Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Gross, Terry Gross

Earlier this week, on NPR’s Fresh Air [LISTEN HERE], there was an entomologist guest, an expert on the dung beetle (not to be confused with The Dung Beatles, at right, who are also not to be confused with that other band, the Fabulous Dung Beatles – and The Beatles themselves have created permanent confusion over the spelling of the word “beetles.”

Anyway… as interesting as the discussion of the dung beetle was, even more interesting was the discussion of coffee (which starts near the end of the interview - about 32 minutes in). The transition between dung beetles and coffee came via cockroaches. Terry Gross was curious about why so many people hate cockroaches – even many entomologists hate cockroaches and kill them on sight (it’s hard for me to understand that as well – so, Terry, good question!). His answer included a story about a fellow scientist who, while they were traveling together, had to make frequent detours (pre-Starbucks) in order to find coffee made from freshly-ground whole beans rather than the stuff made from pre-ground coffee. His explanation for making them go through that was because he was allergic to cockroaches. (I also have a mild allergy to them, and Jax (the cat) has a more severe allergy verified by skin testing.) Cockroaches must like the smell of coffee (well, who doesn’t?) and the small percentage of cockroach that gets included in ground coffee was enough to set off an allergic reaction in him.

Apparently they will do anything to get into your coffee, including smuggling themselves in via Nestle's Coffee Mate [reference]. It was unfortunate for all involved, the roach ended up dead at bottom of the container, where the consumers discovered his body after having used the rest of the jar in their coffee. Nestle was apparently apologetic only to the point of providing them with a replacement Coffee Mate.

If you'd rather avoid real contact of cockroaches and coffee, you could try this drink called "Cucaracha" (and many other things), made generally from equal parts coffee liqueur and tequila. Even if the buggers dusted themselves into the Kahlua, the tequila should kill the germs.

That has not been scientifically verified. ;-)

Gold roach porcelain here

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