Monday, September 10, 2007

The Golden Apple of the Web

One of my most frabjous days was the one on which the newspapers first reported that chocolate, particularly dark chocolate, is good for you --- callooh callay indeed indeed indeed. For weeks after, I avoided reading any more stories on the subject, for fear that a subsequent report would prove that the initial results were from an elementary school science fair project funded entirely by the dark chocolate industry. So far, no such breaking news ....

Now that chocolate is good for us, one my my remaining guilty food pleasures is golden delicious apples. It's a guilty pleasure because I live in the San Francisco Bay Area, one of the capitals of foodies: people who go beyond gourmet to being concerned with terroir, transportation, and tiny farms. Jon Carroll, in his March 5, 2007 column in the San Francisco Chronicle very politely grumped that he didn't really want to discuss the food at dinner parties -- he wanted to eat it with some other conversations. I sympathize: I really don't need to know if the mushrooms on my plate were hand-grown and hand-harvested with loving attention on a slope darkened by pesticide-free old-growth redwoods less than twenty miles from the restaurant/dinner-part site, by a farmer wearing undyed organic cotton clothing woven by monks paid a living wage, a hat made from bark naturally shed by eucalpytus trees, and shoes handcrafted by a female-cooperative in a third-world country with funding from a micro-loan program dedicated to improving the lives of refugees, then shipped to the US by a company that uses carbon-offsets to improve the air quality both there and here.

Just to set the record clear: I like old-growth forests; I like redwoods; I like pesticide-free; I like cooperatives improving the lives of women/children/refugees; I'm for living wages for all; I guess carbon offsets are good; etc. etc. --- I just don't really want to spend an entire meal discussing the lineage of every ingredient in every item. I like conversation, but would prefer just to chow down while discussing something else.

Further clarification: I even like foodies. This year I celebrated April, National Poetry Month, by sending to the ones I know a copy of Donald Hall's poem "O Cheese" -- if he lived in the Bay Area, rather than New England, he might have titled it "Ode to the Cowgirl Creamery." (It's included in White Apples and the Taste of Stone: Selected Poems, 1946-2006.) The (mostly) resulting silence probably means that sending people a poem to celebrate National Poety Month just adds new meaning to "April is the cruellest month" for the lucky recipients --- but maybe they all were too busy eating some cheese to express their delight?

I know of heirloom tomatoes, and that there are people growing, or trying to grow, what I guess would be heirloom apples. I picked up the info on heirloom apples from Botany of Desire by Michael Pollan (plus the fascinating fact that when Johnny Appleseed was scattering apple seeds, the apples from the resulting trees were good only for making hard cider.) I read that book as a result of reading Deadly Harvest: A Father Mark Townsend Mystery, by Brad Reynolds, S.J., a mystery involving a new strain (is that the word?) of apples. So I feel a bit guilty for liking plain old golden delicious apples, with no lineage to speak of, and produced far far away (and then coated with food-grade wax, probably distantly related to the carnuba wax sold for use on cars, which seals in the pesticides, and then kept in refrigeration, and not very recently picked, and when they were picked, may have been picked by machines and not people, etc. etc. A lineage worthy of Oliver Twist, not Alice Waters.)

And, surprisingly enough, I like social bookmarking at Finally, an application that solves a problem I can identify. At my library, the two librarians who share the reference desk log onto the terminal with their own user names/passwords. This allows each librarian to access her own email accounts. It also, however, means there is no shared bookmarking. Now we can come up with a combined list. Not as frabjous as dark chocolate being healthy, but still quite satisfactory.

(A tip of the hat to W.B. Yeats and Ray Bradbury for the title of this post.)

23 Things #13

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