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Category Archives: Food

Pop Cultures

Mental Floss magazine explores the origins of our favorite Muppets (via Pop Culture Junk Mail). Lots of interesting tidbits that I never knew there.

Also, how happy am I that Pepsi is planning “throwback” versions of Pepsi and Mountain Dew containing genuine sugar sweetening (not icky high fructose corn syrup). This also comes via Pop Culture Junk Mail — Gael is on a roll! More info here; April can’t come fast enough.

Soda Review: Jarritos Jamaica

Jarrito’s Jamaica SodaNestled in the Hispanic foods section, my local Safeway stocks a tasty little display of Mexican bottled sodas made by a company called Jarritos. As soon as I spotted these popular drinks sitting there with their rainbow colors, I knew I had to try a couple. Already familiar with the Mexican preference for hyper-sweet everything, I knew that the strawberry variety would be delicious and I wasn’t let down. For my second bottle, I decided to go more exotic and try the jamaica flavor. How can you resist a soda named after a country? This jamaica, it turns out, is an indigenous Mexican plant. The soda derives its flavor from a hibiscus-like flower known elsewhere as Roselle. Right away I was attracted to the pleasing cranberry red of this soda. Flavor-wise, what it most tastes like is — wait for it — prune juice, with a little bit of a tea-like earthiness. The sweetness of pure cane sugar overwhelms the flavor a bit, leaving a lingering aftertaste. Overall, I actually enjoyed it. As an occasional sweet treat, this soda was muy bueno in my book.

Jarritos Jamaica Soda

Weekly Mishmash: December 14-20

Time for another mishmash, and all I want to do is try and figure out why the shooting victim in Trauma Center: New Blood keeps dying on me. Oh well…
The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes (1969). Another live action Disney discovery courtesy of TCM. This was the first of three films starring Kurt Russel as happy-go-lucky college student Dexter Reilly. This outing finds an electrical accident giving Dexter the knowledge of a computer, in a plot that appears to be Tron in reverse. Silly hijinks of the type found in a typical I Dream of Jeannie episode ensue. Overall, I preferred the third Dexter Reilly movie (The Strongest Man In The World) to this one, but like Ivan I found this a pleasantly brainless experience. Hands down my favorite part of the movie was the opening credits sequence, featuring vintage computer-y visuals and a title theme with some of the weirdest tongue-twisting lyrics ever. “Never met a groovier dude, an electric kind of guy” — yeah, baby!

Oh, and everyone needs to check out TCM’s beautifully done documentary The Age of Believing: The Disney Live Action Classics. It repeats on December 28th. Don’t be fooled by the toothache-inducing subject matter; it’s excellent.
4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days (2007). Heard a lot of good things about this when it turned up on several critics’ “Best of” lists last year. This grim Romanian drama follows two college co-eds as they attempt to arrange an illegal abortion. Although the film is a period piece set in the ’80s, it reaffirms the fact that Romania is one of the few places on earth doing original, thought-provoking films. Not an uplifting piece, for sure, but I loved the aching, lovingly detailed milieu Cristian Mungiu sets forth with a small cast of fascinating characters. The film is deliberately paced but never boring, and beautifully photographed with many long unedited takes. One scene in particular, with actress Anamaria Marinca dutifully attending her boyfriend’s family dinner party while her mind is obviously elsewhere, is an understated marvel.
Sprecher Cherry Cola. I’ve been falling behind on my soda reviews, but just wanted to mention this super-sweet delight from a bottler in Wisconsin. Ever have a Coke with a shot of cherry at Sonic? This concoction is like one of those with ten shots of cherry. It’s cherrilicious to the point that the cherry taste bludgeons the cola taste to death. Just thinking about it again makes my mouth water.

Sprecher Cherry Cola

10,000 Maniacs — In My Tribe and The Ramones — Ramones. A couple of classic albums to fill out my iTunes library. Amazon had the digital edition of In My Tribe, an album whose grimy cassette I wore out during my college years, for just $1.99 this week. Revisiting confirms that it has not a single dud track, although Natalie Merchant’s earnest preachiness grates more easily now than it did in ’87. This particular download lacked the band’s cover of Cat Stevens’ “Peace Train,” but I did manage to find it elsewhere (sure, it seems like a label-induced sales gambit, but the album doesn’t feel complete without it). I always wanted to hear the Ramones’ debut. Although the album cuts don’t measure up to iconic tracks like “Blitzkrieg Bop,” the album is as raw and goofy and fun as everyone has said. I liked the extras on the CD edition, too — strangely enough, the early version of “I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend” might be the only example of a song where the demo is more polished sounding than the final product!

Attempted Layer Cake

My first attempt at baking a layer cake came out … interesting. It’s very lopsided and I ran out of cream cheese icing for the sides, but this cake is just for us — so it only has to taste delicious (for that it gets a blue ribbon). For extra specialness, I drew a smiley face on top. This is a tomato soup cake from a ’70s reprint of Campbell’s Cooking with Soup. The recipe can be found here.

Tomato Soup Cake

Soda Review: Kickapoo Joy Juice

Kickapoo Joy Juice bottle capManufactured by California-based Real Soda, Kickapoo Joy Juice is a citrusy concoction named after the potent brew from Al Capp’s classic Lil Abner comic strip. I was hoping that this would taste like a primitive version of Mountain Dew, a soda originally marketed with a similar hillbilly theme. In that respect, it didn’t disappoint. Although grapefruit juice numbers among this soda’s ingredients, the insanely sweet flavor ought to be classified more by color than by whatever food it resembles. Drinking it brought on a nostalgic memory of sipping acid green Mister Misty slushes at the local Dairy Queen. Yeah, they called the flavor “lime” but we all knew that the proper name for it was “green” and nothing else!

Kickapoo Joy Juice bottle label

Soda Review: Rat Bastard Root Beer

Rat Bastard Root BeerRat Bastard root beer is produced by an L.A. company who owns the dead url of skeleteens.com. Scared yet? I haven’t even gotten to how they put the slogan “Don’t be a dick. Drink it.” on the cap. Truth be told, sipping on this is a mighty odd experience — at first the soda comes off with a typical and pleasantly sweet taste similar to Barq’s. After a few seconds, however, a deep and lingering flavor more reminiscent of herbal tea kicks in. A look at the label reveals it contains a special herbal blend consisting of three varieties of ginseng, clove, dong quai, ginko biloba and a bunch of other weedy sounding things I’d never heard of. The herbs give it an appealing, sophisticated taste — unexpected, given the bottle’s “sk8tr boi” label design. The guy working at Pop The Soda Shop told us that this is their best selling root beer, and I can understand why.

Rat Bastard Root Beer