Friday, July 22, 2011
My deepest thanks to the people of the community for the warmth, generosity, and inspirational example you have shown me. Thank you for sharing your tremendous knowledge, your intelligence, and your bright spirit. It has been such a privilege to share in your life for a moment.
Until next time...
Thursday, July 21, 2011
Macrobiotics is based in large part on striving for balance between the opposing energetic principles of yin and yang, which are supposed to be in evidence everywhere, including in food, which is its main concern. One of macrobiotics' foundational concepts is that food has a profound influence on various aspects of person's condition, and the community brings special attention to the link between food, thought, and behavior. So an important part of the practice is to develop an awareness of how different foods affect you, how you feel, what you think, say and do.
A main goal of eating macrobiotically, to use a popular metaphor, is to "come down the pendulum" from the extremes of highly concentrated foods like white sugar, other processed foods, and animal foods, to a simpler, lower-on-the-food chain, lower-frequency diet composed of mainly whole plant foods, at the heart of which are well chewed grains, chiefly brown rice. This kind of diet is meant to promote a sound, healthy condition.
So the diet here revolves around whole grains, fresh garden vegetables, various kinds of seaweed, fermented foods like miso, tempeh, umeboshi plums, and pickled vegetables, seeds and nuts, and other plant proteins like tofu and seitan. There is some fruit but it is not prominently featured, and they try to go light on the night shades and tropical fruits. The communal meals are all strictly vegan.
As I mentioned in my last post, the rice fast gave me a renewed gratitude for the pleasure of eating, which got me thinking (and drooling) about the many tasty delights I've enjoyed while here that I haven't yet had the occasion to share with you. So, here is a bit of a sampling, may it provide inspiration...
Mochi, a fried pancake of mashed sweet rice. A centerpiece of a sumo wrestler's diet, I am told.
Millet, lima beans seasoned with mustard (tasty as I've had that particular bean), beet salad
I know what you're thinking, it doesn't look very nice. But it is. Very very nice.
Wednesday, July 20, 2011
Not long ago I took a 3 day rice fast (more like 3 1/2 days... but who's counting?). The rice fast is a common ritual here, where well-chewed grain is the heart of a macrobiotic diet. Some times for a day, some times for a week, ideally for 10 days, which is supposed to be the time it takes to fully cleanse the bloodstream.
The photo above was the recommended bi-hourly meal on the fast we were undertaking: a scoop of brown rice with a bit of gamasio (a blend of ground toasted sesame seeds and sea salt). Some miso soup in the morning was also permitted, but the main event, as the name might suggest, was rice. The scoop above was divided into four bites, each of which was to be chewed 200 times. Chewing is an important practice in macrobiotics, both as an essential beginning to good digestion and as a means to heightening attentiveness to the food you're taking into your body, cultivating a habit of presence and awareness that hopefully spills out into the rest of your daily experience. Maybe it was a placebo effect, or maybe all the sugar released by chewing, but after 800 chews the first ball of rice left me feeling euphoric.
The rice fast invites a state of emptiness, but it shouldn't leave you hungry. So, feeling a bit weak and hungry after a couple of days on the single scoop meal, I modified to a two-scoop technique, which I found much more manageable. Day 4 I was feeling good again.
In addition to radically improving my chewing technique, and bringing new awareness to the practice of eating, the rice fast renewed and deepened my appreciation for the rich variety of tastes that I take for granted on a regular basis. It can be a great way to find new gratitude for the gift of eating, and to examine one's eating habits and one's relationship to food.
Saturday, July 16, 2011
The rice in these trays is being fermented with aspergillus oryzae (or Koji), after which process it can be used to make a number of tasty things, miso and amasake being the most popular transformations around here.
Got to keep a close eye on the temp
The grain is bought unhulled, in bulk, to be hulled and sorted here, the most economic way. Economy of scale can be a real advantage, as you might imagine, when a large group of people buys food as a unit. It also helps, of course, if they share a common diet.
Thursday, July 14, 2011
hopes to make its home-grown staple grain once the barn is completed.