Venti Mud

by J.D. Roth

I’m proud to announce the arrival of a new Portland foodblog, one hosted here at foldedspace. Amy Jo presents From a Corner Table, her forum for restaurant reviews, cooking tips, cookbook evaluations, and all around foodie goodness. Amy Jo has a long, rich history with food, and I look forward to reading her blog. Check it out!

We had no power when we got to work this morning. A quick call to PGE revealed that a tree was responsible for the outage, that a crew had been dispatched, and that they expected to restore power (to the 1567 customers affected) by 8:45. Wow. A computerized support system that’s actually useful.

There’s not much that can be done to make boxes when your equipment has no power. We offered to take our crew out to breakfast or coffee, but they declined. They sat in their cars to keep warm. A couple of them made a run to the “Chinese market” for sodas and deep-fried food.

I sat in my office and tried to read tomorrow’s book group selection by candlelight.

I was cold.

“I’m going to Starbucks,” I told Jeff.

“Get me a venti mocha,” he said.

“What size is that?” I’ve never been able to understand Starbuck’s sizing system. I have no idea why they insist on using such strange terms.

“It’s the largest,” Jeff said.

At Starbucks, I asked the waitron if they still had chantico mix. “Yes we do, sir, would you like one?”

It was a tough call. “I would like some,” I said, “but I’d probably better not. I’d probably better learn about your other non-coffee drinks. Let me try your hot chocolate.”

“What size would you like, sir?”

“Large,” I said. I was cold.

VENTI MOCHA! VENTI HOT CHOCOLATE!” shouted the waitron to the young woman standing at the steamer three feet away.

When I saw the size of the venti drinks, I liked to have died. What the hell, people? Do you all really order drinks this large? Incredible. Absolutely incredible. Nobody needs that much coffee or hot chocolate.

On my drive back to the office, I sipped my hot chocolate. Calling this drink “chocolate” is generous. It’s more like “tepid flavorless” or, as I like to think of it, “tepid mud”. Was there any flavoring at all? It was as if a thickening agent had been added to water and heated for a few seconds. The drink tasted vaguely of platic. It was disgusting. Where I used order a six-ounce chantico — a drink of pure, delcious chocolate — for $2.65, I had just spent $2.55 on a venti mud. I rolled down the window and dumped the venti mud into the rain.

I shan’t be buying one of those again. I guess I’ll have to try the vanilla steamer or whatever it’s called. But not a venti. Nobody needs a venti anything.

It’s now 8:50. We still have no power. Jeff, who had been sitting in his truck keeping warm, just came in to give me an update. Jose, who had run to Woodburn for something, drove by the site of the problem. Apparently the power outage was actually caused by an automobile accident. A car struck a power pole. Jose says that the workers at the scene have just placed a new pole in the ground (!?!) but have not begun to string the wires. We’ll probably be in the dark for another hour.

Updated: 06 January 2006

Do what's right. Do your best. Accept the outcome.
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