Monday, April 20, 2020

Given that it’s 4/20 today, am I even expected to remember what we did yesterday? A bevy of jiffies have scuttled through the present since then – in the great cosmic burlap flap of time, how are we supposed to bridge such gaps? Alas, I have kept adequate track, as we are well past 100 days of this madness, and this has not been my first dalliance with the essence of 4/20-dom. Let’s see how we rocked the plaster yesterday:

National Garlic Day

Oh, garlic, my friend and foe. What savoury, wondrous times we have enjoyed together, with you smothered over bread, swirled with honey a dripping off my chicken wings, and popping up in almost every great recipe I’ve made. Yet a few years ago you turned on me, recurring in belches some eight, ten, even twenty-five hours after entering my digestive tract. I praise you and adore you, yet you slap me. Oh well – garlic toast was on the menu last night, consequences be damned.

Garlic has been part of human feasting for thousands of years. It’s a relative of the onion, which is likely why they cohabitate so often in recipes. For millennia it has been used as medicine. We press it, dice it, squish it and stuff it into roasts. When properly prepared it can be eaten on its own (though that’s a devil I shan’t dance near anytime soon). It is the poster child of nefarious breath, yet the calling card to the cuisines of dozens of nations.

It has been used to cure the common cold, to battle cancer and to lower blood pressure, but there is scant scientific evidence to support any of those fights. That sticky garlic juice inside does, however, work well in mending glass and porcelain. The real foe within garlic is allyl methyl sulfide (AMS). AMS is the stinky stuff – it travels through your blood to the lungs, where it spews out a vile fog with your breath. AMS can ooze out your pores, causing B.O. Yikes.

If you want to avoid bad breath, drink milk right after, or ideally before you swallow a mouthful of garlic. Water with mushrooms and basil also works for this, though I’m curious how someone figured out that little combination. Last night we didn’t fret over the breath or B.O. issues – the amount of garlic on most garlic bread isn’t enough to cause too much fervor. But we were willing to chance it. No matter what devilish pranks garlic may play upon our internal parts, there is nothing quite like that flavour.

National Hanging Out Day

Our initial plan for this day was to… well, to hang out. A trip to Da-De-O, our favourite Cajun diner, was on the menu. They serve great garlic toast there too – albeit so thick with the stuff that my system can no longer tolerate it, but Jodie’s innards are tougher than mine. Instead, we found ourselves hanging out at home With the dogs. Once again.

But wait – the real purpose of this day is not to chillax, but rather to adopt an antiquated laundry tactic. Seriously, Project Laundry List, a New Hampshire-based organization, launched this day in 1995 to promote hanging one’s laundry outside to dry, rather than use a dryer. This strikes me as a strange cause to which one would devote their time and effort. With climate change ravaging the planet, with women’s rights and minority rights perpetually under attack, with the war on Christmas forcing all of us to never say the word ‘Christmas’ in public ever again, why air-drying?

I suppose this factors slightly into that first issue: it’s good for the environment. In fact, Project Laundry List has given us ten reasons to line-dry on their website. It saves money, clothes last longer, they smell better (unless you buy the right dryer sheets), it reduces pollution, hanging clothes can be a weight-loss activity (seriously?), sunlight bleaches and disinfects (bleaching is not always good with clothes), you don’t need to own a dryer at all (huh?), your house won’t burn down because you forgot to empty the lint tray, it’s fun (arguable), and it’s patriotic.

Not sure about that last one. Not sure about a lot of those. I’m going to avoid being prescriptive here – do as you’d like with your laundry. We dried ours in the machine yesterday, but damn we hung out with our dogs like fucking champs.

National North Dakota Day

I don’t want to be too hard on the Peace Garden State, but it wasn’t the most memorable part of our upper-America road trip in 2011. It was mostly rural, with much of it underwater due to a huge flood. The people seemed lovely as we drove by.

North Dakota is the fourth most sparsely populated state in the country. Also, due to its fortunate placement over a big glob of oil, it has the second-lowest unemployment rate. Its capital city, Bismarck, isn’t nearly as well-known as Fargo, its largest city. Much thanks to the Coen Brothers for that. The town of Rugby contains a marker stone at what apparently is the geographical center of North America. The state also contains the Western Hemisphere’s largest human-made structure, a big TV transmitting mast in Blanchard. North Dakota is nearly entirely covered in farms, as agriculture fuels the economy.

So we’ve got a rock, a big stick, and some dirt. Surely North Dakota has more to boast than that. Well, not only is it at the mid-point between the oceans and of North America, it’s about halfway between the North Pole and the equator. This ensures really hot summers and cruelly cold winters. And I wasn’t kidding about the sparseness – there are about 762,000 people in the entire state. Edmonton and area consists of roughly a third more people than all of North Dakota. In 1990 only 0.6% of the state were African-American. That number doubled in 20 years, climbing to 1.2%. Not exactly a hotbed of diversity.

Okay, let’s do our weekly look at which cool people come from the state: Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz is from Bismarck, Lawrence Welk is from Strasburg, Johnny Lang hails from Fargo, Peggy Lee was born in Jamestown, Wiz Khalifa is from Minot, Angie Dickenson comes from Klum, Bobby Vee is from Fargo, and Richard Edlund (cinematographer for Star Wars and Raiders of the Lost Ark) is also from Fargo. Okay, not bad. Considering the population they have to work with, North Dakota has done alright.

We didn’t have high hopes for the food either. When I searched for the cuisine of North Dakota, I was pointed repeatedly at the hotdish, which is a casserole topped with tater-tots. I’m not even the slightest fan of casseroles, but this one had some hot Italian sausage and cayenne pepper tucked in there. And the tots really made it crunch nicely – it was delicious.

As for North Dakota itself, I’d try it again, if only to see if the people are just as quirky as in the movie or on the show. As long as they don’t own a wood-chipper.

Bicycle Day

This was going to be a sad acknowledgement that we do not have functioning bicycles right now, and so could not go riding off into the great wilds of Edmonton. But I was going to learn about the history of the bicycle, and maybe why no one rides those funky penny farthings with the big-ass front wheel anymore. Then I learned what Bicycle Day really is – it’s a day to commemorate the anniversary when Albert Hoffman first injected himself with the chemical he’d synthesized as a respiratory and circulatory stimulant four and a half years earlier. That chemical was LSD.

Hoffman had accidentally imbibed a small amount and found it to be, in the parlance of the late 1930s, balls-trippingly bodacious. So on this date 77 years ago, he purposely took 0.25 milligrams just to see what would happen. Once it kicked in, he asked his lab assistant to escort him home. They rode their bikes, and along the way Dr. Hoffman got to live through the primordial bad trip, believing his assistant to be a witch who had hexed him with this poisonous hell-drug. Then he got home, chilled out, and got to experience the grooviness of it all.

He was very excited by his discovery, believing he had found a powerful psychiatric tool that can alter one’s consciousness for incredible introspection. It never occurred to him that this would be something taken recreationally. The day came to be known as Bicycle Day after Dr. Hoffman’s wild ride.

So instead of bemoaning our lack of working bicycles, we instead bemoan our lack of access to LSD. Well, we don’t bemoan it so much as observe it; had we been forewarned of this day’s true intent, we wouldn’t have likely attempted to procure any. There’s only so many brain cells we are willing to sacrifice to this project. Speaking of which…

National Amaretto Day

Italian for “a little bitter”, amaretto is not the least bit bitter to my taste buds. It was once produced with bitter almonds though, so that explains it. Nowadays most amaretto makers employ sweet almonds, peach stones or apricot stones.

Amaretto has a lot more uses than I’d known about. You can splash a little in your pancake batter for a richer flavour. It’s great for cooking with chicken and fish. It adds a dash of wow to whipped cream. Even the beverage recipes are varied: the Godfather is a mixed drink containing of amaretto and scotch, and was allegedly a beloved beverage of Marlon Brando – hence the name. You can mix it with cinnamon vodka and cinnamon liqueur for something called the snickerdoodle cookie martini, or more accurately, your future hangover in a glass.

I love this liqueur. We picked up some Disaronno, which is made solely from apricots with nary an almond in the mix. It was smooth and held my tongue in blissful captivity for most of the evening. Jodie got a little funkier than I, and blended hers into a milkshake. Yesterday was a damn fine day for food and drink.

Humorous Day / National Humor Month

We laugh every day. This is about finding the humor in whatever comes our way – well, we just do. That’s how we survive; that’s how we are getting through quarantine like pros. Yesterday we laughed at our dogs, who were being their usual delightfully goofy selves. Liberty ran around the living room, chasing her tail (and failing to catch it). Rosa whined and squealed at us for no reason other than we weren’t pouring love in her direction at that exact moment. And Trixie just had her tongue stuck out as always – it’s all she has to do to get a laugh.

Hopefully you had a humorous Sunday. We’ve got to keep laughing, if only to shut up the bad news that’s pouring in lately. Humor is life.

Today we have a bit of fun planned, and not just because it’s 4/20.

  • 4/20. Hey! It’s 4/20! I don’t know if I mentioned that yet. May have slipped my mind.
  • National Cheddar Fries Day. Well this lines up nicely.
  • National Pineapple Upside Down Cake Day. Wow. It’s almost like fate is steering the ship today.
  • National Lookalike Day. Do we have celebrity look-alikes? No, probably not. But we’ll see.
  • National Lima Bean Respect Day. Easy. We will have so much respect for the lima bean today that we won’t eat any. That would be disrespectful.
  • Chinese Language Day. One of the most interesting languages in cadence and construction. Two of the most interesting, I suppose. We’ll learn a little.

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