Editor’s Note: Today’s column was so hard to write that I almost scrapped it. This has been a difficult week to feel good about the state of our country or for that matter, the world at large.
Anyone who’s been with us for any length of time knows that we generally try to keep things lighthearted around here. We work hard to create a place where folks can come to unburden themselves and share an appreciation for eating and drinking, along with a laugh or two. But that doesn’t mean we’re blind to life’s injustices and tragedies, and in that regard, this week has been rougher than most, for us and I trust, for any person with a human heart.
This past Monday, Americans came together to joyously celebrate our nation’s birthday. The next day, a black man named Alton Sterling was pinned to the ground and fatally shot by officers whose body cameras are said to have “fallen off.” On Wednesday, a black man named Philando Castile was shot multiple times by a police officer during a traffic stop, while complying with the officer’s request to produce identification, with Castile’s girlfriend and toddler-aged daughter present. Castile later died of his injuries. On Thursday, five police officers were killed and other officers wounded along with civilians by sniper fire during a rally organized to protest police abuses against people of color.
Frankly, our weekly quartet of wacky places and things to eat and drink just feels trivial in the face of such a string of fresh and senseless tragedies, even though such heartbreaking happenings are hardly new, and are in fact happening with an increasing frequency that disturbs me daily. As this site is first and foremost dedicated, however, to exploration and celebration of good times and desirable experiences, these darkest of hours don’t seem like the time to abandon that pursuit. Despair is a trap too easily fallen into and difficult to climb out of, particularly when one knows that these recent events are in no way the last of their kind that we will face. Soon enough, some new pain will shatter our hearts all over again.
Since starting this site in 2010, I haven’t asked much of you, friends. So today I’m asking you to consider indulging what I hope you’ll receive as a small request from a friend: Please be kind to one another in the days ahead. Please commit one act of benevolence within the next 24 hours, however small or seemingly insignificant, toward someone else. Do it because there are far too many among us reveling in the ugliest thoughts and actions of which human beings are capable, and all that’s required for them to thrive is for the decent among us to do nothing. So, please do something kind. Anything. Perhaps together our actions can generate enough light to push back against the darkness of the past few days.
That’s it; I won’t ask for anything else today. There are still good things happening in the world, and you can eat and drink many of them, so we’ll go ahead and talk about those now. Thanks.
Love and gratitude to all of you,
Flavorful World’s Friday Fourplay offers up a bite-sized tidbit of info on each of the four food- and drink-related things we found most interesting each week.
Ashes, Ashes, We All Fall Into Some Ice Cream
While there are ample toothsome temptations to choose from, one item in particular is currently blowing up on the menu at Morgenstern’s Finest Ice-Cream (yes, that’s a hyphen between “ice” and “cream”; ask Morgenstern, not us.) The establishment’s new Coconut Ash Ice-cream is delighting downtown Manhattanites, or at least, those who don’t mind having their teeth and lips stained by eating it. So named because the charred aftermath of burned coconut shells is a key ingredient, its novelty is in its jet black color as well as in the ashes themselves. Their part in the making of the cool treat is said to bring with them all the detoxifying properties of “activated charcoal.” Science has yet to weigh in on that latter bit, but for the moment, New Yorkers are having quite the field day with an ice cream that quite literally has risen from the ashes.
Via Oddity Central
This Wine is Bananas…B-A-N-A-N-A-S
In Uganda not long ago, life handed a group of crafty women some proverbial lemons, as life is wont to do. By lemons, we mean bananas, as in way too many. And by crafty, we mean the ladies turned those proverbial lemons/factual bananas not into lemonade, but into banana wine, with a tidy profit to match. Faced with a surplus of bananas in a region where it can often be more cost-effective to let overages rot rather than pay what it costs to transport to markets, the ladies created Tida Wines. The women learned to make the wines through training they received from organizations like the Uganda National Bureau of Standards and the Uganda Cooperative Alliance. With Uganda having topped the WHO’s global country ranking by per capita alcohol consumption 2004, it’s no surprise that the wines are generating profits that are over 100 percent what selling fresh bananas was bringing in. Here’s hoping that all are enjoying their bananas responsibly.
Beef Me Up, Scotty
Besides being two of my favorite words, beef and chocolate are making strange bedfellows these days, turning up together in a chocolate product said to be composed of 50% beef. Created by New Zealand AgResearch Institute scientist Mustafa Farouk, the chocolate is created in partnership with Devonport Chocolates. Although the meat is rendered flavorless through a proprietary process developed at the institute, the candy is said to retain all the proteins, vitamins, and minerals that people have traditionally looked to beef for. The product’s initial target demographic was elderly people who have trouble chewing (given beef’s occasional toughness) but its developers are now thinking toddlers and small children could benefit from eating it as well. The scientists have experimented with other beef-centric novelties, including a meat-based mousse, a spaghetti, and even a non-dairy ice cream for those who are lactose-intolerant but decidedly tolerant of bovine-based foods.
Ninja Hot Dogs
IKEA has unveiled a “Ninja” hot dog, so named because both meat and bun are black like the head-to-toe uniforms most of us tend to think of when we think of ninjas. This isn’t the first charcoal-infused food hot dog we’ve seen, or the first charcoal-infused bun for that matter. Franchises like Burger King, McDonald’s and others throughout Japan have been doing this kind of thing for years. This time around, though, it’s to celebrate IKEA’s 10-year anniversary in Japan. The 11-inch dog is said to be intended to resemble a ninja scroll. How accurately it does so is for each of us to decide independently, but while we’re ruminating, we’ll have plenty of time to figure out which pieces of furniture it accentuates best.
Via First We Feast
*Mention of a product, good, or service in a Friday Fourplay posting does not constitute and should not be interpreted as an endorsement either from Anthony Beal or Flavorful World LLC. Vendors are not notified ahead of time that their products/services will be featured, thus Flavorful World will at the time of posting have had no related interactions with said vendors or any sample of their products/services by which to judge them. As such, we have no idea what these vendors are like to work with, or about the quality of their merchandise and are unqualified to vouch for them as reputable. Our Friday Fourplay lists are posted in the spirit of our having come across something that looks and sounds engaging, and thinking that perhaps our readers will think so too; no more, no less. With that in mind, patronize these establishments and vendors at your own risk.