I used to have an AP English teacher in high school who would publicly humiliate individuals whenever they made careless mistakes in their writing and then proceed to make them grab one of the ancient grammar books in the back of the class and correct the mistakes they made along with citing what grammar rules their mistakes violated in the grammar book. This lady was fierce. I sat in the second row in front of her desk, and I remember sitting in that class, hoping she won't call on me to read another set of lines from Chaucer's "The Wife of Bath's Tale" (from The Canterbury Tales). It was impressive how she demonstrated how Old English was supposed to sound like. Even though I was afraid of her for more than half of the time, her AP English course was one of the most memorable and rewarding classes I've ever taken in high school. I vividly remember that she would constantly emphasize how she'll grade students down for writing "fluff." 

If fluff, in terms of writing, is basically b.s. written to make your carelessly thought out thesis seem loftier than it actually is, what is exactly is fluff for food? For dishes, I think herbal/leafy garnishes for dishes are food fluff. This makes me think of Kathleen Kelly in You've Got Mail (1998) when she gets annoyed at Joe Fox ("F-O-X") for taking all of the caviar garnish: "What is that? What are you doing? You're taking all the caviar? That caviar is a garnish!" 

Joe Fox scoops up caviar

"That caviar is a garnish!"

To me, the purpose of food garnish is to make your food visually more appetizing than it might actually be, and thus, tricking you into believing that the expensive meal you just paid for is worth the money even more because it looks great - or in the case of You've Got Mail, making your guests believe the food they're eating is worth more or tastes better than it actually does. I don't remember ever trying caviar, but why would you use caviar as a garnish if it's so expensive in general? It feels pointless to use expensive caviar as garnish if you're only going to be criticized for eating it. It's food... it's meant to be eaten, especially after someone takes the first scoop of food out of the dish that's being garnished. The presentation of the dish is ruined; I'm sure it's okay to eat the garnish by then.

Joe Fox at Starbucks
The drink garnish I'm guilty of telling baristas to add to my Starbucks drinks is whipped cream. I like my hot caffeinated drinks to be warm, inviting, and fluffy with milkiness and sugary sweetness. I usually order a "grande hot chai tea latte with extra whipped cream" (my order verbatim). I suppose it classifies me as one of those whole tea leaf enthusiasts who probably prefers to go to Coffee Bean and Tea but will settle for a chai tea latte at Starbucks instead because it's closer.

I notice that some guys who try to appear or make themselves feel manlier use verbal fluff. They use words like baller, boned, and bro. With seemingly cute witticisms, frequent references to popular TV sitcoms, and maybe a wink, these guys provide charming (well, depending on how vulgar they may be) distractions to what you're avoiding to do or think about. I don't mind this kind of verbal fluff as long as people eventually open up about themselves, mix up the conversation topics every so often, and not merely try to impress you and themselves with watered down conversations that really lack any substance. Verbal fluff is a part of everyday life and everyone is guilty of using it; it could be good and bad depending on how and when you use them. There's an endless variety of verbal fluff depending on your demographic, upbringing, and geographical location (oh dear... this is crossing over to linguistics, isn't it?). 

Well, lately I've been feeling that our current society is bombarded with excessive distractions ("fluff" as I call it) that even I'm starting to feel like I have ADD. My new cell phone from Verizon arrived in the mail yesterday (it's an LG Chocolate Touch - love that name because it makes me think of this book I read in elementary school), and I must have spent several hours playing with that thing, trying to add mp3s, pictures, and ringtones to it instead of posting a blog entry about food (Trader Joe's sweet potato frites and Archer Farms Napoli style sun dried tomato pasta salad) like I sought out to do about ten minutes before the Fed-Ex guy knocked on the door.

my LG Chocolate Touch

I feel that with so trivial distractions online (i.e. Facebook, Tumblr, Twitter, Formspring.me, LiveJournal, YouTube) and also in life, many people can easily forget or lose focus on the what really matters to them. There are so many snarky hipsters on social networking websites trying to out-snark each other with witticisms that it's starting to get a little old. In the end, no one really actually cares if you saw the latest episode of How I Met Your Mother or how many times you've pulled a "that's what she said" moment. I don't detest social networking websites because virtual communities bring people together, but at the same time, I can't say that I'm not concerned about how virtual fluff or just fluff/distractions in general are cluttering up our lives.

P.S. Happy Birthday, sis!

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