Pam Webb

a writer's journey as a reader

Archive for the category “food”

Why We Say: Spam—the case of canned mail


SPAM* in my day was not a Monty Python skit nor a designation in my email. Mom would fry it up and slab it between two pieces of mayoed toast. What do kids know about cuisine?

*SPAM is the official designation by Hormel.

8 billion cans can’t be wrong (image: Smithsonianmag.com)

The product SPAM is a meat product by Hormel and is a derivation of “spiced ham.” It became a popular food item around WWII, as its canned qualities meant it could be stored, shipped, and shopped easily. The US troops benefited from its convenience and it gave them something to joke about. There are odes about SPAM floating around.

On the other hand–

Spam is that annoying clutter that fills email boxes. It is electronic junk mail. It is not pretty and should not be glimpsed.

Unfortunately, one of my forwards was not appearing in my recognized mail box which meant I went searching. I took the plunge and went dumpster diving in my electronic trash. I found:

  • Keto ads
  • Loan enticements
  • Wine information
  • Online dating
  • Concealed weapon ads
  • Tinnitus info

And I found my lost forward. It looked a bit stunned and wasn’t worse for wear from the company it found itself in. I dusted it off and sent it correctly on its way.

As for SPAM…

Hormel originally objected being associated with the practice of unsolicited electronic mail. At one point it took legal action. Wired has an entertaining and informative article on the matter.

The real reason SPAM became spam was due to Monty Python. That explains it, doesn’t it? They created a skit where Vikings sitting in a tea shop would drown out any sort of decent conversation with shouts of “spam spam spam spam –wonderful spam”

Perhaps best seen to understand:

Monty Python “Spam”

Then apparently a blogger decided unsolicited electronic email was a sort of drowning out productive communication (like Vikings shouting in a tea shop), and the term “spam” arrived, which really hasn’t much to do with SPAM except Monty Python decided it was funny fodder for a skit.

There it is. From ham in a can to mail that gets a backhand to a one step above trash.

I’ll let you decide about the evolution of this product.

What We Say: #7


English: Bakers Oven Early 19th century shop a...

English: Bakers Oven Early 19th century shop and dwelling on the corner of Bailgate and Westgate (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As we swing into the season of baking I thought this bit of idiom history would be of interest. Mmmm, coconut macaroon, anyone?
BAKER’S DOZEN: HISTORY
Once upon a time in long ago England bakers cheated. At least some of them did. Weighing out their goods some of these dishonest bakers would employ short weights which meant paying out more money when buying buns, breads, and cakes. The powers of weights and measures thought this quite wrong and decreed heavy penalties for bakers who practiced weighing short on their goods. Not wanting to incur the wrath of the law bakers decided to increase their popularity by giving away an extra when purchasing twelve. A baker’s dozen became a custom and carried over into modern times.
APPLICATION
Who doesn’t like getting an extra tasty bakery treat?
MY THOUGHTS
I’ve heard of bakers dozen used in many different ways–anywhere from describing that odd extra to receiving a freebie. I’m wondering how bakery goods were sold way back then if weighing were involved.  I like the per piece myself. “Wait, I’ll that one (the BIG cookie), yeah, that one right there.”

How Not To Write Now


 

Writers, yes you. Why are you reading this post? Wait, don’t go quite yet. While you’re here you might as well avoid that write now feeling a bit longer.

 
Write now?

 
Yes, write now. I should be, and you should be writing right now instead of avoidance tactics. Oh yes, they exist. Beats me why I will suddenly germinate 50 + 1 excuses to avoid sitting down and getting down to business. It’s really no excuse that I have excuses because I have plenty of motivation. Look at this incentive list:

 

  • The novel is almost finished.

 

  • My writing group likes it.

 

  • A New York editor critique it favorably.

 

  • An agent from the same conference asked for sample chapters because she has clients looking for this genre.

 

  • I still like the manuscript, even after years of research, rewrites, and still more rewrites.

 

So why avoid writing right now?

 
Because…
I have to eat breakfast and since I’m really craving granola to go with the new lemon vanilla Greek yogurt I just bought I need to make a fresh batch and while I’m waiting for the granola to bake I might as well scrub the stove top, the Faberware pot, the sink, and start the dishwasher. I should check the woodstove–might need a poke or a new log. I should sweep up around the hearth, maybe sweep in general. I’ll get these papers out of the way, wait these are bills–I should sit down and pay these. But first I should check the granola.

 
Before you tsk at my total lack of discipline I did fire up the laptop with good intentions.

 

But, you know how it is…

 

Emails have to be checked, lesson plans filed, the classroom website updated. Check the granola again.

 
So–
The morning has slipped into early afternoon, which is not my best time of creativity, since I am a morning energy person. I best take a nap and recharge the mental batteries.

 

Two hours later…

 

The MEPA brought home a new batch of movies from the library and I haven’t spent much time with him today. He wants to know how the novel is progressing. Right now? Yes, I should write now.

 

P.S.

 

Later that night…

 

Five chapters roughed in (what revision number is this again?) and I squeezed in a movie. It’s amazing what a little fresh granola can do for the creative muse.

 

A bowl of granola.

A bowl of granola. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

 

Summer Read n Eat Poetry


Food and summer.  Yup.

Besides barbecue, picnics, reunions, vacation binges, craft fair nibbling, beach concession splurges and the like, there is also food found in our reading.  Take poems, for example.

This is just to say by William Carlos Williams

Watermelons by Charles Simic

Peach Blossoms by Carl Sandburg

A Ballad of Nursery Rhyme by Robert Graves

Orchard by Hilda Doolittle

Plums, watermelons, berries, peaches, oh my. Time to browse the Farmer’s Market!

For more summer foodie poems try this delightful site: TasteArt

Video Poems


While there are many ways to share poetry, be it by book, blog, spoken, or some such communique, I have found video posts to be like Dark Chocolate Dove Bites–savory and long-lasting.

Here is the poem:

This is Just to Say

I have eaten
the plums
that were in
the icebox

and which
you were probably
saving
for breakfast

Forgive me
they were delicious
so sweet
and so cold

William Carlos Williams

And here is the video:

The poem came alive for me in a different way once viewing the performance.  I remember studying William Carlos Williams in college.  I thought his poems rather mundane–I mean, he talked about wheelbarrows, chickens, plums–all ordinary stuff.  And then I realized there is a cadence, a melody, in all those everyday aspects of life.

For more video poems go to:

www.poets.org

and

www.favoritepoem.org/videos.html

 

Happy Poetry Month!!

English: Photograph (believed to be passport p...

William Carlos Williams: writer of wheelbarrows, plums, and chickens

Trying the Tryptophan Diet


www.snopes.com

http://www.snopes.com (Photo credit: biggraham)

Post turkey day and after storing the leftovers in the fridg no one better better say, “Is there anything to eat?” I am learning that less is more as we get older.  By making less to eat at Thanksgiving there is more satisfaction and much more contentment.  It’s tradition to make my apple-custard pie and pumpkin pie. Who is the one eating it? Moi. The scale is snickering at how much weight I have regained since Wednesday.  Phooey.  The tryptophan diet isn’t for me, after all.

You see turkey contains tryptophan, which is what makes us sleepy after the big T-Day meal.  However, according to www.snopes.com that isn’t entirely true.  I was hoping if I ate enough turkey I would fall into a long, deep sleep and when I woke up the pie, mashed potato casserole, stuffing and all the other holiday caloric wonderments would be consumed so I wouldn’t eat them. However, I have learned that pumpkin pie is healthy for you.  Good.  Now, I don’t feel so guilty for having it for breakfast.  Wait–doesn’t healthy mean low calorie?

On a more positive note of gain is my NaNo novel.  I am now at 44,000 words with a week to go.  I think I’m going to make it.  Vera needs to get serious and start her own NaNo novel instead of procrastinating and watching movies with Simone.

I so enjoyed having Friday off; it’s like having a double Saturday.  Instead of Black Friday shopping I picked up two more books at the library and a stack of movies.  No lesson planning tonight.  Just my tryptophan hangover and a relaxing evening ahead.

Pumpkin pie, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki...

Pumpkin pie, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Pumpkin_Pie.jpg Scrumptious and good for you! Pumpkin pie is loaded with a healthful phytonutrient called beta-carotene. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Chocolate Fortune Cookies


This week is one of celebrations: school is out for the year (Yay!); I celebrated a double-digit birthday of significance (Nice!); and the blog rolled out 3,000 hits, 70 followers, and 65 posts (Way Cool!).  This calls for dark chocolate.

My MEPA (most excellent personal assistant) spoils me by providing dark chocolate when I most need it: when I’m stressed and when I’m happy.  Not any dark chocolate, mind you, the best dark chocolate.  Bars are now in the past, lately my favorite brand comes out in bag style with individually wrapped morsels awaiting tasting and savoring.  The chocolate part is gratifying; however the best part is that each wrapper offers a profound, even witty saying–basically I’m partaking in chocolate fortune cookies.  Yummmm…

Here are my favorites so far:

  • Chocolate therapy is “Oh, so good.”
  • Stir your sense of pleasure
  • Be the first to hit the dance floor
  • Take time to notice the color of the leaves changing
  • Those who bring sunshine to the lives of others cannot keep it from themselves.
  • Your smile is your best accessory.
  • Stop and enjoy the chocolate aroma.
  • Remember the simple pleasures in life.
  • All you really need is love, and a little chocolate doesn’t hurt!
  • The more you praise and celebrate your life, the more there is in life to celebrate.
  • Renew your sense of discovery.
  • It’s OK to be fabulous AND flawed!
  • Feel free to be yourself.
  • Chocolate speaks the international language of love.
  • Life is good.
An added bonus of this chocolate therapy is if I buy two more specially marked bags I will receive a movie ticket.  Dark chocolate and the movies–almost as good as a book and my hammock.

Die(t) Trying


Once upon a time, wasn’t really that long ago, there lived a woman who possessed  a healthy, if not robust appetite.  This robust appetite possessing woman could match pizza slices bite for bite with high school dates, defied the fatal fifteen during college days, and prevailed flabby Mum Tum after baby days; however, once our heroine entered the dratted, scurrilous midlife sector, weight gain became a nuisance.

For instance, our once quick metabolism inclined heroine found out the following:

1.  Thinking about cheesecake earned .5 lb on the scaleometer.

2.  Eating two bites of actual cheesecake added a full 1.5 lbs–sans any topping.

3.  The expression, “if I ate that slice of cake I might as well apply it to my hips” suddenly had real meaning, and actuality

4.  The rule of consuming calories in relationship to burning them became a science rather than a magazine article to simply pass over for something more interesting

5.  bikinis are not meant to be worn outside the confines of the backyard

Our heroine also found an increased interest in “success” stories that graced pages of national magazines and bestsellers.  An almost morbid fascination and momentary inspiration to also obtain “results not usual” would overcome her desires for Haagen-Daz, Dove Bars, and cinnamon rolls with cream cheese icing.  That is, they would be tackled momentarily.

The truth, our heroine discovered, is that once born with the propensity to eat quantity, albeit not always quality, and not suffer for it, is a beastly habit to break.  Skinny jeans and crop tops were not initially the chief incentive.  It was the pursuit of gravity defiance that finally convinced said heroine to act responsibility towards food intake, because she noticed over the years body mass had begun sliding at an appalling rate.  Our heroine calculated at the rate of weight slide she would be the owner of hefty ankles by the time she reached retirement if the midsection weight slide were any indication of the future.

Hence, the DIET BOOK phase entered her life.  She would indeed enact the age-old saying, “Die(t) trying to lose weight.”

Books and magazine article began to lay about the house; yet, as these pound-shedding puntives increased in propensity in the library bag, the desired effects of weight dropping did not transpire on the bathroom scale.  This produced “major bummer syndrome” resulting in “what the flip?” rhetorical countersuit and freelance calorie consumption.  Midlife is not for sissies.

Studio publicity portrait of the American actr...

Studio publicity portrait of the American actress Elizabeth Taylor. Français : Portrait publicitaire pris en studio de l’actrice américaine Elizabeth Taylor. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There is no totally happy ending for our heroine.  She has not dropped the desired twenty pounds (a compromise weight); however, she is much more wise in terms of menu and choice.  After all, it is a well-known fact that Marilyn Monroe and Elizabeth Taylor were curvaceous and not svelte with power abs.  There is something to be said for padding.  The heroine learned to say sagaciously, “Why yes, I’ll have the sorbet, and could I have a box, please.”

Our heroine recommends the following diet books–not so much for the results attained, rather because the before and after photos of those who have actually adhered to the content’s regimes are impressive, and have proved useful in terms of thinking about exercise and caloric abstinence with more serious thought:

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