Thursday, July 8, 2010

Taipei: Raw Liquid Diet: First 24 Hours

I have been wanting do to a liquid only diet for a while now for a few reasons:

1) Look at the rest of my blog and you will know that I have been way over indulgent with my diet while in Asia.

2) The greens and fruits here are cheap, delicious and come in such variety.

3) The weather is oppressively hot which makes me neither want to consume hot foods nor to expend any excess energy digesting foods than is absolutely necessary.

4) I recently had my first sinus troubles (first any sort of health trouble) since I started my last raw food diet, leading me to believe the coffers of bodily health and happiness I was able to accumulate so much merit for while living in Austin are now finally running dry.

5) To prove to myself that I can do it.

6) Because there aren't any good reasons not to.

(meal one) - So last night I drank 1/4 of a taiwanese watermelon. Watermelons here are enormous and delicious, ill take photos next time to show you what I am talking about. Drinking so much juice was perhaps a bit overkill but I wanted to start it off with a big alkaline bang. Recently mosquitoes have been landing on me more often. I still don't think I have been bitten but I worry that the fact that they land on me at all speaks poorly of my ph level. Don't worry, liquid raw food diet also doesn't mean that I will be on a fruit only diet. The watermelon was a nice means of transitioning from the veggie diet I had been living. Recently I have been over-indulging in vegan fried rice and 炒米粉 (Chǎo mǐfěn - fried rice noodles).

(meal two) - I have a tendency to over-indulge in banana and leafy green smoothies. They are so easy, cheap and delicious. So I simply allowed myself to default to this smoothie, I threw in some Goji Berries which I just bought as well (so cheap! the bag pictured cost about 4 dollars US) I unfortunately have run out of martenelli's apple juice as my roommate and friends all were able to appreciate its splendor as much as I was, and found myself without any other fun liquid to add to my smoothie so was forced to use some water. Luckily with the vitamix you don't have to add much before it will start doing it's thing. I finished cleaning just in time for the 1 o'clock trash truck so I ran out my food waste just in time for them to dump it into the compost can and take it off to one of the city composts. Trash here comes twice a day, sounds like an ice cream truck and will take anything compostable or recyclable from you for free! It is pretty great.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Taipei: So Many Nutrients!

This is what you get when you combine an entire container of salad mix, 4 oz. of Martinelli's Apple Juice and 2 over-ripe bananas! This is the watery bit left at the bottom, the part already consumed was solid enough to mold to the contours of the cup and could be picked up with chopsticks. It taste's delicious but looks like baby poop. There was nothing particularly pleasing about the experience of eating it... but so many nutrients!

Next time fewer greens and more liquid.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Taipei: My Patience Rewarded!

One of the reasons I came to Taiwan to begin with was because of my love of tea and my knowledge that Taiwan is to tea-lovers what Amsterdam is to pot-heads. The last thing I wanted however was to walk into a tea shop and be mistaken for a tourist looking for a novelty tea set to pay way too much for in order to have something to put on a shelf and never use. So I waited. Wait for my Chinese to improve was my intention, and that has happened, but on top of that, my path just happened to cross ways with other people who love tea as much as I do and who have so much to teach me and genuine interest in my American Gung-Fu Cha experiences. I have developed my relationship with them and steeped enough pots of tea from tea sets available in local tea houses with them that I finally decided to have a set of my own, and that my friend decided to help me assemble it. I am in hog heaven. I love Taiwan.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Taipei: How is it already June?

Time flies by so quickly here. I am still dealing with the issues of eating meat. Making compromises is an interesting aspect of human nature. Being faced with the reality that I wasn't willing to insist on not eating meat in situations where it would be inconvenient for my friends, I instead just invented new rules to veganism, constructed situations where it would be ok to cheat on myself. Now I never eat meat if I am alone, but only with certain friends who have to eat meat with every meal. Certain other friends have joined with me in avoiding meat, some have embraced it even more whole-heartedly than I. The world is a magical place.

I am now in an 8:30 am chinese class with three japanese people, another american and a guy from somewhere in Europe. Changing from the 3:00 pm class to the 8:30 am class is a large life change but it is one that I requested and am glad to be making. My schedule revolves in large part around, sleeping, studying and eating leafy green vegetables. If I were to stumble upon a genie in a bottle, I don't think I would have anything to wish for.

I went with my friends to Kaohsiung last Sunday because they were playing a show there. About an hour before they were to go on they realized that they didn't have anybody to man there table and sell cd's for them. I didn't volunteer, thinking my language barrier to be a bar from eligibility, but they didn't see it that way and asked me to sell cd's for them. So I did.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Introspective: eating meat

In my mind, the fact that I am eating meat is not something that I am proud of. I view it in the same light that one might view drinking alcohol, smoking tobacco, or indulging in any number of activities that we seek out in order to pleasure ourselves. I ask myself "why do I eat meat?" and have only two answers.

It is often delicious and thus brings me pleasure.

It is socially easier to eat meat than to not eat meat. By eating meat I avoid distancing myself from others, avoiding causing both myself and others discomfort.

Searching my mind to see if there was ever any other reason to eat meat I realized that occasionally I think that I am ordering a dish that does not contain meat and instead am served a dish with meat in it. Rather than paying for a new dish, causing a fuss about the dish served or abstaining from the meal; I often will simply eat the dish with meat. Even beyond that I will often enjoy and relish the dish, cleaning the plate and sitting in a position of false contentment, thinking to myself "I wanted to avoid meat but forces beyond my control put this meat onto my plate and into my body." Thus I am able to indulge in a pleasurable experience without causing myself nor my immediate others any form of distress.

I seriously believe eating meat to be harmful to myself and to the environment. I have never seen a compelling moral reason which justifies killing an animal in order to bring myself pleasure.

All I can be is an educated consumer. When I ate shrimp fried rice tonight I knew for a fact that Shrimp trawling is one of the most destructing fishing activities imaginable. An activity responsible for millions of tons of dead fish being dumped into the ocean. An activity which results in the indiscriminate destruction of coral reefs, endangered species and ocean ecosystems. I also knew for a fact that the eggs in my dish were most likely from a factory chicken farm where thousands if not tens of thousands of genetically engineered and selectively bred layer hens were living their lives out beak-less and unable even to turn around in their cage. Beyond that I knew that by eating eggs I was engaging in an activity which would bring me pleasure immediately, but a significant amount of pain later given the fact that my body refuses to process egg and instead responds by doing something very much like flushing my entire digestive tract in order to purge itself of this unwanted guest.

Eating from animals shames me.

Writing this blog post will cause discomfort to others in the same way that saying "I am sorry, I don't want to share in your Thanksgiving turkey with you because I don't eat animals" causes discomfort, but because I don't have to look any of you in the face while I am saying all of this I am more comfortable doing so.

Am I going to go back to vegetarianism? Since I can't digest eggs or dairy anyway... to veganism?

I don't know.

Just know that every bite of meat I take and have taken at any meal photographed for this blog is either for a purely visceral pleasure or to avoid taking a stand for what I believe in.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Taipei: Photoshop Expired

So my trial of photoshop expired and Photoshop CS5 is coming out mid May so I am in a period where I can't satisfactorily edit my photos for blog posting, but it is corresponding to my moving into a three story house-like-space, and when you rent an empty space in taiwan, it is not uncommon for things like lights and hot water heaters to be among the things not provided. So between my house, studying, enjoying Taipei and seeing friends, I am finding myself with very little down time. I am really missing Eeyore's Birthday today though, Austin is never far from my heart and thoughts.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Taipei: Voraciously Omnivorous

Tofu from Fu-Mon-Tang Pork Restaurant
Pork from Fu-Mon-Tang Pork Restaurant
Pig Face from Street Market near Yongchun MRT Station
Slow Cooked Pork from Hakka Restaurant on SongDe
Tofu from Hakka Restaurant on SongDe
Greens from Hakka Restaurant on SongDe
Eggplant from Hakka Restaurant on SongDe
Chicken Feet from Street Market near Yongchun MRT Station
Pig Foot from Restaurant near Guting Station
Chicken Leg from Restaurant near Guting Station

So every time I walk to the MRT station I have (get) to walk past at least fifteen amazing looking restaurants and street vendors. Up until this week I had only tried three of them for fear of butchering the Chinese language (中文) and for love of being a regular customer. But now I have eaten (and photographed) at a few more places and let me tell you, they know how to cook in this neighborhood.

Now that I have reached the ripe old age of twenty-two I am really starting to feel my age... or maybe I am just starting to feel the excess of fried street food, wheat and animal fat that I have been consuming for the past two months. I have turned to cycling to try to counter the effects of being as omnivorous as possible, which has been a great way to get around Taipei as well as being a great use of my free time. Cycling is having the unfortunate side effects of forcing me to do laundry far more often and of forcing me to breathe in excessive amounts of exhaust fumes. I assure you that the satisfaction I glean from racing against scooters is more than enough to outweigh these oh-so-slight negatives. I honestly feel safer weaving around scooters, taxis, busses and Taiwanese people that I do riding my bicycle in Texas though. People on the street here are ever-vigilant, predictably aggressive and reassuringly competent, there are no grandparents who stopped being able to see street signs twenty years ago nor cell phone wielding land cruiser driving upper middle class mothers with 2.5 children in tow.

While on the topic of the elderly, I have met two 80-90 year old men here who have spoken amazing english, been vegetarian and worked for some division of the Military in Taiwan for the majority of their lives. Both of them were more in love with Americans that any American I know and were both still working and in good enough health to not need any assistance to make their own way around the city. Both of them were very excited to talk to me and were excited that I was in Taiwan. Every day is a new adventure.

I now have a Tumblr account which I will probably be throwing random pieces of media up on far more often that I update this blog. So for those of you who use my blog as a way to know that I am still alive, the Tumblr might be a better way to check my pulse.

At some point in the distant future this blog will hopefully again be full of pictures and facts of the foods of Asia on a more regular basis but while I am in this place in my life which consists of pointing at food and saying 我要買這個 or of merely checking boxes on menus in an intelligently anarchic fashion, I am afraid that I won't even be able to supply the proper names of these dishes.