Monday, July 17, 2006

Real Food

I don't get sick, I don't get headaches, I rarely get food poisoning (I think maybe 3 times in the past dozen years, and all from eating out.) I have bested every other girl in our office in arm wrestling, I have an incredibly high energy level. I know that if I were to have to, just to pick something, walk to Missouri, I would have the reserves to pull it off.
My problems come from portion size, not what I’m eating. Ask Tiff-fay-fay. (We are in a good-natured tug-of-war over what we each of us will eat and what we will feed our children: She is quite proud that she gave my son his first french fry, his first “fruit” snack, and his first cheet-o. I got her kid to eat a green bean once.) I believe in eating healthy, REAL foods.

I believe in whole eggs, cream, and plain yogurt. I believe in making cakes and cookies from scratch. I believe in unbleached flour and grinding your own wheat. I believe in lard in my refried beans and pie crusts. I believe that buttercream should have BUTTER.

I believe in buying organic, or at least local. An apple tastes better the closer it grew to you. The imitation of strawberries sold in stores can’t compare to the thumbnail-sized warm beauty from the garden. Unless corn is put into a stockpot within 48 hours, it loses its sweetness. Don’t eat a pea from a pod unless you know its provenance. It’s no wonder so many people hate tomatoes when all they can buy are the red-cotton varieties from the national chains. I don’t believe in putting a tomato in a fridge.

“In season” should be a mantra, just because you can get an orange in July doesn’t mean you should eat it, same with strawberries in December. Produce stands by the side of the road should be a regular stop.

I believe in the avocados that were picked from a friend’s tree in Texas and driven on the high dusty roads without stopping, to my table within 24 hours. Guacamole should consist of: lime, tomato, onion, kosher salt, a dash of pepper sauce and/or freshly minced jalapeno. I do not believe in sour cream in guacamole.

The best cantaloupe I ever had was in Hermosillo, Mexico, a hop, skip, and a jump from the melon fields. It was so intense, sweet, and flavorful; I have never again eaten its equal. That was also where I ate my first homemade tortilla. I can still recall the flattened dough, made by hand everyday, cooked on the stovetop flame. Little crusty bits and a flaky, chewy texture.

A good dark brown bread beats a fluffy white. Baguettes are an exception. They must be crusty and consumed the day they were baked or they are no good. Croissants in plastic containers are an abomination. A soft croissant is disgusting. Bread in plastic bags is a CRIME.

My enemies are varied. High-fructose corn syrup is evil and it is in everything. It must be avoided at all costs. Red number 40, Blue Lake 50, Yellow number 5, with all their cousins and colleagues, are pollutants. Recombinant Bovine Growth Hormone has been outlawed in other countries, but continues to be used in our milk supply. Antibiotics given as a 'precaution' to our animals is harming us. Pesticides are scary.

I believe in pastuerized milks and raw cheeses. My grandfather was a dairy man. He warned us to never drink raw milk, I believe him. I think cheeses should taste like something, not like rubber. If your cheese has a coloring in it, look elsewhere. Make sure you buy organic if at all possible.

Make friends with your butcher or your fish monger. DO NOT BUY PRE-COOKED SHRIMP. If you can’t smell your fish before buying it, don’t buy it. Your fish shouldn’t smell ‘fishy,’ it should smell of the ocean. If your mussels or clams don’t close when you tap them, don’t buy them. If you can, buy straight from local fishermen. Where is your meat from? How was it raised?

Food in boxes is tricky, sauces in jars, too. Food in cans can be fine (tomatoes being the best example) and frozen foods are the best alternative to buying locally. Easy-Mac is terrifying. I am fine with my co-workers eating it, but it is so highly processed I can’t eat it without gagging. At least I know I could use it to find my way out of the building in a power outage. Processed foods are frightening. They have taken everything that is good, wholesome, nourishing, and removed it on behalf of shelf-life. Trans-fats are lab created fats that ruin your body.

I am Spanish, so I also believe in strange foods. Bacalao, the cod preserved in salt, is delicious heaven. Olives stuffed with anchovies, a treat. I believe in grilled sardines, Jamon Serrano, octopi over rice, and paella in the summer, sopa caldo in the winter. I believe in blood sausage, eating chicken hearts, turkey necks, and beef cheeks. If an animal lays down its life for us, it should be treated with respect and we should discard as little as possible. When I am done with them, chicken bones are DRY. I think the best tortillas are made from potatoes and eggs. Employ olive oil and saffron. The best ingredients in the world should be used everyday for your friends and family.

I have never met a healthy vegan. Every vegan I have ever met seemed to have a constant nasal drip, succumbing to colds, flus, allergens, etc., at far higher rates than their peers. Every vegan I have known has had weird hair and pasty skin. I do not believe in being a vegan. I believe in eating meat sparingly: being a vegetarian is fine by me. But please, eat the honey, use butter sometimes; it’s OK to have some yogurt.

The best foods in the world have simple, fresh ingredients. That is the secret to cooking. All things found in nature are here to fulfill the measure of their creation. Revere them, use them, and respect them. Listen to your body and soul, what you take in affects them both.

I believe in being balanced and I believe in eating REAL FOOD.


~j. said...

I don't have a fish monger.

If I bought as much organic stuff as I'd like to, I'd use up our entire month's food budget in two days. I wish it weren't so much more expensive...

I'm hungry.

~j. said...

Weren't. Wasn't.

Kiki said...

Weren't. But some believe the English subjunctive to be dead.

I have much to learn from you, Master. Except, I don't want to put the non-muscley part of any animal in my mouth.

I love mussels!

Azúcar said...

I know! That's why I try to buy local if I can't buy organic. It will change in the next 5 years or so, as more farmers move to organic produce.

And it's all muscle...just, uhm smaller or stranger muscle.

lisa v. clark said...

I love this post, but it made me hungry.

I'm with ~J: If it weren't so expensive, it wouldn't be a question, I would buy organic and I would buy hormone-free milk. I'd even buy it if it were a little more expensive, but it's not.

And why IS high-fructose corn syrup in everything?! Is it because it's manufactured here, so it's cheaper?

So what's your take on food storage, and using it or rotating it?

April said...

I'm suddenly having a flashback of "The Edible Woman," by Margaret Atwood.

Azúcar said...

Because corn is subsidised so heavily by our government, sugars made from corn are cheap. The syrup is far cheaper than cane sugar, delivers more sugar taste for smaller volume, and is chemically stable. It also wrecks havoc on our bodies by spiking our blood sugars even more than regular table sugar.

As for dairy: buy from the BYU dairy. The cows are here, your milk doesn't travel from far away, it is fresher and WAY cheaper. Also, my grandpa designed the program, so you know it's good ;)

Most organic milks I've seen around are ultra-pastuerized, which means that if you find a sale you can stock up and the milk will not go bad waiting for your family to use it (if you have the space that is.) I bought some o-milk at the end of June and it doesn't expire until August 17th.

Here are my food storage thoughts: I wish I had more of it! Our quarters are tightly packed. I think canned foods are great for food storage, as well as soups and frozen items. There are some really good canned and dried soups on the market. They're good for super quick meals, or to add to fresh ingredients. I freeze a lot of meats and rotate them.

I love dried items like beans, grains, pastas, and fruits. The pasta is easy, of course, to rotate. I do have some of those potato buds, mostly because I thought they'd be a good idea at the time. I just throw those out when they're past expiration because I'm not going to eat them unless it's an emergency.

I'm not perfect in my consumptions, sometimes the idea of a diet coke sounds like heaven, but this post is what I'm striving for.

I think any meal you make at home, no matter what the ingredients are, is usually better for you than what you can find someplace else.

Bek said...

You guys NEED a trader joes!! Their dairy is organic and SO CHEAP. I don't know how they make it so cheap..... I am with you Jen...if I couldn't get this stuff cheap, it wouldn't happen as often.

Carina, you sound like an advert for Slow Food. Do you read that? It is right up your alley if you don't. :-)

This was a well thought out post. I am a child of the south, where everything has cream and butter. It just makes things taste better. We do eat very healthy (I am allergic to I hear you about the sweetens or thickens EVERYTHING we eat) but we also frequent fast food places too. I am like a bi polar eater...we visit both extremes......

GO READ SLOW FOOD. It is great. Do you guys have organic farm co ops there? We do that buy a "share" for aboug 20$$ a week and you get a big box of food every week. It hleps them be able to grow organic b/c they know they will sell it...check it out (if you don't already...)

Kiki said...

Don't forget bacon grease, Bek. My g-ma puts it in EVERYTHING! that's not a dessert.

I know it's all muscle, but I think you know what I mean. I guess I should say that I don't want to eat anything that's part of the digestive tract or the neck up or the hands/feet or the tail. I don't even want the skin unless it's skin on Popeye's fried chicken.

When I was at BYU, the Good Earth was my store. My grocery bill was horrendous, but I ate well and that was important back then. For some reason that all changed when I no longer had roommates to cook for. I don't like cooking for myself, and I don't like cooking at g-ma's house because she ALWAYS stands over my shoulder to tell me what to do, and I can't bring myself to tell her to get the hell out! So I don't cook anymore. I eat bacon grease with g-ma, or I go out to eat with friends. But back to the Good Earth...I'm craving their yogurt-covered almonds right now and that carrot cake I used to make and black bean salsa with those tortilla chips from the Good Earth and the chicken marinated in that rosemary thing I used to make that I forgot how to make.

Kiki said...

And I had a garden where I grew tomatos, green onions, vidalia onions, cucumbers, bell peppers, strawberries, various herbs and mint, and carrots.

Melody said...

Wow! Every speech I have ever made to myself or anyone else on how/what to eat compressed so neatly into this little blog. Bravo!

I buy all my meat and dairy at BYU. Last time I checked, they don't use BGH for the dairy cows.

And God help Utah county. .. a strange mix of extremists- "weird hair and pasty skin" people on one end and the Chuck-a-Rama crowd on the other. I'd give anything for a "Wild Oats" here. But the weird hair people would still be going to Good Earth and the Chuck-a-Ramas would never shop at Wild Oats. There just aren't enough of whatever the rest of us are to support it.

I'm remembering the bananas, mangos, coconuts we ate in Fiji last fall (when my 17-year-old and I went to pick up her sister from an LDS mission) all growing in the yards of our third world hosts/neighbors. I have never tasted anything so divine. And how they used every part of the animals they cooked- simple, fresh foods and my whole body rejoiced with it.

Anyway, this blog is wonderful. You might consider revising and submitting it as an editorial to a local newspaper. Everyone should read it. Now, I think I'll finish eating the apricot I picked off the tree by my back porch.

Bek said...


Every school we visited in Africa gave us a gift of some sort of fruit that they grew on the grounds. In Uganda we got about 12 mangos at one school. I at them on the three hour van ride to the next place in a van that had no floor and no roof. Me, in a skirt, w/ bad hair and mango juice dripping down my chin....... it was the best thing I have ever eaten and I don't even LIKE fruit (I am a veggie girl).

Thanks for reminding me....

compulsive writer said...

If you can't pronounce it, you shouldna be eating it!

I believe in Penzeys too!

LuckyRedHen said...

Wait a minute... I thought you were CUBAN.

I remember the freshest peach I ever ate and no other has compared. I was young, a teen, and my family went to the orchard in WA with my visiting grandparents to pick the peaches right of the trees during their peak. Mmm. The fragrance, sound of the bees and peace in that orchard.

~j. said...

Bek - I pray for a Trader Joe's every day. We always stop there on our road trips. This last trip we stopped at one in the St. Louis area (where Rae lost a tooth), but of course we just get the sauces & such -- can't stock up on the produce for a two-days-more drive. We all love the no-hydrogenated-oils Chocolate Joe-Joe's cookies.

All - I was with Azucar last night, and I have to tell you, what a timely event - she sucked the meat bones dry. She's not kidding around.

Emmie said...

Can I come over and eat at your place sometime?

miggy said...

Great post! I was raised on the vegatables from my grandparents garden and I am grateful for knowing what REAL tomatoes taste like as well as all the other things I think one learns from growing their own food. I think that's why I LOVED vegetables as a kid and still do--I had real ones. Eventhough my grandparents probably didn't think much about HFCS, transF, and all the other health issues because so many other items in the house were processed and terrible for you (they had an entire fridge devoted to soda), I know there was a certain reverence for the food from the garden . . . and I'm grateful for that.

Azúcar said...

Yes! Next time let's not go out, let's stay in.

I love the Slow Food Movement. I agree wholeheartedly. I think that sometimes our aversions to food come when we haven't tasted the item when it's been fresh or ripe enough. I'm glad you had a mango of your dreams.

Lucky- I remember the same peaches from our family's tree. They were so warm and juicy you'd have to eat them outside.

I like The Good Earth, but try to limit myself to only $20 in items each time I go. The whole milk yogurt (Brown Cow) for child comes first, then the muesli (from the bins) and then whatever other things (all those rice options are so cool!) and sundries strike my fancy.

I don't know about Penzey's, but I do know about the culinary heaven that is World Spice in Seattle. Nothing compares to them or their Madras curry blend. Nothing.

Azúcar said...

Miggy, I was just thinking about you! Mates of State are opening for Death Cab at UVSC on August 8th. You're lucky because your city has some great farmers markets, so even if you're in a high-rise you can still get some pretty fresh produce.

I can't wait until we move to a place where I can have a garden. Fresh herbs for pesto, tomatoes for cappelli pomodoro, string beans for stir-fry seasame beans, squash for stuffing or soups, and perfect pears for tarts.

Queen Scarlett said...

Here's a virtual Standing Ovation... LOVE the post. I so agree with you on so many points.

Organic is the way to grow...or local stuff. My parents have been talking about this for a long time. There's a reason why certain foods are in certain climates and why they're best for the people who live there...

I'm also not into any low-fat, non-fat... blah - because if it is that ... they add crap to make it taste somewhat normal. If I'm going to enjoy food...which I love... it's gotta be the real stuff. ;-)


Kiki said...

Carina, that's enough with the alliteration!

Azúcar said...

Sadly, it was unconscious. I'm a NERD.

miggy said...

Oh the Mates! I love those guys. . . please tell me you're going to see them . . . I wouldn't even stick around for DCFC, just the Mates for me please.

And yes, we do have some good farmers markets here . . . I've been rasing a little basil in my window sill--not a garden, but a good start.

~j. said...

I suppose we should listen to what you're saying.

~j. said...

Here's an extra for luckyredhen and anyone else that might be skeptical.

(because maybe snopes is more reliable than msnbc.)

spitzer said...

Yes, I love it. I’m a big fan of the “in season mantra.”
Side note- an Italian (and French) would suggest that you ate a variety of a muskmelon and not a true cantaloupe (although probably the same plant, and different than north American, it was not grown in the designated location). Utah Strawberries are best because they have a longer growing season than the Californian, but there has not been a strawberry farm in Utah since 1829 (an exaggeration) despite the annual strawberry days in pleasant grove. California winter strawberries are more flavorful than Utah strawberries because they have an even longer growing season (those sneaky farmers trick them into a false winter so they grow fresh in the winter unlike the six-month old apples at some roadside stands).

–I worked in a specialty produce department for five years and would fail history tests because I spent the previous night reading about citrons.

metamorphose said...

Me so hungry. And Mates of State are coming to Utah?? What the? Where have I been? I wonder if I can still find a ticket. I could care less about Death Cab.

This is me said...

I just recently heard a doctor (on TV) say that you should never eat anything with: h.f. corn syrup, enriched white flour, hydrogenated (or partially h.) oil, salt, or sugar in the first 5 ingredients. Or any trans fats at all. I thought to myself, "what else is left?!" I guess fresh produce and meats and whole grains. I decided, after the summer, that will be my family's new diet (at least 75% of the time). I hope it works because it is definitely the ideal, even if it's difficult to put into practice.

Rachel said...

I love reading all of this, and wish I lived carina's way-- but I am a bi-polar eater, like Bek. I'm growing 7 varieties of Heirloom Tomatoes, cucumbers, 3 varieties of peppers (purple, yellow, red), 3 types of berries, tons of basil and rosemary, honeydew melon, and zucchini.....but I love red vines (I think they have enriched white flour, red 58789 or whatever, and hf corn syrup. and that's it). I enjoy a frozen Little Debbie's Swiss Roll (on occasion) and Trader Joe's has fabulous "LOW FAT" Cheese crunchies. So I'm a schizophrenic eater who fancies myself a gourmet at times, but then succombs to my daily diet pepsi (or two?), and at least one treat every day with at least 3 of the offending ingredients. YIKES!

az--please tell me that you'll stoop for crap food on road trips? all rules can be broken on road trips, in my book, not that i have strict rules to begin with.

Rachel said...

do you like ina? (barefoot ina.)

fijiangirl said...

Loved this post and have been trying to put the principles into practice. We have our weekly outing to the farmers market tomorrow morning. The kids love it and it is a great way to support local farmers. You get fresh produce for such cheap prices… plus you can talk to the locals to see how they grow their food. If you don't have a Trader Joe's close by Costco has organic milk. Haven't bought it there because we go to Trader Joes but I have seen it in the store and it was less expensive than the $7.00 a gallon Safeway sells. I think a lot of the medical problems we have in today's society is because of how we eat. For example, I know more women my age (30ish) with fertility problems than those who can have children without any medical intervention. Then I think back a generation ago to and women didn't have too many problems in this area. I blame it on our society and our standard of living in how we eat and what we do to destroy our bodies. Another example is a lady I have known for years who had struggled with weight her entire life. Four years ago she decided it was time to start following the Word of Wisdom (not just the thou shalt not but the thou shalts). She only eats foods that are in season, now eats breakfast every morning (instead of her previous Baby Ruth and diet soda around 10:00 am). When she started this she was on her way to having knee surgery because the weight had messed up her knee and she was in constant pain. She lost over 150 lbs. and has successfully kept it off. She can actually walk without a limp. All because she studied Doctrine & Covenants section 89. No need to look elsewhere for your dining guide.

Rachel said...

I am SO with you on the baguettes and croissants! You haven't lived until you've eaten a fresh croissant. **shudders in ecstasy** That goes for pain au chocolat too!

I just read your Seinfeld quiz and laughed like a school girl. I had at least 8 of 10. :) Yippee! Now how's about a Simpsons quiz?!

righteous mama said...

i'm with you this one, too, carina! especially for our boy--he gets the best of the best. while i eat very well, i do have my vices (DIET COKE has been my downfall). have you ever been to "real foods market"? they are at the extreme end of the spectrum--everything is raw--the milk, cheese, etc. apparently, they've done a lot of studies on pasteurization and found more bad bacteria/less good enzymes in the pasteurized milk than in the nonpasteurized stuff. crazy, huh? and, they have all natural, pasture-raised meat and eggs. it's extraordinarily expensive, though. worse than bread and circus (where i always shopped back east)!! but, i think if you have to spend money anywhere, you should spend it on great food!

nie nie said...

partially hydrogentated oils suck

Azúcar said...

1. I bought some organic hummus and it sucked.

2. Chi- I do like road food, but i'd prefer a smaller home-town option vs. a chain. Sure, I break rules for road trips. Like double-stuff E.L. Fudge or salsa verde Doritos. Of course I usually feel gross and blah after eating that crap, but it tasted good at the time! If one if a perfect eater all the time how BORING.

3. Fiji- our Costco DOESN'T sell organic milk. Mech. Stupid.

4. I DID check with the BYU Creamery about their milk. The cows are pasture fed and are not given rGBH, although they are sometimes treated with antibiotics to keep them healthy. Add that to cheaper prices for milk over the regular stores, and I call that a bargain!

The Scooter Lounge said...

If I could just strike High Fructose Corn Syrup when drilling a well, why I'd be a bazillionaire. Then I'd get myself a cement pond. A good soak helps the sore nipples I get from ingesting recombinant bovine growth hormone. Boy howdy!

Gritty Pretty said...

everyone, no matter what, read the comment above mine. so funny.

i once saw a guy at a festival wearing a wife beater that barely covered his large man boobs. the back of the shirt said "body by cream of weber". ugh. mind scar!

i love your post azucar. one of my fav things is to make due with food grown in our and our neighbors back yards in downtown provo. we have quite a few gardeners in my area. with my honey from our hive and eggs from our ducks and hens, their peaches and arugula etc. we've made feasts! not expensive, not time consuming (i like weeds) and very social.

i'm sending your perfectly said post link to my foodie friends. here's to salivating and real food.

Amber said...

I agree with you, mostly - but if you know anything about BPA, I'm about to ruin one of your things that are ok... canned tomatoes.

Most canned (vs. home-jarred) products have a thin plastic layer inside them. That plastic contains a endocrine disruptor knows as BPA for short. BPA leaches into foods, and leaching is more prevalent in acidic foods, i.e. pineapple or tomato.