Thursday, January 12, 2012

Long-Ass POLAOWN update

Booze - To date the sum of the alcohol that I have consumed is a sip of MLQ's cocktail at Sacred Chow. It was a delicious and unexpected combination of flavors that made me sad to not be drinking this month.

Bars - Twice I have been to a bar. I did not drink in either case. I did, however, leave early in both cases. I got sleepy.

Hiding things - I had to put the Hoppin' John, the Collards, and the Casserole in the freezer to keep myself from eating them. I also hid the potato chips, the Bugles, and other fatty and sugary snacks in a metal tin. I might have to throw that tin into the freezer. I might have to buy a larger freezer.

Meat - I have had one bite of Salmon. Besides this, no meat has been consumed yet. I think about chicken, grilled, fried, in salad, in sandwiches, baked. And tuna. I think about tuna sandwiches with lots of mayo. I miss the texture. The chewy denseness of eating something that has been eating all that plant matter, converting and accumulating it on your behalf.

Bahn Mi - I had a vegetarian Bahn Mi. It was on white bread. What can you do. The first half of it startled me by tasting like pork. It had that chewy, dense texture. The second half of it, eaten much later, tasted like Seitan. I wonder if this means that in a short span of time I will be insisting that a bagel with scallion tofu spread tastes just like a Big Mac. I might try the bagel thing tomorrow just to see what happens.

White bread - White bread was supposed to be on my do not eat list. But I am revisiting this because white bread is amazing. AMAZING. Like a food miracle.

Pasta - I had squash ravioli because the Fella offered to cook for me and it was a choice between that and mac and cheese. It tasted strange, like candy pasta with herbs and olive oil. The squash filling was super sweet.

Sugar - Sugar is ubiquitous. I had some ginger ale. I put sugar in things that I was cooking. It's probably in the yogurt, the jam, the sauces, the dressings, the juices, the bread, and everything industrially processed that I have eaten this month. I think about cookies a lot. I walked by a place that smelled like cake. Heavenly. I stood on the sidewalk out front just steeping in cake smells.

Carbs in General - I remembered that eating carbs is delicious and filling. And so I have embraced whole wheat bread, Wasa Wheat Crisps and potatoes. The potatoes in particular have balanced out with the other stuff to make me feel less bloaty and squishy. More substantial.

I took a second try at baking bread. In honor of POLAOWN, I tried to bake a whole wheat loaf. It ended up being this enormous yeasty biscuit. It tastes terrible but I keep eating it. The Fella had a slice and said that it reminded him of the bread that they put MRE's from his days in the Marine Corp. I have had this. It like eating a pop-tart, without the frosting, the sweet filling that is soft, bland, and less crumbly. I think he was trying to be supportive. I am going to try to bake more bread this weekend.

Juices - on the recommendation of my cube-mate, I have had a few juice bar drinks. Juice bar juices are not like Naked Juice. Nor are they like the bottled offerings of Welch's or Tropicana. They can be pretty bland. Which puts the whole concept of concentrated juice in an entirely different light. For years, I have regarded juice concentrate as inferior and adulterated. Now I realize that it takes a lot of apples, concentrated into a small volume, to capture the vivid apple flavor in bottled apple juice. It probably helps to know the full range of your options, perhaps pick something from the juice menu. A random fruits and vegetables tossed into a juicer will not guarantee deliciousness. My first juice was had berries and nice things but was ruined by the addition of carrots and watermelon. Despite being watery, watermelon ends up having a very strong taste that will assert itself in a not enjoyable way. The second one was beets, carrots, lemon, celery, orange, ginger and kale - not much better. The third time, I got a smoothie. It had banana, strawberries, and pineapple, crushed ice, and Tropicana orange juice. That one was delicious. I attribute this to the industrial OJ. The Cube-mate has since offered to send me juice and smoothie recipes.

Healthnut restaurants - The Fella and I went to this macrobiotic place and had the blandest food ever. His was actually kinda nice but mine was exceptionally bland. And this was not the sort of place to have a salt shaker at the table. During the course of the meal I started hallucinate that the carrots and onions were actually delicious and everything else was bland "It's a shame about the rest of this meal, the onions and carrots are so flavorful flavor, and suggest potential." The Fella had wisely pre-gamed by snacking on fried chicken at Popeye's. While I was not bowled over by the food, it did seem to put me in a slightly euphoric and goofy mood. It might have been my relief at not having to eat my own cooking.

In my second adventure I went to Sacred Chow with MLQ. And the food was pretty good. I had half a Tempeh Reuben and a bowl of New England Cauliflower Chowder. Both pretty good. Although it wreaked havoc on my system. The waiter told us a little bit about the dangers of gluten for those who are sensitive. I wonder if I am one of them. That or it might have been the cauliflower.

Brown Rice - Brown rice was supposed to be my carb for the month. But I am not having much luck with making it. The recent batch came out like a big pot of paste. It was like oatmeal! At the macrobiotic place the brown rice was very enjoyable and I think short grain. I might try the short grain stuff to see if I like the texture a little better.

I am trying to sprout brown rice. I have had this long-grain brown rice for several years and am amazed that it would sprout at all. Seeds are a wonder. It's sitting in the fridge waiting for me to cook it. Back to my brown rice mental block. Perhaps by the end of the month, I will get the knack of this brown rice thing.

Had I embarked on a set diet or eating strategy, instead of this aimless parade of ad hoc moderation/deprivation I would be putting less mental energy into it.

Mental space that could be devoted to reading, writing, a job search, music, yoga, cleaning, exercise, organizing, improving my sleep habits, well the list goes on and on. I like that the list goes on from things that I actually would do all the way to things that I will probably never do, despite my best intentions.

But no, all I think about is food. With any edible thing that I see, I ask myself, "Do I want to eat this? Should I eat it?"

I am not sure what I am getting out of this besides a thing to focus on besides the quiet desperation of living. I suppose it is also a month-long exercise in mental recasting. Food has been my happiness, my solace, my comfort, my entertainment, my stress reliever. And now food is a question for constant meditation. To eat or not. And to eat what?

For now, I consider that to be plenty.

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