Ezekiel Krahlin's
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Dead Cow Coffee Table
08.25.06 (2:49 pm)   [edit]


For a few short months I had a neighbor from India. Happily married to another Hindu, a lovely young lady. I always enjoyed visiting them...and her homemade curries and chutneys were to die for!

One day after several weeks being my new neighbors, I visit them Monday evening (as usual), to find a large, stuffed cow lying on its side in the living room, and being used as a coffee table! You know: a large square of beveled glass riveted into the dead cow's side.

I know cows are sacred in India, but still, I think this is over the top. However, I do find it humorous, and since no foul odor seems to emanate from it, I think, what the hey; I won't even bring it up, they're such nice people. And so they never bring it up either, and therefore I become more and more amused, not to mention CURIOUS?

Soon after the dead cow arrived, the couple became a little unhappy, a little less loving...and even start to make snippy remarks at each other (like theatrical asides) between their otherwise loving dialogues. I grow accustomed to their new personnas as somewhat cooler to each other, than during their first month here.

Then one day I drop by for our usual Darjeeling and chat, to find the wife isn't home, just the husband. (For all my many evening visits over two months, she's ALWAYS been home...until now.) And sitting on the dead-cow coffee table, is an open jar of vaseline. But what the hey, lots of other stuff--paraphernalia and so on--is clumped upon that table. In fact I had to shove aside a small mound of paper-and-trinkit debris in order to set down my teacup.

But what catches my eagle eye, has NOTHING to do with anything on TOP of the table. I just happen to notice how slick and shiny is the area around the bovine's hindquarters, and nowhere else. But what the hey, I figure he's adding a lacquer to his prize "objet d'cow". (I didn't, at that time, put moo and moo together.)

However, his wife never shows up again, for any of my visits. And soon after, the husband moves out, one rainy night.

And where's the dead cow table now? Who knows? Last I saw of it was on that stormy night my Indian neighbor moved out...and was lying, all tilted, piled precariously atop a huge heap of junk...and chipped around the head (and, and, maybe vaseline stains there, too). And the rain grew very, very heavy into the dark, wee hours. So heavy, so dense, I could no longer see the accursed coffee table from my back window.

But I was kept awake all night by a low, distant moaning that sounded kinda like a grieving cow. "Mooooooooooo!" What, me superstitious? Nah...I wrote it off to the creaks and groans of an old, arthritic building suffering a big wet storm.

The next day, it's gone; the whole dumpster is gone. So beware of the dead-cow coffee table. It's out there somewhere, at this or that tres-chique, tchotchke-loving drag queen's yard sale in some dusty alley of San Francisco. Don't, I repeat, DON'T take it off the current owners' hands, no matter how BIG a bribe, how enticing the offer. (Beef eaters and hackers, be especially on your guard!)


POISON: Trader Joe's Fig Cake w/Apricot Kernels
08.07.06 (10:15 pm)   [edit]

On July 14, I purchased Trader Joe's "Fig Cake w/Apricot Kernels" (in a 9-ounce round, plastic container), at their store in San Francisco (555 9th St.). When I got home, something bothered me about the apricot kernels (listed as "raw" on the label)...didn't I read somewhere that they contain toxic levels of cyanide (like peach pits)?

So I searched the web, and sure enough, they ARE highly poisonous...especially when raw. (And they aren't necessarily safe when cooked.) Need proof? Just Google for "apricot kernels safe to eat", and you'll find these two articles (among others):

Article 1: Acute Cyanide Toxicity Caused By Apricot Kernel Ingestion

Article 2: Nutrition: Raw Food Toxins

Quoting from the first article: "A 41-year-old woman ingested apricot kernels purchased at a health food store and became weak and dyspneic within 20 minutes. The patient was comatose and hypothermic on presentation but responded promptly to antidotal therapy for cyanide poisoning."

(BTW, "dyspneic" means "Not breathing or able to breathe except with difficulty.")

The apricot kernels in this Trader Joe's product are listed as RAW, making them the MOST possibly toxic, when compared to cooking them. (Though they may STILL be toxic, after cooking.)

I called the store I bought it from, and I hope they take that product off the shelves PROMPTLY. I also contacted Trader Joe's via their main phone number, 626-599-3817.

P.S.: Don't get me wrong: I'm a FAN of Trader Joe's...so being the bearer of bad news is an unhappy situation for me.

UPDATE: An "Amy" representing Trader Joe's got back to me (via that phone number above)...and claimed they are fully cooked, and thus not toxic. They have no intent to pull this product from the shelves. I told her that, at best, customers will come to believe that raw apricot kernels are SAFE to eat. She didn't budge, and thus I'm very, very upset. Instead of returning this item for a refund (it was only $1.69), I'm keeping it as evidence. See for yourself: go to Trader Joe's at 9th & Bryant. You'll find this "Fig Cake with Apricot Kernels" in the dried-fruit secion, in a small, clear plastic 9-ounce container.

UPDATE: 10 days ago, I contacted a local consumer advocacy group, "7 On Your Side" about this matter. They got back to me six days ago, but have yet to contact me further. What do I do next...hand out copies of this blog page in front of Trader Joe's? (And thereby get banned from shopping there? As the saying goes: "No good deed goes unpunished!" Whatever. I just can't get my conscience to hush up.)


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