Proteins are Delicious Drugs

That’s perhaps stating the obvious, but I recently came to an awareness of this. There must be something of the character of drugs in any food that tastes really really nice when only salt (and onions?) has been added on cooking.

(Also, it might be a good test for protein content, to grill and taste the contestants. You know how grilled potatoes taste. Compare that with grilled fish. No contest.)

There’s this thing called dopamine in the brain, engineering reward (aka pleasure) feelings, and therefore repeat (a la temptation). Its ‘dop,’ and I think because it is an amine. Proteins get broken down into amino acids for use by the body. In the right path, we might end up, actually, drugged.

By the way, who likes beans?

Put two and two together: our enjoyment of roast beef and fried chicken makes brain sense. Proteins are delicious because of the way the brain interprets their presence. From taste alone, we feel high pleasure.

Thank You—July 2015

Thank you for food and water
For clothes and shelter
And the many simple pleasures that I enjoy

Thank you for pineapples and chocolate
  You never fail to thrill my palate
You’ve filled my mouth with good
I have good news to give because of you

Thank you for books and for blog
Not like me, but then, still me
I am grateful at the progress I’ve made
Beyond what my words explain

Dust ain’t dirt on a mango fruit

Back in secondary school
The notion of washing the fruit wasn’t present with me
While in the bush the bush rules rule
The fruit was clean from the tree
Some dust and maybe a speck or two
But dust ain’t dirt

Rubbing off what I couldn’t really see
I dug into it with my teeth
Eating everything but the seed

Wine… Everyone has something… Every life is worth living…

It’s been said that red wine furnishes one with nourishment that makes for a healthy heart and long life. Which, if true, makes it a multivitamin syrup or dietary supplement.

God created nature to evolve in a way that provides us with multiple sources of the same necessities for life and living. Whether or not we know about them, can properly access them, or appropriately use them is another matter.

It is the honour and duty of man to discover and/or to appropriate these things and more. That’s what we do when we walk, jog, hop, enjoy, experience, love, talk, hang out, dress up, decorate, design, draw, paint, picture, create, imagine, explore, tour, travel, fly, drive, bike, breathe, see, study, observe, learn, listen, think, ponder, admire, wonder, write, read, research, dig, find, give, receive, smile, make up, marry, make love, grow, build, work, jump, stomp, dance….

Everyone has something.
Every life is worth living.

Cooking white rice and some.

We’re in a season again of wholesale meal sharing, eating with friends, family and whoever. With food on my mind, I thought to share my way of preparing rice (white rice) and making a meal of it.

Why rice? Because it’s a staple and its easy to cook and it goes with many things. It isn’t choosy about what you eat with it (the Chinese know this too well, buffet galore). Most importantly, I cook it well.

The way
Pour washed rice into a pot of water (boiling/hot/normal) with heat at an appropriate level and cook until white and soft enough for eating. Simple!

In this method you put just enough water so that it ‘dries’ up about when the rice is well cooked. After the water has boiled for a few minutes, you can reduce the heat and let it kind of simmer. Cooking rice in a little too much water and for a little too long tends to making ‘tuwo shinkafa,’ a rice pudding of sorts that goes with some soups/stews (miyan kuka, miyan taoshe etc) eaten with hand; common to the Hausas and some northern Nigerian tribes. It may be salted to taste, and flavoured with onions or black pepper, even with a seasoning cube. White rice may be served with honey and butter (truly), and with perhaps chopped sweet peppers or vegetable mixes (green peas, corn, cauliflower, carrots…). Some soups and stews work well. Red ‘stew’ is the norm in Nigeria and it goes well with bananas or fried plantain.

There are different varieties of rice, some cook faster than others, some more nutritious, while some swell more. ‘Popular’ Nigerian varieties include Ofada and Ekpoma. Take care to ‘clean’ them before cooking so that you don’t get to chew ‘cooked’ stones. There’s also Abakaliki rice. You can’t beat these varieties for taste, aroma, and nutrition.
We mostly eat imported rice (from Asia), cleaned and parboiled, thus less nutritious. It might even be GM (genetically modified). A common imported variety is called tomato rice, then there’re the others. And that is all I know. There are many here who have never had the pleasure of tasting local varieties.

Please take precautions to prevent accidents or disasters while cooking. Note also that the above method may result is a slight browning of rice at the bottom of the pot which is quite delicious when perfectly engineered.
As a general rule, rice is not to be stirred. Doing this upsets the channeling of heat to the top and may lead to variations in softness making it challengingly palatable. The heat localisation at the bottom may also result in toast/roast/burnt rice.
Put a fork or spoon through to the bottom and move slightly to one side to check whether the water is dry if the water level is below the rice level in the pot.
Rice would usually swell to about 3 to 4 times its volume when done. This should be a useful guide for determining how much water is needed. Evaporation isn’t much of a consideration with a pressure cooker.
There’s jollof rice and fried rice too, but they’re beyond the scope of this piece.

I Eat Cartilage and Chew on Bones Too

“There’s enough food,” she said, meaning that I didn’t have to crack the pork bones and eat the cartilaginous tissues. For me, I enjoyed it. I grew up this way; it wasn’t unusual… It seemed to one, or two, that this African was trying to maximize the utility of the food available. Did he think that there wasn’t enough? Maybe he grew up poor or with little. I also got the feeling that someone, or two, thought that I was unnecessarily stressing my teeth with hard tissue when there was plenty of soft succulent meat to go round. If only they knew how much I relished those parts.

Momentarily dumbfounded, he then—with appreciation for their kind hearts and consideration—responded with something like: its normal with us… And forever, he will remember the loving kindness or his hosts and the community they brought together. Can he someday do same? He experienced community like he’d never known previously; family beyond family.