Food

When Giving Makes You Feel Rich Vs. Poor

On Thursday, I bought my best friend sushi, a treat she only rarely allows herself. On Friday, I took two of my aunts to see Boyhood, the Richard Linklater movie filmed over 12 years, which is a revelation. Better and truer than Tree of Life, and it actually made me want to spend time in Texas. On Saturday, I sent my little brother and his girlfriend to see a show at the Kennedy Center as a happy birthday! / farewell to DC, since Judah is off, with his new car, to start a job in Las Vegas. And on Sunday, I bought dinner for my husband’s godmother and her daughter, who were visiting from North Carolina.

I feel great. Better than great: I feel rich.

Sometimes being generous doesn’t work that way for me. I can buy a friend a book, or dinner, or a present, just because, or make a donation to a worthy cause, and feel sort of bereft afterwards — or at least stressed out about how much discretionary spending I should allow myself. Not regretful, just tense and sad, and then usually guilty for feeling tense and sad.

Other times, tinkling bells play lightly in the distance, meaning magic has happened. Maybe my weekend of giving worked in part because I recently had a birthday in honor of which so many people were generous to me, and it felt good to pay that generosity forward? In any event, I spent more than I anticipated — #MyLastHundredBucks, easy — although I haven’t counted up exactly how much, and I don’t care; it made me actively happy to do it. I do wish I understood the alchemy a little better, because getting to act from a place of abundance rather than scarcity, getting to feel rich by giving money away, especially to people you love, is kind of the best feeling ever.

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Kima Jones on ‘The Wrath of The Math’

The newest quarterly edition of Scratch Magazine just released, and this quarter’s Scratch is on the theme of “security,” both financially and in other ways. The entire issue is fantastic, but one of the pieces that stuck out was Kima Jones’ five-part “Baby Gotta Eat” piece. (Although Scratch is subscription-based, you can read all of “Baby Gotta Eat” for free.)

Kima Jones is a poet and a writer, but that is only one of her many jobs—she also has a full-time job and a part-time weekend job. As she writes in “Part I: For Further Consideration:”

I have always worked two jobs, my whole life. Two jobs and school. Two jobs and relationships. Two jobs and family. At the end of the summer I am leaving my second job so that I can write more and read more and sleep. I will make less money, but I will have more time for me. I think, Am I worth it? Am I worth it? Is my work worth my own time?

She also writes about the financial mathematics that dominate adult lives:

Mostly my lists look like this: a list of my dream items, a list of my outstanding debts, a list of my recurring bills, a list of household items to buy, a list of groceries. I feel like an adult and responsible and on top of things when I cross items off of my list, but the crossing is slow. There are things I won’t spend money on anymore—namely, manicures, pedicures, or the salon. Luxuries have long gone out of the window. Instead, I remember having health insurance is a luxury, being employed is a luxury, having an apartment that is mine all mine and being able to keep the rest of the world out is a luxury. There are days when I come in this house and take a nap because I don’t have the answers or the funds or the energy to think about it anymore.

And then, in Part V, she gives us a chart of her writing income and expenses. I love charts. I was so glad to see this chart. It puts her perspective literally into perspective.

So read Kima Jones’ story and then, if you want, we could start a comment discussion about our own “wrath of the math.” Or, we could take our lead from Kima Jones’ “Part III: The Real Question” and talk about how we manage money and food, and whether we have a bag of rice hiding in our cupboards waiting for the truly lean days.

 

Photo: Mario

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More Women Are Vegetarian But More Men Are Vegan

According to NPR, more women are vegetarian but more men are vegan. You can also read that sentence as, more women are kind-of-annoying but more men are super-annoying. (I can say that, I’m vegetarian.) (Or can I? I’m sure you’ll tell me.) Anyhoo, vegan dudes are trying to broaden our limited notions of gender and food:

[Old school green-eating men include] Bronson Alcott, a vegan and father of Louisa May Alcott, who wrote Little Women. Alcott saw his veganism as a continuation of his advocacy against slavery and for women’s rights. According to his daughter, though, Alcott never did any cooking. … 

Something hard core about veganism does seem to appeal to some men. In fact, according to a Harris Poll commissioned by the Vegetarian Resource Group, more women are vegetarian than men, but slightly more men are vegan. John Joseph of the punk band the Cro-Mags and author of a pro-vegan manifesto has rejected animal products for more than 30 years. “I come from jails and gyms where guys were eating Alpo burgers,” he says. “The dudes were like, ‘If it’s good enough for my pit bull, it’s gonna give me more strength and energy!’”

“If it’s good enough for my pit bull” is totally my new motto.

On a macro level, vegetarianism/veganism is generally considered better for the planet. On a micro level, it’s better for your bank account: LearnVest did a test and concluded that veganism is the cheapest diet. A vegan might save $3.50 a day over a meat eater.

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Which is Objectively Worse, Burger King or McDonalds, Sbarro or Pizza Hut?

The most familiar names in fast food are also the worst. Turns out no one actually likes McDonalds hamburgers, Taco Bell burritos, or Subway subs. According to a new Consumer Reports survey:

many of the biggest names earned significantly lower scores for the foods that made them famous, notably McDonald’s. The chain, which serves flash-frozen patties made with 100 percent USDA-inspected beef, touts them as free from  “preservatives, fillers, extenders, and so-called pink slime.” Such a pledge might be comforting, but it’s hardly a rousing endorsement. McDonald’s own customers ranked its burgers significantly worse than those of 20 competitors, including Hardee’s, White Castle, and Carl’s Jr. No other house specialty scored as low.

Taco Bell’s burritos were also voted least luscious. And the subs from Subway, the world’s largest restaurant chain with more than 40,000 units in 106 countries, are near the bottom of the list.

Also at the bottom of the list with Congress and Comcast are nationwide chains Panda Express, Burger King, KFC, and pretty much anyplace that attempts to pass off crust-with-sauce-and-cheese as pizza: Little Caesar’s, Cici’s, Pizza Hut, and Domino’s are all in the bottom 10. Poor Domino’s! They’ve been trying so hard. The most worthless of all though is Sbarro, which makes perfect sense to everyone who ever had to gag down a slice there while waiting for their mom to come pick them up from the mall.

If no one can stand these places, why do they do such vigorous business?

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Chatting About Tuna Noodle Casseroles, Jell-O, and the American Iron Housewife

Ester: Hello!

Meaghan: Hi. Happy Friday. Did you do your 1 Thing yesterday, which was to cook?

Ester: I did, actually, Accountability Partner! Thanks for asking. The casserole came out nicely, but, I don’t know, a little on the bland side? I’ve never made tuna noodle anything before; I guess it’s supposed to taste like comfort food. Have you had time to cook at all, what with the new baby and your crazy family hanging around?

Meaghan: Ha, you mean my crazy family whom I love and adore in case they are reading this? A little bit! I kind of got in the bad habit of not cooking when I was pregnant, and generally not doing anything because I was growing a human, DAMMIT, so I am trying to become a contributing member of the household again, which is weird!

Ester: Oh, pshaw, don’t bother. You’re contributing! You’re feeding / holding / bonding with THE BABY, to whom you are sun and earth combined. You are Gaia, mother of all things. Gaia don’t cook.

Meaghan: Ha, my boobs are his sun and earth combined.

Ester: Right, one boob is sun, one boob is earth.

Meaghan: Scarily accurate. HA! Okay but my question is why did you want to cook a tuna casserole? That is amazingly nostalgic. I have never made one but definitely ate them as a child.

Ester: See, I never ate them as a child. My mom didn’t believe in that kind of food.

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Here Is Your Open Thread

Caity Weaver recently went to a TGI Friday’s when it opened and sat there until it closed, eating all-you-can-eat mozzarella sticks for $10. Her story is very funny, though, from personal experience, the best reason to go to TGI Friday’s is for their 2-for-1 drink specials. The last time I was there I got two scotches for $5! What a deal.

Photo: Mike Mozart

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The Most Expensive Meals We’ve Ever Paid For

My first job out of college was fact-checking restaurant listings. Every day, I called 25 restaurants in New York City to see if any of their information had changed, asking if their curtains were still red, their bathrooms still adorned with lavender sprigs, if their salad was still served with strawberries, if their servers still donned bow ties. With time, I had a mental Rolodex of places I wanted to eat, and Peter Luger Steak House, a restaurant so fancy it has its own Wikipedia page, was at the top.

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Do 1 Thing Baby Just Do 1 Thing

Thursday is a great day to do that 1 thing you don’t want to do but also don’t want to continue thinking about doing.

My one thing is to cook! Which we haven’t done in so long that I’m kind of embarrassed about it. The cooking itself will be about as low impact as I can make it. Fresh Direct delivered the ingredients for a gussied up version of tuna noodle casserole, and while taking care of my active and witchy toddler I managed to do the chop-chop prep work. All I need to do now is grate some cheese, probably while watching old episodes of 30 Rock, cook some pasta, mix, and bake. I can do that, right? Right.

My 1 Thing will be good for me in the long-term because Omega-3s are apparently proven stress-reducers, along with leafy greens, eggs, and dark chocolate. I need that fortification, because after going through the entire process of applying for health insurance on the Marketplace, this is the notification we received:

Sigh.

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How Thirty-Somethings Do Money (And Life)

For my birthday last year, I was in Vilnius, Lithuania, studying both Fiction and Non-Fiction, and recovering from the shock of quitting my job to take a year off to write full-time. Turning 31 kind of got lost in the shuffle.

Turning 30 was a bigger deal, I guess, but my brother got married across the country right around then and also I was third-trimester pregnant and distracted by the octopus inside of me thrashing around looking for the door. There was some kind of party, maybe? I definitely remember writing “XXX” on the invitation, because that’s too good an opportunity to pass up. Don’t remember much else.

What I’m saying is, I haven’t had time to think about birthdays in a while, to really reflect about what being in my 30s means. I’m here without a plan! What should I have done by now? What should I do next? Help! 

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How Much Is Your Iced Coffee?

Have you noticed an increase in iced coffee prices in your area? Perhaps, at your local independent coffee shop? Gothamist writes that the increases—which has been anywhere from a few cents to a full dollar—are due to a variety reasons including a bad crop year

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So You’ve Decided To Join The CSA

It’s that time of year again. I’m seeing flyers in coffee shops and boyfriends lugging bags of soil back from the hardware store and imagining people in urban areas everywhere shouting to each other at parties, “So, you guys doing the whole CSA thing this year?”

Oh god.

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ReservationHop Makes Money by Squatting Over Something That’s Free

ReservationHop, the new restaurant reservation app, takes a working, functional, free system – calling restaurants and making reservations — and monetizes it.

Specifically, it monetizes the system by calling San Francisco area restaurants in advance, making a number of reservations under fake names, and selling those reservations back to the general public. (To quote CNN: “The going rate for a reservation on the site appears to be $12.”)

The ire is already out. Plenty of people think ReservationHop is unethical and unfair to both patrons and restaurants. It’s the equivalent of ticket scalping, only it’s a bit worse because restaurant reservations, unlike concert tickets, are supposed to be free.

How bad is the ire? TechCrunch ran an article with a giant middle finger. Here are a few tweets that sum things up:

This is irresponsible and sleazy and exactly what people hate about startups sucking the life out of San Francisco https://t.co/pqz572FWA9

— mat honan (@mat) July 3, 2014

The newest way to be an utter jerk in San Francisco: https://t.co/pCceTvj2i9 "Let's disrupt all basic social niceties and monetize them!"

— Morgan Johnson (@Poormojo) July 3, 2014

@bmmayer get punched.

— Tim Brandonthorp (@jefsauce) July 3, 2014

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