A Farewell...and a Rebirth

One of the many tenets of Buddhism relates to your after life - when you die, you are rebirthed in one of the six existing realms, based on the karmic effects of your previous life.  One can evolve into a god or a demigod, or one can descend into the animal realm, the hungry ghost realm, or the hell realm.  

You may be asking - what the hell (no pun intended) does this have to do with a blog?

Well, this post is essentially this particular blog's last rites.  When I started this blog, the main focus was the transition from California to Central Ohio, with plenty of comparison between the two places especially in the culinary field.  Also, with me on a learning curve of what food Central Ohio did and didn't have, I mused a lot on the various restaurants, cafes, breweries and other food-related establishments I happened upon.

But almost everything needs a tweak now and again, and this blog has reached that point.  Essentially, California has become over the years a place I travel to now, and the perspective is more tourist than former resident these days.  Plus, the restaurants I covered with blog posts are now covered in my Instagram feed.  Also, the pandemic, as suck-filled as that was for almost everyone, has made me realize there is a larger pastiche of pathways I can explore with the blog. Having a formula is fine, but a formula often gets tiresome after awhile, and the energy that I've gained with the more free-form posting has revitalized me quite a bit.

I see the opportunity in that evolution, and I intend to run with it as long as I can.

This blog will remain up for the foreseeable future, but won't see any more posts. I imagine at some undetermined point in the future, this blog will head to archive land, no longer to be seen again.

There was one realm I hadn't mentioned in the Buddhism rebirth cycle I did not mention previously - rebirth as another human. Similarly, this blog has rebirthed into another blog, which at first glance is just a little more easy on the eyes, with a more expansive look at the intersection of food, travel, music and culture in general.

Thank you for stopping by throughout the years, and please join me at criticalricetheory.com to continue the fun.

A Hole-y Unlikely Tale: The Donut King

Little did I know it at the time, but this Ube Ice Cream filled
donut from The Parlor Ice Cream in Sacramento, CA, was
just the tip of the iceberg of a fascinating tale

As I was watching the 2020 documentary movie "The Donut King" (which I streamed recently on Hulu), I realized I had already experienced a bit of the latter half of the film in real life.  Looking for ideas to explore on a California trip a few years back, I encountered this Sacramento Bee article on Sacramento's Baker's Donuts, which detailed not only the younger progeny's knowledge of social media to raise their profile to the public at large, but also detailed a fact I had not known previously - Cambodian immigrants own a substantial number of the state's independently owned donut shops.

Something I had brushed by at that time was the vital role that Ted Ngoy, the man who is the focus of the documentary, played in bringing those donut shops to life.  If you watch the documentary (and I highly recommend you do), Ngoy's generosity, and in some ways, his failings, proved to be the driving force in making this status a reality.

Another thing that struck me while I sat watching the documentary: this inherently American story (rags-to-riches-to-rags-to-redemption) may be among the last of its kind.

The 614ortyPlatter: The Food Encyclopedia (A through M)

More often than not, the genuine article taco trucks, like
Taqueria Las CosteƱas on Columbus's West Side
have the more adventurous proteins like lengua available

Maybe I'm betraying my nerdy youth with this admission, but I still get a thrill when I see a set of old-school encyclopedias in a thrift shop.  Before the Atari 2600 and video games entered my life with a bang, perhaps my favorite way to pass the time was to pull out a random volume of our family's encyclopedia set, open it up to a random page, and start reading away.

Inspired by a recent sighting of an encyclopedia set on the television, my mind got to thinking - why not cobble together an alphabetically ordered, randomly picked out topic list related to food?  So here, without further adieu, is the first half of my list, covering the letters A through M, with some appropriate music to accompany this very educational endeavor.

The 614ortyPlatter - 14-Course Tasting Menu

A divine soup, such as this Sopa de Tomatillo from German Village's
Barcelona Restaurant, is a tasting menu staple

One thing pandemic more or less eliminated was the primo tasting menu experience.  We personally don't indulge much in the extravagant side of the dining ledger, but we must say that one of our most memorable meals was the tasting menu of Veritas Restaurant, which was then in Delaware, Ohio.

Slowly but surely, however, this ultimate method of activating the taste buds is returning as an option for diners.  The very same restaurant we mentioned prior, Veritas (now in Downtown Columbus), has been offering themed dinners for diners, moving from French and Vegan, with Nordic on deck. Chapman's Eat Market has also dipped its toes in the water with some specialty Vietnamese-themed multi-dish offerings for the adventurous diner.   The Refectory, a Columbus fine dining institution, has also opened up for the dine-in experience and has traditionally had a Chef's five-course tasting menu.

Of course, we here at this blog aren't limited by dining restrictions, restricted budgets, or number of courses. With that in mind, as a nod to the return of this culinary tradition, we present our own 14-course/song tasting menu, where we combine the most divine of tastes with the most rocking rhythms.

The 614orty Platter: Fit for (Non-)Human Consumption

Can you believe I've been doing these playlists/blogposts for seven-plus-months now?  Or for that matter, that this blog has reached seven years of age?

To be honest, I thought both these things would fade out after awhile - as pandemic stretched onward, I didn't know exactly how to continue the blog, at least as it had been run previously.  The playlist was something of a last-ditch experiment (the result of working from home and a paid Spotify subscription) to keep the blog going, and to be honest, I thought that wasn't going to hold my interest for long either.  

Right now, things are moving along swimmingly - my Instagram feed basically has taken over the function of my blog in terms of exposing the latest and greatest eats and sights in the Columbus area, and beyond.  And the playlists have been a great to not only discover some great music from all around the world, but also really exercise my creative bones in terms of conjuring up themes.  So thus, the blog rolls on, maybe not the same in the same format, but still written with enthusiasm. As author C.S. Lewis once wrote, "Onward and upward!"

Chomp, chomp, chomp - as this Cheetah at the Columbus Zoo
demonstrates, we're not the only creatures that love to eat

Now this week's theme struck me during a National Geographic show - up until now, we've focused on human-related experiences in terms of food and beverages.  But as we all well know, we're not the only living beings on this planet, and what individual members of the various five kingdoms consider food is about as diverse as the number of members themselves.

So why not?  What delicacies are on their plates?  There might be one or two on this list that humans would at least consider, but for the most part, these things would fall under the "unfit for human consumption" label.