Plop plop fizz fizz

Boise Ed sends this in and asks if there is supposed to be something psychedelic about marinara sauce. We suppose that might just be a matter of spicy food leading to disturbed sleep; but there is still an issue of how to tell whose dream it is from within the dream. Or: who is the butterfly and who is the emperor?


  1. I just see it as a (not very funny) rendition of dream logic. Green Shirt is almost in lucid dreaming, but he isn’t quite detached enough from the dream state to notice the futility of arguing with a person in a dream.

  2. The art manages to still be clearly Carrillo’s regular F-Minus style while taking on something of a Peter Max feel, if you remember him.

  3. Marinara sauce is just food disturbing sleep (like Ebenezer Scrooge’s commenting the ghost could be just an undigested bit of beef).

    (Scrooge says “There’s more gravy than grave to you”. This man is saying “There’s more basil than basis to your petulance”)

    The man and the woman are having a fight in a dream. We don’t know whose dreaming whom but the man says it could be anyone’s dream so he’s claiming it’s his and if it is his whatever they are fighting about is not his fault. It’s the Marinara sauce for making him dream the fight.

  4. Yes, woozy has it. Similarly, in Dreams of the Rarebit Fiend, the weird dream was always blamed on the consumption of welsh rabbit.

  5. I think that spicy foods or whatever don’t cause dreams so much as wake you so you realize you’ve been dreaming.

  6. Broadly relevant: I had a dream this morning in which I mentioned dreaming to what turned out to be a dream character.

    I was in a plane landing in Latvia and saw a Cathay Pacific 747 take off and suffer its undercarriage falling off. I tapped the shoulder of a nearby flight attendant and told her what I’d seen, but then said, as she phoned the captain on her mobile, “I think I saw it – maybe I just woke up and only dreamt it” (on reflection, the plane’s wheels looked implausibly big and had blue rims and cream hubs). Little did the lady I spoke to realise that she, unfortunately, owed her own existence to my dream state. A moment later I did indeed wake up and wiped her out.

    (Perhaps she is a real person in another part of the world and this morning had a dream in which i was a character).


    1 large can (28 ounces) whole peeled tomatoes*
    1 medium yellow onion, peeled and halved
    2 large cloves garlic, peeled but left whole
    2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
    1 teaspoon dried oregano
    Pinch of red pepper flakes (optional, omit if sensitive to spice)
    Salt, to taste (if necessary)
    Optional, for serving: Cooked pasta, grated Parmesan cheese or vegan Parmesan, chopped fresh basil, additional olive oil


    In a medium, heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine the tomatoes (with their juices), halved onion, garlic cloves, olive oil, oregano and red pepper flakes (if using).

    Bring the sauce to a simmer over medium-high heat, then lower the heat to keep the sauce at a slow, steady simmer for about 45 minutes, or until droplets of oil float free of the tomatoes. Stir occasionally, and use a sturdy wooden spoon to crush the tomatoes against the side of the pot after about 15 minutes has passed.

    Remove the pot from the heat and discard the onion. Smash the garlic cloves against the side of the pot with a fork, then stir the smashed garlic into the sauce. Do the same with any tiny onion pieces you might find. Use the wooden spoon to crush the tomatoes to your liking (you can blend this sauce smooth with an immersion blender or stand blender, if desired).

    Add salt, to taste (the tomatoes are already pretty salty, so you might just need a pinch). Serve warm. This sauce keeps well, covered and refrigerated, for up to 4 days. Freeze it for up to 6 months.


  8. You could also think of marinara as a base, on which richer versions are based. Notice there’s no meat in the basic recipe? Waiting to be added, just as mushrooms might. But the basic recipe is just the things a ship’s cook could be expected to have on hand. (Since alla marinara means sailor style.)

    Of course, mushrooms might not be available on board ship. But they would be plentiful in some regions if you were out with a hunting party. Which might be part of why cacciatore (per “Prepared in a spicy tomato sauce with mushrooms and herbs”) is from the word for hunter.

  9. FWIW: The food itself is not a hallucigen, it’s that the spicy food wakes you up and you recall the dream more clearly than usual.

    “June 01, 2012

    Medical conditions that wake you up can potentially lead to increased recall of dreams—including disturbing ones. A person who wakes up during the dreaming phase of sleep is “closer” to the dream and will therefore recall it more vividly. As for late-night eating directly causing nightmares, small studies of individuals who ate immediately before sleep have not shown a consistent relationship.

    However, nocturnal eating can interrupt your sleep in various ways, prompting recall of disturbing dreams by the mechanism described above. For example, eating a large meal, especially a high-carbohydrate meal, could trigger night sweats because the body generates heat as it metabolizes the food. Also, gastroesophageal reflux (GERD), caused by lying down with a full stomach, may trigger symptoms that wake you up.”

  10. Honestly, never in my life have I experienced food affects my dreams, my ability to sleep maybe, but my dreams never. I always assumed the belief it was literary license and hyperbole.

  11. I do a lot of cooking, but I think most of the commercial pasta sauces are quite good. None of them have been the least bit psychedelic.

  12. Most of the pasta sauces I’ve tried are too sweet for me. Mixed with some other stuff it’s not so bad.

  13. Newman’s own I can tolerate but none of the others. But it’s such an easy thing to make yourself (and you can make just like you like it) so why bother?

  14. That’s kind of my philosophy. Especially now that I’m no longer a productive member of society. One of my goals is to get back to cooking more.

  15. “I always thought “spaghetti gravy” was a Philly expression, not Boston.” The writers used it in “The Sopranos” (New Jersey). It sounded very weird to this Californian’s ears.

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