Saturday, July 2, 2016

What's More American than Nachos Grande?

America's food history is filled with imports. It's also filled with American adaptations or outright fabrications of food from other countries. 

For example, it is not a well-known fact that the American-Chinese restaurant staple, General Tso's Chicken, is about as Chinese as George Washington. Sure, there was a General Tso's chicken that originated in Taipei, but it is a wholly different dish. The dish we know as General Tso's actually started as General Ching's chicken at a restaurant in New York City, as detailed in this short article on Huffington Post.  (N.B. There is a great movie on Netflix called "The Search for General Tso" that details this as well and speaks more generally to Chinese food in America.)

Another food type that we Americans have essentially molded and formed into our own flavor profiles is Mexican food. In the early 1950s, when Taco Bell opened, it was considered an exotic and authentic example of Mexican food. These days -- especially in big cities -- we are spoiled for choices of excellent, true-to-Mexico restaurants that are often owned and operated by Mexican-Americans providing a taste of their cuisine from home. 

That is a long way to get to baseball cards. You can thank Señor Nachos Grande a/k/a Chris and his recent multi-box break for the teaser of food history. I selected the Brewers in the break, of course, and my random other team assigned was the Washington Nationals. As you could probably guess, I got a lot more Nationals than I did Brewers. Chris recognized that and threw in some Brewers for me as well.

With this being the Fourth of July weekend, I thought a nice patriotic music theme should go well with the title of this post.

I recall playing that song when I was in high school band. Let me tell you -- it sounds reasonably straight forward musically when you hear it as a full-band piece. It is devilishly difficult to play each individual part -- especially as perfectly as the U.S. Marine Band does in that video. That piccolo break -- when they are all standing and highlighted -- is particularly hard to play...and even harder to listen to if the piccolos don't absolutely nail it. Finally, that final flourish at the end, when the trumpets stand and are featured -- has the piccolo break repeated throughout the woodwinds. That part was damn near impossible to play on saxophone.

In the spirit of patriotism, let's start with the Washington Nationals cards. I haven't quite figured out where these are going to go at this point other than not into my collection, so if you have a burgeoning need for more Harper, let me know.

As you can see, Chris's box break included 2016 Diamond Kings, 2016 Finest, and 2016 Donruss. It also included some other high-end product from which I was shut out. That said, I did get a bunch of Bryce, including both variations on the Diamond Kings base card. I couldn't tell you which is the short print and which is the regular version -- I think the blue is the short print -- but it is Diamond Kings so the marketability on eBay of any short print is pretty limited.

At any rate, I also got another of those next best things in the Trea Turner card, and also got a couple of cool Expos in Tim Raines and Vladimir Guerrero. It is a little weird to highlight a team moved to DC after being stolen from the fine people of Quebec, but hey -- what's more American than taking something from someone and somewhere else and calling it ours?

Yes, I recognize that there is nothing patriotic about this song and, that, it really is a song about how America in the 1970s and 1980s pretty much screwed over all the Vietnam vets thanks to the unpopularity of that war. 

The good thing about all these issues being highlighted in the 1980s is that it seemed to mark a sea change in how we viewed our military forces going forward. Starting in the early 1990s and to the present date and as a country, we seem to appreciate the members of our armed forces far more now than we did in the past even if we are personally opposed to the wars or military activities in which the soldiers are fighting.

I got a little serious there, so let's lighten it up by getting back to the cards. When I said earlier that I did not really get that many Brewers in the box breaks, I meant it. I believe this is the entire product from those boxes Chris opened. Sure, the end product was a bit disappointing, but I kind of knew that would be the case when I signed up for the break. 

From time to time, I sign up for one of these breaks knowing I won't do well if only to support a fellow blogger like Chris in these endeavors. Because Chris is a good guy, he throws in extra Brewers to help make up for the fact that I didn't do all that well on my regular team selection. Like what? Let's get a musical introduction first:

I remember having this song on a record album as a little kid. Musically, it is a little schmaltzy. But, its story is powerful. If you are a lyrics person, you can't help but be touched by it. Of course, if you are not familiar with the Green Berets, you should read up on them -- they are the U.S. Army Special Forces, and their Special Forces Command base is located at Fort Bragg, North Carolina -- where the Braves and Marlins will be playing tomorrow night.

Such an august song deserves some pretty special cards. Since I was entirely lost in the woods from collecting in the late 1990s and early 2000s, cards from that era always strike me as being a bit special. Chris took a look at my want lists and noticed that I needed a number of cards from that time period -- and man, it is always good to cross off cards from 15 to 20 years ago from the want lists. No one brings those to shows, after all, and a lot of us are around the same age such that we did not collect in that time period.

Everyone likes a little nostalgia -- especially when it is nostalgia for one's own childhood. John Mellencamp nailed this tribute for the Baby Boomer generation who grew up on 50s and 60s rock/folk hits. 

Me? I like the song alright, but I got tired of it in high school because we had to play the damn thing constantly in pep band for basketball.

Chris sent me a ton of other Brewers cards, some of which I had but most of which I needed. The final highlights were these four cards that I needed for my various player collections -- and, in particular, that Ryan Braun relic. 

Thanks, Chris, for the cards and the break.

One final highlight today:

Lee Greenwood had one song that pretty much overshadowed nearly the rest of his career -- "God Bless the USA." I was in college in 1990-1991 during the first revival of this song being big thanks to Desert Storm. Even though I am hardly a mindless flag-waver (our country is awesome -- don't get me wrong -- but the fine line between patriotism/nationalism and jingoistic racism gets crossed way too easily in America), I have a tough time listening to this song without tearing up during the chorus of the song.

I hope that y'all enjoy your weekend. Tomorrow for me will mean 100+ people at my house for a huge Fourth of July pig roast -- a 68-pound pig will be served up in the interests of celebrating America, cooked inside La Caja China (a contraption I showed off last year here).

After all, what is more American than a Cuban immigrant making a ton of money off a contraption labeled in Spanish and called "The Chinese Box"?


  1. Happy 4th to you - and glad the bonus cards helped to ease the pain of lack of Brewers in the main break. At least the Nats were a solid "bonus" team - I was shocked no one picked them up!

  2. I like that Guerrero and Raines.. lol

  3. General Tso's chicken sounds amazing right now. So does a Mexican pizza from Taco Bell.