Beer and Chips

When I was a college student living in Nairobi, the capital city of Kenya, I virtually lived on a diet of warm Tusker beer and chips. Chips as in french fries, not as in crisps. Kenya was colonized by the Brits so Kenyans use the British terminology for fried potato things.

Frito LayMy chips of choice were served up at a place called Hoggers, where for about 25 cents a hungry student could get a plastic bowl filled with freshly cut, deep-fried potatoes, douse them in pili pili sauce, and proceed to cry tears of spicy joy as the fork stabbed at chunks of grease-coated greatness floating in the soup of oil, potatoes, and hot sauce. It was so delicious and so cheap that I’d often eat it two or three times a day. Plus, it was right next door to Afro Unity, the pub where I’d drink bottles of warm Tusker until all hours of the day and night. I’ve never found a hot sauce in the U.S. that compares to pili pili – they just don’t make it here the way they do over there.

The combination of beer and chips, although light on the pocketbook, carried a different kind of weight. It was heavy in, um, actual weight. I put on a good 10-15 pounds in four months of beer-guzzling and chip-hogging.

But I was a skinny lad so I didn’t really care. In fact, I was actually happy to put on some weight. But I was so much younger then.

Now to make a dubious segue into another weighty topic . . .

Global warming has been topping the headlines of the Washington Post lately. There are new stories just about every day. The latest of which have to do with the newest report from the U.N. Intergovernmental Commission on Climate Change, wherein 2,500 scientists explain that a quarter of the planet’s species will die if we don’t curb emissions within seven years.

A number of breweries have already taken their own measures striving for climate-neutrality, like Sierra Nevada, who is nearing energy-independence with their on-site efficiency, fuel cells, and solar arrays. I expect this from a lefty, northern California microbrewery.

But strangely, a few global corporate pig-dogs are beginning to take emissions into their own hands (that came out wrong, although their corporate hands may indeed be soiled with the guilt of decades of pollution).

For example, Frito-Lay, purveyor of many a pulverized potato, is aiming to take their Arizona-based factory off-grid and become a net-zero producer of greenhouse gas emissions. Read the New York Times article about it here. Frito-Lay is owned by Pepsi Co., the company which earlier this year made the largest purchase of renewable energy ever – enough to offset 100% of its energy consumption.

The article quotes David Haft, Frito-Lay’s group vice president for sustainability and productivity, as saying: “This might not make a hell of a lot of sense initially, but long term this is where we need to go.” Less than inspiring perhaps, but true nonetheless.

Now if they could just come up with a decent pili pili sauce.


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