Dinner time at the Morgan household can be quite the interesting experience. Aside from talking about the day's events, we'll talk about any number of things. One thing I love to do is "acquaint" my four daughters to the music of the 80's. You Tube is an amazing tool for such an activity. It's something else to see your seven-year-old daughter doing the "Safety Dance."
There are other times when the kids will ask a question like, "Why does it say 'Tomato Ketchup?' Are there other kinds?" So, we'll look it up. And yes, there are other types. One we found was "Banana Ketchup." That then leads to the question, "Why do they call it 'yellow' mustard? Isn't it always yellow?" The answer? No, it can be brown. Heck, with a little food coloring, it can be any color you want.
But we aren't content to leave things there. We'll start reading the ingredients of various foods. Doing this led to a rather shocking and somewhat disturbing discovery.
What the heck is natural flavor? And why is it in so many different things?
For example, I randomly sampled things in my fridge and pantry and these are things I found that contain the mysterious "natural flavor": Apple / Cranberry Juice, spray butter, mixed berry yogurt, salsa, maple syrup, mayo, mustard (yellow), ketchup (tomato), animal crackers, hot cocoa mix, tomato soup, chocolate frosting, root beer, granola bars, pudding and macaroni & cheese. Whoever invented this "natural flavor" must be richer than Bill Gates! I mean, it's in everything.
But as odd as natural flavor is, there is something even stranger: artificial flavor. I mean, how can flavor be artificial? After all, it has to be made from something on the earth, right? Does that mean if I mix chocolate and peanut butter, I've created an "artificial flavor?" One thing I know for sure, "artificial flavor" and "natural flavor" are not opposites. Of the items listed above, several of them had both natural and artificial flavors. (Maple syrup, hot cocoa mix, chocolate frosting, root beer, and strangely enough, granola bars) If they were opposites, wouldn't they just cancel each other out? Or if it's like matter and anti-matter, wouldn't having both ingredients in the same product be dangerous?
However, of all the items I "investigated", there are two that were the most disquieting: hot dogs and bologna. Neither had natural nor artificial flavor--but both of them did share a common ingredient: something simply called "flavor"--and thank goodness they did! Can you imagine how they would taste without "flavor?"
And then there was the case of the mystery drink we had one night for dinner. It claimed to be lemonade. I'm a virtual coinsure of lemonades (I guess that is a hobby you pick up when you don't partake of the strong drink) and this, my friends, was no lemonade.
Now my sweet wife tried to explain that there wasn't enough of the mix left to make real lemonade and it was actually just slightly flavored water. However, it was yellow and smelled lemony--watered down or not, it was something I needed to investigate.
As to not get sued, I will not reveal the brand of the alleged lemonade. But as I examined the container, a couple of things caught my attention right away.
#1. It clearly states on the front that there are no "Artificial Flavors" in this mix.
#2 Its selling point is "Lemonade Drink Mix. Naturally Flavored with other Natural Flavor."
Wait . . .
"Naturally Flavored with other Natural Flavor?" What does that even mean?
So, off to the back of the label I go. There has to be some sort of explanation. But no! The ingredients were printed right where the lid joins with the jar--and when the lid was opened, the list of the ingredients was obliterated. How you mock me you faux lemonade!
Hello! What's this? Below the ingredients in bold are the allergy warnings. Let's see here. This "so called" lemonade may contain traces of milk, eggs, coconut, wheat, soy and . . .tilapia. Tilapia? Isn't that some sort of fish?
Alas, if only the lemonade had traces of lemons in it.
Here's the description of The Hidden Sun from Amazon:
"A Faraway kingdom.A beautiful princess.
A courageous hero.
A ruthless villain.
An impossible choice.
Eliana and Rinan are in love. However, she is destined to become queen of Bariwon, obligated to marry the victor of a competition called the Shoginoc, while Rinan, her royal guardian, is forbidden to marry. Normally they could renounce their titles to be together, but these are not normal times. Abrecan, the malevolent governor of Erd, is determined to win the Shoginoc, thereby placing his easily manipulated son Daimh on Bariwon s throne. Can Eliana and Rinan find a way to be together without jeopardizing the peace they are so desperately trying to protect?"
To get a copy of The Hidden Sun, you can click the link to purchase the book on Amazon, or you can visit your local bookstore.
Or, for more entertaining blog entries by Morgan, go to his blog at: http://jlloydmorgan.blogspot.com/.