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Into the Rabit Hole

I take on the risk, you get the glory.

Food Politics

The current food system we have now can barely feed the current population. If there was one way that I would change the food system, it would be to start growing food for people, not livestock.  According to Cornell University researchers,  “If all the grain currently fed to livestock in the United States were consumed directly by people, the number of people who could be fed would be nearly 800 million,”(David Pimentel).  With there being around 795 million people without enough food to be healthy according to the United Nations, there is no single greater factor that could influence world hunger other than replacing meat with a plant based variant.

This plant based variant could also save a lot of water. According to doctor Pimental from Cornell, grain fed beef uses 100,000 liters of water per kilogram of meat. From not eating meat, an individual could potentially make a difference with the world food production and water consumption. The drought condition in California could be controlled with the conjunction of sane water practices in the valley. The water saved could be used to grow more plant-based crops more efficiently feeding people. It takes over 100 times less water to grow the same weight of wheat and 200 less water to the same weight in potatoes. From a standpoint of longevity for human kind it seems that a meatless or a plant-based diet is the only logical path.

A plant-based diet can also improve your performance. Personally as an athlete since switching to plant based I have been able to control my inflammation a lot more efficiently. I have also been able to recover from minor injuries quicker. I cannot say that a play based diet has statistical causation in making me a better athlete, all I have is the correlation of my years playing rugby. When I look at seasons I have been a meat based and one where I was plant-based, the plant based one allowed me to miss fewer missed games and play with a higher output of effectiveness.

The one change that I hope comes to our society sooner than later, should be an acceptance of a plant-based diet and that we need a sustainable approach to our food system. Our meals are short term and are craving based, they need to be more aimed towards longevity and providing for the long-term development of humanity.

I called my mom and introduced the theme we had going into class today. I explained that I needed to ask her some cooking questions. She was excited and told me to continue so I asked her, “How did you learn to cook”?  She answered with, “ Through a trial and error process, a little was from my mom and dad but it was mostly from my grandparents from New Orleans who cooked most of our food”. This was a fair answer knowing good and well that she was a trial and error cooker with my brother and I being the tasters growing up.

The next question I asked was, “What did you first cook”? My mom answered with, “ My grandma Val taught me a dijon mustard sauce to put on a flank steak with scallions”. I had never had that recipe before and told her that continuing on with the conversation.

The next question I asked her was, “Why do you cook what do you cook’’? Her answer went along the line of, “I was curious about cooking. I liked food and now I cook because it can be a tool to be healthier. I learned how to cook Mexican food from you dads mom and I have always cooked with fruits and vegetables due to living in the northern California valley”. These were all things that related to my palate growing up, with less and less Mexican food as I grew older.

The fourth question which I was particularly interested in was, “ What’s your fave recipe”? To my surprise, she answered with, “My favorite recipe would have to be tiramisu because it seems hard and fancy, so it impresses people, but it is actually a fairly easy recipe”. Growing up I had tiramisu, but I would have never thought it would have been my mom’s favorite recipe. I always saw my mom’s favorite recipe being cajun based.

I asked her the fifth question knowing what her answer would be. “Do you like cooking? With her immediate and enthusiastic answer being, “Yes I love cooking”. She went on to talk about how she loves cooking for family which is the sixth question and how cooking always seemed to bring her family together. My mom also talked about how she loves cooking even more now that my brother and I have taken up cooking more and can do ingredient prep and cleaning to help her with the whole process.

 

The seventh question I asked her, “.Did you start cooking because you liked it or out of necessity”? gave me a powerful insight into my mother’s child life. She answered with, “ I cooked because I liked it, in my house no one baked, so I started making Christmas cookies when I was 8”. As a kid, she had her grandpa Pop, but other than that her parents were not really around until after work so she would feed herself by cooking and experimenting.

 

Our conversation continued and developed into how my grandpa wasn’t around very much and when he was around he would always cook something Japanese-inspired like sushi and teriyaki based. We moved on to the questions about the food I did not like and we both brought up the chicken. The chicken that we both hated because she would over cook it every time and it was the main course. We laughed about how we would have to get out the bbq sauce and ketchup to make it edible again.   My mom was a great cook and the conversation we had was good for us catching up. I only wish that I could have had her in front of me so that the interview could have been that much better.

 

Chopped

Chopped

By: Canon Marin

I laid the ingredients in front of me and I knew I had a challenge. The ingredients that I used were brussel sprouts, dandelion greens, and olives. previously The only thing that I had actually cooked with before was brussel sprouts, and all I did was steam them. I decided on trying a Wok for my single dish mixture, thinking that it would be the easiest tool to prepare a stir-fry. I prepared a cup of brussel sprouts, by cutting them up so the heat would evenly distribute.I washed a handful of dandelion leaves thinking they would be similar to spinach. The dish included a tablespoon of garlic and 2 tablespoons of ginger. The pan was oiled with 3 tablespoons of coconut oil and the olives were kamalata olives. The way that I prepared the olives was by sticking them into the blender without washing or straining the oil out.  The process went smoothly and it took about 12 minutes on high heat before the brussel sprouts were ready and I added in the dandelion about 6 minutes into the cooking.

I then put the stir-fry into a bowl to try the Frankenstein creation. The first sense I experienced was, “ wow this is salty”. It looked appetizing with green elements everywhere, but oh was it overpowering.  I went over to the olive jar and tasted the oil they were in and that was error #1. I never tasted the olives or the olive oil used to preserve the to test their saltiness. They needed something sweet to counterbalance, which was error # 2. I proceeded to keep chewing and the brussel sprouts were cooked fairly well, but the dandelions wouldn’t break down. I kept chewing and chewing, but they kept staying the same consistency. I could not for the life of me chew the glob of dandelion greens into a portion I could swallow, which eventually settled into a trash can for the dump mice to get their go. Error # 3, should have cut the dandelion greens up into smaller pieces making them not glob together.

To try and correct these grievances I decided I needed to cut the cooked dandelions and add something sweet and spicy. Blueberries and chili powder became my choices for correcting the flavor profile and it worked out surprisingly well. I chopped a half a cup of blueberries and put them into a blender to make a puree to pour on top of the stir fry and added a tablespoon of chili powder. While the dish did not come out perfect it was very edible and above all fresh and healthy. If I was to go back, I would correct those three issues and I think I could have had a creative and enjoyable dish. Through the experience I learned that it is hard to make up your own dished with a required set of random ingredients, props to the chopped chefs.

Meal Alone

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I think one of the most memorable things about my life is I have never truly had a meal alone. My whole life I have had someone with me. That someone has always been my twin brother Gabriel. Having a twin brother is like having another half of you always around without really having an understanding of how similar your other half is. I have never written what it is like having a twin, neither have I thought about it in a very in-depth manner. It’s a surreal experience, we think the same ways, we have similar interests and we like eating at the same places. Almost everything is similar about us except for some small things. An example is his favorite dessert is creme Brule and mine is a peach pie with vanilla ice cream. He likes red, I like blue. I like one girl he likes another. The small things can vary, but big issues are always the same.  Everywhere I have traveled I have had my brother with me, so I am going to put a twist on the prompt. What is my favorite meal I have ever had with my brother? The reason I am doing this is because when you are a twin, you are never really alone.

My favorite meal with my brother is when we went eel fishing in Auckland, New Zealand, and BBQed fresh water eel on the harbor. We were brought by our Maury friend Marley to his local eel spot using lamb guts as our bait. We snagged a couple eels out of a small stream and headed back to the bbq and kitchen to prepare our eels. My brother and I had no idea where to start. I started to clean the eels and they felt like giant slugs due to their protective slime layer that wouldn’t wash away. After having my hands coated in slime I eventually got a handle enough to skin the eel, it took over 30 minutes. I put it on the bbq with salt and pepper letting it slowly cook as the sun was setting on the Auckland Harbor. After slow cooking it on the BBQ, I deboned the eel and put its fishy body into my mouth and it tasted like a mixture of rockfish and chicken. It wasn’t chewy like chicken it was tender and I a mixture of savory flavors. I expected it to be terrible, but I ate the entire thing, which is my hunting policy.  The idea of eating an eel took a while to get over, but eventually, I ended up enjoying my most memorable meal “alone”.11328240_1602991523309567_576032089_n

The Failed Cookies

They came out of the oven smelling like Christmas evening before Santa came. The sugar, butter. and chocolate all mixed together to make an infallible desert option that. With they’re light brown fluffy inside accompanied crisped edges that rose perfectly to hold all of the little brown chocolate chips melted just enough to melt in your mouth. Right before I put the baked good in my mouth I smelled the chocolate and my heart raced, my body preparing for a rise in blood sugar due to the sugary treat I was about to enjoy. As the chocolate chip cookie was placed into my mouth and bitten I knew something had gone dreadfully wrong .It tasted terrible, like a salty piece of crap. I thought to myself,  ” What could I have done wrong it was so easy”. I looked at my tray of cookies defeated and confused. This was my first attempt at making chocolate chip Christmas cookies and the fatal mistake flashed in my head right when I put the cookie down in disgust. A picture of the baking soda box popped right in my head, “My god, I just put baking soda instead of baking powder in my cookie mix”. I then proceeded to put my pristine cookies into the trash where they would never deceive a poor soul like myself, or did I? In reality, I set the trap. Due to me being depressed over my failed baking experience, I needed something to lift my spirits. I knew exactly how to do that, the cup of milk was left next to the landmines waiting for their next victim to think in their head, ” oh look a batch of fresh baked cookies”. Thankfully my friends who I was going to share these cookies with showed up and experienced the same joy, confusion, and disgust in succession that I got to experience.

In reality, I set the trap. Due to me being depressed over my failed baking experience, I needed something to lift my spirits. I knew exactly how to do that using a cup of milk left next to the landmines waiting for their next victim to think in their head, ” oh look a batch of fresh baked cookies”. Thankfully my friends who I was going to share these cookies with showed up and experienced the same joy, confusion, and disgust in succession that I experienced. My soul was at peace and in the end. we made cookies with baking powder not soda, concluding the worst cooking experience of my life.

My Favorite Dining Experience

The background of this dining experience is the most important part of the experience. I was in a restaurant in Seville and it was on the conclusive end of our summer journey. This bittersweet conclusion of my first international travel experiences is why this memory of an average meal became one of my favorite dining experiences. My grandfather’s influence is the other reason. Ever since I was able to comprehend reality, my grandfather who was the sculptor of who I am today would never stop talking about travel. As a younger man, he worked for the Pentagon for almost 10 years and during that time he visited 56 different countries. Every one he has a story for and over my 21 years, I have heard nearly heard all of them. The phrase that would conclude each one of these stories would be” do you want to go there”, ” where would you want to go”? The inspiration through these stories gave me the inescapable travel bug. This travel bug inspired me to go on a summer adventure that started in never sleeping Madrid and ended in the rolling hills of New Zealand. Through this adventure, myself along with my brother, mother and grandpa ended up going to a Flamenco Dance dinner event in the city of Seville.

Where the dinner story begins is we arrived on a bus and were led down into a stone dinner area with around 10 tables, each table seating around 5. The air smelled like fresh garlic and an almost cave like smell from years of cooking inside an enclosed low air flow space. There were stone arches around the room with the feeling that this little restaurant had been catering for travelers for a long time. The tables were circular and covered with the classic red and white checkered tablecloths. The lighting they used was mostly candlelight mixed with artificial and natural light from small crevices giving everything a shadowy complexion. The waiters spoke a mixture of Spanish and English moving like clockwork on a strict schedule ;all dressed in black and white. There were 4 bottles of wine at each table, 2 reds and 2 whites to start. We sat and the free flow of wine began. This was no ordinary wine either. In my younger years, my parents had exposed me to wine, most of which I did not enjoy. This wine, though, this wine was perfect. From the dryness on the tongue to the simple contrast of sweet and bitter. Every sip felt right and deep down it felt too good to be true. The red wine as it whirled around the glass, left the legs of a higher alcohol while the white wines legs vanished from the side of the glass, the signs of a lower alcoholic counterpart. The red was a deep ruby and the white was a fresh yellow pear color, showing the signs of a new vintage. I chose to go with the white as it fit my palette as a young wine drinker. The aroma from the wine gave off a citrus pear flavor with a hint of oak and honey. The feel on the tongue was smooth due to the lower alcohol and dry on the tongue. Ever since those bottles of wine, I have been searching for the match with no avail. The dining area started to get louder and the food began to be served. My group of travelers befriended a New Zealander named Garry, probably due to the fact that we were rugby players going to New Zealand. He told stories with my grandpa, who in all of his travels believed that New Zealand was the last Eden. The whole night you could see the connection we were all having.  The travelers reminiscent of the past and excited for the future.The food came out and it was great classic Spanish dishes with smoked meat and fish and different kinds of pasta. All of them smelled fresh and tasted perfectly seasoned in Spanish seasoning. The bread though was perfectly fluffy and fresh. It was warm and there was a perfect mixture of aged olive oil and vinegar. There were more smiles and laughter than you would see at a comedy club and it wasn’t because of great food or great wine, it was the whole experience.

A Day in the Mission

Our day to the mission district started at Mission Minis, we were met at the front by two guides. We were then given the option to go into the quaint cupcake shop where we were greeted by the large light up M’s in the front and a pink backdrop with a giant cupcake and flavor menu. I chose the Banana Maple Glaze to start off my early sweet binge. At first look, the cupcake has looked like your average mini cupcake. I took it outside and took a bit from its perfectly cooked interior smelling the aroma of banana and instantly greeted with its banana and maple infused taste. The perfect moistness accompanied by the cross glaze on top made me think of banana bread fresh out of the oven with a twist.

The next flavor station we decided to entertain our taste buds with was Taqueria El Farolito.

 

 

 

“As I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, the only thing I fear is gentrification”(Canon Marin 1/11/16). No, I am not Tupac Shakir or Coolio, but like these great rappers who talked about turmoil in their life and communities where they grew up, I realized that the Mission district is going through its own crisis of changing identity.

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As the tattooed, man buned, techies have started to take up resident in the mission district, the community is changing for the worst. Investment real estate and developers smelled the opportunity to make cash and they are cashing out by buying out homes and businesses that make the Mission District so unique. It has changed a flourishing working class neighborhood into one dominated by male workers in the tech industry looking for a “cool” place to live. The mission historically where immigrants get their feet in the Bay Area due to its affordability.

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