A tale of mild horror and gripping disgust
By Jody Lynn Perry
The subject of food can fill volumes upon volumes upon tomes upon tomes. What with all the health books and various schools of thought, I have sometimes wondered if it is safe to eat at all. However, I am not writing about the latest fad or speculating upon whether or not raw foods increase eyelash growth. No, this particular subject covers something on the dark side of food, namely: Bugs. Or affectionately referred to as ‘buggies.’
They are a distant cousin to the fruit fly. The fruit fly, though, (save for the Med fly) is on the harmless side. There are those who will vehemently disagree about the harmless innocuousness of the fruit fly. My point here is that this is an overt fly whose presence is not hidden. You can’t miss a fruit fly flitting about your bananas and peaches and they don’t burrow—at least none that I’ve seen. I will state here and now, however, that I wish to live in blissful ignorance lest someone enlighten me to how many covert fruit flies I’ve consumed.
The flies I refer to are those little buggies that make their nests in flour, cereal, tea bags and any manner of dry products. They seemingly come from nowhere, morphing from some sort of osmosis of air molecules. Nonetheless, there they are. And there are some graphic horror stories about them.
A friend recounted enjoying a wonderful bowl of cereal, only to find, as she prepared to drink the last satisfying bit of milk, several dead buggies floating about their watery graves. Poor girl, getting her to eat any grain now is a chore. She inspects everything quite carefully and is suspicious of dusty boxes which may have been sitting around becoming exclusive apartments for any number of microscopic villains.
We had a very cold spell during one of our Southern California winters, and I decided to have some cocoa. Having recently been able to share my friend's dreadful tale, I poured a small amount in my hand. To my utter revulsion, I found a strange, wormy thing wriggling in my hand. No doubt it was doing it’s own dance of joy as it had been surrounded by chocolate. Shuddering, I replaced the cocoa back on the shelf, lest I contaminate the garbage with it (buggies, wormy things, and clear thinking do not walk hand-in-hand).
I happily sprinkled some cayenne pepper in some eggs I was cooking. There were some extra grains, which I did not recognize as standard red pepper. Sure enough, they were buggies and an entire pan of eggs never made it to my digestive system. Yes, I’m sure there are those who may think the extra protein would have done no harm. If that is the case, all you need to do is leave the container of your favorite spice open for a spell and, voila! you, too, will have a nest of little buggies that you can sprinkle on all your favorite foods. I prefer the more conventional proteins like cheese and chocolate.
I doubt the buggie fiasco will ever fully be eliminated. They have the persistence of cockroaches and will probably live most happily in heavily preserved food (BHT and BHA are probably superpower vitamins for them). I had to toss a box of matzo meal out—I found a handful of kosher buggies who wanted to become one with the matzo balls. The soup turned out to be fine on its own—sans matzo balls; I didn’t need the extra calories anyway.
It is unfortunate, but the worst problem is with those wonderful grainy, hot cereals. Often the different bits of grains look like buggies. Store them in the fridge; buggies probably don’t inhabit the flour of Siberia.
Become friendly with mason jars and Tupperware people. Buggies can’t penetrate tight-locking plastic, though it’s possible they will mutate someday and be able to penetrate anything. By that time, Hollywood will make a thriller of them and we can stop eating grains for a while.
My husband was not so picky about these things. A box of whey, cousin to cocoa, made me very suspicious. I refused to drink it even though I could find no buggies. I figured that the buggies were trying to survive and had camouflaged themselves white. It wasn’t until the whey was mixed that I noticed little black things in there, confirming my intuition—feminine or otherwise. My husband drank it anyway, and proudly confirmed that, yes, he had eaten dirt as a child.
As an aside, I have learned that bay leaves can help ward off this phenomena. Chanting may also help. Or perhaps contact the Harry Potter People--they may have some magic spells.