The Newtown Pentacle

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Posts Tagged ‘pizza

singular beetles

with 2 comments

My friend Gil Lopez makes people in Queens want to eat bugs.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

“Discover Edible Insects” is what the invitation said, adjuring me to join with others interested in Entomophagic practice. My pal Gil Lopez, who works with Greening Queens Library, was going to be conducting the session at the Library on Greenpoint Avenue and 43rd street so I said “sure.”

from wikipedia

Entomophagy (from Greek ἔντομον éntomon, “insect”, and φᾰγεῖν phagein, “to eat”) is the consumption of insects as food. Insects are eaten by many animals, but the term is generally used to refer to human consumption of insects; animals that eat insects are known as insectivores. There are also some species of carnivorous plants that derive nutrients from insects.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Gil is from the Deep South, yet has no discernibly southern inflection to his voice, which is a little suspicious. He is, however, a heck of guy- and one of the proprietors at Smiling Hogshead Ranch (an urban farm in LIC). He pulled a pretty nice crowd, I have to say, especially for a library on a cold Monday night in Queens.

from livescience.com

As the human population continues to inch closer to 8 billion people, feeding all those hungry mouths will become increasingly difficult. A growing number of experts claim that people will soon have no choice but to consume insects.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Gil helps run a composting program at this and other libraries and is a pretty serious example of practicing what you preach. Like I said, cool guy. Except for when he makes children eat insects. He had several commercial preparations with him, and ordered several pizzas.

from insectsarefood.com

Bugs are safe to eat as long as you purchase them from a reliable source or raise them yourself. You do not want to take bugs from the wild because you don’t know what sort of pesticides or other chemical sources they’ve come into contact with. A good rule of thumb to follow is to avoid eating any brightly colored, hairy or spiny bugs, as they are likely to be poisonous. Most caterpillars are similarly inedible. In all cases of food consumption, a safe and reliable source equals a safe and healthy die

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The insects were sprinkled liberally about, which made the pizza appear to be a sort of comedy prop- not unlike latex vomit or a rubber chicken. Both of which I personally would eat first.

from fao.org

In Western societies – where protein is still largely derived from domesticated animals – insects are virtually synonymous with nuisance: mosquitoes and flies invade homes, the former leaving behind unwanted bites; termites destroy wood possessions; and some insects end up in meals (triggering the disgust factor).

– photo by Mitch Waxman

There are certain things which I just cannot do, lord and ladies. I don’t eat anything with mushrooms, for instance, because they are evil. The excuse that “that ain’t kosher” is only true in some cases, as apparently Moses had a taste for grasshoppers when he was living with the Goyem in Egypt.

Me, I ain’t Moses.

also from fao.org

Common prejudice against eating insects is not justified from a nutritional point of view. Insects are not inferior to other protein sources such as fish, chicken and beef. Feelings of disgust in the West towards entomophagy contributes to the common misconception that entomophagy in the developing world is prompted by starvation and is merely a survival mechanism. This is far from the truth. Although it will require considerable convincing to reverse this mentality, it is not an impossible feat (Pliner and Salvy, 2006). Arthropods like lobsters and shrimps, once considered poor-man’s food in the West, are now expensive delicacies there.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Living the sort of life that I do, trying to be fully aware of everything all the time because if I don’t… I’m fully aware of the fact that I’m ingesting bugs all the time. How many times have I mentioned the presence of rat droppings in the slipstream atmospherics of the subway? Thing is, I’ve got to just chalk this one up to food prejudice. I’ll only consciously eat vertebrates, when meat is involved, when sitting down to a meal.

from eatocracy.cnn.com

By some experts’ estimates, the average person inadvertently downs about one pound of insect parts a year, in foods as varied as chocolate (which can contain 60 insect components per 100 grams by law in the United States), peanut butter (30 insect parts per 100 grams) and fruit juice (up to five fruitfly eggs and one to two larvae for every 250 milliliters).

– photo by Mitch Waxman

I took Marine Biology in High School, so instead of dissecting a fetal pig or frog we did lobsters and clams. You should never, ever, make an attempt to understand what the anatomical details and employment lifestyle of common table items if you desire to continue eating them. Never ate sea bugs on purpose, and especially since I learned the true meaning and ramifications of the word “bioaccumulator,” which will damn us all.

What I mainly learned in Marine bio was that ultimately, only the worms will win out.

from wikipedia

Details of delusional parasitosis vary among sufferers, but it is most commonly described as involving perceived parasites crawling upon or burrowing into the skin, sometimes accompanied by an actual physical sensation (known as formication). Sufferers may injure themselves in attempts to be rid of the “parasites”. Some are able to induce the condition in others through suggestion, in which case the term folie à deux may be applicable.

Nearly any marking upon the skin, or small object or particle found on the person or his clothing, can be interpreted as evidence for the parasitic infestation, and sufferers commonly compulsively gather such “evidence” and then present it to medical professionals when seeking help. This presenting of “evidence” is known as “the matchbox sign” because the “evidence” is frequently presented in a small container, such as a matchbox.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

The photographer never eats at the same time as the guests, of course, so unfortunately all the bugs were consumed by the group shortly after service. A good time was had by all, and there were a few kids who obviously loved the whole “Edible Insect” experience. Eating bugs at the Queens Library on a Monday night in January, adrift on the sea of an entomophobic’s nightmarish visions.

from wikipedia

Entomophobia (also known as insectophobia) is a specific phobia of one or more classes of insect. More specific cases included apiphobia (fear of bees) and myrmecophobia (fear of ants).

The symptoms associated with this phobia are similar to the symptoms manifested with many other irrational fears. An entomophobic is likely to experience enough anxiety upon viewing or otherwise coming into contact with an insect that he or she experiences a full-blown series of panic attacks. With extreme cases, the individual may lose consciousness for a short period of time. Uncontrollable weeping or a strong desire to flee from the area are also common signs that indicate an individual is suffering with this particular phobia.

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Written by Mitch Waxman

January 9, 2014 at 7:30 am

Astoria Slice

with 4 comments

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Observations and commentary on the ever shifting urban milieu called Pizza:

Pizza is the fruit of choice for the lifelong New Yorker, a greasy elixir that nourishes the soul. A proper slice is an avenue through which salvation may be found- sort of a cheesy eucharist.

There are borough based niceties known to sophisticates- the overloaded and enormous slices of Manhattan and the Bronx, the crunchy crust and sparse cheese found in “the Queens slice”, the perfect ratios and oil dripping sauce of the Brooklyn and… Staten Island slice. There’s also the fancy “wood burning oven” sort offered by places like “John’s” in the village, of course, but that’s a little “fine dining” if you ask me. There are further specific qualities to each borough’s slice, but I won’t bore you.

Careful observation and sampling of the goods over a four decade long study has led to the following observation- As the ethnic tides of immigration into New York have waxed and waned, the character of New York Pizza has picked up influences gathered from other world cuisines, no doubt because of who is actually cooking the stuff. Moving from the characteristic pentateuch of borough based stylings into a generic citywide slice which owes much to the influx of Latin American labor into the formerly southern Italian dominated kitchens, I’ve noticed a shift in flavor and delivered product. Don’t mistake me, not saying its bad or good, just saying that it is.

The pie above is a June 2008 specimen from Gino’s on Broadway here in Astoria, which has since undergone a change in ownership and staff. Shortly after the pizzeria changed hands, the composition of their product changed noticeably, taking on the new citywide standard- which I call Pizzadilla. The pun is based of course on the Mexican fare called Quesadilla, which modern New York Pizza is beginning to resemble.

The Mozzarella (which is pronounced MOOTSARELLAH, not MMAHTSSARELLA by the way) is less fatty than it should be and the sauce has far less olive oil used in in its recipe. A proper slice- according to me- should drip an orange oil and need to be blotted at the apogee of the fold, it should also nearly sunder its crust when folded. Pizza should also NEVER have ham or pineapple… just what the hell is wrong with you people? The new Ginos also offers the single funniest menu item I’ve ever seen on sale in a Pizzeria- the Salad Slice (which is indeed a slice of pizza with a salad piled onto it).

Newtown Pentacle readers who find themselves on Steinway Street between 30th and 31st should direct their attentions to Rizzo’s, which is a prime example of the “Queens Slice”.

– photo by Mitch Waxman

Written by Mitch Waxman

January 19, 2010 at 3:18 pm

Posted in Astoria

Tagged with , ,

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