Two days ago, I decided that Istanbul was the perfect city. How did I arrive at this conclusion? I found a jar of American peanut butter at my local mini-supermarket.
You know how Australians get with that vile vegemite? That's how Americans are with peanut butter. American peanut butter is the holy grail. It's the one product I ask visitors to bring with them from home. I always go to Costco before returning to Crapistan and get a supersize jar of Skippy chunky. It's as valuable as gold. Samaya the Azeri cleaning lady (and by "cleaning lady" I mean "lady who comes and sleeps on the couch for four hours twice a week") one time threw away an entire jar, clearly not recognizing its value (truthfully, the blame lies with the Producer for leaving it sitting out next to the sink, but he should fire Samaya anyway for not really cleaning all that much).
Lots of countries attempt to produce this singular product and fail miserably. They are never able to get the proportions of sugar, oil and preservatives just right; never able to perfect the consistency. It's not worth it to buy a local brand; you'll just end up throwing it out in disgust.
So you can imagine my excitement when I found a jar of Peter Pan tucked among the nutella and halva cream at the Or-Ka Supermarket! Yay globalization!
So this morning, apropos of nothing, Carpetblog's Bekaa Valley Correspondent started the following chat:
BVC says: i had to throw out my peanut butter. first time i have been affected by a recall
Carpetblogger says: i FOUND peter pan here!
BVC says: don't buy it if there is product code 2111
Carpetblogger says: wha?
BVC says: yes, me too, and it was yummy, but i had to throw it out
BVC says: salmonella
Carpetblogger says: Peter pan?
BVC says: yes
Carpetblogger says: fuckin a
Carpetblogger says: me go see
BVC says: top of lid, see if first four numbers are 2111
Carpetblogger says: NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO
Carpetblogger says: how did you find out about this?
BVC says: i read the news
BVC says: there are hundreds of cases of salmonella in the US from them
BVC says: i was also sort of exited by my first product recall experience.
So, now I am faced with a dilemma. There are several factors to consider here.
- 300 people get sick in a country of 250 million. Is this just another example of Americans' overreaction to minor threats, driven by the trial lawyers? By throwing out my peanut butter -- creamy, American goodness with a red label and cheery white letters -- would I not be indulging in behavior I frequently mock?
- Salmonella: Is it that bad? People continue to eat at Shwarma Number One in Baku even though "Shwarma Number One" means "rotating germs on a stick" in Azeri. How bad are a few hours of "explosions from both ends?" Don't I frequently brag about my constitution of steel? If I got sick, how would I know to blame Peter Pan rather than the greasy doner?
- Upon news of a recall, is Con-Agra evil multi-national, genetically-modifying, environment-destroying corporation cutting its losses by dumping salmonella-tainted peanut butter unfit for human consumption on the third world? Is that why Or-Ka Supermarket in Cihangir, in defiance of the laws of supply and demand, stocks Peter Pan? I cannot condone such behavior. But, I've already bought the Peter Pan. Throwing it out would be a meaningless gesture, right?
What to do. What to do.