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Category: food (page 1 of 2)

Pareidolia of the Daylia: God moves in eggplanty ways

It’s not just Christians and Muslims who imagine religious images in food. Now Hindus are getting in on the act.

Believers are flocking to a Leicestershire temple to pray twice a day to a vegetable that looks like a Hindu god.

The divine aubergine was discovered among a box from a wholesalers and has been worshipped by more than 80 people so far.

Hindus: Behold your god!

I’m sure that many Hindus would think this is silly, just as many Christians think that Toast Jesus is silly. But according to the article, about 80 people have come to the restaurant to pray. For every one of those people, their religion has short-circuited the part of their brain that helps them realise that it’s stupid to venerate an eggplant. And that’s a terrible thing.

The danger is that, by worshipping an eggplant, they might accidentally be paying homage to the Eggplant God, and that’d really piss Ganesha off. Tramplings would ensue. You don’t want to make Ganesha mad — he never forgets.

Milk: Lost in translation

If you use Google Translate to translate “Got milk?” into Spanish, and burrow into the ‘alternate translations’ it offers you, one of the choices is “bigote de leche”, which means “milk moustache”. I’m leaving it as an exercise for the reader to figure out how it arrived at that translation.

Of course, this is better than the tagline they went with in Spanish speaking countries: “¿Tiene leche?” which sounds plausible enough to a non-native speaker, but which carries maternal associations, something along the lines of “Are you lactating?

Atheist Bake Sale 2

If you like these cartoons, I have others.

Atheist Bake Sale 1

The UWA Atheist & Skeptic Society had a bake sale today. The cost of the baked goods: your soul.
We wanted to spark some discussion about souls; what it means to people, why we think we have one, and why people are so attached to the dubious notion that there’s a little ghost inside us making all our decisions. What I wasn’t prepared for was the reactions. Even though we were clearly ‘taking the piss’, many people showed a strange reticence. It looks like ‘selling your soul’ is a cultural taboo.
But we did give out lots of cookies.

Follow on to Atheist Bake Sale 2.

Atheist Bake Sale

The UWA Atheist & Skeptic Society is having a Bake Sale on the UWA Oak Lawn this Wednesday (21 Sep 2011) at 1 pm. There’s an unusual twist: Rather than accept money for the baked goods, the club simply requests… your soul.

It’s an interesting experiment in superstition metaphysics. I don’t know if people will gratefully accept a cookie, get angry, or shy away. I told a Christian guy about it, and he said, no, he wouldn’t be interested in a cookie. But why not? Does he really think he has a soul, and if so, what is it? Can it be traded in a Faustian bargain? Does it hit uncomfortably close to C.S. Lewis’s witch, who offers you Turkish Delight but instead only gives you pages and pages of turgid allegory? (Or something. I always was a little fuzzy on Lewis.)

Here’s a blurb I’m working on, to hand out at the event.

Do people have souls?

If by ‘soul’ you mean, a part of you that survives your death, then no, there’s no evidence to suggest that anyone has a soul. But that’s okay. You have a brain, and it does all the things that people commonly attribute to souls.

What happens after we die?

Religions of the world have made up a lot of contradicting stories to answer this question, and some people are happy to believe (and pay) whoever tells them the biggest story. But religions offer no evidence for their claims about any sort of afterlife.

The most likely scenario is that your brain (which is the organ responsible for perception) dies, and your perception stops.

Well, that’s depressing!

It doesn’t have to be. Mark Twain once said, “I do not fear death. I had been dead for billions and billions of years before I was born, and had not suffered the slightest inconvenience from it.”

Having a limited existence means you have to do all the good you can while you’re here. You need to make the most of this life, the only one we’re sure of having. You don’t get a second chance to learn, to love, to create, to make things better on this planet. So do it now.

If you’re on campus, come on down and say hi. If nothing else, we have cookies. And there’s even a guarantee: If you’re not 100% satisfied, you can have your soul back.

Ketchup and tomato sauce: Australians fret over lexical shift

Is there a difference between ‘tomato sauce’ and ‘ketchup’?

When I first arrived in Australia 70 years ago, all you could get was tomato sauce. Ketchup wasn’t available. Never mind, I thought, it’s the same stuff, that’s just what they call it here.

Then I noticed that my local supermarket began to carry both ketchup and tomato sauce. Obeying some primal American instinct, I always buy ketchup. But I feel rather silly, since there’s no difference. Or is there? Tomato sauce: thinner, less spicy? Ketchup: more vinegar?

For some people, it matters.

The term “tomato sauce” could be lost to future Aussies with Heinz, for the first time, advertising ketchup on TV.

In a move Dick Smith labelled “disrespectful” to the Australian culture, Heinz has unveiled a new national ad for Tomato Ketchup, which they say is thicker and has spices and more tomatoes than tomato sauce. “They don’t give a stuff about Australian culture or our way of life,” Mr Smith said.

Who knew the Australian way of life was less spicy, with fewer tomatoes?

Channel 9 star Scott Camm said the term tomato sauce would be lost to future generations.

“What, are we gonna start walking down the sidewalk?” he said.

“They’re infiltrating us – it’s not our way of life.”

It isn’t really about sauce. It’s about language attitudes. Australians like the way they talk, and they don’t like the thought of losing expressions like ‘footpath’, ‘giving a stuff’, or saying ‘zed’ for ‘zee’. Mind you, this is a pretty strange place to draw the line. Other far more iconic expressions have dwindled with nary a peep. (When was the last time you called someone a ‘cobber‘, honestly?) But maybe this item is extra sensitive because it’s being framed as a foreign corporation dictating language change by fiat.

So even if there’s no difference in the actual sauce, there’s a difference in the words. ‘Tomato sauce’ is fair dinkum Aussie, while ‘ketchup’ is an American intrusion to be resisted. Will this become a selling point? We’ll just have to see which way the chips fall.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – –

UPDATE: The ad.

Weekday vegetarians

A quick TED talk by Graham Hill, founder of He has an innovative solution for people who want to go veg, but maybe aren’t ready to make the jump.

Text, for the non-video-watchers.

I realised that what I was being pitched was a binary solution. It was either: you’re a meat eater, or you’re a vegetarian. And I guess I just wasn’t quite ready. Imagine your last hamburger.

So my common sense, my good intentions were in conflict with my tastebuds. And I’d commit to doing it “later”. And not surprisingly, later never came. Sound familiar?

So I wondered: might there be a third solution? I thought about it, and I came up with one, and I’ve been doing it for the last year, and it’s great. It’s called Weekday Veg.

The name says it all. Nothing with a face, Monday to Friday. On the weekend, your choice. Simple!

Sounds like a good idea.

You know, I’ve been doing this for years, but with punching people. On weekdays, I refrain from punching people. Nothing with a face. Or in the face. On the weekends, my choice. (I confess I do go a bit nuts on the weekend.)

I’ve always known that it’s better for people’s faces and gonads if I didn’t punch anyone at all. I always told myself I’d stop leaving random strangers languishing in a pool of blood or leaving a trail of broken noses — ‘later’. But I figure: being a weekday non-puncher is something I can do. Surely cutting down on the pummeling is better than nothing.

You know who else liked biscuits?

Racism is serious, and therefore charges of racism are serious. Sometimes racism gets incorporated into the language in unexpected ways. Like I still can’t believe they have ‘Coon’ cheese in Australia. And my mom remembers a time when brazil nuts were called ‘nigger toes’.

But I don’t think this is one of those times.

What’s in a name? Coles biscuit slammed as racist

The name of a range of Coles chocolate and vanilla biscuits has been labelled racially loaded and a throwback to Nazism by a prominent Brisbane Indigenous leader.

The name of the Coles brand biscuits, Creole Creams, has sparked controversy in the wake of the much-derided Hey Hey It’s Saturday blackface skit earlier this month.

The biscuits, similar to Arnott’s Delta Creams and Oreos, with a chocolate exterior and cream centre.

Sam Watson, the deputy director of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies Unit at the University of Queensland, said the word “Creole”, often used to describe a person of mixed European and Africa ancestry, was a racially loaded term.

“The word Creole comes from a period when people’s humanity was measured by the amount of white blood they had in their bloodstream. This is the same kind of thought that underpinned horrific regimes like the Nazis,” Mr Watson said.

Watson clearly hasn’t spent much time on the net; he’s blown his Godwin on the very first round.

But besides that, I think his argument’s overblown. Two things:

1. Coles isn’t the first to call these things ‘creole cremes’. I found a reference to them on this 2007 post from someone in Melbourne. I’m not sure how widespread this usage is. Anyone?

2. I’ve studied terms of abuse. ‘Creole’ could be used as a term of abuse, but I’m unable to find any examples of people doing so (which I find kind of surprising). On the other hand, ‘Creole’ is used to describe a genre of cooking in Louisiana USA. This page even has a recipe for Creole Cream Cheese, which might go well between two chocolate cookies.

So at this stage, I think this is a frivolous charge of racism. But I don’t know. I thought the biscuits had that name because of the kind of language they invent when talking to other biscuits.

Vegetarians get fewer cancers, mostly.

New study:

A vegetarian diet may help to protect against cancer, a UK study suggests.

Analysis of data from 52,700 men and women shows that those who did not eat meat had significantly fewer cancers overall than those who did.

But surprisingly, the researchers also found a higher rate of colorectal cancer – a disease linked with eating red meat – among the vegetarians.

Oh, that. That’s because we’re eating teh Fake Meat, hom nom nom nom.

You’re set up to eat meat, but maybe best not.

A couple of articles on meat got my attention today.

I once read a book by the Hare Krishna people in which they claimed that people were naturally herbivores. Manifestly untrue. A look at our intestinal bacteria shows that humans have the kind of digestive colonies typical of omnivores.

Dr. Ley and Dr. Gordon scanned the gut microbes in the feces of people and 59 other species of mammal, including meat eaters, plant eaters and omnivores. Each of the three groups has a distinctive set of bacteria, they report Friday in Science, with the gut flora of people grouping with other omnivores.

Read the rest if you want to know more about the bacteria in your inner elbow.

So, since it seems we’re geared for meat and veg, is it time to dig in? Grab a horn and start chewing? Not so fast. Thanks in part to that meat-eating, evolution has given us brains with consciousness and cognition, so we’re now able to surmount raw evolutionary concerns. We can make predictions and plans about the future. And I see a whole heap of ethical and environmental issues around meat, with consequences I’d rather avoid. This article runs off a laundry list of environmental troubles for countries gearing up for greater meat production.

The consequences of China’s new carnivorism have been enormous. Thanks in part to the meatier diet, the number of people suffering physical stunting has fallen from three in 10 in 1980 to half as many today. But because meat is so calorie-dense, rising consumption is contributing to an obesity epidemic that afflicts 100 million Chinese. The production process has itself brought a slew of complications. Rivers of sewage from China’s new “concentrated animal feeding operations,” or CAFOs, overwhelm local treatment facilities. Public health experts are increasingly worried about avian flu, whose epicenter is Asian poultry. And because factory-raised livestock need so much feed—it takes 4.5 kilograms of feed to make a kilogram of poultry meat and 20 kilograms of feed to make a kilogram of beef—China’s yen for meat is jacking up grain prices globally. In fact, because Chinese farmland is already so scarce, and because decades of industrialized agricultural have unleashed huge ecological problems (from chemical runoff to groundwater depletion), China has turned increasingly to imported feed—effectively pushing the “external” costs of its meat revolution onto farms in the United States, Argentina, and elsewhere.

Not a pretty picture. So I like the idea of being one person who takes the pressure off the system. 

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