Our thoughts turn to food

Ah, there’s nothing like the bustle of the neighborhood Panera on a late Sunday morning.

Families going out for a once-a-week breakfast together, with youngsters running to and fro, dads gingerly balancing the Sunday paper and two trays of bagels, moms herding the kids to their seats. Older couples stand studying the extensive menu, carefully deliberating their decision. Soccer teams flush with recent victory in the 8-and-under league, celebrating their teamwork with a cookie and some hot chocolate.

MAKE UP YOUR MIND WHAT YOU WANT, ALREADY! PLACE YOUR ORDER AND GET OUT OF THE WAY! THERE ARE OTHERS WAITING IN LINE THAT HAVE THINGS TO DO TODAY!

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The popular soft drink known as Dr Pepper was once described by David Letterman as “liquid manure,” but it’s not really that bad.

Otherwise, why would there be so many imitators?

Generic supermarket versions of the cherry- or pepper- or whatever-the-hell-flavored cola include Dr. Perky, Dr. Bob, Dr. Sparkle, Dr. Thunder, Dr. Pop, Dr. Skipper, Dr. Bold and, missing the industry theme entirely, Dr. Publix.

(There was a popular rival for a while called Mr. Pibb, but the lack of a medical degree led to his downfall. He tried to go back to school to regain market share but had significant difficulty with the chemistry requirement and eventually dropped out. For a while, he simply lied on his resume that he was a doctor. When this deceit was uncovered, he changed his name to “Pibb Xtra”. Apparently, spelling wasn’t his strength either.)

There are still some names available out there to those interested in addressing our national need for yet another sugary drink. I’m looking forward to the introduction of courtesy-titled sodas such as Dr. Raper, Rev. Pooper and Assistant Vice President for Human Resources and Corporate Governance Pepster.

Not to be confused with Dr Pepper, or any other medically trained soft drinks

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Inadvertently caught the last half-hour of The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian last night, and I have several observations.

Despite the obvious advantages of being the half-man, half-horse Centaur, the half-bull, half-man Minotaur, and the half-man, half-goat Satyr (you could hack of flanks of yourself for dinner if you got desperate), there would seem to be few other benefits.

The Centaur (man from the waist up, horse from the waist down) could still go on job interviews and take skills tests like typing and Excel, but he’d have to be careful about leaving any road apples behind, as that could ruin an otherwise good impression.

The Minotaur (bull from the waist up, man from the waist down) will probably have his employment opportunities limited to the rodeo and the bullfighting ring. Both office work and retail would seem to be out of the question, what with the hooves and all.

The Satyr (goat from the waist up, man from the waist down) might be well advised to look for work in the goat-oriented economies of Africa and Asia, since he’d be limited in the West to providing the key ingredient in a certain exotic soup, and he’d have to give up his head for that.

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As you make plans for this week’s Thanksgiving dinner, don’t forget to consider the fine broth products made by the folks at College Inn.

They offer superior stocks made from chicken, beef, turkey and vegetables. Healthful variations like low-sodium, fat-free and gluten-free options are also available.

Surprisingly, College Inn offers no collagen broths, as connective tissue, fibrous ligaments and cartilage tend to make for mostly inedible soups and gravies.

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Speaking of near-food products, what used to be called “high-fructose corn syrup” has been officially rebranded by its industry as either “corn sugar” or “corn nectar.”

Please take note in all your future communications on the subject.

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When Donald Trump awards “Apprentice” winners with a job in his company, I wonder what it is exactly that they end up doing.

Is there a “department of apprentices” in the Trump organizational flowchart, where narcissistic go-getters spend their days re-typing phonebooks until they get bored and quit?

Does Poison lead singer and “Celebrity Apprentice” winner Bret Michaels serve as supervisor and chief proofreader, between brain hemorrhages? And can you take sick days for a stroke, or do you have to dip into your vacation days?

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With news of the hardships faced by the stranded cruise ship passengers who had to subsist on canned pig fragments rather than lavish buffets last week, I became curious about the potted meat product known as Spam.

I had eaten Spam as a child, when my mother used to fry and then impale it on toothpicks next to chunks of pineapple. “Hawaiian kabobs” she called them, and we all thought she was joking until I read that our 50th state, along with other far Pacific outposts like Guam and Samoa, are America’s largest consumers of Spam. And not because they’re stuck in the middle of the ocean, but because they like its taste.

There’s a Hawaiian restaurant not far from where I work, and their menu advertised a dish called “spam musubi”. Pictures of the item showed a sushi-like concoction, with the Spam slab snuggled tight against a block of compressed, congealed white rice, both surrounded by a thick wrap of “nori,” a Japanese seaweed. I bought one for myself and another for a friend from work who also thought it would be ironic to enjoy a spam-themed lunch so close to Thanksgiving.

Usually, where a story like this proceeds next is with the food critic being pleasantly surprised by an item they thought they’d dislike. “For all its sordid reputation as the lowest form of protein, the Spam was surprisingly bright, offering a not-unpleasant texture and a subtle meatiness not unlike your finer paté,” they might write.

I, however, would write “It’s hard to imagine that in a trio including cold tasteless rice and over-salted kelp that Spam would not rank in at least the top two. But, as usual, Spam defies expectations, finishing a weak third.”

I choked down about half a musubi before giving up. My friend, Eat Anything Andy, thoroughly enjoyed his exotic bolus and was kind enough to finish mine off as well.

In the end, I was glad for the first time in my life not to be a resident of Hawaii. If I were, I’d introduce a referendum asking that the state be mercifully towed into San Diego, so we would eat some real food.

Incredibly, Spam loses out to rice and seaweed

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