October 25, 2008

Everything in moderation.

Too much of a sweet thing, whether it's pastries or love, is just plain bad. Per usual, Shakespeare said it best:
Enough, no more. 'Tis not so sweet as it was before. - Orsino, Twelfth Night
The idea that sugar pleases best in moderation never really resonated with me until this afternoon, when I made green bean dessert soup with tapioca pearls. I was too greedy with the sugar, adding spoon after spoon of the white crystals which mesmerized me as they melted into the bubbling pot of beans.
The idea that even sweetness can sicken you so much that it's not as "sweet as it was before"... now there's a paradox that makes sense to cavity victims. In this case, I just added more water and it tasted fine.
Asian green bean dessert soup with tapioca pearls
2 parts green beans
sugar to taste
1 part miniature tapioca pearls (amount also flexible)
1. Bring green beans and water to boil, then turn down heat to medium and let simmer uncovered for 45 to 50 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add more water if needed (you just need enough to cover the beans so they can cook).

2. When green beans have burst open and water level has declined, add sugar to taste (remember: you can always add more). The green beans should be mushy and tender, not hard on the inside.

3. Add tapioca pearls. I used multicolored ones for a festive effect, but any sort will do, as long as they are tiny. Simmer until the tapioca pearls develop a clear layer, about 10 minutes. You may have to add more water in these stages, depending on how dry or wet you want your soup to be.

Dig in, and when adding the sugar, don't hesitate to take Orsino's cue and say, "Enough, no more." You won't regret it.

October 19, 2008

Your choice.

Ramen #1:

Ramen #2*







Believe it or not, these are photos of the
same bowl of ramen. I just used different camera settings.

How much does our visual perception of a dish flavor our mental perception of its taste?

Taking that second picture made me extra excited to consume its contents, even though in real life, it looked like picture #1. I changed the camera setting to "fluorescent." So...not hungry for what's in front of you? Try photographing it under different settings. It may just stir up some rumblings in your tummy.


If only we could shift the dial as easily in our minds. Then we could probably eat boiled spinach or unsweetened bran flakes, or something else disgustingly healthy, and not mind a bit!

*The pictured dish was made from a Nissin Choice Ramen package (my first time trying one, and I was pleasantly surprised that though non-fried, it was just as tasty as its full-fat kin). I threw in some frozen broccoli, an egg for good measure, and voila! Dinner was born -- then promptly eaten, making me feel somewhat like Saturn, who ate his child, too...if anyone's seen the famous painting by Goya...no? Well, perhaps it's for the best. I like to think I wasn't quite as barbaric as he was, but then again, I did proceed to tear into that ramen like no tomorrow.

All in all, I must say, if you want a quick 'n easy formula to get stomach-happy, it's: Egg(s) + ramen. You just can't go wrong.

October 16, 2008

wit(chcraft)

"Thou know'st we work by wit and not by witchcraft, and wit depends on dilatory time ... Though other things grow fair against the sun, yet fruits that blossom first will first be ripe." - Iago, Shakespeare's Othello.
'wichcraft in Bryant Park wasn't as good as I expected. I guess I just have to admire Tom Colicchio for his status as head judge on Top Chef, and not for his sandwich chain (because heaven knows I can't afford to eat at Craft).

Wax on, wax off...and into the mouth

The fruit pictured is waxy and beautifully colored, like a candle, but entirely edible. It tastes like a jujube (which tastes like a not-so-sweet apple). Not too appetizing of a description, but accurate.

I tried and tried not to think of fragrant candles when I was biting into it. Amazing that things that look inedible can actually be edible. Does the inedible appearance influence my judgment of its taste, making it less delicious than it would have been in a blind taste test? If candles didn't exist, would I have thought it was inedible?

October 15, 2008

Skimp on the skimming

What if you just skimmed the surface of a story, and in doing so, only happened to absorb the bad parts? It'd be the equivalent of skimming the surface of your coffee. Too much cream, not enough substance.

October 12, 2008

Butter my words

They say that everything is better with butter. But do the virtues of this cholesterol-ridden, deliciously aromatic fat apply even to literature? Read on:
La Fleur had brought the little print of butter upon a currant leaf; and as the morning was warm, and he had a good step to bring it, he had begg'd a sheet of waste paper to put betwixt the currant leaf and his hand ...
When I had finish'd the butter, I threw the currant leaf out of the window, and was going to do the same by the waste paper--but stopping to read a line first, and that drawing me on to a second and third--I thought it better worth; so I shut the window, and drawing a chair up to it, I sat down to read it.
--Laurence Sterne, A Sentimental Journey
Ah, to be able to write something so captivating, it reads well even when stained with butter!

Of course, for every good writer we discover, there are a bunch of bad ones we don't think about. Jonathan Swift used to poke fun at written (albeit published) material that was bad enough to be recycled into toilet paper. Now is that a sad picture, or what? It's one thing to be stained with butter, but to be tainted with human excrement? That's gotta hurt any writer's pride.

October 8, 2008

Did you ever know...

...that you're my gyro?



Yes, you are. Well, you were. You delicious gyro, you. I still get misty-tongued thinking back on that afternoon - the afternoon of the gyro with hot sauce, the diet coke from Subway, the walk through Greenwich Village. Altogether, a very pleasant summer day.

The more I miss New York, the more I think back on E.B. White's essay, "Here is New York." Behold one of my favorite excerpts (which I later was delighted to discover was chosen to be a Train of Thought poster on the subway):
"Third, there is the New York of the person who was born somewhere else and came to New York in quest of something. Of these trembling cities the greatest is the last--the city of final destination, the city that is a goal. It is this third city that accounts for New York’s high strung disposition, its poetical deportment, its dedication to the arts, and its incomparable achievements."
New York, you're my gyro and my hero.

October 7, 2008

"Remember me when I'm famous, my sweet!"

Someone I love very much once wrote this in my Lion King autograph booklet underneath her signature. "My sweet" is a term of endearment that should be used more often, methinks.

Speaking of sweet, Edmund Burke's A Philosophical Enquiry notes that several languages--including French, Latin and Italian--have just one word to describe both soft and sweet.

Linking linguistics to thought process, we might conclude that sweetness and relaxation are connected. Now, this confuses me. Just look at the kids who get hopped up on sugar at the candy store.

Sweetness invigorates me rather than relaxes me. But then again, that's just me, the girl who used to steal sugar packets from restaurants so she could consume them later when no one else was around. After years of such activities, I've probably built up an immunity to the so-called "relaxing" qualities of sugar.