Petri Dishes: Ratify, Bananify

Sep 29, 2020

Good morning, all! It’s Tuesday! Let’s converse! 

You know how they talk about having to "ratify" a treaty or an amendment to the Constitution? I don't like the way "ratify" sounds, like rats have to approve the treaty or the amendment has to be made more compatible with rats. Is there another word we could use? I have no objections to using a word based on other small mammals, like squirrels or groundhogs. I also don't like the word "mollify," which makes it sound like you either give somebody a mole to appease them, or take take them to the mall to make them happy, depending on how you pronounce "mollify."

This is a worthy challenge for the chat. Then again, after seeing that hero rat who was recently awarded a medal of some kind for his yeoman work detecting landmines, ratifying could be a process by which you have a specially trained rat walk gingerly over to the treaty and see if anything dangerous is lurking beneath it. But what other mammals would be better for treaties? Certainly not gerbils. 

As to the mall, I am not sure. 

I missed last week's chat (and will miss most, if not all, of this week's) but as the guy who first brought up my banana-selection angst, I was happy to see how banana-heavy last week's discussion was. It made me feel like I've made a lasting contribution to culture. (Here I will add my annual lament that peaches and nectarines are no longer available in the grocery store. Alas, summer is truly over.)

Thank you for your banana legacy! Summer does feel over, but at least there are gourds everywhere. 

I have a gene that makes sharp cheeses taste and smell like vomit. Which is unpleasant! I cannot stand parmesan or romano cheeses, and eating out at Italian restaurants is rough because I feel like everything is served with a little mound of what, to me, is grated puke. I want to raise awareness of this condition because I get branded as uncouth for only eating soft/mild cheeses. I promise I'm not a picky eater, it's science!

Oh no! That’s not a pleasant gene to have! And what a visceral picture you have painted. I lack the gene and even I am a little nauseated. 

Dear Alexandra, would you be willing to send me your top 10, 50, 100 books that you would read again. PLEASE? I am asking other's as well, and if you know other's please contact them so they can contact me as well. They do NOT have to be a brilliant satirist. Anyway, I responded to one of your respondents, as I am wont to do, asked her.... she said ask ask Petri, which I immediately found 'cheeky,' but she is likely older than you. Anyway, again (again?), I am going to spend a year reading all the books I should have but never did, starting on my mom's birthday...11/10. I needed sometime for the alcohol to leave my system in case trump steals the election. If you would send me YOUR list, which is what I am asking for from folks, of how many books influenced your, and are influencing you, that would be amazing. I hope that happens but I will continue reading what you write. daniel (dadigan)

This is a great request, and I need a little time to generate my list! In the interest of not entirely detailing this week’s chat as I paw over my bookcase, I am going to promise you this list now and, I hope, deliver it next week! Please feel free to remind me!

What are some solid drinking game ideas for tonight’s debate?

Drink continuously, as I assume many folks have been doing since March sometime. 

If the treaty makes your voice hoarse with glee like a football fan in a nail biter fourth quarter comeback, the treaty is approved. However if it makes you cry with gloom and despair, like being bit by a hundred horse flies while at the beach, the treaty is not approved.

So... horsify it? 

Once again, I had to use the Search tool in order to reach Petri dishes, Sept. 29, 2020. Hope they don't pay you by the click.

There is a new landing page for all chats, apparently! Here it is! 


I like it, but I am having difficulty placing the emphasis within the word.

I thought this chat was Petri Dishes, but it seems to be FRoF (bananas, sharp cheeses that taste like vomit.) Are we going to chat about Hearty Fall Soups next? FYI, that was a reference to this tweet: ABC: His taxes CNN: His taxes Animal Planet: His taxes Cartoon Network: His taxes FOX News: Hearty fall soup recipes Hearty Fall Soup Channel: His taxes

Hearty fall soups are what Americans care about the most! It is very important that we discuss only those and nothing else until Americans feel that the issue has been completely exhausted. 

Cause, you know, your chatters are awesome readers who read more than they talk and sometimes discover that they don't know how to pronounce words they have read but never heard used in conversation.

All aboard! Let’s come back next week armed with recommendations! 

I not only have a list of 50 favorite books that the original poster could read, but I could actually ship them to him. However, I need to point out that many of them have already been colored in. Yes, I stole that line, but I can't recall from whom.

It’s a great line! I think it may have bounced around. I know that Gore Vidal once joked that there had been a tragedy at the Ronald Reagan presidential library. Both books were destroyed, but the real horror: he hadn’t finished coloring either one of them. 

We are at a pivotal moment in this chat. Will the theme be animals (horses, rats) or food (cheeses, bananas)?

Will the theme be ratification or repeel?

I read somewhere that an easy way to relax yourself a bit is to inhale deeply and hold your breath for 15 seconds or so, then slowly exhale. I find it works. Helps to do it a few times before sleep. Maybe also during tonight’s debate since we don’t drink anymore. :0 (Just don’t do it until you hyperventilate!)

Yes, I was about to say, you have to remember to exhale! 

Personally, I am wary of any soup (or indeed other food) that's described as 'hearty.' There's something false and patronizing about it, as if jolly old Santa is clapping me on the back and saying, 'ho ho ho, eat up this hearty soup, young man,' and then you find it's mostly turnips and dirt.

Hear, Hear! I have been on more than one occasion disappointed by a hearty soup. To be a really hearty soup I think you must be at least 80% noodle, potato, or Large Chunks of Beef. Chili delivers on the premise if it isn’t turkey chili. Simply having a plaid can is not enough. 

Dogify. Dogs make everything better always. Just don't Prairie Dogify...

Ah but this could also imply I was getting the approval of the figurehead of Venice. 

Rowan and Martin's Laugh-In had that joke about Spiro Agnew.

Let’s see how far back we can locate it! 

There is a gene that makes beets taste like dirt.

Also, Mostly Turnips and Dirt sounds like a country album. 

Reminds me of favorite jazz musician quote about presidents, specifically when asked about Bill Clinton's saxophone playing, "He should have inhaled".

No, they don't. You're thinking of cats.

The upside to catify is it already sounds a lot like the original word! You could catify something to see if it had been ratified.

Not Gross Enough for Canada Alone, Kraft Pumpkin Spice Mac and Cheese Is Coming to the U.S.

No! Why? (How can I ask this? 2020 will spare us nothing.) But truly, why? You know how that will taste from the name. Why would you inflict that on yourself? 

Chicken and Spinach Soup with Fresh Pesto 2-4 tablespoons olive oil, divided 1 to 1½ lbs boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into quarters 1 large clove garlic, minced 5 cups chicken broth 1½ teaspoons dried marjoram 6-10 ounces fresh baby spinach, coarsely chopped 2 15-ounce cans cannellini beans or great northern beans, rinsed 1/3 to 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese 1/3 to 1/2 cup packed fresh basil leaves (the more, the better!) Fresh-ground pepper to taste Heat 1 to 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large saucepan or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add chicken; cook, turning the chicken and stirring frequently, until the chicken begins to brown, 3 to 4 minutes. Add garlic and cook, stirring, for 1 minute more. Stir in broth and marjoram; bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the chicken is cooked through, about 5-10 minutes. With a slotted spoon, transfer the chicken pieces to a clean cutting board to cool. Add spinach and beans to the pot and bring to a gentle boil. Cook for 5 minutes to blend the flavors. In a food processor, combine the remaining 1 tablespoon oil, Parmesan and basil. Process until a coarse paste forms, adding a little water or soup broth and scraping down the sides as necessary. Cut the chicken into bite-size pieces or use forks to “pull” it. Stir the chicken and pesto into the pot. Season with pepper. Heat until hot.

This sounds incredible! I think you might have tipped us over into a food chat. 

Many years ago, in the USSR, I was served a bowl of what looked like a delicious, rich, hearty soup. But when I tasted it, I found to my horror that it was a cold soup, which is a genre I generally don't ratify (or dogify, or horsify). That experience -- with a soup I found out is called okroshka -- forever soured me on cold soups.

I am sorry about your unpleasant surprise! Cold soups can be enjoyable if you know they are coming for you, but you have to be mentally prepared. 

What's wrong with coloring book? It's a crayon shame.

Might prefer codify. It's already a word and its a lot healthier to eat

You know, I can see this one! Better than scrodify. 

I can remember that joke being about Lester Maddox!

The first draft of that Joan Baez hit from the 70s was "Turnips and Dirt."

At our house, it means that one of the cats has hocked up a hairball on something.

I "adopted" one of the landmine-sniffing Hero Rats years ago and they sent me a video showing how they use bananas as a treat to reward the rats during training.

I can’t tell if this is a case of a ratified banana or a bananified rat. Perhaps both! 

of a gift basket comprised wholly of pumpkin spice food items--coffee, pastries, bread, biscotti, and mac and cheese! Could even add some candles or seasonal air fresheners. But then you'd wonder just what the gift giver thought of you?

Putting fresh pesto on top makes whatever it is the best ever. Unless, I suppose, it's chocolate cake or lemon meringue pie.

Are they grouped by author Or title? By subject matter? By how much you enjoyed them? Randomly? I moved cross country last year and had to winnow five bookshelves down to two shelves and pondered this when I was stocking the shelves in my new place.

By subject and then alphabetically by author! Except the history section, which is chronological. 

Is Soupe au Pistou, the best soup ever invented.

And speaking of soup, I have to depart right at the bell today! But I wish you a souperior evening and week, and will come bearing book recommendations, I hope, a week from today! In the meantime, see you on Twitter and the blog

So be it... codified. 

In This Chat
Alexandra Petri
Alexandra Petri is a Washington Post columnist offering a lighter take on the news and opinions of the day. She is the author of "A Field Guide to Awkward Silences." She joined The Post as an intern in 2010, after graduating from Harvard College.
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