THE OBSESSION ISSUE
A FOOD AND CULTURE JOURNAL ISSUE â€” 03
In this issue, we explore our unique obsessions with food and drink: what we love, why we love it, and most importantly, how it inevitably consumes us.
Chantal Jahchan LAYOUT DIRECTOR
Noah Baker LAYOUT DIRECTOR
ART DIRECTOR 13
Katie Kim MARKETING
*Simply could not decide Illustration by Francesca Maida
the obsession issue
photography Devon Litteral written by Victoria Albert Max Bash _
letter from the editors
dmit it. You’ve hidden your favorite food from your family at least once. Maybe you hoarded it in your room, or tucked it away in the back of your pantry. Maybe you even forgot about it, and found it again five years later. Hopefully, it wasn’t a tuna fish sandwich that now is making your locker smell more and more like a morgue (true story). In most cases though, you won’t receive the ignominy that followed that particular food obsession. But no matter your food vice, it’s clear that very normal people do very weird things when it comes to their favorite food. Our obsessions promote some strange behaviors, like pressure testing cinnamon toast crunch at three in the morning or sampling every crab rangoon in the St. Louis area (including a crab rangoon donut?!). We’re talking about the type of things that you wouldn’t say until the sixth date, or maybe even after 25 years of marriage. You may be single, but your food obsessions will always be there for you, whether you hide them or not. Nowhere is obsession more evident than on our own campus. Some of us boldly walk into class 15 minutes late, Einstein’s bagel in hand, right in front of the professor—multiple times a week. Some of us have waited twenty-plus minutes in line for a carvery wrap, even when we definitely had places to be. And no matter how hard we try to quit, most of us still find ourselves in BD at 2 am on Saturday, trying to retain drunk composure while waiting for our half and half.
Unsurprisingly, the staff of Simple Syrup is no exception. A few years ago, Max and his dad drove for hours on end until they found the best pizzas in each borough. From beneath the Brooklyn Bridge to a strip mall in Queens, the search was unending. Just last month, Victoria walked five miles in a blizzard to sample the infamous Cronut before leaving New York City. Even with the blizzard, the line stretched the full length of the store. These obsessions are as interesting as they are eccentric. Why do we go to such lengths for our obsessions? Why will we sacrifice almost anything--our sleep, our sanity, even the last few dollars in our bank account—for a simple bite of food? How do we conceptualize our obsessions, and most importantly, how do they control us? We at Simple Syrup want to get the full story. We want to come to terms with our obsessions, regardless of how strange they may be. We want to discover who we are both with them and without them, and explore the relationship between who we are and what we crave. It may not be easy, but it will be worthwhile. If we don’t explore our obsessions, we risk not truly understanding ourselves—and forgetting about another tuna fish sandwich. We feel for you, future users of locker 201—if it hasn’t been permanently closed by the hazmat team already. —Victoria & Max
The Best Kimchi on the Loop isnâ€™t at Seoul Taco
An In-depth review of U-City Grill
From Seed to South City
One Food Forever
20 22 24 29 32 35
The journey from the coffee plant to Sump
A story of potatoes which have been mashed, and pork which has been pulled
Fashion design inspired by food and utensils
Survival on a single substance
Scientific ruminations on breakfast cereal
A poetry triptych
Wit & Wheat
Why I now drink beer named after feline saliva
A tale of casino tricks and triple cherries
on the cover Cereal is the stuff of obsessive devotion. We all grew up with a favorite, even if it was the one our mothers wouldn’t buy for us. For this issue's cover, we wanted to dive into the bowl itself—a milky, savory, cereal-lover’s dream. See page 13 for a look inside the shoot. model Patricia Witt photography Madeline Montoya art direction Chantal Jahchan Noah Baker
The Waiting Game
My Strange Addiction: Crab Rangoon
How to trick your mind into experiencing novelty in food
Buckle up folks, the three Goon Queens have made it to print
What is Simple Syrup?
annie kroll, caitlyn smith & jenna goldstein
Who we are and how to join
an in-depth review of U-City Grill
the obsession issue
written by Matt Gleeson art Noah Baker _
around the corner and removed from the bustle surrounding Fitz’s and Seoul Taco sits U-City Grill, one the oldest and most obscure restaurants on the Loop. After one of my friends recommended it as the best Korean food on Delmar, I decided to give it a try. I walk into U-City Grill with my longboard in hand and backpack slung over my shoulder. The door slams shut behind me and Yong Sup Sim, the restaurant’s owner and sole cook for the past 29 years, doesn’t even look up. All 16 seats are filled except for one in front of the register, so I place my bag and board down next to the entrance and sit down. A faded newspaper clipping from 1992 hangs on the wall, featuring a picture of a much younger Sim beaming at the camera standing next to his wife. U-City Grill serves its homestyle Korean fare in a classic diner, with a large curved counter facing a flat-top grill and sink. The food at U-City Grill more than makes up for the lack of hospitality, as Sim definitely knows how to cook mouthwatering Korean food. The kimchi, presented wordlessly, was the perfect balance of saltiness, sourness and umami, fermented for so long it had a slight carbonation. Next came beef bulgogi, a Korean classic of marinated grilled beef, which came on a plain white ceramic plate alongside white rice and lightly pickled bean sprouts, topped with a fried egg. Perfectly cooked rice mixed with the acidity and sweetness of the bulgogi to yield a taste reminiscent of sushi rice. The sprouts were salty, crispy, and not at all sweet or sour, and the egg was perfectly fried, with a yolk that oozed over the rice when popped. Hospitality here is almost nonexistent, simply consisting of a few head nods of affirmation, alongside the same three curt phrases, the only ones that Sim has
spoken to me over my five visits: ‘What do you want’, ‘OK’, and ‘8.05’. Sim doesn’t speak much, but it's part of his demeanor, not due to a weak grasp of English. The ‘take it or leave it’ atmosphere at U-City Grill stands in stark contrast to the hyper-hospitality that’s recently taken over the restaurant industry. There’s no host or hostess to greet you at the door, no waiter to walk you through every item on the menu and take your order, and no buser to clear your table once you’re finished. While many restaurants try to dress up the fact that they’re charging money for food and an experience, at U-City Grill the customer’s place as a member of a transaction is clear. Sim doesn’t waste any time on formalities, and as a result, he charges surprisingly little money for incredibly delicious and satisfying food. Despite Sim’s detachment, U-City Grill has a sense of intimacy through the various artifacts that decorate its interior. From the ceramic vase clearly made in a child’s pottery class that sits behind the rice cooker to the pictures of Sim’s wife and children that decorate the wall above the cash register, eating at U-City Grill means gaining an intimate look into Yong Sup Sim’s past 30 years of life. The mix of delicious and classic Korean food, Sim’s ambivalence towards hospitality, and the obvious importance of the tiny cafe in this man’s life makes the dining experience at U-City Grill incredibly genuine, and gives a more personal connection between Sim and his customers than feigned modern hospitality ever could. After paying I get up to leave, picking up my backpack and longboard and heading for the door. As it slams shut, I look back inside the restaurant. Yong Sup Sim, already bent over the flat top grill and with his back to the door, doesn’t look up.
From Seed to South City The journey from the coffee plant to Sump
the obsession issue
written by Alicia Chatten illustration Madeleine Underwood _
st. louis has a secret—it’s just as addicted to caffeine as the rest of us. It has been ever since the French introduced it to the city’s first settlers in the early 1800’s. As steamboats took more and more coffee up the Mississippi from New Orleans, its hold on the city grew, and St. Louis became the heart of the American trade. In the 1880's, St. Louis became the headquarters of the National Coffee Association. In the early 20th century, St. Louis was the largest inland distributor of coffee in the United States, which earned it the nickname of “the coffee capital of the United States.” After The Great Depression and World War I, focus fell on national coffee brands and St. Louis lost its limelight. This isn’t to say that all was lost—on the contrary, a strong coffee culture still plays a huge role in the city. In October of 2015 the Missouri History Museum unveiled a coffee exhibit that ran for three months, featuring a travelling exhibit from Seattle and special coffee tastings. Perhaps this surviving culture is why Scott Carey, St. Louis Native, former New York patent attorney, and current owner of Sump Coffee in South City, decided that it was the perfect place to open a coffee shop. His cozy store features an aesthetic that I can only describe as “peak hipster” mixed with steampunk, with iced coffee served in mason jars and pour-over coffee in simple mugs on leather coasters. Beautiful wooden accents color the front counter. Different types of wood make up the tables throughout the store, with the exception of the large table in the back that looks like a giant sheet of studded steel. Yet despite the laid-back vibe, the process behind making Sump’s coffee is anything but casual.
In 2014, they won the America’s Best Espresso competition and have come home with awards from a number of regional competitions (including Midwest America’s Best Espresso). However, the awards are kept in the window in the back near the roaster. They aren’t here to brag about their coffee; instead, they want the experience to speak for itself. Sump houses what Scott describes as “an attempt to present coffee like some people present wine:" not overindulgent, but thoughtful and intentional. He wants to present you with something that will allow you to make discoveries about coffee, try flavors you didn’t know existed, and notice things you probably don’t notice in the Kaldi’s blend you get on campus every day to stay awake. This coffee is about the product itself, not its utility. After explaining his own fascination with the coffee bean, Scott walked me through what it takes to get his product from the Colombian rainforest to a local hipster’s coffee cup. The process starts with the smallest part of the coffee plant: its seed. Like other fruit trees, the coffee bean, or seed, is the pit inside of the coffee fruit. If these seeds aren’t brewed, they can grow into massive trees standing almost twelve feet tall. Due to their ideal climate, equatorial regions are hotspots for coffee farmers; the current menu at Sump boasts roasts from Kenya, Ethiopia, Costa Rica, Peru, and Colombia. Subtropical regions with high altitudes are the other favorite areas, including parts of Mexico, Zimbabwe, and Brazil. Three to four years after the seeds have been planted, coffee cherries—the fruits on the trees—are ready to be harvested. After these cherries have been
processed, dried, and milled, they are exported to the rest of the world. Only 20% of the picked cherries actually make up green coffee, the milled beans that are piled into shipping containers. Most of these are roasted, but green coffee extract is also sold as a health supplement for weight loss. The team at Sump goes through an extensive process to pick out the coffees that they serve. Sometimes, up to 30 cups of samples are tested and just one makes the cut. The vast majority of coffee is roasted by large companies (308 billion beans by Starbucks every year), but small-scale roasting is growing in popularity. Sump roasts their beans in-house to ensure that they capture exactly what they liked (usually a specific flavor note) about the coffee that they picked. If it’s a sample that hasn’t been selected for the menu yet, the team will get together to “cup some coffees.” This is the testing process, where small batches are roasted, ground, brewed and tasted. If a sample has been selected already, it takes 1-3 weeks to get the roast just right. The team tries to highlight the reason they picked the coffee in the first place; to emphasize a certain fruity note that they noticed, perhaps, and always to highlight the individuality of the coffee. This is why most of Sump’s coffees are roasted on the lighter end of the spectrum - to allow the real flavor of the coffee to shine through before the bitterness of the roasting process takes over. After the coffee has been selected for the menu and roasted to the team’s satisfaction, it is placed on the paper menu on the front counter. It will remain there for the next 2-4 months before it is cycled out for a more seasonal bean. For the more thrill-seeking audiences, there are smaller-batch coffees that last a few weeks at most, and seasonal items like summer specials made in collaboration with other local businesses. One such special is the chocolate iced latte, made with whole chocolate milk from Ozark Mountain Creamery, the one exception to the usually available additives. Raw sugar, whole milk, and soy milk being the only additives available. Sump doesn’t use any syrups or trendy types of milk, so as not to mask too much of the coffee’s natural flavor.
The menu at Sump resembles a subway map, guiding you through the types of coffee that they offer so that you can stop where you like. Take the red line to discover brewed coffees and espressos, the blue for iced drinks. A black line divides both, keeping drinks with milk on one side. A list of the whole beans that they sell, which comes from the beans that are being served, is featured on top. If the menu has changed recently, the barista will walk customers through the new additions. Baristas often have to explain to newcomers why you can’t order “just a coffee”, but are also happy to walk anyone through the flavors you can expect from each of the coffees on the menu. They don’t sell food with the exception of a few small pastries, including some from local St. Louis shop Vincent Van Doughnuts. There’s a reason that Sump keeps their style “coffee-centric”. We often take for granted the coffee that ends up in our mugs every morning, but the extremely long chain in the process is extremely complicated and labor-intensive. We don’t often think about the farmers in the mountainous regions of Costa Rica or the flatter plantations of Brazil, who work long and hard to grow what ends up in our cups. The farmers themselves often don’t get to appreciate the best that their coffee has to offer, which is why Sump wants to make sure they present it at its best. If you can’t taste the original flavor of the coffee, you can’t learn from it, and Scott wants his customers not only to learn about coffee but “about what they like about coffee”. This is why Sump only serves single-origin coffees—never blends—in order to highlight the subtle differences in the coffee that come from the regions it’s grown in. Sump contributes something unique to the broader voice of the coffee scene with its “coffee-centric” philosophy. Here, you can find the brighter, more floral flavor of African coffees or the smooth, chocolatey, earthy flavor of coffee from Central or South America. You won’t find a Double Chocolaty Chip Frappuccino or a cinnamon chai tea latte, but the thoughtful and intentional presentation will help you think about what you’re drinking, to discover something about the breadth of what real coffee can be.
the obsession issue march 24, 2017
A story of potatoes which have been mashed, and pork which has been pulled
the obsession issue
written by Desi Isaacson illustration Dana Citrin
recently watched the 2015 movie, “Burnt” starring Bradley Cooper as Adam Jones, a washed-up chef trying to start a new restaurant and earn three Michelin stars, and found three major takeaways. First, Brad has the most incredible, piercing blue eyes (but we all already knew that). Second, this movie shouldn’t be watched without a lot of snacks, because the food in it looks incredible. And most importantly—although Cooper’s eyes are pretty damn important—the Michelin Men have some really odd techniques for evaluating restaurant quality. I didn’t know anything about the high-brow Michelin restaurant guide until I came across this movie, which ironically, has a rotten tomatoes rating of 30%. But the Michelin restaurant guide is THE premier restaurant guide in the world. Each restaurant is rated on a 1-3 star system. Only the best of the best, and I mean the absolute best, even get into the guide, and very few earn even one star. If you get one star, you are impressive—only 77 restaurants in New York held one in 2016. If you get three, then your food probably isn’t even really food anymore, it’s some material accidentally dropped down from the heavens that happens to be edible.
NO ONE KNOWS WHO THEY ARE
Above is a $90.55 bite of eel, with some other stuff that may or may not be edible (your risk) around it. I really don’t know. And yes, many of these restaurants are the ones you despise with the tiny little portions that take one bite to eat and cost $37. And yes, this is the same Michelin that manufactured the tires on your car and has the peculiar puffy mascot. Weird, I know. Michelin began the guidebook in 1900 where they would give information on restaurants and hotels in hopes of getting more people out on the road, and thus buy more tires. The book has lasted for over one hundred years, and now leads the restaurant-rating industry.
Head chefs obsess over their Michelin reviews every year, and some have even been rumored to kill themselves because the pressure was too great. Getting a Michelin star is no joke, but trying to keep them once earned can drive chefs over the edge. In 2016, Benoit Violer, the head chef of a 3 star Swiss restaurant, committed suicide, which many attributed to the stress of the Michelin system. Thirteen years earlier, Bernard Loiseau committed suicide when critics speculated that his restaurant could lose their coveted third star. In “Burnt,” Adam Jones’ (Cooper) maître d'hôtel (which is basically just the head waiter or host)tells the staff of Jones’ new restaurant how to spot a Michelin Man: “No one knows who they are. No one. They come. They eat. They go. But they have habits. One orders the tasting menu, the other orders a la carte. Always. They order a half a bottle of wine. They ask for tap water. They are polite. But attention! They may place a fork on the floor to see if you notice.” He also mentions
later that one always shows up before the other and sits at the bar. Now if you Google it like I did, you will find that this isn’t totally accurate. But the depiction of Michelin Men was closer to truth than you may actually expect. So I wondered, what would happen if the Michelin Men showed up to say, Ibby’s? Mission Taco? The only cities in the U.S. with Michelin rated restaurants are New York, Chicago, Washington D.C. and the Bay area, so no one is showing up in St. Louis anytime soon. I decided that if no one else was going to do it, it must be me. I will be the St. Louis Michelin Man. Very little is released about what the star ratings are based on. Michelin inspectors are not allowed to disclose their profession, even to their parents, and they definitely aren’t allowed to talk to journalists. So for my own experiment, I made the first priority the food (as I would hope Michelin’s would) the second the service, and the third a combination of décor, mood, and reputation.
the michelin star Coveted by many but bestowed only upon an excellent few. —
"A very good restaurant in this category."
"Excellent cooking, worth a detour."
"Exceptional cuisine, worth a special journey."
Sourced from "The Michelin Guide: 100 editions and over a century of history"
the obsession issue
THE STATUS IS THE REAL REASON FOR GOING ibby’s:
I brought my friend to Ibby’s for dinner in an attempt to emulate the two-person team of Michelin Men. One is supposed to show up before the other and sit at the bar. Ibby’s doesn’t let you into the restaurant until each member of the party has arrived, so scratch that. Neither of us were over 21, so the whole ordering wine part didn’t really work out either. I placed my fork gently on the floor next to my chair. The girl at the table next to me looked at me funny, but my waitress never noticed it, even when I asked for a new fork. For a restaurant that differentiates themselves from the other campus dining options by having waiters, not noticing the fork matters. Ibby’s doesn’t exactly have a tasting or a la carte menu, but they do have a buffet—which is just as good in my book! I got the buffet while my fellow Michelin Man ordered off the menu. The buffet consisted of macaroni with cheese (saying mac n cheese is below the status of a legitimate Michelin Man), potatoes which had been properly mashed, and pork which had been delicately pulled. I chose the special “Ibbys barbeque sauce” to go with my pork, which I still believe to have been the correct choice. The pork was surprisingly soft, with none of those awful chewy bits. The macaroni with cheese had bread crumbs on the top,
which mixed in perfectly for the exact right amount of crunch, while not overpowering the cheese. My fellow Michelin Man ordered the smoked brisket French dip, which he allowed me to try, but only after I begged for it (and reminded him that I was paying for his meal). He said it was “solid,” and that I should rate it a 7 out of 10. I told him that’s not how Michelin reviews work, but he didn’t seem to care much, which was not particularly professional of him. The brisket itself was pretty good, but the bread it came on was subpar, a bit too crunchy at some parts. The French dip was respectable, I’ve had better, but I’ve definitely had worse. The reputation of the restaurant is what sets it apart from other on-campus dining options. The status you receive from dining at Ibby’s is the real reason for going. The greatest similarity between Ibby’s and a real Michelin rated restaurant is that people brag about how hard it is to get a reservation. Final verdict: 2 stars. Ibby’s’ food is above average, but not incredible. The second star really comes from the reputation, and the ridiculous fact that a restaurant serving a $13 burger exists on a college campus.
NO, THEY DIDN'T NOTICE THE FORK, mission taco
This may have gotten a better rating strictly because my friend owed me so he paid for my meal. Food always tastes better when its free. I got there before my friend, and sat at the bar (the very edge because I don’t think I was supposed to be there) and watched ESPN until he showed up. Once again, there was only one menu to choose from, meaning that tasting and a la carte was out of the question. And again, we weren’t allowed any alcohol. But we did get tap water, so I felt like we were 50/50 at this point. After our drinks came, I got up to use the bathroom, and slyly slid my fork onto the ground. This was exceedingly difficult as all the tables in Mission Taco are high-tops, so the area the fork had to travel from the top of the table to the floor was extreme. This part of the experiment feels a little unfair for a taco place where they aren’t really worried about silverware, but nonetheless my waiter didn’t notice the fork the entire meal! I set a stopwatch this time to see exactly how long it would take. I actually forgot about it until I started writing this, and now it’s been over 7 hours and they probably still haven’t noticed. If you check under the table in the back left corner, I bet you’ll still find it. Besides his clear lack of eyesight, our waiter was very polite, although with such a spicy meal he was a bit slow with refilling my water. My fellow Michelin Man ordered chips and salsa to start. This comes with both a spicy and mild salsa, which gets bonus points
out of me. The salsa was smooth, not chunky at all, which I know is up to personal preference, but that’s the way I like it, and I’m the one pretending to be a Michelin Man. We each got three tacos. The first was a “carne asada” with flank steak, baby arugula, queso fresco, and an avocado serrano sauce. The steak was cooked as close to perfection as a taco joint is ever going to get. The serrano sauce was spicy, but not overpowering. I regret not having gotten a second one of these. I tried to steal my fellow Michelin Man’s, but he was too quick. Next we tried the “Baja Fish” which includes grilled or fried fish, chipotle baja sauce, shredded cabbage, pico de gallo, and queso fresco. After the last taco I didn’t think any other could compare. I was wrong. Michelin Men can be wrong sometimes. I went fried because it tastes better. As Anthony Bourdain said, “Your body is not a temple, it's an amusement park. Enjoy the ride.” Again the sauce had a hint of spice, but it was mellowed out by the cabbage, and the crunch of the breading was just enough. The third taco was called “Mango-Hop-Anero Shrimp” (because they think they are clever over at Mission Taco) and consisted of “4 Hands Incarnation IPA (does this count instead of the wine?) battered shrimp,” red cabbage slaw, fresh mango salsa, smashed avocado, and “Mango-Hop-Anero” aioli. My fellow Michelin Man described it as “a surprisingly tropical
the obsession issue
kind of a flavor—lots of fresh, juicy fruit and not a ton of shrimp.” This could be taken as a good or bad thing, but we both loved it. (Editor’s note: this is the best fucking taco on the planet) The interior of the restaurant felt beachy and mellow, like they didn’t take themselves too seriously. A laid back Michelin Man like myself can appreciate that. The final Verdict: 3 stars. No, they didn’t notice the fork, but they serve tacos so that doesn’t matter much. The food was fantastic and the price wasn’t too bad, which is appreciated by a college aged Michelin Man. To recap, two things earned 3 stars during my stint as a Michelin Man: Mission Taco, and, of course, Bradley Cooper’s breathtaking eyes. To recap, don’t watch “Burnt” without some snacks. Try to stay humble when you get a reservation at Ibby’s, and make sure to explore both of my three-star recommendations: Mission Taco, and of course, Bradley Cooper’s breathtaking eyes.
BUT THEY SERVE TACOS SO THAT DOESN'T MATTER MUCH
THE POPCORN DRESS â€“ mandy abend
The inspiration for this piece came from the idea of fashion as a means of personal transformation. Thus, I was particularly inspired by the way popcorn kernels tranform when exposed to heat. The shape of this avante-garde garment is intended to visually transform the wearerâ€™s body by exaggerating her left hipbone.
THE PLASTIC CUTLERY DRESS
This dress is made entirely from plastic cutlery. The bodice is created from a mosaic of broken spoons, while the skirt is composed entirely of plastic forks. It is fully wearable and features a rear zipper closure. This dress appeared in an advertising photoshoot for Kenneth Wildes Salon in Boston, MA.
Survival on a single substance
ONE FOOD written by Payton Fors _
in the classic “stranded on a desert island” scenario, you often have to choose some obscenely small number of items to keep yourself sane in the middle of, say, the Pacific Ocean. Family pictures, axes, rope, water purifiers, Bibles, Qur’ans, Rigvedas, and the like may come to mind as vital items. It would be incredibly difficult to survive with few materials, but indeed it is possible (assuming you know how to start a fire or actually hunt for food). Let’s modify that age-old question. Say you were stranded on a desert island and could only bring one food with you to survive on. Could you do it? While most evidence supports a varied diet, we want to know if a single-item diet could still be feasible. For the sake of simplicity (and page space), we will eliminate manmade food products, like protein bars and nutrition shakes. Too many variables. Besides, such creations are arguably not “real” foods (it depends on the nutritional guru you seek for an answer). We focus here on foods with minimal human interference and the shorter prairie-to-plate journeys. The general 2,000-calorie metric is applied on each provision as a way to standardize comparison, and to give you a taste of what an all-in diet would look like.
Maybe the answer lies within the most stereotypically dreaded food group: vegetables. Were the incessant reminders by our mothers to eat our veggies more serious than we realized. Let's take a closer look at broccoli’s nutritional data. Allegedly broccoli is the most nutritious vegetable on earth. If a person ate 2,000 calories worth of raw, crunchy broccoli, they would take in more than a sufficient amount of protein, carbohydrates, and almost every other nutrient, with the exception of b12. There is one big catch: to cram in 2,000 calories, you have to chew up about 59 cups of broccoli. Besides, being so nutrient rich means that a person gets much, much more of most vitamins than necessary, leading to overconsumption issues. We won’t even mention the inevitable, wicked gastrointestinal issues that come with 158.3 grams of fiber (for reference, the average adult needs about 25 grams). Thus, being stranded with only a vegetable to eat is just as discomforting as it sounds. Many people have brought up the case of the potato. The Irish seemed to largely subsist off of potatoes until the 1845-49 famine. Potatoes are filling, and have a rather high amount of protein compared to your average starchy food. Sweet potatoes have even more
salient benefits, as they contain a great amount of vitamins A and C, as well as iron and calcium. The catch is the protein. 2,000 calories of potatoes (about twelve and a quarter medium-sized potatoes) may give you 53 grams of protein, but not all the essential amino acids are included. Without adequate amounts of all amino acids, your fingernails could get soft, and your muscles (including your organs like your heart, kidneys, and lungs) could shrink up. Maybe spuds are not so super. Let’s consider fruits instead. If you were to follow monkeys’ examples and go bananas, you would think that they had a great source of carbohydrates and sugar on their hands. Apply the 2,000-calorie metric, however, and your pancreas gets smacked with about 274 grams of sugar. Also, nineteen 7-8 inch bananas worth of potassium possibly gives a person hyperkalemia, which leads to irregular heartbeat, which can lead to cardiac arrest on your deserted island. The conclusion: if you are what you eat, you would definitely be bananas to only eat bananas. Drop the vegetarian game, then. Go full carnivore. Make it an eat-or-be-eaten survival scenario. Could it work? You get all the amino acids and possibly plenty of fats (if you choose the right meat source). It sounds
pretty hardcore, too. Could you last on about 60 ounces of steak a day? Well, your brain would function at an impaired level in a relatively short period of time. Also, without carbohydrates your body cannibalizes fats and protein and eats itself. Gross. As a bonus, a complete lack of vitamin C leads to scurvy within a matter of weeks. A person with scurvy becomes lethargic, loses teeth, and gets covered in sores. Again, gross. The one possible shot you’d have on your sunny, sandy island would be human milk. Consider it: what were you snacking on as an infant? Fermented milk, if human milk is unavailable, would be especially good for your digestive tract (think yogurt). Yet, you were weaned for a reason: adults need amounts of protein, iron and other substances that human milk just won’t give enough of. 11.6 cups—or about 93 ounces—of milk sounds like too much to swallow. So, for now it seems that there truly is not one single food item that could give you long-term success. It also remains unclear as to how you would get enough of one particular food onto a deserted island; but, to be fair, we never even figured out how you got stranded in the first place.
written by Nick Fierro illustration Maddy Mueller _
In true me fashion, I’m sweating and shifting, anxiously awaiting judgment for something that shouldn’t matter. I rehearse in my head in anticipation of her inevitable question. I’m conducting research for an article. That sounds pretentious. I’m an ‘enthusiast.’ Makes me sound like a cult member. “Why are you buying so much cereal?” the middle-aged cashier asks sweetly as she scans box #8. I blurt out what first comes to mind. “I’m going through a breakup.”
It’s not entirely false. Indeed, I treat my emotional pain with sugar and grain—last semester, I mourned my abysmal performance on my neuro final with seven bowls of Frankenberry. But, conversely, breakfast cereal has also been my time-tested tool for celebration: to commemorate my twentieth birthday, I treated myself to a month’s supply of Krave (it lasted a week). Since starting college, however, I’ve allotted myself a bare-bones weekly budget for cereal, which invariably goes to Hy-Top's economical knock-offs of ‘honey loops,’ ‘corn squares,’ and the occasional ‘mouth-sized sweetened wheat pillows.’ My path is well-tread, but paved with sadness and meager savings. So it’s a rare day that I get to spend investigating the sugary marvels—some would call them ‘atrocities’—that adorn these modern-day shelves. Those who know me well understand that I take my cereal seriously. As a subject of my interest, it ranks fourth, behind used bookstores, large dogs, and obscure anime trivia. I’m no actor, but as a scientist, writer, and breakfast aficionado, I’m as method as it gets. Therefore, to better understand why I’m so drawn to cereal, I immersed myself in the holy land of box tops, mascots, and buried plastic toys: Aisle 6 of the local Schnucks.
Like so many of my generation, I was exposed to cereal at a very young age. And, like the other trappings of youth—trading card games, R-rated movies, love—you never forget your first. It takes a hold of you and never lets you go, and every experience in your life from then on may as well be footnotes. They were Kix. Small. Beige. Round. Consistent. A sign of security in a tumultuous time. And lightly sweetened to make them more palatable. When I last ate it some years ago, it triggered what could best be called a Proustian episode: the taste was the same—that of the elusive sweetness. Before school in my pajamas, I went downstairs to greet my family at the table; my mother used to pour for me, first in my bowl and then my brother’s. We joked about it at the table; ‘Kix,’ we’d say, ‘sounds like kicks.’ And we’ d bash each other in the shins. Sadly, my encounter with the rebranded Kix is not a happy reunion. Gone is
What has me puzzled is its performance as compared to its Frosted and Honey Nut counterparts, which each powdered at half the height. I speculate that the added sugar’s crystallization is a factor in their brittleness. Upon impact testing the other varieties at my disposal, my hypothesis is validated; of the four Flavor Profiles (Fruit, Grain, Spice, Sugar), those in the sugar category break the second most easily (M = 6.94, n = 9).
the vibrant orange box with the playfully skewed lettering; in its place is a tired, yellowing façade plastered with an unnatural corn cob made of the cereal. I can’t help but feel like a part of me has died. I’m spending my Friday night lugging home seventeen boxes of cereal in a duffel bag, grouped by flavor. In the back is the cinnamon caucus: Cinnamon Life, Cinnamon Toast Crunch, and Cinnabon Swirls. Then come the breakfast staple knock-offs: Waffle Crisp, Blueberry Tiny Toast, and Cap’n Crunch Sprinkled Donuts. The vaguely healthy cereals come next, with Cracklin’ Oat Bran and Grape-Nuts. I hold my one true love, Honey Bunches of Oats (with Pecan and Maple Brown Sugar), close to my side. Rounding out the bunch is a General Mills sampler pack, with Lucky Charms, Cocoa Puffs, Cheerios (Plain, Frosted, Honey Nut), Trix, and Golden Grahams. These are my test subjects. As usual, I’m paranoid as hell. If I get mugged, I’ll have some explaining to do.
I quickly realize the Hy-Top diet has turned me into an uninformed grouch. Cap’n Crunch has expanded his fleet to consume all corners of the market. I speculate that the day Trix became spherical signaled the end of America. Grape Nuts isn’t the whimsical box of clusters I loved, but a haunting reminder of the Bristol Stool Chart. Every box comes with a chance to win an Xbox—but, regrettably, no defibrillator. And marshmallows, I conclude, are just a cheap tactic to make weak cereals stronger. “This Fruit Frenzy mascot looks outta wack,” I say to my companion. There’s something to these offbrand store mascots— in this case, a slobbery blue gremlin with sunglasses and a rainbow mohawk—that has me reeling. “You look outta wack,” he replies. He’s not wrong.
“What exactly are you gonna do with all that cereal?” my roommate asks. “Besides eat it?” I lovingly arrange my boxes in a pyramid on my desk. “I’m going to run a series of intensive tests on them. Real metrics. Stress. Taste. Flammability. Stuff like that.” “You’re crazy,” he says. “If you took the energy you put into cereal and put it towards decreasing the effects of global warming, the world would be a better place.” “Yeah,” I retort, “but cereal’s fucking boss.” It’s a brisk Saturday evening. My chances of having a sociable, fun-filled night are dwindling to new lows. Instead, I’m hunched over a plain Cheerio that I’ve taped to the floor. On my cue, my companion drops a textbook on it from five inches. It’s pulverized--a fitting end for the blandest Cheerio, which I maintain is the club soda of cereal—a useful mixer for flashier flavors, but a depressing solo act.
It’s nearing three on a Tuesday morning, and I can’t sleep. Naturally, my solution is to set corn flakes aflame. The test is simple—seconds required to ignite a piece of cereal with a match. Unsurprisingly, the sugar-coated pieces take
the obsession issue
I’m spending my Friday night lugging home seventeen boxes of cereal in a duffel bag.
As usual, I'm paranoid as hell. If I get mugged, I'll have some explaining to do.
the longest (M = 17.56, n = 9). What’s more, they taste terrible charred; ironically, Tiny Toast is the worst among them. I conclude that the sugar creates a protective layer. Later, I run an analysis on mascot type and flame resistance. It reveals that the most vulnerable pieces are those with cartoon mascots (M = 13.45, n = 8). I conclude that all the Gnommish magic in the world can't save Snap, Crackle, and Pop from sizzling in the heat. I’m puzzled to find, however, that there’s hardly any relationship between structural integrity and ignition time (r2 = -0.042). Upon a second round of testing, which involves a blowtorch, I’m dismayed to find no change apart from a scorched skillet. With each night that passes, my experiments become more and more extreme, and I get less and less
sleep. And I’m no closer to answering the great questions of cereal research. My conclusion: I’m slowly losing my grip on reality. After some shelf (and soul) searching I manage to track down the ‘healthy’ cereals. Kashi GoLean Crunch. Special K. Two Moms in the Raw (the cereal, not the adult film) They’re sequestered in the corner like an awkward third grader at the lunch table. If the crystalline clusters and flakes are ‘what the kids are into,’ I shudder to think what older folks eat. My dad eats Joe’s O’s (the impossibly dry Cheerios knock-off), and my mother eats oatmeal, so it’s likely these ‘health’ cereals aren’t meant for my parents. No--these health-kick cereals, which slowly creep and overwhelm the shelf space like a lichen grove--are marketed towards the organic-shopping, chai bubble
“The truth is, all of us look forward to cereal for excitement and fun. Deep down, everyone really is cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs.” –Chuck McGann, voice of Sonny Cuckoo Bird
but it’s hardly a letdown. In my often-drunken investigations, I came to better understand why we’re so obsessed with cereal. They’re a reflection of what was once promised. Toys and sweepstakes are the key to something better. Cartoon mascots are everlasting, though hardly fireproof, guardians to our childhoods. Celebrity endorsements and movie tie-ins blur the line between cravings and commercials, and compel us to buy the shiniest box. Name brands dominate the game, leaving the often-identical store brands in the sugary dust, blinding us to the fact that the best things in life aren’t always plain to see. And everything has fucking marshmallows. Cereal is sweet, but I am bitter. Perhaps I need a new hobby.
tea-drinking, man-bun-and-nose-ring hipster demographic, leaving well-intentioned, mainstream cereal connoisseurs in the sugary dust. Our nation has never been more divided. The night after the flame test, I hit rock bottom: to make the bland Cheerios more palatable, I submerge them in a college-ready cocktail of Natural Light and Jim Beam then microwave it to infuse the flavors. “Radical questions call for radical measures,” I insist, wild-eyed, when my roommate finds me hunched over the potent sludge with a spoon poised at my lips. Finally, I give in and taste it. It’s the vilest thing I’ve ever tasted, and at last I decide I’ve had enough of ‘radical questions’ for some time. Despite all my research, I can’t objectively determine which cereal is best, or healthiest, or tastiest—
I. Seascape for W.H. Auden and Anthony Bourdain
What is trite is to speak, of sunshine and fried batter, of many things at once. Spindrift as powdered sugar as surrealist metaphor for love as time nudges toward sum: speak of anything at all: I am a hamster, running nowhere at all, to arrive at Point Pleasant to dine with my grandparents again, to sneak the fritters, take them sub-tabular with Grandmother. The give-away of this gluttony: steam upon the whiskers of her chin. The sea roils beneath these memories of boardwalk dinners, frothed white like the milk she stirred while he slept, precious moments of technicolor television glow, the oceanâ€™s enormity, endlessness: constancy aside the smell of minted fudge and what must remain delicate.
written by Nicholas Politan lettering Chantal Jahchan
II. Jelly for Marianne Moore and Giada De Laurentiis
Early, it was the two of us, dodging kitchen sunlight to keep cold, lest we sweat into the glaze
I’d stay in bed to avoid time alone with Grandpa, afraid as I was, no reason he’d given me to be, simply fear was what came easiest to me:
of our doughnuts, jellied, hearts of cream, before more were to join, cakes crumbling, powder could not
childish, I was a child, excusable then, not now, so how can I look back in my waking dreams of him,
stain the rented hardwood dining table. The great man had gone out early, sunk into the leather driving seat, before the day opened, cleansed, clean of the shore’s early
and not find regret? The selfish ache of indulgence, gorging on memory like doughnuts at a table, none the which was, or is, or will be,
morning bands: auburn and purple, crimson sun. He was alone, fried dough tossed into a paper bag, ruffled, exchanged at dawn
mine, all the while tasting nothing but jam, jelly, dough, warm morning bites, chewing off the whole of memory:
for communal sweetness. I was earliest to rise, of the kids. Sand, I soon realized, sounded like the pit of a plum, when bit upon, by a molar,
certainly it all sticks.
the incongruence of hard upon hard, something had to give… so, sweets sufficed as something, giving meaning to waking: pastries had truly been wrapped in the newspaper he read. But still, something sticks, stuck, to the underside of my gums, he had mitts for hands and wore bucket hats. In truth, the delicacies became annoying. My hands were sticky, could never get the sugar off them.
III. Wind and Trees for Paul Muldoon and Emeril
There is always weather where we live these summers, clouds, and skies happening, just ask the air, and she will answer with smoked meats, burnt potato skins, salted haze of afternoons re-made. The better part of a decade, these years have been false-starts stuttered attempts at dawn, in smelling something new, tasting something sweet, tasting something at all: the coffee machine, overrun with ants, was new. One afternoon, spoiled with booze, Dad and I sat on the porch, gazed over the ocean, sky, sand, all blue: we heard – there’s my bird, Dad said – the bird, making its noise, three small squeaks and silence. Then the wind carrying rain and smoke.
written by Abbey Maxbauer illustration Amanda Im _
the obsession issue
Why I now drink beer named after feline saliva —
"i'm just a jackass," founder, owner, head brewer, and self-described janitor at 2nd Shift Brewing Steve Crider explains, when asked what role humor has played in the branding of his operation. There are certain elements of running his own business which Steve seems incapable of taking too seriously, such as the creation of a Twitter bio for the brewery. The description currently reads, “We are an artisanal craft brewery that handcrafts artisanal beers in an artisanal handcrafted way that is artisanal and crafted very handcraftedly...artisanal.” It’s not succinct, but it’s also not wrong.
If you haven’t heard of 2nd Shift yet, that’s only because the operation just relocated to The Hill in December—Crider and his team were previously operating out of New Haven, Missouri, which is about an hour drive from the new location. And like many craft breweries, it wasn’t so long ago that 2nd Shift was operating namelessly out of the brewer’s home—Steve Crider got started after receiving a brew kit from his mom for Christmas several years back. When I asked Crider why they chose The Hill for the new location, he explained that the space was more of a deciding factor than the neighborhood. “The place had 95% of what we needed, from the right price to the drains in the floor.” Crider admits that the missing 5% perhaps had to do with the appearance of the place; the converted warehouse doesn’t quite have the rustic charm of Urban Chestnut’s bierhall just yet. I’m willing to forgive the aesthetic disparity thanks to the delicious beer, the impressive stockpile of board games available to brewery patrons, and, most importantly, the omnipresent brewery cat. Crider explains the origin of the name “Cat Spit Stout”—one of 2nd Shift’s better-known seasonal beers. “Oh yeah, we have a cat here. Where is the fatso? When I was working on that stout I found him with his head in my bucket of grain, eating it. That’s where the name comes from." A few moments later, a paunchy orange feline stalks by, head obscured by a white plastic cone. The brewery mascot’s name? “Well, I call him fatfuck, but I don’t know if you can print that. I think, in the vet records, his name is Sunny.” Paunchy cat included, the 2nd Shift team sees itself as a family, and they see the whole of the St. Louis beer community as a close-knit, friendly neighborhood. Interconnectivity is at the center of their operation; Steve also expressed his affection for the way
The Hill treats every neighborhood event like a big, fun block party. Online, 2nd Shift can be seen cracking jokes and exchanging compliments with Civil Life, 4 Hands, Perennial, Schlafly, Narrow Gauge, and Urban Chestnut via Twitter. According to Steve, everyone in the St. Louis beer scene is generous with their time, beer, and surplus ingredients. He clarifies that inter-brewery familial vibes exist elsewhere, but that the hop-driven ties are especially strong in the 314. The friendly brew community in St. Louis is partially what’s brought me to 2nd Shift in the first place. I’ve never gone to a St. Louis brewery without being taken care of warmly, my amateur questions are always answered. The first time I go to the 2nd Shift tasting room, I start with a Liquid Spiritual Delight, opting to twist my tongue around the full name of the beer as I order, rather than embrace its tongue-incheek acronym. I’m a fan of dark beers, the richer the better, and I am not disappointed by this decadent, chocolatey imperial stout. If you aren’t a stout fiend like me and you’re wondering which 2nd Shift brew to start with, I recommend reading some of the carefully-worded beer descriptions online. Case in point, the tasting notes provided for 2nd Shift’s Hibiscus Wit Ale: “Tart and refreshing, with a hint of fart.” So maybe that doesn’t tell you everything you need to know. But Steve Crider’s advice? “Just always try a new beer — don’t be scared.” If you want to get your hands on some handcrafted artisanal handcraftedly artisanal beers, head straight to the source at 1601 Sublette Ave in The Hill. Or, grab your fix closer to home at United Provisions, Cicero’s, Schnucks, or Parker’s Table.
the obsession issue
A tale of casino tricks and triple cherries
written by Neil Stein illustration Patricia Witt _
IT’S IN SHAKOPEE, MINNESOTA. Across from me on the main floor of Mystic Lake Resort and Casino, the last few stragglers drunk from a night of partying in the big city file out and head upstairs. They get scoffs and casual sideways glances from the casino veterans for their weak endurance. “They’re always one pull away from the big time” repeats the inveterate casino-goer next to me, well through his second pack of cigarettes of the night. He hasn’t moved from his seat for two and a half hours, acting as our placemarker as we wander through the maze of machine with bright lights and sounds, sending Chinese dragons, green haired mermaids, and cartoon lemons dancing across their overpoweringly bright LED screens. We watch with an even mixture of revulsion and amazement at the people who stay stationary for hours, staring longingly, waiting for the big payout to come. It was always the slot machines where you’d see the most people glued to their screens, like flies into amber, waiting expectantly through the night for the right combo. First created in 1891 in Brooklyn, New York, the original slot machine was designed to simulate a five-card hand of poker. Each dial displayed
the traditional faces of playing cards, and to win one would simply have to roll a winning poker hand. A spin cost only one nickel then, and the game quickly became popular in bars across New York. Originally, it was easy—the odds were about one in four that there would be a payout. The slot machines took their modern form shortly after New York and other East Coast states prohibited gambling in the early 20th century. In the proud tradition of New Yorkers skirting the rules, the BellFruit Gum Company immediately leapt into the void created by these new regulations and created a gambling machine that paid out in fruit flavored gum. The iconic Triple Cherries came from this early machine, as it was the most popular fruit gum flavor with the greatest payout. Although the machine also featured lemons, grapes, and other popular flavors of the day, the cherry is the only fruit symbol that persisted. During the prohibition era, the triple cherries became embedded into American society as a symbol of the counterculture. Heavily reliant on unregulated and occasionally dangerous bitter alcohols, Prohibition mixologists depended on sweetened cherries to
the obsession issue
mask the bitterness, creating drinks like the ever-iconic Manhattan to be enjoyed in hidden speakeasies. As casinos adapted new games and technologies, the cherry’s impressive cultural power wasn’t forgotten. When the first video slot machines were introduced in Las Vegas in 1976, the Fortune Coin Co. installed them throughout the Vegas Strip and kept the Triple Cherry as the jackpot. However, Fortune Coin’s reasoning may not have been purely sentimental. A 2005 paper published by the International Journal of Mental Health and Addiction describes the pronounced mental association between cherries, sex, and sweetness that has been cemented into American culture ever since Audrey Horne famously tied a cherry stem into a knot in her mouth in the 1990’s cult drama Twin Peaks. Furthermore, a 1982 article in Current Psychology outlined how gamblers exposed to different color of lighting are more likely to keep playing. The article notes that red lights both provide contrast and promote arousal, tempting the player to spin a few extra times before conceding defeat. The most famous cherries in most people’s lives, maraschino cherries, are bright red, super sweet fruits suspended in bright red liquid. It’s Psychology 101. Another critical element of using fruit symbols is the “Suspension of Judgement” principle. When the machines pay out in fruit, it removes real consequences and prices from the decision-making process. In most modern casinos, players use magnetized cards and receipts to track the amount of money they have earned (or more likely lost). As soon as cash is
When the machines pay out in fruit, it removes real consequences and prices from the decision-making process.
put into the machine, the values usually get converted into points, tokens, or arbitrary icons like cherries that psychologically create a partition in the mind of the player between the cost and the consequences of their actions. When you see a cherry in a grocery store or on top of a sundae, your first instinct might not be to think of the slots or the addicted gamblers that frequent them. But cherries hold a special place in collective casino culture. Modern casinos use this symbol to a nefarious perfection, convincing gamblers to trade away their lives and incomes for the jackpot that will always come on the next pull. I’m not a gambling man (anymore, that is), but I’m willing to bet that if I return to Mystic Lake tonight I’ll find the same people staring desperately at the screens, waiting to find their bright red icons amidst a sea of spinning figures and praying for that elusive triple cherry moment.
The Waiting Game
How to trick your mind into experiencing novelty in food
the obsession issue
written by Briana Belfiore illustration Katie Heider _
we love food right? You do, I do. That’s why you’re reading this right now. This magazine—about food (as well as many other things, but mostly food)—is what caught your eye and now your attention. Have you ever thought: how can I increase my love of food? Have you become somewhat bored or feel monotonous eating the same thing in the DUC, or trekking to Holmes in hopes of some new carvery? What about during the weekend when you and your friends are deciding on places to eat, mulling over your options until you all eventually decide to get Seoul Taco-a fan favorite, but hardly anything new. I know what you’re thinking: “Hey, this article will tell me some cool and exciting new places to eat in St. Louis!”, but I am here to tell you there is a much more cost effective and simpler option right under your nose. Wait. Let me explain. I too was confused by how simply being more patient and conservative with my eating habits could actually make me love food even more, but a few psychological studies changed my mind. In my positive psychology class, one of the topics we talk about frequently is the idea of hedonic adaptation. This phenomenon refers to the tendency humans have to return to relatively stable levels of happiness after major positive or negative events. There are ways to combat this adaptation, however. Our speed of adaptation to something—this could be an event, an action, a practice—is affected by our attention to it. We adapt less quickly to changing and dynamic conditions, and more quickly to something we are exposed to often. So, if we want to dull our adaptation to something, we must not engage in it often. If we want to adapt to something quicker, we should engage in it often and set a schedule with very little variation. But what does this have to do with food? My professor gave an example of experiments in which psychologists tested the idea of fighting hedonic adaptation. One of these studies split participants into
two groups, Group A and Group B, and gave them two pounds of chocolate each and told them to eat as much as they comfortably could over the next two weeks. Group A could eat as much as they wanted, while Group B had to take a small break in between the two weeks in which they abstained briefly from eating it. Both groups were then asked to rate how happy or enjoyable eating chocolate was for them over the course of the two weeks. The data showed that Group A derived less enjoyment from eating the chocolate a week later, while Group B's positive affect for the chocolate stayed the same or increased. For the restricted group, temporarily giving up chocolate restored their ability to enjoy it. After hearing this, two things came to mind: 1) why are there not experiments conducted like this at Wash U and 2) I can increase my enjoyment for something by engaging in it less? At first glance this seems obvious. After all, variety is the spice of life. I think however that most of us forget how easy this is because we have so many options. Line too long at Holmes? Head over to Subway. DUC too crowded? Make the trek to Kayaks. We are always used to going to the next big and new thing that we forgot to appreciate the novelty in the things we already know and love. Rather than breaking the bank to get a new experience, you can make your own. Don’t get me wrong. There are many great places to eat in St. Louis, and I would advocate going to them all. Perhaps a good compromise we can make is to practice more moderation. Instead of spending on an experience we have had before, maybe we should look outside the typical bubble. We should find a momand-pop store on Cherokee Street, or maybe cook something with friends. If you stay away from the Loop for a week or two, you will find Seoul Taco waiting for you patiently, maybe tasting even better than you remembered.
written by Annie Kroll Caitlyn Smith Jenna Goldstein illustration Maddy Angstreich _
My Strange Addiction: Crab Rangoon
Buckle up folks, the three Goon Queens have made it to print. As you definitely know, we run a blog dedicated to finding the best crab rangoon in St. Louis. Each goon is ranked on a comprehensive three-tiered system: 1. crust: Our ideal crust is the perfect balance of crunch and flavor. Buttery but not greasy. Crispy but not burnt. Flaky but not as flaky as your “friend” Tina who always says she’s gonna hang out and bails at the last minute. 2. pouch: The pouch is the make or break part of the goon. Although too much crab is always a faux-pas, no crab is almost worse. The cream cheese must be authentic, not reminding us of what we spread on our bagels at Cherry Tree each morning. 3. ratio (pouch to crust): It’s all determined by the size of the pouch. Compared to the crust, it can either be too big or too small. That’s right friends, there is such a thing as too big. So break out your notebooks and sweet and sour sauce packets, because it’s time for a crash course in the best and worst goons we’ve encountered in our time here.
best: Blue Elephant Royal Thai Cuisine 4.458 / 5
They say your first time is magical, but our minds weren’t blown until our seventh goonventure when we finally made it to Blue Elephant. As we walked through the doors, we were greeted by endless golden (not blue?) elephants. After walking us to our table, the waitress handed us three enormous menus ornately decorated with elephant-patterned fabric and embellishments. Before we even opened the menus, we heard a “do you know what you want ma’am?” and were thoroughly confused. Here is a breakdown of why we were confused: 1. How could we possibly have had enough time to read their anthology of a menu? 2. Which ma’am was she referring to? 3. Is there even a plural form of ma’am? 4. Ma’ammoths? Ma’ammals? Ma’amograms? 5. Ma’ams. 6. How much of their budget was allocated to adhesive elephant craft supplies? 7. How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood? Thank God we didn’t need to read the menu. She must’ve known we are professional food critics. We ordered a round of goons that arrived a mere few minutes later. We took our first bites, and were transported to another dimension full of unicorns, rainbows, and that feeling when you find the answers to your assignment on Chegg. They. Were. Incredible. The crunch was the perfect balance of crispy, yet light. The pouch content was flavorful for the palette and the eyes as well—you could visibly see crab, pepper, and onion, a rare case for most goons. The ratio was excellent, with the pouch complimenting each bite of crust with neither left over. crust: pouch: ratio:
4.625 / 5 4.25 / 5 4.5 / 5
runner up: House of Wong
really bad: Mai Lee
4.083 / 5
2 / 5
Four days into our sophomore year, we were yearning for more goons, so we headed off to House of Wong. We ordered up a few rounds from our waiter, who was dressed in a black t-shirt that just said CANADA across the front and an apron with a Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse logo on it. He clearly did not know what restaurant, or even what country, he was in. When the goons arrived, we were rather excited. The crunch looked enticing, and the pouch was so large we assumed the chef was compensating for something. As we took our first bites, our palettes were greeted by something unexpected, yet pleasant: onion! At first, we were overjoyed by this creative addition. However, as we took more bites, we noticed a clear lack of crab both visually and gustatorily. The main concern we ran into can be summarized by a comment made by a woman eating goons at the table to our East (the only other occupied table in the restaurant): “You need to slurp like crazy!” We wholeheartedly agree with her evaluation of the leaky sacks. Overall, we were very pleased with our experience at Mr. and Mrs. Wong’s House, however, they should consider calling a plumber to fix the leaks. crust: pouch: ratio:
mistake #1: Getting goons at a Vietnamese restaurant. mistake #2: Trusting a restaurant underneath a parking structure. When the goons arrived at our table, we were jumping out of our seats with excitement. These looked like the best goons yet. We went in for the pouch with open hearts and open mouths and were met by something both uninviting and unappealing. The taste was that of month-old bacon and moldy bagel. We attempted to investigate where the unusual taste was coming from, however, after searching desperately through the beige pouch, we were just as confused as before. We were thoroughly let down and disgusted. Normally, The Queens contemplate ordering a second round. This time, we contemplated not finishing the first.
crust: pouch: ratio:
4.25 / 5 3.5 / 5 4.5 / 5
4.5 / 5 -2 / 5 3.5 / 5
the worst experience of our lives: Strange Donuts -131.33 / 5
Never, ever, EVER, eat a seafood flavored donut. Yes folks, that’s right. “Cream Cheese & Crab Filled Donut with Sweet & Sour Sauce.” We know what you’re thinking: that’s disgusting. We thought that too. But what kind of Goon Queens would we be if we didn’t give every goon the chance it deserves? We drove past where the GPS said the destination was, but it was nowhere in sight. We drove past again and still, nothing. Theories raced through our heads, the most convincing being that this was a hoax. Maybe the owners of all the restaurants that got less than satisfactory reviews on our blog (almost all of them) were luring us into a trap—an abandoned street to either: 1. Serve us the king crab rangoon that they had been collaborating on for weeks in order to please the queens and receive that perfect score. 2. Have a chill hangout where we eat crab rangoon and discuss the perfect ratio. 3. MURDER US. Eventually, we found the place, located on a side street. While the shop was hard to spot, once inside, the goonut was not. Not only was the donut SHAPED like a crab rangoon, it was SMOTHERED in sweet and sour sauce. We’ll save you the vulgarity and sum it up in one sentence: one of us started dry-heaving, one of us couldn’t stop burping, and the third liked it at first until the nausea and meat (crab?) sweats set in. We couldn’t fathom anyone or anything that would want to consume this disaster. Out of pure curiosity, we called Strange Donuts when we got home and asked how many they had sold. The man replied, “we sold out!” and we all immediately resumed vomiting. From the cream cheese frosting to the real crab filling in a donut casing, nothing about this experience was anything but foul. But the ratio was pretty damn good. crust: pouch: ratio:
-12 / 5 (it was a donut covered in sweet and sour sauce) -387 / 5 5 / 5
asking wash u: The DUC 2.97â€‰/â€‰5*
We conducted a survey of 133 Wash U students, asking them to rate the DUC crab rangoons in our three-tiered system.
crust: pouch: ratio:
3.375/5 3.51/5 2.015/5
crab is nonexistent, eating a ball of shittily fried dough
FILL MORE these vary too much. I need consistency in my rangoons
I will go to my death defending the DUC crab rangoon don't even try me y r u doing this
*Disclaimer: we DO NOT agree with how highly this was rated
We hope we have enlightened you and given you the same craving for the crabby, creamy, crunchy goons. Our goon goal is to build an empire, where rangoons are no longer marginalized to the subordinate label of â€œappetizer,â€? and are finally allowed to shine as the main course. Thanks for coming on this journey with us through our best of times and worst of times. For everything in between, check out rangoonqueens.wordpress.com.
SIMPLE SYRUP? simple syrup magazine covers a variety of issues, aiming to provoke deeper inquiry about the state of nuanced food cultures both here at Wash U and across the world. Through original essays, art, and editorials provided by undergraduate, graduate, and faculty contributors, we aim to inspire our readers to cultivate a more thoughtful and intimate relationship with the food they consume and the systems that produce it. Simple Syrup publishes one issue each semester, and currently holds a staff of 30 writers, artists, and
designers. We are consistently seeking new talent in each department, and encourage students of all academic backgrounds to apply. Applications are released at the beginning of each semester, and can be found on the Simple Syrup Facebook page. All application questions, as well as comments on the magazine, should be directed to Victoria Albert (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Max Bash (mbash@ wustl.edu), the Co-Editors in Chief. We hope you enjoy Simple Syrup, and we would love for you to get involved!
e believe in food as a discourse.
we believe Millennials are interested in more than just #foodporn.
we believe in the power that lies in the universality of food: everyone eats.
we believe that food is capable of forming deep, meaningful connections.
we believe that food scholarship of quality should be widely accessible.
we believe that eating is one of the most profound, yet quotidian, acts we engage in and with.
we believe that Coke vs. Pepsi can be a relationship dealbreaker.
we believe that just as simple syrup forms the foundation for myriad food and drinks, our Simple Syrup will form the foundation for diverse food and art thought.
_ nikki freihofer, founder of simple syrup
Student produced food and culture magazine from Washington University in STL