Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Maybe if I slaughter a lamb at twilight and put the blood on my door

posted Tue, 20 Jul 2004

There are WEEVILS in my flour. I just opened the cabinet and some bugs flew out. I investigated – as I do not store my bugs in the cabinet but refrigerate them for freshness instead – and discovered wingèd pestilence climbing out of the bag of masa harina. Imported weevils, no less, although I noticed they had expanded their horizons and had tried the popcorn – which I have never opened – as well. Fortunately, the cocoa powder, the corn meal, and the powdered sugar were safe, but I had to throw out the masa harina, the popcorn and the whole-wheat flour. The white flour was safe. I guess these are low-carb weevils, or at least non-refined carb weevils.

I went through this last year, when I discovered an infestation in all the flours, not just the Mexican and whole-wheat varieties. I have since started keeping flour in the refrigerator, in glass jars, or in ziplock bags to prevent contamination (the bags don’t work – witness the whole wheat fiasco) although I have noticed that some of the bulk products I get from the local sincere vegetarian co-op (where Marxism is a brand) has bugs in it already when I buy it. They don’t charge extra for that, though.

When we were in Panama, I remember my mother having to sift the flour for bugs every time she baked. Nothing arrived at the commissary untainted. A three-week journey by ship through the Caribbean is not good for milled products. This is probably a case where we should have learned to work with local products, although I don’t remember that there was a flour substitute. We did enjoy yucca and Boquete oranges, though, as well as the avocados available from the tree in our yard and the mangos from everyone else’s yard.

Anyhow. My mom’s attitude on bugs is that they don’t eat that much, so don’t worry about it, but this was while she had her bakery catering business going, so I imagine she thought it wouldn’t be good for business if people knew they were biting into apple-weevil kuchen.

I am not used to having bugs in my house. Up north, if you have bugs – especially cockroaches – it’s because you are a bad housekeeper. In Texas, if you have cockroaches, it’s because you are in Texas. I am somewhere in between now, and have gotten spoiled at a bug-less existence. (Because of course I am an excellent housekeeper, being of Slovak/German/Norwegian/Prussian heritage. I know I didn’t mention Prussian before, but I just found out about it. That Austro-Hungarian empire included everything!)

I had a boyfriend in Texas (B.H.) who was convinced that cockroaches avoided ambient light, so he always left his cabinet doors open. Open doors, no cockroaches. Simple! Except cockroaches aren’t that stupid. There is always a dark, cozy place to hide. Humans, on the other hand, don’t always remember that all the cabinet doors and drawers are open, especially if they are walking into a dark apartment that is not theirs.

His theory might have been more credible had he not had such odd ideas in other areas. For instance: Although he would wet his hair every day in the shower, he only washed it every third day, thus reducing the rate of hair loss. Sorry. All it did was make his silky-fine hair limp and flat. He didn’t want to waste soap, so he would take those tiny little pieces of almost-gone soap and mash them all together in the corner of the shower. I don’t know what he intended to do with that slimy, grayish lump, but it was there when he moved out. I know, because my brother moved into the apartment after this guy left.

In his defense (the boyfriend), I will say he was otherwise quite intelligent and funny and has gone on to a sort of reputable career as a stock analyst and fund manager. And, of course, he had excellent taste in women, which is enough to redeem almost anyone.

But back to the bug problem. Not only do I have bugs inside the house now, I also have them outside. My cherry tomatoes have started to ripen, but I can’t get a whole one because some bug – or maybe a bird – eats a little bit of every one. Why don’t they just eat the whole thing? I’d rather have the bugs or birds or squirrels eat one of every five tomatoes and leave the other four untouched than eat one-fifth of every tomato.

Soon they will be going after the figs. This is my fourth summer in my house. Each year, I have gotten maybe a handful of figs off the tree in my back yard. The squirrels and the birds get the rest. It’s all well and nice and good to talk about “organic farming” and “oneness with the earth” and “whole foods,” but the people who spout that propaganda have never ever tried to grow tomatoes. And they have never found weevils in their masa harina – the masa harina they were going to use to make tortillas for their vegetarian sweeties

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