CHICKIN IS SPELLED K-A-L-E! EAT IT!
For Bo Muller-Moore, a folk artist from Vermont, the T-shirts he hand-screens with the slogan “Eat More Kale” are a dream fulfilled: a quirky project that has emblazoned this leafy mandate across the chests of people worldwide, and one he wants to trademark.
So when Chick-fil-A, the fast-food chain that says it sells 537 sandwiches a minute with the help of the slogan “Eat mor chikin,” sent him a cease-and-desist letter this fall, Mr. Muller-Moore decided to fight the company, setting off a groundswell of local support and national media attention.
“This is corporate bullying,” Mr. Muller-Moore said. His lawyer, Daniel Richardson, sent Chick-fil-A a letter in November, contesting its claim that the slogan “is likely to cause confusion of the public and dilutes the distinctiveness of Chick-fil-A’s intellectual property.”
Her potatoes were creamy, perfect, with real butter pooling in small lakes. Lumps were for tourists. Skins were for Philistines. These, cliché or not, melted on your tongue, with just a little extra, a lingering taste of … what? I could duplicate everything but that.
Then, lurking just outside her kitchen one Thanksgiving, I saw. It was not some magic turnip, or some deep woods spell.
It was just a damn condiment.
From “The Guiltless Pleasure,” by Rick Bragg via Byliner
PIZZA! A VEGETABLE!
I bet you thought this day would never come. Well, have I got news for you. Congress has finally come to its senses and, drumroll please, DECLARED PIZZA A VEGETABLE!
I am SO relieved. I don’t think school children will have much trouble devouring those food groups now.
And so full of nutrients!
From the Washington Post:
Congress is about to incorporate into a new law as it gets ready to vote on legislation that would, among other things, allow public schools to count a small amount tomato paste that is put on top of pizzas to be counted as a vegetable.
Apples and Neighbors
“Are you stealing my neighbor’s apples?”
I squinted up at the two pairs of tip-toed legs that teetered on the wobbling ladder. Why did Phil’s apples matter anyway? From my living room window, I’d watched the guys set up their apple-stealing shop under Phil’s tree next door. They’d been suspiciously quiet about unhinging the ladder, and the foggy early morning had worked in their favor. My train wasn’t for another 20 minutes — not quite time to leave — but I reasoned that potential apple thieves warranted neighborly nosiness. I went downstairs to reason with the robbers up high in the blossoming Discovery tree. With their top halves masked by still-leafy branches, I was forced to confront their stretched ankles and calves. But my question was answered only by the thuds of the ruby fruits that landed in an oversized picnic basket emblazoned with the Fortnum & Mason logo. The plucking continued.
Seriously, I asked again: “Are you stealing my neighbor’s apples?”
I couldn’t make sense of my reasons for caring what these four legs did in my neighbor’s tree. Phil was a loud drunk who made offensive clicks with his mouth whenever I walked past his front door in my gym clothes.
“Princess! Hey Preencesss,” he’d shout and start to follow if I ignored his calls. “Are-uh-you-uh goin’ to dee shop? Pick-a-me-up someteeng, yea? Or just come back here.”
“Forget it,” I’d yell from my safe place across the street. But Phil never heard me. It didn’t matter what time of day it was — his eyes glowed like hazy red beams.
Besides the half-dozen-strong gang of cats that operated some kind of feline cartel down our road, Phil provided ample entertainment. But unlike the calicos who provided thrillingly easy drama, the action around our Rasta neighbor was underscored by our attempts to understand his own anguished character. Phil might joke, but his late-night walks (we guessed to the pub) were marked by slumped shoulders and a dark Caribbean face that furrowed down hard to battle inner demons.
“I heard he’s terminally ill,” we heard.
“No, his wife left him when he started getting drunk. He can’t see his kid anymore.”
“Whatever, mate. He’s just a waste of bloody space.”
“You-za just-a blood clot,” yelled Phil’s alleged son as he beat our neighbor into the sidewalk one morning. From the second story window, we watched blood from Phil’s face hit the pavement as he fell backwards, into his fence. “Wort-less blood-uh-cloth. Wort-less fuck.” No one stopped or questioned the kid. We kind of had to agree with him. Phil’s music had been a problem for months. He’d get drunk, stoned out of his head, turn up the stereo and put one reggae song on repeat for hours. We guessed he was too wasted to be stirred by his own blaring Marley. Unfortunately, no one on Lulworth Road had the luxury of being lulled to sweet slumber — or drunken stupor — by reggae lullabies. In an attempt to wake our neighbor up, the new parents across the road threw stones at his window. It worked. Phil did wake up, and as he stumbled outside, yelling at the poor tired mom and dad who dared disturb the beast, he locked himself out of the house. We spent the night listening to a skipping reggae record and Phil’s druken howls. Even the mafia cats cried. Besides sharing a hatred for the music that thumped through our houses and heads, the rest of Lulworth Road cultivated a mutual carnal urge, prompted by sleeplessness, to murder Phil.
When the fire brigade broke into his house and climbed through his windows, we thought our worst fears (and secret prayers) had been answered. The music that night had been especially bad. Tom and I lay awake and pondered what we heard.
“It sounds like a stabbing scene in a horror film.”
“No. Not quite. This sounds more real, don’t you think? Like actual recordings of people dying.”
“Yeah, like genocide on repeat.”
Muffled, skipping screams echoed like sinister ghosts through our walls, down and across our old wooden floorboards. We were desperate for the murderous sounds to stop, but also interested in the record itself. Eventually, though, the firefighters found the stereo and put us out of our misery. But the next evening, Lulworth Road gathered outside Phil’s broken-down door to determine what happened.
“I heard he was out of town.”
“No, he was definitely here. We saw him this morning.”
The evening rush-hour trains whooned behind our block of Victorians, filling an otherwise silent gathering with thick whistles.
“Well. Maybe the bloody bastard finally kipped off.”
It was clear most of us felt guilty joking about the idea, but a dead Phil was entirely possible. So possible that the next day, I was a little shocked to hear the Rasta man’s yells from the street.
“Dey broke tru my door-uh. Dee firemeen. Dey broke een.”
But no one felt sorry for Phil or his door. No one said a word.
And from where i now stood, under his tree, the image of Phil picking his own Discovery apples didn’t matter. Still, there was no explanation from the boys in the branches.
“Are you stealing my neighbor’s apples?” I asked for the third time.
“No, of course we’re not stealing these apples!” The Oxbridge accents oozed from smiles practiced at charming.
“Then what are you doing?” I asked.
“These are for a commission,” said the taller one.
“A commission,” I repeated.
“Yes, that’s right. An art commission,” said the shorter accomplice.
“And will there be an exhibition of apples?”
I started towards the train station.
“Look, we’re not stealing these,” the taller one interjected. For a moment that smarmy façade lifted to reveal a tipple of impish fear.
“Oh, were you worried I’d tell the neighbor?” I asked. Whatever smarm-charm was left on their faces disappeared. “Hope they taste good,” I yelled over my shoulder and wondered what would happen if Phil walked under their ladder.
Chocolate And Halloween Pillow Cases
Finally, October 31st arrived. We’d waited so long. Our moms would feed us the obligatory sauced-up hotdog or macaroni and cheese. We’d impatiently tick-tock away the sunset, and then we’d pull our winter coats and hats on over the costumes we’d spent the year painstakingly planning. It was okay though, because the fruits of our childhood and labor would be rewarded in Countrywood.
On Halloween, there was only one neighborhood worth visiting. The subdivision of Countrywood was notorious for haboring a natural spookiness and the best candy north of the Missouri River. The lights from the two and three-story houses flickered like jack-o-lanterns through a forest, which garnished the windy, blind-spot-ridden outer-road that led us toward our bounty. My best friend Stephanie lived in a green house on a cul-de-sac in the middle of Countrywood. We’d meet up after dinner to reap the benefits of her loaded neighbors. One year we twirled up their driveways in poodle-skirt costumes. The next year, we shuffled around in our hippie bell bottoms. The costumes didn’t actually matter because, like I said, our moms made us wear our winter coats, but no matter the weather, we tirelessly hit up the Santoro’s and the Svetlic’s and the Caruso’s because the candy was like gold for fourth graders. Homemade caramel apples with sprinkles and chocolate? We were there. The guy who owned Lays potato chips lived across the street from an eventual high school boyfriend — trick-or-treating at his door was like playing a lottery that always paid out. A knock might produce your choice of king-size chocolate bar. And when the kiddos depleted his collection, he handed out crisp green bills. Despite our early bedtimes, Stephanie and I made sure to save his door for last.
The houses of Countrywood were set well off of the roads that branched from the subdivision’s main artery. Weeping Willows cast black shadows like witches on the moon. On rainy nights, fog lifted from the asphalt and swept us up in our own convoluted ghost stories. In third grade, after happening into The Tell-Tale Heart, we both we fell into a voracious Edgar Allen Poe phase, which prompted a fantastic search for mysterious heartbeats under cement driveways. Steph had the guts to quietly put her ear to the pavement. I waited at the end, too scared to do anything but watch for other trick-or-treaters who might have amassed a better collection that us.
In all areas, Steph possessed the stomach for Halloween — not just for the candy, but for the horrors that came with it. She had a penchant for terrifying movies (As a nine-year-old I watched my first R-rated films at her house and slept in my parents’ room for days after) and playing Houdini in a locked trunk in the basement of her house. To me, Steph was magical. Completely of another world — she was (and is) disturbingly brilliant, but her willowy, waif-ish figure imbued her with a cosmic quality. She was also entirely practical. Steph taught me to use a pillow case for candy. The plastic bags I’d tried in previous neighborhoods never stood a chance in Countrywood; After a mere half-hour, our sacked linens heaved with bite-size Twix, Twizzler sticks and popcorn balls. Between houses, we’d run to the trees to dig into our stash — an indulgence performed more to lighten the load in order for my frail friend to carry the weight than fill up on sugar.
Under our coats and costumes, our goose-bumped skin rose with our own delighted cackles: We figured out how to hit certain houses twice. Soon, our tiny, sugar-bloated bellies forced us to give up on the snacking — we resorted to dragging our overflowing trundles for more and more treats. Like every kid, I never wanted Halloween night to end, but somehow my mom would always know here to park her car — there she’d be, waiting, at the top of the unlit street.
Eventually, Steph’s parents divorced. We got older. We got busy. High school left us with fewer excuses to participate in our favorite holiday. By the time we were 14, the joy of a king-size Hersheys bar was lost on a bottle of Smirnoff Ice. It’s strange that both experiences existed in the same neighborhood.
When I think about Countrywood, I envision a secret, swollen envelope of happiness, sugar-rushes and pointlessly pivotal moments that have made me who I am. I wonder what Steph would say. I’ll never look at a pillowcase the same way, but I suppose my belly now feels a little less…sweet.
*Throughout our friendship, Steph would tell me many necessary things I didn’t know: Like what a douche bag meant and that popcorn should always be eaten with peanut M&Ms.
I’ve seen this poster before, but while I source images for the new issue of BodyTalk, I thought this riveting PSA was worthy of a Not French Cooking post. What a really, terrifically scientific reason to eat fish.
The cheesecakes were delicious, as were the pumpkin cupcakes with cream cheese frosting I ended up doing. Another friend made Shirley Temple cupcakes with cherries on top because Shirley Temples are my drink of choice. Two others made maple bacon donut holes and put a picture of Bruce Springsteen on the top of the container, incorporating three of my favorite things in one dessert gift (I realize the photo makes it look like they bought the donuts, but they claim to have made them). Lastly, my parents got me a cupcake and plate of assorted pork products from Uprise. Could I have nicer family and friends? Crazy.
Belated birthday remembrances from my good pal Jordan.
TINY DESK KITCHEN IS MY CUPPA
Paw-Paws!? Yeah, if you thought that was just another name for Grandpa, guess again. Allison Aubrey of NPR’s Tiny Desk Kitchen shows us what’s up. And by the way, have you seen all of this series (I’m partial to the cranberries episode)? We hadn’t until today, and, well, now it’s a Not French Cooking fave.
THE TWITTERNETZ IS GOING NUTZ
Tweet by @madebymany
OOOH! OOH! I couldn’t resist. All these
pretzels apps are making me thirsty hungry!
TABLE MANNERS VERSUS TABLE MAGIC
Sounds like fun.
— “Sleight of Hand With Your Dinner,” by Jeff Gordinier, The New York Times