Archive for the ‘Food Glorious Food’ category

Happy Bastilla Day!

July 14, 2009

If you happen to be in France as you read this, happy Bastille Day.

Only the French would think it a good idea to have a national holiday honoring a prison. I doubt that one could muster much enthusiasm on these shores for, say, San Quentin Day.

Seeing that Bastille Day is a tough sell, I’m proposing an alternative: Bastilla Day.

Sweet, savory Moroccan pie stuffed with chicken, eggs, and almonds, dusted with cinnamon and powdered sugar… who couldn’t get behind that?


Hawaiian I

June 11, 2009

Happy King Kamehameha Day to all of my Hawaiian friends. Save me a hunk of kalua pig, yeah? (I don’t have room in my backyard to dig an imu — that’s the underground oven used to roast a whole pig — so I’m throwing ribs on the grill instead.)

Whenever anyone asks me, “Where are you from originally?” my default answer as a former military brat is, “Everywhere.” If pinned down, however, I’ll say Hawaii.

Although I was born and adopted in Michigan, I spent the formative years of my childhood in the Aloha State. It’s from Hawaii that my earliest memories emanate, and thus it’s the locale I identify as my place of origin. There’s still a part of me that longs to reside there, even though the Golden State Warriors will win the NBA Finals before I’ll persuade my wife to do that.

Our home on Oahu was a little white house in the Honolulu suburb of Ewa Beach (pronounced “eh-vah,” as in, “You Ewa do dat again, brah, I going knock you on yo’ okole“). There was one other house between ours and a beautiful expanse of white sand beach, where I played in those days before parents thought overmuch about what might become of keikis (that’s “small children” to you haoles) left to play alone in public places. (Or perhaps my parents did think about it, and I should have taken that as a hint.) My best friend was a towheaded boy who lived next door, and who also had the same first name as I. We routinely referred to one another as “the other Michael” in a youthful accommodation to identity.

My most vivid recollections of those halcyon days include the time that my mother and I found and rescued a young dolphin beached on our neighborhood shore, and the time I was pinned under a driftwood log and nearly drowned. From the latter incident I acquired a fear of water that persisted for years, preventing me from learning to swim adequately until I was well into adolescence.

Decades later, Hawaiian influences continue to pervade my consciousness. Some of these are linguistic holdovers from my childhood pidgin: I still refer to my belly as my opu, address my friends as “brah,” say “all pau” when I’m finished with something, and shrug off responsibility with the phrase, “That’s not my kuleana.” Other influences are cultural: I’m convinced that my dogged casualness toward life is vestigial Hawaiian.

And, once or twice a month, I have to indulge my craving for Hawaiian food. Nothing says lovin’ like a loco moco (a gravy-covered hamburger topped with a fried egg, served with rice), a slice of Spam musubi (think sushi, only with Spam — yeah, I said Spam — instead of fish), and a steaming bowl of saimin (noodle soup).

I’ve been a Californian for three decades, but my heart remains in the Islands. And why not — we’ve got a Hawaiian in the White House now. You go, brah!

Think I’ll go put on my aloha shirt and sing a few choruses of “The Hukilau Song.” Or maybe “Pearly Shells.”


What’s Up With That? #78: Crunch time

June 8, 2009

The current leader in Uncle Swan’s Moron of the Month Sweepstakes is Janine Sugawara of San Diego, who sued PepsiCo Inc. in federal court because the crunchberries in Cap’n Crunch cereal are not actual berries.

Ms. Sugawara’s lawsuit alleged that during the four years she purchased Cap’n Crunch with Crunchberries, PepsiCo’s subsidiary Quaker Oats defrauded her by leading her to believe that crunchberries were really fruit. Imagine Janine’s shock when, after four years, she discovered that she was actually eating little balls of corn cereal flavored with strawberry concentrate.

In dismissing Sugawara’s suit, Judge Morrison C. England Jr. wrote:

This Court is not aware of, nor has Plaintiff alleged the existence of, any actual fruit referred to as a “crunchberry.” Furthermore, the “Crunchberries” depicted on the PDP are round, crunchy, brightly-colored cereal balls, and the PDP (principal display panel — legalese for “side of the cereal box”) clearly states both that the Product contains “sweetened corn and oat cereal” and that the cereal is “enlarged to show texture.” Thus, a reasonable consumer would not be deceived into believing that the Product in the instant case contained a fruit that does not exist.

Further, Judge England found:

Plaintiff claims Defendant expressly warranted that the Product contains berries. However, that simply is not the case. Defendant chose the moniker “Crunchberries” for its brightly colored cereal balls. As far as this Court has been made aware, there is no such fruit growing in the wild or occurring naturally in any part of the world. Furthermore, a reasonable consumer would have understood the Product packaging to expressly warrant only that the Product contained sweetened corn and oat cereal, which it did. Accordingly, Defendant did not promise Plaintiff that the Product contained fruit, nor did the Product contain anything other than that which was actually expressly warranted.

Crunchberries don’t grow in the wild? Say it ain’t so, Judge!

It’s people like Janine Sugawara — who previously sued Kellogg’s because Froot Loops do not contain actual “froot” — who make a mockery of the American legal system… which does not, in fact, need assistance in that regard.

Next on Sugawara’s hit list: Keebler cookies, which, come to find out, are baked in a factory, and not by elves with magic ovens in hollow trees.