Iowa Writes

BRUCE MOORE
Oh gross, this orange is moldy


"Oh, gross!  Dad, the orange is moldy!"

"Ah, not so fast, my young and nescient one," I playfully admonished.  "Before we speak so disdainfully about our fluffy friend, please consider the amazing and entertaining mold facts I am about to impart upon your person."

"What we commonly call "mold" is actually a general term that encompasses not only the molds, but also the mildews, yeasts, rusts, smuts, and even toadstools and mushrooms.  Take, for example, mushrooms.  As the windy, cold, snowy days of March thaw into the calm, warm, rainy days of April, "The Order of the Schroomers" descends upon the awakening forest floor like flies on horse dung. We fanatical mushroom hunters are in search of our Holy Grail, the morel. The morel is that six- to eight-inch tall, light tan to dark brown, sponge-like finger protruding from the moist, black soil. Once captured, sprinkled with flour and fried in real butter, it rewards us with what can only be described as epicurean ecstasy. As we hoist our colas to the heavens and toast another successful hunt, let us not forget that we are honoring the King of. . .MOLDS!           

"And remember also, little Grasshopper, that we do not retreat in revulsion when our midnight sortie to the kitchen reveals (thanks to the ever-vigilant eye of the refrigerator light bulb), a dark green, talc-like growth completely shrouding a long overripe orange.  Not retreat indeed. We must view this chance encounter with a moldy orange as yet another opportunity to personally thank the resident mold, Penicillim gilmanii, the genesis of medical penicillin, for its tireless battle against a multitude of infectious bacteria.  In fact, a mere "thank you" sounds a bit bourgeois.  Perhaps "Thank you, your most worthy and noble Grand Poo-Bah of all the molds," would be more appropriate.

"Oh, gross!  Dad, the orange is moldy!"

"Ah, not so fast, my young and nescient one," I playfully admonished.  "Before we speak so disdainfully about our fluffy friend, please consider the amazing and entertaining mold facts I am about to impart upon your person."

"What we commonly call "mold" is actually a general term that encompasses not only the molds, but also the mildews, yeasts, rusts, smuts, and even toadstools and mushrooms.  Take, for example, mushrooms.  As the windy, cold, snowy days of March thaw into the calm, warm, rainy days of April, "The Order of the Schroomers" descends upon the awakening forest floor like flies on horse dung. We fanatical mushroom hunters are in search of our Holy Grail, the morel. The morel is that six- to eight-inch tall, light tan to dark brown, sponge-like finger protruding from the moist, black soil. Once captured, sprinkled with flour and fried in real butter, it rewards us with what can only be described as epicurean ecstasy. As we hoist our colas to the heavens and toast another successful hunt, let us not forget that we are honoring the King of. . .MOLDS!           

"And remember also, little Grasshopper, that we do not retreat in revulsion when our midnight sortie to the kitchen reveals (thanks to the ever-vigilant eye of the refrigerator light bulb), a dark green, talc-like growth completely shrouding a long overripe orange.  Not retreat indeed. We must view this chance encounter with a moldy orange as yet another opportunity to personally thank the resident mold, Penicillim gilmanii, the genesis of medical penicillin, for its tireless battle against a multitude of infectious bacteria.  In fact, a mere "thank you" sounds a bit bourgeois.  Perhaps "Thank you, your most worthy and noble Grand Poo-Bah of all the molds," would be more appropriate.

"Excuse me, my son, I notice your eyes are closed and you aren't responding to my voice. I can only say that I too was rendered speechless upon hearing for the first time the truly unique and astounding qualities of our friends, the molds. Let's continue.

"No discussion of the exciting world of molds would be complete without mentioning the yeasts, which, by the way, are delightfully manifested in two of my favorite foods, donuts and pizza.  Who hasn't experienced the olfactory orgasm of freshly baked donuts? We have our microscopic, unicellular friend, the yeast, to thank.  Of course my all-time favorite yeast, with which I've spent many enjoyable evenings and weekends, is Saccharomyces cerevisiae, or common baker's yeast. I recall with fondness the times I have stuffed one more piece of extra-thick, extra-cheese pepperoni pizza into my salivating mouth and raised my grease-stained hand to my forehead in a salute to these tiny molds, the yeasts. I can't help but get a bit emotional when I consider the multitude of metabolic pathways they had to utilize to unselfishly offer up their final gift for my gastric delight.

"In fact," I muse, "what would my early adult years have been without these mainstays of youth, donuts and pizza?

"I'm sorry son, I digress.  Son. . . Son?  No matter, let's continue our fantastic voyage through the breathtaking world of molds.

"While I could expound endlessly about our loyal and trusted friends, the molds, time and space unfortunately constrain me. Perhaps the most fitting conclusion to our brief survey is to advise that in the future, upon discovering a moldy orange, we not exclaim, "Oh gross, this orange is moldy!" Instead, let us exclaim with equal fervor, "Oh, Dad, we are in luck—this orange is moldy!"

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About Iowa Writes

Since 2006, Iowa Writes has featured the work of Iowa-identified writers (whether they have Iowa roots or live here now) and work published by Iowa journals and publishers on The Daily Palette. Iowa Writes features poetry, fiction, or nonfiction twice a week on the Palette.

In November of 2008, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) designated Iowa City, Iowa, the world's third City of Literature, making the community part of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network.

Iowa City has joined Edinburgh, Scotland and Melbourne, Australia as UNESCO Cities of Literature.

Find out more about submitting by contacting iowa-writes@uiowa.edu


BRUCE MOORE

Bruce Moore received his BA from The University of Iowa in 1970 and his MA in biology from Drake University in 1973. He and his wife Betsy live in Geneseo, Illinois and have four children and six grandchildren.

This page was first displayed
on November 20, 2009

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