mandag, august 14, 2006

With This Ring

So late on Saturday I lit candles and plopped down to answer some e-mail (as well as send out some really bizarre notes even for me). The candles burned. The room smelled pleasantly of wax. Then a frightening White Castle commercial came on. Perhaps I was hallucinating? The French table wine before me was rather gross. (Plan Pegau, 2004. Avoid it as you would Joe Piscopo.) It is, I think, red tap water. And it's hard water. Very hard. It's been squeezed from ore-rich, rusting stones in the waters of northern Minnesota, I think. Then it's shipped to France in a barnacle-laced iron cask. And then it's bottled and shipped right back to me.

White Castle is worse. I invite your defense of this beastly chain that stalks our cities 24 - 7, but I'm not going to be persuaded to give it warm fuzzies.

I’ve no love for the Castle, and have never had any. I’ve tried to love it. Seriously. But maybe one needs to be exposed to it in youth, like chicken pox, for it to settle into one's body and for immunities to develop. Alas, I didn't taste White Castle until I'd moved to southern Illinois for college. By then, it must have been too late. I found those burgers disgusting every time we stopped for them on the midnight drives home from Saint Louis. And that route was driven frequently. For eight years.

Even in states of tremendous insobriety I could detect the abnormal growth hormones to which the Castle subjects its cattle, or synthetic cattle, whatever it is they make their meats of. And those onion flecks are hideous. Don’t kid about that. I imagine they are created in a factory through a method resembling hydroseeding.

In this commercial, a woman is obsessed with White Castle and, apparently, the ‘60s. Or ‘70s. I can’t tell. She’s creepily outdated, to say the least. There's a fine line between funny out-of-date and scary out-of-date. And she falls on the scary side. Big time. She has a giant freezer in her bedroom. The freezer is full of White Castle products, including the new Chicken Rings.

Now put those words together: Chicken. Rings.

It isn’t that I want meat to look like where it’s from. I don’t. Save for Thanksgiving turkey, I rarely accept meat that holds its completely intact original musculature. I want a little distance. In part because of this, I eat very little meat. I haven’t cooked any in my apartment in something like two years. I haven’t even brought home pre-cooked meat. I order it in restaurants, will eat it at a barbecue or another's home, but I never have it in my place. I won't. I don’t miss it.

So. Yes. Chicken Rings.

This is taking my disbelief a little further than I’m willing to suspend it. Are they going to tell me these rings are natural portions within a chicken? Have I missed the ring zone on the 2-D chuck-marked chicken drawing? Or are they positing that, say, chicken nuggets come from the hole punched in what become chicken rings? And we’re just now figuring out we can also eat the ring?

This is an alarming turn in popular meat products. How are these rings held together (other than their spray-on bread-crumb epidermis)? Are we actually eating a chicken slurry that’s congealed into marketable shapes via a gelatin injection?

If Alphabets: Chicken debuts, I’m not buying.
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