Sunday, January 5, 2020

Voices Inside My Head (#14 - "That's NOT food" Edition)

"There's a reason why one never sees an Irish restaurant listed in the Triple-A guidebook..." -- The Overlord

If you haven't figured this out already, your Galactic Master can be quite hyper-critical about certain things.

As I see it, there are things that matter and things that don't, and the things that DO matter deserve to be taken as seriously as a heart attack. Among these important things is my food.

I simply REFUSE to eat anything that comes out of a box. 

I will often turn my nose up at something that comes out of a can.

Anything that has been frozen like Hillary's ladyparts makes me want to vomit.

Call it what you will -- picky, fussy, anal-retentive, persnickety -- but I was raised in a household where we ate fresh food, as often as possible and often cooked from scratch. There was no weekly pizza delivery; no regular mountains of Chinese take-out. We ate what our Mother or (mostly) Grandmother cooked that day, and you were on shaky ground (in terms of whether you would survive dinner) if you did not finish it. Every. Last. Morsel.

There was no such thing as "leftovers". The concept of "leftovers" was as foreign to us as the idea of the morally-upright, ethically-correct, rational democrat would be to everyone else. Unless it was originally and deliberately prepared to be eaten a second time -- a batch of soup, a few gallons of tomato sauce, and such -- it never took up real estate in the refrigerator.

Even the dogs ate exceedingly well on the inedible (to humans) scraps, tallow, fats, juices, and other by-products.

I have been this way my entire life. Trained, you might say, to answer in the negative at inferior products someone seriously intended for human consumption. So far as I am concerned, a list of ingredients that includes MSG, FD&C Yellow #5, emulsifiers, stabilizers, and corn starch, are not food. They are the precursor chemicals needed to make C4, or the basics of cement.

We may have prosecuted the wrong people at Nuremberg.

I don't eat, would never buy, the industrial, vulcanized rubber some people call "Mozzarella Cheese" that is designed to sit inside a plastic package on a refrigerated shelf for 18 months.

I do not freeze fish when I buy it -- I eat it the same day it was caught.

No frozen or canned vegetables for this boy; if I can't smell it, see it, touch it and taste it before I buy it, I will definitely pass. If I have to unwrap it to get a sense of it's quality, I give it a wide berth.

I make my own bread, when I have the time, otherwise it comes from the bakery. If I could churn my own butter, I most certainly would. Never mind an expiration date on dairy products; it's likely to be chucked a week before we reach those, if not totally consumed by then.

Every meal has a fresh fruit or vegetable component. That I've hand-picked.

Yes, this does make me a tremendous pain in the ass, but in my defense, I can at least say that I didn't get this corpulent on a steady input of shitty, fourth-and-fifth-rate chemical substitutes and that it's quite possible that my cause of death will not be "ingested Spackle disguised as something edible".

The only concession I make to this rule is my daily Pepsi.

And this, more than anything else, makes living with Mrs. Overlord an experience sometimes akin to a root canal, performed without anesthetic, and with the dentist reaching up into your mouth via your rectum.

For Mrs. Overlord to put this delicately? unusual breed.

And when I say "unusual" I don't mean in demeanor (although she surpasses every other vagina in this department), but in cultural heritage, which, since I'm Italian, almost always begins and almost always ends with food.

She is Irish, with a hefty splash of Filipino added for spice.

And while I do not wish to insult (too greatly) my Irish readership (Top o' the Mornin' To Ya, Fucktards!) I recall a certain ancient Roman senator of some note (whose name eludes me for the moment) who took to the Senate floor to oppose an invasion of Ireland, where he is reported to have said:

"Hibernia (Ireland) is not worth the trifle of a conquest, for it contains naught but drunks, whores and thieves, which Rome has in abundance, already."

Left unsaid, but obviously implied in that statement is "nothing good to eat, either".

For the Mediterranean world abounds in comestible goodies. The soil provides the very best Semolina wheat and brings forth the olive and the grape in varietal splendor. The number of vegetables, legumes, and fruits available in a Mediterranean diet will frankly astound. Cheeses of hundreds of kinds, made from the milk of cattle, goats, sheep, the flavor and texture of which will make you believe you have died and gone to heaven. Herbs and spices to season your food that are, literally, the best.

To eat Italian is to exercise all of the senses. It is the very definition of "to be alive".

So we come to Mrs. Overlord and her Irish forebears.

In ancient Italy, we did not (regularly) have serial and unusual sexual relations with our entree while we fattened it up for consumption. Neither did we have to make due with bitter and fibrous roughage like thistles. We had advanced far enough to have invented the clay, and later metal, pot, so that we did not have to cook our food inside an animal's bladder. We had fuel to actually BAKE grains thoroughly instead of just mixing them with water and pouring the resulting vomit-like glop onto a hot rock.

The Filipino portion ain't so hot, neither. Unless you enjoy dog, underdeveloped duck and chicken fetus, everything slathered in coconut milk or mango (I like both, but not in the same dish, fer cryin' out loud!), or roasted inside the same kind of leaves the locals wipe their asses with.

This is then conditioned even further -- and not in a good way -- by certain, shall we say "ethnic" proclivities. Like producing families that are so large that they can't be properly fed when Dad doesn't make very much money, so that corners need to be cut, and the first place they're cut is in the nutrition and taste departments.

(This is NOT to imply the Overlord was born with the proverbial silver spoon. We were working class, too: it's just that we made the effort to remove the dishes from the sink before we pissed in it. Oh, and because we could afford more than one bathroom for 13 people, we didn't need to urinate in the kitchen sink, anyway).

Anyway, this has resulted in something of a continuing struggle in our home when it comes to meals.

I like to eat well, which is defined as "eating good, fresh food, prepared with skill and flavor".

Mrs. Overlord, having been raised on a steady diet of complete crap from the No Frills shelves, fried or boiled into a gray, glue-like consistency, slathered in ketchup and presented in something looking like a dog's dinner dish, often with a side of boiled tree bark, all of it served against a backdrop of competition-cum-fistfight for the "best" bits because there's 37 people at this table and only so much to go around, never learned any better.

(Do you know the four basic Irish food groups? They are: potatoes, booze, potatoes and booze. On holidays they add a fifth one, which is "whatever we found on the floor").

As a result, Mrs. Overlord has peculiar eating habits.

For example, she will not eat a vegetable. Ever. Unless it's corn, which I gather was the cheapest canned good available back in the day. She does not know how to eat a good steak; she wants it cooked exceedingly well until it looks like it came out of the 9/11 fires, complete with a glass-like finish. She demands potatoes with everything -- mashed or boiled (although she does enjoy my oven-roasted potatoes), and if we can't get that, we want a side that came out of a cardboard box usually emblazoned with the word "Cheez" in neon letters.

Her favorite side dishes all come out of a box, and were apparently designed to pack as many caustic chemicals as possible into a single container, and are guaranteed to be less-tasty than the box, itself.

Since I do the shopping (and cooking), I feel slightly embarrassed as the seemingly-endless array of boxes of Rice-A-Roni, Pasta-Roni, instant soups, canned meats full of salt and sugar, artificially-flavored everything from breakfast cereal to toilet paper (exaggeration? Hardly) goes rolling by the scanner that I almost wish they sold this crap in plain, brown wrappers.

That is not to say she won't eat good food, just particular ones, and only if I make them.

But the most-disgusting of all is her absolute love affair with Spam.

I reckon because this appeals to her Irish side (cheap, chewy meat liberally doused in salt and gelatin. Why, it's dinner and dessert combined!) and her Filipino side (disgusting, below-dog-food-grade block of leftovers-of-the-leftovers shit one wouldn't actually eat unless driven to it by barest necessity).

It's gotten to the point where the daily question:

 "Honey, what's for dinner?"

Is responded to with:

"Indigestion or malnutrition. It's your choice."

Spam. Even the name evokes visions of lips and assholes, veins and cartilage, sinews and viscera fat, snouts, cheeks and jowls, testicles, ovaries and hemorrhoids, and perhaps even tumors and warts (do pigs get warts? Does anyone know?). She loves this stuff.

I, personally, would starve to death rather than eat it, but she wants it. So, I slice it thin and fry it up for her, and she absolutely tears into it. Capable of eating an entire can in a single sitting.

And that's how talented I am in the kitchen: I can cook something I absolutely would not feed to the assholes in Gitmo or on Death Row, but apparently I do it "perfectly".

I also cook two meals a night, most nights.

And so, on an evening when Roasted chicken in butter, herbs and garlic, some nicely sauteed (in bacon fat) Swiss Chard, and a lovely jacketed potato is on the menu, Mrs. Overlord turns her nose up...and requests Kraft Mac and Cheese.

And this pisses me off. Mightily.

Mind you, I make an awesome Mac and (four) Cheese, from scratch, and she loves it.

But she wants some fake pasta boiled until it acquires a phlegm-like consistency (the concept of al dente pasta being repugnant to her), slathered in margarine (Kraft "Dinner" HAS to use margarine, she informs me, because Mom), mixed with some packet of orange chemicals that would make Donald Trump look pale by comparison, instead.

I should probably be grateful she doesn't ask me to cut up some Spam to mix in it.

I would bet good money the resulting rainbow-colored brick of desiccated shit to emerge with a childbirth-like effort from her constipated-by-sodium-phosphate-bowels would be considered a modern art masterpiece.

And that sounds far-more appetizing than "Instant Onion Soup" Now with more mystery bits!".

No comments: