Category Archives: Food Thoughts

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Hi, I’m Doug, and I Ate the Swamp Thing for Lunch

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The levels of self-consciousness progress from the feet up.

For example, least embarrassing is to wear mismatched socks. Chances are no one will notice. An unzipped fly is worse, but you can get away with it if you’re dealing with people who are fairly unobservant, or choose not to look down at your crotch.

At the mortifying end of the spectrum: the dreaded food-stuck-in-the-teeth. There’s no getting out of that one. When you talk to people, they’re staring right at your face. Any remnants from lunch stuck in those pearly whites are gonna stand out.

I know this reality all too well, which is why I’ve made friends promise to always tell me if I have a bat in the cave or food in my teeth; I also use the camera on my phone to inspect my teeth after any meal with green, leafy vegetables.

The other day at a conference I bolted off to Taylor Gourmet at lunchtime and picked up my favorite sandwich — the Pattison Avenue with roast pork, sharp provolone and broccoli rabe.  Broccoli rabe is my nemesis — as much as I adore it, it ALWAYS gets stuck in the teeth on the left side of my mouth. I made a mental note to check myself in the mirror when I got back to the conference.

Then I forgot.

Cut to three hours later at the networking happy hour at Cities Restaurant & Lounge. Good times — drinking red wine, meeting interesting people, making conversation, exchanging business cards. I excused myself to use the restroom, happened to catch my mug in the mirror and…

SWEET MOTHER OF GOD.

I practically jumped backwards in horror. Stuck between my teeth in THREE places were dark green pieces of Taylor Gourmet broccoli rabe.  To make matters worse, the red wine had turned my tongue purple and stained my teeth. It dawned on me that I’d spent the last 45 minutes smiling and chatting with my mouth looking somewhere between ‘creepy’ and ‘revolting.’

There’s no doubt in my mind that anyone I spoke with at the happy hour noticed my oral disaster. Let this be a lesson to everyone — never, ever, forget to check your teeth after a meal. And always carry dental floss.

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RIP White Chocolate

I’m still in shock that Philip Seymour Hoffman died.  He was a colossally talented chameleon of an actor, probably among the two or three best actors working today. I took a quick look at his IMDB page and just shook my head; he was great in everything.

The guy could be freaking hilarious, too. Along Came Polly is a mediocre movie, but it has its memorable moments, thanks mostly to Hoffman. He plays Ben Stiller’s off-kilter friend Sandy. Two things about Sandy: he introduces a new word into the pop culture lexicon (“sharted”), and he’s quite possibly the world’s worst basketball player (though he doesn’t know it).

Here, he gives Stiller weird sex advice while managing to make pizza look gross.

No food in this next clip, but it does feature Hoffman, who despite a profound lack of basketball skills, dubs himself as “White Chocolate.”

I loved this scene, and damn, I’m gonna miss seeing Philip Seymour Hoffman in more movies.

RIP White Chocolate.

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Killer Tofu

This may be my favorite name ever for a rock band:

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We saw this billboard at the National Theater in Richmond.

I have so many questions: Did a band member become acutely ill from eating botulism-tainted tofu?  Or is that “killer” as in “awesome”? And why couldn’t Killer Tofu have been the nickname of our Asian-American club in college?

In the meantime, I eagerly await the arrival of their sister band, Killer Quinoa.

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Persian Cucumbers, My New Passion

A recent conversation at Trader Joe’s:

Cashier: “Did you find everything you were looking for?”

Me: “Almost. Looks like you’re out of Persian cucumbers.”

Cashier: “Those are so popular! People love them!”

Seems I’m not the only one who’s been bitten by the Persian cucumber bug. Why? Because they’re a delight of a cucumber. (And that’s the first time those words have ever been constructed into a sentence.)

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Where did these delectable cucumbers come from?  I don’t remember ever buying them until the past couple of years. They really are something else: exceptionally crispy and practically seedless, with a bright, clean flavor and thin skin that requires zero peeling.  They also retain their firmness much better than a traditional English cucumber. No mushiness inside.

I’ve sliced them onto sandwiches, incorporated them into grain salads, eaten them on their own, and diced and tossed them with cherry tomatoes, red onion and feta. (That’s my favorite).  You can’t go wrong with these little guys; they’re incredibly versatile.

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At my local farmers market at the All Souls Church in Woodley Park, they’re sold as “Manar cucumbers.” On the market’s first day of the season two Saturdays ago, my friend Claudia witnessed me practically leap with joy when I saw them.

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Beauty in a basket. If these crunchy cucumbers make a steady appearance all summer long, I will be a happy man.

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Is It Ever Okay to Wear a Bluetooth Headset in a Restaurant?

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I don’t know how to put this, but I’m kind of a big deal.
- Ron Burgundy

When a person wears a Bluetooth headset during dinner at a nice restaurant, he/she is announcing to the the world that either A) I’m very, very important, or B) I’m a massive tool.

On a recent Saturday night at Farmers Fishers Bakers, my friends and I spotted the guy at the table next to us rockin’ the Bluetooth on his right ear.  He appeared to be on a date.

I didn’t think much of it at the time. A little tacky, but I figured he had his reasons for needing instant access to his phone. I ran through the possibilities:

He’s a doctor on call. He works on the Hill and is trying to put an end to this sequestration nonsense. He’s a Metro escalator repairman. (In which case his phone would be ringing off the hook.)  He works with Claire Danes at the CIA chasing Abu Nazir.

In Washington, anything’s possible.

My friend Liz was less forgiving. She was outraged. I forget her exact words, but the gist of it was the guy was a d-bag.

The more I thought about it later, the more I agreed.  I mean come on, don’t we have any manners left in this world?  I can only imagine what the poor date was thinking.

Liz sent me an email later summing up the sentiments.

I think that’s rude. You are SOO important you can’t remove your Bluetooth while we share a meal at a restaurant??  I don’t think so. I am feeling pretty confident that when Barack Obama sits down to dinner with his family, he isn’t wearing a Bluetooth. Michelle would NOT put up with that nonsense.

Guys, don’t be that guy. Put the headsets away.