Vivi likes kasha!
When I was little, my mom used to do a Slovak finger play that involved "kasha" or porridge. I can't remember the exact words and I certainly can't read Slovak but I think it might have been this one -- it was a bit like "This Little Piggy," in that it involved the adult lightly gripping, with her forefinger and thumb, each of the fingers of the child's hand as each line was recited. After the last line, during which the littlest finger was gripped, the adult's fingers ran up the child's arm and tickled him or her under the chin:
The mother mouse was cooking porridge,
In that colourful pot,
To this one she gave a little on his spoon,
To this one she gave a little in his bowl,
To this one she gave a little on his plate,
And to that one she gave some on his wooden spoon.
But she did not give any to the small one,
Cause there was none left.
So she sent him to the pantry to eat some jam.
Apparently the word kasha, in Eastern European cultures, refers to any type of porridge, which is a dietary staple there at least a thousand years old. In American English, the word kasha usually refers to buckwheat groats and buckwheat was certainly one of the oldest kinds of cereals used to make porridge in Eastern Europe.
As a result of trying to eat much more healthily here in the crooked house, we've been shopping more often in the organic section of the grocery store, which is where I came across a packet of organic kasha, the roasted buckwheat kernel kind. Although we ate a number of Slovak dishes when I was growing up, I'd never tried this. Vivi and I whipped up a pot this morning, and ate it with a spoonful of honey and some milk. It was, suprisingly, delicious! (As the very healthy-looking, slightly strange-smelling grain boiled away in the pot I was already mentally going through the list of words I expected to use to describe its taste -- they included "terrible," "awful," "no good," "very bad," and, of course, "yuck." I was astonished to be wrong.) We will have to try some of the many, many, many other recipes for kasha -- sweet or savoury; breakfast, lunch, or dinner; main or side -- found here.
Pretty word, too, isn't it? Kasha. I expect a celebrity will use it as a name for a baby any day now.
In the early days of portrait photography, small children were often photographed while sitting in the arms of their mothers, who were completely covered by a blanket. Later the ghostly lump of the mother would be cropped out of the photo by a mat. These Hidden Mother pictures are highly sought after by collectors today. It seems that even before the proliferation of unrealistic images of women in the media, moms didn't want their pictures taken.
Dear Denise Morrison, President and CEO of Campbell's Foods:
I am writing to warn you of a change in your consumer base that is bound to have grave repercussions for your company.
A recent Harvard study has revealed that concentrations of the chemical bisphenol-A rise around 1000 percent in people who eat one bowl of canned soup per day. Bisphenol-A is often used in the manufacture of plastics but your company and others who put food in cans apparently use it to make the material that lines those cans. I do not know exactly what this amount of bisphenol-A does in the human body and it appears that scientists do not exactly know, either, but they are making a lot of guesses that don't sound at all good. Apparently the chemical is an endocrine disrupter, which means it messes with one's hormones and has therefore been linked to cancerous tumors, birth defects, and other developmental disorders like learning disabilities, ADHD, and cognitive issues, as well as problems with heart disease, obesity and diabetes, and sexual development.
So far I have not noticed any tumors growing on my children but there is still plenty of time. And while I believe they are geniuses, I hate to think that they might have been just that much more intelligent, talented and well-behaved. It is not difficult to conjecture that, if my children had never ingested any canned foods, by now they might be working as highly paid child actors, like Dakota Fanning or Haley Joel Osment. We're talking about the loss of millions of dollars of family income here.
I have become convinced that canned foods are at the root of the disharmony suffered by many families as a result of the poor performance of the children. I do not know what Amy Chua, author of Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, fed her children but I now suspect she wouldn't have have had to push them so hard to practise their musical instruments if she had completely avoided serving them canned food. Because they probably wouldn't have had to practise so much. I'm guessing that, by now, her children would be supporting her -- and she wouldn't have had to write that embarrassing book in order to put them through college.
Furthermore, although my current goal is to slow my own children's sexual development for as long as possible, there is a slim chance that, once I am dead, they may wish to begin dating.
The Harvard study I reference above and and others like it have have led me to finally make the decision to stop feeding canned goods to my children. This is the event that is bound to have dangerous financial consequences for your company. Currently, my children eat 13 trillion cans of Campbell's Chunky Chicken Noodle soup per week. This is an estimate, of course, but not a very rough one. Let's just say my children eat a lot of that soup. In fact, they do not eat much else – perhaps a bowl of Kraft dinner now and then, or the odd chicken nugget. (And I ask you, what chicken nugget is not odd? What part of the bird do these uniformly pale lumps come from, exactly? But I realize that this is not your area of expertise as your lumps of chicken are pinkish, blotchy and veiny and are not encased in a tidy bread-crumb coating.)
It may surprise you to know that my two small children, aged two and six years respectively, ingest so much of your product and, in fact, you may be doubly shocked when I inform you that the younger child, my daughter, eats only the carrots. My son, however, will deign to eat the broth and the noodles and the other vegetable-like substances you include -- but not of course the weird chicken, we give that to the cat -- so so you could say that between the two (or three) of them, they lick the platter (bowl) clean. Of course, not literally clean. Nothing has been clean in this house since they were born.
As you can probably tell from the fact that your company has not already gone bankrupt, I have not yet completely stopped feeding the children your soup as I anticipate a few possibly unsurmountable problems as a result of this move. First, I am unsure whether my children will ever eat anything else. As an experiment yesterday, I tried to feed my daughter real carrots, boiled to a soft consistency. Although to me they looked and tasted almost exactly like the carrots in your soup, she refused to eat them, perhaps because they did not have that faint undertaste of plastic to which she has become accustomed. I fully understand, though, that this is not your problem. I am also fairly confident that, as their mother, I can somehow manage to meet their nutritional needs in some other way, perhaps through the use of Flintstones vitamins mixed in with a barley-based pablum in order to create the sensation of fullness.
However, I trust that you will share my concern about the imminent collapse of your company, once I stop my weekly purchases of approximately 13 trillion cans. And I am even more deeply concerned about the effect that the collapse of your rather large company will have on the already fragile global economy, which is why I am ccing the President of the United States, the Head of the European Union, and whoever is in charge of that weird hybrid of communism and capitalism in China. (I'll google it.) Because I plan to implement the radical change of no longer feeding Campbell's Chunky Chicken Noodle soup to my children THIS EVENING AROUND 5pm EST, I fully expect the world markets to tumble dramatically tomorrow morning. I wouldn't be at all surprised if the globe is plunged into a bleak economic (and mental) Depression, one to rival that of 1929, by Friday evening.
I am sorry. I realize that the Christmas season is an unfortunate time of year for bad economic news. But I have to bite the bullet here – the health of my children must come first. During the Great Depression, many people raised their own chickens and grew their own vegetables. I plan to do both. I assure you that I am not looking forward to the extra work, especially since I'll probably have to perform many other tasks I have never done before, like darn socks or even knit them from scratch. And I am determined to figure out how to grow noodles as well, so that I can make my children our own version of a Chunky Chicken Noodle Soup. Although it occurs to me as I am writing this, that while I'm making these changes for the sake of my children's health, I might as well attempt to raise slender chickens instead of chunky ones. At any rate, my version of Chunky Chicken Noodle Soup will not contain any Bisphenol-A.
I just wanted to give you a heads-up.
P.S. You could always start using cans that don't contain any Bisphenol-A and save both of us a lot of trouble. Apparently this company does.
In Chicken Poop for the Soul: A Year in Seach of Food Sovereignty, author Kristeva Dowling writes about her efforts to produce all her own food from scratch. On my library list.
This is baby Danica Camacho, born yesterday, upon whom has been bestowed the symbolic title of the World's 7 Billionth Baby by the UN. She was born in the Philippines, a country that has a high fertility rate and poor access to contraception. To mark this momentous occasion, she was given a cake and a certificate for free shoes. Shoes? Surely they could have mustered up a scholarship or a reality show or at least something a little more dramatic. Unless they are magic shoes.
Here's the latest estimate on how many people have ever lived.
And here you can calculate your numbers: When I was born I was supposedly the 3,590,447,718th person alive on earth at the time and I am the 77,663,903,455th person to have lived since history began.