Condiments are People Too

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Photo cruelly cropped from a lovely original by icaro leite, at freeimages.com

Five Totally Worthwhile Condiments

Okay, guys. I should’ve done a writing post today, and I know it.

But the fact is, I’m sick n’ tired of talking about writing. I talk about writing all the goddamn time, and there’s so much more to my life that you, my captive audience, need to know all about.

Like how I feel about condiments.

Let me explain myself. I’m not talking about the make-your-own mayo, squeeze-your-ketchup-tomatoes-by-hand kind of condiments. Those are great, of course. I have my tomato relish and celery sauce recipes in my mindbrain, where no computer crash will ever rob me of them.

But sometimes–sometimes. You have fries, or Wheat Thins, or toasted baby arms, or whatever crispy snack you prefer, on a plate, and LEGASP, no time to make your own ketchup, like a proper frontierswoman. Should you abandon all dignity and head for the Heinz?

Hell, naw. Have standards, you tramp.

My fridge groans with condiments. The door shelf sags outward under the weight of a glass jar and bottle invasion. Want mustard? I’ve got like fifty kinds of it. Want soy sauce? I don’t even know what that is any more, be more specific. I know, I know, premade condiments are just full of preservatives and food coloring and GMO death omg. But get off your high horse for a minute. Stop thinking about how every particle of nourishment that passes your lips is poisoning you. And admit it: sometimes you just want to grab a goddamn bottle out of the fridge.

So, for today’s post, instead of nattering on about plot holes and guns going off in the third act, we’re giving you five of Emily’s trusty premade condiment staples. Why? Because why not. You can’t tell me what to do. Long live the rebellion. Aspfhrrgsgfl;.

(A NOTE–I wouldn’t actually buy any of these things on Amazon. The prices are, on average, about three times what I pay in my hometown. But I wanted to show you what I get. Because I love you.)

Pickapeppa Sauce–Pickapeppa is a minor god among somambulent sauces. Where others sleep, Pickapeppa mainlines coffee. Where others whisper, Pickapeppa roars.

Pickapeppa has a sweet, almost molasses-like tang, with orangelike afternotes and more sourness and sweetness than heat. One of the ingredients on the bottle is ‘peppers’, but don’t worry, the only people who’re going to find this spicy are your ninety year old grandmother and her toothless daschund. I used to love it on burgers, in my meat-eating days, but it’s good on everything else ever as well. I even put it on vanilla ice cream once (yes, because I am insane).

Doubanjiang–You like Sriracha? You think dotting your morning eggs with Sriracha is spicy and adventurous? Fuck you, buddy. (Actually, I love Sriracha too. Poured straight into my mouth. In shots.)

Doubanjiang (Pi Xian being my chosen variety, though it’s hard to find, at least in a relatively rural area) is what Sriracha became when it grew up and got some years of working experience. It’s a red broadbean paste made in Sichuan province, traditionally left to ferment and mellow, sometimes for years, in large clay pots. (Is the cheaper stuff made that way? Is Pi Xian made that way? I have no idea). There’s a spicy version, which tastes deep and spicy and a little earthy, and a non-spicy version, which, to me at least, tastes a little bit like miso paste. I use the spicy version in mapo tofu, but it’s also great on eggs, as a dipping sauce for fried tofu, with plain rice, or anywhere you require red spiciness ever again ever.

Banana Sauce–The first time I tried banana sauce, I wasn’t completely sold. I saw a bottle at my local asian market, and it was cheap, and I was like what the hell, why not.

Two years down the line, banana ketchup has become my permaketchup.

It doesn’t taste that different from bottled ketchup, really. A little sweeter. The kind I get is deep red in color and has an unusual gloppy texture. Seeing as it’s made from bananas, I’m guessing it has enough red food coloring in it to kill you slowly. But man oh man, is it addictive. It’s a Philippino thing–they use it on all sorts of stuff, spaghetti dishes being the one I’ve seen the most when I google ‘banana ketchup’, which I do more than I’d want to admit–but, not being from the Philippines, I should probably leave that up to the folks who’re masters therein. Me, I just put it on everything I used to put ketchup on. Thank you, trusty bottle of banana ketchup. Thank you.

Duke’s Mayo–If you’re not from the American South, you might not have heard of Duke’s. This is because you’ve lived a sad, colorless life, and your southern-style salads are devoid of true meaning.

Why do people swear by Duke’s? Because it tastes better. I don’t know what else to tell you, but it does. It probably has a host of non clean living ingredients that make it taste better, but dear Jesus, I do not care.

I slipped up last week. My grocery store had Kraft two for one and I, like a moron, bought Kraft. After my first cucumber salad came out sad and tasteless, I went right back to the damn store and made everything okay. I owed it to my boyfriend. No one should have to take that Kraft shit.

Green Pepper Jelly– What a strange thing to make jelly out of, you say.

Your mom is strange, I say right back, sticky-sweet green goo oozing out of my face hole.

Green pepper jelly is sweet. You probably figured that out–it is a jelly. But it’s got this funky sharp and earthy aftertaste that’s worth talking about, and keeps it from being totally cloying (which is, to be honest, how I find most jellies after brief exposure). And it’s green. Which is, really, all I demand from most food items.

Useful anywhere you need a jelly, but I have two particular uses for which I adore it: one is inside cornmeal thumbprint cookies around Christmas time (I use green pepper jelly for the green ones, red pepper jelly for the red. How cute.) and the other is on Wheat Thins, in combination with cream cheese. I have no idea where I got that one. I think it was Mom. But it’s awesome.

And, bonus points!

Chow chow. Oh, chow-chow. What are you, exactly?

Deliciousness. Sheer, tangy, sweetie, yellow deliciousness. I put you on hot dogs for years. I’ll put you on soy dogs for more years. My collards are incomplete without you. Actually: any green I make is incomplete without you. I’ve forced you into chicken salad before, and I was sorry for it. You didn’t belong there. Next time, I’ll just serve chicken salad with a scoopful of chow-chow beside it.

Chow-chow is…a relish. Of some sort. It comes in both sweet and spicy varieties, both of which I recommend. I left it off my original list because I couldn’t for the life of me tell you exactly what’s in it, but by God, a condiment listing without chow-chow in it is sadly incomplete.

There you go. Non-writing silliness, and God Save the Condiments.

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Killing Your Darlings With Coffee

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Today’s story begins with the phrase which had begun many a morning for me:

So I was in line at Starbucks.

Judge me. Go ahead. Because I’m sure you always have time to hunt down an indie coffee shop. I’m sure you and your indie-coffee-shop-finding buddies enjoy the sweet nectar of free-trade hubris in recyclable cups every morning, with a soupcon of disdain for people who don’t shop at farmer’s markets available in organic creamer-form on the dash.

No? Boo hoo.

Anyway, I was in line at Starbucks, and I noticed it was taking the guy in front of me a while to get his drink. Six or seven minutes sort of a while: in Starbucks language, that’s geological ages. Like, I was checking my phone wishing I could die.

When the barista was finally done sacrificing to the coffee gods, or whatever it is a barista has to do to produce a cupload of soylent coffee-substitute, I could see why. The thing that had been produced–this coffee-esque item–was a modern marvel. It had more sugary shit on top of it than Miley Cyrus after a night on the town. There were sugar drizzles, sugary whipped cream, flecks of sugar, chocolate sugar scrimbles. It was probably four thousand calories, and provided enough diabeetus to keep four third-world countries in insulin for the forseeable future. It probably had extra pumps in it.

(On a related note–why does it not bother people to order things with extra ‘pumps’ of stuff in them? Nothing natural–nothing–has ever been pumped into anything. Anyway.)

This quivering gelatinous pile of almost-coffee–this southern-style cream pie rendered as a potable liquid–this degenerate fuck-you to good taste and simple living on all seven continents–was picked up by its proud owner and, unceremoniously, slurped down on the way out the door.

As though he got one of those every morning.

As though it were perfectly normal–perfectly–to suck down a sugary showboat that took some poor kid seven minutes to make on the way to your car, balancing your phone in your other hand.

Now, don’t get me wrong–there are times when we all want a fancy ten-layer coffee beverage. There are times when even I, diabetic curmudgeon extraordinaire, am okay with paying eight dollars for a frappa-crappa-cuppa-zuppa-mocha-latte-hazelnut.

But these times aren’t every day. I want one of those maybe once every three months, and even then I usually ponder the craving for a month or so (‘how badly, really, do I want a diabetic coma?’). And I usually get a small. And I tip the poor barista.

My point:

Don’t listen to all those people who tell you whether or not to kill your sugary-sweet darlings. They don’t know what the hell your darlings are–you do. Some of them might have literary merit. Just like, sometimes, that ridiculous coffee confection is just the thing you want–sometimes, you need fillings and a serious sugar-coma.

Writing, my dears, is the Starbucks of the soul.

Most of the time, you should probably go for the plain black coffee of prose. A pack or two of sugar if that’s how you like it, some milk or creamer if you’re that sort of person. Nonetheless: plain coffee. It wakes you up. It gets the job done.
If you drink mostly plain coffee–if you keep your writing style simple and direct–it’ll only mean you appreciate your moments of prosey frappa-mocha-fucka-whatever better.

Because it’s hard to appreciate two pumps of extra whatever-you-pump when you’ve been having it every day.

And plain black coffee isn’t so bad–there’s a lot of subtle difference in plain black coffee. You might even argue, for that matter, that the person who can wax rhapsodic about a cup of plain black coffee is a gourmet–whereas the person who waxes rhapsodic about a cup of sugary, milky, coffee-putrescence is a future diabetic.

It’s up to you, of course, to decide what the appropriate amount of time between frappa-fuckas really is. But, believe me here–there is one. I know, I know, you’ve all heard that old adage, kill your darlings–it’s true. For the most part.

But if you kill all your darlings–if you drink nothing but black coffee from now until the end of time–I can’t help it, I find that a little sad. There’s a fun, sugary part of your soul that no one else will ever see again, that makes your writing what it is. And, sure, indulging in it too much is bad for you–but a little self-indulgence, from time to time, is medicine rather than murder.

The expression ‘kill your darlings’ teaches us, wrongly, that something is harmful to us just because we like it. And, like the Starbucks coffee, it certainly is, if we let it rule us–but if you use your darlings judiciously, if you pick the best of them and apply them with care, there’s no reason that bit you like shouldn’t stay in.

Just because you like it doesn’t mean you can’t make it work.

And in the end, you should be getting a second (or third, or fourth) opinion anyway. If they give your sugary baby the axe, maybe it’s not quite time yet. But if they don’t, let your darling live.

Because people who never ever get a frappuchino are just a little bit soulless. You need to play a little, give in to your cravings a little. They’re part, after all, of who you are.

Unless, of course, you hate frappuchinos. In which case: get one once. Just so you know. If you don’t break the rules ever, you’ll never know what happens when you do.

By the way, this whole post is me not killing a darling. There’s nothing we like over here in Emville like extended metaphors…regardless of how well they work.

Easy DIY Condiments to Better Your Self-Esteem

Three Simple Cooking Tricks to Impress The Fuck Out of Everybody

I’m getting a little bored with the writing posts. I mean, I love writing, but you know what else I love to do? Cook. And it’s summer. So the veggies are out to play. No, there are no pictures. Because I’m not a food blogger. Just a girl with food tips (also, my kitchen is disgusting right now).

Yeah. That’s right. I too have feminine habits. Y’know what else I can do, sort of? Sew. And I can darn socks. I know, right? How weird is that shit?

Anyway.

Let’s take a moment and talk about three really simple things you can make in your kitchen–make, mind you, and not buy–that’re simple, easy, and totally good for impressing the fuck out of anybody who eats with you.

Right now, you’re looking at me with raised brows. ‘Why would I take all the time to make it,” you’re saying, “when I could just buy my organic non-GMO gluten free totally-safe-for-even-the-wimpiest-children mother Earth loving brand at Whole Foods, for only 10.99 a bottle? I mean, I have to buy SOME foods. That six figure salary doesn’t make itself. If it did, I’d namastay at home.”

To which I say: good for you. You sure that stuff is GMO free? Wow, okay. I’m not going to say anything else: saying you don’t mind a GMO or two opens you up to more self-righteous internet trolling than admitting to feminism in public. For that matter: what’ve GMOs done to us THIS week?

The fact is, if you stay on Pinterest for five seconds you’ll see every possible condiment and convenience food in its paleo-friendly-what-the-hell-ever make-at-home form. The fact is, ninety-five percent of that stuff isn’t worth doing. A few things, however, are. They are:

1) Homemade mustard
2) Homemade whipped cream
3) Homemade pico de gallo

Homemade mustard is AMAZING. Much stronger, tangier flavor, and ZOMG you can mince it just as fine as you want. Also, don’t be intimidated: it only takes about five minutes to throw it together. Most of that three day time period is waiting.

Em’s Ho-Ho-Homemade Mustard

Prep time: 3 Days
Yield: 2 cups or so. Fuck if I know, really.

You’ll need:
1 C mustard seed (I use about 2/3C yellow seeds, 1/3C brown. More brown seeds’ll make it punchier. Less’ll make it more like French’s.)
1 tsp turmeric
3/4 C mild vinegar (I use a mixture of white wine and distilled white. Apple cider works too–key is, make it a mild vinegar. None of that balsamic shit. You want the flavor of your mustard seeds to shine).
1/4 C water
2-3 splashes bourbon
1 tsp honey

1) Take your mustard seeds. Put them in a jar with your vinegar, water, and bourbon. Close the jar and sit it somewhere cool and dry.
2) Wait, breathlessly, for three or so days. No, don’t actually hold your breath. Check the seeds occasionally: if they start looking a little dry, add a splash or two more vinegar.
3) OH JOY. The day has come. Uncap that shit and dump it in a food processor. Add turmeric and honey. Give it a few pulses: I like grainy mustard, so I barely blend mine. I’d tell you how long to blend, but hell, you can figure out what you like, right?
4) Sample your amazing fucking mustard. Give Whole Foods the finger. You, buddy, just became soooo much wholer foodier. You made your own mustard. How cool is that? Orgasm. Scream your spirit animal’s secret name to the sky. Put out some crackers and meats.
5) BECAUSE MUSTARD.

Aaaand Number Two.

Em’s Homemade Whipped Cream

Prep time: Overnight (you’ll see why)
Yield: Depends on how much you like whipped cream. Me and Definitely Not Dave polish this off pretty fast, with or without something to blame it on).

1 C Whipping Cream (note, NOT the heavy whipping cream. I’ve tried it. Just not the same).
1 T sugar
1/4 tsp vanilla extract (usually, I just fill the cap and dump that in there. Along with…)
1/8 tsp almond extract (seriously, just a few drops of this works)

1) You need a mixer and a bowl. Got those? Awesome. Stick the mixer beaters and bowl in the freezer. I usually do this the night before, but you want ’em in there for at least an hour.
2) And I feel I hardly need say this, but your cream needs to be cold too. It best’ve been living in that fridge for a while.
3) Now that everything’s colder than you could possibly imagine things being, dump your cream in your freezy-cool bowl. Add sugar, vanilla, and almond.
4) Stick your beaters in your mixer. If your beaters are so cold they stick to your fingers, I am totally not responsible.
5) Beat the fuck out of the cream. On high. For 1-2 minutes. Your whipped cream is ready when stiff peaks form.
6) Lie in bed in dark room, eating whipped cream straight from bowl. Watch Friends reruns. Sob in terrible joy.

Trois:

Em’s Puerile Pico de Gallo

A note, before I begin: if you don’t like spice, go make ice cream or something. This is a salsa–a fairly mild salsa at that. Therefore, there are jalapenos in it. And no sissy measuring of hot sauce in ‘drops’.

Prep time: 15 minutes
Yield: Enough dip for 4-6 chippers

4-5 medium reaaaaaally fresh vine ripe tomatoes (the key here is really ripe and fresh. Get the best produce you can find.)
1 large red onion
1-2 cloves of garlic, finely minced
1-2 jalapenos
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped (again, adjust according to how much you like cilantro.)
Juice of 1 medium lime
Valentina hot sauce to taste (I usually go for about 2T. Enough to add flavor, but not enough to kill the flavor of the vegetables is what you’re going for.)
Salt and pepper to taste

1) Deseed tomatoes. Chop and add to bowl. Place tomato insides in doggie bowl and hope dog isn’t allergic to tomatoes.
2) Chop tomatoes, onion, jalapenos, and cilantro fairly finely. Mix all together with garlic until living in happy veggie harmony.
3) Juice lime over veggies.
4) Add hot sauce, salt, and pepper to taste.
5) Serve immediately. Or, honestly, I usually stick it in the fridge for fifteen minutes or so, just so it knows who’s boss (and so it gets a little cooler).

EXCERPT: Night Shift

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I just started writing this. It’s fun, and it’s very weird. Don’t ask me where I’m going with it because I’m not sure. Just tell me: d’you think it’s worth me going on and finding out?

Good. I love an audience.

ONE

As Riley approached, the sound grew louder.

Schlorp. Schlorp. Thwk. Schlorp.

It was a terrible sound. Half squishy and wet, half metallic and hard. It was, in fact, precisely the sort of sound Riley had grown used to, issuing as it did from Tinker Tonkin’s third story balcony.

Schlorp. Shhwk. Schlorp.

“Tinker,” Riley called. Then, when there was no response from the open French doors: “TINK.”

The schlorping paused. As she edged through the moldy gloom of Tinker’s apartment, Riley could only imagine the sight that awaited her on the other side of the French doors–what would it be today? Year old beefaroni? Liquidized vienna sausage?

Schlorp. Thwk. Thw-w-w-wkkkk.

And the cry, proud and primal over the half-empty parking lot:

“I AM AN ARTIST. I AM A MOTHERFUCKING ARTIST.”

Schhhthump.

From below, a car alarm went off.

“Jesus,” Riley muttered, stepping in and freeing herself from an unidentifiable pile of brown goo on the linoleum. “Hang on, Tink,” she called. “I’m coming.”

She picked up speed, moving at a half-jog through the islands of dirty laundry and regretworthy former comestibles that covered the floor. She edged through the doors with care, however–Tinker wasn’t violent, not really at least, but it still paid to move slowly around her. There was always the danger, when one came up on Tinker Tonkin unaware, of catching salmonella, botulism, or that one with a T that came from raw pork (which Riley couldn’t for the life of her remember the name of, even though, knowing Tinker, she should have them all memorized by now, as well as their symptoms and treatments).

Tinker Tonkin, clad only in a pair of acid green underpants, was leaning over the balcony, predatory grin etched into her sunken cheeks. She was holding a child’s plastic bucket in one arm. Her other arm, clad in a rubber kitchen glove, was buried up to the elbow in the substance inside, which was simply the nastiest fucking mess Riley had ever seen, or smelled, or heard. As Riley watched, she scooped up a fistful of it and dropped it neatly on the BMW in the parking lot below.

Schlorp.

Tinker’s abstract-line chest tattoo, all too visible in the sere complex lighting, heaved with her laughter.

“Um,” Riley said. “Tink, I think it’s about time you came inside.”

“Oh,” said Tinker, waving. “Hey, Riley.”

She dumped the rest of the bucket over the railing. The sound it made–hell, the smell–was so awful Riley instantly blacked it out.

The car alarm below was a frenzied screeching.

“I’m doing an installation piece,” Tinker continued conversationally, as though it were the most normal thing in the world to be on your balcony in your underpants at one in the morning, dumping rotten meat products on someone’s BMW. “Mobile installation. Transistor Decay IV. It’ll go with the moving truck you helped me do last month.”

“That’s nice,” Riley lied. She tried to forget about the moving truck. “We should go back inside now.”

“It’s so nice out here, though!” Tinker said, wriggling her bottom in what, had she been something other than a human toothpick covered in skin, would have been a lasvicious fashion. “C’mon, Ri-Ri. You never want to just hang out any more. We can make mimosas, drop SPAM on convertibles…it’ll be like old times.”

“I never dropped SPAM on anything,” Riley said, taking one of Tinker’s wasted arms and tugging. For someone who must’ve weighed about ninety pounds, she was difficult to move. “C’mon. Hup. Before somebody calls the cops.”

Tinker waved an airy gloved hand. “Nobody’ll do that,” she said. “I’m the local artist. Who’s going to call the cops on artistry?”

To punctuate this concept, she threw the bucket over the ledge as well. There was a loud crunch, and the tinkle of shattered glass.

It was only then, when a dog started barking and lights came on in the first floor apartment, that Tinker deigned to stroll back inside.

“Have it your way,” she said, as though she’d simply decided to retreat. “Let me take down the camera and I’ll grab you a beer.”

Recipe: Six Hour Southern Cabbage

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Image @quaddle on deviantart. Ruined by me. Satan watches you making cabbage.

I happen to have a little extra time today. So, as promised, here’s my Southern Six Hour Cabbage.

Beforehand, a note. If you are looking for delightfully crisp, healthy, still-green leaf vegetable, turn your attention elsewhere. If, however, you want salty, spicy, mash-between-your-teeth pot likkery COMFORT, then this cabbage is for you.

That guy I live with (known henceforth as Definitely Not Dave, or DND for short) would probably wish me to inform you of its restorative properties, as well as its near-volcanic effects on the digestive system. Again: if you don’t mind farting like a wet sneaker on linoleum for the next few hours, this delicious cabbage is the no-longer-quite-so-green meanie for you. If you’re having your mother-in-law over for dinner, perhaps stick to steaming.

Alternatively: serve it anyway, and set your phone on record. Depends on whether or not you like her.

Anyway, Southern Six Hour Cabbage.

You’ll need:

Big ol’ pot
Roughly 2Q to 1G water (consider, if you will, the size of your cabbage. The water needs to cover it by an inch or so.)
1 head cabbage
1 med. sweet onion
5 large cloves garlic (seem like a lot to you? Take your garlic-pansy ass over to some other cabbage recipe. I usually do seven.)
1/4 c apple cider vinegar (adjust to taste)
1 tsp celery seed, or 1-2 sticks celery
1 tsp bacon salt (alternatively: 1 ham hock + 1 tsp salt, or 1-2 cubes ham bouillon)
1 T vinegar based hot sauce (Louisiana, Texas Pete, etc.)
More salt, if you for some reason still need it

Chop onions, garlic. Saute onions in bottom of your soup pot for 5 minutes or so over medium heat, or until transparent. Add garlic, continue to saute for 30 seconds. Usually, I add in my celery/celery seeds at this point. It doesn’t really matter, because everything is going to be cooking until the remains of your ancestors are gas in someone’s hovercraft tank.

Chop your cabbage and add it. Stir, so things don’t get all layered and shit. This isn’t a parfait.

Add water, enough to cover the cabbage by about an inch. Now bring things to a boil.

Add in your vinegar and hot sauce. You could probably do this at any point in the watery life of this recipe, but hell, I’m superstitious, and I think Satan watches you when you boil vinegar.

Reduce to simmer (usually two or three setting on my crappo apartment stove). Cover with pot lid or whatever’s handy, because you always lose the lids and you can’t for the LIFE of you figure out how, seeing as they never move from your kitchen.

And COOK. Oh sweet Jesus, COOK. Cook while you prepare the rest of your dinner. Maybe get a head start on the cabbage by an hour and THEN cook the rest of your dinner. Stir occasionally, more or less whenever you remember. The point of this is, you want to cook the cabbage over low heat for as long as you’ve got until they turn the power off on you. Hence, six hour cabbage.

Just keep an eye on the water and make sure it’s covering the cabbage and you’ll be fine. Beyond that, cook until the last gasp of hydrogen in our beautiful sun makes the transition to helium.

Serve, with warning label as to gaseous nature of cabbage. Enjoy your delicious mushy vegetable.

A note: I sometimes add in like a fistful of hot pepper flakes, mostly because I enjoy seeing people cry. Also, this could totally be done in a crock pot. High for four hours, I’d say. Resulting cabbage would be loved so tender it could never wear pants again.

BONUS: Terrible Food, Pizza Edition

Okay. Lemme start off by admitting this: as a working woman, I am periodically driven by desperation to eat something other than organic rainbows and the pearlescent farts of celebrities for lunch. Sometimes, my lunch item has to be stuck in the Box of Horror, known to the less enlightened and economically ungifted among us as ‘the microwave’. Sometimes, I don’t HAVE fifteen minutes in the morning to pack a salad in a goddamn mason jar. Sometimes, I care less about whether what I’m eating is raw, vegan, and full of the proper vitamins and more about ohmiGAWD I’m hungry, PLEASE vast world of comestibles provide me with something I can cram in my flabby maw.

This, I suppose, is how we wound up in possession of this particular item:

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“Oh, shit,” you say, turning your head sideways to follow the Piza-like leaning of the toppings. “What IS that?”

The answer, my dear, is DEFINITELY not pizza. We shall, in fact, ITEMIZE the ways in which this particular pizzoid object has disappointed me.

1) Veggie pizza is simple, right? Crust, veggies, cheese, and sauce. I ask you where in this equation–WHERE, dammit–is the nameless brown sludge located on the top of VitaPizza. Nowhere in the ingredient list did I find ‘semiliquid shit on a shingle’. Nor ‘sinus infection rhinoceros snot’. Nor–and this was my last hope– ‘Taco Tuesday afterwards, on Thursday.’

Instead, there is a frightening claim to ‘meatless pepperoni’. “Oh,” you say, understanding in one phrase what it took me a taste to assimilate. “So, basically, the contents of Hitler’s chamberpot.”

2) The ‘crust’. I see you, cardboard. You aren’t fooling me.

3) See those three black dots, located roughly at the VitaPissoff epicentre? Those are the mushrooms. I repeat: THOSE. ARE MUSHROOMS.

And you though mushrooms were roughly hemispherical in shape. Pffft. Did you also think they tasted like something? Silly rabbit.

I honestly would have rather mixed ground glass and sawdust up with a shot of Everclear. At least then I would’ve been drinking. However, the image of bright and cheerful veggie pizza (along, yes, with the promise of ‘only 220 calories!’) on the box swayed me. I don’t have high expectations of microwave pizza–this ain’t my first rodeo–but this failed to meet even my ‘something I can gnaw on to keep from starving’ standards.

Dammit, Vitalicious. Your VitaTops are all right. Those I can get behind. This mess…this…Faustian deal with the devil. I’ll only be getting behind it if I have a loaded shotgun and I can pass it off as self defense.