As I write this I have butterflies in my stomach…
It is time to regale a simple tale
born hatched of humble beginnings. A tale years in the making. It’s a tale that will turn your stomach. And it is one that must never, ever be told. So keep reading. You’ll be glad you did.
Two drosophila walk into a bar. The bartender asks, “What’ll you have?” One points at the other and says, “Ask him. He’s supposed to be the genus.”
–Tom B. Taker
For once I will set aside petty narcissism and histrionics. The tale is too damn important. It must not be tarnished by cheap tricks or overt grabs at drama. So the telling will be without hyperbole. It will be simply told. I want this post to stand the test of time so future generations thousands of years from now will truly appreciate the moment and say things like, “That shit is fucked up. Can this even be real?”
Come. Let us retire to the Puparium and I will tell the tale anon.
In The Beginning
We were living in a small town. My wife wanted to move to a big town. Portland, Oregon, to be exact. It had been a dream of hers for decades.
An ecological entomologist named Marcel Dicke gave a TED talk entitled “Why not eat insects?” This talk had a profound effect on me and I’ve blogged about it several times.
A Year Ago
We moved to Portland, Oregon. This was a multifaceted milestone in our life that brought many new and wondrous things. For example, we were provided with three trash cans. Count ’em! Three. A black one for trash, a blue one for recyclables and green one for composting.
This represented a quantum leap paradigm shift to simple small town folk like us.
The idea behind the composting bin, among other things, is that we’d save food scraps and they’d be composted. So very green. But there was a problem. Saving these scraps was an icky process. My wife wanted a solution. It came in the form of an attractive cleverly designed food scrap bucket we keep on the kitchen counter by the sink.
Being green can come with a cost, though. Apparently something in that bucket attracts little buzzing gnat-like insects which we assume are Drosophila aka the “fruit fly.” Oh, joy. I hate those little bastards with a passion. Mostly because they also seem to have a love affair with my face.
My wife came up with an ingenious way of combating our fruit fly problem. It turned out we had failed to completely quaff some Cabernet Sauvignon and ended up with half an unused bottle. My wife put this clever metal inverted nipple in the bottle’s opening then placed the contraption by our food scrap bucket. The fruit flies were attracted to the wine. Voila! The Fruit Fly Motel was open for business. Fruit flies check in but they don’t check out. Ha ha ha!
Our problem wasn’t totally solved but it did dramatically improve.
For the record, my wife held a staff meeting regarding this inventive solution and followed this up with an inter-household memorandum. I was officially informed.
The Last Few Weeks
I’ve really been craving marinara. Big time. And my wife wanted me to cook. Aha. I could kill two birds with one stone. It was win-win time. I dug out my recipe for Marinara Magnifica and began scheming. It would be soon. I was excited. I was looking forward to this like nothing else.
The Night Before
My wife and I discussed the marinara recipe. She stated, “You’re going to need some red wine.” She then said something about a bottle of wine on the kitchen counter that would be perfect for the recipe. And she warned me: Be sure to stay away from the fruit fly trap.
Those of you who are clever may already see where this is going by now.
The Wine Beneath My Wings
Cooking day had arrived. As I had waited to the last minute, this was going to require considerable effort. I had no ingredients. I had no car. I had no clothes, but that’s another story.
I made a shopping list. The recipe would make a huge batch. I thought briefly about cutting it in half. Naw, fuck that. I love me some marina! I was already daydreaming about the heady days of leftovers for weeks to come.
I grunged myself up to blend into the cityscape. I left the house. This was followed by a hike to the bus stop and a ride to the grocery store and back. I lugged the ingredients on my back like a mule but I finally made it home. I was in it for the long haul.
I squared my shoulders and set about my work. I was going to do this right. I did a beautiful job of breaking down three medium onions and cooked them in a dutch oven. While that was going, I measured all the ingredients. Herbs. Crushed garlic. Six cans of various tomato products. And, to complete the ensemble, one-half cup of red wine.
The recipe went better than it ever had before. Soon the pot was full, the ingredients were in, and I had the perfect simmer. It smelled awesome. During the next 3-4 hours I tasted and stirred acting like I knew what I was doing. The flavor was fantastico.
Dinner was an unqualified success. My wife loved it. Never before had the recipe turned out so well. I was really feeling proud of myself. I served up the marinara on spaghetti noodles and used a microplane grater to apply a prodigious layer of Parmesan which melted right in.
After the meal was done, we talked about the experience. It was a sublime night.
Then I mentioned the wine. About how I was originally going to buy a new bottle of Chianti just for the sauce but in the end decided to use the Cabernet Sauvignon that we already had open.
It was about then I noticed my wife giving me a funny look so I stopped talking.
“You didn’t really use the Cabernet Sauvignon, did you?”
Wow, I thought. What a decidedly queer tone. She had my attention. With extreme trepidation, I told her that I did.
“I specifically told you not to touch that one. Remember?”
By now I knew something was wrong although I still couldn’t put my finger on it. I did vaguely remember something about her telling me to use wine on the counter, and I distinctly remembered saying something along the lines of “yeah, yeah, yeah.”
“No. But so what? What difference does it make?”
She looked me dead in the eyes and said two words. “Fruit flies.”
The universe swirled around me, I was suddenly the size of an atom, and time stood still. I remained frozen in that moment, my mind overwhelmed, for several millennia.
Holy mother of God!
I ran to the kitchen and grabbed a small clear bowl. I grabbed the red wine. The Cabernet Sauvignon. I poured some in. I peered at it very closely.
Fruit flies! Shit loads upon shit loads of fruit flies!
My stomach moved. About 12 feet.
Larva Me Alone
I don’t remember much after that. There was some googling. “Can eating fruit flies kill you?”
I worried my wife would be angry. I couldn’t have been more wrong. She was playing her iPhone like a piano. “I have got to tell someone about this,” she said while tears rolled down her face from laughter. Got it. Wife definitely not angry.
Initially I had the urge to fling the dutch oven across the kitchen but in a Herculean exhibition of willpower I stopped myself. We discussed what to do. My wife said to save the sauce, sleep on it and decide tomorrow.
“Now that you know,” I said, “are you gonna be able to choke that shit down? Not me, sister. No fucking way.” Suddenly every stray food particle in my mouth was a fruit fly. I could just feel it. My throat felt funny. Was it fruit flies coming back for me?
My mind was going crazy. “How long has wine bottle been there?” I demanded in breathless fear.
“Months,” she said.
Holy shit. Little floating fruit fly corpses that were months old. And I ate ’em whole. Their eyes. Their heads. Their little fruit fly innards. The whole nine yards of fruit fly enchiladas. I just couldn’t stop thinking about it. That night, laying in bed, I was unable to sleep. My mind was racing. I could still feel the silence of the fruit flies. I would never be the same again.
I have me a huge-ass bucket of Insectisauce that has gots to go. I’m not ready for our culinary insect future just yet. I have no idea in hell how I’m going to dispose of it.
Addendum – On The Wings Of Love
Shortly after the incident my wife began incessantly teasing me with cruel and vicious jokes. Here, documented for your delight, are some of them:
- Well at least we had some protein in our dinner.
- We noticed a fly buzzing around the TV after dinner. Wife said, “Catch it and put in the marinara.”
- Wife says, “I feel sort of funny. There’s a buzzing in my stomach.”
- Our aunt texts back: “It sounds like he passed his Survivor test.”
- Two hours later while I’m still carrying on wife says, “See this? It’s a teeny tiny fruit fly violin. Go play it somewhere else.”
- As we lay our heads down to sleep, wife says, “Hey, did you hear that?” No I say. Out of her mouth comes, “Bzzzzzz, bzzzz, bzz, bzzzz, bzz.”
- An hour later and still not asleep, my wife wakes up and says, “I have this craving to nibble on some fruit.”
- First thing out of my wife’s mouth this morning is, “I don’t feel very good. I feel like I still have a buzz on.”
- On her way out the door to work, she yells across the house, “I think I can fly!”
I think my cooking days are over.