BLOG-tober #3: weird things about me.

A couple weeks ago, Ashley at Mental Health at Home posted her answers to an “eleven weird things about me” challenge. I loved this post, because I feel that it’s important to embrace and be open about our weirdness. I also thought that this topic fit in perfectly with “BLOG-tober,” since October is the month of Halloween (AKA all things weird). Here is the link to the original post, if you are interested! My weird things are:

1. Talking in my sleep

Sometimes, if I have a dream where I am saying or yelling something, I will say or yell that thing out loud in real life. It has woken my partner up many times before, and I often wake myself up that way too. In college, I had a dream where I couldn’t move and needed to call for help. Apparently, I screamed “HELP!” out loud, because I woke up to my housemate pounding on my door to check if I was okay.

2. Crazy cat lady

I love cats! I only have two cats, but I love them and talk to them as though they are actual babies. I also own some cat-themed clothes and accessories including but not limited to: flats in the shape of a cat’s face, rhinestone cat ears, and two pairs of cat-print pajama pants.

3. Lover of fungi

I also love fungi. This is weird to some people, but I just think they’re so cool! I get really excited when I encounter interesting mushrooms and slime molds in nature, and I’ve gone on several hikes for the sole purpose of finding interesting fungi.

4. Falling asleep on the couch

Nearly every night, I end up dozing off on the living room couch in my apartment. Since it happens without fail, I should know by now to avoid this situation and go straight to bed. And yet…zzzzzzzzzz.

5. Cautious (teetering on paranoid) about food-borne illness

I took a food microbiology course in college where we learned about the most common agents of food-borne illness and what foods they are found in. Ever since then, I have become more cautious (excessively so, according to my partner) about food poisoning.

6. “Once I’m out, I’m out”

Once I leave my apartment in the morning, I do not return (unless I have forgotten something ESSENTIAL, such as my work badge or public transit pass). This mentality has backfired on me many times, such as last week when I made the decision to go to work without an umbrella.

7. Perfectionist AND procrastinator

I am somehow both a perfectionist and a procrastinator. Being a grad student only accentuated this tendency of mine, because I worked with MANY other perfectionist-procrastinators at my old institution. I’m probably like this because I thrive under intense pressure…but sometimes these contradictory tendencies set me up for failure.

8. Cold brew queen

I enjoy a “malted cold brew” while my partner drinks a regular coffee.

I have started to become *that* person that drinks cold brew year round. I started drinking cold brew pretty regularly this summer, because both my office and my neighborhood café serve really good cold brew. Now, I am physically dependent on cold brew, because it has a higher caffeine content than regular coffee. I will probably continue to drink cold brew even when it is snowing and icy in the winter.

9. Keeping my opinions to myself

From an early age I have been very reserved, and hesitant to share my opinions with others. I’m afraid of being judged for having “bad taste” or stupid ideas. Luckily, this blog is helping me a lot to overcome my fear of expressing myself.

10. Using men’s deodorant

Ever since college, I have used men’s deodorant. (I think that) it works better than any women’s deodorant I’ve ever used before, and there is one particular brand/scent of men’s deodorant that I absolutely love.

11. Spooky story time!

I can’t think of any other weird facts, so here is a “weird” story in the spirit of Halloween. Around this time last year, I noticed a couple wasps buzzing around my door as I was trying to leave for work. I was so scared that I didn’t lock my door – I just slammed it shut and ran off to work. When I got back home at the end of the day, though, the door was locked. I (again) freaked out, and asked my male neighbor to help me check out the apartment. We opened the door and checked every room – nobody was there and nothing was missing. When we got to the kitchen, I saw a slip of paper saying that pest control (a normal thing in the South) had visited my apartment that day – they must have locked their door on the way out.

What are your “weird” things? If you have eleven that you’re comfortable sharing, please feel free to post your own answers to this prompt!

The Truffle Underground (and my above-ground fungal feast)

The book: The Truffle Underground by Ryan Jacobs.

Last month, I read The Truffle Underground by Ryan Jacobs. This non-fiction book exposes the fraud, corruption, and even violence that goes on in the truffle mushroom industry – generally, without the knowledge of the consumer. As a lover of fungi, I was compelled to learn about the dark side of the delicacy known as truffle mushrooms.

Although the subject matter of The Truffle Underground intrigued me, the first 60 (or so) pages of the book did not. I thought the book got off to a boring start without any real hook. In fact, I felt like the writing was attempting to be intriguing – without much success.

After the slow start, however, The Truffle Underground really picked up. The book became compelling partly because the rampant corruption in the truffle industry is shocking, and partly because the writing starts to flow better after the first few chapters. Jacobs exposes issues in the truffle industry ranging from malicious sabotage of competitors, “under-the-table” dealings, tax evasion, and fraudulent mislabeling of much less valuable truffle species as the delicacy Tuber melanosporum. One thing that has especially stuck with me is that “truffle oil” is one of the biggest lies in the food industry: it is virtually never made purely from Tuber melanosporum, and oftentimes contains no mushroom in it whatsoever.

Overall, I’m glad that I read The Truffle Underground. Learning about the dark side of the truffle industry was unsettling, but it also provided me with a much more nuanced perspective of the industry. After reading this book, I will probably never eat any food product with the word “truffle” in its name (besides chocolates, of course). If you want to learn about the world of complexity and corruption that lies beneath one of the finest delicacies in the food world, I definitely recommend this book – just be warned that it can be a bit boring at times.

The bake: fungus lovers’ pizza.

While it turned out to be a fascinating read, The Truffle Underground turned me off of truffle mushrooms in the strongest way possible. So a bake that incorporated “truffle oil” or “truffle cheese” or any BS truffle product was out of the question. Instead, I turned to some other edible fungi that I love: Saccharomyces cerevisiae (bakers’ yeast), Penicillium roqueforti (blue stilton cheese), and Boletus edulis (porcini mushroom) – and combined them into one fungus-tastic pizza!

I didn’t follow any recipe for the pizza. I just bought pizza dough from the grocery store, then topped it with a homemade garlic-ricotta sauce, mozzarella cheese, bleu cheese, porcini mushrooms, and basil. I had read that a common mistake with homemade pizzas is overloading the dough with too many toppings, so I was pretty modest with the toppings. I baked my pizza on the top rack of an oven at 450 degrees (F), and took it out when the crust was lightly browned.

This pizza was AMAZING! I probably could have been more generous with the toppings, and also taken the pizza out of the oven a couple minutes sooner. That being said, it was still deliciously decadent, and the various flavors (garlic, ricotta, bleu cheese, basil, etc) worked well together. While I will probably never eat anything “truffle”-flavored ever again, I still love and appreciate edible fungi in the forms of yeast, mushrooms, and bleu cheese.

Served with a dash of hot sauce and a fungal-fermented drink (BEER!)