Does chocolate milk exist? Did it ever?

I’ve been training hard for quidditch this autumn and periodically after practice, I crave chocolate milk. Naturally, I went looking for some. I’ve been to a number of grocery stores now, but I haven’t found any chocolate milk at all. I’ve found “chocolate dairy beverage,” but nothing that’s actually called “chocolate milk.”

This makes me wonder if there is such a thing as “chocolate milk” anymore. I know there’s strict regulations (suspiciously) on what things can be labelled “milk.” For all I know, it might be the case that anything with enough chocolate in it to be called “chocolate milk” would have too much chocolate in it to be called “milk” at all.

Now here’s where it gets weird. I can’t actually remember if chocolate milk was labelled “chocolate milk” in my childhood. It might have been “chocolate dairy beverage” back then, too, but I just can’t remember.

Is there such a thing as chocolate milk, and was there ever such a thing as chocolate milk?

Taboulé recipe

I have noticed recently that there are certain foods that I have a hard time resisting. Tomato juice is one of them. Taboulé is another. If you’re not familiar with taboulé, it’s a sort of parsley salad with cucumber, tomato, bulgur and garlic. And whenever I buy it pre-made at the grocery store, I eat the whole thing in one sitting.

So, I decided to make some myself, so that I could have a lot of it, without going to the grocery store and buying a half-dozen of them and being judged by the cashier for my dietary choices. I looked on the internet and put some recipes together, and this is the taboulé that I prefer:


  • 1c bulgur
  • 1c quinoa
  • 2c boiling water
  • 1 cucumber, diced
  • 2 tomatoes, diced
  • 8 scallions
  • 2c fresh chopped parsley
  • garlic to taste


  • 1/4c lemon juice
  • 1/2c olive oil
  • pepper and salt to taste


Combine the bulgur, quinoa and boiling water in a bowl. Let sit for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally to allow grains to absorb water.

Prepare the vegetables and combine in a large salad bowl.

Combine the dressing ingredients in a small bowl.

Add the grains to the vegetables in the salad bowl. Mix thoroughly, and then add the dressing and mix.

Serve chilled.

Answering my readers’ questions

Everyone gather ’round. It’s that time again! It’s time for me to answer my readers’ questions!

And by that, I mean, it’s time for me to see what strings of words people have typed into Google that brought them to my blog. Then I look through the search keywords that are (more-or-less) well-formed questions and answer them as best I can. It’s the least I could do, since they took the time to visit my site with these questions on their mind.

“Why can’t the space shuttle leave conventionally from an airport?” (July 26)

Mostly because it’s not an airplane. Those booster rockets that the space shuttle normally uses for take-off are not decorative.

“If I fired a laser beam at my hand would it come out the other side?” (Aug 4)


“How to castle in chess with friends?” (July 31, Aug 7, 14, 17)

Begin a chess game with a friend, castle normally.

“How do you move your king and castle at the same time?” (July 26)

You probably meant “How do you move your king and your rook at the same time?”

“Rook” is the name for the pieces that start at the corners of the board.

In chess, “castle” is a verb. It’s the verb that means to move your rook and king at the same time, two spaces toward each other, provided that the intervening spaces are not occupied and that neither the king nor rook has been moved before in the match (and that you’re not trying to castle out of check).

“Cheat on MCAT tips?” (Aug 1) / “How to cheat the MCAT?” (July 30)

Are you really asking me to help you to cheat on the MCAT? Get out.

“Has anyone ever cheated on MCAT before?” (July 28)

No. No one in the history of mankind. No one whose motives were so pure as to aspire to medical school has ever even considered cheating to attain such a goal.

“Grammar is one of the greatest joys in life, don’t you find?” (Aug 8)

Actually, now that you mention it, grammar is the greatest joy in life.

“How to avoid getting your bike stolen [in] Montréal?” (Aug 25)

Sell bike, and buy Bixi pass with the proceeds.

“How to get your thesis bound at McGill” (July 27)

You gotta do it yourself, I’m afraid. You can get Acco-Press binders at the bookstore.

“How to take someones fortune?” (Aug 21)


“I bought wrong grammar?” (Aug 10)

You sure did.

“I might have strep throat I don’t got insurance?” (Aug 7)

That’s quite the predicament! Are you a Canadian citizen?

“Is there a Montréal métro pass for mature students?” (Aug 19)

Nope. No such thing. Once you’re 25, you pay full price, whether you’re a full-time student or not.

“What happens after you accept a TA-ship offer?” (Aug 4)

Heh … Do you really want to know?

“What is giving you the most problems with Microsoft Word?” (July 26)

Thank you for asking! Mostly crashing, interface glitches and the fact that there’s no separation between content, formatting, comments and meta-data.

“Where can i get hasperat?” (July 28)

Bajor, if you want it authentic.

But if you would make the brine for a really strong hasperat—I mean eye watering, tongue searing strong—you’d make an old man very happy.

Stickers on the glass of a pizza place

Pizza sticker
Pizza sticker

By my house, there’s a Double Pizza, and for the last little while, there’s been a big poster in their front window advertising for cheap pizza. A couple days ago, I guess they decided that the promotion was over, and put stickers on the glass in front of the poster.

This makes me smile. I think it’s because the original numbers are clearly visible behind the stickers. It’s like they’re saying, “Yeah, prices went up. Oh well.”

Cabane à sucre

This weekend past, I was invited to a family event in rural Québec—an outing at a sugar shack, or a “cabane à sucre,” in French. It reminded me of when my parents decided to tap the tree in front of our house and boil it down to syrup. The house smelled of maple syrup for weeks!

Anyway, here in Québec, these guys actually built a shed out in the country so that they don’t have to deal with it in their kitchen.

Something that we didn’t do when we made maple syrup, is making de la tire, or maple taffy on the snow.

Chez Ben in Granby, QC

Poutine Burger
Poutine Burger

Québec is full of wonderful poutine restaurants. Chez Ben is a restaurant in Granby that sells pretty good poutine, and really small hamburgers.

I was very strongly tempted to order the “poutine burger.” And yes, a “poutine burger” is exactly what it appears in the photograph to be: A big aluminium foil pie-plate full of poutine, with a hamburger patty on it.

I love Québec.

The slogan for the restaurant is, “On s’bourre la bedaine,” meaning roughly, “We stuff our bellies.”

Here’s a fun bit of French vocabulary. If you wanted to say that someone is “shirtless,” you’d say he is “en bedaine.”

In the attached video, please note that the big giant figure of “Ben” moves, demonstrating that he is stuffing his “bedaine” in front of the restaurant.

Why can’t one eat an egg with 油条?

When I lived in China, I would sometimes have a 油条 (yóu tiáo) along with my bag of hot soy milk for breakfast. A 油条 is a long, oily fried bread that you eat with your hands. It’s really good.

Whenever I would buy it, the vendor would always tell me that I shouldn’t eat it with an egg, and then she would laugh. I thought this was some sort of joke, but I never actually did eat an egg together with the 油条. Then, I went to a completely different vendor on the other side of town, and I was told the exact same thing—don’t eat your 油条 with an egg.

I was tempted, but never actually did try combining the two forbidden breakfast foods. I have a couple questions for my Chinese readers, or for aficionados of Chinese culture:

  1. Have any of you had an egg with 油条? What happened?
  2. Do you know why it is that I’m not supposed to eat them together?
  3. Is it out of some legitimate concern for one’s health?
  4. Is it a cultural superstition or a convention of some kind?
  5. Is this not even a thing? I mean, I might have misunderstood, or it might have been a huge coincidence.

How to pick up chicks

Picking up chicks
Picking up chicks

This is how you pick up chicks:

  • Go to a farm.
  • Ask the owner if you can see their chicks.
  • Run and catch one.
  • Really, they don’t run that fast. That said, check out the video I posted of the chicks running away from me.
  • It’s so fluffy! I’m gonna die!

Wait, isn’t that what you thought I meant by “picking up chicks?”

Authentic Bajoran Hasperat

Authentic Bajoran Hasperat
Authentic Bajoran Hasperat

My little sister and I made some Authentic Bajoran Hasperat tonight. I was hungry while watching an episode of Star Trek once. It was an episode that featured a fictional (but delicious-looking) dish called “hasperat.” I wanted to eat some, even though I knew it didn’t exist. Then, I Googled it, and discovered that there was someone who had made a recipe for it. We made it tonight. It was good!


I think from now on, I will refer to all wraps as variations on hasperat. “Yes, I’ll have the turkey hasperat, please.”

The prop for Hasperat from "Preemptive Strike"
The prop for Hasperat from “Preemptive Strike”

For reference, I have included on this post a photograph of the prop used in Star Trek for hasperat.

Edit: 2016 May 27

The original recipe has been taken down, but I saved a copy, so here it is:


For Two

  • 2 10″ Wheat Tortillas
  • 1/2 Cup Hummus (Any flavor, plain or horseradish is nice)
  • 1 Small Cucumber, sliced very thin (about 1/2 cup)
  • 1 Carrot, shredded (about 1/3 cup)
  • 1 1/2 Tbs Tamari (or regular soy sauce)
  • 1 1/2 Tbs Rice Vinegar
  • Black Pepper
  • 2 Small Handfuls Baby Spinach
  • Hot Chili Sauce/Tabasco, optional

Using a mandoline, or your food processor, or a sharp knife, slice the cucumber very thinly and place in a large bowl. Add the carrot. Add tamari and rice vinegar and toss. Let marinate 5-10 minutes (or longer, if desired).

Warm your tortillas so they’re pliable. You can microwave them for a few seconds with a damp paper towel, heat them in a dry skillet, or (my favorite) hold them directly over the flame of your gas burning stove.

Spread the tortillas with hummus, 3-4 Tbs each, making sure you cover the entire surface. This will help the sandwich stick together. Arrange the cucumber slices in one layer, slightly overlapping. Add carrot, and sprinkle some fresh pepper over the top. Add a layer of baby spinach.

Roll up the wrap, tucking in the ends, and place on a hot grill pan to slightly warm and create pretty grill marks. You can do this in a regular pan if you don’t have a grill pan. Slice and eat immediately.