Thursday, March 19, 2009

Spring is Here, Have Some Canned Chili

All the usual media outlets will call March 20 the "first day of spring," but around here we've sunk back into late winter. Not sure why the equinox has become conflated with a precise beginning of something that has no such precision, but maybe it's because describing the mechanics of the apparent path of the Sun as it crosses the Celestial Equator twice a year is too complicated for TV.

Not sure if this is a sign of spring or not: down the street from us, someone left a banana peel on the sidewalk. Still fairly yellow, just sitting there, waiting to make some low comedy. Maybe somewhere nearby is a webcam feeding into a website called Or maybe not. Google returns just one hit for, an entry on a Delta Air Lines blog (?).

Recession Food: A 15-oz. can of Range Master Chili, no beans, bought recently at Aldi for 59ยข (a serious discount even for Aldi), and eaten even more recently. I can't say it was terrific. No canned chili is terrific, except for Wolf Brand, and that only because of its commercials. But Range Master had an OK flavor, and it didn't make me sick. That's pretty much all I ask from canned chili.

Nothing too unusual in the ingredients: water, beef, modified food starch, tomatoes, chili powder, textured vegetable protein, oatmeal, salt, sugar... oatmeal? For texture, maybe, in case the vegetable protein didn't provide enough. Second-to-last is autolyzed yeast, a term that I had to look up. For a food technology term, it's pretty cool. From "The interaction between salt and live yeast creates a chemical process called autolysis. Autolysis is essentially the self-destruction or self-digestion of an organism by its own enzymes. Salt does not 'kill' yeast as much as it causes the live yeast's digestive enzymes to eat themselves. The result is an inactive yeast with a different concentration of proteins."

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