Monday, July 31, 2006

Racist Candy Tastes Bad


As I shuffled my way through Barajas airport last Thursday, I slipped on my sandal and came eye to eye with a curious face staring out at me from the vending machine.

I gasped upon realizing what I had just discovered—that Conguitos, one of Spain's favorite racist candies, were in fact still being sold on this planet.

Conguitos ranks high up in the offensive category, along with France’s Tete de negre (now discontinued), Spain’s Cola Cao, and Germany’s Kinder Egg (it’s just plain offensive—not racist).

But, dear readers, in the midst of bad news there is always good: I am pleased to report that one of the world’s most racist chocolates doesn’t even taste good, and are in fact little more than bittersweet chocolate-covered peanuts.

This realization came as a big relief: It would have been a painful boycott if these things had been tasty.

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Friday, July 28, 2006

Turrón


When I was twenty I went to Spain to learn Spanish, and stayed with a host family. Come New Year’s, my own family came over to visit, and we had a wonderful, if largely charades-filled dinner that united the two monolingual families.

At midnight we all tried to eat as many grapes as possible—a Spanish tradition.

At one, my host father broke out his guitar and tried to sing Geemee Hendreex songs for my father.

At two, the four-year old daughter began to cry.

At three, she stopped and the New Year’s Turrón was brought out.

By three-thirty, my family and I were falling asleep in the sofa while my 85-year-old host grandmother took to the living room dance floor and began a half-flamenco, half-River Dance performance, cheered on by the family’s Olés!

This is because Turrón has a funny effect on the Spanish people…and particularly the old people, who know how to harness its powers. Turron, as the ever-reliable Wikipedia tells us, "is a nougat confection, typically made of honey, sugar, and egg white, coated in crushed, toasted almonds." But nowadays today you can have Turrón in chocolate, egg yolk (!), cream, and caramel flavors.

However, there’s no reason for you—non-Spanish as you are—to get excited about this. At the end of the day Turrón is really just sort of sticky and rather unexceptional. Which is why it gets to be called a “traditional” or “local” Spanish sweet. That’s always the way it is with traditional goods—because if they were really that good they probably would have been exported to your country, too.

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Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Kit Kat Gets a Penis


It’s called the Kit Kat Chunky, and it’s the best thing to happen to the Nestle brand since they decided to inject air into the Crunch bar.

The new bar is a fantastic, masculine alternative to the traditional, feminine Kit Kat. And it tastes SO much better. It’s c-h-u-n-k-y and very satisfying.

I received two free bars during the World Cup and offered to split one with my football-watching partners, Jesus and God. (Jesus, if you remember, is “everyone’s favorite energy reporter”. God is simply God by dint of the fact that he’s Jesus’ editor. Beyond moving megawatts, though, I don’t think he’s all that powerful.)

Anyway, never in my fifty years of chocolate eating have I seen such an over-the-top success.

Do you people in other countries have this new Kit-Kat, too? Or is this only in England? If so, this would be the first good reason I’ve ever heard to live in this country.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Should Companies Give Their Employees Free Food?


Yes, it means they work longer hours, and spend more time in their chairs and under the company’s other mind-control devices, but is it possible that employees could actually eat their way past these benefits?

Take a look at my lunch today:
Ratatouille – ok
Fruit salad – ok
Artichokes – ok though rather pointless (what's the deal with artichokes, anyway?)
3 pieces of chocolate cake – hmmm

So, if you added my future hospital bills to the chocolate cake bill, is it possible that my employer actually loses in this deal?

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Thursday, July 20, 2006

Hollywood and I Hang Out on the Eurostar

I’ve been stuck in the French countryside, aboard the Eurostar, for six hours now.

First they announced in Franglish that we couldn’t leave the Gare du Nord because our conductor had a parole problem and was late arriving to the train.

Then they made the same announcement in French and it turned out that the conductor was looking after a power problem and therefore was late arriving to the train.

We only left about 15 minutes late, so I figured I was more or less on schedule to arrive in London early this evening.

Three hours later and I’m stuck in the middle of nowhere, and the Eurostar attendants (but not the conductor on parole) are distributing cups of water. The heat has conquered our train—as well as two other Eurostar trains—and we have been told we will just have to sit here until another train comes along and can pick us up and take us across the Channel.

Oh, but sorry—all the trains in Paris and Lille are also broken down.

It’s now 8 p.m. and we’re heading back to Paris, where a working train has appeared, and which—under the guidance of an upstanding conductor—will guide us back to London by 1 or 2 a.m.

How am I responding to all of this?

With Hollywood gum.

It’s definitely inferior to Extra, but Hollywood is my gum of choice when I’m in la France. It doesn’t taste like Hollywood and it doesn’t smell like Hollywood, but all of my French friends are always surprised when I tell them that Hollywood gum is completely inconnu in the U.S.

Don’t get me wrong—chewing Hollywood is not putting me in a better mood. I’m still very mad about this train/heat/conductor-on-parole business. But at least it overpowers the smell of Mr. Corn Chips next to me, who keeps elbowing me as he switches his magazine from horizontal to vertical as he “reads” its pictorial content.

UPDATE: We never made it back to Paris. Instead, we sat in the same train, Mr. Corn Chips and I, until sometime after midnight another train came and got us and--barring a bit of a delay due to a selfish woman who decided to go into labor--we made it into London before 6 a.m. this morning.

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Friday, July 07, 2006

Allez les bleus!



I'm in Paris for work this week and last night a colleague invited me to a World Cup semi-final she was throwing at her apartment. Now, did I really truly care whether or not France won? Of course not. Just one week before I had been rooting for England next to hairy, crying men in a pub in London. And the week before that I rooted for the U.S.A. with my backwards-baseball-cap-wearing cousin. When it comes to le foot, I am very flexible.

What makes it so easy for me to switch allegiances and root for each team as though each member was my own brother?

Candy of course.

During the U.S. game I had my Extra gum. During the England game I had English hard candies. And during the French game last night I stocked up on Carambar—one of my favorite candies to eat when ripe.

I say “ripe,” incidentally, because Carambars are known for always being stale. That is probably because the French don’t like GMOs and preservatives and all other things that make gigantic watermelons, Twinkies, and four-eyed tomatoes possible. A shame, really.

But if you can manage to find a juicy Carmabar—oh, what pleasure. The cola and nougat ones are divine.

Oh, and they also have really dumb jokes on them that I never understand. The last one I remember reading was submitted by a 5-year old and was about a piece of wood. And while wood and its many meanings have provided fodder for 13-to-28-year-old boys around the world, this one had to do with a piece of wood and a scarecrow. F-u-n-n-y.

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Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Ice Cream City!



The country that has a Curry Museum, a ginormous Buddha, and a Ninja Museum has recently added Ice Cream City to its list of tourist attractions. Unfortunatley, I wasn’t there to see even a scoop of it.

Still, you can read all about it on the blog of Tokyo correspondent Louise (who probably doesn’t know that she is one of our Tokyo correspondents, and maybe doesn’t know who The Moko is, either).

By some cruel, administrative snafu, The Moko was not invited to the opening of Ice Cream City, which makes it impossible for her to report on all of the different flavor sensations available in this town of tastetastic. But it would appear that Louise and her expert testing team were not so impressed by the shrimp or beef tongue flavors.

But then, when has ice cream ever been bad? And can we really trust Louise? I remember a passing comment Ms. L made about American sweets being too sweet. What's with you Europeans and your big and fancy semi-sweet desserts? You just don’t seem to get that all one really needs in life is a bag of sugar and a bit of topping (peanut butter, fat, or chocolate) to accompany it.

Monday, July 03, 2006

You Are What You Eat


Saturday night I went to my first London musical with Amanda, a former co-member of Girl Scout Troop 147 and a loyal O.C.-er.

Amanda—who, it should be noted, threw my beloved Esprit sweatshirt into a gutter and fought me atop the slides of Linda Vista Elementary School at age ten—had heard good things about Avenue Q, which has traveled from Broadway to London.

The play is basically about an idealistic young college grad named Princeton who has just shown up in NYC hoping to change the world, only to realize that it is hard to do world-changing with a B.A. in English Lit. Princeton moves to Avenue Q, where he meets a bunch of people who sing songs like “Everyone’s a Little Bit Racist,” and “It’s OK to be gay.”

I enjoyed the musical—even if songs like “Porn! Porn! Porn!” are a far cry from the classic, foot-stomping romps of West Side Story and Guys & Dolls. Still, at some point I got bored, and looked for relief in the package of Rolos underneath my seat. As I bit into that choco-caramel goodness, I realized that I, just like young Princeton, am still searching for my purpose (and, incidentally, a much better convenience store chocolate buy than Rolos). So then I thought: Maybe I should work for another five years, then quit and open a chocolate shop? Or maybe I just need to return to more creative work and become a writer or do something creative?

Suddenly the voice of doubt came forth: “Moko, one should not be a creative type unless one can be amazing at it, and you are not.”

To which the voice of delusion replied: “But—someone has to be the amazing creative person—why can’t it be you?!?”

Before I could think this through, Princeton answered my question:

“You’re not special! You’re not special.” he belted out in song. “It sucks to be you!”

I looked down at my Rolos—the most unexciting, conservative chocolate candy out there. Princeton was right. My Rolos and I were nothing special. We were litte more than diseased birds swimming through the dirty London canal of life, spending our days ingesting and spitting out sewage that crossed our path.

To add insult to injury, my Rolos were hot and half-melted, so I couldn’t even do that depression+chocolate pig-out that usually accompanies moments of existential woe.

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Saturday, July 01, 2006

The Moko Falls Sick

Q: Why hasn’t the Moko posted in a few days?

A: Because the Moko had salmonella poisoning…in fact, she got it within 8 hours of having posted that news brief about Cadbury’s salmonella refund.

Mind you, my poisoning agent was some sort of bad dairy product--not Cadbury's, but the event proves just to what degree Cadbury will go to protect its name in the press.

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First Ambassador of Kin’po Ambassador Program Stripped of his Ambassadorship. However, He Still Has the Kin’po I Gave Him and He Should Give It Back!


The night before I left for Madrid, I held a long ceremony in my home to honor young William, the first ever Kin’po Ambassador. Young William, with his sparkling teeth and commitment to dental floss, seemed to be going places (notably, dental school). Plus, the fact that he was my cousin made him a logical choice to become the first honorary ambassador to spread The Moko’s message around the world.

Young William wished me well on my Madrid trip, noting that he had left me two bags of Revels in the refrigerator. What a wonderful cousin! Clearly, I had made a good choice in taking him through The Rites of Sugar and other elements of the Ambassador Program.

I left London believing that my sugar flock was in safe hands…but when I returned and opened the fridge I discovered that young William (who it seems develops quite a sweet tooth under the influence of alcohol) had eaten ALL OF THE REVELS HE HAD GIFTED ME!

Who does that? Not a Kin’po Ambassador, that’s for sure.

And don’t think, young William, that your dental school won’t be hearing about both your sweet tooth and your treachery.

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