Food thoughts, again

>> Monday, March 23, 2009

Ood Steak
First, a food related photo for Doctor Who fans. The sign's said this for at least six months, but I finally just stopped to get the photo:



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Onion tears
I cry when I cut onions. I'm pretty sure everyone does, since there seems to be a whole universe dedicated to various methods of onion-tear-prevention. Both of my parents cried cutting onions. What everyone failed to tell me is that they cry because it hurts. I think that was a mean trick.

We've recently discovered the joy packaged in green onions, which I've been putting on almost everything I cook. But cutting them has become such a horrible experience that I've had to plan ahead. Here's what I've discovered:
  • I do not cry until I actually touch the cut part of the onion. I've managed to fine dice an entire stalk of green onions without touching onion juice and I did not cry. In the last few months I've only managed to do that once though; it's hard to hold the onions steady enough by the knife to cut them without touching them.
  • Once I cry, there's oils involved with my eyes. I have to have 1: a paper towel to wipe my hands; 2: a shirt to wipe my eyes once the oil's off my hands; and 3: a fabric of the sort that cleans glasses well.
  • My eyelashes are long, and even after I cough or sneeze and my eyes water, they tend to streak my lenses. After chopping onions, my lenses are so splattered and streaked with oils that even if I could see through tears I couldn't see.
Onion tears summarized: Plan ahead. We don't bother with whole white onions because we only eat about half of it before it goes bad or dries out, we don't use it enough. Green onions are great because I can chop up one stalk at a time if I really want to and the rest will keep for a bit. However, I hate doing it and so I've decided that every time I want to cut onions, I will cut twice as much as I need so that the next time I don't have to. I just made a chicken wrap for lunch and only needed a pinch of green onions, but I chopped up three stems to have for later, since I was going to cry anyway. Figured I'd make it count for something more than one chicken wrap.

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Grapefruit Meditation
I've posted before about grapefruit, it's a fruit that really fascinates me in flavor and juiciness and the subtle balance of tart and sweet in the perfectly ripe grapefruit. But what I hadn't realized before this week was the emotional importance that grapefruit holds for me.

Most people have routines or rituals that they probably wouldn't identify as such but which come out as "just the way it is done". There are so many little ways especially done in the kitchen. I was taught that, while you can just forcefully scoop grapefruit out of the sections and eat it, the best way (if you have time) is to actually cut the sections with a knife so as to not miss any juicy goodness. When I was at the women's retreat, a friend saw me cutting out each section of grapefruit and helpfully demonstrated a faster and more effective method of using the grapefruit knife. I didn't mind - at the time I was hungry - but it began to bother me, like I'd missed something important and I didn't know why. I realized that somehow over the years grapefruit eating has become a centering and meditative practice for me. I've developed a routine in which I carefully cut around each section (in order, counter-clockwise), eat each section (again, in the same direction), and then I go around again through each section with my spoon to scrape out any bits that I missed with the knife. Finally, I squeeze the grapefruit carefully into my spoon and eat the juice; repeat until the grapefruit is wrung dry. Any seeds I removed as I ate go back into the grapefruit remains to head to the trash.

In order to get as much grapefruit out, I have to be intentional and focus on each section at a time. I concentrate on the angle of the knife and keeping rind and section membranes from the parts I want to eat. It centers me, focuses my mind, and ends in a blissful taste of heaven. It's meditation with immediate purpose and gratification, and I sense that it's somehow a microcosm for the process of meditation in a general sense. I'm still trying to find the words to explain that thought. But I know it's true for me, because many grapefruits have gone rotten in my refridgerator during stressful times when I make the choice not to eat one because I haven't got the time, or I just don't want to face what may surface if I slow down long enough to carefully section one.

Why bother putting this much intent into eating fruit? Well, if I just quickly hack away at it and gobble it up, I'll most likely be wasting food and the joy of flavor... and that's just not done!

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Fasting and Blood Sugar
Our last two sermons have focused on or mentioned the discipline of fasting. One thing that both priests mentioned was that one of the spiritual side effects or a possible purpose of fasting is that when you're hungry all your bad traits tend to come to the surface, like anger and irritability and pride, not to mention any emotional issues you have relating to food itself. They indicated that fasting is one tool God uses to bring us to a point of dealing with those aspects of our personality.

These sermons came at the same time that I was studying about nutrition and diabetes and other things like that. Fasting or not, when my blood sugar crashes I get angry and irritable and pissed off that I can't handle this stuff (pride?). These emotional responses are offical symptoms of hypoglycemia and low glucose levels. While these are (or can be) serious medical conditions and should be treated as such, and folks with these conditions should work closely with their doctors when considering a religious fast, I find contemplating the ties between the topics very interesting. I'd already been wondering about the link between food and emotional response, but hadn't thrown the spiritual into that mix.

I bet God did that on purpose.

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About This Blog

Life is about changes; transitions from one place to another, from one purpose to another, from one being to another. They say that the person you are today is a completely different person from who you were ten years ago and who you'll be ten years from now. So far, at the age of 33, I've had four major transitions in my life which redefined who I am. Two years into the results of the most recent transition I am again - still - exploring how God is shaping me. Over the next few months I hope to review my past and set goals for the future, and embrace the next adventure of rediscovering me.
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