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.


Marigoldie said...

I like your headline and the calming vibe of this post. Driving out to Thai Town -- taking advantage of alone time -- is my favorite kind of thing to do with nowhere to go and no one to see. Digging it all and looking forward to more raw stuff of any kind.

Melinda said...

You would be very proud of me -- the week before I left my last library job (the one where all I did was sit around and buy books), I tried to leave a little fighting-the-man legacy by purchasing a shitload of books you wouldn't normally find in a midwestern suburb public library. My orders included instruction guides on how to speak Zulu and Afrikans, "what if I'm a lesbian?" books for teenagers, poetry written by civilian victims of the Iraq war, and every raw food cookbook I could find. Word.

bazu said...

Oh what a delicious post. I have to tell you- seeing your familiar face before the class made the whole experience better for me- I'm so glad you were there! But, I also understand, from this post and from our conversations in NYC, your feelings about raw food. Let me tell you, that raw lunch we had was a highlight of the whole day! (even though I have to admit, I loved the desserts, even though I couldn't eat much during the class, you saw how much stuff I took home!)
Anyway, I look forward to seeing all your future thoughts and recipes, no matter what direction your food goes.

bazu said...

P.S. I finally put the photos on flickr- I emailed you with the link.

Maven said...

Okay this is all fine and good, but what's the recipe for the soup, mami?

madness rivera said...

Thanks Marigoldie.

And Melinda, I know you always do us proud even before I know what whacky shit you're doing.

Thanks Bahar. That comment means a lot. Can't wait to check out the photos!

And SHO'NUFF Maven:

Mami's Delicious Raw Thai Sopa de Coco

6 kaffir lime leaves, without the stock
3-4 TBSP raw sesame seeds
1 tsp lemon zest
2 good pinches of red pepper flakes

the water and meat of two young coconuts
1/2c. water
2-3 TBSP of sesame oil
1 clove garlic
juice of 1 lemon
3 TBSP Shoyu (aged soy sauce)
1" of ginger, grated
2 tsp agave
1 tsp sea salt

1/2 zucchini, sliced into long thin strips
1/4 red bell pepper, julienned or chopped
1/4 scant of red onion, sliced into very thin strips

Couple slices of avocado, garnish
pinch of sesame seeds, garnish

Grind kaffir leaves, sesame seeds, zest and red pepper in a spice or coffee grinder. Add this ground mixture with all other ingredients except for chopped veggies in a blender or VitMix. Blend on high until very smooth. Pour in a pot and add sliced veggies. You can serve at room temp. just like this or you can warm it a little at a very low temp to make it just luke warm. Serve in a bowl and garnish with avocado and seeds. Then try not to eat the whole pot though, why not.

Molly said...

As her lucky neighbor, I am hear to confirm that the soup was KILLER!

madness rivera said...

Thanks Molly!

Antje/Germany said...

It's so amazing to me what you can do with raw food!
This is not yet popular in Germany. I would not get any ingredient here....
I am not so sure if my body would tolerate just raw food. My homoepathic doc told me to not eat any raw food cause it would be so hard to digest for my colon. But I love salads and veggies and we just have tons of fresh raspberries/strawberries/cherries direclty from the field this time of summer so I have them anyway. One thing I do not tolerate at all is sugar....

Pixielyn said...

I read your post this morning and it stayed with me all day.
You are strong. You are a pioneer in making healthy food beautiful and desirable.
I love your posts, your verbal figuring out life and how to live with yourself happily and satisfied that you are doing a good job not just nourishing your family, your stomache but also your soul.