Mortifying News: Maine Is A State Of Veggie Lovers
Happy Cinco de Mayo, a Mexican holiday celebrating the invention of mayonnaise.
For the fifth time.
It appears that the scientists in charge of four earlier mayo experiments didn’t bother refrigerating the end product, resulting in fatal salmonella outbreaks each time they celebrated their creation by making egg salad sandwiches for the entire staff.
Nevertheless, as with atomic bombs, CBS news anchors, and trophy wives, mayonnaise researchers eventually got it right, resulting in a holiday during which we honor their important culinary accomplishment by drinking tequila shooters until we end up face down in the guacamole dip.
Hey, it beats dying of salmonella.
I mention all this because mayonnaise happens to be my favorite vegetable. Except for beer. And as a native Mainer, I have a natural inclination to eat lots of fruit (cherries in Manhattans) and veggies (celery in bloody Marys). I know this because it was reported in no less an authoritative source than Parade magazine.
In the entire United States, Maine ranks third, behind Vermont and Connecticut, in the percentage of adults who report eating at least five helpings of fruit or vegetables each day.
Personally, I suspect most of these people are lying. Even counting mayo, peanut butter, and chocolate chip cookies, hardly anybody I know (except women and health-care professionals) eats anything close to five servings a day of icky green stuff, such as guacamole dip with the impression of some drunk’s face in it.
I suspect the survey participants are counting coffee as a veggie. That would explain why Maine ranks twenty-fifth among states where people say they don’t get enough sleep and eleventh in physical activity.
We’re over-caffeinated and under-rested. And vegetables are to blame.
Among the chief culprits: mushrooms.
So serious is the threat of fungus among us that the Legislature has become involved. (I’ll restrain myself from making any cheap jokes about incidental resemblances between members of that august body and common varieties of ‘shrooms.) It has come to the attention of lawmakers that the people who gather wild fungi for restaurants, health food stores, and toads looking for new places to sit are not required to have any training. They don’t have to pass a course or apply for a license. There’s no rule that says they have to post a bond, pay for insurance, or wear protective clothing and goggles.
In short, they’re as free as the plants they forage for and as responsible as the person currently sleeping it off in your bowl of guacamole.
To correct that situation, the Legislature is considering a bill that would require a certified mushroom expert to inspect all wild fungi before they’re sold or served to the public. This will halt the epidemic of mushroom-related deaths, which has already claimed … let’s see … uh … zero lives in Maine in recent years.
A few people have gotten sick, but how do we know that wasn’t because they skipped their five helpings of fruit or vegetables every day?
But just so no one is lulled into a false sense of security, here’s a handy guide to spotting poisonous mushrooms, of which approximately ten of the two thousand species found in Maine’s woods and basements are so designated.
First, never eat a mushroom with a skull-and-cross-bones pattern on it. Others to avoid: fungi that resemble Charlie Sheen, Osama bin Laden, or aging members of the Boston Celtics. And be suspicious of any mushroom with a sign on it that reads, “Eat me, and help Maine catch up to Vermont in the percentage of adults who eat at least five helpings of fruit or vegetables every day.” Those are phonies planted by infiltrators from the Green Mountain State.
While we wait to find out whether long-overdue legal protections will be enacted by our elected leaders to save us from the mutant mushroom threat, we must turn our attention to a question more philosophical than dietary. And that question is:
What constitutes a year’s worth of pants?
This inquiry arises as a result of a small article in the Portland Press Herald that said a man from Belfast was a finalist in a contest sponsored by Dockers in which he could win $100,000 and “a year’s supply of Dockers’ pants.”
To the best of my recollection, this is the first time I’ve ever seen pants measured by the year. And I’m perplexed as to how that translates into an actual number.
Does the winner get a free pair every day? This would be the dream scenario of the laundry-phobic male, although the pile of only-worn-once pants that would accumulate by year’s end might pose a problem.
Will Dockers supply a new pair each time an old pair wears out or becomes unacceptably stained? Based on my experience, that wouldn’t amount to a mere half-dozen pairs. Kind of a cheesy prize.
Or does Dockers have some secret super-pants that last an entire year without cleaning or noticeable wear and tear? They go with every color, are suitable for every occasion, and replace three of your five required daily helpings of fruit or vegetables.
We can only hope it’s that last one.
Let’s conclude this week’s submission on a literary note.
On May 2, the Maine House of Representatives paused in its efforts to police the mushroom trade in order to take up a bill repealing the state’s Informed Growth Act, which requires developers of big box stores to pay for a study on how their project would affect the economy and environment of towns where they wish to locate. During debate, Republican state Rep. Lance Harvell of Farmington rose from his seat to proclaim, “What do Shakespeare and the Informed Growth Act have in common? They both belong in the 16th century.”
Setting aside the fact that there was nothing remotely like the act in the Elizabethan era, it’s worth noting that most of the Bard’s greatest plays – “Hamlet,” “Othello,” “King Lear,” “Macbeth,” “Twelfth Night,” and “Measure for Measure” – were products of the 17th century and still seem to be going strong in the 21st if the Theater at Monmouth is any indication.
I attribute Rep. Harvell’s misstatements to his diet. He should try eating fewer fruits and vegetables and more fish.
It’s brain food.
Al Diamon will answer emails sent to firstname.lastname@example.org as soon as he wipes the guacamole off his face.