A Shopper's Dilemma

Friday night I spent more than an hour at the supermarket and left with only a few items: almond milk, bread, brown rice, broccoli, cauliflower, grapefruit, and vegetarian hotdogs.  Ever since reading The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan I’ve been putting more thought into what I put in my mouth.  (Yeah, I know, “that’s what she said.”)  The book was a fascinating look into what America is feeding itself, and to sum it up…it ain’t good.  Corporate agribusiness is costing us and our earth more than we know.  There’s a lot of hidden costs to that cheap chicken breast and one dollar hamburger, and they come out of your tax dollars.  It was informative and interesting, but somewhat disheartening; Pollan doesn’t offer any solutions (which I don’t blame him for since there is no easy solution) and he is hesitant to take sides but definitely leans towards locally sourced foods from small scale farms.  In the end, I was still trapped in the dilemma:  What do I eat?

After Thanksgiving I experimented with being a vegetarian (semi-vegetarian, I couldn’t bring myself to give up sushi) in light of all the terrible things I read about factory farms.  Though I’m not completely vegetarian at the moment, I haven’t been able to eat much meat.  I’m once again on a semi-vegetarian track.  I keep thinking about those animals crowded on top of each other covered in their own shit, pumped with antibiotics.  Even the labels “organic,” “cage-free,” and “grass-fed” don’t mean anything.  USDA guidelines are lenient and clearly serving agricultural lobbyists.  “Free-range” in their definition is having “access” to the outside, which amounts to a little door at the end of their coops that can’t even utilize most of the time.

All these things made me spend over an hour at the supermarket deciding what to eat.  I actually used my phone to google unknown ingredients in soymilk.   I wanted to buy “cage-free” eggs but I was too disgusted with what I knew to buy them.  And the produce?  I was bothered by the fact that I didn’t know what was actually in season, that these foods used gallons and gallons of petroleum to get to that Kroger, and that it had probably been forever since they came from the earth.  I finally buckled and did buy some produce, realizing that part of eating in America is forgetting.  Being ignorant.  And I find that disturbing.  I love food, and I don’t just want to consume it for just for its calories; I want to enjoy the karmic pleasure of eating real food.

I realize part of my dilemma in the supermarket stemmed from the fact that I was shopping in a supermarket.  I want to explore local food options.  Check out the farmer’s market.  In my Southern Food class we’re studying all these things, the food industry, Southern food ways, etc., so it’ll be part of my curriculum anyway.  :)  Today when I was chopping my purple cauliflower and broccoli I had to stop myself from being disgusted that they were miles and days from the earth they were grown in.  I was fascinated by the purple cauliflower they used in the Iron Chef Battle with the White House Executive Chef, so I wanted to try it.

I just sautéed it in some olive oil with broccoli and sprinkled some salt and pepper.  It was good, and pretty…but I know that it could have been so much greater if it was fresher.  Crunching away on my compromise I tried to forget that instead of being recently misted with morning dew or sprinkled with rain, these vegetables were sprayed with water introduced by an artificial clap of thunder from an overhead sprinkler system in Kroger.

Violets

I just finished reading A Room with a View by E.M. Forster at the recommendation of a friend (thanks, Angela!) and truly enjoyed it. It was exactly the kind of book that I felt like reading–youth, beauty, travel, and of course, love. I wanted to share a beautiful scene and a few quotes I liked from the book. I hope you enjoy. ^_^

Encyclopedia Britannica, 1911

From her feet the ground sloped sharply into view, and violets ran down in rivulets and streams and cataracts irrigating the hillside with blue, eddying around the tree stems, collecting into pools of azure foam. But never again were they in such profusion; this terrace was the well-head, the primal source whence beauty gushed out to water the earth. Standing at its brink, like a swimmer who prepares, was the good man. But he was not the good man that she had expected, and he was alone. George had turned at the sound of her arrival. For a moment he contemplated her as one who had fallen out of heaven. He saw a radiant joy in her face, he saw the flowers beat against her dress in blue waves. The bushes above them closed. He stepped quickly forward and kissed her.

****

Let yourself go. Pull out from the depths those thoughts that you do not understand, and spread them out in the sunlight and know the meaning of them.

****

We know that we come from the winds, and that we shall return to them; that all life is perhaps a knot, a tangle, a blemish in the eternal smoothness. By why should this make us unhappy? Let us rather love one another and work and rejoice. I don’t believe in this world sorrow.

****

It isn’t possible to love and to part. You will wish that it was. You can transmute love, ignore it, muddle it, but you can never pull it out of you. I know by experience that the poets are right: love is eternal.

****

…when the whole world was singing and the air ran into the mouth like wine…

****

In her heart also there are springing up strange desires. She too is enamored by heavy winds, and vast panoramas, and green expanses of the sea. She has marked the kingdom of this world, how full it is of wealth, and beauty, and war–a radiant crust, built around the central fires, spinning towards the receding heavens.

****

Yes, for we fight for more than Love or Pleasure; there is Truth. Truth counts. Truth does count.

Continue reading Violets

Shakespeare, William Shakespeare

Yesterday was my lucky day.  I was at work, dreadfully tired due to lack of sleep, and looking forward to going home and getting into bed early.  Everyday, I’ve been putting myself in the virtual line for 12th Night, just to see if perchance I’d get tickets and be able to see it again.  After over a week of rejections, I pretty much figured the virtual line was a hoax.  Anyway, I kept putting myself in the lottery.  Much later, forgetting that I had applied, I checked to see if I got tics, and lo and behold…the writing was green, not rejection red, “Congratulations!!!”  I gasped, and momentarily mourned the fact I’d get virtually no sleep that night (play’s done late and commute to Jersey is long).  I invited by friend Angela to come along.

We met up by Gate 3 of the Delacourt Theatre, sitting on a bench, talking, and waiting for them to start letting people in.  I was doing a lot of people watching, as always, and I look up and saw a man.  It took me three seconds for it to dawn on me who I was looking at.

Second 1:  That man looks familiar…

Second 2: Wait, I think that’s…

Second 3: PIERCE BROSNAN, OH MY GOD.

I elbowed Angela and told her.  We grinned and silently giggled like fangirls while he walked around a bit, finally settling on standing RIGHT NEXT TO US.  He is a gorgeous man.  I’ve always thought he was handsome, but in person it’s like a whole ‘nother level.  He is tall, distinguished, and of course, really really ridiculously good-looking.  He’s the sexiest old man I’ve seen.  We didn’t bother him of course because he was there to enjoy a play obviously.  Some lady asked for a picture and he said, “No. No, thank you. No.”

It was my first time seeing a celebrity in the real world, and it was in New York City, in Central Park, with tickets I scored with sheer luck.  It really was my lucky day.  The play was just as good as the first time (I think I could see it every night!) and I left with the same full bliss as before, walking out in Central Park wanting to be in love.  Not looking for love though.  After all, in the fair Olivia’s words:

Love sought is good, but given unsought is better.  —Twelfth Night, 3. 1

Gloria & Emilio Estefan teach you how to cook Cuban-style

Gloria and Emilio Estefan created a beautiful cookbook of authentic Cuban recipes that I have been trying to get my hands on since it came out last year.  I finally found one in the Barnes & Noble in Franklin and had an opportunity to look through it.  The verdict: It really is a beautiful book.  The design is clean and appealing, and the photos of the food are saliva-inducing.  The recipes don’t offer any innovations in Cuban cuisine, but that wasn’t their aim.  Their aim was, as the subtitle states, to share authentic Cuban recipes, which is what I really like about it.  They know you shouldn’t mess with a good thing.  The book offers a pretty comprehensive list of all the great, traditional Cuban dishes which are all prefaced with a little info on the history of the dish and a little personal bit about their relationship with it.  (For example, their daughter apparently loves papas rellenas.  Who knew??????)  I was also pleased to see that they make their flan like I do, with three milks–not the straight-up regular leche crap that I see a lot of other recipes using.  It’s a nice book, but since I already have a book that has authentic Cuban recipes (Nitza Villapol’s old school Cocina Criolla, mo-fos!) I probably won’t buy this one myself.  Everyone, my birthday is Aug 10!  You can give it to me on a different holiday though…Cinco de Mayo is next week…