Also posted on one of my Tumblrs)