Reporting, Recording and Relaying - But Always Telling It As I See It

Saturday, August 27, 2011

The One Piece Of The Chicken That Doesn't Taste Like Chicken

Pierced by my cocktail fork, the chicken heart, dark and shiny, was larger than I expected. I studied it for a few moments; considered it. I wondered if I would know the difference between garden variety food poisoning and salmonella.

Still, it was larger than I expected. But make no mistake, it looked like a heart. It was bulbous and asymmetrical. It was replete with a large vein sticking out of it that looked like a stem that curled a little at the end. It was done “yakitori” style which is some sort of Asian technique that translated means “way to cook food that should kill you.” Surrounding the half dozen or so hearts were four pickled quail eggs, each topped with a bit of bacon.

Bonnie and I were celebrating our anniversary at one of Pittsburgh’s newest eateries in the East End, Salt of the Earth. Our restaurant preference is usually guided by these principles; if it is ethnic, cultural or otherwise quirky; we will take a table for two. Our last foray had us eating beef tartar and bone marrow.

I took one last sip of my mescal and told Bonnie, “Hang on a second, I gotta eat this thing and I need a moment of quiet.”

I’m usually a pretty adventurous eater. If I have never had it, or better, never heard of it, I tend to try it. But still, eating a chicken heart was giving me pause.

It just seemed like something I shouldn’t do. So I ate it. And you know what? It wasn’t bad. It was not nearly as funky as I had prepared myself for. Sure, it was rubbery, but I was expecting that. I mean, it was rubbery until it wasn’t. After a few chomps, it sort of turned mushy, like I released all the connective tissue and it melted. It had the typical iron and mineral flavor that a lot of organ meat does. If it had been anything but a chicken heart, I may have actually enjoyed it.

But it was a chicken heart, and chicken is one of those things that we have been told can kill you instantly if cooked to anything less than an internal temperature that exceeds that of downtown Hiroshima on August 6, 1945.

Of course it didn’t kill me or make me sick. Salt of the Earth was a great restaurant. (I highly recommend the cheese plate after dinner with fantastic, smelly blue cheese.) Nonetheless, I think I may have eaten my last chicken heart. Try as I might, texture and taste aside, the little voice in my head that said, “you are about to eat a fucking chicken heart,” has proven to be too difficult to overcome. The pickled quail eggs, however, rocked.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

A Healthy Colon, Cigarettes At Dinner And Other Tales From 1944

Would you ingest something that promises to “help the friendly colonic flora to fluff up and prepare wastes for easy elimination?” Well, in 1944, that was the claim made by Kellogg’s All-Bran, reminding you that it is not a “purgative, it is a regulating food.”

To substantiate this claim, Kellogg’s enlisted the help of 71 year old Frank Lowe, from 4303 S. W. 9th Street, Des Moines, Iowa. (Yes, they provided the very regular Mr. Lowe’s street address.) Among other things, Mr. Lowe states that “after the first week my passage was normal.”

I came into the possession of the 1944 Cleveland News through my wife, who spirited a few copies from her dad’s house. This one happens to be from June 6, 1944. D-Day. In huge bold letters on the front page the headline reads, “INVASION ON!” (That sure beats, “CONGRESS AT AN IMPASSE!”)

But since we all (hopefully) know the story of D-Day. I thought I’d highlight a few other interesting items from the paper.

• They picked up a story (God knows how) from Pittsburgh about a guy who filed a complaint against the Office of Price Administration (known today as OPEC) for the ever increasing price of the small cakes he bought daily for his lunch. The baker is quoted as saying, “I only sell the cakes, I don’t make the prices.”

• The Pendleton Round Up in Portland, Oregon was revived after a two year hiatus. It is hard to believe that anyone outside of the Portland metropolitan area cared about this, but there it was on page 3.

• It was “Meat Week” at Fisher Foods. They remind you to bring in your waste fats for the war effort.

(Much of the advertising had to do with the war effort. The most prominent was from Raleigh Cigarettes, urging its consumers to not hoard its smokes as a full 35% of its production capacity was going to the armed forces.)

• An apartment building owner in Wesleyville, PA, was so upset at the Rent Control Board that he posted a notice on his apartment building stating, “This apartment will not be for rent for the duration due to the unfair rental set by the Rent Control Board.” There isn’t more to the story; it is thirty-eight words long. It is right above a shorter piece on the over production of magnesium.

• "The Correct Thing," an etiquette aside, informs its readers that if refreshments are refused, do not “urge” by saying, “I’ll be insulted if you don’t take something.” A friend of mine refused a shot one time, he was told, “drink the fucking shot, you girl.” I guess I have a long way to go.

• The advice columnist, Elinor Ames, states that it is not impolite to smoke between courses at a friend’s home, as “most hostesses will pass cigarettes.”

• The State Theater was showing “Two Girls and a Sailor.” You can work your own magic on this one.

• Lastly, the classifieds offered this gem. “On and after this date, I will not be responsible for debts contracted by any other than myself. Clyde Shook.” Clyde went on to write fiscal policy for the United States.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Do Not Password - Do Not Collect My $200.00 Dollars.

Being robbed and assaulted at gunpoint would be less traumatic than having my gmail account hacked. I am certain of this because I protect my password with the veracity of a mongrel dog protecting a marrow bone while I freely walk around with my wallet dallying in my pocket, shielded only by a swath of denim.

You wouldn’t think this would be the case, as staring at the business end of a 9mm before its owner pistol whips you could challenge even the meatiest of Health Savings Accounts, not to mention the need for reconstructive surgery and testimony.

Yet we are led to believe, via television and radio, that identity theft is a crime that renders the victim a credit quadriplegic - his life ruined into the foreseeable future as he is left wondering if even his customer loyalty card at the local coffee shop is valid any more. Tragically, this may in fact be the case. But the mere threat of identity theft has left us a nation incapable of social discourse because our brains are taxed remembering our passwords for our fucking gmail accounts!

Wouldn’t you think identity theft would decline with the current state of the economy? Isn’t there the very real possibility that the person whose identity you were going to lift is worse off than you? We aren’t exactly a nation of polo match attending aristocrats.

Nonetheless, we have been convinced (and maybe rightfully so) that our entire electronic presence is constantly at risk of intrusion (I originally typed “intursion”, which isn’t a word, but should be). Therefore, I need a three number, five letter, ten character, encrypted and updated every five minutes password to open the email that states that iTunes did, in fact, charge me $.99 for Bette Davis Eyes.

“But your credit card information is stored on those sites, that’s why you need a password!” the grand identity protectors say. To which I say, “But isn’t it also stored on my actual credit card that I hand over with impunity to every merchant - including the nineteen year old pot head who is looking to score a dime bag from the corner dealer after his shift?” This does not seem worrisome to most.

So, in lockstep with the rest, I have accumulated passwords like politicians accumulate PAC dollars. I sleep better knowing that no one will ever be able to hack into my Twitter account and tweet a message to Ozzie Guillan.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

A Reason I Don't Wear Women's Clothes

There are some things that only women are emotionally equipped to deal with. At the top of the list is the care of clothing. This is resoundingly evident on the rare occasion when I run an article of Bonnie’s clothing through the laundry. I take it out, mutter “oh shit” and start to think of how I am going to explain myself. I would put it away and hope it goes undetected, but she maintains an arsenal of drawers and closets all over our room, and I don’t know where ANYTHING goes. She walks a mile in the morning to collect her outfit.

But this isn’t a result of Bonnie being overly finicky; it’s the result of women’s clothes requiring the care and maintenance of a live donor heart. Men’s clothes (at least my clothes) are pretty simple; they get washed and subsequently dried.

As an example of what makes women’s clothes so complicated to wash, let’s examine tank tops. (And let’s assume that I am even using the correct terminology here – in female nomenclature they may not at all be called tank tops – but that’s what they look like.) Some tank tops (which all look exactly the same to me) can be washed and dried; some can be washed but not dried; and some require Bonnie to use settings on the washing machine like “delicate, fabric softener, half spin, triple rinse, twice removed.” This has her turning dials and punching buttons like she is engaging the Caterpillar Drive on the Red October.

The complexity of the washing parameters extend backward to the purchasing of clothes. Tags have to be examined. What? I barely consider whether clothes fit let alone how to wash them. (Of course, my accumulated time shopping for clothes over my forty-two years is about seven minutes.) On the other hand, men’s clothes are pretty straightforward. They basically consist of pants, shorts, shirts and – nope, I think that’s about it.

The end result of all of this is that I try not to wash any of Bonnie’s clothes unless she is hovering nearby to monitor me for potential mistakes, like the seasoned transplant surgeon studying the shaky hands of the intern while the heart comes out of the Coleman cooler. But when she is not around, and one of those tank tops rear its cotton, silk, flannel, spandex poly-cashmere blend selves, well, I look over my shoulder and toss it right back in the dirty laundry.