The Phantom Gourmet tries Salad Fingers

I started writing a Halloween short story and there’s a spirit creature that I realized is basically a cross between Salad Fingers and the Phantom Gourmet, a local restaurant review TV show that is a staple of those times when you just happen to be in front of a TV in Southern New England and it comes on. Here they are talking about a hamburger joint in New Hampshire, which I have actually been to:

And for a welcome counterpoint, here’s Salad Fingers:

As weird as it was to realize the origins of this particular character, I’m going with it.

Needless to say, I’m playing both videos at the same time for inspiration, but they’re being cancelled out by the 90s alternative being played at this Dunkin Donuts.

I needed a quick bbq sauce recipe that didn’t involve chopping onions. My eyes have become sensitive to the point that chopping half an onion means I need to flee two rooms away for a ten-minute crying break.

The only change I made to this one was to replace the Tabasco sauce with sambal oolek, and quadruple it.

After I made that change, I looked up both hot sauces’ values on the Scoville heat scale. Since I think of Tabasco as a more vinegary sauce, I was surprised that it has a higher value than sambal oolek.

I came up with a quick method for enchilada sauce that I am happy with.

Normally, I’m not a fan of recipes that use salsa. They’re too back-of-the-box recipe, shortcuts in the negative sense of the word, like when you think you’re going to save yourself a bunch of driving time, but then you end up on a shifty, haunted dirt road that just gets narrower and narrower until it’s basically a trail you have to back out of, and you curse your entire existence.

Anyway, after my recent discovery that canned enchilada sauce is even more underwhelming than I remembered, I decided there has to be a better way.

Salsa verde has the flavor profile I want in a green enchilada sauce, only without chopping tomatillos for a million years. It worked out to about 3/4 cup salsa verde with 2 cups or so of chicken broth, thickened with a bit of cornstarch. So far, it’s worked with at least one red salsa too.

I will never, never understand cake mix. Since cake has no nutritional value, its only function is to taste good. But if you make it from a mix, you end up with something more akin to aerated ceiling plaster with a hint of propylene glycol. Since it doesn’t taste good, it has no purpose.

Eight problems afflicting hippies

There is a particular set of irritations that happen to people with a predilection for healthy food, a giant love of nature, and a tendency to approach their health with a minimalist, prevention-first mindset. In a word, hippies. Here are some that have plagued me over the years.

It’s a flower from nature, and therefore good. You can use it for anything you can think of, like turning it into essential oil and brushing your teeth with it.

There are chia seeds glued onto my canines!

Like so much gelatinous goo on the bald head of a Garfield Chia Pet. Remember how spreading seeds on a chia planter works? If you’re the type of person who adds chia seeds to snack bars and yogurt, a bit of saliva is enough to get some chia-glue going and stick chia seeds to your teeth.

And when I say canines, I mean teeth, but I can only assume that chia-eating dog owners find them on their dogs’ coats, the same way I find them on my toddler, and also everything I own. Because that’s how toddlers work.

My coconut oil deodorant melted!

Coconut oil melts at 76 degrees Fahrenheit. If you’re the type of person who deodorizes with a mixture of coconut oil, baking soda, cornstarch, and a bit of lavender oil mixed up with a fork in an old salsa jar, your finely-tuned cream mixture will turn to goo.

On the bright side, the more liquidy your mixture gets, the more you know you need it. A handy visual indicator.

My ginger bug died!

And now I can’t make experimental fermented beverages. Plus, I’m a sad person because I had kind of come to think of it as an inert, bacterial pet, and no one understands because they have normal pets like cats.Y

I have barefoot angst!

Because I’m on a barefoot kick, but I need to go to Sears, and I don’t have the braided thong of cloth that makes it look as though I’m wearing flip-flops.

I need to buy yogurt at the supermarket!

But all the low-fat, high-sugar, nutrionally-bankrupt options sitting in fluorescent-lit yogurt prison remind me of the three things I hate most–disempowerment, brainwashing, and patriarchy—and I end up leaving the store in a steaming rage-spiral.

I need to get food at a gas station, but I don’t really consider any of this stuff food.

Well, yeah.

I accidentally revealed how infrequently I shower!

Because I mentioned taking a cold shower on Sunday when the hot water didn’t work, but I’m talking about this on Wednesday, haven’t taken a shower since, and didn’t think anything of it when I mentioned the Sunday shower. If you disagree with the idea of daily showers as necessary, know that soap advertising played a big role in the concept of the daily shower, and don’t want to open those particular cans of worms, it’s easiest to say that you get dry skin.

I self-identify as a hippie, but I don’t want you to confuse me with those hippies.

You know the ones, with the fluffiness and the moon crystals, the anti-vaxxing and the unquestioned conflation of “natural” and “good,” and the idea that people give themselves cancer with negative thoughts. Or the ones who give bad advice about essential oil use, and recommend coconut oil for ALL problems.

Or the ones who turn “natural living” into a consumer activity with surface-level gestures toward healthy eating, like buying almond milk because it’s almond milk, without looking at the ingredients or questioning whether 2.5 grams of fat is the correct amount of fat for a beverage purportedly made from nuts.

My partner spent an agonized Facebook post asking his friends for better terms than “hippie” to get away from those associations, and came up with nothing. The best I had was to add the word “pragmatic” in front of it.
And that describes me fairly well: I’m a pragmatic hippie.

To be honest, I’m not sure how many of these problems are still considered hippie things since some of them, like chia seeds, have gone mainstream. It’s been years since I had to explain to someone what chia seeds are, or since I had to go to a special store to buy them. But whether these behaviors have gone mainstream or not, I know their roots.

This is hippie stuff, and these are hippie problems, and I have them.

More on skipping dessert

No. I don’t want dessert (an open letter).

How to Politely Pass on Dessert

I found both of these articles after I wrote “Are you sure you don’t want any?” Both the author and commenters on “How to Politely Pass on Dessert” are apparently much more considerate than I am–I hadn’t been thinking of this situation as a difficult one, just an annoying one. I expect others to accept a no-frills “no, thank you” as an answer. Not only do I not owe anyone an explanation, I’ve learned that it’s worse to give one–people try to counter your reasons, which is annoying when you have more than one reason, or just want to pass on dessert without telling someone your entire life story, dessert preferences, and digestive health. The article does have some good tips for people who aren’t quite as socially obtuse and uncompromising as I am.

The open letter spoke to me a lot more. I ended up focusing my own piece on the social aspects of one particular question, but a lot of what he wrote echoes parts that I took out of mine. In short: I’m picky about food, and I’m just not going to bother eating something unhealthy if I don’t truly love it.