Thursday, August 02, 2012

Stephanie Lucianovic's Guest Post!

I hate raisins. I hate raisins with a blinding passion that SF Giants fans like me usually reserve only for the Dodgers. I just can not abide the raisin. Raisins in cookies are a waste of a perfectly good cookie. Chocolate-covered raisins should be added to the Geneva Convention as a crime against humanity. And don’t even get me started about the atrocity that is Raisin Bran. The only thing I hate just slightly more are prunes *shudder* but that’s a discussion for a different day.

Thankfully I’m not alone in my hatred for the Damien of the grape-product family. Stephanie Lucianovic is the writer of the delightful GrubReport. She’s also a writer whom I’ve followed for, well it will show both our ages if I admit how long. She also shares my loathing of the wrinkly little bastards and, as the winner of my first ever #WW Challenge, was kind enough to share her thoughts on my blog. Her new book Suffering Succotash: A Picky Eater’s Quest to Understand why we Hate Foods we Hate is on Amazon and hopefully at a book retailer near you! Do yourself a favor and pick up a copy. 

Hate in a Time of Raisin

By Stephanie V. W. Lucianovic

Tylia kindly asked if I would write a guest post in support of George Mark Children's House, a place that no parent wants to ever spend too much time thinking about, but one that every parent is grateful exists. Deep down in the marrow of our souls, we are grateful. My following post on raisin hate might be lighthearted, but that doesn't mean I didn't cry hard as I read Tylia's posts about her beautiful son Ukiah and what George Mark Children's House meant for her family during their desperately hard times and what it continues to mean for them and all families. They need and deserve our support.

"[Raisins] are disgusting little bits of wizened chewiness that came into being only because Friar Tuck was too drunk to remember to pick all the grapes in a timely fashion." That's a quote from my book, Suffering Succotash: A Picky Eater's Quest to Understand Why We Hate the Foods We Hate. I may be a former picky eater turned career food lover, but there are still some things I can't abide, and raisins top the list.

I don't know when and where raisins ran afoul of me because I ate them as a kid and I even sort of liked them, especially when my mom stuck those tiny red snack boxes from Sun-Maid in my lunch. (Mind you, I dreaded getting those snack boxes at Halloween, but somehow they were more welcome in my lunch as an occasional addition.) As a pre-teen I went to a canoe camp in the Minnesota Boundary Waters where a daily handful of raisins was prescribed for our trail lunches. The non-perishable dehydrated grapes were there to keep us "regular," and once again, I had no problem eating them. I'm sure it was because a certain level of starvation set in after a morning of portaging and sweaty palm attempts to steer a big aluminum canoe with weak sauce J-strokes. In those situations, you snarf down any form of sustenance that hits your collapsible metal mess kit cup.

We don't need our food to look like Insects! Yeesh!
Of course I crunched through my fair share of that the popular children's snack, Ants on a Log, which, while not my favorite pairing with my late-afternoon 3-2-1 Contact, [Ed. Note 3-2-1 Contact, that takes me back! Those were the days weren't they?] was fun to make and eat. (I wonder if it will gross anyone out to know that we vastly preferred the cream cheese version over the peanut butter one...which is apparently called "Ants on a Snowy Log." You know what? That's just a touch too much descriptive detail for me. You mention snow on a log and then I start to think about lichen on a log and the creatures that you find inside logs and how the ants on all these logs are sitting on fallen logs, which are dead, decaying, softening, ripening, and I'm out!) Strangely enough, while I've never forgotten about Ants on a Log, until a fellow raisin hater likened their presence in rice pudding to bugs, I never truly thought of raisins as insectile before. Unfortunately, now I can't stop thinking of them as fat black flies crouching in my food. You know the kind of flies I mean, right? They're the ones that buzz louder than an electric razor, and summer heat makes these flies drowsy, so when they bump, sun-drunk, into windows, they make a loud juicy sound. Like someone launched a particularly large and wet spitball against the glass.

That's what I think of raisins in my food, because while I may have enjoyed snacking on them at some point, I have never, ever liked raisins in things. I loathe them in oatmeal, despise them in carrot cake, abhor them in apple pie, and resent the hell out of them in cookies.

But if black/purple raisins are ants or drunk flies, golden raisins are lumps of earwax. Those anemic little turds stage a sneak attack in what appears to be a rare raisin-free oatmeal cookie. The worst of it is you don't realize that your oatmeal cookie has been compromised until you've taken a large, raisin-riddled ecstatic bite and chew into that weird, sudden sweetness. This then leads to spending an inordinate amount of time breaking the oatmeal apart and excising the golden raisins away from the parts of the cookie you want to eat. Golden raisins turn dessert into dissection class.

It looks like you baked a million ants! Gross!
I'll end my treatise of raisin hate with a literary reference. When I first read Langston Hughes' "A Dream Deferred," in my mind it was always a raisin that festered like a sore, ran, and then dried up (all crustifed) in the sun. (Sorry, I have one more thing to add because I just learned about RAISIN PIE THIS IS A REAL THING THAT EXISTS AND IS A PIE MADE ENTIRELY OF RAISINS!)

[Ed. Note: Ew! Raisin Pie! God no! Geneva! Convention! That's a Hate Crime!]

Thanks again Stephanie! That was insightful and gross and now I will never stop thinking of raisins as juicy fly bodies (as if I needed a reason. Heh!).

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