Tag Archives: spices

Random Noun Syndrome, or, if a white-bearded queer can’t laugh at himself, who can?

This image actually has almost nothing to do with this post, but I wanted to share it along with this observation: they are each things which whiny manbabies will refuse to wear because they mildly don’t like the way wearing them feels, and they believe their personal comfort and pleasure is worth risking the safety of other people including their loved ones.
This image actually has almost nothing to do with this post, but I wanted to share it along with this observation: they are each things which whiny manbabies will refuse to wear because they don’t like the way wearing them feels, and they believe their personal comfort and pleasure is worth risking the safety of other people including their loved ones.
My husband and I seldom go grocery shopping together. Most of the time I do the grocery shopping for the household, though we have a shared shopping list and we consult about it frequently. One of the reasons this particular division of labor has happened is because my husband doesn’t drive, so for grocery trips where we plan to buy a bunch of stuff, I need to be included because I’m the one who can operate the car. Another reason is that because of our schedules, the big shopping trip each week usually happens on Saturday, and that’s the day that he tends to sleep through because his job requires him to be at work each day before 5am, but he is even less of a morning person than I am.

For a lot of weird reasons related to various social commitment we had (all of which were fulfilled through online meetings, so we are still isolating and practicing social distancing), he wound up accompanying me on this last weekend’s main grocery run. And a couple of funny thing happened.

At one point we turned the cart up an aisle, and I pointed down at the second from the bottom shelf and said, “We are either completely out of or nearly out of those, so pick a couple out.”

His reply was a confused. “Are you sure? I mean, if you mean the variety packs, maybe…”

I explained why I was certain we were nearly out, having had to throw at least one of the cardboard wrappers in the recycle earlier in the week. And he asked, “Cardboard???”

I turned around to look at him, and instead of looking at the nearly-at-the-bottom shelf I had pointed at more than once, now, he was looking at the very tippy-top shelf…

I had pointed at collections of snack-packs that we both liked. I like them because they were a balance of protein, fat, and minimal carbohydrates and were perfect for those times between my meals when my blood sugar dips lower than it ought. And he likes them because they were mostly shelf-stable and would tide him over between meals at work when needed. He was looking at the packs of cheese sticks. And he was right, we were nowhere near being out of the cheese sticks.

But they were not the thing I pointed at, and he admitted that he couldn’t remember if he had actually looked at my hand to see what I was pointing at. We decided the confusion was that since he is so much taller than me, he is always looking at things at his own eye-level first, and he just thought when I said “those” I was referring to what he was already looking at.

At another point in the trip we turned up the spice aisle. I pointed down at a low shelf where, among other things, various containers of pepper were arrayed. There were tins of ground black pepper, jars of whole peppercorns in black, green, or multi-colored, similar pepper variety jars with grinders build into the lids, and so forth.

Michael asked why I was stopping. I said, “The big pepper grinder keeps falling off the back of the spice shelf, and it’s hard for me to retrieve it, so I thought we should get a small one to keep next to the stove.”

And he looked at me with a very perplexed expression and said extremely slowly, “Okay…”

I continued, “Just pick out one of the small pepper grinders and we’ll be fine.”


I sighed and rolled my eyes. “If you don’t want to limit it to one, pick out one of the other pepper grinders, too, they’re all on sale. Maybe a black and a green? Or a black and a variety?”

He was now looking at me with an extremely concerned expression, as if he thought I was having a stroke. “I don’t know what you’re talking about, honey.” And his tone of voice implied he thought something worse than a stroke was happening.

I was really irritated by this point, and opened my mouth to explain again from the beginning. Except at that moment some far off slice of my brain interrupted, and did the equivalent of playing back to me the recording of the conversation. The beginning of which was actually, “The big coffee grinder keeps falling off the back of the spice shelf…”

Every single time that I had meant to say “pepper grinder” what had actually come out of my mouth was “coffee grinder.” And, of course, since we were standing in front of the spices, there was no coffee anywhere in sight, never mind that while American grocery stores may sell both ground and whole bean coffee, they don’t usually sell the grinders.

I laughed and said, “Pepper grinder. I meant to say that it’s the pepper grinder I keep losing behind the shelf, and I don’t usually feel like moving the chest freezer so I can get back there.”

“Oh! That makes sense!”

After we got home, while I was putting other groceries away, my husband pulled out the chest freezer and the shelf unit and retrieved the big pepper grinder… and then he went through the rest of the shelf unit and he found not one, not two, but three medium-sized bottles of whole peppercorns meant to refill the grinder. And each of them had been opened at some point and had some of their peppercorns removed. He was able to finish emptying all three and completely fill the big grinder, getting rid of three some bottles and making the shelf somewhat less crowded. So I might possibly be slightly less likely to knock something off the back of the shelf moving forward.

Keep your fingers crossed!

Listen, buddy, there is no pumpkin in pumpkin spice, and if you don’t like cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and such in your food or beverage, then don’t order it…

“I think people who hate on pumpkin spice but praise bacon are hypocrites. The only difference is that bacon is seen as 'manly' and pumpkin spice is seen as 'girly.' Both groups want to put it on everything, but only one gets shamed for it.”
“I think people who hate on pumpkin spice but praise bacon are hypocrites. The only difference is that bacon is seen as ‘manly’ and pumpkin spice is seen as ‘girly.’ Both groups want to put it on everything, but only one gets shamed for it.”
I love bacon. I love a good martini. I love nice olives. I love a my husband’s homemade chicken soup1. I like sampling different kinds of winter ales/holiday beers. I love cooking a big pot of chili to eat while watching a football game. I love the many variants of Earl Grey tea. I love coffee. I love beef stroganoff (both making it and eating it). I love sweet potato pie, pumpkin pie, pear and ginger pie, or any homemade fruit pie even though I can almost never eat pies any more. I love lamb stew. I love my husband’s solstice cake2. I love homemade vanilla and the many wonderful things I can make with it. I love cooking veal scallopini (and not just because when I open a bottle of wine to cook with I need to drink the rest of the bottle). I love very rare steak. I love a nice Old Fashioned made with really good bourbon. I also love a lot of what some people call froo-froo cocktails. I love homemade ginger bread.

And yes, sometimes, I like to spice things with a blend of cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, allspace, and cloves. Because those spices tastes incredibly delicious on many foods.

As autumn approaches in the Northern Hemisphere, we see the unveiling of the many snarky and condescending memes and social media posts about pumpkin spice. And one of the things that really amuses me about them are the large number of them who seem to think that the drinks and foods and such are pumpkin flavored.

Pumpkin spice lattes do not taste like pumpkin. They taste like coffee, steamed milk, and cinnamon. It’s not pumpkin, guys, it’s pumpkin spice, specifically, the spices that are traditionally used in pumpkin pie. It’s spices—you know, those substances whose entire existence in our culture is to be added in small quantities to various edible things to make them taste better? It isn’t something weird or new-fangled or unnatural. They are spices.

If you don’t happen to like cinnamon and so forth, that’s fine. But there is no reason to go hating or shaming other people who do. And I find it particularly irritating when I see it being done by the kinds of guys who are really into craft beers, or who want bacon on everything, or who buy up the various winter ales/holiday beers as soon as they show up in stores. All of these foods and beverages are things that some people really like, other people could take or leave, and other people dislike. It’s no big deal.

I know that you don’t think you’re being an asshole. You think your clever meme about guys dressing up in pumpkins to attract the ladies is funny. I totally get it. There are foods and drinks that I despise, and sometimes I describe my dislike for them in rather extreme terms4. But just because I don’t like something doesn’t mean that it is inherently inferior to other things.

But your hating on pumpkin spice and your shaming of people who like it? That totally makes you an asshole. If you make fun of other people for liking cinnamon, you are a douche, an idiot, an asshole, and a petty insecure hypocrite.

You don’t have to buy any of the pumpkin spice things on the market. Their existence neither hurts you nor causes you harm. So chill. Relax. Let it go and stop hating on some spices. Unless you like being known widely as a prick.


1. He makes the most amazing soup. One time when word got out that he was making chicken soup for a writing meeting we were hosting, one pair of friends changed their travel plans so they can attend for the soup. That’s how good it is.

2. It’s a cake he invented when he was tired of people always hating on fruit cake, so he concocted a way to turn pineapple, apricots, figs, and a bunch of fruit into a puree and then cook it in a way that people think they are just eating fluffy golden sponge cake. One year he made a bunch of them that we served at our Christmas party, took to some other people’s gatherings, and he took two into his work. The cakes were so good, that two of the people at his workplace got into a literal fist fight over the last slice of the cake. And the company instituted a rule that Michael couldn’t bring in home baked good any more, for fear it would happen again3.

3. Just more proof that I am the luckiest person in the world, because that amazing man is my husband!

4. For instance, raisins. I hate them5. I often call them Satanic Fruit.

5. Seriously, they taste so vile that I almost vomit with I get some in my mouth. It took several years to get to the point where I could stop that reaction and just find a napkin to put the the stuff in6.

6. And I have a history of this. When I was a toddler, the doctor wasn’t happy with some of my blood tests, and told my mom to feed me something like an ounce of raisins a day for nutritional purposes. My poor mom tried. I violently spit them out, cried, pushed her hands away, et cetera. She tried hiding them in other foods, soaking them in water, soaking rhem in apple juice, cooking them in various ways, and so forth. And every time I spit out the raisins. I would eat the other stuff around them, but I spit out the raisins again and again. Finally, Mom called the doctor’s office to say that I absolutely refused to eat the raisins. They started listing other foods that would take care of the nutritional deficiency they were worried about. When they got way down on the list and mentioned liver, Mom interrupted: “Liver! Why didn’t you say so, he loves liver!7” And she hung up the phone and headed to the store.

7. She knew I loved liver because my dad also liked liver, so just about every pay day they would splurge on some liver and Mom would cook up a mess of liver and onions for my dad. And at some point Dad offered me some and I gobbled it down and wanted more8.

8. I know lots of people hate liver, and that’s fine. May taste buds are different from yours. Raisins probably don’t make you gag because your taste buds are different. That’s okay. You can have my share of the world raisin supply. I’ll take your share of the world liver supply. We’ll all be happy, right?