Inhuman Swill : Food
            

Laura runs on Dunkin
This happened back on Sunday, April 6. That morning, like we do most Sunday mornings, we took the dog out for a walk for a couple of hours. On our way back to the house, Laura developed a hankering for a donut. We stopped by a couple of neighborhood bakeries that were on our way but none had donuts, and no other type of pastry would do.

A few blocks from home, I pointed across the street. "How about we stop over there at Dunkin."

"No," she said resignedly, "I don't want a donut from Dunkin."

That evening we went into Manhattan to see Lady Gaga's next-to-last concert on the next-to-last night of Roseland Ballroom's existence. I didn't consider myself a Lady Gaga fan, but the spectacle was pretty great.

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Cook like an Egyptian

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Our friend Ali is on TV again. John Klima points me toward this clip from Jamie's American Road Trip, which just recently starting airing in the States. It features Jamie Oliver traveling from Manhattan to Queens to learn Egyptian cooking from Ali El Sayed of the celebrated Kabab Cafe:

(The actual arrival in Queens comes at about 3:28, and you can click here to jump straight there.)

I dragged a very willing Mr. Klima to Kabab Cafe back in 2008, when we both happened to be in New York, and a memorable night it was. If you find yourself in New York and want to get off the beaten path for a culinary adventure, the address is 25-12 Steinway Street in Astoria, Queens. Tell Ali that Bill from Chicago sent you.

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Hungry bear

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Where's mine?
[sung to the tune of "Iron Man" by Black Sabbath]

She's my hungry bear
She's the little dog with the golden hair
She'll just sit and stare
Anytime I'm eating and I won't share

Nobody feeds her
She just stands there and pouts
(do do do-do-do do-do-do do-do-do)
She's gonna starve soon
Of this she has no doubts
(do do do-do-do do-do-do do-do-do)

Hey there, hungry bear
Your bowl's full of pheasant and ground-up hare
Ain't no cheese on there
So you walk out with your nose in the air

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Sham shakes rock

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And the links to other complaints about Shamrock Shakes just keep pouring in! Here's an oldie but goodie from The Onion:

Sinn Fein Leaders Demand Year-Round Shamrock Shake Availability

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Shamrock shock

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See, Laura and I aren't the only ones upset about the new Shamrock Shakes. Marcus Leshock and Kyra Kyles from Chicago Now are both up in arms:

2010 Shamrock Shakes? More like SHAM Shakes!

Shamrock Shakedown: Why I am Disappointed by McDonald's Shamrock Shake

Thanks to [info]pixelfish for pointing me toward these links.

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Shamrock sharks

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Lest anyone unfamiliar with the phenomenon assume I am overstating the fanaticism of Shamrock Shake devotees, let me direct your attention to...

      ShamrockShake.com

...a message board for confirmed Shamrock Shake sightings around the country. Believe.

(One of the saddest recent reports from Illinois, echoing Laura's disappointment, reads: "got one with whipped cream...it was only half-full of the glorious green stuff...I was very sad.")

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Shamrock shuck

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Laura and I go to McDonald's together, on average, once a year. Like many of you, I'm sure, we've both been lovers of the Shamrock Shake since childhood. It was hard if not impossible to find a McDonald's in New York City that carried those minty cold treasures, so one of the upsides of moving to Chicago was the realization that the advent of the St. Patrick's season once again meant Shamrock Shakes within reach of our greedy little mitts.

Still, we didn't intend to embark on Shamrock Shake Quest 2010 this past Sunday afternoon. My plan was to dedicate the full day to a small freelance programming project I'm working on, but a minor eyeglass-frame emergency derailed that. (Turns out it screws with one's ability to effectively view through progressive lenses when one of your earpieces breaks off.) We rushed down to Lincoln Square to order a pair of replacement frames. It was only as we were returning home that Laura spied the happy gospel proclaimed from a McDonald's sign on Western Avenue.

"Shamrock Shakes are back!" she exclaimed.

"Shall we stop?" I asked.

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I just saw the Dairy Fairy.

I know! Can you believe it?

The Dairy Fairy is the name Laura coined for the mythical figure who comes in the night and leaves milk, cream, eggs, and other assorted breakfasty goodies on our front porch. Every Friday morning, I rise at 5:00 am, dress, and descend to the porch to discover what bounty the Dairy Fairy has left for us this time, and to haul it back up to the kitchen. Most weeks I remember to leave a white cooler out for the Dairy Fairy's use, but on those rare occasions when I forget, a magical light Styrofoam container springs up mushroomlike from the concrete to safeguard our precious dairy treasures.

For the more than two years this has been happening, never once have I caught the Dairy Fairy at his/her/its nocturnal labors. I wasn't even sure the Dairy Fairy took corporeal form. For all I knew, a milky mist floated numinous through the night to make its weekly deposit on our stoop. Until this morning, that is.

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Green at the 'Leaf

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Hopleaf menu: entrees
Laura and I had dinner at one of our favorite local restaurants this evening, Hopleaf. It's a Belgian place, with a bar out front specializing in Belgian and Belgian-style beers. It's always packed, and if you don't show up early you can wait an hour and a half for a table.

We showed up early and were rewarded with a quiet, secluded table on the balcony overlooking the main dining room. Laura had a bottle of Chimay Red and I a pint of Bell's Two-Hearted Ale while we perused the menu. Laura was there for the moules frites, Hopleaf's speciality. I ordered the duck reuben. It was amazing.

This is not a story about our wonderful evening, or our wonderful meal. This is the story of the poor rich kids in their twenties (three girls and a boy) who were seated at the table next to ours shortly after we ordered, and how we winced at every loud interaction they had with our rather curt mutual waitress.

"Can I start you off with some drinks?"

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Borderline retarded

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Koshary (yum!) in Cairo, Egypt
We knew that Friday, May 30, as another long travel day, was going to suck. We just didn't know yet how badly it was going to suck.

Over dinner the evening before, Ra'ed had broken the news to us that there would be yet another change in our travel plans. It seems the tour company had not booked our return tickets on the morning ferry to Taba soon enough, and the earliest ferry with berths still remaining would not be until 7:00 pm. That would get us to Taba far, far too late to make any bus that would reach Cairo at any remotely reasonable hour.

The solution foisted upon us—dreamed up by that same favorite benefactor of ours in Cairo who only days before had failed to get us from Hurghada to Sharm al-Sheikh by boat—was overland travel. It seemed fairly straightforward, if tedious, on the face of it. Ra'ed would drive us back to Aqaba, hand us seventy American dollars, and drop us off at the border crossing to Eilat, Israel. Once in Israel, we would take a cab to the Egyptian border, where a driver would be waiting to spirit us south to Dahab to catch our bus.

It sounds so simple, doesn't it?

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The Accidental Terrorist 30th Anniversary Sale

Signed editions
that even a
missionary
could afford.

Order yours now!

William Shunn

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