Archives for the month of: October, 2011

Elementary, my dear...

I know that the Halloween is tomorrow, and I tried real hard to find something related, to get into the spirit of things, but unfortunately this was the best I could come up with.

For one, I don’t see many pumpkin boxes in my line of work.  Namely because restaurants don’t really serve pumpkin on a regular basis.  Not to mention that I’m fairly sure the boxes that pumpkins arrive in would have to be rather large and ridiculous (think refrigerator size), if necessary at all, and storage of said product would probably be an impossibility, due to spatial limitations (which is probably why many grocery stores simply leave the pumpkins in the outside displays).  Perhaps I’ll ask the local grocery store how they receive them.  Then again, I probably won’t.  I have to work tomorrow.

Here we have the pride of the Watson family.  Upon first seeing this particular brand of onion, I immediately conjured up images of goth people thanks to the all black background.  There’s just something drab and foreboding about it.  Then I imagined the family as Gothic vampires, generations of Watson’s with a deep, secret family history.  Onion growers by day, but in the darkness of night, they harvest onions… and blood.

Which is probably no where near the truth.  (Apologies to any members of the Watson family).   But it is very nearly Halloween, and I’m grasping at straws here to keep this blog awesome and up to par with the times.

Other tidbits of note here:  Four generations of family; four perfect looking onions.  I see what you did there.  Although something about the sheen on the onions looks a little odd, because these onions are definitely not all in the same photo together.  Consider where the light source is.  And I’m having trouble deciding if the onions in the picture are in fact one onion, duplicated through the magic of Photoshop.  Also, the font isn’t as nearly Gothic as one could hope for, but the font color does kind of fit in with the Gothic color spectrum.

Anyways kids, enjoy free candy day.  And remember that the scariest thing about Halloween isn’t that malicious people are trying to poison candy, or the scary costumes, or the things bumping in the night.  It’s that Halloween always reminds me that I really should be all about arranging that trip to the dentist.  Have fun!

Warning: Consuming cantaloupes may lead to Yoga

First, let me just get this off my chest, because it is a burden I’ve had to bear for far too long.  I must admit in good faith, that I am subject to a personal bias against this next product.  Nothing against Del Monte company, or any of their fine, fine produce, but I, the author of this blog, must wholeheartedly swear and acknowledge, that I just do not like cantaloupe.

I can’t stand it.  Nothing ruins a perfectly good fruit salad more, than cantaloupe.  Well, that and Honeydew.  God, I despise honeydew.  I gotta chalk it up to genetics, and whatever it is that controls the mechanisms in our taste buds, but cantaloupe seriously tastes like death to me.  And even my hatred for cantaloupe transcends the taste buds.  The feel of the rind makes me cringe.  Even slicing it open (which should fill me with some sort of delight) gives me the heebie-jeebies.  And please don’t even let me smell it.  I’m about to dry heave merely thinking about it.

Do not even attempt to reason with me.  Leave some pro-cantaloupe comments if you must, but they will be ignored and remain unpublished.  There is nothing that can be done to change the author’s mind.  Nope.  I’m not going to listen.  My hands are shielding my ears.  “La, La, La, La, La”

I remember seeing this a while back, an article about those anti-cilantro people.   Now, I like cilantro.  I think it’s yummy in a nice, fresh pico de gallo.  Or on tacos.  Mmmm, tacos.  Nothing personal haters.  But brothers, sisters, I understand your pain.  I have those feelings, too, but my hate is directed towards cantaloupe.  But sadly, after I found this, it appears we the anti-cantaloupe coalition, are in a vast, somewhat even quieter minority.

I do have to chime in that at our restaurant we stopped using cilantro.  Due to a labeling error of the greatest variety, we began using “Chillantro,” you know, which helps people chill, bra.

Surprisingly, I do not hate yoga.  It’s one of those exercise regiment thingies that remain in a list in the back of my mind, of things I sometimes feel I ought to do, but through shear lack of will, know I will never actually attempt.  Kinda like running.  (Brief pause for personal snickering… I only run when I run away from something.  Sorry runners out there, I just don’t get it).

I guess an aspect of yoga I find unappealing, is the public’s misconception that yoga is some sort of ancient, mystical art, that may transform you into a flame breathing, martial arts master, ala Street Fighter 2.  (I wish.  I’d do it in a heartbeat.)  I’m not going to pretend I discovered this knowledge on my own.  I read about it here.

That being said, I think the main message here is that cantaloupes, like yoga, lead to some sort of health benefit.  Particularly aimed at female yoga practitioners.  But unfortunately I think I won’t find the time to test this theory, as I am not a female yoga practitioner, nor will I willingly consume cantaloupe.  I would not eat them with a goat, Sam I am.

Although the female pictured here does appear to be floating somewhat mystically-like, without any kind of background behind her.  Yet another effect of consuming cantaloupe?  Levitation!

And then there’s this.  You see.  I’ve been warning people for years.

Same brand. Different product. Still macho.

 

And here’s the cowboy:

 

Cowboy up.

It appears I overlooked some things regarding my last post.  Namely the fact I didn’t include the full shot of the cowboy.  I’ll admit feeling a little sheepish now, about my previous comments that the horse appeared subservient and docile.  As the above image depicts, the horse is clearly rearing up its hind legs as if about to kick some sort of onion interloper behind said celebrating cowboy.  Silly me.  At least I think that’s what it looks like.  Or perhaps the horse is trying to buck its master, as this does seem rather rodeo-ish to me.  I don’t know.  I don’t know much about horses.

The bucking theory seems to suggest the cowboy is not in control.  That seems rather contrary to the macho image.  Perhaps this explains the cowboy’s hat flying through the air (but does not explain his improper use of the hat string), although I’d have to do some physics research to determine which way the hat would fly off, if the horse had, in fact, tried to fling the cowboy off its back.  Maybe I’m looking too deep into this.

Speaking of too deep, does the horse/cowboy shadow resemble a cross to anyone else?  Not to mention, would they make a shadow in such a way, given the position of the sun?  Religious undertones?  Is the cowboy Jesus, or the horse?  And what does this mean for the onion?

Ack, this blog is getting no where.

More questions and more on the macho theory:   What is the desired effect in naming a product “macho?”  Who is the target audience?  As a male, I can attest to the fact I don’t think much about onions, like whether or not I appear more manly for buying onions, or less manly for that matter.  I don’t stop and look around to make sure no one is watching me before I pick up some onions for making manly nachos, while I shop at the grocery store.

Generic Male Customer #1:  “Oh, dude, that guy totally just bought some onions… what a sissy.”

Generic Male Customer #2:  “No way, bro, those are “Macho” onions.”

Generic Male Customer #1:  “Damn, my bad.  What a badass.”

But then again, to be fair, as far as my shampoo prefrences go, I do totally buy shampoos designed for men (Man-poos for short).  And vitamins for that matter.  Men’s health formula.  That’s right.  Unh!  Pure testosterone impulse buys.  And sometimes clothes designed for men.  I don’t know, it just seems right.  But, would the ladies shy away from a product branded as “Macho?”  Um, probably not.  Most people are just going to buy a vegatable based on need, and preferred kind (i.e. red, yellow, Spanish, white onion, etc), not brand, and probably (for some) what’s on sale/cheapest.

One close friend of mine, a university professor (I know smart people.), offered up a theory that perhaps the advertisers here are attempting to appeal to those that suggest crying is considered unmacho.  As we all know, men don’t cry and shouldn’t (because we don’t),  and cutting onions make people cry (but not cutting hippies, as the old joke goes… Hay-oh!).  Thus some males may think twice about using onions in their cooking, because crying is not manly.  But not if they are “Macho” onions.  To make yourself feel better about the manly tears, all one has to think about is that they are crying because they are dicing up macho onions.  Those onions are tough, strong and powerful, like you.  Of course you’re going to cry.  They’re manly tears, bro.  You and the macho onions sharing the experience together in manhood.  It’s ok.

Cowboys and onions

Once again we have encountered the use of “macho-ism” in the advertisement of food.  And what kind of icon can we also attribute macho-ness to freely, without remorse, and without dispute?  The cowboy.  Imagine, if you will, in your mind, the wild, wild west.  Big, open sky overhead.  A coyote howls in the distance.  Your throat gets dry from the arid climate.  The sun is very nearly always setting, at least that’s how I picture it in my imagination. And picture this: out on the dusty plains, the lone cowboy, atop his trusty stead, riding into said sunset, saddlebags full of … onions.

The cowboy rides hard, covered in sweat and dust-bowl dust, two days growth of his beard, the dry skin of his cheeks wrinkling underneath, and you know he shaves (when he chooses to) with a straight razor.  Why?  Because that’s macho, dammit.  Then there is the triumphant extending of his trusty cowboy hat, a victory cheer, proof of his determination, his manhood.  All while riding the apparently docile steed, whose head is bowed, or is merely grazing upon some unseen yellow grass.  And look, even that cactus is macho.  Check out those manly spikes protruding from the base.  Damn, those look sharp.

I also have to hand it to the bold use of the word macho, all done up in giant letters, with a tamer, more matter of fact, meek looking “onions” printed underneath.  Although the color scheme may be slightly off, if we’re going for stereotypical male macho-ism, but then again there’s also a giant, blue sun in the background.    For the benefit of the doubt, I’m going to say there’s probably a limited number of inks and colors advertisers want to use on packaging, hence the red to pinkish to white fade of the word macho, as well as the blue undertone underneath.  I’m only guessing here, because I didn’t study advertising in college.  I got me an English degree.  Hence why I’m writing this blog, an effort to use my degree and awesome knowledge base so that one day I might put this blog on my resume, in case I ever try to use said degree.

And now we come to the part of this entry that will probably not end up on the resume, by way of being edited out later.  Not sure if this next image qualifies as Safe for Work, but there’s the warning, just in case.  I’ll even try to put in some space between this sentence, and the image, because I haven’t really looked into the fine tuning of the wordpress yet, and how I can use its tools for the power of good.

 

 

 

 

 

And here we are.  I decided to consult the oracle of Google Image search to do some research on the different types of cacti, because something about the spikes of death near the base of the cactus in the above image cause me some concern.  Do cacti really grow those things?  As if they weren’t dangerous enough.  But then my discovery of this image on the first page completely derailed my entire thought process, mainly because I sometimes have a childish sense of humor, that manifested because I saw this:

 

 

 

Everybody loves a dick joke

I’ve got to hand it to this (apparent) cowboy (I don’t see any onions or horses around).  A very bold man, sitting very boldly close to a cactus.  Macho.

"Nacho" ordinary avocados... get it?

Sombrero.  Mustache.  Nachos.  Macho.  The essences of man.  For what is more macho, than a mustache?  For what is man, without nachos?  A hungry man. And what could possibly make nachos more manly, than avocados?  Avocados with mustaches, and the sombrero, just in case you thought avocados were not manly enough.  At least, I think I’m putting this one together correctly.

Again, we see the need to add gender to our produce (I almost said vegetable, but according to this avocados are technically a fruit).  Simply identifying the avocado as it is, is not enough.  Rightly so.  They don’t really do much on their own except grow from a tree, and then we harvest them.  We cut them in half, knife the pit, pull it out, and dispose of it.  Spoon out the nutritious, green insides and that’s pretty much it.  Eat it without preparation, or mash them into guacamole.  Mmm.  Guacamole.

But these avocados, uh huh.  They don’t take no guff.  I probably wouldn’t want to mess with an avocado that has a mustache.  I probably wouldn’t want to prepare them either.  I once proudly sported a mustache, (though it took some coaxing, and months of long, hard thought to come to terms with the idea, and execution) and I suppose I’d feel some sort of remorse.  Mustache guilt, if you will.

Although if a box of them came in to the shop wearing little sombreros, I’d be all about that.  I’m the type of person that would probably save all of the little hats.  Maybe even try one on, wear it around the office, er, kitchen, until my bosses yelled at me to take it off.  I’d most definitely wear them at home, though.  They can’t yell at me there.  I’m really craving a miniature sombrero now.  Ah, the power of advertising.

But at heart, I think what really perturbs me about this particular macho fellow, is his (yep, identifying him as male) lack of other facial features, beyond the eyebrows.  Mustache, eyebrows, sombrero – check.  All male.  Eyes, mouth, ears, nose, hair on head – nope, not going to do it.  I guess one could add little, muscular arms or something, while we’re in the business of macho-ing this fruit up.

And lastly, I think I’ll try to avoid playing the race card here, but I’m guessing (this is just a guess) this particular brand probably came form Mexico.  I could be wrong.  Honestly.

But on second thought,  hell, why not?  We’ve already made this fruit male, why not add nationalities?  We could give this produce whole life stories, stories about their ancestors, about when their grand parents emigrated to this country, boatloads of young avocados coming to America to find their fortunes, to live out the American dream…

On third thought, yeah, that’s probably not going to work.  We do just kind of eat them (given the current political climate, ponder that metaphor).

Speaking of eating, now I really want nachos.  Nachos dipped into sour cream.  And guacamole.  Oh, damn, now that’s macho.  Except I’m forbidden to eat avocados.  Well, it’s mostly self-imposed, unless I’m home for Christmas, then it is really enforced.  My mom makes some very delicious guacamole every year.  Except I’m only allowed to eat a little bit.  Truth be told, avocados tend to give me gas.  Rather horrible gas, not just the sonorous kind.  The deadly kind.  Not that you all really wanted to know that, it’s just a dilemma for me.  I do really enjoy the avocado, but my body’s reaction tells me small doses, friend.  Small doses.


And there we are.  That didn’t take long.  This is actually the third act of graffiti enacted upon this particular visage I’ve witnessed within the last few months.  And also not the first graffiti reference to a particular coworker.  Not that anyone has anything against him, as he’s actually a stand-up guy, but he does have rather distinguishing facial features (i.e. beard).  I’d like to imagine the “bastards” is his retort, although I cannot verify if that is his handwriting.  I do wonder, though, what it is about this particular face that begs for sharpie adornment?

I’d also like to apologize for updating rather infrequently.  I’m trying to set up a Tuesday, Thursday, Sunday schedule for updating, though last night I was derailed due to an unforeseen reaction to some rather strong beer.  One particular upside to the culinary world, is that one bar in town offers a Sunday night “service” night, that gives restaurant workers a rather generous discount.  I’m not quite the young, live-fast cook I used to be.  My tolerance for alcohol has greatly lessened as I approach my elder years.  I’m ok with that.

Pardon my glare, I’m still rather new at the photography business.  The word obscured by amateur skills is ‘hairnets,’ which are more common in the industry and not just reserved for lunch ladies.  All handlers of food are required to wear some sort of head gear, in an effort to stop unwanted hairs from showing up in your food.  Some kitchens, less savvy on the dress code, often only require a baseball cap, and that longer hair be pulled back, or tucked under in some way.

As the picture suggests, one might assume females tend to wear hairnets more, as they are prone to having longer hair.  Though I can assure you that I’ve known several fellows that are quite proud of their manly manes, especially one of more coworkers who insists his ponytail controls his destiny.  Don’t mess with the pony tail.  Though I have yet to see him don a hair net.

I’ve worn a few in my time, and I will say that wearing one gives me a feeling of nakedness.  You can see it in the faces of others as well.  Perhaps someone forget their hat before leaving their house that morning.  You can feel the tension, watching as they reach into the box of hairnets, pulling one out from it’s paper wrapping, uncertain as to which side of the net goes forward.  Sometimes they will steal quick glances around, as if feeling the pressure of someone else’s gaze upon them.  Wearing a hairnet can be quite unnerving, if you aren’t used to it.  And then some damn fool will call you out on it, which is basically immature behavior at best.  One doesn’t really dress to impress in a kitchen.

For those uninitiated in The Service (i.e. food service), there exists a plethora of products dedicated to the art of sanitation, something that is taken quite seriously in the biz.   And what company better suited to supply the kitchen with those products, then Sysco, one of the staples of the food service world.  I do have to say Sysco doesn’t mess around much with artistic imagery on their products. Most boxes are easily recognizable by the basic color scheme: good ole’ red, white and blue (USA! USA!).   As most kitchens utilize their products (and there are a lot of them) I suppose it makes sense to keep the art budget down.  However, sometimes there is a diamond in the rough.  Like this lady.  Something screams 1950’s about this one.  Perhaps it’s the hair.  Kept calmly under wraps.

Unfortunately, this gal is often subject to graffiti.  Most cooks keep a sharpie on them at all times, useful for labeling food.  (and their non-toxic!) And sometimes, a cook just needs to let loose, usually in the form of adding a well placed mustache.  I’ll keep my eyes peeled if I spot any impromptu mark ups.

I’ll also be on the lookout for beard nets.  Yes, they do exist.

Pure love.

Ain’t love grand?  I know when I think of romantic musings, I can think of nothing serving as a more apt metaphor, than the onion.  Love, like the onion, has many layers.  Sometimes it starts with the rough-skin outside, those guarded defenses one must break through to get to the richer, tasty depths below.  At first, the outer shell looks so harsh, and inedible, but once broached, one can find those outer bits were merely paper thin.  Peel one layer back, and then discover just that, yet another layer, ultimately more deep and complex the further in you go.  And then, of course, there are the tears.  For what is love, without the pain?  Or the tears of happiness, when love becomes all consuming, and enriching?  And, as the image suggest, the purple hearts (sparks) that fly when two onions discover each other for who they really are, and find the passion within.  Although I’ll refrain from mentioning the gendered standards as presented by this image (the hair bow is kinda cute).  Only because I’m pretty sure onions live without a gender bias, or gender at all.  At least I hope they do.  I’ll have to Google that.  (I’m not a biologist)

I have to give mad props to the packagers of onions.  They really know how to market their goods.  Whether it be the red variety, or the Spanish yellow, the producers of onions at home and abroad, tend to take great pride in their work, and have many fine displays for their produce.  I always look forward to seeing a new brand of onion come into the shop.  I suppose it all depends on the distributor.  We go for weeks on end with the same variety, and then out of no where, a new bag with new art.  I suppose I could go and research how all that works, but for now, I’m content with the samplings I got.  More to come.

 

 

Andy Boy

In Andy we trust.

Probably one of the more ubiquitous brand names in the food service world, at least in the kitchens I have labored in.  Also known, somewhat, as a sort of pagan god among certain sects of kitchen-dom.  Andy Boy has stood the test of time; at least according to the banner.  Although I feel remiss in my duty, as I have not fully delved into the history of Andy Boy, though the web site here did little to shed light onto the origins of the company’s name.

And by pagan god, I mean, it is not uncommon for certain folks among us in the kitchen crew to cut out the images we see on the cardboard that visits our workplace daily.  Perhaps the company has a shared name with one of our staff, or maybe there is a great slogan or motto one of us will take to heart.  Sometimes all it takes is an image of a cowgirl riding a potato like a horse (Note: I’ve been looking desperately for this box of potatoes again.)  We will hang the cutouts on the wall, or the dry erase board, or out of the way hoping a supervisor will not catch it (or overlook it, in my case).  And sometimes, we will worship, and sing from deep in our throats, “all hail Andy Boy!”

Chef's Pride

This chef is real proud of these jumbo yams.

Consider, if you will, the plating.  Yams, on a bed of what appears to be decorative greens.  These yams rise above.  They deserve their solid base.  They demand pride.  Hold them aloft, on high, and sing their praises.  I guess.  I’ve just never seen yams featured on a bed of greens.

I’ll admit I’ve never worked in a highly uniformed kitchen.  I’ve never owned a pair of chef’s pants.  We wear jeans, the company’s t-shirt.  A baseball cap.  No chef’s coat.  Not to say the establishment does not serve a higher end product.  We’ve had several brushes with fame and featured on the Food Network.  I’ve just never had the opportunity to wear the chef’s hat, which upon further thought, I’m actually a little sad about it.  Also dismayed I haven’t gotten to wear the little scarf.  I think it would suit me fairly well.  Make me look a little more dashing about the kitchen.  I do have the beard though.  I’m quite taken by this chef’s beard.  I salute you, one bearded cook to another.