Tuesday, August 3, 2010

You are what you eat, and drink

Consume an ounce of whiskey and you will notice the change in mood and behavior immediately. However, it is not just whiskey everything we drink, even the quality of water, or anything we eat has some subtle or significant influence on our behavior. Consumed over a period, not just the weekend binge, the type of food we consume literally shapes our personality prompting ancient thinkers like Hippocrates to remark, “You are what you eat”.

Some question this by saying that it is our experiences and habits that shape our personality but the two are linked because it is our habits that shape our tastes and food choices. In another post in this blog it was  mentioned that a human personality is shaped by memory and experiences and one might ask which of the two is more significant - food or experiences?. My understanding is that humans gravitate towards the foods and actions that agree with their inner inclinations and personality and so in the end both causes are two sides of the same horse.

Not just individuals it seems that entire geographical regions, people and civilizations are influenced by the food and water of the region. An ancient Indian, highly revered Saint, Kabir had noted during his travels that people who had sweet water to drink spoke sweetly and those who drank salted or foul tasting water often had harsh or foul speech. Similarly he noted that those who consumed highly pure food had pure thoughts and personality as compared to others whose food was not of similar quality.

It appears that entire civilizations are shaped by food and that the excellence of European and Japanese civilization is tied in with the food the majority consumes. The consumption of wine, cheese, vine vinegar, freshly baked breads and cakes, olive oil, olives, nuts, fruit berries of various kinds are historically quite unique to the European culture just as the consumption of seafood, tea and rice is historically unique to the Japanese culture. Individual geographical variations exist and the uniquely harsh mechanical character of the Germans in Europe as compared to the French may be linked to their consumption of hard breads, bitter beer, Sauer kraut and massive sausages just as the easy going character of the Italians and Spaniards in comparison may have something to do with olives and tomatoes besides the heat and the type of vegetables that grow in that heat. I do not mean to generalize the behavior of regions. What I refer to here is the behavior of a significant majority and average traits that do vary. Individual behavior varies, so does individual food preferences and at the present time there are very many vegans as well amongst the Germans. In my experience they are gentler in behaviour. Here too there are notable exceptions, Hitler being one.

In India people living in Delhi have been historically known to be more energetic and disciplined as compared to others of nearby regions and that is in spite of the heavy pollution of the city. Just across the river from Delhi are the districts of Ghaziabad and Meerut that have been recognized as the crime, decay and filth capitals of the country. The food consumed by both the areas is similar but there is a significant difference in the quality of water. In the latter districts it is foul tasting, impure and saline. Recently however the crime scene has been moving into Delhi as has the water from further north because of increasing population.

The human body is virtually a chemical factory and it manufactures very many chemicals that the body needs for its functioning. Therefore often if an essential component is missing in food it can manufacture it if the component elements are available in the food.. This is especially true when a person is young and the body processes functioning at their peak. As one ages though the various factories of the bodies slow down and aging persons (those who have crossed forty and especially those who have crossed fifty or sixty) can benefit greatly by introducing a new supplement in their diet. Here are some I have found effective in my own experience recently,

1. Increasing intake of iodine and potassium slightly is likely to be helpful in diet and the easiest source for it is modified table salts that contain these additives.

2. Adding a Mallic acid and magnesium supplement may be considered in consultation with a doctor

3. Consume a bit of apple cider or wine vinegar in a salad, soup or water.

4. Switching to Green tea from the roasted black variety. Do not add milk to the tea but you may add one or more of the herbs –ginseng, ashwagandha, holy Basil leaves (dried if fresh are not around), dried white mulberry leaves. Replace more than half your sugar with honey if natural honey is available and a bit of stevia extract. There is a post about Stevia in this blog.

5. Five freshly shelled and soaked almonds consumed daily as well as a couple of freshly shelled walnuts may help keep Alzheimer and Dementia at bay, and introducing other nuts and foods from trees help restore missing elements not found abundantly in modern vegetables.

6. Include at least one raw food item (as in salads) daily for the live enzymes to help digestion. If nothing else, let the raw vegetable be mung bean or alpha alpha sprouts that can be made easily at home.

7. Include a green leafy vegetable four or five times a week in diet, spinach being the most common and useful.

8. Do not get onto a low carbohydrate diet if you are underweight or normal weight but do go for it if overweight or obese.

9 Although it is good to look for foods that you deduce as healthy and avoiding those that are deduced as unhealthy, it does seem like a good idea not do this fanatically. Try for a variety from the amazingly diverse bounty of nature. Personally I do avoid meat to the extent possible but if a rare occasion serves it, I enjoy it. On the other hand, I try and tell vegans that milk products and eggs are some of the best foods around and instead try a lovegan diet (described elsewhere in this blog)

10. It is best to make your meals out of basic and natural (produced by mother nature without industrial intervention) ingredients you can see and feel. There are other posts in this blog with reports of not just horses, cats and dogs in processed food but also poop and pee. One should detest eating all that  especially if one believes in - you are what you eat - LOL :)

Watch your own body chemistry to see the effect each change has by adding these changes one at a time. You do not necessarily have to believe in anything suggested here or elsewhere even if it comes from a good source because each body chemistry is unique. What is good for one person may be poison for another. You may have heard that brown bread is better than white but white bread may in fact be far better for a person with a laxative stomach and all bread can spell doom for a person with Gluten allergy. I have had the great fortune of saving some persons here from severe perpetual asthma by getting them off wheat.

Do ensure purity of foods and avoid or minimize processed foods that contain chemicals or have used chemicals during the processing. If you find organic vegetables too expensive at least soak the vegetables you eat in clean water for an hour or so before consumption to leach out some harmful pesticides and fertilizers.

Even more important is the fact that if you find a good thing that works for you do not overdo it. Too much of a good thing can be poison. An example is Brazil nut. One or two a day will do magical wonders for a person deficient in selenium which unfortunately many persons in the modern world are but ten a day will probably kill you because just as selenium is a necessary chemical for a human body it kills if in excess. Why modern foods are deficient can be found from an excellent article by Dr. Dawson here :
Just to quote briefly from him here
The alarming fact is that foods (fruits, vegetables and grains) now being raised on millions of acres of land, that no longer contain enough of certain minerals, are starving us - no matter how much of them we eat
 Ascertain the dose of great potent foods carefully through your own research, experience and consultation. Besides switch to wine and beer from whiskey and rum in case you are fond of an alcoholic drink and do not consume alcoholic drinks for a period exceeding an hour during a twenty-four hour period. That gives the impacted brain cells a chance to reset. Sometimes with age they do not and lead to Alzheimer/ Dementia in the best case or psychosis in the worst. Avoid tobacco altogether especially the smoking kind as in cigarettes. Incase you have been doing this do not worry but make the change even now and in time the body will recover.

NOTE: This post was updated slightly in May 2013

51 comments:

ashok said...

Hayden, Seeing that our conversation had turned to food in the last post, here is a new one with my recent thoughts in this direction. Hoping that your own wide knowledge of the are will contribute through useful and interesting comments.

And Keiko, with her experience with tea and drinks as well as Vincent with his disdain for anything esoteric :-)

Vincent said...

My disdain for the esoteric was aroused even while I read your post, Ashok! So in the last sentence of your appended comment, I find something to agree with wholeheartedly.

There is no doubting that all sorts of things can change my mood and behaviour, not just food. And my temperament causes me to make choices, not just of food. So I wonder why you single out food.

It was fun to see the racial stereotyping, and the gratuitous attacks on the poor Germans, and the inhabitants of the clearly-identified "crime, decay and filth capitals" of India. You are their enemy now, Ashok!

I could say things about my neighbours in this street, and where they come from and what they eat. We all have prejudices. You name "the excellence of European and Japanese civilization". I would, if pressed, name the multi-faceted excellence of the African races, both at home and in their world-wide diaspora.

These things are a matter of taste, not fact, Ashok!

Hayden said...

I find this quite interesting, ashok, and will think about it further. There are a couple of details - such as a body manufacturing it's own minerals - that particularly intrigue me, but I need to think further.

Much of what I've come to believe and do are mentioned here: avoidance of chemicals, seeking pure foods.

I incorporate the wisdom of several cultures in my diet, but follow none of them completely (I would think, 'not obsessively.') So I'm mindful of the scientific confirmation of the helpfulness of turmeric when eaten with pepper. I don't take suppliments, but regularly look for ways to make a meal with those spices. More in winter than in summer, for I'm discouraged from cooking in this weather. Mushrooms have also been demonstrated to be of great benefit: here we can find oyster mushrooms and shiitake in summer, and I use those periodically as well. (Alas for SF's easy access to many varieties of mushrooms year-round, I miss that!) I put kombu in the cooking water when preparing beans, eat various forms of kelp sprinkled in periodically.

I think our science on such things is silly. We're prone to pronouncements such as "one must ingest 1/2 t of turmeric daily for benefits." But they are trying to reverse disease, and I am trying to add to my bodies' arsenal of tools to prevent disease, something we pay little attention to here. I figure 1/2 t of turmeric sauteed briefly and used with scrambled eggs once a week is a good thing - I don't worry that I don't eat it daily.

I'm convinced that the great healers in European culture are the herbs, which have been utterly neglected by scientists. Fresh sage, rosemary, dill, thyme, oregano, used frequently and with a generous hand - my bet for many years now is that they are active helpers.

Right now, still getting my feet under me here, I am struggling to find those food helpers that I can routinely and easily incorporate into my daily meals. I've started a couple of patches of thyme and a sage, reputed to be perennial here, and as they take hold I know I'll rely more on them. I keep basil on my window sill, and cut leaves regularly to shred and mix in raw with my food. (After asking and receiving permission from the plant.)

First time I visited Germany I was appalled by the heavy breakfasts - the preserved meats and cheeses. It occurred to me that this is why it was once considered essential to retreat to a spa for a month-long cure annually - where they ate lightly, included many broths, drank water with large amounts of minerals, walked several times a day. My X was imprudent enough to drink - not sample - from several different places at one spa we toured, and it unloosed his digestive system and cleaned him out fiercely! I was (secretly) amused - it was obvious to me that this would be highly effective treatment for someone who had been eating German food all year!

Hayden said...

I wanted to segregate this last thought, because it's part of my "weird stuff."

Soon after I returned from my first extended shamanic training, spinach offered me advice. (And yes, I do understand how silly that sounds!) I was at the farmers' market, and after 2 weeks of training seemed to others - but not to me - to be 'fully back.' For me, the boundaries of the world were still open, and information leaked back and forth freely.

Anyway, I was deeply shocked and startled to be communicated with like this, with no ritual or effort on my part. I did the denial, and the wondering if I was going crazy, and finally I accepted what had happened.

The advice was that of a friend, and ever since I've been trying to incorporate it into my life.

Essentially, the advice was akin to the idea "eat mindfully," but it meant far more than we here in the west are typically told. Mindful eating, according to the spirit, means opening one's heart to the food, thanking it for it's sacrifice, and very specifically asking - praying? - that it's energy and strength become a part of your own, that it heal and mend you.

I haven't said prayers over meals since I left home, and it's been difficult advice to remember and implement. (This is part of my resistance to the punishing and petty god of my childhood). I go through periods when I remember, then somehow drift away. This has again reminded me to refresh and reawaken this practice.

ashok said...

Hayden,

The body cannot manufacture minerals but it can and does manufacture a variety of organic chemicals. Some of those organic chemicals need some essential mineral in trace amounts such as iodine that might mot easily be available sufficiently in modern farm foods where they may make up the nitrogen etc. for year after year farming but not the trace elements.

I like to avoid most organic supplements but include some trace elements such as potassium through a low sodium salt and iodine through a water filter that purifies water simultaneously.

I agree with you about the benifits of Mushrooms (they are in my list of foods from Heaven along with nuts of various kinds that you have mentioned)

I do the same as you in combining the wisdom of several cultures particularly because I have been exposed to them and give as much weight to that wisdom as modern scientific knowledge about food, perhaps more. This is because our science is too young for a matter as complex as food and its effects.

ashok said...

Vicent I am not an enemy of the Germans or even of the people in the filth capitals. I love them and because of this speak frankly so that incase something clicks and the situation improves that will be great.

One has to call a spade a spade in the interest of improvement. Diplomacy may be a route for mantaining good relations but it has to be overlooked from time to time in the interest of greater good.

As a thorough Englishman and the traditional rivalry, I am certain you were thrilled by my remarks on the Germans but one must remember that although in the present discussion perhaps they scored poor there are others where they will come out on top.

Yes many things effect mood of the moment, that is temporary but personality, which is more permanent has deeper causes behind it. Food is one such.

ashok said...

Hayden, Being thankful for the food before us before we eat and thanking Nature for it in my view increases the benifit of food many times as well as cleanses our soul. Otherwise eating may just become a matter of indulgence and that could weigh the soul down, or a matter of just survival that does nothing more than just mantaining the housing for the soul -the body.

Having said that I too often forget to do that on many occassions because it has not been a habit from childhood and not yet firmly established inspite of the intellectual and soiritual realisation about it now

ashok said...

Vincent, your rebellious points of view never cease to amaze me but we need rebels because without them there would be no one left to question accepted beliefs and practices even if they were deficient. So please do keep at it.

Vincent said...

Thanks, Ashok, I shall. By the way I didn't mean to suggest you felt enmity to the Germans and the others you mentioned, but they will feel enmity to you! Despite your good intentions.

Hayden said...

I just received this in a newsletter I receive monthly. It seems to fit in well with this conversation, so I thought I should share it.

Excerpt from Imagineering For Health by Serge Kahili King: "All illness is caused by inharmonious beliefs that affect one's basic survival system. It is not enough to talk about repressed emotions as being the cause of illness, because emotions are always repressed for a reason. Anger, jealousy, resentment, anxiety, guilt, etc. are feelings arising from beliefs. They are effects, not causes."

It's interesting to receive this now, at this moment, as I prepare to dash off to Maine for the second phase of my Weather Dancing training. I have come to understand that emotions are our internal weather, and have many of the same characteristics as the weather in our atmosphere. They must be allowed to flush through and cleanse; their purpose is to restore health. Suppressing them makes the ultimate storm all the more intense... And the more profound the 'trauma' (think both emotional trauma and the traumas that our Mother Earth is facing) the bigger the weather required in order to cleanse and heal it. This understanding seems to track somehow with Kahili's teaching above.

They are not the same thing, but are two parts of a larger understanding. His concern is with the cause of the weather, mine with understanding it's purpose and impact. He would help us find gentle weather, mine is a recognition of the value of storms to those of us who are not fully resting in that space.

Now I reread, and I don't know why I thought this belonged here. But - I'll let it stand, with a shrug, asking your tolerance.

keiko amano said...

This may not belong to this blog, but I was in a Wal-Mart, and I thought about your blog, so I bought almonds and walnuts. They are probably not medicinal kinds, but the labels say they are natural, no additives like salt. I like them, but once I start to eat nuts, I can't stop. I must have eaten more than ten each. Mmm, good

About cheese and wine, are you talking about a fine dining culture? I agree with that although I don’t drink wine, and I only buy one or two kinds of cheeses once in a while. But I think meat is the single most important food for the people of North in the ancient time. To win their wars, soldiers couldn’t take much cheese and wine, I don’t think. When I was researching about sleeping direction, as I mentioned before, I found the famous ancient wisdom that tells us not to fight toward North. It’s true that most wars were won by the people of North. And one of the reasons they were so strong then was their diet. I don’t know exactly how, but Mongolians processed meat to make it so light. One big animal, probably sheep, can end up in a small bag, so they can travel light on fast horses with a bag for many months. Long ago, I ate dried meat sprinkled on rice in Bangkok. I wonder if the meat looked something like that.

Well, I realize that you want to talk more about foods from plants and trees. Excuse me, but I'm fascinated to know the difference in culture based on meat vs. plant foods. I'm sure stamina, strength, moods, emotions and others are affected by the generations of certain diet.

keiko amano said...

Vincent,

Do you cook cherry? I never heard of it. It is interesting. Can you tell me how? Stir fry?

ashok said...

Hayden,

Your comments and insights are welcome and appreciated. We have had good rain in these parts ever since your last rain dance and we look forward to more. The people here have been thanking the rain gods and unknowingly they have directed some of that appreciation to you.

Vincent, The Germans are a good sport and love reproof. I am certain there will be no enimity from their side.

You know even dangerous animals like tigers and such do not attack you in the wild if your feelings towards them are good and humans are no exception.

ashok said...

Keiko,

Meat does provide strength. There is no doubt about that. Some say here that it may also lead to stress anger and a violent streak. But then warriors need that.

I was hoping you will tell us more about the different kinds of tea, especially green and its effects.

In another comment Hayden was mentioning how the attitude towards consumption of food can influence. The Japanese do that more with tea and I think derive wonderful spiritual benifits from that simple act.

ashok said...

Yes Keiko there was a time I too could not control myself with nuts especially spiced pistachio nuts and spiced salted cashew nuts. Once when I was around eighteen I ate so many cashew nuts that my nose and ears turned red and began to water.

Now I am more careful. Younger persons can take risks but it is not wise to as one gets older. Its like one can drive a new car at top speed but not an older one.

ashok said...

Keiko,

With cheese and wine its both the fine dining culture as well as the soothing and benificial qualities of that drink and food. I think Europeans can do with wine what the Japanese can do with their tea ceremonies.
and for the Europeans wine is a celebration of life and the bounties of Mother Earth.

Vincent said...

Keiko, cherry is never cooked in savoury things as far as I know. It can be used in jam, tarts, cakes (though usually in crystallized forms there as "glacé cherries") and as I think Ashok has pointed out, wine or liqueurs.

Vincent said...

Hayden, I find your remarks (derived from Serge Kahili King, who I had never heard of before) most interesting. His thoughts on emotions run parallel to the training I received in the healing of chronic fatigue syndrome and various other illnesses which normal medicine cannot detect biologically.

Aspects of that understanding form the basis of my approach to life over the last five years. I'd be interested to check out King a little more.

ashok said...

Vincent,

If possible do share some of the salient points on healing for chronic fatigue etc. That knowledge will be appreciated

Vincent said...

Ashok, write to me at ianmulder (at) tiscali (dot) co (dot) uk and tell me what you need to know and why. Then I will be able to do justice to your query. Do you have a microphone and Skype? Then we could talk this through. I no longer practise as a healer, but there is a method. It is not just a question of salient points but (as it were) a kind of ritual method which helps the patient break through the blockage. I can't really do justice to it any more because it's quite demanding on both healer and patient. they have to work hard!

ashok said...

Thanks Vincent, I shall shoot you an email soon.

I am afraid I dont have a working microphone or skype at the moment though.

keiko amano said...

Ashok,

Japanese sake is rice wine. I don’t drink it, but I use it in cooking. If I want to make my Japanese meal more authentic, I would add a little bit of sake to white rice and add a piece of konbu (thick kelp) on top before cooking. But, I don’t recommend it to non Japanese.

Most of Japanese I know including myself do not drink green tea from non-Japanese markets even though their products have the label of green tea. Some American markets now sell Yamamoto-yama brand, and they are not as bad as others. But most Japanese from Japan look for better tea. Japanese usually make a special trip to a Japanese market even far away. Some go to Japan and buy their tea. I drink coffee in the morning, and then I alternate black tea and green tea. I love good black tea and good coffee. And if I only have not so good black tea and coffee, I can compromise the quality. But I can’t compromise the quality of green tea. So, those not so good green tea, I don’t drink it. For not so good black tea, I can add sugar and milk and I still enjoy it. I don’t know why but I don’t find decent black tea in reasonable price in ordinary American markets. That’s one of my complaints. A few years ago in Yokohama, I found pretty decent black tea from Sri Lanka in reasonable price. I was so excited. I bought extra and brought them back to the U.S. As far as I know the store was the only one. But, before I left, I went to the store. The price was double. People catch on to the bargains easily.

You probably do not like natto. Even the Japanese outside of Kanto do not like natto. Natto is fermented soy beans, so it is sticky like okra. Actually, natto and okura make a great dish. It’s a cultural food like tofu. Like yogurt, it’s good for our tummy and health. I love it, and I try to eat one a day.

One thing I eat for health one a day willingly is umeboshi. Umeboshi is salty and sour plum. I put one or two in a cup of green tea and drink and eat the plum. It’s good for our health like an apple a day. Many Japanese put one umeboshi in their near empty rice bowl toward the end of their meal and pour some green tea and finish their bowl. So, the bowl ends up the cleanest looking, it’s considerate to the server, no waste which is the utmost appreciation to the nature, and an umeboshi reacts to our tired acidic body and restore our energy. And I read that this is scientifically proven.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Umeboshi#Nutrition_Facts

keiko amano said...

Vincent,

Yes,I see: cook for jam.

I thought it funny about working hard for the fatique syndrome.

But seriously, I tend to be tired. I've never been very strong. Growing up, I was skinny, and during summer, I always lost weight. I need any help I can get. I'm eating almonds as I am typing this message.

keiko amano said...

Ashok,

About different kinds of Japanese tea, the most popular is sencha. I drink any kind of tea including Chinese tea, but I only buy good sencha. Other Japanese green teas are the same tea but different process, age, or combination with other thing. Genmaicha is with toasted rice, hojicha is toasted. Of course, the first flash of the best tea leave is the most expensive. The name is gyokuro (a dew of jewel). But, I've seen the name on some of the labels in the Japanese market here, but I do not believe the quality match the real gyokuro because I tasted it.

Powdered green tea is for chanoyu, but in recent years, many tea companies make low grade powdered tea for general consumption. Good powdered tea has very high amount of vitamin C, but also, it's quite potent that if you drink it, you might not be able to go to sleep.

ashok said...

Thank you Keiko for so much new information. In modern times I do not trust business houses fully since profits are their prime concern, therefore I would much prefer whole leaf tea to powdered tea unless I powdered myself.

India grows a lot of tea but unfortunately most of it is now treated and turned into black tea, therefore green tea is not easily available. many recent studies have rated the health benifits of green tea as greater than that of black tea. It is more natural as well.

ashok said...

Vincent,

I did not have much success with the website address given in your comment. It lead to a broadband talk website and I had no idea where to go from there.

You did scare me a bit with the hard work required bit. Is there a website that talks of the technique that you could give a reference to here or perhaps even write about it in your or my blog.

I am looking for methods for chronic fatigue because I feel tired even after a full nights rest frequently. Perhaps it is just age?

Vincent said...

Ashok, it was my email address, not a website. I gave it in that form so as not to be picked up by programs that crawl through and gather email addresses for spamming purposes.

It is important to distinguish tiredness from chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) which is also known as ME (myalgic encephalitis).

CFS is not about being tired, but has a range of symptoms. You can look it up on the web. What may have cured me, and certainly gave me some ideas about life, was Mickel therapy.

I say it may have cured me because in fact my cure happened instantaneously during the first session, which it isn't supposed to do! I discovered all the hard work when I had trained to be a therapist and saw how hard it was to get through to patients - even though in my case it was so easy.

Whether your own fatigue is connected with CFS is something you may be able to determine by reading up on the subject. You could start with the Mickel site but I am out of touch with it now and would not give it 100% endorsement.

ashok said...

Thanks Vincent,

I did try to email through hotmail but an error message came that it should be com not co at the end. I shall try another time but after reading on the reference you have quoted. Thanks a million once again. I shall get back to you with progress as and when. In the meantime I have added another post of a spiritual sort.

Rebb said...

A very informative blog, Ashok, as well as the additional comments. It makes my mind/memory go in many directions.

I grew up mostly eating my grandmother’s Mexican cooking, which always included beans, rice, vegetables that she cooked in chicken stock, and some form of meat or other tasty Mexican entrée. I grew found of the taste of vinegar and till this day, I relish in the flavor of it. I add red wine vinegar to my top ramen soup and in restaurants, if the salad dressing is a vinegar based one, I will drink up that which sits at the bottom of the bowl. The only potentially bad thing about the Mexican diet is the use of lard, but it adds such a nice flavor to the foods cooked with it. My grandmother would have me say a prayer in Spanish before every meal. Because of that experience, and my long interest in Buddhism, mostly by the readings of Thich Nhat Hanh, in combination this could be why when I eat food prepared (not processed—which unfortunately, I eat a lot of now, but I’m working on it along with my clutter), I approach food like it was something special. I usually smell before I put in my mouth and when I’m feeling especially mindful, I imagine where it came from (thanks to Thich Nhat Hanh) the hands it went through and the whole journey to end up before me.

I’ve read also the benefits of Cinnamon and my grandmother always had a fresh pot of Cinnamon tea that she made from the sticks of cinnamon, which we refer to in Spanish as Canela. I would drink that with my meals. I recently bought some sticks, but they are still sitting in their package.

It is wise, as you say, for each individual to see how they react to different foods that they introduce into their diet. And everything in moderation.

Rebb said...

Keiko, I also like Plum wine, which I would order with my meal in the Japanese restaurant. My significant other and I enjoyed eating Japanese food—it was one of our favorite cuisines—I learned how to make sushi and would do just what you say to prepare the rice and we loved it. Of course after that, I would add the vinegar, sugar, and dash of salt mixture and gently cut through the rice and let it sit. I stopped making Sushi and rolls after a few months of doing it, however, because it’s a lot of work. I would also make miso soup and used bonito flakes and konbu to prepare the water before adding miso paste. I could never get the miso to taste the way it did in the restaurants we loved. I even tried different types, but it wasn’t the same, but still good.

ashok said...

Rebb, thanks for enriching this post with your informative comments. Your cinnamon suggestion sounds great and I am going to try it. We have cinnamon sticks siting around the kitchen shelf at all times but It never occured to me to use it in tea. I have tried a lot of other herbs and flowers in tea though, from time to time and we usually add basil regularly. Adding cardamomm to good tea is common in India.

Japanese food is fascinating especially the way it is presented with delicacy and beauty although I have not had very many occassions to eat it. I like Japanese tempura a lot.

ashok said...

Rebb just to add, my favorite food, after trying all sorts from all over the world though is Just a fish fillet fried in the way it is done in English fish and chips or some stir fried button mushrooms along with some potatoes as chips (which I avoid now to avoid the fat) or as mashed potatoes or roast along with some sauce or gravy and some steamed or stir fried fried vegetables, and when very hungry along with a buttered dinner roll or two. As a change though I love pasta italian with a rich tomato sauce or a dish of Macroni and Cheese spiced with some garlic. Another variation I like from time to time is soup and noodles or soup and sandwich.

ashok said...

The food I mentioned in the last comment was the dinner. My lunch is now invariabaly steamed rice, lentil bean soup, yogurt and a seasonal salad.

The first meal of the day is invariabaly an egg, toast with butter and a cup of coffee.

Besides the three meals here I have some cups of tea soon after getting up and in the late afternoon usually I avoid snacks but if I really feel like it the favorite snack is simply a buttered toast.

keiko amano said...

Ashok and Rebb,

Oh, my goodness. I was missing all these comments. I don’t know why I no longer receive notification from your blogs.

keiko amano said...

Rebb,

I love cinnamon tea, and I add cinnamon powder to my coffee in café. I learned it from a Mexican restaurant here.

About preparing sushi rice, I’m surprised that you have tried it. Yes, it’s a lot of work when you do it from scratch. It’s labor intensive. I used to blow air using a large fan in my hand while my mother mixed rice with rice vinegar and mirin (sweet sake). But when I make it in the U.S., I use a package already prepared for it. It’s a granular type, so it’s easy. Oh, plum wine. I made that once. I think I added crystallized sugar to Japanese green plums and leave it for a year or so. I had a tree in Japan, but I gave the wine away before I tasted it. Now, you reminded me of my missed opportunity. I rented the house and couldn’t carry such a large and heavy bottle back to the U.S.

About miso soup, making the soup base with bonito flakes and a piece of konbu is the best way to do it. I have to confess that I recently bought a bottle of already prepared soup base. Anyway, to make a good base soup, it takes a lot of bonito flakes. My okinawan friend said her family put a whole big package of bonito flakes into a pot. No wonder it tastes good. Anyway, once you have a good soup base, and it has boiled, then you can add miso paste. The amount of miso should be about one thumb worth for one small cup. Once you add miso, shut off the stove immediately. Miso soup should not be kept boiling. Miso soup that boiled after adding miso would not taste good.

keiko amano said...

Ashok,

I had dinner, but your comments made me hungry. Tomorrow, I have to go to a market and buy lentil and cinnamon and a few other things. Also, yesterday, I had a great salad, so I want to make it. If it turns out great, I’ll let you know.

I also like good fish and chips. But, around here, there is no such restaurant, and fish and chips or tempura need a lot of oil, so I don’t cook them. About breakfast, it’s my ritual everyday to have oatmeal, banana, and milk with coffee. That’s my happiness. Also, I love lentil soup. Recently, I found one restaurant near my house that served good lentil soup. And to my surprise, their bread is good.

ashok said...

Keiko,

Will look froward to your Salad recipe.

Is cos lettuce available where you live? It makes a very nice lettuce otherwise iceberg leetuce is neat too but i prefer that in sandwiches to salad.

Mayonaise (sp?) especially freshly made at home is a dressing I like a lot with any salad and even fried fish. I think it is healthy too with its mix of healthy things like eggs, olive oil and vinegar

keiko amano said...

Ashok,

I've never heard of cos lettuce.
About the salad, I was surprised how good it was. I don't know if I can get all the ingredients right away because I have to walk. But I'll let you know when I make it.

ashok said...

Cos lettuce is the most common form of lettuce in turkey, northern Iraq and Syria, and I think in Greece and Rome as well. Instead of a round head it is a bit elongated. Its inner leaves are as crisp as iceberg lettuce but they have a sweeter and less leafy taste. Quite delicious actually. I think it is one of the more original forms of lettuce that was consumed in ancient times in areas where it grew.

ashok said...

Just to add I started the post by saying that every food has some effect on our behaviour, for example some documented effects are - lettuce causes sleepiness and was consumed by ancient people after dinner. Peas in very small quantities can relieve excitement but in larger quantities can cause depression.

keiko amano said...

Ashok,

It's interesting. Maybe, it's a coincident, but a German friend of mine made the wonderful salad and we went to a concert in the park. The last time we were there, we stayed until the concert was over, but this time, she wanted to go home early. It was getting cold, so that worked out. Now I think about it, maybe she became sleepy. The salad was made of iceberg lettuce, cabbage, a bit of onion and ciantro, sprinkeled with sunflower seeds and a few other nuts, raisin and dried cherry. The dressing was like that of Chinese chicken salad, but she used olive oil, a bit of sesami oil, rice vinegar, and I think she added a little sugar, too, plus salt and pepper. I think the trick to this delicious salad was very finely chopped white part of cabbage. It was crunchy and sweet. As far as I saw the ingredients, there were no leafy part of cabbage. And the yellow part of iceberg lettuce was soft and crunchy at the same time. They were all cut into bitesize, so it was easy to eat. Often, restaurants serve in the sizes too big to bite.

ashok said...

Keiko,

That Salad sounds wonderful. Very traditional, with just the right ingredients and with the finest leafy vegetables, lettuce, cabbage and spiced with cilantro, onions. Sounds yummy indeed and simple to create as well.

As you pointed out the trick of the salad will be in the cabbage, having the right kind, choosing the right inner leaves and having it chopped nice and fine.

Perhaps variations of this salad could be by adding some or all of grated carrot, baby spinach leaves, sliced button mushrooms and adding some sliced almonds or pine nuts instead of sunflower seeds.

Rebb said...

Ashok, You remind me of a cookbook I bought some time ago. It’s called “5 spices, 50 dishes: Simple Indian recipes using five common spices” by Ruta Kahate. I didn’t get too far in the book. I did prepare her recipe called “New bride chicken curry,” which I enjoyed very much; sweet potatoes with ginger and lemon, which was a nice sweet and tangy combination; and I was thrilled to discover a new way to prepare okra with her “Crispy okra raita” recipe. I would have never thought to fry okra, as I only knew of it used as a thickener for gumbo. I once made a type of ratatouille and topped the individual bowls with fried okra. How divine!

Yes, Japanese food is fascinating. Again—the arts—it’s not only delicious and nourishing, but most lovely to look at.

I see you enjoy your share of fried foods too. Surprisingly I prefer fish fried directly in a little bit of oil, rather than deep fried, like fish and chips. I do enjoy a good platter of fish and chips, but it’s not easy to find good recipes in restaurants around here and usually the servings are too large for me. I love anything potato and mashed potatoes and gravy is a big comfort for me. I could eat gravy by the spoonfuls. I enjoy salmon fillets sprinkled with salt, pepper, garlic salt, and dry dill. Then fried in a little bit of oil at medium high heat, allowing the skin to crisp. Well cooked salmon skin is delicious.

It sounds like you eat nice, healthy lunches. I like lentil bean soup. I have trouble eating yogurt. My first meal seems to be 2 to 4 cups of coffee and when I’m out the door, I may stop for either two hash browns at McDonalds with either coffee or orange juice; or I will stop at the bakery for a late and a chocolate chip cookie. If I’m really hungry, I’ll get a McDonalds breakfast sandwich meal.

Rebb said...

Keiko, I’m glad you found the comments. Some stores sell a Mexican hot chocolate, sold in solid disks that you have to break off and melt in milk. I think it’s basically coco, sugar, and cinnamon. It is so good and rich. The brand is Ibarra. It’s in a bright yellow and red box.

About the sushi rice. Yes, we’re all full of surprises. I realize that in the real sushi world many many years of training goes into learning proper techniques from watching programs on TV. It was my humble attempt to also please. Wow, I bet your plum wine was delicious. If I ever make miso soup again, I will definitely try adding a whole package of bonito flakes. Thank you for your tips!

That salad does sound very delicious. It reminds me of another salad, and as Ashok mentioned about variations, the one I’m thinking of has finely chopped broccoli and raisins. It’s a good way to eat raw broccoli. I will look for the recipe and post it if I find it. It is quite simple and similar.

ashok said...

Fried Okra is delicious and that is about the only way we have it here. Otherwise it has a not so nice sticky feel.

Yes I like fish shallow fried as well. Actually fish is nice in so many different ways and hardly requires any spicing. Just a bit of salt and some lemon juice makes any fish great. However, my favorite does remain the deep fried,crisp batter covered English style fish served with tartar sauce and cole slaw for salad. and dried smoked salmon is a very fine snack with wine instead of cheese (also very expensive unless the smoking has been done at home)

Some of the nicest things of life is to listen to the song of birds first thing in the morning, admire trees and flowers over a cup of tea or coffee and later in the day to have at least one very special meal that one enjoys thoroughly. These are some of the most beautiful things given by Mother Earth to her children.

Rebb said...

One more thing I meant to say about cinnamon is if you have the powdered variety, cinnamon toast is wonderful! Sprinkle sugar and cinnamon, to your liking, over warm buttered toast and it melts in your mouth. Mmmm.

ashok said...

Rebb, It only takes a minute or so to powder the cinnamon in a grinder we use for grinding other spices. thanks for the suggestion. Warm buttered toast is my usual snack and this is one more variation when in a sweet mood. Otherwise, I sometimes add a bit of cheese or marmite( vegamite) that has a nice savoury flavor to the buttered toast. Have you tried it?

Rebb said...

Ashok, I don’t think I’ve tried cheese on toast, except for grilled cheese sandwiches. I have not heard of marmite (vegemite). I looked online and it sounds interesting. I’m going to see if the local specialty food store has it. Thanks for the suggestion.

And, yes I agree, it is the simple gifts of nature or of thoroughly enjoying a meal that are the best. We are lucky children of Mother Earth. :)

ashok said...

Rebb,

Marmite is much more popular in UK and Australia than in US or Canada. However I have found it stacked in ordinary supermarkets in Canada quite frequently. I am quite certain it will be easily available in your area. The first time one tries it one may not like it immensely because it has a strong taste. It should be used very sparingly at first. After a few times one gets hooked to the taste. It dissolves in boiling water and can be used to flavor soups instead of a Chicken cube. All in all it is healthy because it is rich in B vitains.

ashok said...

Rebb,

Thanks for suggestion about cinnamon in tea. It adds a wonderful aroma and taste and many health benifits too. I intend to use cinnamon in tea on a regular basis now.

Rebb said...

I’m so glad you enjoy it Ashok. Yes, the aroma is wonderful and the added health benefits are a plus. I haven’t been to look for Marmite yet. But at least I know it’s there now :)