Food, Health and Enjoyment
I am not a food-motivated person. As a child, I was very difficult because I usually didn't eat enough to have a good mood. Recently, I have declared on more than one occasion that the key to happiness is to eat a lot. I am skinny, so this actually works for me. But I can almost understand why people over-eat: it actually does raise my mood, especially when it is chronically low from not eating enough! For those who are over-weight, they too are probably not eating enough - of what will actually help their body and mind. I think that it is simply impossible to over-eat proper food. You would eventually feel so good that you would actually want to do something instead of sit there in one place. I have experienced this occasionally. (Even if you did eat until you died, at least you would be doing something that you enjoy!) I see eating as a social activity, pointless to engage in while alone.

So, the road to taking any interest in food has been a long one for me. I still would rather focus on other things, like relationships (See Hetaira page), but I have learned how to make good food, serve it to others, and at least know when I am not helping myself by not eating, even if I don't correct myself. The big question is what to eat, and the next question is how to prepare it so that it is not just an end in itself. I make meals for paying guests as part of my living, so I need to be knowledgeable about this, and I am, to some extent. Here is what I have to say.

Cooking is over-rated. It has been shown definitively to both reduce the nutrients in the food - so you have to eat more, and your body will call for food until it gets the nutrients that it must have - and, cooking also concentrates the calories by removing the water, which is also a problem in itself: you need that water to digest the food. Food in its natural form is useful, healthy and digestible, or it wouldn't exist, and you can't get too much of a good thing that way. How much fruit can you really eat, for example? So, find ways to eat things that are not cooked. Nuts can be soaked and eaten raw, blended into dips, sauces, etc, and fruit can be made into smoothies, including greens if you wish, or yogurt, if your body accepts it, or soy milk or even just water. To this end, I will show you a meal that my wife made recently:
Smoothie before blending photo
(Before we blended them into smoothies.) It looks beautiful, doesn't it? It was fast, easy to make, tasted good, we drank right out of the jars and just put them in the dishwasher. No mess at all, no cleanup. The blending was done in the jar with a "stick blender":
Stick Blender photo
The Stick Blender is really helpful. You can make soups by sticking it right in the pan of hot soup. You can blend things that are too thick to go properly in a beverage blender, like nut sauces, or frozen pineapple to make sorbet. This is the most helpful kitchen tool, after a serrated knife. Without the right tools, food preparation is onerous, or even impossible. The smoothie above would not have worked in our very nice, high quality drink blender, and the food processor would have taken several batches and a big mess to clean up. If you want life to be easier, some tools are necessary.

I find it unnecessary. It was a big change for me, brought on by major health issues of my wife's that caused her to change her diet completely some years ago. But, after a while, I was fine without it. Meat is not a healthy food for most people. Either take it from me, or do the research and convince yourself, but either way, your body will thank you. It is also very wasteful of resources. It would be too expensive, and was, but cheap transportation and massive consumption have 'cheapened' it, both in price and quality. Why eat something that is not helpful? Also, it tends to make a mess, spattering, spreading grease vapor everywhere, being hard to clean up after, and it doesn't store well. It is also often contaminated and requires excess effort in handling and in disinfecting. Why waste your time? Spend it on something more enjoyable than cleaning up after food! (Like being with your family.)

That said, if someone makes a meal for me with fish, chicken or even beef, I will eat it, with no complaint or regret, as lovingly prepared and offered. Part of eating is politeness and respect. I just think that that extends to what we eat and to the environment as well.

There's always a balance, and in food, there are the things eaten strictly for pleasure. (Can I say 'strictly' in that context?) I would not eat anything if I didn't have to, but because I do, I also include frequent intake of chocolate, tea, coffee, and occasionally, beer. These do not have "food value", but they have other values. I mean, the nose and mouth aren't just for eating: we smell lots of things, and use the mouth for kissing. Kissing, apparently, evolved from mothers chewing food and feeding it to infants. So, as adults, we have the opportunity to nurture and feel cared for. I hope I didn't just gross you out! The most sensitive area on the body for detecting heat is the upper lip - as all hot beverage drinkers know.

I drink a mug of green tea every morning, sometimes two in a day. More than that would just make me visit the toilet too often, for no more benefit. I use Dragonwell, a kind of loose, very expensive tea which tastes excellent to me. It is one of the few things I routinely spend money on, and it keeps my dragon happy, and my Dragon Lady as well. Chocolate hardly needs an explanation: I do my part as an American to eat a pound a week or so - the national average. I like very dark chodolate, so the compromise of quality and cost is Ghirardelli dark chocolate baking chips. But they keep making the bag smaller... They altered the recipe to match. Can't they just leave some things alone?

Coffee. Need I say more? I have about one mug a week, as my schedule allows. One of my favorite things to do is sit out back in the woods in the morning with a mug of coffee and not think. It opens my senses, and changes how I consider things. I do not use it as a way to get more done. Black please. It is not a confection. Why ruin coffee or tea with things you can have any time? This is an underused principle: do one thing for it's own sake. I admit, I drink my tea while doing other things, and I eat chocolate throughout the day. But coffee is once a week or so, and I try not to compromise.

Beer is very rare, about once a year. My wife does not drink at all, and I only rarely have enough time off at a stretch to fit in any drinking. I wouldn't really want to alone, so the only time is when I am with family, whom I see only a few times a year. When I was in college, I drank liquor, which it is too easy to drink too much of, and thus, not a good use of enjoyment: it goes by too fast to really appreciate. I have no desire to overdrink, and I never liked wine - it tastes like bad butter. Are there any other non-foods? Not that I can think of.

I'm told that we don't need to eat in the next world, so good riddance. Maybe we can just have relationships then. I read that for most people, around the world, the greatest fear is public speaking (did you see "The King's Speech"?), greater than the fear of dieing. For me, it is being alone or having no purpose - I'd rather be dead. Part of my purpose now is to make meals for other people. You can't outrun your Karma!

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