Food & Spirits: Does Anyone Actually Eat the “Green Bean Casserole”?


Its the one dish guaranteed to be on most tables every Thanksgiving and Christmas: the infamous Green Bean Casserole. You know, that concoction consisting of green beans, cream of mushroom soup, and French’s fried onions, baked into a casserole dish and served steaming hot to the groans of your guests? I don’t know when it became a must-have on the holiday table. I can understand the ease, because out of all the things you have to cook, this might be the simplest. But for enjoyment, does anyone actually eat the stuff? I feel that no one does. The cooks, usually the mothers of the family, make it out of a sense of duty to the tradition. After all, it has been there EVERY. SINGLE. YEAR. The guests then give themselves a heaping spoonful and pick at it once or twice before moving on to something more interesting. Its a hot mess, and you know it. You may even like green beans, the soup, and fried onions like I do, but together? No, I’ll pass. Its as Christmas as Mistletoe and probably just as dreaded. While grandma might shove it down after spouting out her first of many, “But its good for you!” utterances of the evening, you won’t dare touch it.

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A Proposal for a Food-Related TV Show I Would Love to See

We’ve reached that inevitable point in the middle of the summer months that dooms all bloggers. That is, the stretch of time where there is just nothing to write about. No movie or sports news—we are still waiting for a little bit of both. Because of that, I thought it was about time to finally set pen to paper on an idea I have had for a new television show, one that would combine history with the single item we can all find common ground on: food! There are an endless amount of documentaries on all time periods in history (though that number has been shrinking in recent years due to a mass-encroachment from mindless “reality”-based shows), but how many of them ever take the time to go into detail on the food consumed in whatever particular time period they are focusing on? The only one that comes to mind is one of my favorites, The Naked Archaeologist, hosted by Simcha Jacobovici, which I love for its simplistic, down-to-earth approach to archaeology, making it fun, interesting, and easy to learn for everyone. The reason why the show is titled as such is because he peels back the layers, so to speak, making the archaeology “naked”. Many times his shows will include little tidbits on food and lifestyles, which I always found fascinating. I think it is a topic that could do very well as a show of its own, because if there is one thing that can humanize a group of people who have been dead for hundreds or thousands of years, it would be details about, and demonstrations of how to cook the food they ate.

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Merry Christmas from FNYTSF!

I would like to wish all of my readers here on From New York to San Francisco a very Merry Christmas, and an upcoming Happy New Year! It has been a pleasure blogging for you for a little less than two years now. Let’s hope that we all have an enjoyable day tomorrow with our family and friends, which shows what the real meaning of this holiday is all about. I have already recieved my first gift of the holiday, from a friend, which was a Henrik Lundqvist t-shirt-jersey with the Winter Classic patch on the top. I am really pumped up for that game, and will definitely be wearing that shirt on January 2nd. As for tomorrow, I will be spending it with my family as I do every year, one of the only days where everyone can get together for a meal at the same time. I hope everyone else will be experiencing the same.


Greg Caggiano

P.S Christmas is sure a lot more enjoyable knowing that the New York Rangers sit in first place in the Atlantic Division, and Marian Gaborik leads the league in goals. Still a long way to go, but last night’s victory over the Philadelphia Flyers was one of the best gifts I could have gotten!

A PC American Holiday Vol. 3: Why Leave New Year’s Alone?

Ah, it’s that time of year again where political correctness drives people mad! Last year, we attacked the myths behind Frostie the Snowman and Santa Claus, and because they went over so well, I decided to continue it again this year, with a different holiday that no one ever goes after. Well, why should we leave New Year’s celebrations alone? Surely, somewhere, someone is offended by such a day/eve, and on this blog, we shall set out to exploit it!

The War on Christmas: Does it Really Exist?

Over the last few years, it has become ever-apparent that the Christmas season has undergone drastic changes. Long gone are the days when we can exclaim “Merry Christmas” to the general population, for fear of someone being offended. Everything has now shifted to “Happy Holidays” and “Seasons Greetings”; schools now have a week off for “Winter Break”. Just like everything else in this country, the situation has turned into a political soapbox. Those deemed liberal get their chance to step up and denounce the wishing of a certain holiday’s greeting to the masses, while those who society sees as conservative shove that person to the ground and climb up on the proverbial box to speak exactly the opposite. It is because of this hotbed that I address you today with a question regarding a phrase we are hearing more and more: is there really a war on Christmas?

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Moment of the Day: Lawrence Meets a Christmas Tree

Today was the unofficial start to the Christmas season in our house, as we began to put up decorations and outside lights, which we will finish tomorrow. Though I was never a fan of rushing things in November, I will be away next weekend (a trip to Lancaster, Pennsylvania) so we wanted to get things done now. This will also be our first holiday season with Lawrence, my ever-nosy and troublesome cat, who seems to always do something destructive on a daily basis. If you have read my “Week in Review” articles from the past summer and spring, then you are well aware of his antics, and how he was named after Union General Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain. Over the last few weeks, I have been anxiously awaiting his reaction to my family putting up a Christmas tree. Whenever we bring something new into the house, he has to pretend he is Inspector Clouseau and check everything out—the “bomb-sniffing cat”, as we call him. Because he always finds ways to get into trouble and have fun with decorations, I was very nervous about our tree. We decided to not put up the big tree in the family room just yet, until we get back from Pennsylvania, because he would probably find a way to destroy it.

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‘Twas the Day After Thanksgiving: A Poem

In about a week, we will celebrating everyone’s favorite day of encouraged gluttony: Thanksgiving! This was long the holiday that could not be commercialized, because nothing could be bought except food, and the activities for the day include eating, spending time with family and friends, and perhaps watching some football. In recent years, though, the actual day of Thanksgiving has been pushed aside, as merely the precursor to a day of insanity and lunacy: Black Friday. Sure, it used to be charming; waking up early and going to hunt bargains, but now, it has become madness, which has seen people literally being trampled to death in stores by nut jobs with shopping carts. This is yet another great day of traditions being destroyed in this country, in the name of the Almighty Dollar, and there is really nothing we can do to stop it. As I always say, “Sometimes you have to laugh to keep from crying”, so I offer up this poem to you in order to help celebrate these two great days of destruction. I hope you enjoy!

‘Twas the day after Thanksgiving, it has come at last
The memories of yesterday’s feast, they are all in the past
Getting up at midnight to do your shopping
The blood vessels in your eyes are sure to be popping

The turkey you ate, it has not even been digested
And you know hundreds of morons will soon be arrested
Rush your family out of the house, you need to get your rest
Will you become immersed in Black Friday madness, the ultimate test?

Who really cares about Thanksgiving, it’s just an ordinary day
The pilgrims who we celebrate, they were murderers anyway
So come on, get your wallet, and fill it with cash
5 a.m shopping at Wal-Mart is going to be a bash!

When you cannot buy your favorite items, you are filled with sorrow
You’re too dumb to realize, they’ll be there tomorrow
You lash out at the cashier, you attack your loved ones
A barbarian you look like, even to Attila and his Huns

Running through the store you go, a maniac with a cart
Like a killer you pounce, with a black hole for a heart
In the sporting goods section, someone was strangled with a fishing net
Hey, it beats getting run over by a shopping cart in Target

Every store offers such great discounts
In hospitals and trauma centers, the number of wounded amounts
People just don’t understand, this is the American way
Destroy all that you want, just make sure that you pay

The stores open so early, they call it “Moonlight Madness”
The crazed psycho shoppers fill me with sadness
Trampled to death someone will be
As they always are, by a 400 pound woman who has a bum knee

When you get to the checkout line, you realize the store told a lie
Remember when you came through the turnstiles wondering if you were going to die?
But you don’t care, you got what you came for
Just make sure to get dad’s gift at the discount liquor store

The Macy’s Parade, you had watched it the day before
When all you wanted to do was shop, my, what a bore!
You come home late at night, and watch the news reports of all the shoppers that died
But you got your child the latest toy, and are more than satisfied

Pretty soon, it will be the Christmas season
We have to call it the “Holidays”, for a non-offensive reason
A month later, the stockings will be hung by the chimney with care
As I hope the apocalypse soon will be there

Save Halloween: Costumes Slowly but Surely Being Banned from Schools

Well, less than two hours after I expressed my affection for Halloween, I now have to express my anger. Over the last few years, we have seen a growing number of schools across the country banning students from wearing costumes on Halloween, and some even going so far as to ban mention of the day all together. Most recently, a public school district in Springfield, Illinois has been added to the list, because administration cites the costumes as being “disruptive”. While that very well may be their reason, most likely, the reasons from other schools are a lot more political. Before we go blaming the liberal left for being too politically correct, let me just point out that if anyone would want to ban children from celebrating this holiday in school, it would actually be the religious right, because Halloween began as a pagan holiday, and there are still many sects of Christianity that believe the celebration of it today is evil, unholy and godless. Gee, such strong words for little kids going around asking for candy, I know, but this is the world we live in. Either the left is trying to destroy Christmas, or the right is trying to destroy Halloween, it all amounts to the uneasy world that the children of this generation are growing up in.

Both sides to the story are asinine, and I believe that people of all faiths should be able to express their feelings on the day of their major holiday. As I wrote about last winter, when I tackled the political correctness of the Christmas Holiday Season, do people really get upset, or do they just have too much time on their hands? What would happen if the horror of a Jewish person saying “Happy Hanukkah” to a Christian would ensue, or vice versa? Would both people suddenly spontaneously combust? We are seeing it with Halloween now, where people who do not care to partake in such a fun holiday are upset by seeing those who do. Basically, it’s like, “If I can’t have any fun, neither will you.” When I was in elementary school, I distinctly remember a girl in our class who was a Jehovah’s Witness. She was not allowed to wear a costume or eat any of the candy/food we had during our party. But she was not nasty about it, and she actually enjoyed looking at the costumes worn by the other children. She did not seem too upset at all—she had her religious convictions, and was perfectly fine with seeing those who differ from her celebrate the holiday. I gather her parents were fine with it too, because otherwise they would have kept their child out of school that day, because there was never any real work given out to begin with.

But no, now it has to eclipse that. Saying that costumes disrupt schoolwork is not a good enough excuse. Halloween is only one single day out of the entire year. What that amounts to is 179 other days for children to work in school. Maybe they can have the teachers plan “fun” work that day, involving the holiday and how it has transformed from the pagan, Celtic feast of Samhain to what we all know and love today. Heck, maybe they will even learn something and not even know it. There are plenty of documentaries and activities to do on that one day that would make everybody happy.

Throughout my life, the celebration of this day has transformed right before my very eyes. When I was in elementary school, the wearing of costumes was encouraged, and we even had contests throughout the day. Then, when I got to 5th grade, our district shifted schools around, and my new school became K through 6th. The principal specifically told us that we 5th and 6th graders should not wear costumes, because it was something for the younger children only, and we should show “maturity”. That pissed off our parents some, because we were still only 10 or 11 at that time. When I moved on to middle school, costumes were once again encouraged, and the same in high school, where many of the teachers put us students to shame with the extravagant costumes they came in with. There was little or no work that day, and it was actually a fun time to be in school. While I cannot say what my former schools are doing now, except for that episode I experienced while in 5th and 6th grade, Halloween was generally a positive day, and if it fell on the weekend, we would just dress up on the nearest Friday.

Halloween is yet another holiday being destroyed by politics. I am not going to lay the final blame on a particular party or ideology here. The two sides continuously ruin the lives of adults, but now they are ruining the lives of the kids. The world is terrible enough as it is, so do we need to keep going that extra step? One day out of the year, people are allowed to dress funny and have fun at work or school. It is a tradition that has been around for generations, and it is one that needs to stay in place. This holiday is a part of our American culture, and it is time more people stood up to protect it.

A PC American Holiday Vol. 2: The Evil Mystique of Santa Claus

Due to the popularity of Volume 1, which was building an inoffensive snowman, tonight, we will tackle a much more deeper aspect of the Christmas holiday season, which is Santa Claus. With the help of a friend, Bill Ritter (NOT the anchorman on ABC Eyewitness News), we set out to destroy the character that gives millions of children all over the world joy every December 25th, to serve our own personal, and politically correct agendas.

  • Mall Santa’s are no longer allowed to have little children sit in their laps. Because this promotes pedophilia, the children must now be strapped to a metal chair located five feet away and protected by a brick wall with a one-way mirror. Here, they will be able to see Santa Claus without the rotund NAMBLA figurehead being able to see them. They will speak directly into a phone, and their voice will be changed by voice recognition software, and their wish list will then be delivered to the Santa, who will type his jolly responses into a computer, where they will then be screened on the HD TV the child will not be getting for Christmas. A picture of the child will then be digitally inserted into a preexisting photo of Santa, to be given to the parents as a gift, which they can promptly place on their refrigerator.
  • Santa’s helpers can no longer be referred to as elves. Because the word “elf” has a bad stigma attached and includes people who have been exploited throughout history, they will now be referred to as “little helpers”, but not before they formed their own union titled, “The Association Of Vertically Challenged Woodworkers and Craftspeople.”
  • Santa is no longer allowed to use reindeer to pull his sleigh. Because the reindeer have to travel for hours without rest or nourishment (let’s be real here, no one leaves carrots for them anymore because children are wicked and evil) he must now use a solar-powered sleigh that needs up to a week to charge for the long journey. Should the sleigh not be ready by Christmas Eve, that’s just too bad because PETA has already put their foot down stating that reindeer rights come before child happiness and any depression or suicide that may follow as a result of no presents being delivered is a “necessary evil of the holiday season”. However, PETA has reserved the right to implement a contract drawn up by Honda to create biodiesel robotic reindeer that look like the real thing.
  • The United Nations is cracking down on Santa. Because Santa enjoys a pipe made out of evil tobacco that will no doubt produce a generation of children addicted to such a terrifying substance, the UN is citing Santa for contributing to the destruction of the ozone layer. That and the fact that his reindeer occasionally “let one go” while traveling for hours on end, means the Santa and his workshop will have to face sanctions stated in the new Environmental Treaty. The workshop also must now be powered by solar energy.
  • Santa has been forced to lose weight. How dare he be a model of peace, happiness, and gift giving to our children while sporting that gut? Santa has single-handedly caused the obesity epidemic in America and will not be allowed to enter the country until he trims himself down to a manageable weight of 200 pounds, which in itself is offensive and disgusting.
  • Santa will now be referred to as simply “Claus”. Because the word “Santa” means “saint” in Latin, and that word refers to the Catholic religion and offends atheists and all those that are not Christian, his name must be changed. It was going to be “Mister” but that word would force children to recognize adult authority and respect, so we will skip that and go right to his last name, which is Claus. Should that still be too much to handle for the child, the phrase “that fat guy” can be substituted. But if it is spoken around any overweight children, the offender can be charged with bullying.

  • Santa will not be allowed to visit children in Arizona. Because of Arizona’s new immigration laws and the fact that Santa does not have a visa or United States citizenship, it will be illegal for his entrance into the state. Because of this, all people who celebrate Christmas will have to camp out on the state’s border to receive their gifts—that is, if they want to risk being killed by drug lords or border patrol.
  • Santa is no longer allowed to say “Ho ho ho”. Because this slogan will offend members of the “League of Urban Outdoor Nocturnal Working Women”, he will now have to say “Ole ole ole”, but should he use a Spanish accent, he can be cited for racism and forced to work a hundred hours of community service after attending a “Tolerance and Acceptance” seminar.
  • Santa is no longer allowed to wear red. Because people who lived through the Cold War have been offended by the color of communism, Santa will now have to wear a combination of tan and khaki as part of his new neutral outfit. Of course, none will be made of animal products to keep PETA happy, and all will be donated to homeless shelters after every Christmas.
  • Children must now leave “animal product free” refreshments for Santa. Because vegans got offended by the classic glass of milk, and cookies made with butter that are left out for Santa, children must now leave “Vegan Approved” cookies and soy milk. Should they not comply, Santa will leave them pieces of coal which must be used only as paper weights or door stoppers, because burning them is a fossil fuel and therefore evil.

Like what you’re reading? Let us know! You may spark us for volume three!

A PC American Holiday Vol. 1: Building an Inoffensive Snowman

Last night as I was watching a History Channel special titled, The Real Story of Christmas, and saw how the holiday changed over the years (mostly negatively), I began to wonder about some of America’s oldest traditions in storytelling, such as Santa Claus and Frostie the Snowman. Being the cynical person that I am, always quick to point out how easily people overreact to the smallest matter, and in today’s world, where everything we create and advertise is driven by political correctness, I pointed out that a lot of the famous pictures of Santa that we recognize today consisted of him smoking a pipe (Pall Mall cigarettes even went so far as to use the jolly old elf to market their brand in the 1920’s) and of course, you cannot complete the Frostie the Snowman rhyme without saying, “…with a corncob pipe and a button nose.”

So there we had two staples of Christmastime promoting tobacco use. I thought it was pretty funny and was almost amazed that the lyrics of Frostie had not yet been changed because the youth of America may see his pipe as a sign that it is okay for them to smoke, thus creating an entire generation of little children addicted to pipe tobacco. As for Santa’s pipe, cartoons drawn of him today seem to omit the tool that he always use to light up after he sat down from a long, tiring journey of spanning the world to drop presents off to little children.

Political correctness has gone way too far in this country, and to write about that would require enough space fitting of a doctorate thesis, but I just hate the fact that everything is “Happy Holidays” now. You can’t say the word Christmas, or even Hanukkah or Kwanzaa for that matter, because you may offend someone who does not celebrate that holiday. Where this mentality came from, I have no idea. I’ve said “Merry Christmas” to Jewish people, and maybe you’ll be surprised to find out that they did not punch me in the face for doing so. Furthermore, Jewish people have said “Happy Hanukkah” to me, and that just gets me so angry that I want to say it in return to them.

Nevertheless, last night I decided to post on Facebook what I was thinking about Frostie: “How long before politically correct America lambasts Frostie the Snowman for having a corncob pipe, because it promotes tobacco use in children?”

I expected a few laughs, but nowhere near the twenty comments this simple status received. It was hilarious what people wanted to change about Frostie in order to fit him into today’s society. I enjoyed what my friends had to say so much, that I doctored up this Photoshop to get the idea across at how silly being politically correct is.

Warning: If you are allergic to snow, do not click to enlarge. I can’t afford to have a lawsuit from the ACLU on my hands.

Isn’t this world we live in today great? I would like to know where it all started to go downhill for the Christmas Holiday season. Watching that documentary last night, and seeing clips of people’s home movies of Christmas morning from the 1950’s and 60’s almost made me sad, because life (and the toys children were receiving) were so much more simple back then, and everyone made due with what they had, and had a lot of fun doing so as well. Today, I look at children and see mostly spoiled brats, who don’t deserve nearly a quarter of what expensive, electronic gifts they receive. So I’ll propose the question to you again, and feel free to leave a comment or send me an email: Just where did it all go wrong?

This is Volume 1 of what I hope will be an ongoing series. As more ideas arise, I will jot them down. As always, if you have any comments or suggestions, please send them to me. One more thing: lost in all of this was how much I thoroughly enjoyed watching that History Channel special. Hats off to them, because for the first time since the late 1990’s, they have redone all of their holiday shows, including ones on the origins of Halloween and Thanksgiving. The old ones, hosted by Harry Smith, were excellent, and I have them saved on DVD, but for a general history lesson, these new one needed to be made. I highly recommend giving it a view.