FORWARD BASE B

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Category Archives: food and drink

Where There’s Tea There’s Civilization

Just as I suppose there’s no such thing as home without piping hot food, there’s no such thing as civilization without hot tea.

Hot tea requires taking your time.   The caffeine is stimulating but not overwhelmingly so.  The very act of sipping requires patience.  Every little sip is a ritual of taking delight in the smaller things.  You have to be able to hold back and enjoy sips before a large bite can taste its best.
This goes not just for food, but all life’s pleasures.
Without enjoying the sips, hedonistic overload devolves into the ashen discontent of jaded excess.

Being able to sit down and sip slowly is the mature sensibility of an adult rather than the capricious, excessive desire of a child.  It’s the ability to wait for good things to grow rather than plundering a lesser reward right now.

Taking tea with others is a ritual of humanity.  You pour from same pot as equals, you sit near, humbly, looking one another honestly in the eye.  Taken together, it’s about acknowledging another’s humanity even should they be your mortal enemy outside of that moment.

A person who can’t take tea with you is not a real person, never to be let into one’s trust.
If they can’t share tea with you from the same pot and look you in the eye, how can they be relied on to back you up when it counts?  When survival is at stake?  How can they be taken seriously as an ally in this perilous wilderness if they won’t even acknowledge shared humanity on the most basic level?

Why Haven’t Americans Figured Out How to Serve Hot Food?

In the time I lived in Korea I noticed a fantastic innovation at their restaurants.  Food was brought to the table simmering in these big steel cookers for everyone to browse from.
I was amazed how these not only kept the food hot, they even had an adjustable heat dial anyone at the table could use.

Such a marvellous invention would be unthinkable, revolutionary in stodgy, joyless American culture that takes greatest pride in its prolish junk food.

When it comes to American food, a piping hot meal is one of life’s challenges.
Everything gets served in complete portions on individual plates made of thick, cold ceramic, completely open to the air.  Everyone takes great care to eat as isolated individuals, avoiding any appearance of sharing from the same source.(that would be disgusting)  Browsing from a collective pot is taboo.  Just watching a people at meal time offers great insight into how they see the world on the most visceral level!
By the time people begin to eat, especially if there’s prayer before eating, even the mashed potatoes are starting to get cold.
I never really understood what a truly hot meal was until I went to some other countries where thick sauces, flaky crusts were common, served in the same container it was baked in hot from the oven, served in cast iron cookware or thick pots with small openings or lids to hold in the heat.  It was never the same again to just eat off of a cold plate that hadn’t even been warmed up.  It’s barbaric, really.  Cold food would offend even cave people cooking over their fires.  Actually, cooking over with a fire in the remote woods is far superior to eating off a cold plate.  There’s a radiant glow of heat that warms your face when you take those foil wrapped baked potatoes and pork loin from the embers of the fire.  Something about really hot food revives the spirit even as cold, soggy food chills the mood, even down to the tips of the toes.
In the States, I still often eat out of the hot pan I cooked in instead of serving onto a plate when making food for myself.  I’ll bring a chair right up to the stove and keep the heat on low as I eat.  If I take it into another room, I keep a lid on until the moment I’m about to eat and enjoy the ebullient rush of hot, delicious-smelling steam rising into my face before I dig in.  But even this is often difficult in America since almost all cookware I encounter is designed to get damaged if it’s so much as touched with silverware.  What backwards and alien customs!

I guess I feel that one of the main reasons to even bother to have a society is to make life pleasant for people.  It’s part of the implicit Contract that motivates us to cooperate with a social order at all.
First a people figures out how to invent a perfectly piping hot meal and then worry about surplus activities like missions into space.
It’s perverse in a way that the most wealthy populations on earth haven’t figured out how to apply sustained heat to their food or contain heat with insulation.
Perhaps it’s the Calvinist, Puritanical disdain for joy in this life that leads to such apathy.
Or is it misguided “enlightenment” empiricism? It has the same calories or nutrients served hot or ice cold after all.
Or is it simply a secular religion of competition and money-making that leaves no place for enjoying the smaller things that make life worth living to begin with?

I suspect it is a combination of all these that impede a culture known for innovation from serving food in containers that have a heat source and adjustable dial.  These are after all the same people who take toasters for granted.

Is Air Conditioning A Cause of Obesity?

It’s over 100 degrees and there’s no climate control.

What do you crave more?

A big greasy burger with salty fries?

or

Lots of fruit and salad?

In the past people ate with the seasons and not just because lots of foods weren’t available all year round but because you feel like eating different things depending on the weather.

Our bodies pick up on seasonal signals. Appetite and food preference change accordingly.

But what if you’re stuck in an office all day long?
The air is always crisp and chill. You live your life in a perpetual autumn. Winter is coming. The harvest is finished.

Autumn is the time of year for bacon, ham, apples, turkey, gravy…
So that bacon cheeseburger is what’s for lunch…every day.

I came to this realization when I performed an experiment on myself.

In the summer of 2010, I was living in Las Vegas, Nevada.

I turned off the AC for a couple of weeks just to see what it was like.

As my body tried to cope with the 110-112 degree heat, my appetite plummeted.
All I ever wanted to eat was watermelons and cucumbers.
I’d go through multiple lemons a day drinking tons of lemon water.
I relied heavily on the quinine content in tonic water to make me feel just a bit cooler and would go to sleep wrapped in wet towels.

The human body disperses heat better when it is leaner, so my body was doing its job, desperately trying to shed extra mass as quickly as possible.

By the end of my experiment, the 90 degree lows at night felt very cool and comfortable. Air conditioned buildings felt icy inside. My body was adjusting.

My trial run finished, I realized that in the past, people must have gained weight in the autumn and then lost it all again in the summer. It all balanced out.

But perhaps those ancient instincts malfunction when we live all year round at a constant ideal temperature and thus become a contributing factor behind the trend of obesity.

LINK

It Boosts Testosterone Without Side Effects

On weekdays, I was an English teacher in Korea.

On the weekends, I was an explorer in a strange country.

One of the things that intrigued me most was the Asian system of traditional medicine.

I wasn’t interested in curing an illness, though.
I was interested in supplements that make a fit person even stronger.

I don’t trust big pharma, so as I browsed Seoul’s medicinal markets my goal was to go back to the source.

I saw things such as dried seahorses and live hornet’s nests being sold as medicines.

I tried out lots of things myself including roasted centipede, gastrodia(a plant that produces no chlorophyll and generates its food through symbiosis with fungal colonies), and mugwort a relative of nightshade that induces crazy, lucid dreams.

My favorite though, was the most famous of them all:

Korean ginseng.
It contains phyto-androgens unique to ginseng plants known as ginsenosides, organic compounds that boost testosterone and strengthen the immune system. Ginseng is one of just a few herbs that’s known for benefiting pretty much the entire body, an adaptogen.
Better, it’s been used for thousands of years and in all that time, it’s never been associated with any of the devastating side effects that are commonplace with pharmaceuticals.

In Korea I was able to buy up entire 6 year old ginseng roots and consume them straight.

I loved the fiery rush and the extra resilience I’d get from consuming ginseng regularly and it became a part of my lifestyle.

When I got back to the states, I found the actual roots were almost impossible to find. Ginseng was only available as overpriced pills and weak extracts that were often made with junk grade young roots or cut with cheap imposters such as eleuthero root.

With little other choice I tried different brands of pills and was disappointed. They couldn’t compare to the real thing

 

What Water Purification and Asian Glow Have In Common

“As population density and travel increased, fermented beverages such as beer became a way to transport a nutritional food stuff as well as a source of safe liquid refreshment. There was an old adage “…the water can kill you but the beer won’t.” People in the West did not realize that boiling water could purify it…

But what about people in Asia?…all drinking water be boiled as a hygienic precaution. One summer day while visiting a distant region of his realm, he and the court stopped to rest. In accordance with his ruling, the servants began to boil water for the court to drink. Dried leaves from the near by bush fell into the boiling water, and a brown liquid resulted…

Thus, two vastly different cultures separated by thousands of miles developed distinctly different ways to deal with polluted water for consumption…

It has been found that approximately half of the Pacific Rim Asian population (Chinese, Japanese, Koreans) possess an atypical alcohol dehydrogenase (ADH) known as ADH2*2 that leads to unusually rapid conversion of ethanol to acetaldehyde … After consuming one or two alcoholic beverages, they may experience symptoms which include dizziness, nausea, headaches, an increased pulse, occasional extreme drowsiness, and occasional skin swelling and itchiness. These unpleasant side effects often prevent further drinking that would lead to further intoxication…

Could it be that a culture rich in an alcohol tradition evolved in the West to deal with the problem of poor potable water quality; while in the East, to deal with the same problem, a culture evolved centered around tea because of the presence of a mutation in a gene?”

LINK

Or more likely and way too non-PC for the New York Times, Europeans started out like Asians and evolved a higher tolerance to alcohol. Those who could tolerate alcohol better avoided intestinal parasites and had the vitality to sire more children.

According to the PC narrative of course, human evolution came to a halt a few tens of thousands of years when “modern humans” emerged completely formed and have stayed static ever since.

Also, some have supposed that the burst of productivity that came with the industrial revolution was in part a result of Westerners trading alcohol for tea as the drink of choice.

Hydroponics

This is the first of a series of articles on hydroponic growing tecniques, in this article I am going to introduce you to the advantages (and disadvantages) of hydroponic culture, this type of culture is very useful for those of you that want to grow pesticide-free, sustainable, nutritious fruits, vegetables and herbs indoor (closets, small rooms). Modern food is often polluted by chemicals, hormones and it is often deficient of many essential nutrients like vitamins and mineral salts. Growing plants and herbs that are rich of these essential nutrients is relatively cheap with hydroponics. You can even grow fresh fodder for cattle in order to produce high quality meat , cheese and milk.

My next articles will also cover more complex arguments like homemade fertilizers, greenhouse culture, aeroponics and how to build lighting and irrigation systems. There is quite a market for over-priced equipment and fertilizers so it is important to learn how to build your own in order to save a lot of $$$, this requires only basic skills.

For those of you that aren’t adept at basic horticulture I have included a series of links to books that explain basic information like: how plants grow, how photosynthesis works, why PH is important for plants etc You can find this links at the end of this post, I have also included links for some very important books about hydroponics.

INTRODUCTION

Hydroponic is a type of culture in which all nutrients are supplied to the plant through the irrigation water, with the growing substrate being soilless (mostly inorganic). In open systems the nutrient solution is discarded after it pass through root mass/medium while in closed systems the solution recirculate.

ADVANTAGES

Crops can be grown where no suitable soil exists or where the soil is contaminated with disease.

Labor for tilling, cultivating, fumigating, watering, and other traditional practices are largely eliminated.

Maximum yields are possible, making the system economically feasible in high-density and expensive land areas.

Conservation of water and nutrients, closed systems cause no form of pollution.

Complete control over the growing environment.

DISADVANTAGES

More expensive than traditional soil culture.

Require basic skills in various disciplines: electrical, plumbing, chemistry, horticulture.

The plants react very fast to poor nutritious or bad enviromental conditions.

Disease can spread very quickly if proper care is not given.

Not all plant cultivars are suitable for hydroponic culture.

THERE ARE 2 THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW BEFORE STARTING

Number 1

This culture is very profitable for off-season high value crops, for example basil, cherry tomatoes, peppers and herbs during the winter. If you can sell your harvests to gourmet restaurants and farmer-markets you can recover your growing costs very quickly. You can grow different high quality crops in only 1 square meter using a shelf-like structure or rotary hydroponic systems.

Number 2

Lighting costs are very high:

Fluorescent tubes, High Intensity Discarge Lamps can be bought at a fair price BUT they are inefficient, consume a lot of electricity and most light bulbs/tubes don’t come in the right light spectrum therefor up to 60% of emitted light is wasted. They contain mercury and HID lamps generate a lot of excess heat; They also require expensive reflectors and ballasts for optimal use. It is important that you use these lamps only for herbs and leaf vegetables if you want to grow tomatoes or other crops that require a lot of light you must build a LED Array with blue and red leds (with 10% yellow/green light).

LUMENS ARE USELESS FOR PLANTS LIGHTING REQUIREMENTS, you need to use PAR WATTS / square meter or microeinsteins. Plants require mostly blue and red photons for photosynthesis, you only need 10% of yellow-green light, most commercial lights are in the yellow green spectrum.  There is a lot of bulls*it in horticulture marketing especially regarding grow lights sold at hydroponic shops, most of these lamps are industrial lamps with just a different label.

LINKS

For Beginners:

http://www.simplyhydroponic.com/hydroponic-systems/5-types-of-hydroponic-systems

Horticulture:

http://rapidshare.com/files/416333364/Horticulture.rar

http://depositfiles.com/files/dezn3ocd6

Hydroponics:

http://avaxhome.ws/ebooks/science_books/biology_genetics/65m745364n645.html

http://www.mediafire.com/?t1avo5u5p187ni6

Tomatoes:

http://ebookee.org/Tomatoes_1002408.html

Scientific Studies:

http://hortsci.ashspublications.org/

Lard Is Good For You

“Lard, although commonly misidentified as a saturated fat, should really be classified as a monounsaturated fat…lard is about 40 percent saturated, 50 percent monounsaturated, and contains 10 percent polyunsaturated fatty acids. It is also one of our richest dietary sources of vitamin D…

lard is making a comeback from its nadir after years of vilification by big food corporations eager to push their plastic substitutes (see “The Rise and Fall of Crisco

lard sold in grocery stores (if you are lucky enough to find it at all) contains preservatives like BHT added to prolong its shelf life, I look for farmers who sell what they can’t use. Sometimes local butchers carry additive-free lard, or can order it for you.”

I personally have managed to find good quality lard at farmer’s markets, though even there it’s often scarce or out of stock.

I’m actually using some right now to fry up some collard greens until they get crispy and crunchy, a real treat.

Another of my favorite uses: fry up corn tortillas in lard until they’re crispy. As appetizers, can top with guacamole, salsa, or hot sauce. For dessert, great with Mexican cane sugar and cinnamon on top.

Also unbeatable for frying eggs and portabella mushrooms.

Vegetarians swear by plant foods,

Paleo types believe in animal foods.

I, however, am convinced the key lies in which fats you use.

piece of lard

This is what lard looks like when not processed into a uniform white odorless substance with preservatives. Not only is the flavor better, the pieces leave behind crispy golden cracklings at the bottom of the skillet.

Now Drinking: Chinese Goji Berry Wine

Goji berry wine

goji berry wine bottle

I’ve never been let down by an Asian berry wine and this one is no exception. Nice and dry, not too sweet.
Much better than the dried berries sold in Asian markets, or for ridiculous prices in health food stores.
What does goji wine taste like?
Sort of like the sweetness of grape, the tartness of cranberry, and the tannic character of pomegranate all combined, with a lingering savory character of its own and a hint of carrots.
It drinks like a grape wine, but it still feels nearly as rich as a brandy.

Anyone out there who can read the bottle?

Two Types of Cinnamon – You’ve Probably Just Seen One of Them

The rock hard ‘cinnamon’ sticks and powder version of it you find at the store are actually more properly said to be products of the cassia tree.
The main sources are typically in Southeast Asia.

The original cinnamon mostly comes from Sri Lanka and South India.
You can immediately tell the difference because its texture is papery and you can break it apart with your finger nails.
You can easily chew on it like candy and get a sweet rather than a fiery cinnamon flavor.

cassia and cinnamon

Left: ‘true cinnamon’
Right: Cassia

There is an easy way to get ‘true cinnamon’ in the States. Just go to the Mexican food section and get the cinnamon sticks there, it’s almost always the Sri Lankan stuff.

Even the cassia that’s available in most supermarkets is harvested young and thus of pretty low quality. The good cinnamon bark comes from older trees and you can gauge quality by its thickness.

Here’s some of the grade of cassia that I’m able to get from Chinese herbal shops in the states:

Big cinnamon stick

When making my own tinctures, I’ve used both species of cinnamon together. ‘True’ for the delicate and sweet, cassia for its fire.
Because it’s dense and woody, I find vodka doesn’t quite cut it. Everclear makes for a much better extract.

LINK

Eating In Korea: Silkworm Chrysali

I would describe the texture as meaty, not bad. But they taste like wet wool.

In Korea, it’s fairly typical to see street stands with woks full of these little guys. It smells somewhat like damp, scorching wool.

I’m pretty open to trying new flavors, but this one didn’t make my list of favorites, sorry to say.

I imagine that these cooked pupae were a byproduct of the silk-making process and gradually grew on people who didn’t have a whole lot of foods to choose from.

Why Do Africans Use A Staple Food That Can Cause Cyanide Poisoning?

Built in theft protection – from both animals and humans.

Cassava(native to the new world) comes in ‘sweet’ non-poisonous and ‘bitter’ varieties containing cyanide-like compounds that require lengthy processing to remove.

In a perfect world, there’s little reason to grow the bitter varietals. Processing the root into secondary products such as tapioca starch is lengthy and labor intensive.

When Food Reveals Etymology: Photography and Cephalopods

Once, in Northern Italy, I ordered a dish with black pasta that gets its color from cuttlefish ink.

This pasta was referred to as ‘nero de sepia.’

At once it became clear that sepia is a cuttlefish.
And to my amusement I realized that the washed out brown color, sepia was undoubtedly derived from the color of cuttlefish ink.

How many people working with photographs know that they’re talking about a cephalopod?

Now Drinking: Armenian Pomegranate Wine

I’ve tried a couple of these and this one is a bit more on the sweeter side.

But it’s a good, rich sort of sweet, not the cloying kind.

If you’ve ever had port before, except made of pomegranates, that’s pretty much what this tastes like.

Ethnic Russian markets are the places to look.

Portugal + India = Vindaloo

Ever seen vindaloo curries on menu at Indian restaurants?
The word derives from the Portuguese ‘vindalho.’

A vindaloo curry is just one example of an Iberian-Indian fusion cuisine that arose in the former Portuguese colony of Goa.

A favorite cooking ingredient, cashews, were brought by the Portuguese from another colony: Brazil.

The cashew fruits: used to make the local wine.

LINK

The Role of Broths in Traditional Diets

Why vegetarianism will not save the world (Moral hand wringing for the 21st century)

http://matadornetwork.com/bnt/why-vegetarianism-will-not-save-the-world/

The truth is that agriculture is the most destructive thing humans have done to the planet, and more of the same won’t save us. The truth is that agriculture requires the wholesale destruction of entire ecosystems. The truth is also that life isn’t possible without death, that no matter what you eat, someone has to die to feed you.

The second reason is that I didn’t want a whole new group of idealistic young people to destroy their health. A vegetarian diet — and especially a vegan diet — does not provide for the long-term maintenance and repair of the human body. So vegetarians are on drawdown of their biological reserves.

Eventually, the rubber hits the road. There is a whole generation of us here who believed in it and tried it until we did permanent damage to our bodies. It was all for nothing. It’s pointless suffering. And I want to stop the young ones from doing the same thing.

But Lierre, how can we exercise our liberal guilt if not through vegetarianism?

Northern Africa once fed the Roman Empire. Iraq was forests so thick that sunlight never touched the ground–no one in their right mind would call it the “Fertile Crescent” now. The dust storms in China are so bad that the soil is literally blowing across the Pacific Ocean and over the continent until it hits the Rocky Mountains, where it’s causing asthma in children in Denver.

If our planet has any hope, it will be because we repair the perennial polycultures–the grasslands, the forests, the wetlands–and take our place once again as participants in those biotic communities, instead of as destroyers of them. That’s what we did for our first four million years–we were participants in living communities. It’s only in the last 10,000 that we’ve become monsters.

Well, “living communities” is certainly one word to describe the living conditions of that era. I tend to agree with the “restore the land” sentiment though. Like most problems, we’ve had the methods to fix it for generations, the political system is in the way.

I was in the vegan world for twenty years, but I did not realize that vegans would stalk, harass, and assault me. I didn’t realize that I was dealing with people who are that cult-like and fundamentalist in their mentality. I can’t speak in public without security now. And they have let me know that they know where I live.

They have, ironically, proved my point about the psychology of veganism better than my words ever could. I don’t give in to bullies, and besides, my planet is at stake. So I’m not going to stop. But there is a very scary psychology running through this community.

Who knew herbivores could be so flaky? Wait a sec, shouldn’t you be warning us about the evil right wing…

People are getting desperate in this country as the wealthy have destroyed first the working class, then the middle class. All that’s left are the poor, the old, and the sick, and now the republicans are going after Social Security and Medicaid. Rick Perry is running for president, and he is a Dominionist Christian who truly believes that the United States should be a religious theocracy. We need to get active or we will be living under the christian Taliban.

Ah, cool, thanks. But having lived in his home state for most of my life watching his policies in action, I’d say his real place of worship is the bank.

Also cows are really delicious and useful (click to expand):

Eating In Korea: Stingray With Raspberry Wine

A few years ago, I went to the Noryangjin fish market in Seoul. There, you buy your seafood fresh off the boat, live in many cases, and the restaurants right there in the market prepare/serve you up whatever it is you bought.

I saw this stand and decided I had to try some:

Here’s how they served it up for me at a restaurant:

What does stingray/skate taste like?
The taste is like the feral, peppery musk of some wild animal’s territorial marking.
So much so, it burns in the mouth and wafts into the sinuses.
The strange thing is that it actually gave my stomach a soothing, clean, prickly feeling as I ate it.

Nevertheless, it would have been hard to eat without a bottle of raspberry wine to wash it all down.
The Koreans do berry wines wonderfully; I have a special soft spot for them. Most of the Western versions and liqueurs are nauseatingly sweet.
The raspberry wine, Bokbunja, is only slightly sweeter than some sweeter red wines. The sweetness is actually balanced.

The best part: you can order Bokbunja in lots of Korean restaurants in the states and it costs the same as the regular beer or soju. If you’re a weiguk, just be prepared for the waiter’s jaw to drop when you ask for it by name.

What you see in that picture was my lunch. I went back for dinner and that time I had fresh abalone and a brown marine tubeworm Koreans call ‘sea ginseng.’
The abalone was served up just barely seared on the outside and warm all through, mellow, meaty and delicious.
The worm was served up sliced into pieces and to my delight the pieces were still moving independently. It tasted pretty good too. The texture was much lighter and more delicate than fleshy, chewy sea cucumber.

Loved that fish market. There were thousands of people but I was the only weiguk.

An Odd Flavor of Korean Ice Cream

I found this at a regular corner store where I was living in a suburb in the Seoul area in 2009. It actually didn’t taste that cheesy which is just as well since Asians typically aren’t fans of that kind of flavor. Which begs the question: why in Asia were they marketing a product as being cheese flavored?
Cheese can be seen as classy, chic, and Western .(I once saw $6 dollar small boxes of imported Kraft singles strategically located in the wine department in an E-mart).
But it is still very much in the process of gaining popular acceptance.

As for the slogan, it’s nonsense, but Northeast Asians like the look and sound of certain English words. “Story” seems to be one that’s caught on.

Wine From Beyond The Iron Curtain: Tokaj Aszu

The sweet essence of the dessert wines is a product of late-picked grapes that have been left on the vine to undergo an incredible transformation: a normally undesirable windborne fungus – Botrytis cinerea – takes hold of the grapes, feeding on their organic acids, but leaving their sugar untouched. This is known as ‘noble rot.’

A personal favorite of Louis XIV, this is one of the best dessert wines I’ve tried(a 5 puttonyos). From what a Hungarian explained to me while I was in their country, the puttonyos rating is a measure of the amount of grapes concentrated into each batch. The higher the puttonyos(poo tone yosh), the richer it gets. 6 is as high as I’ve seen.

Flavor in Ancient Rome

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