Category Archives: Candor and Caprice

Gout – The Rich Man’s Disease

My vegetarian friends might be aghast at the sheer number of hapless mollusks and crustaceans that have been shucked, steamed, and deep-fried for my culinary enjoyment but they can unruffle their lettuce leaves and indulge in a little schadenfreude. (I can spell this word without looking it up. How cool am I?) Karma can be a bitch and I just got a full-extension, back-handed slap to my face in the form of a mild case of gout, or at least I think it’s gout. Either that or it’s early onset arthritis.

What is gout? Well according to wiki, gout is a condition where little crystals of uric acid have attached themselves to your joints and cause flashes of pain in those areas. This condition used to be more commonly known among the affluent, since excess consumption of protein and purine rich foods such as foie, lobster, crab, and even champagne can lead to gout.  Hence, the term “rich man’s disease” or  “disease of kings”. Yes.  There can be too much of a good thing.

So for the past couple of weeks, I’ve woken up to random twinges of pain in my joints, namely, the joint of the middle finger on my left hand, and in my toes, making it slightly uncomfortable to walk sometimes.  Gout does commonly strike the big toe. And just why my middle finger is afflicted is perplexing to me, but since I’ve matured beyond flipping people the bird, it doesn’t impede my forward motion. Just the matter of the toes and trying not to look too gimpy.

Though my symptoms clearly do not exhibit the acute pain and inflammation commonly attributed to gout, I’m fairly certain that the seafood weekend in CT did me in. Luckily, I find that the further away I get from my seafood adventures, the more the symptoms dissipate. Clearly I have swung the pendulum too far in gastronomic excess and now in an attempt to bring the yin and yang back into balance, I am declaring a veggie detox for the next couple of weeks to cleanse my temple and garner forgiveness from the gods of retribution.  Shellfish can rest easy for now…

Here’s a little piece of trivial food fact: Did you know that in the old days, lobster was considered poor people food? Yes, according to lobster.org, Massachusetts had a law forbidding lobster to be served to servants and prisoners more than twice a week because a higher frequency would be inhumane.

*quick update* Unbeknownst to me, today is World Vegetarian Day and it kicks off Vegetarian Awareness Month. How apropos.

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You know you shouldn’t be wearing that when…

The security lady at Liberty Park tells you to lift your shirt, points to the side of your pants and asks suspiciously, “What’s that?

And your only shocked and amused response is, “um….my hips?

Word appeal: a quickie

Based on an unscientific poll of foodies freebasing off of bugolgi, glazed donuts, and almond tofu…

Sexy word: supple

Not sexy: moist

Just a little too cute

I caught an episode of Hubert Keller’s PBS Series, Secrets of a Chef.  While I was watching, I couldn’t help but notice that Chef Keller referred to his food as “little” and “cute” quite often.   The little shrimps are cute. The shrimps wrapped in zuchinni look cute. The little martini glasses are cute.  It’s a far cry from the stern and imposing figure he cut on Top Chef Season 1 when he kicked that obnoxious contestant out of his kitchen. I find this new turn kind of endearing really.

A Father’s Day Post

My dad has the most confounding sense of logic in the world, something I inherited from him in spades. He’ll often share his insights on life with me, leaving me shaking my head in confusion and laughing in amusement because I totally get it. Here’s a story about one of his theories.

I forget how it started but I know the topic began with my agreeing with Little Tiger that sharks fin is not something to be eaten because of the cruel ways in which a lot of it is harvested. Anyways, he went on to talk about harvesting sharks fin being a necessity in some areas and we need to take things into context and you can’t criticize cultures because of what they grew up with. Somehow, that led to a morbid recognition about cannibalism in Africa.

“When I was in Nigeria, if you went to a restaurant and ordered #5, it was secret for human meat. It was a necessity to survive at some point. It’s probably not happening much now except in areas far from central government influence.” (DISCLAIMER: my dad never ordered #5)

Anyways, gag reflex aside, his train of thought then led him to talk about vegetarians and why being against certain foods are illogical because it’s all about how you define life.

“If you eat a plate of baby bok choy, you are killing a lot of lives. How do you know that you didn’t kill something simply because you can’t hear it scream? It’s a plant life but it might experience pain and you just don’t know.  If you eat a beef dish, it only came from part of a cow so that one cow life created a lot of meals. In contrast, a plate of baby bok choy kills quite a few plants. It is a life after all. How many lives do you want to extinguish?”

Happy Father’s Day, Dad!  Thanks for raising me to be that weirdo kid on the playground who made no sense whatsoever. Love ya!

Foiled veggie detox and philosophical rant

Owing to the excesses of Memorial Day weekend, what with my motley crew of friends and I turning into insatiable carnivores, I needed to go on a few days of veggie detox before the Secret Spain Party tomorrow and beef noodle soup at Joy Restaurant on Sunday.  Veggie detox?  Hold your shock and disdain (carnivores) and keep the broccoli crowns off your heads (vegetarians).

There are those amongst my acquaintances who would deny that there is no such thing as too much meat but I certainly felt my blood sludging through my arteries.  Even I will admit that knocking back rib-eye steaks, chicken apple sausages, and hotlinks (purposely excluding that one half slice of turkey bacon because there’s no way that tasteless twig deserves to be called meat) with copious amounts of wine in Bodega Bay was bad enough. But then on Memorial Day, Neen’s BBQ brought on an unending flow of carne asada from Mi Pueblo while B and the doctor brought chicharrones, bulgolgi, and kimchi to style our own makeshift Kogi-Q tacos. It really was too much though it wasn’t a matter of quantity consumed but more a matter of it being consumed in daily succession since I rarely eat rich cuts of meat.

Anyhow, I endeavored to go on a quick veggie detox to bring my ying and yang into balance.  I ambitiously attempted to declare it a vegan week but remembered that even Neil Armstrong only took one small step before leaping into greatness.   I made vegetarian chili and cornbread (eggs and butter soundly negating my vegan conviction) and stayed true to the path.  But yesterday, I was in need of a quick bite before heading out to Sunshine’s for happy hour and before I even registered it, I was munching on a spicy tuna roll. The thing is, even as I was searching around Bristol Farms for food, I kept saying to myself “no meat” and I guess mentally, I didn’t categorize seafood as meat.  Fall off the wagon once, might as well keep walking. So today, even though I abstained from ordering beef soondubu, I ate the yellow corvina pan chan at My Tofu House. Although my kind friends tried to comfort me by saying that fish technically doesn’t count as meat in either case, I was honor bound to admit that my veggie detox was officially terminated the moment the tuna hit my palate.

And this was where I began to ponder philosphical dilemma on what the definition of vegetarianism is. I might catch hell from my veggie friends for the rest of this post but I’ll venture forth to put out my rambling thoughts on this.  I feel that there is a chasm between true vegetarians (vegans or ovo-lacto vegetarians) and people who just call themselves vegetarians (people who eat mostly veggies but will make exceptions for bacon, seafood, and the occasional In-N-Out burger). In my mind, the difference between the two is that I am willing to put up with the righteous preaching from the former and seek to silence the hypocrisy of those among latter who act holier than thou.  Ooh, this is turning into a rant but the train is in motion and I won’t stop it.

People who call themselves vegetarians but make “exceptions” annoy the heck out of me. For example, right after college, my friend D came home to the OC for a visit and we went to a Japanese restaurant for dinner. She told me she had recently been converted to vegetarianism owing to the influence of her partner. Imagine my surprise when she ordered salmon teriyaki. Her response was that she still ate fish when her partner wasn’t around. Really. (as in Seth Myers and Amy Poehler–Really). Upon further reflection, that moment might very well be the root of my current cynicism.  And then come to find out recently, she still eats bacon! Really.

Or take another friend whose family is vegetarian but he sneaks in chicken on the side and generally refers to himself as a vegetarian. Really. When we go to Korean BBQ, he’ll eat dak bulgolgi but God forbid his piece of chicken even lightly caresses a slab of kalbi on the same grill.  Another example – a friend of mine tells me his wife is vegetarian, but oh the other day she ordered shrimp in her pad thai because she’ll eat seafood. Really. How can you call yourself a vegetarian and still eat seafood?

And then this is where all the hyphenations come in to sate those who still want to call themselves a vegetarian. Stop pretending to be what you are clearly not. Pesco-baco-bugero–vegeterians shouldn’t be allowed to use such terms.  Tell me you just don’t eat a lot of meat, or that you like seafood and dislike meat. Or better yet, don’t annouce your diet to me unless I’m hosting a dinner party and care that you enjoy the meal or I need to speak for you in a Mandarin or Spanish language only restaurant. I won’t judge you if you order mushroom ravioli most days and still want to go on an In-N-Out run with me or take the last link of sausage. But don’t look at me with a straight face and say you’re a vegetarian.  If I ever hear you put the words pesco or what not infront of the word vegeterian when referring to yourself, I’m going to make you eat turkey bacon. Really.

The end.

carne asada

Sonoma Wine Country Weekend Recap

I’ve been having a difficult time writing entries for my blog because I just finished detaching myself from Pride and Prejudice and Mansfield Park, both of which I read greedily and reread favorite passages earnestly, if not only because the stories were great but also because the language of dialogue was difficult for my simple mind to grasp the first time around. Now Austen’s prose is running circles in my head and seeping into my speech much to the vexation of my friends.  And I fear it has somehow found its way into my text, albeit in a more unsophisticated fashion. In an effort to not emulate(poorly) her writing style and thereby exposing myself as an uneducated hack, I’m just going to recap my fun weekend at the Sonoma Coast in brief sentences.

When a French person asks for bread and you point to some hot dog buns, you can rightfully expect and deserve a look of disdain and pity.

If such an instance does occur, you are obligated to join in the search for real bread by going to every grocery store available and and persevere until an acceptable bread is secured.

When Leona Lewis’ Bleeding Love is blasting from the speakers, all female entities must get up and perform an exaggerated and heartfelt lip-synch to the song.

Eight ribeye steaks from Costco is more than enough to sustain 8 people in the course of two days. However, that wise realization never occurs during the act of purchasing food, but rather, reveals itself only after your eyes glaze over from a carnivorous feast.

I am the undisputed queen of Taboo.  Be on my team and you’ll never know the meaning of the word ‘lose’ nor will you have to cook burgers for the winning team in the middle of the night. Victory is best served on a toasted bun with a slice of cheddar.

Upon seeing some cute baby deer prancing about the overgrown brush outside the window, a true carnivore exclaims, “mmmm venison.”

People who claim they don’t know how to play poker are lying! And you won’t know until you’ve been fleeced by the least likely culprit.

All the XY’s in my acquaintance have a genetic predisposition to setting meat on fire and a genetic aversion to washing dishes.

When leading a caravan of cars through winding Sonoma wine country roads, try not to slam on the brakes or make sudden turns without giving your followers ample time to react, because then, you become “that guy”.