Category Archives: Crazy things happen

The giant noodle at Quincy Market

“please do not climb, stand, or slide down noodle.”

We need more public art like this one.

Cherries in Minnesota!

Who knew?

From my in-laws’ backyard.  Lucky.

Q. What’s a cupcake without the wrapper?

There are two kinds of cupcake eaters in the world.

There are those who will not think anything is amiss with a cupcake that arrives without a paper wrapper– even a little cake without the tell-tale ridges that come from being baked in one. All cupcakes are created equal to these folks. “It is a cupcake and I shall eat it,” mumble these brave faux-cupcake eaters, mouths full of muffin. Mr. Food is part of this crowd and so are co-workers N and A, I found during an informal poll recently.

I am not one of those people.

Don’t get me wrong. I’ll still eat the cupcake; I’m not crazy and I’m not going to waste a decent piece of cake. But the absence of the wrapper signals to me that this unfortunate cakey round has been left on the fence between cupcakes and muffins. A muffcake, if you will. In my book, the two do not meet for lunch. Muffins are usually a bit sweet but should not be overly so. My favorite muffins are more of the banana or pumpkin varieties, not the chocolate chip or crazy-carrot-cake-“muffins”-masquerading-as-cupcakes-drowning-in-frosting sold here. Muffins have smooth sides and would look weird clothed in paper sheaths. Cupcakes, on the other hand are allowed to be smothered in any kind of frosting and colorful toppings that are available. For the record my preference here is for the good old yellow cake and chocolate frosting combo with any bright, little crunchy bits on top. A cupcake must be dressed in ridged paper pants. A’s husband, N, is so far my sole co-conspirator on this issue. (If there are more of you out there, speak up!)

This issue came to the forefront of my food thoughts recently after a trip to The Spotted Apron with N over lunch break. I ordered a chocolate cupcake with vanilla frosting. It came with several spots on top. N wonders if they are in fact Necco wafers… I’m pretty sure they’re not, but they sure look like them. Anyway! I went to eat it and noticed its unclothed appearance. Shocking for a cupcake to be naked, I thought to myself. N was not concerned. She did not seem worried about eating hers later in the day. I ate it but it bothered me and it still does. And, to note, it was indicative of the overall quality of the “cupcake.” I won’t be doing that again.

A. It’s a muffin. End of story.

And then there were two…

We seem to have lost one of our cats! Sorry for the non-food-related digression, but one of our three, the softest, fuzziest, and most neurotic black-furred cat has flown the coop. We think Sooty Sox Schwab (she was born in the autumn of 2004) snuck out the back door on Friday sometime, we didn’t know she was going to try something like this (she always runs the other way when confronted with an open door) but the other two cats don’t seem worried, so maybe they knew this was coming? Did she get angry that we’ve been hiding the food? (Pepper is on a diet and he needs the assistance) Did she get sick of having humans around and decide to take her chances with the great outdoors and the “cat hobo train” as Mr. Food calls it? Or is she just curled up in a corner feeling sick? We think if that were the case the other two would be making a racket and leading us right to her– they way they all do when one of them is stuck in the bathroom (Sooty), the study (Toes), or the front hallway (Pepper). Instead, the others don’t even seem to remember her, life going on as normal…

We hope she has struck out to realize her own happiness, or as was said in Oh Brother, Where Art Thou?, she’s just r-u-n-n-o-f-t. Sigh. We miss her already and hope to see her again. For now, we have fond memories and lots of pictures (see her, on the right in the header).  And yes, for once we feel good about never getting around to clipping her nails.  Best of luck to her and to any animal who crosses her– she’s a fiesty one.

Just watch where you put that thing

This just in– turns out the Chicago PD will ticket just about anyone.   I guess driving a 27-foot fiberglass replica of a meat tube does not make one immune to the law…

Tomato = Fruit?

To follow up on the previous is-a-burrito-actually-a-sandwich-debate, here we go with another legal matter (and yes, Mr. Food’s journey through law school has rubbed off on me a bit!).

In today’s installment: is a tomato a fruit or a vegetable?

On the vegetable side we have any kid who has ever refused to eat a tomato based solely on its associations with other-salad-foods-like-the-dreaded-spinach-leaf. Clearly it’s a VEGETABLE because normal little kids don’t want to eat it. That is, unless it is disguised as pizza sauce or ketchup (head’s up to brother J for this one!). It’s usually eaten as a part of a savory course, rarely does it appear in desserts, so vegetable all the way, right? Maybe.

Now, anyone who’s ever taken high school bio knows that technically the answer is FRUIT. I mean, those guys are filled with visible seeds, right! Biologically and botanically, that makes it a fruit. Culinarily, as well, one could argue that tomatoes are fruits. Some folks (Mr. Food, namely) like to sprinkle theirs with a bit of sugar or just eat them whole, a la apple/pear/peach, actions typically taken with fruits, not vegetables.

So, fruit or vegetable? Something fun to eat or something to be avoided (old beliefs that tomatoes were poisonous notwithstanding)? Does it actually matter to the day-to-day eaters of the world? Probably not, but the conclusion to this debate does have legal implications. The legal case brought about by the Tariff Act of 1883 was set to decide whether tomatoes should be classified as fruits (not taxed) or vegetables (taxed). The court found that, though tomatoes are still botanically a fruit, they are legally for taxable purposes, a vegetable! A vegetable! All the botanists are rolling in their graves and the stage is set for the is-a-peanut-a-nut-or-a-legume debate. But that, we are not ever going to get into (sorry, Dad).

In the end I accept the legal findings of the court a century ago but in my biologist’s heart I know that the tomato will always be a fruit to me. So there.

Burrito = Sandwich ???

Listen up people: a burrito, though it looks like a sandwich, sits in the hand like a sandwich, and sticks together like a sandwich, is not, i repeat, not a sandwich.

Now bear with me, I know this is confusing… just as I know this is old news for fellow foodish Bostonians who heard all about this last year. I can hear the collective do-we-need-to-hear-this-again already. But this all happened when I was but a pre-blogger, so late is better than never!

This was an important issue last November. Matters of mealtime vocabulary and sandwich self-identification were at stake. Sandwich experts were asked to weigh in with their opinions. Local fabulous chef, Chris Schlesinger, who conveniently had just opened a sandwich place in Cambridge, had this to say: a sandwich is European in origin and uses “two pieces of leavened bread” while a burrito is Mexican-specific, is normally served hot and rolled into an unleavened tortilla. The two cannot find common ground here, clearly.

But let’s see what food vocabulary guru Alan Davidson has to say in his Penguin Companion to Food… from page 829 under heading Sandwich he says “Sandwiches take so many forms in the modern world, including double- and triple-deckers, the open sandwiches typical of Scandinavia, … and legions of toasted sandwiches.” His tome (it weighs two pounds, I just checked) is notable for two things: there is no listing for Burrito but at least burrito is not mentioned under sandwiches. The mystery deepens.

I happen to think that a sandwich is anything that involves a bread product used to keep the fillings in one place. Under this gastronomic umbrella I include anything that might be found or easily eaten at a baseball game. That means the sausage/hot dog/bratwurst family is well represented as well as the burger and the cheese sandwich groups. And I’ll admit that under my definition, I’m not sold on the burrito is not a sandwich angle. But in the interest of respect for ethnic foods, I’ll let that lie.

I’ll end with a book suggestion for those who need more information on this hot topic and pictures of two of my favorite recent sandwiches (courtesey of Burgerville, Portland, OR, and Chez Dad, homeland of I smell food).

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