Peanut butter month all over again, and some thoughts on food love affairs

Yes, it's November, and apparently National Peanut Butter Month. If you get into these sorts of occasions, maybe, as J-Plautz reported, you could start investing in peanut butter diamonds, or if you're "feeling art" maybe Vik Muniz's "Double Mona Lisa (Peanut Butter and Jelly)" is the way to go.

Honestly, I couldn't care less that it's Peanut Butter Month, and when March comes & it's straight-up Peanut Month, I'll be equally enthused. That's because I still can't stand to be in the same room as peanuts, or any other nut. It's too soon. Do you want to know why it's too soon? It's too soon because I've fallen out of love with nuts. I'm officially an apostate of the nut kingdom.

Growing up, I was the pickiest and most maligned eater ever born. I kept kosher without even knowing it, and would audit the innards of a simple baked potato; in short, I had trust issues. Eventually this fussiness found an acceptable outlet under the aegis of vegetarianism, sometimes veganism if I was really into a certain Moby album. But even though a peanut wasn't wrought from an animal, I still hated the things, and extended prejudice to their kin.

Then, around 20, something happened-- I'm assuming witchcraft--and I fell in love with the things. I incorporated them into every possible meal: "Lasagna? Great--I'll just add a little cashew butter"; "Are the guests here? I'll just rip open a new bag of chili-lime-peanuts." No salad could stand alone without a quota of almonds. And then, recently, I began hating everything they stand for, and now I'm one of thoes people squinting onto labels hoping not to find a "processed with equipment shared with peanuts and other nuts" caveat.

(To be fair to the nuts, I've also had hate-love-hate affairs with Haribo "grapefruit" slices and popcorn. I'm back on with licorice, but the passion seems too strong to last. I'll save my candy-oriented vitriol for some other time.)

Has anyone else ever had a love affair (as in, with a beginning and end) with a particular food?

College Board Wants to Erase Thousands of Years From AP World History, and Teachers Aren't Happy

One would be forgiven for thinking that the Ides of March are upon us, because Julius Caesar is being taken out once again—this time from the Advanced Placement World History exam. The College Board in charge of the AP program is planning to remove the Roman leader, and every other historical figure who lived and died prior to 1450, from high school students’ tests, The New York Times reports.

The nonprofit board recently announced that it would revise the test, beginning in 2019, to make it more manageable for teachers and students alike. The current exam covers over 10,000 years of world history, and according to the board, “no other AP course requires such an expanse of content to be covered over a single school year.”

As an alternative, the board suggested that schools offer two separate year-long courses to cover the entirety of world history, including a Pre-AP World History and Geography class focusing on the Ancient Period (before 600 BCE) up through the Postclassical Period (ending around 1450). However, as Politico points out, a pre-course for which the College Board would charge a fee "isn’t likely to be picked up by cash-strapped public schools," and high school students wouldn't be as inclined to take the pre-AP course since there would be no exam or college credit for it.

Many teachers and historians are pushing back against the proposed changes and asking the board to leave the course untouched. Much of the controversy surrounds the 1450 start date and the fact that no pre-colonial history would be tested.

“They couldn’t have picked a more Eurocentric date,” Merry E. Wiesner-Hanks, who previously helped develop AP History exams and courses, told The New York Times. “If you start in 1450, the first thing you’ll talk about in terms of Africa is the slave trade. The first thing you’ll talk about in terms of the Americas is people dying from smallpox and other things. It’s not a start date that encourages looking at the agency and creativity of people outside Europe.”

A group of teachers who attended an AP open forum in Salt Lake City also protested the changes. One Michigan educator, Tyler George, told Politico, “Students need to understand that there was a beautiful, vast, and engaging world before Europeans ‘discovered’ it.”

The board is now reportedly reconsidering its decision and may push the start date of the course back some several hundred years. Their decision will be announced in July.

[h/t The New York Times]

North America: East or West Coast?


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