Champagne Problems and Stale Beer Dreams

Bought a flat, cloudy six pack of Pacific Wonderland Lager from a disreputable gas station. Should have looked at the label which said “freshest within 4 months” of 7-24-20. That would have probably been fine if it had been stored in a cold, dark cave and not at room temperature in direct sunlight, which was probably the case here. If I wanted my beer ruined that way I’d just go to Trader Joe’s.

Deschutes Brewery makes good products and it’s not their fault that a disreputable gas station wants to sell expired beverages. I happened to be making fish and chips for the kids that day and had no panko or bread crumbs or grindable crackers so I made a “beer” batter using flour and Topo Chico mineral water because the stale beer on hand was not bubbly which is the whole point of using it for batter. And the frozen cod purchased from Safeway was no bueno. Oh the humanity!

Bad beer and cheap fish are champagne problems in a world as crazy and dangerous as the one we’re living in now.

A Tasty, Harmful Junk Food Treat

Michelina’s Salisbury Steak with Mashed Potatoes and Gravy - I’d buy that for a dollar! At least once. The meat and potatoes were salty pleasant mush and the gravy was fine. But why all the extra ingredients?

Could they not make this stuff with just chopped beef, potatoes, butter and spices? Three types of animals are used here and also BHA (butylated hydroxyanisole) and BHT (butylated hydroxytoluene). Both are banned for use in food in Europe, Australia and other countries more civilized than our own. Michelina’s would probably have horrifed James H. Salisbury, who invented Salisbury Steak in 1888 as part of his bizarre meat-centric health regimen. Salisbury thought vegetables produced poisons and claimed “Salisbury steak should be eaten three times a day, with much hot water to cleanse the digestive system.”

Authentic Is What You Say It Is

A box of frozen Authentic Asia Shrimp Wonton Soup was tasty. Whole shrimp in there as advertised - the dried and rehydrated kind so common in many Asian cuisines. Mushy wrappers, but I have never owned a microwave so maybe that was the result of heating this up on the stove. A nice bit of fried garlic in the broth. Also Disodium Inosinate (basically an MSG type thing) and Silicon Dioxide (basically a sand type thing).

This product is made by Bellisio Foods of Minneapolis, which also produces the Mama Michelina’s brand and lots of other supermarket junk food, like Atkins™ frozen entrees. Bellisio is owned by the Thailand based food conglomerate Charoen Pokphand Foods.

The Most Corrupt Food Category of All Time

The olive oil business has been so crooked for so long that if it were a sport it would be a combination of boxing and horse racing. You might remember that the fictional character Don Vito Corleone set up the Genco Pura Olive Oil Company in the 1920s as a money laundering scheme but in real life organized crime is still in the business and has been for thousands of years.

That’s why a seasoned supermarket shopper like myself was dismayed to have accidentally purchased the “global blend” from California Olive Ranch - a brand I had grown to like and almost trust. The global blend has oil from Argentina, Chile, Portugal and California which would be fine except for the fact that the whole selling point of the brand of the CALIFORNIA olive ranch is that their trees are in California.

“It all started with a wild idea: to make the best extra virgin olive oil at an affordable price in California. We took the age-old tradition of cultivating olives and flipped it on its head. 20 years later, we continue to blend tradition with innovation. We call that living the Californian dream.” – California Olive Ranch

This would be capitalism at work - endless, relentless growth at all costs. A successful corporation needs to keep expanding to answer to investors and shareholders and that means introducing products like canned vanilla flavored olive spray, roasted garlic flavored olive oil (huh?) and cheap low grade plonk, also known as “global blend.” Even if it damages the brand.

Next week’s newsletter will be about making Pad Thai and delivering it to the Nickelsville Central District Tiny House Village.

We still have less than 50 subscribers and our goal is to have 50 million, so please tell your friends about Nirvana Wok!

–Alex