Friday, February 28, 2014

Friday Orts and a Blurb

Time for our weekly wrap-up, while observing that obviously the person in charge of the mailing list for the unsolicited catalog I received this week must have been spying on me as I cooked.

A follow-up to the dessert conundrum: People, that was pretty good pie. The Vanilla Pecan Pie did not disappoint, although the crust was the approximate consistency of a shingle after baking once for the cheesecake part and once for the pie part. Next time I'll make my own dough, but the recipe is going into the keep file.

Sadness in my life last week: Our get-away weekend to see Boy#4 before he graduates meant that I missed the Small Town spelling bee. It was last Friday night, and apparently the major news outlets did not cover the event because I have not yet heard who won. But there's a confession to go along with the sadness: The first emotion I felt when I knew I would not be defending my title as Top Speller On One Night In The Crapshoot That Is A Spelling Bee? Relief. Because have I mentioned that spelling bees are crapshoots, and that had I gotten some of the other words in last year's bee I might very well not have won? Yes. This way I got to retire undefeated due to circumstances beyond my control.

Did any of you grow up being doctored with Merthiolate? When I was a kid that orange liquid was the cure-all for the skinned knees and roughed-up elbows that came with kid-dom. It burned with a blue-hot flame when it hit raw skin and the orange tint was a badge of bravery that didn't wash off. The other day I was telling one of the young'uns in the office about Merthiolate, which they had NEVER HEARD OF, and I Googled it so these whippersnappers could see how their pansy germ-killers that don't hurt also don't kill germs. Do you know what I found? The most prominent ingredient in Merthiolate is MERCURY. Seriously, mercury of the kind that is found in the warnings on old thermometers. After all these years I realized that my mother had been trying to kill me. Between that and the lack of car restraints (throwing an arm out as she braked doesn't count) it's a wonder I survived to adulthood.

This week's blurb is in praise of cheap coffee. I am a coffee drinker. I love everything about coffee--I love its smell, I love its taste, I love the way the mug feels in my hands on a cold day, I love the moment of reprieve when I've been asked a difficult question in a meeting and take a sip of coffee before I answer. But weak coffee is disgusting--do not be weak,coffee. Just do not be.

A few years ago I discovered Cafe Bustelo. It is sold in WalMart and is the cheapest coffee on the shelves, but also is the opposite of weak and immediately took me back to my days in the Peace Corps when I was in coffee paradise. It tasted just like 3 p.m. in Costa Rica, when the whole world stopped and drank coffee together.

It turned out that I was way behind the curve in discovering the yellow can.  A New York Times article in 2009 (five YEARS ago!) featured Cafe Bustelo: "Potent, cheap and with an aura of both urban exotica and blue-collar utility, it’s long been an item on the bohemian shopping list, even making it into the lyrics to Rent ('Bustelo, Marlboro, banana by the bunch')." I must be bohemiam, because if you leave out the Marlboros, that could be my shopping list. 

Put your thumb way up for Cafe Bustelo. Then wrap that thumb around a cup of it, and enjoy.

1 comment:

  1. Well. I remembered this post all this time. I checked to see if our grocery store had this coffee, but they didn't. I then added it to my mental Walmart list, but I don't go very often, and I think the last time I went there I just forgot. Anyway, TODAY I remembered to look---but had only a vague memory of how the can looked, and no memory of the name of the coffee. I picked the one that matched what I remembered (yellow can, cheap)---and I was right! So now I have this IN MY HOUSE, and I will try it tomorrow! The can gives me a happy feeling already: didn't ALL coffee used to come in cans? Or at least, I remember many crafts of my youth involved coffee cans, and there were many coffee cans in use around our house. Perhaps it's just that the kind my mom bought came in a can.