Thursday, July 31, 2008

This, Everybody, Is TeaCake

He t'aint taller than a stack of books. And he's the newest edition to our family.

TeaCake was rescued off the streets of L.A. on the fourth of July when he was only three weeks old. He and his three sisters had been abandoned. No one knows what happened to the mama. The kittens were taken to a local shelter that had no means of caring for infant animals. The shelter was planning to put the kitties down almost immediately. An organization called Best Friends swooped up the precious kitties, took them in and bottle fed them until they could be weaned. My friend Keith and his wonderful girlfriend Zoey took TeaCake and one of his sisters in to foster until someone would adopt them permanently. Keith posted pictures of the kitties every day, until I just couldn't take it any more. How is anyone supposed to resist a daily bombardment of this?

Husband is funny about new pets. He always fights me on getting them. He didn't want Lupe, definitely not Carmen, but now he loves those dogs like nothing else. The Sisters Pug howl with happiness -- howl! -- when he comes home. They don't howl for anyone else. I asked him why he was so resistant on getting a kitten and after a bunch of barking about another mouth to feed and another life to be responsible for he mentioned the fact that he is still broken up about Puffy. Puffy was our tabby rescue from years back. He died five years ago. Husband is still sore over. We all know Husband will fall hard for TeaCake. He ain't fooling anyone.

We are slowly introducing the lil' guy to the dogs. The pugs are so anxious to be all up in the kitty's face. TeaCake's like, What is up with these big-headed cats? But the dogs have been tremendously patient. They are willing and able to give this relationship a shot -- please, mami, let us just sniff him, JUST ONE TIME! -- but TeaCake is a little overwhelmed by them and the intro will go as slowly as it needs to.

Lupe is more proficient at patience. She and kitty got pretty close in our bed this morning, where we have early snuggle time. I built a little play pen for TeaCake near my desk. Poor pugs!
I named him TeaCake because of Zora Neale Hurston's novel Their Eyes Were Watching God. It's one of my favorite books of all time. TeaCake was a drifter that became Janie's true love. He charmed her, empowered her and brought her happiness.

Here's what TeaCake thinks of the book The Biology of Belief. I kinda feel the same. Here's a couple heart-melters for the road Welcome, little sweetheart. We are so happy that you are with us now.

Thanks so much to Best Friends and to Keith & Zoey for being so huge-hearted by giving TeaCake and his sisters a shot at not only a life, but a good one.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Preaching Prop 2

Mina and I went to a fundraising party yesterday afternoon for Prop 2. We didn't know anyone there, but we were invited because I'm on the email chain, and because raising funds for this thing is critical.

The party was held graciously at a lovely house in Beverly Hills. I don't get to BH much, but it was cool that this couple offered their home mostly to strangers. The event was largely catered by a local raw chef named Rasheed, which was awesome because I spent a little bit of time talking with him. He gave me his card for possible raw classes, but when I told him that I was seeking instruction for personal AND for possibly who-knows-what, the conversation went flat. Eesh. I don't blame the guy. Who wants to instruct a possible future competitor in the area though I wasn't assertive at all with that intention. Anyway, his food was awesome and he was wearing the most gorgeous and outrageous necklace made of huge twisted silver with dollops of coral. In any event, the raw thing sticks near me whether I try to be around it or not, and I'm digging and appreciate the universal nudge.

Parties for Prop 2 were held state-wide over the weekend. It was a sort of a fund-raising launch because TV commercials must be bought and education/awareness needs to be spread. There was a conference call at 5pm that all the parties could tap into; phone lines were hooked up to speakers which blasted out to the backyard and the living room. This was all magic to me, the big state-wide phone call, but there I was listening to someone from California for Humane Farms in Sacramento over the speakers, filling us in on campaign details and the urgency of being involved. I was swept up in the swirl of unity to right some wrongs. The factory farms have promised to raise 12 million dollars to squash us grassroots folk. 12 million dollars, yikes. And most all of that is coming from the farms themselves. God forbid they use that money towards making a space A TINY bit more humane for their animals. Naw, let's make propagandous and confusing commercials to add insult to injury instead. It's all kind of baffling, really.

I didn't expect to get so fired up at the party. I mean, I'm already a willing participant in the fight, y'know? But the gathering of like-minded people sparked a natural, protective instinct to defend those without a voice; to lend a hand to those who suffer whether they are human or animal. It's just not right what continues to go on. And then to witness this pure-form compassion ooze from both of my girls inspires me to not let that die in adults, starting with myself. It seems like they know what's right, from the womb practically. They know you don't let a living thing suffer a painful and torterous life if you can help it. They want to help it. I want to help it.

The things that need to be done to stop human and animal suffering seems bottomless. It seems so overwhelming. But I'm willing to tackle something. And I'm able to do more stuff to get Prop 2 passed. Honestly, Prop 2 is a drop in the bucket. It isn't enough. I mean, really, we have to fight and claw and beg for votes to give an animal the ability to simply turn around and extend its limbs? That's seems incredulous when you think about it, but if we don't do this now, they'll spend another couple decades cramped and suffering the same with no change whatsoever. This, at the very least, alleviates a small amount of suffering. How can we not want that little bit of action taken?

Linda Blair was at the party. She's a big animal activist. She runs a dog rescue out near Animal Acres called World Heart Foundation. She's intense and driven. She's teeny tiny and wow, rocked out - as in buff, fit . . .totally in shape? Mina was mesmerized by her intensity and how she rescues dogs. Exorcist-schmexorcist, Mina had to talk to her. "Thank you for rescuing dogs," Mina said to her after tracking her down to the kitchen. "Thank you, sweetheart," Linda said. Then Mina grilled her about how could she help at the dog rescue. Could she bring the pugs? The pugs would play with the other dogs and make them happy? How old did she have to be? Linda was like, Holy cow. I told Mina we'd visit some time, and then we got this great picture. Look, Mina's head is almost the same size. Her body too.Anyway, my people, I'm fired up, and my stomach hurts from the overwhelmingness of the voiceless beings everywhere, but I'll work on Prop 2 for now, and go from there.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

So, Getting Back to the Animals . . .

The Prevention of Farm Animal Cruelty Act that Maya and Mina and I have spent some time working on -- the thing I walked the marathon for -- has made it on the November ballot. It's called Prop 2. All you California voters please vote Yes on Prop 2! The campaigning has begun and the big Cali farms are starting their mega-dollar campaign against us. Since California is the largest agricultural state, the big farms will have to spend a lot of money to get a pig a tiny bit more comfortable. Poor farms. Poor evil farm slum lords trying to bust an animal's will.

The girls and I are still in the fight.

Ya'll know how I've been about baking, but a woman called me the other day and asked if I would donate some goodies for her Prop 2 fundraising party. Dang, I couldn't say no. I made the famous chocolate chip cookies, fresh ginger-molasses cookies and a lemon-coco bundt cake. They came out ridiculously good, and of course I tested, and I'm paying a little price right now for it, but I'm sucking it up for the cause.
Yesterday, Mina and I went to Animal Acres because the girls were asked to be in a public service announcement commercial for Prop 2. It was run by Dr. Pia Salk who is a psychologist who specializes in the human-animal bond. She is also the niece of Jonas Salk. She lectures on social justice for animals, often controversially. Here's one of her talks, if you're interested. Yesterday, Dr. Salk interviewed children about animals for the PSA. Dr. Salk was awesome, the questions were great and Mina, the smallest and seemingly the most informed, was a superstar. I could barely hear because I wanted to stay out of the mix, but I could hear just enough. I could hear Mina say things like, "Animals aren't here for us to eat. They're here to pet and be around us." And, "We have the same thing in common with animals: We're alive, that's why we should treat them the same." "When a baby cow is taken away from its mama, it's . . .it breaks their heart." "A chicken doesn't like to be in a cage and they don't want to watch the thing (egg) roll away from them that was inside of them and then it goes away." She spoke with Dr. Salk for a long time, thoughtfully and clearly. I was choked up several times. I think she got to Dr. Salk too. I told Maya all about our day. Since she's in Las Vegas she couldn't participate. I knew that she'd be upset not being able to be there because I don't know anyone more willing to ham it up for animal rights. But maturely and graciously Maya said, "I'm really proud of Mina for representing us well." I said, "That's really cool of you to say, Maya." Then she said, "Just next time, get me on dang commercial!"

Here are some other pictures from the day.

Mina waiting her turn.

They were eating. They didn't want to talk to Mina.
Another new baby, Pixie.

The roses are coming in at Animal Acres.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Ink High

Every time I get tattoo work done, I come home feeling jazzed! Giddy-like! I don't know what it is, but I feel elated and talkative. Maybe it's having been through a battle of sorts; a mind-over-pain battle though many people with a lot of tattoos say that they enjoy that feeling, the carving and the scraping. I'm one of those people. There are parts of the body that are definitely more sensitive and painful and when those areas are being worked on it's a white-knuckle moment, but usually when I get into a zone, my skin numbs itself and I can withstand hours under the needle. When I hear the buzz of the gun, I soak it in. The high-pitched rattle gets my motor going, and I enjoy the entire process. By the time the session is done, I'm ecstatic; I can hardly contain myself.

I just came home from the Pomona Tattoo Expo, the show I've been going to for years. I got the last of my back done by my man Tim McEvoy and I'm high as a natural kite right now. It's finished! My back is finished. Here's the main thing I had done today, the apple. I can't take how much I love it. The artists complain that this expo has gone down hill in terms of the overall quality of artists and the crowd, but I still love it. Here's the thing, you can saunter up and down the many aisles and see the most intimidating characters from every culture, but when you smile at them or talk to them they soften and smile back. They gladly engage in conversation. They are always nice to the kids, with mine or anyone's. And it's the only time you can stare unabashedly at a guy with a full-face tattoo.

Here's my girl Jinxi. She gets all of her work done at the same shop I do, but with a different artist. I met her about five years ago. And I'm not lying when I say she's the nicest person I've ever met in my entire life. She exudes generosity and warmth. She's a mother of three, volunteers, is obsessed with cupcakes and dotes on anyone who will come within touching distance. Oh and she also has an octopus tattooed on her throat, various things tatt'ed on her head and full arm and leg sleeves. I think she's really beautiful and mainly because she glows from the inside. I love Jinxi!Jinxi got a cupcake tattooed on her hand today. It may be her fourth. This one's the best though.I had to add this goofy picture of us too only because it caught the guy in the back who has almost his entire body done by Jinxi's artist. They are portraits of his family, many of his wife, many of his kids, that guy Jesus in the middle there and he just had his own hands tattooed on his belly as a symbol that he gladly holds his family up when he needs to. It also looks to me like a pose of sheer devotion and surrender. He's another one as nice as can be and he practically chokes up when talking about his wife and kids.You know what I've learned after so many hours of being at tattoo shows and at the shop, is that these artists gossip and complain and share and shoot the shit like any other person at a job. I mean, obviously, but it's pretty funny to witness a bunch of big tough-guy tattoo artists sitting together philosophizing about relationships. Some are just looking for a good girl, a nice healthy relationship. One bitter guy who's been hurt advises them to sleep around. They'll then talk about what works with women and what doesn't. The gentlest advice came from a guy with some sort of scribble-scrabble tat on his head and a small diamond under his right eye. He whipped out his phone to share pictures of his newborn son, his third. OH, it's the best kind of eavesdropping. Here are some other conversations heard and had today.

*An artist from the next booth asked to see my butterfly and asked me what I was getting done today. Almost his entire face was tatt'ed. He had tribal lighting bolt designs down his cheeks and around his nose; he had like a word moustache that read "SOUTH SIDE" above his lip. I told him what I was getting done after showing him my back. Then he said, "I'm such a pussy about getting tattoos now." We laughed, but he was serious.

*A guy with cheek-bone piercings and a spider web on his neck came into our booth while I was getting worked on and started talking to the artist named Big Gus next to us. The pierced guy was complaining that these other artists were trying to take his shop down; they were talking shit on him and his shop behind his back. Big Gus said, "It's a compliment, dog. If your shop wasn't shit, they wouldn't be trying to take you down, bro." The pierced guy said, "I'm going to sit down with these guys and just fucking tell them that it hurts my feelings that they're talking about me like that." I looked over. His finger was curled over his lip. I wanted to hug the guy.

*Big Gus' "old lady" gave birth to their first baby daughter four months ago. My artist Tim told Big Gus that his daughter Sailor is now five years old. (Sailor!) Big Gus said, "It just makes you more homesick and shit, right, dog? I mean, fuck, I miss that little girl all day long." Then Tim talked about how Sailor is at an age where she can call him at shop and he loves that, but when he hangs up the phone, he just wants to go home and see her. Big lugs!

*A couple came over to our booth to talk to another artist Chris. The guy was huge and was wearing a Phoenix Suns basketball jersey and straight-billed cap. He had a collection of mish-moshed tattoos, all faded and old. They looked home-done. His lady had a worn and pretty face, dense-black hair curled softly and pulled back at the sides. She was big and a bit beat-up looking. She carried a beer. The artist Chris said, "Hey girl, the last time I saw you, you were wasted!" She said, "Oh man, I was? I'm always wasted." Chris said, "You were all 'I love you guys'. You were at the I Love You Stage of being wasted!" They laughed. She said, "Oh man, I'm sorry!" Then she turned her attention quickly to the t-shirts hanging in the booth. "Babe! We should get that fucking t-shirt for Chai (their son). Wouldn't he shit himself over that t-shirt?" They got the t-shirt, cradling it as they staggered off.

*On the stage at the front of the expo they were announcing a contest to judge the best female butt at the show. I said to the guys in the booth, "Will they have a contest for best guy butt next?" They shook their head no then Chris said, "Yea, why don't they? I'd go up there and pull down my pants, put one hand in the air and dance it out." I said, "Hmm, maybe that's why they don't let men up there."

*Many passerbyers looked at the apple and speculated on what it meant. "You're from New York!" No. "Are you a teacher?" No. "Oh snap, are you Eve? The apple is for temptation, right?" No. I told them that it was because I was vegan and because fruits and vegetables are the best! And they yelled, "Right On!"

When the apple was done, I hugged Tim and said, "Wow, Tim, I love it so much. I think you should start dreaming up an all fruit and vegetable sleeve for me." His eyes lit up and said, "I'm so down for that." Then he and his wife Roxanne started to plan it out. I didn't have the heart to tell them I was just kidding. Though it's not that bad of any idea.

Here's Tim, Roxanne and me. The giddiness was starting to kick in, if you can't see it all over my face.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Waiting For Tuesday

Husband left for New York on Wednesday night. He's going to his 20 year high school reunion, then he's bringing himself and Mina home on Tuesday. Some have asked why I'm not going to the reunion with him, and frankly, that's not fun. "Hey, 'member when we peed in the bushes near the locker room??" Yea, no. Knock yourself out, Husband. Betsy and I escorted each other to our reunion and I couldn't've imagined boring Husband to tears with more obscure and insider reminiscing. Betsy and I had a blast though. I did, however, make sure that Husband took the hottest pictures of me to show off. He was completely on board with this because my husband was not granted a growth spurt until AFTER high school, where, I believe, he then slowly sprouted into a big hunk of a man. But he still thinks not-to-fondly of being scrawny and un-hot in high school. "Would you have dated me in high school," he asks. And I say, "No." But I didn't really date in high school at all, number 1, and I'm three years older than him, so definitely not. Anyway, he's going to show up to his old high school, a big hunk of a man; Mr. Cool in a seersucker jacket and great jeans showing off photos of his trophy wife and beautiful children. Get all the ex-cheerleaders questioning why they didn't fawn all over him before. Knock 'em dead, baby!

He left on the red eye and by Thursday morning I hadn't received a text or a call reporting that he had arrived safely. And you might know by now that I'm not too fond of planes at the moment -- or, they're ok, just causing me some recent panic -- so, I see no text or call and I say to myself, "It's ok, he's fine." I try to call him, y nada. "He's fine. Should I turn on the news? Don't turn on the news." My anxiety was at a very low burn but burning none the less. I tried calling Mina. Nothing. Finally I called Mama Luz and I said breathlessly but cool, "Did he make it ok? Is he there?" And she said, "Oh yea. He and Mina are sound asleep curled up together in the guest bed." My anxiety melted to soft and squishy tenderness. I miss them both so much.

Husband sends me random one-line texts throughout the day. "Stupid humid - want to come home." Or "Your baby smells like onion chips!" (Meaning Mina's caught a case of baby B.O.) Or "I can easily turn into a fat slob in Long Island." Or "I haven't showered yet." Or "Did I tell you how beautiful our baby is?"

I really can't explain well enough how perfect this guy is for me. It's at a molecular level.

The reason I was able to keep Husband's plane-anxiety to that manageable slow burn yesterday morning, I believe, is because I haven't been drinking coffee. WHAT THE!? I know. When I got back from New York I just thought maybe I shouldn't really drink coffee anymore. It wasn't a grand announcement or goal. I just didn't. When I thought about it deeply, I knew that coffee was starting to effect me more dramatically than it has in the past. Some days I was fine, like I've been for most of my life, and other days I was becoming much more nervous and anxious and agitated than I've ever been before. Also, with the raw experiment, I'm not feeling the soy creamer. I know, deep down, that soy creamer should go, or so much of it anyway. In the couple weeks that I've been back, I've had a couple cups of coffee. Almost like, are you sure? And nothing. I'm not craving it or begging myself for it every morning. I have been drinking tea, green and black, but I feel much more calm and unnervous with the tea. I miss coffee, but in a symbolic sense. I love the smell still. I love the idea of coffee, of getting coffee, of loving coffee. I just haven't been drinking it. It's an odd concept for me to which I'm still adjusting. I can't even say that I've given up coffee. I just haven't been drinking it. My coffee pot still sits on my counter. We're like amicable ex-lovers who have always enjoyed each others company, but know it may be time to move on. I'll touch it and think fondly. But I don't turn it on. P.S. I've been drinking the sickest teas from Teany. I visited Teany during my last two trips to NY. I order online now too. The selection is overwhelming, but I'll recommend a couple: Earl Grey Creme -- sort of a lavender-y, vanilla-y black tea that's delicious; Japanese Cherry Green - fantastic! Almond -- very nutty and rich. Oh and they sent me the Celosia Blossom tea on accident, and watching the bound buds open up in the tea pot is beautiful.

I realize that when I'm all alone, I shop more. So hard to drop all vices at once. I bought this apron yesterday.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Missin' Mina

Mina's terribly homesick. She's been calling me a lot since I left her in New York. This is the first year she's been like this. When she was younger, she would silently go with any flow, but as she's shaping into a true kid who feels empowered to express herself, she's become, among so many other wonderful things, a little more clingy. This is also the longest we've been apart from each other. When she calls me crying, I have to ride a parent's razor's edge; I want to comfort her and make her feel better, but I don't want to give her any indication that where she is -- with family who love and cherish her -- isn't a safe and fun place to be. So we talk on the phone for a good while everytime. I'll talk about anything. I sound chipper and excited and I let her talk about anything she wants to talk about and eventually her tone gains levity. I can hear when she's reached manageable ground. One morning she called and read to me her required summer reading right over the speaker phone. Some nights, I sing to her all our regular good-night songs.

It makes me miss her more. I don't like to hear her worried or to the point of missing me where she feels alone. I felt chronic, profound loneliness as a kid, and I know she's in a much different situation than I was, and usually during the day she's having a great time with the family, it's just that I'd do backflips to alleviate any trace of that from her voice. I usually do. I don't mind.

Once when I was eight, my mother had gone out for the evening and I had settled myself into bed with the TV blaring loud enough to drown out the silence that blasted through the rest of the house. I felt ok when the TV was on. She'd be home soon, I believed. Then the fuse to the TV blew. I stared at the blank granite-gray TV screen for many, long minutes. It was then just me and the lamp and the four walls and the dead TV. The silence took over and panic crept up. It was the only time I thought to call for help because usually when things went wrong when I was alone, I'd just fix it or figure it out. I called my grandmother, Mama, and told her what had happened. She lived too far to come over, but she asked me if I still had that puzzle book she had given me last Christmas. I did. She talked to me for a while; her voice was chipper and sweet, and she would have done a backflip for me not to sound so alone and panicked. And I felt so much better, even after we hung up. I did puzzles until I fell asleep, with the lamp still on and the TV still dead.

I forgot to show you my favorite photo from when I was in New York. It's on my Flickr but I gotta put it here too.

Don't you just kill yourself to make someone laugh like that? We were at Cafe Blossom, the new one on the Upper West Side, and I had been taking photos of food and of the girls. We were goofing around at the table, as usual, and I said something that just struck Mina funny enough to laugh like this. I pushed the button on the camera that was still in my hand. Maybe one of my favorite photos ever.

So, I miss my girl badly. I miss them both a lot. Maya and I are used to the summer separation, but Mina and I are still getting adjusted.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Raw Begets Raw

Since being home from NY, and since that exclamation point that I experienced on the air plane, I have been eating mainly raw. The experience on the plane made me more honest about who I am without all the extraneous examination. The favorite parts of myself became more clear, and that was that. So far, I've managed to hold on to a lot of that feeling. And after that experience I couldn't deny that even though I've blathered on about food and baking and this and that and blah blah blah, I mostly really like to eat a raw, fresh simple diet.

The raw cooking class last week helped that come into focus too. It was a beautiful class taught well and engagingly by Loren Bruni, and it demystified fancier raw recipes. It was much easier than I thought it would be. It was so stimulating on every sensory level that I couldn't deny how much it moved me. The food we prepared was bursting and intense and we all groaned and yelled out after every bite. The day after the raw class I took Fran's elegant vegan cake class which was a lot of fun, I have to say, but mainly because Fran is such a joy and such a great person and I love to be around her. To my total surprise, Bahar from Where's The Revolution was also taking this class, and we got paired in the same group which was great. She is as sincere and as lovely as she comes across on her blog. Along with Fran, Bahar made the experience completely worthwhile. Our group made a Black Forest Chocolate Cherry Cake that was outrageous. Of course, my camera battery had died mid-trip, and I believe Bahar will send me some photos of our work soon. After the class had completed all of the assigned baking, we were encouraged to sample it all, but I couldn't get through what I had put on my small plate before a severe stomach-ache stopped me from sampling anything else. I just couldn't do it. I couldn't try the truffles I had made with the chopped dried cherries and rolled in a clove sugar. I couldn't try the hazelnut opera cake that another group had made and that looked really good. The only thing that didn't make me double over was the Cherry Granita, a sort of cherry-juice, lemon-zest slushie that was so good.

So, am I going to over analyze all the time I've put into baking, all the money, all the thought, all the posturing and back-patting. During the cake class, I still felt hopeful. I was jazzed to bake Fran's lovely recipes and be around her energy. I absolutely love the kitchens at the Institute. I felt comfortable and able; I know I am a competent and fine baker, but after the testing and when I felt immediately terrible, I knew I would have to come to terms with where I was taking this. I couldn't even talk about this before the trip, but whatever happened on the plane allowed it all to drop to the ground like a heavy, velvet curtain. I still can't articulate what I'm not anymore, but I feel pretty good about what I am.

The shake pictured above is an adaptation of one I had at Cafe Gratitude years back. Young coconut water and the meat, dates, raw almond butter and lot o' ice. On top there is a raw mix of dried goji berries, nuts, cocoa nibs, and tiny coconut shreds. I bought this mix premade over at Juliano's. He puts it on all his shakes and it's brilliant and delicious.

I'm not even going to say out loud what I am. I'm just going to be it, for once.

My girls are still in New York. Maya leaves today for Las Vegas where she'll spend another six weeks and Mina will be in New York another three. I miss them terribly. At certain times of the day it hits me hard, but I know not to squander the entire time lamenting their absence. I might as well enroll myself into Codependent Summer Camp for Adults if that's the case. Sometimes their absence is a surprise in good ways. On Thursday, I got out of work early and I day dreamed about taking an adventure to Thai Town to buy a case of young coconuts. I had been pissed that Whole Foods and other local stores were selling their coconuts at $2.50/each. Then I realized there was absolutely no reason I couldn't just get in my car and take an hours-long adventure to any funky market I fancied no matter where in LA. I double checked my mind: "Right? No where to be? No one to pick up? No homework to oversee? I'M OUTTA HERE!" I had a great time.

Thai Town is on border of Hollywood and the part of Los Angeles that's on its way downtown. I went to a good-sized store called Bangkok Market. Any place that has an altar in the parking lot is ok by me.

The market was great, stocked mainly with things that were fascinating and unrecognizable.

There were about ten kinds of coconut milk. And many flavors of whatever this is.
Essence of durian? Whoa.I bought my case of young coconuts, which took a few minutes to get because the cashier barely spoke English. I pantomimed, really, and eventually got nine coconuts for ten dollars. Score!I also bought kaffir lime leaves because I'm obsessed with nailing a fantastic raw Thai coconut soup and I had convinced myself that these were a key element. These leaves are gorgeous and smell phenomenal. Two leaves are connected together like a figure eight, in Spanish they are called hoja de ochoThis afternoon, I did nail the soup. I drew components from about four different recipes, considering only the ingredients that would make it the most flavorful to me. It was fantastic, and later there were no signs of a stomach ache.