What’s on YOUR shelf?

The bon appétit magazine mailing that came to me today: “Where to Order Your Favorite Pantry Staples Online: Your local grocery store is out of flour. The internet isn’t” by mackenzie fegan on 4/8/20:


(#1) An array of specialty staples to get you through sheltering in place

The full text:

For most of us, grocery shopping looks radically different these days. This is not the moment to pop to the store for that one specific thing you need or to plan leisurely visits to the artisan cheesemonger and the specialty butcher and that one tiny market that sells the labne [or labneh: yogurt cheese] that you like. And with many grocery stores running low on products like flour, beans, and yeast, chances are you’re working with some limitations.

Here’s your reminder that some of our favorite food products, from duck fat tortillas to briny oysters, can be found online and shipped nationwide, either directly from the producers or through specialty stores.

Yes! You can keep your shelves filled with those special kitchen staples that the local shops might be out of. The foods in the illustration aren’t identified in the ba piece, but here are identifications of four of the items:

Carmelo [brand name] Duck Fat Tortillas

Tre Torri [brand name] Tarantello di Tonno Rosso in olive oil: tarantello is bluefin tuna meat from the back abdominal muscles (not as rich as ventresca, from the belly, but vastly superior to ordinary canned tuna); the name is from the seaport of Taranto, in Apulia, which also gave us the name tarantella, for a dance, and tarantula, for a spider

Rancho Gordo [brand name] Yellow Eye (dried) beans

Tasmanian [brand name] Leatherwood Honey, from the leatherwood shrub, or small tree, of western Tasmania, Eucryphia lucida

I am, of course, familiar with butter, tortillas, dried pastas, canned tuna, nougat, dried beans, and honey, but not in any of these exquisite brands. (The cheeses aren’t named, but they are no doubt of equally exquisite provenance.)

The display is hugely pretentious, therefore inescapably funny. I was drawn immediately to Monty Python’s Crunchy Frog. From Wikipedia:


(#2) Mr. Milton (Terry Jones) in mid-description of “Crunchy Frog”

“Crunchy Frog” is the common name for a Monty Python sketch officially titled “Trade Description Act” (sometimes also known as the “Whizzo Chocolate Company” sketch), inspired by the Trade Descriptions Act 1968 in British law. It features a two health inspectors interrogating the owner of a candy shop about the increasingly bizarre ingredients in his confections, ending with the titular Crunchy Frog. Written by John Cleese and Graham Chapman, it originally appeared in episode 6 of the first series of Monty Python’s Flying Circus, and later appeared in several Monty Python stage shows. In the original sketch, Cleese and Chapman play the inspectors, while the candy shop owner is played by Terry Jones. In later versions, the second inspector is played by Terry Gilliam or left out of the sketch entirely.

Mr. Milton, the owner of the Whizzo Chocolate Company (Terry Jones) is approached by two members of the Hygiene Squad, Inspector Praline (John Cleese) and Superintendent Parrot (Graham Chapman). The officers confront him about the odd flavours that are used in the “Whizzo Quality Assortment”, and cite inadequate descriptions of his products as a violation of the Trade Descriptions Act. They ask him to explain the confection labelled “Crunchy Frog”. Milton describes it as an entire frog that has been coated with chocolate, using only “the finest baby frogs, dew picked and flown from Iraq, cleansed in finest quality spring water, lightly killed, and then sealed in a succulent Swiss quintuple smooth treble cream milk chocolate envelope and lovingly frosted with glucose.”

… Other questionable items include the “Cherry Fondue”, which is “extremely nasty”, but not worthy of prosecution, “Ram’s Bladder Cup” (made from “fresh Cornish ram’s bladder, emptied, steamed, flavoured with sesame seeds whipped into a fondant and garnished with lark’s vomit”), “Cockroach Cluster”, “Anthrax Ripple”, and “Spring Surprise” (chocolate wrapped around two stainless steel bolts that “spring out and plunge straight through both [of the victim’s] cheeks”).

Who could not adore “Spring Surprise”?

The title. More on the advertising theme. “What’s on YOUR shelf?” alludes to a campaign of tv commercials for Capitol One credit cards, turning on the slogan “What’s in YOUR wallet?” (implicating that if it isn’t a Capitol One credit card, it’s not worth a damn). For example, Jennifer Garner for the Venture Card, which you can view here (#3). Or Samuel L. Jackson for the Quicksilver Cashback Card, which you can view here (#4): “The Quicksilver Cash Back card from Capitol One is the ultimate heavyweight cash back card with unlimited 1.5 percent cash back on each purchase every damn day.”

Listen up, mofos! That’s Samuel L. Jackson: he’s really tough, and he’s one of the great cinematic motherfucker-wielders (hence, the muted “every damn day”).

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