Friday, July 25, 2008

My indiscrimate palate

Today, I:

  • had #20 to go from Jack-in-the-Box for breakfast;
  • had what I believe was #6 for lunch;
  • am drinking a soda, and a lot of tea with creamer;
  • am reconsidering my eating habits of late, including my utter and obvious failure to go vegan.

The only explanation that I can really find for my inability to avoid animal products at this juncture is that I am up to my neck in a kind of therapeutic, culinary hedonism. Therapeutic, I say, because it couldn’t just be plain caving in to cravings and whims. No, indeedy. I have, to my horror, bought and eaten beef within the past month. Twice! And then I spent a half hour searching the Berkeley Bowl near my apartment for the right kind of dry Italian salami. Which I ate most of in one sitting.

So, stomachaches are abounding. Ten plus years of pseudo-vegetarianism does not prepare one for binging on some top-notch imported salami, nor fast food, even if it is chicken for the most part. I am not kidding. Despite the occasional bacon binge, and the fairly steady stream of fish and chips and grilled salmon I ate over the years, my tummy is spoiled. It expects a certain amount of non-processed foods, not too much salt or sugar, and a fair amount of raw carrots. (The latter of which, it is still getting, for the most part.) It can not handle Spam. I know this for a fact.

Spam? you say. Well, yes. Spam. I am revisiting my past, I am sorry to say, through my taste buds. My mother was married to a Filipino when I was a teenager (See: Sibling #5 & #7. ) and as a consequence I was exposed to a whole range of food choices I would have otherwise have missed out on*, like purple cake, pig’s blood sauce, crunchy embryonic ducks and Spam. (Spam was the only thing I missed other than the cake.) So I fried me up some Spam just like in the good old days, and after two pieces (thank goodness I bought the small can!) I was ready to lie down on the floor. I’m not really sure what’s in Spam. I should look at the label, but right now, I’m suspecting it preserved with lye or saltpeter or something like that.

I think I am just about out of this phase. I’d forgotten how much speculating I had to do when I ate meat on a regular basis, way back when – how much discrete (or not so discrete) spitting out and examining of strange, inconsistent textures I had done. I’m having to do that again, and I am having far too many moments where I am simultaneously thinking “yummy/gross.” It reminds me of one of the things I read in a cookbook when I was eighteen and teaching myself to cook atop my dad’s Franklin stove about how it’s important to chop and trim things up in a uniform manner so that your guests eating the dish are not put off by any inconsistencies. It’s easy to forget when it’s carrots or something you’re chopping up, but quite another matter if the odd bit might be… gristle.

*If it hadn't been for this marriage, I would have only been exposed to Samoan food, American food, and Philippine food in an incidental way... such as that time when I was twelve and I accidentally ate dog in the South Pacific. (It wasn't bad.)


Carrie K said...

Dog! Noooo. I can't even eat lamb or veal and I have NO problems with meat. I'm not a huge meat eater, I actually prefer veggies (and junk food).

Maybe your tummy wants you to go back to your not-quite-so-old dietary ways?

The Berkeley Bowl. I haven't been there in eons.

arianna said...

that purple cake looks awesome! if i can ever locate an ube (!) i will definitely have to try it. i find it amusing that they also add food coloring - does the yam usually not contribute quite as much purple as the cook would like? :)

Jeanette said...

I must admit that after reading this post I am feeling a bit queasy. I guess that in my 10 years of for real vegetarianism I have lost my ability to even think of spam and gristle (*cold shudder*)
Wow, it really has been about 10 years of vegetarianism for me (well it will be in Sept or Oct).
I totally get inability to go vegan though. Cheese is just way too good to give up.