Friday, December 6, 2019

Phoenix, Best Before Dates & Mouldy Art

Weekly Update 2019-49: Dramatic, dripping indie pop beats from Phoenix, not taking best before dates seriously and the beauty in mouldly art.

Mouldy peach by Kathleen Ryan.

Music: Phoenix
I literally had to go double-check that I hadn't already written about my favourite band outta Versailles, France. Phoenix is the indie power pop band of your dreams, with every song on each record becoming an earworm in its own right. I've been lucky enough to see them twice, most recently with an amazing stage I will never forget:

Closeup of lead signer Thomas Mars singing and lying on the stage floor (mirrored).

The band projected their light show onto the floor of the stage, with a gigantic mirror tilted to an angle to reflect the stage floor, the projections and the band. It was insanity.

Music-wise, they use a mix of rock and synth sounds to produce some powerful rhythms, often with big, dramatic buildups to some kind of musical epiphany. This is most notable on Love Like a Sunset from 2009's Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix and the fade from Drakkar Noir into Chloroform on 2013's Bankrupt!. This is a band that loves the drama and gives it 1100% live onstage. And as a bit of juicy gossip: lead singer Thomas Mars is married to Sofia Coppola (American screenwriter, director, producer, and former actress, as well as the daughter of filmmakers Eleanor and Francis Ford Coppola).

Start with Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix, and then go in any direction.

I hadn't cooked a real meal in a little while, so this past weekend I made a cornbread chilli casserole. It was freaking fantastic, definitely adding it to my roster.

I used this recipe.

The only crazy thing was that I needed flour - I don't keep it around the house since I never bake. So I took my clean, empty glass jars and my 1-cup dry scoop to Bulk Barn and did two cool things:

  • I had my jars weighed at the front counter, then filled them, then only paid for the weight of the items inside (no plastic bag waste!)
  • I used my 1-cup scoop (with a plastic bag around it) to measure exactly the flour I needed for my recipe (no food waste) - this was a random thought from my blog post from 2016
I know I had to use a plastic bag to keep the scoop from contaminating the bin, but to be fair I had already used all my glass jars for other items before I finally found the flour in the store, so I would have needed a bag anyway. I would like to think further about how cleanliness and eco-friendliness can play better together at Bulk Barn though. I still think the stores should change their metal scoops to some kind of measuring cup/scoop thing with multiple measurements so people can measure without having to bring their own potentially contaminating scoops to the store.

I can't believe my cousin Michelle is getting married this weekend. I grew up with her, so I still remember when she was a little kid (like me). I couldn't be happier for her and Sam, her amazing husband-to-be, plus they're getting married right in the heart of downtown at Steamwhistle Brewery, where I've never been before.

All of this makes me realize there's not much time before my sister herself gets married next summer. They grow up so fast :')

This may be my biggest week at Vena so far - with the culmination of all our hard work and preparation for the International Day of People with Disabilities and the revelation of #va11y, Vena's accessibility team. I have been going a little crazy keeping track of all the details for this full-company event, not the least of which being that we have to create a completely new event space out of a part of our office that's used for small impromptu meetings. Our current meeting space is only accessible by a staircase (aka NOT accessible) so we had to be resourceful alongside making sure we won't be too disruptive to people who need to work.

Random Thought: Best Before Dates
Once in a while I am reminded that the world is filled with two types of people:
  1. Those who obey best before dates
  2. Those who take life by the horns (and eat 4-day expired yogurt)
Let me be clear and explain the difference between best before dates and expiry dates - which are not the same, as per the Government of Canada.

A "best-before" date, also known as a durable life date, tells you when the durable life period of a prepackaged food ends. Durable life means the anticipated amount of time that an unopened food product, when stored under appropriate conditions, will retain its freshness, taste, nutritional value, or any other qualities claimed by the manufacturer.

Expiration dates are required only on certain foods that have strict compositional and nutritional specifications which might not be met after the expiration date. Expiration dates must be used on the following products:
  • formulated liquid diets (nutritionally complete diets for people using oral or tube feeding methods)
  • foods represented for use in a very low-energy diet (foods sold only by a pharmacist and only with a written order from a physician)
  • meal replacements (formulated food that, by itself, can replace one or more daily meals)
  • nutritional supplements (food sold or represented as a supplement to a diet that may be inadequate in energy and essential nutrients)
  • human milk substitutes (infant formula)
After the expiration date, the food may not have the same nutrient content declared as on the label. Food should not be bought, sold or eaten if the expiration date has passed. It should be discarded. Aka, don't mess around with expiration dates.

Mock me if you must, but I think best before dates on a lot of food are created through a model of planned obsolescense - the earlier the date, the sooner consumers will have to replenish their supply. Yes, it's one part conspiracy theory and one part eco-minded: I simply cannot stand wasting food. Okay, now that you've had a nice fat chance to judge me, let's look at a line I would never cross.

Even though I poked fun above with yogurt - I actually wouldn't risk dairy products (or meat products) more than a few days past their best before dates. Disclaimer - eat at your own risk! Instead of pushing these rules, I'm getting into a habit of freezing (some) food that I know I won't be able to use before its date. 

But know that there are lines I would never cross. I started to think about my attitude toward best before dates after I watched this video:

Feel free to watch on 2x speed, it's 15min long.

If you ever wanted to know what 60-year-old canned food looks like, know that canned fruit does NOT fare well. Even though the pecans fared quite a bit better than the fried apples, I still wouldn't eat them. 

And on that note...

Inspiration: Mouldy Art
I've been getting into the spirit of food mould as art lately. It seems to be a craze popping up all over - one place being (of course) a Facebook group. I'm beginning to wonder if I'm putting myself further and further out of touch with people my own age with all these groups...but I digress.

Yep, it's a group that celebrates the magical "science experiments" of growth we find on old forgotten food at the backs of our fridges. By the way, a "science experiment" is something my mother would mockingly call one of these back-fridge mishaps or the occasional forgotten lunch container at the bottom of a backpack.

This is my most favouritest post.
The fuzzy mould on queso looks like cute little mice!

I really started to notice the beauty of food mould when I came across lovingly crafted art by Kathleen Ryan:

Ryan creates something beautiful and grotesque in her oversized sculptures of mold-covered fruit. The New York-based artist uses precious and semi-precious stones like malachite, opal, and smoky quartz to form the illusion of mouldy fruit. Made from a foam base at a larger-than-life scale, Ryan paints a simple coloured base and individually places each gemstone. I love the way she uses varied shapes, sizes, and colours to create the shift from delicious to disgusting. Lemons are a common recurring theme of her work, but Ryan also works with oranges and pears. I especially love the peach (below). 

Each work scales 6 to 29 inches. “The sculptures are beautiful and pleasurable, but there’s an ugliness and unease that comes with them,” Ryan told The New York Times.

I have always been drawn to the beautiful science experiments created by food that has long since passed edible and left this material world. The way Ryan is able to capture this spirit with intricate bead and mosaic work is mesmerizing.

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