Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Pop 'Til You Drop

Like snowflakes, no two microwaves are exactly alike. I recently got a new microwave and have been faced with the question of figuring out how waved things get in how micro a time.

This conundrum is most apparent when making microwave popcorn. There is an art to finding just the perfect mixture of time within the microwave to achieve cornish perfection. Some might say that you just wait until you hear the bag stop popping, but I've learned this isn't true. Some popcorn continues to pop random kernels long after the whole shebang has been burned to a crisp. Others go through cycles where it will pop for a while, then no pops for 30 seconds or so, then a furious flurry of pops to finish things off at the end.

By the way, it's impossible to write at length about popcorn without greatly overusing the word 'pop' in its many contexts. I apologize.

Our old microwave took roughly three minutes to finish a bag of popcorn, while the microwave at my parents' house requires about 4.5 minutes. Some microwaves complicate things with a preset 'microwave popcorn' button on the control panel. Ostensibly you can just push this button and your popcorn will be taken care of for you, but just like HAL or SkyNet proved, mankind must never put too much control in the hands of machines. I tried this as a primer to my new microwave, and the clock set at two minutes and thirty seconds. The result was good, but not great. My popcorn was 85% fine, except for the kernels directly in the centre of the bag. They achieved the sickly greyish-brown hue of the slightly burnt. It was like the inverse of a medium-rare steak -- everything around it was perfectly cooked except the spot in the middle.

This led to the sad scene that is taking place as I type this post. I'm forcing to pick through my popcorn like a mother finding lice in the head of her hat-swapping fifth-grader. I have to be this picky since while some things taste worse than burned popcorn, few things carry as much lasting taste. Your mouth still carries that dirtily bitter taste for hours afterwards...sometimes not even a tooth-brushing can totally erase it. Dammit, if I'm going to eat pre-processed food, I want to totally turn my brain off. I don't want to LOOK at what I'm eating or play the Cletus game of 'what time and how burnt.' I want to pay it no attention as I shovel it into my mouth while staring blankly at a computer screen. Why hast thou forsaken me, Orville?

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