Archive for Food

Brand Loyalty

The KingI'm pretty susceptible to advertising. Or at least I've noticed this when it comes to fast food. I can count on one hand (OK, maybe two) the amount of times that I've seen a commercial for some sort of crispy chicken thing on TV and gone out to try it within hours. Invariably hating myself afterwards for expecting the taste to be anything more than the oil in the fryer.

Let's just get it out of the way now. While the King character/brand is appealing and funny in a creepy kind of way, BK Chicken Fries are just plain nasty.

I've been meaning to create a new category for this blog about Privacy concerns, or something like that. A place to examine some of the stray threads my paranoid mind has plucked out of the air. There would likely be some overlap with another category, Social justice/change, or something. But, like everything else with this blog, it'll have to wait.

Let me just jump to the DS stuff now. I've had my Nintendo DS for less than a year, and I'm a freak for it. This also happens to coincide with a reawakened appetite for video games in general.

In any case, I make a practice of not registering my products. Marketers likely know everything there is to know about me anyway, but I'm trying to be more aware of the information I voluntarily give up.

But dangle a shiny bauble, or pink stylus, in front of me and I'm yours. Suckers who registered their copy of Kirby Canvas Curse (a game I still need to review) were sent a bright pink stylus. Registering three items, I quickly learned, got you three free copies of Nintendo Power. A slippery slope slathered with the grease of a hundred chicken fries.

When you willingly fill out surveys to enter a feedback loop with companies whose products you spend a large portion of your time with, you're pretty much heavily invested, don't you think? There's only one corporation I've sold (most of) my soul to: Apple Computer. But Nintendo has created some potent brand loyalty in me with the DS and the impending release of the Wii.

I actually look forward to filling out their game surveys on my registered products; believing somewhere in my heart that it has a direct effect on the games I play and enjoy. Someone disabuse me of this notion if you know something to the contrary or feel a need to hit me with a cynicism stick.

The latest survey arrived last Friday. This one was for Brain Age (another game whose review is long overdue. Perhaps I should just compile a list of what I'm currently playing. And if there's no review for it, just assume I'm too busy loving and playing it to write one.)

Here are a few screenshots of some of the questions. Sorry for the crappy layout, will try to figure out a better way to do this in the future. (Apparently no love for DSfanboy.com in the last screenshot–what up with that?)

Brain Age survey screen shot

Brain Age survey screen shot 3

Brain Age survey screen shot 4

Brain Age survey screen shot 5

Brain Age survey screen shot 6

I left some pretty extended feedback when certain questions prompted it. This makes me think of a friend whose boyfriend works at Snowblind Studios. I hear about some of the outrageous requests and scarily obsessive mail that regularly comes in.

I wonder if all my earnest feedback and good faith is just another means of giving up certain kinds of information about myself that I can't see from where I am right now. If it will ultimately be used in ways I don't approve of. Even with all of my brain training, I don't have an answer.

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Map – Vegan Seattle

I just learned about this tool yesterday: Wayfaring.com. Very similar to Frappr, which seems to be more well-known/more used in the blogs I read.

I've been trying to figure out how to use Frappr at work, but had some reservations about the UI, how it asked you to sign up with your email before you could add anything to a map and other stuff. Though I love the concept of collaborative mapping and tools that help to visualize and build communities online.

Wayfaring, for whatever reason, seemed more appealing to me after only a brief glimpse. I jumped in immediately to create a map for my sister, who's coming for a month long visit in May. All the points of interest within walking distance.

Below is a map I found of vegan places in Seattle. Once you create a free account with Wayfaring, you can add your own sites. [I just noticed, how is this account requirement different from Frappr? Hmmm, interesting how my adoption of certain tools has just as much to do with a certain inscrutable threshold of resistence as it does with my intitial evaluation of usefulness. I.e. sometimes I'm just not ready, for no real reason, to start using a new tool.]

Anyway, I'll take a closer look at Frappr and Wayfaring more closely now. Both seem to have neat features the other lacks, so it'll be an online mapping community smackdown.

Vegan Seattle

Apparently iframes are evil and WordPress.com doesn't allow them. The above is just a screenshot of the actual map.

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Doing the Unthinkable

Though this happened in mid-December last year, I still cling to it as proof of what I’m capable of:

I said no to fried chicken!

Fried chickenApparently, Ezell’s is so much of a big deal, Oprah orders take-out all the way from Chicago (or so the local lore goes). I knew it would be served at this meeting I had to go to, and I girded myself accordingly. The vegetarian offering last year was really nasty, so I wasn’t sure if I could hold out. But like that first step a few weeks before, passing the meat by was shockingly easy.

Sitting down to eat, I looked around at everybody else, smacking their lips, talking about how good it was. And I was fine. I remembered that Ezell’s never really did that much for me. Maybe the Colonel has my heart. Still, in the past, I would happily eat Ezell’s the few times I encountered it. That instinctive reaching for something fried, memories of my siblings and I each having our own favorite piece every Sunday (mine was the drumstick), the promise, and ultimate letdown, of having it taste like Kentucky Fried from 25 years ago.

But looking at the greasy fingers, recalling that slimy feeling that never really washed away, the disappointment spun into the batter, leaving an aftertaste of flavorlessness and regret, I was content.

Maybe it helped that I loaded up on the fries, so I had my fix of fat. And the vegetarian option was pretty OK. But I still did the unthinkable. Hooray!

Now if only bacon was so easily refused…

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The Frites Come Out at Night

There’s a little store near K’s place that sells authentic Belgian frites: cut into neat three-dimensional rectangles, all the same size, served in a paper cone with your choice of mayo-based dipping sauce and a cute little wooden spear to gobble it up all with.

Their hours, when they first opened at least, were late night, just right for all the hipsters coming out of a concert or a club, nicotine and grease consumed on a street corner.

Much as I love french fries, I can count the amount of times I’ve been there on one hand. Beyond the starchy goodness, there’s something satisfying about walking around, eating something wrapped in paper. With a little wooden spear!

At first I was worried if they’d have enough business, but it seems they’re doing OK. You know why, right? 🙂

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A First Step

I can easily see this blog turning into a catalog of my adventures in resisting meat.

The day after I returned The Lives of Animals, I had a just about all-day meeting outside of the office. Lunch was the typical salad, cold cuts, bread and condiments. While I have no problem avoiding beef, roast beef is something I still salivate for when it’s in front of me.

I passed it by without much effort though. Turkey always seemed the most harmless, I’m not sure why. And I gravitated towards it instinctively. I mean, I always kinda pitied those people you see in front of this kind of spread, piling their slices of cheese on top of their bread and tomatoes and lettuce. Just watching them always made me feel hungry in sympathy (in my own arrogant way).

But I went ahead and made myself a cheese and tomato and mustard sandwich anyway. Without the salad and zucchini soup it would’ve been much harder. Thinking about the turkey and roast beef as I ate, I thought it wasn’t such a bad tradeoff. This time, anyway.

There are bigger battles to face than some bland cold cuts that never leave me satisfied anyway. Still, it felt really good to refuse them just the same–it made up quite a bit for that hollow feeling inside that vegetarianism always seemed to hold in store, and that definitely gnawed at my insides when the meeting was over.

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“The Lives of Animals” – I have no more real excuses

Lives of AnimalsK borrowed this slim book from the library, and since I live so close, I offered to return it. With some time to spare before it was due, I decided to read it.

Ideally, I’d be able to just give up meat all together. I’ve taken baby steps towards it: no beef for years now, I don’t cook meat at home (except for some occasional bacon, or even less so, fish), a surprisingly speedy switch to soy milk six years ago. I learned that in order to be realistic, and to make any real progress, I should do what I can, where I can. And that field has grown incrementally over time. I don’t beat myself up that it hasn’t extended as far as I’d like.

But there’s no real excuse now. Everything around me facilitates vegetarianism: really good restaurants, ample meat substitute products that simulate the real thing, a partner who’s been one for over 20 years, good friends who cook really well with no trace of flesh.

And now, The Lives of Animals. Such well-argued cases on both sides, why we should not eat them, why it is our right to do so. The despair and sadness and lack of resolution that close the main part of the book: what is the answer? And finally, with the book returned to the library, what am I waiting for? I have no more real excuses.

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