Category Archives: Food

Food Feuds

Today we’re having a look at two spicy, bitter culinary rivalries. Who was the first to make a dish? Whose is the best? Can we resolve the great Slovenian-Austrian sausage fight? Is Tampa’s bread enough to usurp the Cuban Sandwich throne?

Let’s strap on the ol’ feedbag of information and scarf down some facts.

MIAMI vs. TAMPA: THE CUBAN SANDWICH

Let me begin by saying I have nothing against Tampa. Actually that came out wrong, I have plenty against Tampa. Those smug, highfalutin west coast Floridians are always dumping on us east coast Floridians like we’re all a bunch of second-class citizens, when the reality is that we record a very comparable amount of arrests for drunkenly trying to ride on large aquatic fauna every year.

Tampans (is that what Tampa natives are called? St. Petersburgers?) are rightfully proud of being the hometown of baseball legend Fred McGriff, in addition to above-average theme park Busch Gardens, but for them to challenge Miami on anything related to Cuban food is a step too far.

To make a long story short, Tampans claim that the “Cuban Sandwich” was invented in Tampa in the 1890s. At some point they made the dubious decision to add salami into the mix. There is essentially universal agreement on the sandwich’s other acceptable components: mojo marinated roast pork, ham, pickle, mustard and Swiss cheese, though Tampa’s bread is a bit different.

So Tampa’s claim to the Cuban Sandwich crown is hinging upon decidedly non-Cuban salami, and a slight bread variation, which is easily the least important part of any sandwich anyway. Let’s be honest bread is just a needlessly distracting, superfluous meat-blocking impediment.

I don’t care if NPR recently declared Tampa the winner of this food feud; Miami is the epicenter of the Cuban-American community, and as such shall have the final say on all matters pertaining to comida Cubana.

FEUD WINNER: MIAMI

AUSTRIA vs. SLOVENIA: KRAINER SAUSAGE

Sausage fight! Sausage fight! In this mighty meat melee between Austria and Slovenia, the world hasn’t seen a sausage-heavy confrontation of this magnitude since… I don’t know maybe last week’s Green Bay – Chicago Bears game.

Here’s a breakdown on the situaish…

Slovenia wants the very tasty Kranjska klobasa (or krainer sausage) to be given a protected and official status, as they claim it was invented in (what is now) Slovenia in the 1800s. But Austria has stepped in and made it clear that they do not approve of the Sound of this particular litigious Music, as sausage-eating, sausage-making and boasting about Austria are a few of their favorite things.

Apparently Austria’s claim to the sausage throne consists of the fact that they invented a similar but modified cheese-filled version, the Kaesekrainer*, in the 1980s. They also bemoan the fact that when the sausage was originally invented, the area was just part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and thus cannot be claimed exclusively by Slovenia.

Slovenia continues to push for a ruling stating that only sausages made in Slovenia in accordance with the original recipe would be allowed to be identified with the Kranjska or Krainer moniker. Austrian sausage-sellers wait on edge, as they believe changing the name of their porky product would be bad for business.

And of course there is an immense amount of sausage pride at stake here. That can’t be underestimated.

While the two countries await an official European Union Commission ruling on the matter, The Mighty F is always ready to issue a snap judgment based on little more than emotion, speculation and gut feeling.

FEUD WINNER: SLOVENIA (Sorry Austria, but a tie or a close ruling will probably never go to the country where Hitler was born.)

*A good lesson to all you aspiring inventors out there. If something’s already been invented, just stuff it with cheese, and bam, that’s a new thing.

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Frosted Flakes

When’s the last time you had a nice bowl of Frosted Flakes? It’s been years for me. I’m not sure why, they are delicious – perhaps the greatest of all the breakfast cereals – and yet I just keep ending up with some sort of lesser cereal that’s not even a little bit frosted. I guess this is part of getting older. As we age, our cereal selection gets progressively worse – more bran, more fiber, fewer marshmallows – until eventually we just give up and settle for plain Cheerios.

Are we powerless to reverse this trend? Am I doomed to a future of bland breakfast cereals that have no toys inside? Is there any going back? Continue reading

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Food Words

Certain words make me hungry. Often times I read a word on a page that has nothing to do with food, but it triggers an immediate food association/ hunger response. Here are a few that set me off, along with any necessary explanations. Sometimes there are a couple degrees of separation.

Calamity: Calamari

General/Generally: General Tso. I have an insatiable desire for any and all Asian foods. I would eat extra spicy Gen. Tso’s for breakfast every day if it was a bit more affordable/socially acceptable.

Pad/Padding/Paddle: Thai Food

Boat: Sushi Boat

Sticker/Stick/Stickler: Pot-sticker

Balloon: Chips. The word balloon leads to baboon, which makes me think of all those mischievous baboons stealing bags of chips in Cape Town.

Penguin: Ice Cream. Specifically, penguins make me think of puffins, whose brightly colored beaks make me think of Creamsicle.

Cool: Cool Ranch Chips

Viscous: Couscous

Harmless: Hummus

Blubber/Blub/Bulbous/Walrus: Pork Belly or some good Fatty BBQ

Basically: Basil, which leads back to Thai Food

Forklift: Obviously 😉

Machine/Machinery: Mac and Cheez

Wood/Coal/Hut/Zone/Stuff… : Basically every word makes me think of pizza.

I could go on forever… These are just a few that are pretty locked in. As you can imagine reading has become very difficult for me.

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Friday Fungus! Familiar Fungi

It’s time for another installment of everyone’s favorite (quarterly, mushroom-related) series!

I saw a couple ‘shrooms sprouting in our lawn a little while back and thought, “Wonder if I could eat that?”

Not having any idea what the ‘shroom was or if I could add it to one of my patented “fancy Ramens” (Pizza Ramen, Hot Pocket Ramen, McNugz Ramen, etc.) without dying was the impetus for today’s post… in which we’ll identify a few common fungi seen around the world and whether or not they should be consumed.

According to my new handy mushroom field guide, our culprit here from my lawn appears to be a semi-tasty common puffball, or Lycoperdon perlatum, OR for mushroom enthusiasts who like to party: THE DEVIL’S SNUFF BOX.

Common Puffballs (all imgs on this page via Wikipedia, send yer donations you freeloaders!)

(Please if you are a mushroom expert and believe I’ve made a grave error and this is really a deadly toxic ‘shroom, thanks for the heads up).

It’s head-scratching the names they come up with these fungi. I do like that every fungus seems to have multiple aliases, like gangsters, but most of them seem pretty negative. I’m not sure who the marketing gurus responsible for naming these things are, but to be saddled with descriptors like canker, blight, rot, rust, stinkhorn, decay, smut etc., is a real social barrier. Hopefully the Friday Fungus! series will help restore the good name of some of these unfortunately named beauties.

In the meantime, here are a few other common fungi to be aware of.

Grifola frondosaA.K.A. Hen of the Woods, Ram’s Head. The Japanese call this edible gem maitake. It has been praised by many cultures around the world for its taste and also touted for its supposed medicinal purposes.

A lovely Hen of the Woods.

Clathrus ruberA.K.A. Red cage, Witch’s Heart. This stinkhorn can be seen around the world. Fully grown it emits a foul odor and would only be eaten by a foolhardy drunkard, but apparently it can be consumed when still in ‘egg’ form.

A very lovely but smelly Red Cage.

Pseudocolus fusiformisA.K.A. Stinky Squid. Another bizarre but common stinkhorn, this is another one to steer clear of when fully grown. So help me if I hear about any of you trying to eat something called Stinky Squid I will send our intern out to smack you.

Another smelly beauty, the Stinky Squid.

Fuligo septicA.K.A. Dog Vomit Slime Mold, Scrambled Egg Slime.  This unfortunately named common fungus gets a further dent to its reputation by being accused of causing asthma. I say we band together to change the nickname to something more appealing, like Hero Fungus.

Dog Vomit Slime Mold, or Hero Fungus?

Be sure to join us next time as we learn more about the wild, wonderful world of fungi together!

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Feeding Frenzies

Thanksgiving-time is upon us. In this fair season where we may be tempted to overindulge in foodstuffs, we thought it might be nice to show some footage of beasts more gluttonous than ourselves.

Why?

1.) We are all about feeling better about ourselves

2.) Because shame is a powerful motivator

So please enjoy these clips of ravenous animals chowing down without restraint. May it serve as a reminder to show a modicum of discipline during times of abundance. And also as a reminder to never trust cunning, deceptively bloodthirsty porpoises.

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Fall Favorites: The 5 F’s of Fall

Apparently it is now Fall. Whatever that means; it was like 93 degrees here yesterday. Every year in Florida we rely on other people to tell us when seasons are allegedly changing elsewhere in the world, so I have to assume you guys are telling us the truth.

Despite not having much in the way of changing seasons, I do look forward to this time of year – if only to live vicariously through the quaint things you upper 47’ers do with all your pumpkins, snow and leaves. Here are the five things that to me, encapsulate all that is wonderful about this time of year. Continue reading

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Fifteen Fifty Five (1555 A.D.)

Today we’re going back into time… a time before electricity, aeroplanes, telephones, Cheetos and Progressive car insurance commercials. It was a time when people had to pour sweat into the earth to survive, when brave men risked all to rape, pillage, steal natural resources and exploit native peoples navigate the open seas and find mysterious knowledge at the ends of the unexplored earth. The year: 1555 A.D.

What was happening in the world 457 years ago? (Surely this was in the front of your mind when you woke up this morning?) Let’s look at a few broad topics.

Cultural Learnings – By 1555, the Renaissance had emanated across Europe. Sparked by the Italian masters named after Ninja Turtles and innovations like the printing press, Europe at this point was increasing in knowledge, improving technologies, increasing food diversity (the rich at least), and afire with vigorous religious debate (#euphemisms). The arts (literature, sculptures, music, paintings, etc.) were flourishing, China (under the Ming Dynasty) was inventing all sorts of neat gadgets, trade was becoming an increasingly global affair, and tremendous leaps were being made in various sciences. Continue reading

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