On the Origins of Common Foods

Flying on a plane is very nice.

It is not as nice as wings. But it has more peanuts. Unless you are a peanut elemental, spreading great peanut-pattern wings. Then the peanuts of a plane are comparatively few.

This is not to say that peanuts are always an advantage.

Some people are allergic to peanuts. They do not value the peanuts on a plane. Some peanut elementals are allergic to peanuts. They go immediately into anaphylactic shock and die. We do not talk about them much unless they fall through our roofs, at which point it becomes difficult for the rest of the year to talk about anything else.

Some people are not allergic to peanuts. They have the advantage in that if they do meet a peanut elemental they do not necessarily die; and if they meet an elemental of non-peanut-ness, they are still generally all right.

(An elemental of non-peanut-ness is an elemental spirit formed from and exemplifying the conceptual category “not a peanut,” such that, when you see them, you immediately recognize that here is the pure distilled essence of not being a peanut—possessing none of the trace impurities that exempt most things in the world from Platonic non-peanut-ness. For example, the Earth is shaped too closely to resemble a peanut to qualify, while Eggos are legumes.)

This advantage of being able to survive contact with a peanut elemental is principally intangible and a matter of form (unlike the peanut elementals themselves) because peanut elementals are rare, and, when encountered in flight, have difficulty forcing their way onto the plane. Nor are they able, in this era of heightened security, to sneak easily onto the plane as a passenger unless they are willing to take off their shoes, limit their toothpaste allowance, and have names that do not resemble a terrorist’s name. (So, for instance, Mr. Peanut would have trouble, as would Al-Qaffar, but Mr. God of the Thousand-Slaying Legume Kick is probably okay.)

In the old days peanut elementals were a greater trouble for air traffic. This is how Mr. Carver invented peanut butter. People will say that he developed peanut butter in the laboratory but in fact George Washington Carver was the preeminent air ace of World War II. His contribution was ignored at the time as the United States government feared that, if they acknowledged it, the Axis would deride them as politically correct.

During one of many dogfights with German nationals Mr. Carver caught a peanut elemental in the engine of his plane and the rest was secret history.

But peanut elementals were not the only inhabitants of the stratosphere who would prove troublesome for air traffic in those troubled years. The Metatron Incident (wherein Metatron descended to the earth in a cloud of grace to reveal the new gospel and was caught in the engines of an uncertified Boeing) made angelfood cake possible for the first time in the history of the world. The efforts of hundreds of French chefs to reproduce this masterwork of massacre eventually created the “vegetarian angelfood” that we know today, using baking powder, whipped eggs, and flour to approximate the manifold virtues of Heaven. Masons traditionally added a snake, which they would wrap around the egg and convince to bite its own tail before baking; this added a sense of timeless mysticism to their delicious recipes and rightly they were honored throughout the culinary world.

The impact of the Metatron Incident was not to end there. Many of the people on the plane became focal points for mysterious phenomena. One of them, struck on the forehead by a bit of Metatron debris, became Billy Graham. Another became Vice-President Cheney. The plane plowed into the East Oak Lake house of a previously ordinary schoolboy; he would later grow up to become Noam Chomsky!

Tofu was originally made from ufos.

—Not to quit talking about Noam Chomsky when we’ve barely just begun, but he’s really not a common food!

So, anyway, tofu was originally made from ufos. Japan never admitted it, but you can tell because of the letters of its name.

—And why are the letters in tofu’s name in English, anyway? It was probably made from *British* ufos! Back benchers probably evolved into ufos because somebody fed them after midnight, and then they flew unwisely into Japan. All of this is hypothetical, because the true nature of the ufos is still unknown. But it seems likely—and yet, like Noam Chomsky, ufo pedantry is not a common food, and we must leave it lie.

Tofu, as noted earlier, was at one time made from ufos. But now it is not made from ufos. There are simply not enough ufos in the sky to support the scale of the modern tofu economy. So now most tofu is made out of a blend of textured swamp gas and weather balloons. Only trace impurities of alien origin remain!

Ballet is a wonderful art. Often in the grand jete the dancer will appear to fly. Conversely, while not so very grand, Boeing jets do fly. On one occasion, a joyous serendipity generated the Reese’s peanut butter cup; on another, to speak very delicately, battement fondu.

Ironically despite its historical origins fondue is rarely served on planes. One reason is that there is not enough leg room on a plane for a ballerina to survive. Confined in the middle seat they wither away and die. Another reason is that in the event of turbulence it is hard to explain to people that they will need to wear clear plastic masks to minimize the risk of cheese burns. The third and last reason is fear. In the post 9/11 era, fondue is just too scary for the no-longer-friendly skies!

“That Was Quick,” The Monster Said (I/III)

A history of a mean and ugly time.

Meredith is born. She explodes!

It is 1978. The sun is bright.

The monster looks surprised.

Not everyone explodes a few seconds after they’re born. Most people start out as babies. Babies are amazingly non-explosive. Even when you activate them using a nipple they remain inert, constraining their endless trillions of kilojoules within their adorable mass.

Even people who do not start as babies do not always explode. Gods tend to appear full-grown. Goats start out as kids, and Dick Cheney was actually born older than he is now. Some universal figures exist without beginning or end, such as God or Ouroborous. In addition there are suspicions regarding the people of Kansas who may in fact hatch out of great clutches of tornado eggs.

But Meredith has exploded; so, “That was quick,” the monster says.

Jenna giggles.

“She lasted longer in GMT,” Jenna says.

There’s a pause.

“What?”

“‘Cause it’s later there. In Greniggs!”

“No,” says the monster. “No, it’s not.”

He wipes off his face. He walks away. He leaves her there, and slowly Jenna’s head falls forward and her eyes flutter shut.

“PST sucks,” she says.

She dreams of Greenwich, where everything happens much later and in a stately fashion, where strange European people eat their midnight snacks at four, and where partings take eight hours at a time.

Titanomachy

In the beginning was only Ronald Reagan. He was primordial and without form. Then came George Bush. Ronald Reagan and George Bush intertwined and formed the three bureaus of government: the Hecatonchire, the Cyclopes, and the Titans.

The Hecatonchire had fifty heads and one hundred hands. The people called it the Senate.

Each Cyclops had a single eye. Each copied its eye onto the currency of the realm, setting it within a mystic pyramid. This let the Cyclopes watch the entire world. The people called them the Department of the Treasury.

The Titans copulated with one another to create the streams, the rivers, the sun, and the moon. No one was ever sure what one could properly call a governmental division of this nature. The matter was ultimately left unresolved.

Bill Clinton led the Titans. He was sometimes called “Blue Titan,” because blue was the color of his mecha. He valued the streams, the rivers, the sun, the moon, and copulation. Discontent with George Bush’s rule, he made an adamantine saxophone and used it to strike away George Bush’s potency. Many believe that Monica Lewinsky was born from the blood and foam that poured forth that day. Bill Clinton then claimed rule over the world as his own. No other Titanomech could “form the head” when the Titans assembled.

George Bush cursed Bill Clinton. “A son of these my loins,” he swore, “shall rise to cast you down and claim your throne.”

This troubled Bill Clinton. He became fearful. Lest they provide Bush’s son with powerful weapons of war, he locked the Cyclopes deep beneath the Earth. Lest they trouble him in the future, he ate all of George Bush’s children. Yet there was one whom his wife Hillary would not let him eat.

“He is becoming portly,” she said, worriedly. So when he captured George Bush the Second and planned to eat him, Hillary substituted textured soy protein. She hid George Bush the Second away, lest Bill discover her crime. The boy grew to manhood. When he felt strong enough, he cut Bill Clinton’s stomach open, freed his siblings, and claimed power for his own.

“Power is lonely,” said George Bush the Second. So he visited Dick Cheney in the form of a shower of gold. “Be my Vice-President,” he said.

Thus ends the story of the Titanomachy.

Cooking

The first thing a civilized person learns to cook is tea.

The second is macaroni and cheese.

The third is bread. Bread is easiest to cook when it is already handy and pre-sliced.

The fourth is “otter pops.” You cut the end off of the otter. Then you freeze it. The flavor depends on the flavor of the otter. If you want a chocolate otter pop, feed the otter chocolate. If you want cheese, feed the otter cheese. If you want an American patriotic flavor, feed it either flags or politicians.

The fifth is yogurt. You stir the yogurt until it becomes liquid. Then you stir it more. It becomes a gas. Finally, it becomes the mysterious fourth stage of matter—plasma! Then you can use the yogurt to power your spaceship and fly away away away.

Yogurt is a useful spaceship fuel because it can grow itself from cultures. It is renewable. It is technically a disease that grows in bad milk, just like privilege and necrolactophilia. (Necrolactophilia is a disease that makes you drink bad milk even though it’s bad. You also offer it to your friends! It is very insidious and does not receive enough media attention.)

It is hard to top yogurt. Except with butterscotch. You can top anything with butterscotch. Or a small cherry. Or both. Even Vice-Presidents! It’s not kinky if it brings in donations.

It is not the American way to eat our politicians. (We can feed them to otters, but otters are not citizens. That’s the important difference!) On Japanese game shows, though, eating politicians happens all the time. “Bite Into Cheney” is a fabulous show. Because they do not actually own Cheney, they must use a body double, but that is okay. They also eat other things like pound cake and live eels and those candy boulders used in old Star Trek shows. It’s no good to serve Cheney’s body double every time—people would catch on! “Hey,” they’d say. “Shouldn’t he be used up by now?” Then they’d storm the media center and get answers. They’d have torches! Nobody wants that. So the show varies its menu!

The candy boulders are the tastiest. Even more than live eels! They’re strange cotton candy genetically engineered to survive the rigors and hazards of the Paramount shooting set. Some people say that genetically engineered food is bad because it might infect the general population of that food. But Paramount can get away with it because natural boulders are not even edible. Also, Paramount has deep pockets and many lawyers.

The candy boulders are also big. You can step into them and hide. When Shatner walks by, you can spring out and say, “Surprise, William Shatner! I am your dark mirror universe double who lives in a cotton candy boulder!” This would confuse him. That’s when you strike!

It is most important, when hiding in cotton candy boulders, not to accidentally get into one of the fireballs. When just laying around in the Paramount lot, the atomic fireball candy used for photon torpedoes looks a lot like the boulder candy. But it is very spicy. In that episode where a Klingon tried to eat the photon torpedo to keep it from his ship, you could see it in his face. That’s spicy! His eyes watered. He couldn’t even talk! It fills the heart with sympathy for the glorious Klingon cause.

In the later series, they toned all of that down. The rocks were made of sugar substitute. The atomic fireballs were more on the ‘mm, pancakes!’ level of spiciness. Captain Kirk was old and bald and French. It was very confusing, but it did promote a certain sense of evolution.

“Tea!” he would say. “Earl Grey! Hot!”

Later, he taught the ship how to make bread, and otter pops, and yogurt, and even Cheney with butterscotch.

It wasn’t partisan. He didn’t support Kerry! He wasn’t even a Nader man. It’s just that no one ever remembers the Vice-President who came after Cheney. He’s too forgettable!

Excerpt from a Larger Thought

Apple trees are not fish. If they were fish, they would live underwater. They would have interesting survival adaptations. Since they have many branches, they would most likely swim like an octopus. An apple tree fish would look upside down from a surface person’s perspective. It would keep its branches underneath it and swish them through the water. Its roots would stick up. It would only invert and use its roots for swimming in an emergency. It’s not clear why a fish would need to grow apples. It’s possible that they would be luminescent organs that would help the apple tree fish see. Or they would be used, as in the surface world, for mating. The female apple tree fish would shake off the apples. Then the male apple tree fish would fertilize them. This would probably involve aquatic bees. Apple trees are not fish. So apple trees will end.

Bookshelves are also not fish. This is because fish can’t read. There’s no need for fish to have other, special fish to store their books on. If fish could read, then the fish-bookshelffish relationship would be symbiotic. The reading fish would eat little tiny fish and plankton. They would digest them. Then they would extrude the resulting mess into the bookshelves’ mouth. This is because bookshelves cannot hunt. In exchange for food, the bookshelffish would protect the reader fish’s books from predators. When a plagiarism shark snuck up, the bookshelffish would rattle its shelves and emit a great cloud of ink, scaring the shark away. Bookshelves are not fish, so bookshelves have bookends.

Despair is not a fish. Despair does not live underwater. This means that hope is a fish. Hope swims. Hope darts this way and that. Hope is an elusive fish. No one can eat it. It shall not end. If despair were a fish, then no one would want to eat it. Sharks would look at it and then go away. “That’s a despair fish,” they’d say. “That’s too bitter.” That’s just silly; so as long as there are fish, everything else has hope.

Cereal is not a fish. No one bothers to make fish whose only purpose is to be eaten by other fish. Except aquariums and pet shops. They don’t count, since they’re not a natural part of the great cycle of life.

It’s really not very hard to think of things that are not fish. It’s harder if you limit yourself to organic things that live in water, though. Sharks are not fish. Dolphins are not fish. Whales are not fish. Vice-President Cheney is not a fish. It’s not clear whether he lives in water. The television does not show him as underwater, but that could be the liberal bias of the media. It’s possible that we finally have an aquatic Vice-President and the liberal media actually edits the film to ensure that no one knows. If he would just wear a swimsuit more often, it would be easier to tell.

Anemones are not fish. They have no fins and they do not pursue their lives in a fish-like manner. It’s possible that they are simply deviant fish. It seems more likely that they’re an entirely different classification. If all of the anemones and aquatic Vice-Presidents in the world linked hands, they could form an anemone Cheney of love. But they have no hands. That’s why they weep.

Anemones have no hands. They have no feet. Sea cucumbers can invert themselves, shooting their internal organs into the sea. Orca command a fearsome arsenal of nuclear weapons. Seals can balance balls on their nose. Anemones don’t even have hands. But they do have something. A special something. They keep it secret. They don’t tell people about it. It’s something every anemone learns about before they’re born.

In that place before birth, they see a visitor; and it gives them the thing that they have; and it whispers, “Hold this safe. Do not let it go. Do not use it until the sky turns red and the sea turns black and it seems all hope is lost.”

They wait for that day; for that hour; for the hour of the anemone to come. In that moment, only anemones, fish, and the ocean itself will survive. Silent will be the halls of humanity, for humanity is not a fish. No more shall be the elephants, for elephants are not fish. The lions shall not roar on the African plains, for lions are not fish. Unless they’re lionfish. It seems odd that there should be lionfish, but there are.

So many things will end.

Banks are not fish. You can’t make a deposit in a fish. You can’t withdraw from a fish. There aren’t any tellers in a fish. If they were fish, people would go to open a checking account and they’d drown, screaming in their minds about the injustice of it all. But banks are not fish. So banks will end.

(continued at the start of this entry)