Tag Archives: Food

Food of Dubious Origins

Food is my one true love, and I am accepting of all its forms, whether it be moldy, partially consumed by a stranger, or, as the title suggests, of dubious origins. My friends have referred to me as ‘the garbage disposal’; ‘trash compactor’; and ‘a relentless, insatiable, gaping maw that demands constant sacrifice’. When I go out to dinner in a group, I don’t order anything; instead, I salivate as my friends scarf their foodstuffs in hurried discomfort. But they are weak and their portions large, and they always end up leaving their delicious (and completely free) scraps as offerings for my all-controlling stomach of steel.

Heavier than a falling anvil! More elastic than a drawstring laundry bag!

Nothing fazes my mithril-lined esophagus. I rip the mold off cheese with my teeth, then swallow it; I put brown bananas into my smoothies, then drink them; and if meat smells rotten, I just wash it off until the offending odor is masked, and if that’s not enough, I simply stop inhaling through my nose.

I inherited these traits from my father, whose circus-strength stomach allows him to digest anything soluble in stomach acid, no matter how expired. As a bargain hunter, nothing brings him more joy than the reduced-for-quick-sale section at the supermarket. The fewer hours of shelf life a store item has left, the cheaper it is, so he treks to the grocery store minutes before closing time, scoring discolored meat and wilted spinach for a fraction of the original price.

As his offspring, I was constantly subjected to these expired triumphs, and rarely experienced a dinner untouched by the twin seasonings of freezer burn and decomposition. I think my father was trying to forge my stomach into a food chamber as impervious as his, and for the most part, it worked.

Even if I do sometimes come down with a case of excruciating stomach pain, my mind remains steadfast, addicted to the rush that comes with avoiding waste, no matter the consequences. Nothing parallels the taste of environmentalism that comes with every bite you take to save an abandoned morsel from the dumpster.

At restaurants, I am so disgusted at the wanton squandering of perfectly good food that I sometimes sneak scraps off the tables of strangers before the waiter can throw away that last bite of steak or half-glass of wine. I revel in my delicious, planet-saving ways, always to the horror of my dates, who, for a reason I can’t quite put my finger on, never return my calls.


While this example is of course eminently reasonable, sometimes my attempts to save food go just a little bit too far. I know, I know, you’d think there’s no such thing as too far when it comes to this, but believe me when I say it’s happened.

Like last summer, when half a burrito appeared in our fridge following a week of drunken revelry. Thanks to the haze of our collective memory, no one could pinpoint where it had come from, and despite our Holmesian powers of deduction, further inspection gave us little insight. We were unable to determine even the ingredients, for they’d all faded to a uniform shade of grey. Naturally, the only option left was for me to use the tried and true Taste Test. I heated up the sucker and took a bite—

SON OF AN UNDEAD SKUNK it was terrible! I’d never tasted such disgusting meat, if it could still be called ‘meat’.

But I’m a glutton for attention as well as food, so I announced my findings loudly to the group, complaining with what I considered entertaining zeal…and then took another bite—HOLY MOTHER OF MOLD it was just as bad as I remembered. And yet I took another bite…and another, loudly lamenting my fate the entire time, until finally the whole thing was gone.

I was had just enough time to lift my arms into a celebratory first pump before my stomach contracted in violent spasms. That night was spent mostly moaning and rolling around on the floor.

——–

Better was that time I woke up and walked into the backyard to observe the glory of the morning, where much to my surprise I happened upon a giant vat of chili sitting on the porch. That was the most glorious morning of all. There was no telling how long it had been sitting there beneath the beating sun, and the manner of its arrival was similarly mysterious. Was it perhaps left by an assassin who was aware of my inability to resist unexplained food?

And how long had it been baking in the heat, turning from delicious bean-meat to disgusting heat-rot?

These were the thoughts that didn’t once cross my mind as I began to devour it with abandon. It was as delicious as any unexplained porch chili I’d ever tasted. Whatever poisons the recipe had called for obviously didn’t affect the flavor or consistency.

——–

Probably my family’s crowning achievement in the world of questionable food preservation was our pilfering of what became known to all our friends as the “trash burgers.” You see, at the end of my high school baseball season, one of my rich teammates’ families threw a party. It was an extravagant affair, riddled with a lavish assortment of buns, condiments, and chips, and they spared no expense on the mostly-beef hot dogs and the Costco burger patties. They grilled literally hundreds of burgers, an unmanageable number by anyone’s standards. The 14 of us and our assorted family members did what we could to dent the meatacopia, but we were no match for the half-cow of beef that lay before us.

As the party drew to a close, it became clear that at least 70 burgers would go uneaten, but before clan Nickel could react, the party-thrower dumped them all in the trash in an act of pure apathy! By god, man! What were you thinking?! There will be starving children at the Nickel household in oh, 8 or 10 hours!

Seeing those perfectly good patties tumble with finality into that unforgiving germ canister was one of the worst moments of my life, or was at least slightly disheartening.

I was younger then, and less resolute, so I merely mourned the loss, trading hope for less effective tears. But my dad, he’s a man of action. He called me to his side, and together we analyzed the physics of the trash can. It quickly became clear that with such a quantity of burgers, it was impossible for all of them to touch actual trash. We rejoiced, seeing to our delight that a good 40% of the burgers were protected on all sides by a buffer layer of more burgers!

Not caring who judged us, we proceeded to pluck every unsoiled patty from its doom and stack them onto a series of plates. We feasted on those burgers for weeks and weeks, tasting joy in every rescued bite.

We’re humanitarians of the highest degree—that’s what I say.

Man, all this talk of food is making me hungry. If only I had something to eat. Wait a second! I’m pretty sure I have some sushi leftover from last week! Excuse me, would you?

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Cop Week: Day 1 — The Meter Maid

Every day this week, I’ll attempt to entertain you with a tale of one of my run-ins with law enforcement! Here we go!

As an exemplary example of upstanding citizenship, I’ve had very few interactions of the cop variety. In fact, I can almost count them on one hand, but every time I get to 2, I get distracted!

As a child, I was rarely let out of the house, and even then, my leash only allowed me to stray so far from my parents without being choked, so beyond the occasional leash gnawing, I had little opportunity for mischief.

But all that changed when, at the ripe young age of 16, my parents took off the harness and forced me to get my learner’s permit. The only flaw in their plan was that they had to sit in the passenger seat for 6 months while I drove frighteningly close to parked cars, swerved into oncoming traffic, ran down cones, small mammals, and small, cone-shaped mammals, and was generally unable to control my new power.

With moderate power comes a similar level of responsibility, and now that I was behind the wheel of a car, I was subject to the rules of the road and the authority of the roadkeepers. Soon enough, there would be a head-on collision… metaphorically.

Encounter One: The Meter Maid!

The year was 2004. It was a crisp afternoon, the kind where the air smells like rotting seaweed and opportunity. The sun shone overhead, casting an aura of growth and joy upon me, and I thought then of fields of wheat, my favorite grain. My thoughts quickly turned to milling, literally, then bread, and finally settled into a lust for sandwiches. It wasn’t long before my maternal unit similarly succumbed to the sun-induced line of reasoning, and, taken by her desire, she phoned in an order for a Pastrami on Rye. She never could’ve known what that sandwich would cost us, never could’ve foretold the effect that simple order would have on our family.

That was one of the days I was practicing my none-too-reassuring driving, so it was I who turned the wheel and pulled up to the sandwich factory. But the fates conspired against us that day—there were no parking spots. My mother, bless her misguided heart, told me to park in the red—it was just for a second. I argued, but the sandwich frenzy was upon her like I’d never seen, so I grudgingly obeyed.

Critical Hit! From out of nowhere, a meter maid knocked on the window! Flustered beyond reckoning, I started weeping like a little girl trapped in too tight a leash.

But the meter maid was a ruthless Fräulein, and before I knew it, I’d gotten my first and only parking ticket, and also had my first encounter with the law, albeit the lowest and most loathsome form.

It doesn’t really count though, since I passed the blame off on my mom and didn’t have to pay for anything because she felt guilty.

Stay tuned for Day 2 of Cop Week, in which the intrepid Russ learns takes apart his car to determine if it’s a Transformer in disguise.

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We’d Like to Have Award with You

As you’ll note, especially now that I’m about to point it out, today is a Thursday, which, according to the Mayan calendar, is not a Tuesday. It has been decided that Thursdays shall henceforth be known as the days upon which either, in the rare event that visionary and heartthrob Sam has enough free time, he’ll compose something of great insight and profundity concerning the human condition, or, barring that, I’ll write some sort of gibberish held to a far lower standard than my Tuesday posts. For example, that last sentence was extremely long and unintelligible.

Most likely, we won’t post anything at all. We’re trying to keep you on your toes in an effort to appear unpredictable in that suave, unpredictable-but-I-like-it sort of way.

The reason I’m posting today is because, drum roll, Reasonably Ludicrous got its first ever blog award! For those of you who don’t know, a blog award is like chain mail, only, because everyone in the blogosphere is supportive past the point of sanity, it’s fueled not by fear of being smitten (such a cute past participle) by unseen forces should you fail to perpetuate it, but rather by the common desire to pay it forward, or share the love, as it were.

The self-propagating award we received is known as the 7×7, which is, coincidentally, the hamburger I always order at In-N-Out. The lovely (at least in my dreams), cat-adoring, never-been-kissed, bad-guy-fixated Jess over at Love The Bad Guy has, in her beneficence, presented us this award all the way from down under. If I could tunnel her my gratitude in person, I would, but my arms are a little tired, so I’ll have to settle for simply posting my thanks.

An award! Do you believe it? No matter how intangible, no matter how many strings come attached, I’m ecstatic! Any sort of validation sets my buns ablaze. Thanks, Jess!

Now, as for the award itself, it looks a little something like this:

Ah, the delicious patties of praise, lettuce of laudation, tomatoes of tribute, and grease of glory! This particular commendation requires the receiver to answer 7 pre-determined non-questions and then pass the award on to up to 7 other deserving blogs, thus proving that blog awards, like viruses, meet at least 2 of high school biology’s requirements for life. And now, without further gibbering, I present to you the answers to those seemingly unanswerable questions.

  1. Most Beautiful Post. I’ll have to go with our most recent post, Rich People Are Scary, because that has a naked pic of me in it. It took a lot of cajoling, pleading, and bribery, but Sam eventually agreed to portray me much more beautifully than is strictly accurate.
  2. Most Popular Post. Well, I could say Oops, I Got an English Degree because it has so many comments that it now takes a long time to load on my slow computer, but since the non-question doesn’t specify, I’ll claim that the most popular post hasn’t happened yet. I’m an optimist at heart, and it wouldn’t be right to think we’d already reached our peak. The best is yet to come. Just you wait.
  3. Most Controversial Post. I don’t even want to bring this one up. It was so controversial that I took it down almost immediately, and I’m pretty sure I successfully forced everyone who’d seen it to sign non-disclosure agreements. That was a close call.
  4. Most Helpful Post. Hyper-Sam and the Infinite Potential, no question. Because of this post, I can now take solace in the fact that somewhere in the twisted multiverse we call home, there’s a version of me who’s done it all right. Great work, Hyper-Russ. And if you ever find a way to communicate with me, let me know how that three-way with Amber Heard and Olivia Wilde went.
  5. Most Surprisingly Successful Post. If I had to pick, I think it would be that time I started a brand-new blog with one of my best friends. We posted it online, went to bed, and when I woke up, we’d gotten thousands of hits and hundreds of comments. That was pretty surprising, I suppose.
  6. Most Underrated Post. Uh. You guys are all so awesome. You give us such great feedback all the time. I’m beyond happy. I never expected this blog to do so well, and our success thus far is beyond my wildest dreams. If anything, all the posts are overrated.
  7. Most Pride-Worthy Post. As a writer, I’m convinced that everything I create requires vast quantities of revision and am still utterly baffled as to why anyone pays any attention to the words I scratch into the surface of the blogosphere.

So there ya have it. Now it’s my turn, my turn to spread the joy and the burden, the excitement and the obligation. Here’s hoping the blogs I choose plaster that sexy burger on their pages and tell us a little bit about themselves.

  1. Peas & Cougars. Another blog whose banner cracks me up, Peas & Cougars never ceases to delight with its ceaselessly delightful drawings of simplicity and expressiveness. She’s got a great sense of humor and satirizes those things in life we all relate to…in picture form!
  2. Live. Nerd. Repeat. Home to a half-crazed madman who spends his time playing video games, casting spells, contemplating the end of humanity, and then writing about it, this blog will sate your desire to learn more about the rare and elusive were-beaver, and his artistic representations will send you into fits of giddiness.
  3. The Snarkist. Started just this month, The Snarkist is filled with sarcastic and amusing observations on the joys and terrors of society, from sock monkeys to vanity plates. Entertaining in its derision, it’s also written by a girl from one of my English classes, and I would have really liked to hook up with her, but right after we started hitting it off, she studied abroad in Oxford. What’s that all about? Anyway, maybe giving her an award will get me in her good graces in case we ever run into each other later.

Phew. I think that’s about it. This blog award stuff is tough. Did I do ok?

UPDATE: Live. Nerd. Repeat. was Freshly Pressed mere hours after receiving this prestigious award. Coincidence? I think not! Well actually, it’s almost certainly a coincidence, but I can take satisfaction in knowing that WordPress itself agrees with me when I say it’s a fantastic blog.

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