Food For More Thought

I was recently assaulted by a plate of French fries and gravy.
Well, you asked for it!!
Yes I did!  😀  😀  😎  🌯

On a recent Flash Fiction post about fast food, a reader commented, Canadians take French fries to the next level with gravy on top of them.’

Baby, you ain’t seen nuthin’ yet!

….And then the French-Canadians taught us to put cheese curds or grated mozzarella on it and call it ‘poutine‘– English translation – heart attack in a bowl.  😳  It is now common across Canada.  Most Canadian outlets of American fast-food restaurants serve a version of it.  It’s a cheap, easy way to add protein for people too poor to afford much meat, or where dairy cows are common, but beef isn’t.

Then, there are Chili-fries.  The soupy, spicy meat mixture that is poured on wieners to make chili-dogs, is instead, poured on crisp French-fries.  Also pouring on the cheese sauce used to dip pretzels or nacho chips, makes them chili-cheese fries.  The further addition of sour cream and chopped green onions, peppers, and/or salsa, makes them Nacho fries, or All-Dressed.

A DIY version of this can be achieved at Wendy’s, by ordering a plate of fries, a cup of their chili, and asking for a container of the sour cream that they serve with their baked potatoes.

Newfoundland is Canada’s island, easternmost Province, separated from reality the rest of the country.  The population is known to be…. rustic.  😕  Someone(s) down there piled some leftover turkey-stuffing on top of fries and gravy, and created ‘Newfie Fries.’

Jobs are scarce on Newfoundland.  The young have spread themselves all across Canada seeking employment.  There are more Newfies in Fort McMurray, Alberta, Canada’s oil capital, than are left in the province.  ‘Newfie Fries’, which can also include cooked peas, can be found wherever there are clots of Newfies.

There are several local chip-wagons – often a small Air-Stream trailer with no wheels – which list all these on the menu.  This includes a brick, stand-alone, drive-in that was once a Dairy Queen outlet.

55 years ago, when I arrived here, drive-ins were ‘the thing.’  There was an A&W Drive-in, well out from downtown, at the corner of what would become a ‘Golden Mile,’ and a north/south artery road.  I did not arrive early enough to see short-skirted waitresses on roller-skates delivering food to the cars.

Over the years, the public shunned drive-ins, and wanted sit-down outlets.  This drive-in disappeared, to become a strip mall, with a Money Mart, a Fed-Ex depot and a lube shop.  Back down the street, first, a McDonalds popped up.

A few years later, Burger King bought the land next door, and went head-to-head – or rather – drive-thru-to-drive-thru.  One day, when I was out with the son, he wanted McDonalds, and I wanted Burger King.  We got his order at Mickey D’s, and he surreptitiously entered Burger King through the drive-thru door, while I walked around, and ordered at the counter.

We thought that we had got away with it, but the manager approached us.  I feared that we would be kicked out, but he was very nice about it.  He said that he knew why we did what we had done, and he appreciated at least a portion of our business, only…. the clearly-marked McDonalds containers.  The cola was carefully poured into a Burger King cup, and the fries now rested on a Burger King tray.  The incriminating evidence was whisked into the garbage.

More years later, Burger King had organizational problems.  Six local outlets shrank to three, losing this nearby one, and completely obliterating one at the edge of the BIG mall at city’s edge, to become the depot for the new street railroad.

A&W bought the property, and opened a sit-down restaurant, directly across the street from where they once had a drive-in, a half a century ago.  Around the corner, on the side street, just past the Thai Pho bistro, sits the Canadian, Harvey’s  restaurant, whose parking lot abuts the back of both the McD’s, and the A&W.

It’s a good thing that my paltry Government retirement pension is so measly that it prevents regular patronage to all these all-too-common/handy eating establishments, but I think that it might be the ingestion of all the chemical preservatives over the years that has kept me alive and fit for so long.  If/when COVID disappears, and the border opens up again, I want to test that theory at a Sonic.  There’s one right down the road from Cordelia’s Mom’s.

WOW #66

The elections are coming!  The elections are coming!  Actually, they’ve been had – and so has the electorate.  It was Donald tRump against Whatzizname.  Let’s skip past Pathology and Psychology, and go directly to

PSEPHOLOGY

ORIGIN

Psephology, “the study of elections,” comes from Greek psêphos “small stone, pebble.” (The Greeks used pebbles in counting and arithmetic functions; the ancient Athenians also used pebbles to cast votes in elections and trials.) The element –logy is the completely naturalized combining form used in the names of sciences (geology, biology) and bodies of knowledge (theologyastrology).

The 20th-century British historian R.B. McCallum wrote in a personal letter that while with C.S. Lewis and other heavy-hitting philologists, he proposed the term electionology, which so offended the sensibilities of Lewis and the others that they proposed the etymologically correct psephology, avoiding the dreadful Latin-Greek hybrid. Psephology entered English in the mid-20th century.

At first I thought that I would need to be paid – handsomely – to study elections.  Elections themselves seem to be interesting only to CPAs and statisticians.  However, the dramatis personae, the cast of characters, has evolved to make them high drama, and low comedy.  After that first Punch and Biden debate, I thought that they would have to provide the moderator for the second with a cattle prod.  It seems that a simple mute switch was sufficient, although sparks still flew.

I composed this post before the Great American Election of 2020, so, no spoilers.  Don’t tell me how it turned out.  No matter who won, the American public lost.  Now we Canadians face the inevitable march to the polls, to choose between Tweedle-dum and Tweedle-dumber.  I’m gonna study my crosswords till they spend my pension on Green Energy.   😯

I Have Poor Relatives

Shabby Man

Once upon a time there was a poor little boy from a poor family. His Father was poor.  His Mother was poor.  The maid was poor.  The cook was poor.  The butler was poor.  Even the chauffeur was poor. One day, he went to his father and asked if he could have a pony.  His Father said no, because they were too poor to afford a pony.  The poor little boy went to his piggy-bank, took out enough money to buy himself the pony, and put the rest back….

We are often so busy with our own lives, that without really obvious clues, we think that everyone is pretty much like ourselves. It takes an observant and analytical mind to notice the struggles of those at the bottom of the financial, pissed-on trickle down ladder.  I am distressed that a $180 pair of distressed designer jeans looks just like my four-years-old $24.95 Wal-Mart pair.

This is why politicians, who are already being paid far too much to do a job that their predecessors did without pay, as a Public Service, feel free to waste millions – Billions – of our dollars, and still fraudulently pad their office budgets and expense accounts.  They have no idea, and don’t care, what it’s like at the bottom of the pile, and it’s been this way since long before Marie Antoinette offered to “let them eat cake.”

It is just as illegal for a millionaire to sleep under a bridge, as it is for a homeless man to do so.

I recently had a conversation with a friend. It seemed that both of us were keeping an eye on family finances – total income vs. expenses – only I think that he was doing it at a much higher level than I was.  I’ve never asked how much he makes.  It’s none of my business, and doesn’t affect our friendship.

With his experience, training, intelligence and education, I suspect his annual salary is somewhere north of $100,000/year. His talented wife probably makes half of that.

With my learning disabilities, and poor short-term memory adding to my tendency for procrastination, I’m lucky to have accomplished what I have during my life. About 15 years ago, before I retired to live on Government and company pensions – with a bunch of overtime, I grossed $44,000, but the wife had been ‘downsized.’  Earlier, when I made $38,000, she added $19,000.

This is not a whine! I’m still doing better than a lot of people, including the little guy who busks in the cold, outside the local grocery store.  As an engineer, Jim Wheeler says that it is not worth his while to stop and pick up a penny.  I still grab the occasional one or two from the ‘Need A Penny/ Leave A Penny’ tray at the corner store.  People abandon them because the Mint has stopped making them.

I always check the reject chutes of the coin-counting machines in stores. Sometimes I find Canadian coins, as well as foreign ones which I add to my collection.  It’s quick and easy to eyeball the change chutes of vending machines.  I’m not too proud to (discreetly) stick my finger in the few payphone chutes that still exist.  The last time I did, I found $2.  It’s all relative.  $2 to a millionaire is nothing, although Bill Gates (or his minions) cashed a check for 39 cents.  $2 to someone who is eating cat food (We don’t.) means a lot.

Having pets is a wonderful experience. I would not want to get rid of any that we have, but the wife wants even more.  I cannot convince her that, between food, treats, litter, and vet bills, each animal costs us about $1000 a year.  I would sooner have that money to pay down our still-existing mortgage, or use it to take enjoyable trips, while we are still physically capable of doing so.

Some people waste money, too often MY money!  Some people scrimp and save, show restraint and fiscal control, and budget their money to get them the most they can.  I’d be patting myself on the back, but I’m busy crawling around on the floor, trying to find that quarter I dropped.  I’ll be back up at the computer in a couple of days.  Please come back again then.   😉