Monday, January 26, 2004

Globalization, the Internet, and Food

In big culinary news, a friend of ours bought us a box of Oreos ... Oreo's ... Oreoes ... grammatically-challenging "chocolate flavored sandwich biscuits" that I had not previously seen in France. Succulent. 176 grams (0,4 pounds) of some of the finest ingredients that modern chemistry can dream up.

How much did these delicacies cost? Well, let's price an Oreo. Here in France that box sells for €2.50 ($3.14 at today's exchange rate), which works out to about $8.20 per pound. Let's see what else falls in that price range...

Gosh! According to Current Primary and Scrap Metal Prices a pound of nickel or molybdenum falls into about the same price range. Sure, they may be harder to digest, but they're almost certainly more nutritious.

Other interesting substitutes could include a pound of bilberry leaf from Gaia's Delights herbal shop, which is good for "stomach upsets, urinary infections, rheumatish, diabetes, gout," and other things that Oreo biscuits may inflict, or Poly Ac-6a, an "opaque hardener" used in creating homemade candles. For you DIY types: Use only 1 teaspoon per pound of wax in order to harden candles and make them opaque. Hmm, I wonder if they use that to whiten the cream in the middle. Me, I order mine here.

I'm sorry. I guess that all of this Oreo talk has made you hungry--what do you do about it?

Well, at CleanSweepSupply you can buy 3.5 pounds of Nabisco (R) Oreo (R) sandwich cookies (note to you cash-hungry entrepreneurs out there: 'sandwich' and 'cookie' are not yet trade-marked) for $8.36. There's a catch, though: In order to get free shipping you need to order over forty dollars worth of merchandise, which means 5 of these Oreo boxes, which means sixteen and a half pounds of Oreo units (I can feel my artery walls thicken as I type this). On a more positive note, for the true junkies out there, you can have your "biscuits" shipped UPS for an additional charge.

In related news (news about high-quality American dietary habits), the first Starbucks cafes (caf├ęs?) have opened in Paris. How new is this news? You cannot find any mention of the stores or even locations in France on the Starbucks web site. There is a great deal of local debate over the chances of success or failure, but I am largely indifferent. No matter what kind of bizarre concoction the flavor development professionals at Starbucks can dream up, I am always happy with a small black espresso. Oreo optional.

Hopefully Paris won't go the way of Vienna, where some of the old traditional coffee houses are being driven out of business by the Seattle behemoth. The problem is that the old places were quiet, pleasant, and had interior architecture that looked like they were done with taste by Austrians, not with with haste by over-worked franchise managers in posession of an IKEA catalog and a limited budget.

Sadly, like my packet of 0.4 pounds of Oreos, a few of those coffee houses didn't last long at all.

Jeff