Archive for the ‘ organic food ’ Category

Thailand in a Bag

If you missed Vietnam on a Stick or Life on a Stick Part 2, then this might not make a whole lot of sense.  But it is amazing how when you start to look for something, you start to see it everywhere!  It started in Vietnam when I  noticed just how much stuff you can get on a stick.  It seemed everywhere I looked I saw something else on a stick.

Back in Thailand, I decided to see how much stuff I could find in a bag.  Once again I was not disappointed.  Here are just a few samples of what you can get in Thailand in a Bag!

Big Fish in a Bag

Little Fish in a Bag

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Weasel Coffee

We just back from Vietnam where I may or may not have eaten dog.  There were some mysterious meats in a couple dishes, but they were so delicious I thought it might be better to let the mystery be.

As I mentioned in my post “Why is This Disgusting?”  I am not that guy who can make himself eat anything.  I wish I was that guy so people would see me eating a spider or plateful for maggots and say, “Wow!  Look at that guy!”  But I have never been that guy and probably never will be that guy.  More often than not, my dietary adventures are limited to vertebrates and if not familiar flavors, at least familiar food sources.

All that being said I did have a opportunity to try a potentially disgusting coffee while in Hanoi.  We found a shop selling “Weasel Coffee” and went inside to investigate.  The owners told us that weasel coffee is a very special variety of bean that is first eaten by a type of weasel and then pooped out still in its original shape.  Collectors then find the weasel poop and sift through it to find the beans.  They wash and roast them to make weasel coffee.

Does that sound believable?  Does it sound disgusting?  They made each of us a small cup of the stuff, and I have to say it was the best few mouthfuls of coffee I have ever had!  I had to buy some of various qualities to take home and share with friends!

When I got to a computer I looked up the story to see if they were pulling my leg.  I found out they were telling the truth and read up on the health and safety of it all.  There are conflicting reports on whether the beans are puked up or pooped out by the weasel but it is from beans that have been in a weasel stomach!   Kopi Luwak coffee or “Weasel” coffee as it is known in Vietnam, is the most expensive coffee in the world, costing between 100 and 600 dollars a pound for the pure stuff.

As amazing as it is, I have to wonder who was the first person who thought of trying it.  Just like in my last blog about who invented smoking, I wonder how anybody in their right mind could be looking through weasel poop (or vomit) one day find the coffee beans and think, “hmmmmmmm…….maybe this would be good to drink!”  Doesn’t it make you wonder how many other things people have tried without such good fortune?

Anyway, for some reason I am not disgusted at all by the weasel coffee.  I still don’t think I am “that guy”, but maybe I am one step closer!

More Disgusting Thoughts

In my last post “Why Is This Disgusting?” I talked about how most of the foods we find disgusting come from animals.  That does not mean some people don’t hate brussel sprouts or egg plant, it just means that most foods that we find repulsive are from animals.

But what else do we find disgusting that is not related to food?  Think about it.  Vomit, puss, poop, burps, piss, farts, some sexual practices, rotting flesh, gore, and snot are also things that come from or are related to animals.  According to Paul Rozin, humans tend to withdraw from, and be disgusted by, anything that reminds us that we are biological creatures.  It is like a defense mechanism to keep us from being aware that we are part of the animal world.

Why are we afraid to acknowledge our “animalness”?   Is it because we are afraid to believe that we are mortal?  Do our biological functions and animalistic drives force us to let go of the fantasy that we will live forever?

In his book Ishmael, Daniel Quinn writes that the story of Adam and Eve is allegorical rather than literal.  Man’s fall from grace occurred when humans left the Garden of Eden and separating themselves from the rest of animal kingdom.  Original sin was not a bite from an apple, but a choice to live outside of the natural order that all other animals adhere to.  Since that time, we have been doing everything we can to prove our superiority and dominion over nature.

Have we come so far in our quest to be separate from animals, that we are disgusted and even morally repulsed by our own animalism?  Lust, gluttony, sloth, anger, and greed occur naturally in the animal kingdom, but in some human circles these are considered deadly sins.

I am not sure that knowing this will help me embrace all of my animal instincts and drives but I do feel much better about how much I enjoy a good belch!

Why Is This Disgusting?

I have never eaten dog meat or snake blood.  I have never munched a maggot or nibbled a newt.  I have always wanted to be that guy who can eat anything.  I watch some dude on Fear Factor eat a raw pig uterus and I am filled with a sense of admiration.  However, I am not that guy!  As much as I want to be fearless and open minded about what I eat, I find myself repulsed by foods I have never  even bothered to try.  Maybe they would be delicious.  Maybe they would be nutritious.  Sadly, I may never know.  When I was in Cambodia a few years back, I remember seeing huge displays of fried spiders.  The Cambodians snatched them up by the bag full, but I couldn’t bring myself to even try a nibble.

Being the nerd that I am, I wanted to know why I feel this way about certain foods.  So I Googled my way down a rabbit hole and emerged a couple hours later with some fascinating insight.  Paul Rozin has spent over three decades researching disgust as a human emotion.  He has several articles on the web and books in the stores that detail the evolution of disgust.  My advice is don’t start reading unless you have some spare time.

Some things that caught my attention were that in American culture, we almost never consider eating invertebrates.  We are repulsed by reptiles, avoid amphibians, and limit ourselves to only a few birds and mammals.  Further almost every food we find disgusting is of animal origin.  To test this theory I looked up some sites claiming to have the 10 most disgusting foods and indeed I found not a single listing that was not an animal product.  Soft-boiled fetal duck, whole sheep’s head, live octopus, jellied moose nose, bat paste, and others topped the list.  How interesting that not a single vegetable or fruit made the top 10.

Maybe I should consider becoming a vegetarian!  What is the most disgusting thing you have eaten?

The Exploited Tomato

I am here to stand up for the tomato!  The tomato has no voice but has a right to be heard.  I just think it is unfair the way some farmers are treating their tomatoes, and if nobody says anything, this practice will continue while we turn a blind eye.

Before I get to the tomato, I want to take a minute to describe a lady I saw at Whole Foods Market the other day.  She was in the organic section poking and prodding various vegetables with her experienced and discriminating fingers.  She was made up from head to toe.  Her hair was doing some amazing yet unnatural gymnastics on top of her head, held up by some powerful chemical compounds.  Her fake eyelashes fluttered giving life to a face that had obviously been nipped and tucked to a point where it had a motionless statue like quality.  In her basket were several vitamins, some anti-wrinkle cream, and a case of Slim Fast.  I marveled at the lengths this woman had gone to keep herself looking young.  I imagine she was not above Botox injections, human growth hormone treatments, antibiotics, or anything else that might give her an advantage.   She was fighting valiantly against the aging process and I respected her for the effort.  Then she picked up the tomato.

The tomato looked sad.  I think it knew that it did not look as good as its non organic peers.  It had been denied the opportunity to live the type of life the woman had.  No hormones to help it grow big and strong.  No chemicals or fertilizers that, like our multi vitamins, ensure it will have the nutrients it needs.  No pesticides or herbicides that would have helped fight off the invaders that caused the ugly scars and cost the lives of some of his tomato friends.

What an interesting and unfair dichotomy this was.  The most inorganic and unnatural looking woman using every resource at her disposal to fight aging, which is one of the most natural human processes, holding and valuing a tomato because it was organic.  This tomato was the epitome of everything this woman was not, and it just seemed so ironic and sad.

I say it is time we either allow our tomato brothers and sisters to have the same standard of living as we do, or join then in living naturally.  Since I know the latter is impossible, I feel compelled to speak for those with no voice.  I speak for the tomato!