One of the Saturday newspaper sections I recycle without reading nearly every week is “USA Weekend,” the full-color, useless USA Today rag, the closest thing to People magazine I ever go near. But every few months I’m enticed by a recipe headline to open “USA Weekend” and look within. Nine times out of 10, the recipe is disgusting and I toss the section.
This is the case this week, too, but I’m fascinated by an ingredient in “Black Forest Oatmeal with Toasted Almonds”: cherry-flavored dried cranberries. Why oh why in the world did someone invent cherry-flavored cranberries? Both fruits are so expensive, especially the organic ones, that I can’t imagine it would make a bit of difference in the wallet whether you bought dried cherries or dried cranberries. Is this product answering a texture need – it’s easier to chop dried cranberries than dried cherries? Having eaten and baked with both dried fruits, I don’t think so. Is it simply that manufacturers – an odd word to use in connection with food, but unfortunately appropriate these days – are able to add any disgusting artificial flavor, odor, or color to any food they want, so they do? I’m afraid so. The mere thought of cherry-flavored cranberries is bizarre and vaguely unsettling. Why put time and money into inventing and manufacturing things that are not needed?
Oh, I forgot. That’s what capitalism does. Silly me.