Plagued by the reality of industrial farming described by Michael Pollan, I’ve decided to try a fruit-and-seed diet, which would consist of only things that can be harvested without killing the plants. At first I thought it would be pretty restrictive, but a lot of vegetables are fruits: tomato, cucumber, bittermelon, bell pepper, chayote, green beans, eggplants, etc. Cereal is the hard part. I wasn’t sure if I should include corn, rice, wheat and other grains in my experiment because technically they can be harvested without killing the plants, but in reality the plants are killed after the harvest. The same goes for soy beans. Then I figure the industrial farms also kill tomato and cucumber plants after harvesting, and my experiment is geared toward whether I can survive on only fruits and seeds, so restricting to heirloom produce is “beyond the scope of our study”.
Bought $29.72′s worth of avocados, navel oranges, blueberries, plums, cultured coconut milk (i.e., coconut yogurt), and bananas from Berkeley Bowl.
- First day -
Brunch: one plum, one avocado smoothie. Snacks: blueberries. Work from home. At about 4 pm I was doing ok, then I saw UmamiMart‘s picture of crispy golden fried gyoza on Facebook and my stomach started feeling a little empty, so I had to snack on a banana and some toasted coconut chips. Dinner: white rice with muối mè (salt-sugar-sesame mix), one orange and one cup of coconut milk yogurt. I was excited to open the coconut milk yogurt but quickly regretted buying it: the sour taste mixed with the familiar coconut smell, which has been hardwired in my brain as sweet and rich, made me instinctively think that this coconut milk has gone bad. It was only an instinctive reaction, I told myself, and managed to finish the whole cup. The chocolate flavor didn’t help very much. There are still 3 cups in the fridge, I wasn’t sure if that’s enough to get me used to the taste.
Later that evening, I fixed a bowl of rice cereal with soy milk.
Continue reading Monkey diary – three days as a fruitarian
Did you know that the koala, the pickiest eater on Earth, has a brain so small that “doesn’t even begin to fill up its skull”? The variety of one’s diet correlates with the size of one’s brain. Whether the reason might be the low nutrition (which makes it more economical to shrink your brain and conserve energy) or the simplicity of a diet that requires no thinking (when you see the food world as eucalyptus and non-eucalyptus, what to have for lunch is not a very big question), the koala’s brain would have been a lot more developed had it been an omnivore. (Whether being smart is better than sleeping 20 hours a day is a different question.)
The Omnivore’s Dilemma is about choice. This theme I did not quite grasp when I read the first part (Industrial – Corn) a year ago (or maybe longer, when you grow old everything seems like just yesterday). I was on the plane flying back to San Francisco, reading this monumental Michael Pollan book and discussing with a Chilean guy across the aisle about negligent governments, undereducated denizens and public apathy. What does that have to do with food? It actually has everything to do with food. The meat, eggs, cereals and virtually anything you buy from a grocery store are produced with corn in one form or another, thanks to government subsidies, big corporations, our desire for “cheap” abundance, and sadly, overzealous science.
The humans, omnivores with brain circuitry so complex to devise ways to modify corn into everything, have managed to reduce themselves to monoculture eaters, which, if you look at it objectively enough, is not all that different from the koala. The depressing part about it is that for a city dweller, you actually have very little choice in what you eat. You can’t escape from eating something that is detrimental to both your body and the whole ecosystem, or at least that’s what the first part of the book, Industrial – Corn, led me to think.
Continue reading Face the omnivore’s dilemma
What defines a good macaron? I googled, but found only “10 signs of a bad macaron“. My pâtissière friend Hanna Lim told me a few criteria: a good macaron should look smooth on the surface, crunchy (but not crumbly) on the outside and a little chewy(*) inside, it should not fall apart when you take a bite, it should be a clean bite – no crumbs, no cream spewing out on the side. [...]
Continue reading The macaron that keeps you wanting for more
Found this little guy on a bookshelf at home. I couldn’t sleep last night and was browsing the shelves for something to read (which is obviously a great idea to cure insomnia – the more I read the more awake I am, unless it’s a physics book). As a pâtissière friend says, recipe books are only for ideas, so I never read them (I hardly even look at them at bookstores). My mother, like all Vietnamese [...]
Continue reading Little Texas Cookbook
In this unassuming restaurant, I found the best sugarcane juice I’ve ever had. When the waiter asked if we would like three glasses of fresh-squeezed(*) sugarcane juice for the table, only my dad was persuaded. The waiter was quite earnest too, he insisted that it was good and that it would induce no extra cost (the meal is buffet-style for a modest $8.99/person, roughly the cost of a bowl of pho in Berkeley). However, the sugarcane [...]
Continue reading Tinh Luat restaurant – thoughtful vegan food
Let me first get this off my chest: I hate restaurants with low lighting (e.g., Burma Superstar and Bistro Liaison), red lights (e.g., Thanh Long and Mission Chinese), and yellow lights (Gather). Why can’t we have nice white neon lights? I don’t go there to film romantic dinner scenes or deal drugs under the table. I go there to eat food, I want to be [...]
Continue reading Revisit Gather
This post is for the Vietnamese expats in particular and anyone who thinks of the avocado as a fruit (to be eaten as a fruit, not a vegetable). In America, people tend to think of avocado in guacamole terms or as a meat substitute in sandwiches. If you think avocado for dessert is weird, shall we talk about your pumpkin pie? Ever since the day I saw the option of “avocado smoothie” at Continue reading One shot: Avocado smoothie
Hull and Surendranath examine the inscription on a spoon at Bombay Cuisine. What do grad students do? Some of us write, some of us teach, most of us don’t sleep, all of us eat. For Astronomy PhD student Chat Hull and his friend Yogesh Surendranath, a Chemistry postdoctoral fellow, eating at every single Indian restaurant in Berkeley and writing about it is high on the priority list. Berkeley has no shortage of Indian restaurants for the duo [...]
Continue reading Two scientists take on all Indian restaurants in Berkeley
Many of my food-loving friends don’t consider themselves foodie. Many of my food-loving friends do consider themselves foodies. Restauranteurs hate foodies. My cousin hates foodies. I asked him why. – They don’t cook and they sit around discussing how the food should be done. He hit the nail on the head right there. I don’t cook, and I sit around saying this needs more salt and that needs less sugar. Does that mean I’m a foodie? [...]
Continue reading Foodie
Why don’t I like spicy food? For the same reason I don’t like cupcakes, Chicago pizza or anything that has too much of something for me to taste anything else. For the same reason I shunned sushi for almost 10 years: the first time I had sushi I scooped a spoonful of the lovely green paste into my mouth. Those were 10 years that I could have enjoyed so many hamachi nigiri. It’s sad. But that [...]
Continue reading B-Dama – Taste fresher than fresh