Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Before You Go On the Food Network…

Before you go on any Food Network program, it would serve you well to learn how to properly pronounce some commonly-used words in the culinary field.  While you’re at it, you could have a go at learning to pronounce “culinary” as well, but I’ve given up holding my breath on that one. 

However, there are some things I’m not quite ready to give up the fight on yet.  And I am really fucking tired of hearing so-called culinary “experts” constantly mispronounce the following:

Mascarpone – There are days when I swear if I hear one more person say “MARZ-ka-pone”, I will just douse my television in truffle oil, set it on fire and throw it out of a ninth-floor window.  It is pronounced “mas-kar-PO-nay”.  Why is this so difficult?  Why do I hear twelve people pronounce this incorrectly for every one that gets it right?  If you need a helpful hint, LOOK AT WHERE THE ‘R’ IS IN THE WORD.  Last time I checked, rules of Italian pronunciation did not include “if ‘r’ follows the second vowel, it should be sounded before the preceding two consonants”.  Those rules do, however, include pronouncing all vowels.  I know it’s not always easy for an English-trained brain to see an ‘e’ at the end of a word and think it’s there for anything other than garnish, but in Italian, there are no silent letters.  So say your ‘nay’.

Chipotle – If Jack-in-the-Box commercials can get this right, all you fine dining experts have no excuse.  It’s “cheh-POHT-lay”.  Not “chee-POL-tee” or “cheh-POL-tay”.  Again, a none-too-subtle hint, LOOK AT WHERE THE ‘T’ IS IN THE WORD.

Mozzarella – The most common, and to me least understandable, mispronunciation of this word is people simply forgetting that it ends with an ‘a’.  Was the final number at that concert you went to the other night performed a capell?  Is that bone in your knee a patell?  When it looks like rain, do you grab your umbrell?  Do you cringe every time your toddler insists yet again on watching her DVD of Cinderell?  Then why do you think you’re cooking with mozzarell?

Quinoa – I’m willing to cut people a bit more slack on this one just because it is kind of odd looking to an English-trained brain; however, it’s still not that difficult.  It’s pronounced “keen-wah”, slight emphasis on the first syllable.  I won’t throw a flaming truffle oil-soaked television at you if you don’t get it right all the time, but please at least make the effort.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Jews vs. Omnivores: No, Actually, It’s Not On

The other night, I was poking around the Internet looking for a good recipe for vegan buttercream frosting.  I’m not a vegan, and don’t do much vegan baking, but I’m going to try a new cupcake combo that features avocado frosting and, if I’m topping my cupcake with a vegetable anyway, it just seems silly to not make the whole thing vegan.  I found one that sounded pretty good, so I took the logical next step in the online recipe screening process and started reading the reviews and comments.

And that’s when I discovered, much to my surprise and sorrow, that apparently I hate Jews, and have all my life.  Which not only sucks for me as a person, but has the potential to make the holidays really awkward.  My sister is Jewish and, honestly, I’ve always thought I liked her a lot.

This recipe calls for sugar, as many recipes for sweet things do.  One of the commenters stated that it should specify beet sugar, because every time someone uses cane sugar, terrorists burn down an orphanage full of baby seals.  Or something to that effect, I don’t recall the exact phrasing but it was something very much to that effect.

Which prompted another commenter to say “Hey now, how about you calm down, of course you use cruelty-free ingredients whenever possible, but come on.  I’m a raw food vegan and I don’t have to make it everyone else’s problem.”  A comment and a way of thinking I appreciate; I have my thing, other people may have different things, nobody has to force their thing on anybody else.

The original commenter then rebutted with irrefutable evidence that I and many people just like me who may, like me, have spent their whole lives thinking otherwise, must in fact hate all Jews.  Because if you consume animal products, or even if you don’t consume animal products but take the incredibly irresponsible path of not trying to force your beliefs down the throat of every omnivore you encounter, that is exactly the same as the Holocaust.

(Which of course had nothing to do with anyone trying to force his belief system on everyone else.  But I digress.)

You have no idea how much I wish I were making this up.  You also have no idea how much I wish I had just called any one of my vegan friends and said “hey, email me a recipe for butterless buttercream.”  However, since I can’t unsee this exchange, I’ll do the next best thing; present one very large fact, and a few equally large opinions.

The Fact: Until you figure out a way to glean adequate sustenance from rocks, every time you eat, something is dying so that you can live.  Suck it up, Betty Sue Beetsugar, because there is no getting around that.  Welcome to our exothermic existence, where we’ll thank you to stop comparing omelets to Auschwitz.

Now for the opinions.

Many vegans cite the desire to never harm another sentient creature as the basis for their lifestyle choice and I absolutely respect that, it is an admirable way to live, every day of your life making a conscious effort to not do harm.  However, where our thinking diverges most sharply is the place where “sentient” is defined because I consider plants to be every bit as much sentient creatures as animals are.

I am what is known as a crazy plant lady.  I talk to them and they talk back the only way they can; through movement.  They lean toward me when I walk out with the watering can.  I’ve had flowers open in just the time it takes me to refill that watering can and walk back to the garden.  I used to have a patio that was edged on three sides by planter boxes and, when I sat out there to read, all of the plants would lean toward where I was sitting.  Yes, 270 degrees of plant life, all leaning toward my chair.  They were as aware of my presence as I was of theirs.

And do I eat them?  Yes, I do.  For the same reason and in the same way that I eat animals and animal products; because I will die if I don’t eat something, and with awareness of and appreciation for the fact that a living thing has ceased to live so that I can continue to do so.

So while I respect that desire behind the vegan lifestyle, I see unavoidable flaws in the execution.  Nothing anyone can do anything about as long as we’re all enjoying the previously mentioned exothermic existence.  And not a problem as long as everyone is willing to respect everyone else’s thing.

What I can and will do something about is blog the ever-loving fuck out of anyone who tries to tell me that I am an immoral, heartless, conscienceless waste of space and oxygen because I don’t share their objection to the consumption of animal products.  You know what I object to?  Embalming fluid.  I object to human remains being turned into masses of highly toxic matter that aren’t fit to be returned to the ground to nourish the very plants that we all rely on for survival, vegan or not.

That is an area that, to my way of thinking, seriously needs improvement.  Cruelty-free agriculture, and the economic feasibility of it, is an area that seriously needs improvement.  Being more aware of where our food is coming from is an area that, for just about everyone, seriously needs improvement.  But there is a difference between “areas that need improvement” and “Nazi Germany”, and those of us who really are making an effort to be good people and not completely screw up the world will thank you to recognize that difference before you start with the finger-pointing.