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Apr 12 2006

Twisty Battles Recalcitrance


Some sort of food at Mother’s, the vegetarian joint in Hyde Park, Austin

Hey group. There will be a real post soon, I do solemnly swear. Meanwhile, lest ye suspect that I’ve gone totally off the deepest of ends, the deal is this: I am having to adjust to a heinous new schedule. This heinous new schedule involves radiation “treatments” every single day at ten in the goddam morning for the next two goddam months. Ten in the goddam morning happens to the be the time I have traditionally reserved for professional blaming, and, as is public knowledge, a spinster aunt is nothing if not unyieldingly set in her ways. I take a dim view of being barbecued before lunch, but there it is. The prospect of retraining myself to write in the afternoon, when by all that is right and true I should be farting around doing nothing in particular, is daunting, but I will persevere.

In the meantime, regard with quiet outrage the thing they call “barbecued” tofu at Mother’s. Flanked by twin globs of starch, it is recommended only for imprisoned criminals against humanity, or masochist aficionados of recycled styrofoam suffocating in baked ketchup. (Catsup?)

57 comments

  1. Jodie

    Radiation can be gruelling. Hang in there!

  2. Jezebella

    Twisty – I was hoping your torture at the hands of the medical community was well and truely over. stay well.

    meanwhile, I’m hoping for a hearty debate on the Ketchup vs. Catsup spelling issue, and I’m hoping someone, ANYONE can provide me with a sound etymological basis for their preferred spelling.

    I used to love Mothers when I lived in Austin, but that plate looks like a big pile of ick. If you’re going to barbecue fake meat, then by all means, do it to FAKE MEAT, not tofu. Yeesh. I don’t know that I could bear to stick a fork in that.

  3. Annie

    There are few, if any, foods that can generate my outrage, but plenty that can (and do) trigger my disgust. The very idea of “BBQed” (

  4. MzNicky

    Twisty darling: First of all, what was done to that tofu is criminal. Tofu is perfectly edible and even enjoyable when cut into bite-sized chunks, perhaps grilled, and then used sparingly in, say, pad thai or a spinach and cucumber salad with peanut sauce. No one should have to face a plate of, what is that, four?, slabs of the stuff made up to resemble portions of barbecued animal flesh.

    And speaking of barbecued flesh, best of luck with the radiation. Hey, at least it’s not chemo, right? Despite the ungodly hour of your appointments, I bet these weeks will fly by in comparison with your last “treatment” adventure.

  5. Annie

    Blech!

  6. kathy a

    some things are unfit
    for the barbeque,
    such as tofu
    and you.

    at least the radiation is more of an in ‘n out thing, isn’t it? shouldn’t hurt your appetite so much, either, i hope. here’s to quick and easy zapping of any stray cells.

  7. Annie

    sorry, don’t know what happened to my first post. I think some wild cyber BBQ may have wiped it out. Anyway, as my one word post makes clear enough, BBQ tofu sounds repulsive enough, but that heap of ketchup/Katsup/Catsup smothered stuff on your plate doens’t even look good enough for Cat-Sup(per)!

  8. schatze

    BBQ’d tofu? Aww, come on. As I see it, nobody has a right to complain when they order tofu. Like the snake in the old story it’ll bite you every time and you knew it’s nature from the start. As for bad BBQ sauce, there is no reason for it. Blame away. It’s a good start at dipping a toe in the old blaming pool. Is tofu an invention of the Patriarchy? Is BBQ sauce? Is bad BBQ sauce?

    Two months of radiation sigh . At least get some real BBQ next time.

  9. Cass

    Veggie barbeque just doesn’t work, I’m sorry to say. You of all people should have known this!

  10. johnieb

    A plate like that to start two months of anything for two months at ten in the morning, much less radiation?
    Have mercy. Have a beer. Get even better soonest.

  11. Pony

    Don’t apologize Twisty. I’m amazed at your fortitude. When does the Tamoxifen start? {I have a friend going through exactly what you are, right now.}

  12. Violet Socks

    That sucks majorly. The radiation, not the tofu (which actually looks like a kitchen sponge with tomato sauce on it). Get better soon.

  13. Annie

    One more thing…

    Twisty, dear, best wishes for your daily BBQing…sounds dreadful. And please do save your strength. With friggin’ tax day rapidly approaching, we will all need your strength as we collectively hurl at that which we must render “Caesar.” UGH!

  14. Twisty

    I like tofu. It has a pleasant texture, and, since it has no flavor of its own, can be imbued with whatever the hell. It can be barbecued easily, by painting it with some sort of tasty liquid (I like a mixture of hoisin sauce and orange marmelade) and throwing it on a grill. Such a dish is infinitely preferable to, say, the vile and ubiquitous tilapia, which is a mushy, degraded bottom-feeding animal farmed in ponds of waste water.

    Catchup, however, is gross on anything.

  15. Mandy

    Those inconsiderate bastards….don’t they know you have a routine, for god’s sake? Seriously, thinking of you and thanking you. I have to tell you that the photograph reminds me of something from Lilek’s book “Gallery of Regrettable Food” or something like that with photos from the 50′s magazines and his text. It’s very funny for anyone interested. Christ what IS that really?? It does look like a huge kitchen sponge….

  16. bitchphd

    Wow. Ten in the morning is the time I’ve reserved for lying in bed refusing to get up.

  17. Annie

    Your hoison marinade sounds good. I actually like tofu quite a bit, enough so that I even enjoy it plain in salads. It was just that stuff on that thar plate…yeesh! It made me bristle.

  18. Sarah Z

    I like tofu when served in a rational way, but yes, this is depressing. Mabye they were experimenting with a Good Friday-themed dish?

  19. Ron Sullivan

    Tofu’s OK in its native habitat, and something to be looked at suspiciously elsewhere. I speak as one who has barbecued tofu in public. Amazing what peer pressure can get one to do before the realization that one is practically peerless. I dropped a vegetarian cookbook in horror and revulsion when I encountered a recipe for allegedly Cajun “Blackened Tofu.” For cripes’ sake you don’t burn beans!

    Maybe the problem with that nasty plate up there is a conceptual one: it doesn’t work to stitch together two such disparate kinds of Wholesome like an amateur pushmi-pullyu and expect the resulting chimaerical beast to do anything but fall ignominiously on one or both of its faces.

    If you eat Lambchop the handpuppet are you still a vegetarian? (Not you, Twisty; I know better.)

    Good luck with the radiation. You will post a photo if you start to glow in the dark, right? Some of us are sentimental about things that glow in the dark. Some of us remember Three Mile Island when it was a place to go fishing from.

    Good luck with the schedule alteration, too. Even the unreal posts are fun; don’t stress over that.

  20. lcgillies

    Hopefully you are not demonstrating a subconcious fear of turning into a piece of barbecued tofu with catsup, from the radiation treatment. Also hopefully, positive vibrations from the group can help you endure.

  21. Ron Sullivan

    Oh.

    Ketchup, because “catsup” looks like something Kitty left half-digested with its exoskeleton still showing on the rug.

    What, you didn’t want an entomological reason?

  22. Pony

    “…a huge kitchen sponge.”

    Exactly my pronouncement on tofu taste. I can only handle tofu in those little Japanese parcels of tofu ‘skin’ stuffed with rice.

    I was told not to eat tofu post-menopause. Just passing that along.

  23. Arianna

    I’m a pretty crappy cook, but my two favourite ways to enjoy tofu are as follows:

    Firm silken tofu cut up into small bits, marinated in PC Memories of Kobe marinade (Yeah, I know, I’m lazy), mixed in with sweetcorn and spring onion, then stuffed into a portobella mushroom cap and baked or grilled.

    OR

    That extra-firm slightly spongy stuff, cut into big chunks, marinated in PC Memories of Greece marinade (this takes a stupidly long time due to the density of the extrafirm tofu) with some mushrooms, various peppers, onions and whatever strikes your fancy, then grilled on a stick like shish kabobs.

  24. Annie

    Ron–I think the problem we all have with that nasty plate up there is more in the realm of your catsup comment. In my original post, which broke up into a million little packets (only a few of which returned to the forum) I suggested that that red glop (of which the Hyde Park establishment was kind enough to also provide an additional stainless steel ramekin–Jeez!)looked a lot like something that came out of the back end of my puppy after she got into the garbage!

  25. Sylvanite

    Looks like the worst meal ever at a Howard Johnson’s.

  26. Annie

    Sylvanite, your perfect comment made me gaffaw (sp) guffaw??? You’re right! It does have that frightening institutional, mystery meatloaf look about it. OK! I MUST get something else done here today…Twisty’s comment yesterday (about the tub hair) reminded me that I’ve been thoroughly neglecting some of my “favorite” chores in favor of blogging and grieving.

  27. Charles

    In addition to some good blaming, I (for one) am waiting for more Airstream (hopefully with red convertible attached) updates.

    In the meantime, Twisty, best wishes for a swift end to the barbecuing you’re enduring.

  28. Charles

    Wow, what a horrible sentence I just posted. Sorry, everyone.

  29. wolfa

    It’s things like this that make people anti-tofu. Ick. Eww. I like barbecue sauce (well, good stuff, anyhow), and I like tofu, but that looks like a page from one of those regrettable food galleries. I can’t tell what the two sides are, and I think I’m probably just as happy.

    Re: ketchup, I believe all spellings (ketchup, catsup, catchup) are correct, though mostly they’re location-specific, since no one seems sure where the name came from (Malay! No, Cantonese! It was borrowed from Cantonese which borrowed from Malay! etc), spelling was in flux initially, but if we’re playing “first meaning/spelling is correct”, it’s a vinegary fish sauce spelled catchup.

  30. Vibrating Liz

    THANK YOU Twisty for speaking out against the vile tilapia. Now go radiate the hell out of whatever’s left of the vile invaders.

  31. ljdugan

    Sorry, no source, but here you go.

    Ketchup, Catsup… Is the controversy really over?

    For years the debate raged on…is that smooth tomatoey condiment properly spelled Ketchup or Catsup? Some would say…does it matter? And of course the answer is Yes. Although the current trend among manufacturers seems to be to use the spelling “Ketchup”, “Catsup” lovers refuse to give in. Why? It’s a subject of interest to all that I would like to delve into. Let’s start with where it all began…
    Ke-tsiap or Kecap was a spicy pickled-fish condiment popular in 17th-century China and is said to be the origin of the name “ketchup.” British seamen brought the ke-tsiap home, then introducing it to other nations. Catsup without tomatoes is almost unimaginable these days But it wasn’t until the late 1700s that canny New Englanders added tomatoes to the blend and it became what we know today as ketchup. Even a century ago, catsup cooks were still only dabbling with tomato-based recipes, while also trying a surprising array of vegetables and fruits such as plums, walnuts, mangoes or mushrooms that were being turned into a condiment and called Ketchup. Not so talented cooks were also trying, shaved tree bark, pig parts, or dust-based catsups. None were successful among the masses…even with heavy onion and garlic added.
    But how, you may say, can this be? One minute you have a fish sauce, and then suddenly you have tomato ketchup? When did we take the fork down the “tomato” catsup road? Perhaps it was in 1876 when Heinz produced their Ketchup with tomato and it made its way into the American kitchen. Then as more manufacturers entered the marketplace, so came more variations of the spelling. And so the controversy began. Soon there were Ketchups, Catsups, Catchups, Katsups, Catsips, Cotsups, Kotchups, Kitsips, Catsoups, Katshoups, Katsocks, Cackchops, Cornchops, Cotpocks, Kotpocks, Kutpucks, Kutchpucks and of course Cutchpucks. All were tomato based and bottled. All vied for the becoming the household word. But as these small locally produced and often homemade varieties went by the wayside and America entered the 1950′s, it appeared as if only 3 major brands remained to steal the spotlight…Heinz Ketchup, Del Monte Catsup, and Hunts, who could not decide on a spelling and bottled under the names Hunts Catsup (east of the Mississippi), Hunts Ketchup (west of the Mississippi), and Hunts Tomato Cornchops (in Iowa only).
    Now it was a matter of advertising dollars and a cunning advertising strategy as to which spelling would win out. But there were more failures than successes. Del Monte’s jingle “Even Cats like our Catsup!” drew a lawsuit from one customer who overfed it to her cat causing it to have stomach problems and hair with an unnatural red-orange glow. It ended after weeks of litigation with a million-dollar settlement and two years of free hairdying for the cat. Heinz trying to play up their spelling and new plastic bottle was ridiculed by English teachers everywhere for their promotion “You don’t need to ‘ketch’ it when it drops!”, forcing Heinz to make huge donations to the “Erase Illiteracy in America” program. In the end, no matter how hard they tried to set the name standard, the people remained divided. By the 1980′s Americans had factioned into two groups, the Ketchupers and the Catsupers. (The Cornchoppers remained a subgroup of the Ketchupers for several decades until Hunts finally dropped the name when their mascot, Cornchoppy, who they sent around to promote the product, overindulged on cider at the State Fair and goosed the governor’s wife during the apple pie judging, bringing disastrous press.)
    Now the final battle began. In an attempt to raise their visibility, the Catsupers declared a slogan, “Its “Cat” not “Ket” so let’s spell it that way! It’s simple to spell..Its simple to say!” which prompted the ketchupers to counter with “Catsup Schmatsup.” Unfortunately the Catsupers were losing ground. No matter how hard they fought for ease of spelling, marketshare was going to the Ketchupers. The final straw came in the 1980′s when Ketchup was declared a vegetable on the government’s standards for school lunch menus. Suddenly Del Monte’s Catsup, because of its spelling, was not on the approved list. Heartbroken Catsupers could see the end in sight. It wasn’t long afterwards that Del Monte changed the product’s name to Del Monte Ketchup. True Catsupers remain hopeful though. Catsuper President Vance Carson comments, “We’re trying to get the government to add Catsup to its list of vegetables, too. But then the Mustard people heard this and they got all riled up and started a lobby, too. Then the Worcestershire Sauce people and the Mayonnaise people and the Salad Dressing people followed. All these other groups trying to be listed as vegetables suddenly boondoggled the entire campaign. And the name change is only Phase 1, too. Phase 2 will be reconvincing a manufacturer to use the name Catsup. Yea its a long battle…I don’t know…sometimes I just don’t know…” Ketchuper President Lyle Kent responds by throwing up his arms, “Its like they just can’t let it go can they? Pack of sore losers.”
    So the controversy goes on.

  32. Sara

    Wow, everything on that plate looks like a foul, unhealthy excretion. How’d they do that to such generally inoffensive ingredients? No, wait, don’t tell me.

    Thank you for your remarks on tilapia, as well. I am amused, too, by the number of people I’ve met recently — white collar types, to a man — who claim to LOVE it, and at the same time exhibit qualities similar to it. That degraded mushiness. Yep.

    Try making your own ketchup sometime, though. Homemade is a whole other thing than that evil crap that glops out of a store-bought bottle. There are whole cookbooks devoted to different kinds of ketchup you can make at home, all of which have the advantage of being real food, not nasty, mass-produced red ooze.

    Finally, I hope you are able to get through the radiation without a hitch.

    Goodness. Whatever will you do with yourself when you don’t have any more of these hideous appointments to keep? I’ll bet you can think of one or two things…

    Cheers!

  33. Jezebella

    hey ljdugan, thanks for muddying the waters even further! Damn. Can’t a girl get a straight answer around here?

    for the record: I heart tofu, even grilled and sauced. But not as pictured above.

  34. Pony

    “Probably Malay kicap, fish sauce, possibly from Chinese (Cantonese) kÄ“-chap, equivalent to Chinese (Mandarin) qié, eggplant Chinese (Mandarin) zhÄ«, sap, gravy.”

    Answers.com

    I have bought Malay ketchup in Dutch import shops, with a Malaysian label. It tastes nothing like tomato ketchup. I believe I’ve read but have no source for you, that katchup is just a type of chutney or relish, like North American hamburger relish, corn relish, or East Indian mango chutney and British Worcestershire Sauce, the latter having it’s orgins in India during the RAJ.

  35. Ledasmom

    Yep, that is vile-looking tofu up there. Why do that to tofu when they could, with an equal absence of animal products, make that Thai thing with the vegetables and the tofu and the coconut milk?
    I made jerk tofu once, and it tasted pretty good until I tried one of the jerk chicken legs I also made and realized that, while the tofu tasted marvellously of the spices and peppers and so forth, so did the chicken legs and they, in addition, tasted of chicken.
    There is, however, a local place that mixes silken tofu with lemon juice, soy, parsely, some things I’ve forgotten and considerable garlic and serves it with pita triangles as their universal appetizer. The main problem with it is that the rest of the food can taste a little underseasoned after that.

  36. Annie

    Not sure why I am doing this, since Garrison Keillor is really a filthy rotten patriarch at heart (even if he is an English major), but I can’t help thinking about the ketchup advisory board from PHC

  37. buttonwillow

    that tofu looks pretty damn good to me. and check out those black eyed peas!
    i’ll be thinking about you at 10ams.

  38. ljdugan

    Yer welcome, Jezebella! And I heart tofu too, but usually stir fried with veggies with a tahini sauce.

  39. jaye

    My sympathies. I thought the doctors were done with you. Damn. I am thinking of you.

    As for that plate of “food,” health food makes me sick.

  40. spiritrover

    Looks like it needs more sauce. I can still see some corners of the tofu peeking out.

  41. lavalamp

    Mother’s is one of those restaurants that’s frozen in time- everything looks the same as it did 20 years ago… including your tofu.

  42. octopod

    Hm. I definitely had some “Banana Ketsup” at some Caribbean joint somewhere, and it was mighty tasty. I think the time is ripe for a revival of non-tomato-based sweet-sour fruit chutneys, however you want to spell ‘em. (Though “Cutchpuck”, out of all the alternatives above, certainly has great appeal.)
    However, the above is a hideous misuse of tofu. I blame the Patriarchy for rampant tofu abuse. Not to mention tempeh — for the sake of all that is good, people, you have to *marinate* it!

  43. Annie

    spiritover, your post made me LOL!!!

  44. CafeSiren

    I can’t believe that no one has yet commented on the heinous sprig of curly parsley decorating the middle of this otherwise colorless plate. I once worked in a nice restaurant, where one of the chefs told me that it was a culinary faux pas to garnish with anything that wasn’t actually a part (no matter how insignificant) of the dish itself. Plus, curly parsley = the last refuge of the garnish-impaired.

  45. AntipodeanKate

    In Australia we have ‘tomato sauce’ which is what you guys call ketchup and ‘pasta sauce’ which was what you guys call tomato sauce. The word ketchup is an anathema to us.

    Ahem. I shall now quit my role as unofficial Australian cultural ambassador to the US patriarchy blaming community.

    Dear Twisty, I am saddened to read of your on-going radiation treatment and I hope it isn’t too heinous. I don’t actually mind BBQ’d tofu but that dinner looks kinda scary.

  46. Nyx

    Twisty, even if that were real meat it still looks ewww!

    That must be one classy joint;for instance they didn’t just plunk the bottled tomato concoction down on the table in front of you like they do at Waffle House.
    Did you really order that?
    Dog, it looks like 6 lbs. of ketchhup!

  47. kathy a

    cafe siren — excellent points about the parsley.

    visually, the dish needs something. more color — you’d expect some green that is edible. less sauce. at least one thing that isn’t gloppy. [whatdaya think? i could have a future with this food critic thing, if perhaps i was a decent cook, and my vocabulary ran to better words than "glop."]

  48. ozma

    OK, I seem to be the only sentimentalist who posts here. I will miss your blaming every day. Every. Single. Day. I know spinster aunts and gentlemen farmers are hardy as hell and I look forward to the day this is all done and you return to blame with the force of ship-destroying gales, blame more ferociously than the world has seen. Until your return, I hope you will be well.

  49. curiousgirl

    please dont let this unfortunate dish prejudice anyone against Mothers. They serve many edible vegetarian specialties and have quite good salad dressing.

  50. Annie

    Ok, but then maybe they outta think about smothering the tofu in salad dressing…? just a thought.

  51. Ron Sullivan

    CafrSiren’s right. Whoever invented the joke about the difference between pussy and parsley* was talking about curly parsley. The flat stuff actually tastes like something.

    *Wonder which of those words will send this to the spambotinizer. In a just world, it would parse “parsley.”

  52. Ron Sullivan

    In a just world, I’d stop making typos and leaving tags open after the third cup of coffee, too. But the sun is shining in Berkeley and I’m all dizzy from it.

  53. kathy a

    we got sun here, too! but the clouds are already rolling back in, and there is this hill behind us that is starting to make me nervous. think i’ll go all-out and start marinating some chicken, so it isn’t “leftover night” again around here.

  54. txfeminist

    That looks totally disgusting, but I love your photography. From bad food to roller derby – you are a real artist with a camera.

    I’m sorry you are having to go through such extensive medical ministrations. I hope you are better soon.

  55. sybil

    Radiated tofu? Not quite, But…A tip for you, Twisty. Follow up your radiation sessions with a slab of tofu. Leave it on (as in, kick back and chill out) for about half an hour. The tofu will pull the heat out of your flesh. In fact, if you were to then smother it in your favorite catsup, you could probably eat it, but I think feeding it to Bert is better.

    This is not a joke. I applied daily tofu for my mate following radiation treatments to his face, and staff were very impressed with his healthy skin.

    Happy 47th, here’s to cooking with gas for about another 47.

  56. sybil

    Of course, an addendum. Slab of tofu means probably 1/2-3/4 inch. Turn it over after 15″ to cook the other side.

  57. Twisty

    And yet another sensible application for tofu. I’ll give it a whirl.

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