The real meal deal



I took a box of microwave popcorn out of the cupboard, and saw this label in the photo.

And thought, only real ingredients??  What other option do they have?

Is this some sort of pretzel logic, or are there actually buckets of purely theoretical popcorn being sold, drenched in pseudo-butter?

If all the ingredients are unreal and imaginary, and the box is sold by weight, not volume, you’re gonna have a problem.

Even “reality shows,” famous for mental lightweights, have some sort of density and concreteness, especially between the ears.  A big box of the the unreal, even if supersized and 33% more volume! (than the smaller box) is just going to irritate people, when it dawns on them that it’s empty.

I’ve got no objection to the imaginary or unreal, heck, whatever gets you through the day, or gets you an Oscar, or elected to office, unreality seems to be trending in the USA.

But how do you get FDA approval?  What are the additives and carb count, and what does it weigh?

Mostly I don’t read food labels, they’re kind of mystifying and scary.  Glycerides sounds mythical, I looked them up, expecting they were related to Greek deities like Gaia or Gymnastika (the goddesses of earth and morning exercises, respectively).  Or maybe it’s Roman, glycerides, a slippery version of the Ides of March?

But they’re apparently something real, and then reading about Glycerides gets you involved in a Wikipedia story about Fatty Acid Ester – – sounds tough, doesn’t she?  like Ma Barker.  Apparently though, according to the article, she’s very hydrophobic (like people with rabies?) and probably sticks to bathtub gin.



My second thought was, Only Real Ingredients…how very disappointing.”

Isn’t food something we look to, every now and then, for a little bit of imagination or even fantasy?

One of my grandmothers used to make Angel Food Cake, with whipped cream and strawberries.

We knew, I guess, it wasn’t really food by, or for, angels, but that didn’t seem entirely unbelievable, either.  It was pretty delicious, blissful, and gave you a floating sensation.

If it was strawberry season, and the fruit was just perfectly ripe and fragrant, it surely seemed to be pretty darn angelic.



Another ancestor was famous for her Ambrosia.  The recipe for this food of the gods was passed down, but the old folks say, they cannot duplicate the perfection they remember.  Some even mutter darkly of sabotage and the sin of omission — some ingredient or super-secret wrist action, when the whipped cream is folded in, that wasn’t written down.

A warm, fragrant slice of Pie in the Sky seems like it would be tasty and felicitous right about now.  Not sure what type of pie, I know my favorite, but maybe the angels are sensitive about eating apples, I seem to remember some sort of biblical issue over that.  Or I’d like to pull a Mason jar out of the cupboard – pickles, apple butter, whatever, it doesn’t matter –  maybe find it forgotten on a shelf in the pantry, and find a hand-written label “Legendary Good Stuff.  One Jar of the Fantastical.”


I guess that label, “Only Real Ingredients,” could be a hopeful sign, really.  It implies the possibility of “Unreal Ingredients.”

One hallucination per box, and no monosodium glutamate.  

This kind of wishful thinking is easy, when you grew up hearing about pubs in Hogsmeade serving delicious butterbeer and the tasty-looking Krabby Patties they dish up in Bikini Bottom.  When you’re a bit older, say, thirteen, you find most real cocktails are disappointing, compared to a Pan-Galactic Gargleblaster.   Wish I had one right now.

Well, I see that on April 1st, April Fool’s Day, the State of New York has legalized recreational marijuana, we’ll see if that inspires some more interesting dishes.  I hope they don’t make a hash out of the brownie recipes.  Just keep it real, man.




The strawberries & the bread label with the bear & magic yeast are from the Wellcome Library.




ancient grains, breakfast, eggs, food, humor, It's a teff life

True Grit vs Ancient Grains


The Dread Mask of Quinoa. “Scourge of the Incas & Bane of Lake TiticacaQuinoa, if you look into it, isn’t even a cereal – – it’s just a pseudo-cereal, and has been linked by scientists to the “Ancient Curse of Pitseed Goosefoot.” (Pitseed Goosefoot is a real thing, believe it or not.) (And extremely uncomfortable for ancient people wearing sandals.)

Some people in my household believe we need to eat “ancient grains” for breakfast, instead of starting your day like a civilized human being, with coffee, home fries, eggs, toast, and bacon.

I’ve had a lot of time to think about this, as a semi-pro historian, as I sit chewing.  And chewing.

And chewing.

Did you ever think, that the people who came up with these ancient grains, pretty much all ended up as mummies?

And their civilizations are in ruins.

Why?  Because they couldn’t hear their enemies coming, over all the crunching.

I mean, the Babylonians, Tlaxcaltecas, Chaldeans, Assyrians, etc. are all gone, daddy, gone.

There’s no coming back from a bad breakfast.

Bulgur attack. (Bulgar? Is that spelt right?)

They lost their birthright for a mess of pottage.

Does that even sound like a good idea?  I mean, I don’t even know what exactly that is, but who wants something called “a mess of pottage” first thing in the morning?

They could no longer communicate, too busy chewing, their molars worn down, and couldn’t shout warnings like Nebuchadnezzar, Ashur-etil-ilani, Cyaxerxes, take heed and  beware!  Vigorous tribesmen who’ve had a proper breakfast are storming the gates, whilst our dispirited guards still sit at table, chewing! ” 

Just try yelling that out, with a mouth full of pottage.

All they could do is mumble, and try to find the darned belt for their bathrobes, while they were overrun by tribes with chariots and bacon.

Nomadic tribesmen swept in from the steppes, because their horses were attracted by all the cereal, and their riders were highly caffeinated and restless.

And the bacon-eating nomads were immune to many of the era’s plagues, because mosquitoes and rats were repelled by their greasy appearance and nitrate-laden blood.

This is just a hypothesis, really.   The Tower of Babel?  Same deal.       C. B. C.  Cereal-Based Chaos.  And just overwhelmed by choices:  whole-grain, steel-cut, stone-ground, rolled, millet?


According to the caption in the art museum, this stylish farmer is sowing Millet, a type of birdseed apparently.


I’m going to keep working on this, tentatively entitled “Guns, Wheat Germs, and Steel” or alternatively, “Gums, Germs, and Steel-Cut Oats” something like that.

But first, I’m going back to bed, until it’s lunchtime.


Eat your cereal, Mikey.