A very brief experience luxuriating in a resort on the Caribbean island of Martinique introduced me to the concept of yogurt and granola for breakfast. It seems like such a bourgeois concept but my perpetual stomach problems and new habit of getting to work early held hands and intervened, suggesting that my social prejudice was ignorant and detrimental to my life. The little angel on one shoulder sat up with me all night, suggesting a utopia of wholesomeness and interconnectedness with my fellow human beings. The little devil on the other shoulder rapidly became bored and fucked off to smoke a cigarette. I began to eat granola and yogurt in the mornings when I was at work and quickly amassed a collection of cheap plastic containers.
My inclination is to keep the containers in hopes that they will prove to be useful for food storage or other purposes as yet determined. However it became apparent that I’ll never have enough food and I’ll never have enough purpose to make use of my increasing collection of leftover packaging, and I began to grow concerned. They sell milk in glass bottles with a dollar deposit so I assumed that yogurt could be procured in a similar vessel. After several stores I have been proven wrong, and the plastic containers began to find new homes in recycling bins.
This is irritating– the production of plastic and the reprocessing require chemicals with an unhealthy discharge contributing the the general decline of life. Glass isn’t as destructive but the manufacturing tends to be more expensive (so I hear) and the end product is less frequently damaged during transportation. I would rather spend a little more, even a dollar deposit, on a glass container for the same product in a plastic one but until I sit on the board of directors for a major food processing company my opinion will not shape policy.
The alternative is to not buy cheap plastic containers, but yogurt has become something of an important morning ritual for me and my beleaguered stomach. Despair settled in and the plastic containers continued to hit the recycling bin and the world continued to choke on our excess. Then I read a short piece on Memestream that blew my mind out of the water. It seems that Mark, the author, makes his own yogurt daily in addition to various jams and other cozy kitchen things which we eat often and never consider where they come from or what happens when they go.
Now, when I took highschool chemistry we had to complete several projects, one of which was the making of yogurt. My partner and I were a little disgusted with the concept and so we simply paid another student to create and monitor our project for us, a grade was awarded and we passed the class. To this day I still have no idea how you make yogurt. One day I will attempt the yogurt, as intimidated as I am by the prospect, but I’m just not prepared yet. However, I eat salsa regularly and this is another food which comes in a plastic container, and I have collected as many as can possibly be useful for various feats of storage. The idea that I might make salsa seemed much more tangible than the idea that I might make yogurt.
Once upon a time my mind was blown out of the water when a coworker began dicing an onion, then a pepper, than cilantro and tomatoes and eviscerated a lime over the results. We sat at a table on a slow afternoon and ate fresh salsa with tortilla chips. Until then I had never considered that you could do something like that yourself, and the prospect of independence excited me. At some point the fervor died down and visions of my own culinary creations trickled from my ears; it might have been because my coworker was Salvadoran and there is no history of salsa in my lineage.
But today I would not let generations of ancestors stand in my way. I had the ingredients on hand from my normal shopping with two exceptions– a chili and a lime– purchased exclusively for this purpose. Things were off to a bad start before lifting the knife; when I had purchased the chili it was green but I didn’t use it for a week and it has turned red. I have no idea what this means but I also have no idea what kind of chili it is so how can I understand the implications of a cross-dressing chili?
The process was simple and quick. The remains of a yellow onion, a clove of garlic and a scallion were diced. On less stable ground I opted to halve the chili (now red) with the intention of adding more unless my tongue was reduced to a pulpy scar of sores. Three tomatoes followed, then sprigs of cilantro, salt and pepper, then finally a quarter of a lime. It looked like a good amount of salsa and, considering the ingredients used, one that cost less than what I’m accustomed to buying. The texture would be off as I hadn’t crushed anything, but I knew that trying to reconstruct store-bought salsa was a fool’s errand.
So I initiated an independent taste test. If I had thought about it for a second I might have considered that my lack of resources might lead to this being sideways, but fuck you:
After what I would count as a success I threw together some food and warmed it in the oven. Two scoops of salsa on top for my own examination of what I had created. It’s not the best thing I’ve ever eaten and in fact I would say it’s a little bland. The chili is good and adding more would be overkill but the tomatoes were a little hard and could probably use more salt to draw out their flavor. The biggest issue, I have determined, is that the tomatoes kind of suck but it is November so I can’t expect too much. This lack of perfection doesn’t dissuade me from continuing from this point on to combat cheap plastic containers and all they stand for by making my own salsa; I can only get better at it and my only obstacle is laziness. Hopefully the experience will embolden me to attempt more complicated, and possibly more hazardous, foods to continue my crusade against the creation and purchasing of trash. Tortillas would be nice since I’m pretty sick of those plastic bags.
Thanks to Fro for playing along exposing himself on the internet, and to Mark at Memestream for inspiration.