Memorial Day saw us into the unofficial start of Summer, not that we needed the reminder, as it’s been swelteringly hot for weeks now. But with Summer comes Summer activities, and the old man paid us a visit for some granddaughter time and fishing.
The Mad River provided some relief from the heat–ambient temperature drop from its evaporative cooling effects, though the kid chose a more direct approach (having quickly lost interest in fishing–not as easy as pulling out packs of ravenous bluegills). I remember being indifferent to the discomfort of wet clothes too as a kid.
The chubs were biting, and I pulled in a satisfying number. Dad got a shiner, too. It was much more successful than last year’s attempt at the local metroparks.
Plus, it’s a lot more pleasant to spend the afternoon in a clean and more secluded body of water. The metroparks are just dirty and I wouldn’t eat anything that came out of those ponds. Although that hardly matters, as we’re generally catch and release anyway.
Part of homeownership, I’ve noticed, is the increased onslaught of people who want to sell me things I don’t need. But in the interest of civility, as I myself have worked for many years interacting with the public, I exercise good manners. But, as with telemarketers, these door-to-door salesman tend to be over-aggressive. If they simply introduced themselves and their services, then handed me a pamphlet, I’d be much more inclined to consider whatever they happen to be peddling. But that’s never the case.
Despite popular belief, humans are very adept at reading each others’ intent from body language and facial cues. It’s a primal instinct intended for self-preservation. And while I doubt this man showed up at my door to kill me, he certainly read as disingenuous.
So began the myriad of sales tactics. He was selling a service to spray for bugs. He informed me that my neighbors were already buying it and were happy. He assured me that the spraying was invisible, so it wouldn’t mar the otherwise beautiful external appearance of our home and therefore keep my wife happy. He pointed out the ants and carpenter bees as potential victims. He then motioned to record some info and asked if I would be home tomorrow.
I had once made the mistake of providing an alternate electricity provider my email. It took months to get my junk filters configured to delete the spam, and the phone calls continued for a year. Despite which, that last question was incredibly presumptuous, as if I had already agreed and taking down my info was just a formality.
Repeated polite denials eventually conveyed my disinterest, and he left. Perhaps gated communities aren’t nearly as dumb as I had once thought.
There’s a balance to cuisine. I say that simply, not in the way Zen philosophers obsess eternally to achieve celebrity validation when Halle Berry, the guest judge on Iron Chef, says: “I like this.”…do. No, it’s far simpler. Foods have 3 properties: sweet, savory (salty/acidic), and bitter. And it’s this last category that I had failed to consider.
I’ve been on a quest to make tomato sauce, but they always come up short, probably because I’m neither Italian nor have access to the list of unpronounceable Monsanto-patented ingredients (nor wish to).
My initial troubles involved flavor-enhancement. An acid-base is common in sauces for the kick, but tomatoes, already being acidic, couldn’t handle the addition well, as the resultant sauce had an extreme sour bite. I tried wine, vinegar, lemons, and most recently-powdered citric acid. Then, to balance the sour, I added sugar for sweetness, but this only created a sweet/sour tomato sauce.
Fortunately, the Internet came to my rescue, and I discovered that cocoa powder would balance things out. I was skeptical, since my sauce already had sugar, so it seemed that I would be adding a chocolate taste. But I was wrong.
Bitterness–the oft-overlooked basic human taste, essential in this case. And my sauce was good enough that Liz took more in for lunch the next day. Now that’s a true culinary win!