Friday, January 6, 2012


Food blog!

I've realized recently that food is a microcosm of my philosophy on life. I don't mean this in the sense that you can draw far fetched analogies between the two. I mean it in a literal sense. The things I enjoy about food are the same things I enjoy about life. 

New years resolutions. A few years ago I would've told you that I didn't believe in them. There seemed to be a conformity aspect to new years resolutions. Everyone would simultaneously resolve to improve their lives in the same predictable ways, and yet no one seemed to follow through with them.  I'm also a notorious grinch when it comes to new years (most anti-climactic ten seconds of the years--you count down and hope the world still exists at the end of your count down and nothing actually changed). Maybe it's the season, but the past few years I have started to think about the things that make me happy and why I don't do more of them.

This years I resolved to do more of my shopping at ethnic markets. In this area, that basically means Asian, Mexican and Indian markets. I've discovered that while safeway has two kinds of lentils: red and green, Indian markets have an isle dedicated to lentils (ok, so I've always hated safeway).  Discovering incredible diversity in a seemingly homogenous landscapes is one of the things I enjoy in life.  I've fallen in love with native grasses for the same reason. If you look at a grassland long enough, you'll find more species there than you would in a forest.

There's something deliberate about food. The time spent preparing and enjoying food leads to more careful observation. You notice subtle differences. You notice the diversity.  This week I've spent a lot of time making flat breads--in particular tortillas and roti. I've realized in doing so that my definition of difficult preparation differs from most. Tortillas, at least without an optimal grittle to cook them on, take forever. I mixed the masa with water, kneaded a bit and let sit for sometime then patiently pressed each one into a round tortilla and baked them individually on a pan on the stove. It probably took an hour, but it wasn't difficult. Difficult is when you can't produce a desired result regardless of the patience.

I've noticed the same deliberation running and biking. It's hard to get to know an area by car. One has to take the time to move about it. It has to require effort, it can't be comfortable.  I notice things--hills, distances--when I move deliberately at my own expense.

Things I've made this week:
Fish and beef tacos with crema from our local Mexican market
Carnitas -- from a pig my housemate and I butchered, braised in beer and spices
Otsa--a japanese-style buckwheat noodle salad with a soy ginger dressing
Cauliflower leek soup with avocado and fresh olive oil
Chana dal masala -- spiced lentils with tomatos and onions

Other delicious things I've had (but not made) this week:
Tom Kha soup with shrimp, rock cod, mussels and squid
A ridiculous assortment of curries and vegetarian dishes at Peacock in Cupertino.