Bummer

I love eggs. I ate two eggs this morning for breakfast. My body does not love eggs. It actually despises them. It is mad at me for eating the eggs. It is giving me hell for eating the eggs. I should not have eaten the eggs. My body is winning in deciding whether or not I get to eat eggs. Even though I love them, it says I cannot have them or it will rebel and I believe it. So no eggs.

Bummer.

A “Bowl”

When a restaurant puts the stuff patrons will eat in a bowl instead of on a plate, they call the dish a “bowl” and then charge more for it than if it had been on a plate.

Oh, another thing restaurants do, especially in Portland, is to sell “small plates.” They call them tapas so they and their patrons can pretend they’re multicultural. The idea behind “small plates” is to have a whole gang of people sit around a table with “small plates” and then take samples from each plate. It’s like one big Norman Rockwell painting or a movie where everyone has these big dinner parties and life is lively and splashy.

The only problem (well, one of many) is that most people eat in pairs or small groups that are not lively and splashy. Then you have this small table covered with a multitude of plates and there is nowhere to put anything. More often than not the plates have very little food on them, and certainly not enough to “share.” Also, if you’re like me and don’t eat a lot of what others eat, sharing isn’t really that appealing.

Basically the idea, I think, is to sell these “small plates” based on the marketing (you are a group of hip, culturally aware citizens eating together at a fancy restaurant with swiggles all over your plates!), knowing they can charge four times what the same four dishes on one bigger plate would have cost. You look at the menu and think, “Oh, it’s only $8.95 for a dish,” not realizing that it’s $8.95 per side, and you’ll end up paying 36 bucks for a plate of food. And since the portion sizes are smaller than they would have been on a bigger plate (allowing for fancy swizzling of sauce, etc.), you actually end up paying more because of that too. Overall, it’s just a big scam.

There was a restaurant we used to frequent frequently. They have gradually replaced all their meals in this fashion. They claim it gives “more choice” because you can mix and match your side dishes. No. All it does is make the whole enterprise vastly more expensive and the table more cluttered. We don’t like this. We don’t eat there anymore. Good for us and our wallets, bad for them. Or maybe not. Maybe they have other patrons who like the clutter and the cost.

Somehow this went from an observation on “bowls” to a diatribe on small plates. Funny how that goes.

I Told Them

This is what I sent to Almond Dream:

My Almond Dream Mint Chocolate Chip non-dairy ice cream had ONE chocolate chip in it. One! The picture of the scoop on the front has a dozen chocolate chips in it. I don’t think you should call it mint chocolate chip unless you’re going to put chips in it. Or maybe the name is literal? Chocolate chip is not plural because there will only be ONE chip in the pint? If that’s the case, the photo should match, and show only one chip rather than 12.

Thank you.

Thank you, Brain

Chocolate BallsSometimes I think our minds just predict what they are going to want in the future and plan accordingly. My brain must have known two weeks ago when it made me buy those dark chocolate caramel balls that none too far in the future, I was going to be weaned off of caffeine, and then the time was going to change, and I would be sitting forlornly in my office wishing I could just go get a jug of coffee and bathe in it. It would know that I would not remember those dark chocolate caramel balls sitting in my drawer. It knew I would open the drawer for some other reason (like to get a cup of herbal, non-caffeinated tea to sort of pretend the warm beverage was caffeinated) and discover, lo and behold! A small baggy of drugs, er, dark chocolate caramel balls and I would just melt with pleasure.

Yes, brain. I thank you. You’ve done me right on this one.

Dear New Seasons

Dear Mr. Deli Man at New Seasons:  I know it’s late and the time changed, so it feels later in your body than it really is, but could you please be a little more attentive and properly put the chicken in the plastic bag rather than getting only its hindquarters in, thereby leaving the remaining chicken in the paper bag that isn’t designed to hold a greasy glob of cooked meat? Thank you.

Dear New Seasons:  Thank you very much for installing toilet tissue holders that actually turn easily when one pulls tissue off them. I can’t tell you how much this thrills me. So many stores are stingy and obnoxious with their tissue. It’s a real drag to have to pull one square, have the roller catch so the square tears off, then the roller rolls backwards so that the edge that just tore is in the back, leaving you to then scratch and pull to get that edge to the front, only to repeat the process 10 times in order to get enough tissue to do your business. I don’t want to wipe with my fingertips; that’s nasty. New Seasons, your generous tissue holders make me grateful to you every time I’m forced to use them. Thank you.

Dear Carrot Buyer at New Seasons:  Are you a new employee? Are you a particularly gargantuan human? I have to ask because the carrots you’ve chosen this week are enormous! I could have used one for a bat. Maybe you aren’t actually large, but a sports fanatic, and you would just LOVE it if someone used one of your ginormous carrots and a potato to start an impromptu game of baseball right there in the produce section. I could see it! Thank you though. I only needed to buy two of the things to make my soup, which is easier to carry without a bag than more carrots would have been. I don’t like getting bags in the produce section. They’re plastic and not good for the environment or wild animals, so I definitely prefer skipping the bag. The giant carrots made this more possible.

Dear New Seasons Stuffed Animal Pricer:  I get it that stuffed animals at the grocery store are a pure profit item for you. Who buys stuffed animals at the grocery store anyway (people who forget to buy gifts for small children at a regular store and are up against a deadline possibly?). What I would like to know though, is why you have to charge so danged much for them. Maybe you know purchasers of stuffies at the grocery store are in a last minute kind of thing position, and you are therefore taking advantage of our having not planned better. I would like to suggest you don’t take advantage of us. We’re already feeling precarious, having waited until the last minute and all. Maybe you could lower the price just a teensy, weensy bit? Please? For me? Thank you.

Dear New Seasons:  I would like to suggest that if you run out of whole cooked chickens in your deli section that you allow those of us who wanted one to purchase a whole uncooked chicken for the same price. The reason I make this suggestion is that, surprisingly enough, chickens from New Seasons that are uncooked cost MORE than chickens that have been slow-roasted in that cool turning thingamajig that leaves the meat falling off the bone. The cooked ones are way easier for us buyers, which seems to me to make them a premium item. Raw chickens are way more work. Shouldn’t the higher premium chickens cost more? Or at least the same? But they don’t. And some of your delis are not hip to the cooked chicken demand. The location by my house is AWESOME. They rarely run out of cooked chickens. The one by my old house, not so awesome. They ran out all the time and never seemed stocked like the one by my house now. But either way, making the raw chickens the same price would be oh, so very helpful. Thank you.

Dear New Seasons:  I checked out the Green Zebra. It’s so dang small, you can’t pass another shopping cart when you’re pushing one. And pricey! I’ll keep going to you, so whew!, right?

Dear New Seasons:  I am a loyal customer. New Seasons is always my first choice for food from a grocery store. I have to confess though, that I’m going to be stepping out at another store in the future because they have local, organic fuji apples for half the price of yours. They also have organic, steel-cut oats for a dollar a pound less. On many items, you’re actually cheaper than a lot of the stores people think are cheaper, like Fred Meyer. Fred Meyer is a joke. So is Albertson’s, and Thriftway, and Safeway. I hate all these stores. They are over-priced and have way too much processed and non-organic crap. Plus, they’re REALLY expensive. Arborio Rice at these stores, same brand, same size, costs over $2.00 more a container than the same arborio rice at New Seasons. And they can’t even compare when it comes to produce and meat products. But New Seasons, Sheridan Fruit Company has you beat on a lot of things, and I’m just going to have to buy there more often. I’m sorry.

Dear New Seasons:  You sell Gin Gins, my all-time favorite treat, for $3.99 for 3 ounces. This works out to be $15.96 per pound. I was able to locate Gin Gins on the internet in bulk:  Eleven pounds for $62.00, and shipping is free! Don’t ask me why the sell lots of eleven pounds instead of some more round number like say, ten, but that’s how they sell them. That works out to be $5.64 per pound. Even when you had them on sale at 3 ounces for $2.50, they were still $10 per pound. The bulk price is better, so I bought eleven pounds of the things. I admit it. That bag should last a while. Sorry, New Seasons. stepping out on you for the Gin Gins too.

Dear New Seasons:  Final letter of the night, I promise. I just wanted to say that I love going to your store. Everyone is always nice, even when they’re putting the chicken halfway in the plastic bag. All the workers seem not to mind being at work. The customers even seem happy. You help the local food scene. You buy meats that came from humanely raised critters. You’re a bit overpriced on some things (like fuji apples), but I can deal with that. Sometimes when I’m feeling down, I’ll go to a New Seasons just to get a pick me up. I like you, just the way you are. Too bad you’re not a man because I’d date you in a minute.

McMeanamin’s

If any person I know is ever with me when I consider going into a McMenamin’s again, please stop me. Just don’t let me do it. It won’t take much prodding. The only reason I would be considering such torture would be because I was on the verge of passing out from hunger, but even then, encourage me to find some ants or flies to tide me over. It’s not worth it. Remind me that no matter which location I go to or what time of day, the service will be so abysmal that I will want to leave something vile for the server, like a gutted chicken filled with maggots, to let them know just how rotten their service was, and that I won’t be able to do it and will end up tipping 10% or something anyway and then feel grave resentment for having done so. Let me know that the server might just as likely see a gutted, maggot-filled chicken as evidence of my love because the server is quite likely a Satan worshipper. Not much else could explain their nastiness. Maybe it’s working at McMenamin’s, but I’ve never gotten the vibe that the servers suck because of their employer. They don’t seem harried and rushed because of some evil manager or cook hiding in the back flogging them on, pushing them to move faster and thus turn over the tables more quickly. Rather, servers seem proud of their odious attitudes, conspicuous indifference, and reprehensible lack of courtesy. It’s like a badge of honor there. We customers should be grateful they bothered to meander by and notice us. We should thank our lucky stars that grease-spotted menus were left on the tables, and that if we are extra, extra nice, we might get some food-like substances tossed our way. Don’t bother asking to have it prepared as we like it, that’s not the McMenamin’s way. And definitely, definitely, definitely do not go there if you are in any semblance of a hurry. Better yet, order and drink alcohol so you won’t notice just how disgusting the food really is, covered in grease and sauce and too much cheese and peppercorn. Maybe that’s their tactic to sell alcohol. They should call the place McMeanamin’s. I can’t think of a name that adequately describes their awful bar food, but it doesn’t matter because awful bar food isn’t what makes the place special. It’s their amaranthine capacity for treating customers like shit that is McMeanamin’s real badge of honor. Any location. Any day. Any time. Expect the worst service, then multiply it by 14, and you’re about there.

In any case, please. If I won’t listen, show me this post and remind me. I beg you.

Eggs in Spain, and indeed the Netherlands, too.

I have two observation about eggs from my trip to Europe.  A couple of days after my arrival in the Netherlands I was dispatched to the grocery store to fetch eggs.  I could not find them.  I searched and searched and returned empty-handed. Both Milla and Anne told me the eggs were by the cereal, so the next time I was in the grocery store I looked for the cereal.  Lo and behold, there on the shelf next to the cereal sat the eggs. They were not in the refrigeration section, which is why I had not located them previously. I had gone around and around to all the refrigerated sections in the store.  No wonder I hadn’t found them.

This was quite a revelation, these eggs on the grocery store shelf. I have known my mother to toss out entire cartons of eggs because they sat on the counter all day.  What a waste.  I will let her know, and everyone else who might care, that Europeans leave their eggs on the shelf in the grocery store.   There have been no major outbreaks of  Salmonella in the Netherlands (I checked, via the internets, so if the internets can be trusted, this is likely the case), which must mean that leaving eggs out of refrigeration for a while won’t hurt anyone.  I wonder how much money could be saved in the US on refrigeration if eggs were not kept cold.  Or maybe it’s that the US leaves them out longer than the eggs in Europe.  I will have to do some investigating and get back to that one.

I made another egg discovery in Europe.  You can buy, off the shelf, actual eggs from chickens that are truly free-range.  I’m not talking about the bullshit US version of free-range where they keep them locked up until they are 5 weeks old, then open a tiny door at the end of a long shed, knowing full well they will never leave that shed until the day they die.  No.  I’m talking true free-range from a field chickens who eat bugs and grass and scratch their little feetsies in the dirt.  I get my eggs true free-range from a field chickens.  I have to go to a neighbor’s house who has them brought in from a ranch and sells them to willing buyers.  I pay $5 a dozen, which isn’t horrible considering true free-range eggs at the local farmers markets are usually $10 a dozen.  The true free-range eggs in Europe were about $3 Euros a dozen, which was the same price as the non-true free-range eggs in Europe.  Not bad. Imagine that, true free-range eggs sold in the grocery store on the shelf for a moderate price.  And we’re told it can’t happen here. What a load of dooky (dookie?).

Finally, the absolute best egg discovery I made in Europe was in Spain.  Every single huevo I ordered in Spain was perfection. They were fried, with the whites completely cooked but not burned, the yellows still runny, and salted. NO PEPPER!!  Perfect.  I could not have ordered an egg more to my liking if I tried.  I have never, I repeat NEVER gotten an egg exactly as I like it at a restaurant in the US.  It is seemingly impossible here.  For some reason, either the whites not runny, or the whites not burned, or the yellows still runny, or the just salty part is a little too difficult for cooks here to manage.  Cooks here also seem to find it nearly impossible, even when asked, to leave off the pepper, which drives me to distraction because I can’t stand pepper and I really can’t stand it on eggs. I don’t send the eggs back for having pepper unless the pepper is so heavy I can barely see the egg, so I’ve had to scarf down peppered eggs on many occasions even when I didn’t want to.  Now I just rarely eat eggs out because it’s so hard for US cooks to figure them out to my liking.  But not the Spanish cooks, and I didn’t even SPECIFY!! They just came to me exactly as I like them, every single time I ordered them.  I loved it.  Maybe I was a Spaniard in a past life and this is why I like eggs the way they make them there.  I don’t know.

And another thing…the Spanish eggs, like the Netherland eggs, and like my true-free range eggs here, had the same bright orange, tasty yokes.  I suspect these Spanish eggs were true free-range as well.  Eggs that are not truly free-range, including the pretend free-range version in the US, simply do not have these healthy, tasty yokes.  They are anemic and bleah, with no flavor at all.  The Spanish eggs were utter perfection, through and through.