Saturday, September 26, 2009

I think I want to be a foodie. Or not.

I want to be a foodie because I love food.

I had goat meat today. It was from Sindhu, which I fully recognize is probably a bastardized Indian-food-for-gringos restaurant. If Chinese restaurants in Michigan are any indication of the authenticity of foreign foods in this region, it's nothing like real Indian food for Indians. Okay, done with the disclaimer. Never the less, it was goat. It tasted kind of like lamb, with that ... lamby taste, which I had been craving for a long time. I mean, I haven't had lamb in at least a year.

According to Monika, it's the fastest growing meat for eating. Meaning more and more people are eating it, not that goat grows up quickly for slaughtering, but that's initially a bit confusing. Goat is a staple meat for a lot of people in the world because goats are easy to raise.

A few weeks ago I had uni nigri sushi for the first time and I loved it. I've had ample opportunities to order it in other Japanese restaurants, but I did it this time. Uni is sea urchin roe. It's soft and yellowy-orange. It tasted like very concentrated seafood, like the juice of a head of a head-on shrimp or crab tomalley. Not to be confused with tamale. It's the greenish yellow "crap" inside crabs. Asians LOVE tomalley. LOVE. (Apparently there's some health warning about toxins in it but I don't eat it often and or pregnant for it to be a concern.)

But there are two main reasons for my hesitation about this aspiration. First and foremost, I think foodies fetishize food. This is feeling is captured well by David Rakoff's book Don't Get Too Comfortable: The Indignities of Coach Class, the Torments of Low Thread Count, the Never-ending Quest for Artisanal Olive Oil, and Other First World Problems. Particularly the part "The Never-Ending Quest for Artisanal Olive Oil". I don't want to be like Zingerman's, which definitely fetishizes artisanal olive oil and a lot of other "artisanal" foods. Stuff White People Like should add "foodie" to its list.

I think foodies get to a point where you are judged by the food you make and eat. Like I should be embarrassed because I don't make everything from scratch and eat questionably fresh tuna rolls. Oh, and not everything I eat has fewer than four ingredients or whatever Michael Pollan's rules are. You know the way people try to out "indie" each other by naming indie bands they know and asking "Have you heard of (insert combination of random words that is apparently a band name". I think foodies can do that too. Like, have you tried ___? It's divine. See David Rakoff's essay on fetishizing sea salt.

Second, is it possible to be a foodie and not be a cook? Because I'm not sure I like cooking that much, still. But today I bought rapini (aka broccoli raab) at Meijer and I think I will sautee it in some garlic and oil. I like it because it's a leafy green with a slightly bitter taste. Boiling pasta and sauteeing vegetables in oil is about all the cooking I do. Well no, I can also make miso soup and scrambled egg. Now those are all the things I can make.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Life is expensive

How much is an appropriate amount to spend on groceries each week? I thought about this as I pushed my mini shopping cart out of Meijer. I spent $61.41 today.

I was shocked at first because my whole family would spend this much at Meijer on a shopping trip. But I'm just one person so I can't possibly eat as much. I already spent too much on groceries last week and I rationalized it as getting set up for the year. This week I don't have a good excuse.

But then I thought about it some more, and maybe, just maybe this isn't ridiculous because I don't eat out anymore. In fact, I've only eaten out once since I've been here, not including meetings where I got food for free. (And also not including coffee, bubble tea, and Dairy Store ice cream but none of that is a meal in itself.) I've eaten every other meal from food I bought at the grocery store. Since eating at even the cheapest fast food joint on campus costs about $5, I reckon I've saved a lot, I've really saved compared to eating at the cafeteria.

It's also the non-food items that drives up the grocery bill. The food I bought was actually all quite cheap. The most expensive food item was a $4.99 bag of frozen shrimp. But I got some face wash, tampons, medicine, and shoe insoles that were all pretty expensive put together. The problem is that I also really needed all those things too so somehow I should spent less on them. Hm. Saving money is hard.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

I need to read more books.

I have never had so few books for my classes! It's insane that I only have two required books for all my classes this semester. Printed course packs of essentially powerpoint slides or lab instructions don't count as real books. The only two (TWO! TWO!) books I bought were an immunology textbook and a genetics textbooks.

In previous semesters, I've always had one or two James Madison classes. We read probably at least 6 books in each class. I loved how I'd buy all the books and line them up on a bookshelf or crate so I could visualize the whole semester.

But now, I only have two textbooks and a few flimsy notebooks in my stackable crate. This is sad. This is probably why I have been thinking so much about reading for pleasure lately.

Things I've been thinking about:

I heard about this satirical novel called How I Became a Famous Novelist. The author, Steve Hely, was interviewed on NPR's Fresh Air today. Basically the novel is about a guy who wants to write a best-selling novel just for the money, so he gathers up all the tropes of best-selling novels into one novel and writes details that will appeal to the most demographics. Examples: natural disaster, secret love affair, clubs, a scene of driving on a highway to make driving poetic and magical for audiobook buyers, a folk singer for music merchandise tie-ins. I would add that he should add some pseudo-historical conspiracy a la Dan Brown.

I heard that the Madison freshman summer reading book was Kiran Desai's The Inheritance of Loss. I want to read it!

Should I read Margaret Atwood's Oryx and Crake before I read After the Flood? They're set in the same universe, I think, but this new book is not necessarily a sequel to Oryx and Crake.

Has anyone bought a non-Harry Potter, non-Dan Brown book the day it was released? I'm counting down the days until September 22 because I really really really really want to buy After the Flood and Nocturnes the day it's released.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Case Hall

I didn't realize that Case Hall was such a familiar place to me until I no longer had class there or lived there. For the past two years I lived in Case Hall. For the past three years, I had two classes each semester in Case Hall. But this year, I am not taking any James Madison College classes this year and I have moved to Williams Hall.

A couple days ago I stepped inside Case for the first time this school year and I was surprised how many people I knew in the building. I went to a professor's office hours and in the process saw two professors who I have had for multiple classes and they are probably my two favorite professors. I also saw several Madison students I knew.

A part of me is a little nostalgic for Case Hall but I'm also adapting very well to being a Human Bio major this semester since I'm taking all science classes. But I realize that many of the people I know in Madison don't know any of the people I have met through the sciences. It's two different circles of friends, people with different interests. I mean, they're not so different that they won't get along with each other, but just that there aren't many situations where they will be together. That's why I find it fascinating to find someone else who shares a background in the sciences and in public policy and social studies.

Saturday, September 5, 2009


I'm making an attempt to write more about more about my life rather than current events. I mean, my values and beliefs make themselves known through the selection of news and current events I write on.

I was somewhat inspired by the 15 books facebook survey, where you write down 15 books you like. Though I haven't done this survey, one of mine is probably. Kazuo Ishiguro's Never Let Me Go, which I read several years back.

I've been waiting for a long time, literally 3 years, for Kazuo Ishiguro to write a new book. I read Since I read Never Let Me Go, I've been checking around online to see if he has any new projects in the works. I was pleasantly surprised that Amazon listed a new book to be published in the US on September 22: Nocturnes: Five Stories of Music and Nightfall. According to the publisher, this is a volume of five linked stories about musicians in Venice. Linked stories. Music. Night. Italy. I don't think I've ever been this excited for a book, including the Harry Potters.