Isa, de la terre de Riesling, Silvaner, et Müller-Thurgau, du pays des wursts et brots et biers...N'as pas honte du lieu des naissances de Bach, Handel, Beethoven et Brahms, de Luther, Goethe, Schopenhauer et Nietzsche...et de toi-même!
Puis: Tu étais adoptée par La Terre Des Vins Parfaits, des parfums exquis, de la cuisine excéllente, de la mode, de la peinture, des couleurs (surtout où tu habitais...le Midi!) et (moment de silence, svp) des maquis ("Allons Enfants de la Patrie...") Quel héritage!
Et, maintenant, tu te trouves dans la terre des montagnes, et des fromages formidables (célestiel d'y avoir un allèle B!). Le vin n'est pas mal non plus: J'aimais le Dôle et le Fendant, par exemple.
Suisse: Le tout petit pays de plusieurs niveaux à explorer: L'on monte au-dessus des nuages pour trouver le soleil aveuglant sur la neige, tandis que, en bas, on se trouve dans le brouillard.
La Suisse: Terre de la liberté et de la neutralité, des horloges de précision, des banques privées, des trains, et des petits autobus-de-poste qui vont absolument partout!
Le pays où les ouvriers dans les supermarchés ressemblent aux médecins, aux manteaux blancs, mais qui ne font qu'arroser les légumes!
Où dans le monde peut-on trouver un Mets National qui s'agit d'un petit four sur la table, où chacun a sa petite poêle pour fondre une tranche de fromage, avant de la racler sur ses morceaux de pomme de terre, petits oignons, et cornichons? Que cela représente la Suisse, n'est-ce pas? L'opération chirurgicale et précise: A table!
Il y a, aussi, le Franc suisse, basé (toujours?) sur l'étendard d'or! On y trouve des chalets, avec leurs boîtes-aux-fenêtres pleines de géraniums; et la broderie des plus petites fleurs sauvages des champs alpins.
Suisse: C'est là un pays où la plupart des résidents se souviennent des grandparents des autres...Quelle phénomène (aux yeux des américains, par exemple, qui se déménagent fréquemment, et parfois franchant de longues distances).
Et l'Armée! Ses exercises, ses fausses-montagnes comblées de nourriture pour toute la population en cas d'urgence! Ses camouflages de fermes, de vaches, de chèvres; sa Force Aérienne (de laquelle les Israeliens ont appris comment ça se fait)...
Et le chocolat, tombé d'en haut.
La Suisse: Une merveille, à mon avis. Le monde est meilleur à cause d'elle. Et je n'ai pas même mentionné son histoire: Des Romains, des "barbares", des éxilés, des Réformateurs...
Moi, j'ai habité Montreux (et ses environs). J'avais mon lac, mes montagnes, ma vue sur tout (une de mes fenêtres a donné sur un bananier, dans le jardin -- SI! En Suisse!), et chaque petit paquet montre ses ingrédients et les instructions en mes trois langues de préférence (la quatrième, le Romansch, n'est pas encore une de mes études).
Alors, l'on peut soit se baigner, soit s'asseoir dans le WC, soit prendre son p'tit déj, tout en lisant les boîtes et les bouteilles, occasions de pratiquer son allemand ou italien -- c'est absolument formidable.
Et les aéroports de Génève et de Zürich, qui correspondent directement avec le train, leurs gares étant juste au-dessous. Et si tu prends le train, de Lausanne au nord, par exemple, tu peux parler en français aux autres passagers jusqu'à Bienne/Biel, où le poli est de vite commencer à t'éxprimer en deutsche, notamment si les autres -- tout à coup -- prétendent de ne plus te comprendre.
On n'est jamais trop loin de la frontière pour devoir faire ses commissions uniquement en Suisse: S'il ne te gêne pas de passer par la douane en rentrant, tu peux acheter des viandes et pharmaceutiques en France (ou Allemagne, Autriche, Italie, Liechtenstein, je suppose?) comme tu veux.
Quel superbe pays! O je remercie le Seigneur pour Sa création des Alpes, et la tradition suissaise de liberté, gardée par cette même topographie. Et pour la domicile de mon amie, Isa, AB, qui sait naviguer le cyberespace, et qui n'a pas peur de s'y mêler avec nous les Anglos.
Vas bien, amuse-toi bien, notre superbe Isa-Manuela!
There's something to be said for eating what you're served. And when you're a tourist, to some extent it's a good standard of conduct. Sometimes it'll be a matter of choosing the least of all evils: The O can "pass" on the bread, the A on the beef, etc., where possible...but it isn't always so.
Some hosts may take it as an insult if you don't "fill your plate", and, I have to say, you may miss something extraordinary. If you're not ill, think "Tier One" when you travel, understanding that you may have to expand on that, to take in a "serious Avoid", perhaps daily. Enjoy your trip and take "Deflect", I say.
Despite my B loyalty, there's a particular Palestinian chicken dish I wouldn't refuse if it were offered to me under ANY circumstances. It's a regional specialty requiring not only alot of time and experience, but...unspeakable love. It's an HONOR to be served this dish, and, once you've tasted it you may actually, as I did, weep. OK? I might select something different at a restaurant, but if someone's Palestinian mother were to serve it to me, I'd melt. In NO case would I refuse to taste it.
If I were at a Sicilian trattoria and I were told "Today we're serving the Specialty of the House: Blah Blah Marinara etc.", I'd never be so picky/gauche/B-fanatic to say: "No marinara for me, thanks". The rationale would NOT be: "Hey, I'm on vacation, so I'll feast on Avoids". It would be this: "I've CHOSEN to be the guest, this week/month, of numerous hosts. Some are more personal than others and might take offense at my rejecting their hospitality". And then, "WOW! I'm REALLY in SICILY!!!"
And, if there's a very, very special dish in a less "personal" restaurant/buffet setting, e.g., couscous or bisteeya in Morocco, bouillabaisse in Marseille, paella in Barcelona, I'd be at least willing to TASTE it on the side! Why? Just to indulge the proprietor? No. There are other reasons.
To have an Experience: You're not at some formulaic AmerItalian chain: This is The Real Thing: Wake up! Cuisine is an essential aspect of ANY culture. To be unwilling to TASTE the marinara sauce of a Sicilian host who's proud of it, whose ancestors have perfected the recipe over generations, defeats the purpose of Tourism, no? It, in effect, carries an attitude of "closedness" to new things that doesn't quite jibe with the whole notion of Leisure Travel, does it? (Is it even POSSIBLE to know a place without tasting its signature dishes?)
Maybe I'm saying that really sick people shouldn't be tourists, and that if you're ill, you should consider postponing that sojourn in Provence 'til you're better. And that if you're NOT ill, you shouldn't be the guest of anyone you've misled to believe you ARE. Think about it: "I can't eat this" "I can't eat that" (?) - or - "Wherever I go, I just order broiled salmon and rice, daily..." Is THAT the way to learn, experience? And yet another angle is: Is that the way to endear your hosts to Americans?
See, there are 3 questions most American tourists don't ask themselves:
(1) "What am I saying, what is my conduct demonstrating, to non-Americans,about 'American Tourists'?"
(2) "What am I learning about the host culture? How many personal interactions am I actually having with regular local people? How much 'inside information' am I taking away from my travel experience?"
(3) "If the above two issues are meaningless to me, why am I a tourist?"
This "We-carry-our-own-food, thank-you" attitude is really off-putting, anti-social, and actually savors (globally) of Imperialism. It says "We might set up our own versions of 'fast food' all over your cities and towns, but we sure don't stoop to eat what you mistakenly/ignorantly call 'Food'." I wonder: Do many American tourists know how to comport themselves as GUESTS? And are we sensitive to avoid giving the impression of Conquerors?
Spend some time daydreaming before you embark on that whirlwind tour. Imagine yourself being invited by locals, all over the world, to enjoy the very best that their countries have to offer. Then imagine yourself open to, and meriting, those invitations. See yourself accepting the fact that many, if not most, of those experiences involve the sharing of food. It means leaving the beaten path, choosing the road not taken, being open to surprises.
Unless, of course, your diet's pristineness is sacrosanct, in which case your parameters must remain restricted; food serves a socially separative rather than convivial role in your life, in which case: Stay home and remain "compliant". That might be the best option for the ill, whether physically or spiritually. Or: Drop down to Tier One Compliance that you're willing - on sheer whim - to ignore, if "kismet" so require. Now THAT'S an Adventure!
My Forum buddy, Henriette, and I are staunch Cream Advocates, especially for us B's. In her honor, and as I've promised her, I am here presenting the butterfat values of numerous dairy products, and then: A few extraordinary recipes. All of this information is from Sophie Grigson's marvelous book, GOURMET INGREDIENTS.
Fromage Frais: 0.1-8%
Greek Sheep's milk yogurt: 8%
Strained Yogurt: 10%
"Coffee Cream": 18%
Sour Cream: 20%
Crème Fraîche: 30% minimum
"Light Cream": 32%
"Whipping Cream": 40%
"Double Cream": 48%
Clotted Cream: 55% minimum
Note that these are "British" measures. The French measure fat [matière grasse] as a percentage of dry matter/solids, whereas the above are as a percentage of total mass, including liquid, so French numbers only LOOK higher.
Here are three recipes from this unique book, especially for us cream-lovin' B's:
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1. CLOTTED CREAM (Fine for all B's and for AB secretors on Tier One)
Slowly heat very creamy milk to 176-185 degrees F, holding it there about 30 mins., then cool it. The cream rises and forms a thick golden crust on top of the milk (skim it off and slather it on warm scones!). The heating gives the cream its "cooked" flavor, and prolongs shelf life.
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2. MASCARPONE MOUSSE (for same blood types as above, but, if butter is neutral for O, then perhaps this is ok too?)
2 eggs, separated
2 Tbs sugar
6 oz. Mascarpone
2 Tbs rum
1/3 cup finely chopped candied peel
3 Tbs finely chopped candied angelica
unsweetened cocoa, preferably Dutch process
Beat the egg yolks with the sugar until pale and thick. Beat in the Mascarpone and rum. Beat the egg whites until stiff; fold into the mascarpone cream. Fold in the candied peel and angelica. Pile into 6 small bowls, and chill. Just before serving, dust lightly with cocoa.
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3. SHRIKAND ("Perfumed" Indian sweet): Fine for A, B, and AB
2-1/2 c Greek Sheep's milk or strained yogurt
generous pinch of saffron threads
2 tsp rosewater
3 cardamom pods
1 Tbs toasted slivered almonds or pistachios (the latter nut ok for Asec-TierI and AB-sec.)
Line a large sieve with a double layer of cheesecloth. Pour the yogurt into the lined sieve, and gather up the edges of the cheesecloth. Tie a knot to form a bag, and hang it up to drip. Leave 4 hours, or until it is good and thick.
Scrape all the strained yogurt into a bowl. Dry-fry the saffron for a few seconds to crisp up; cool, and pound to a powder. Mix with the rosewater, and let stand 10 minutes to dissolve.
Split the cardamom pods, and crush the seeds inside as finely as possible. Stir the cardamom and rosewater into the yogurt, with sugar to taste. Divide among 4 small bowls and scatter the nuts over the top.
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How good is "Good"? (wink)
"'People need the fellowship of whole, balanced individuals', or 'Community is an INGREDIENT in the Balance of the Individual'...I return to my cave, grateful to God for the Imbalance that alone is capable of saying anything". --- From my Journal, October, 1995
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A little book of Feng Shui advises making sure all mirror edges are beveled or framed, lest a rough edge be duplicated by "rough edges in one's life"! Oh dear. A life without rough edges? Why bother? Is this to be desired?
I think of Heroism: Is that a "balanced" Way? Where would France be today if Général DeGaulle had framed his mirrors instead of organizing the French Resistance, an accomplishment virtually demanding "rough edges"? Would his strong radio voice have encouraged Parisians under curfew, had his "chi flow" been more serene?
I think of poets; I try to imagine Shakespeare or Goethe or Whitman or Rilke seeking to place his (framed) mirror on its "Proper" wall, rather than sitting down to write, perhaps by candlelight, at all hours of day and night, forgetting even to eat or sleep.
And the thinkers: Pascal, Kierkegaard, Nietzsche -
The risk-takers: Marco Polo, Wiclif, Galileo -
The greatest artists (since we're talking Decorative Space): Leonardo, Rembrandt, Michelangelo: Tell me -- Did these NOT understand The Artful Placement of Objects?
If Beethoven had practiced Feng Shui, what would this have meant for Music? Oh, woe: If he, notorious for his slovenliness and sloppiness, had been mindful of his "clutter problem", what do you think he would have composed, if anything?
Ultimately, I suppose, the issue becomes: If Pharaoh had been Chinese instead of Egyptian, if Pythagoras had been Lao-Tse, yea, if Jesus had preached "Balance" instead of Repentance, what repercussions for the West?
In this sense, Feng Shui is but one of many chic Asian modalities superceding Western traditions "dissed" by deconstructors, a mark of the ascendency of Globalthink: Eastern legalisms qua crowbar for an academically-incubated PostChristianism. For many, you see, Christianity-as-written is just too liberal ("Patriarchy" rhetoric notwithstanding). Unlike Eastern religions, there are no home-décor guidelines; unlike Judaism, no culinary restrictions; unlike Islam, no mandated time of day for prayer. Christendom itself has, from the beginning, been rebelling against the liberty preached by Christ and Paul! It is, in fact, this Rebellion that is at the forefront of welcoming, concocting, and cynically marketing to the insecure and self-absorbed Westerner these warmed-over, stylized forms.
We humans are a verbal lot, but speech doesn't emanate from Balance, the latter being a sort of Stasis, ousting or de-necessitating both rational and creative expression. Creativity, too, is the result of friction, rather than of Balance: Indeed, you and I were formed of a copulative friction. Note, too, that Western tradition recounts of epochal Salvations, always arriving via accumulated Evil and Violence (not Balance): It was when Wickedness reached a fever pitch that God spoke through Noah's 100-year-long creative task of ark-building, sending Salvation through water that wiped out a whole generation (without dictating the vessel's décor or distracting the builder with matters of his chi). Israel, too, escaped Egypt via a saving flood that permitted its passage, while drowning the enslavers; likewise Christianity issued purged and pristine from the awesome Judean holocaust of 69-70 AD. Closer to our era, even Hegel posited the achievement of Balance ("Synthesis") NOT by inner search, but opposition ("Antithesis"). Could there be something to these models?
In the Real World of Tears, Injustice, Rebellion, Stresses, Struggles and Poverty, "Balance" is not necessarily an appropriate preoccupation. Many must fight -- or succumb to -- these realities daily. Some write about them; others are even called to "scream" (artistically) about them. None, however, who hope to stem them should feign or seek "Balancedness" in denial of them. A conflagration calls for a hose powerfully spraying massive amounts of Water, not Prana; when my house is burning down, knock yourself out bringing me a ladder, but please don't be thinking about your Inner Balance or my choice of landscape elements.
Perhaps self-immersion in Balance reflects a consumer-culture's delight in ever more exotic "bread and circuses". Another possibility is that of an exhausted democracy's "Blissful Ignorance", justifying our Nation's founders' suspicions that no more than two centuries would elapse before the general public would tire of self-governance's extraordinary responsibilities.
And is it really "Spiritual", let alone aesthetically beautiful, to adhere to a legal system of color or Object Placement in one's home or office, rather than to relax with one's own personal tastes? Does the world not offer enough varieties of "will-worship", i.e., self -checking and -congratulation, according to regulated systems? Before Feng Shui came to the U.S., many of us freely created beautiful interiors and enjoyed spontaneous artistic expression combined with meaningful lives, thank you.
There are countless "gurus" today (especially here in the San Francisco Bay Area) writing books about Balance, Order, and systems, borrowing from Asian teachings, applying this repetitive theme to food, medicine, mental health, spirituality, gardening, sports, travel, you name it. All are geared to the Self-obsessed and -enclosed middle class consumer (oblivious to the world's burning houses?), and all advocate an almost one-size-fits-all no-mindedness (in the name of Zen, perhaps) ripe for following increasingly ridiculous "guidelines"; one is "enlightened" insofar as one stalks the Balanced Chakras, Meridians, Religions, Living Rooms, Relationships, or Diet. To my mind, these books could interchangeably be written by Chopra, Myss, Dyer, Hay, Flinders, Moore, Gray, Remen, Lerner, Fox, et al, et al, so predictable and uniform is the worldview.
The Blood Type Diet, as I see it, is NOT a party to that cause, which accounts for its being so misunderstood: Many assume it's just another arbitrary, legalistic system; unfortunately, its own adherents are often guiltiest of so interpreting it. Whereas Feng Shui tells you to frame that mirror, Dr. D'Adamo says, "Enjoy a big, juicy steak, or a small slab of swordfish, or a whatever-sized scoop of turkey-salad, or...". He doesn't legislate your tastes, your portions, or your lifestyle, nor does he suggest that you punctiliously do so yourself. While Macrobiotics, for instance, requires that the Western follower buy into fundamentals of Taoism and Zen practice, no such religious rhetoric finds its way into Eat Right 4 Your Type. Bottom Line: There's nothing coercive about a Science that extols Individuality; and I perceive that its very liberality, like that of true Christianity, is suspect, even frightening, to many who don't really want to be original or occupied with issues broader than Self.
If you desire to have created, a few decades hence, a population of automatons marching in lock-step and oblivious to their own political status, teach the sheep now to count calories, fat-grams, and percentages of protein; better yet, enforce Radical Veganism, admonish against decorating with spike-leaved plants or renting an apartment with its bathroom(s) on a South wall...or hanging an unframed mirror, but DON'T encourage people to choose their own foodstuffs as utter individuals (even all Type O's don't have to eat alike!), or - WORSE - to speak or create or live spontaneously and courageously, as individuals, with all their rough edges.
Give me Paul ("I am crucified with Christ").
Give me Luther ("Here I stand").
Give me Beethoven ("Da-Da-Da-DOM").
I'm always happy to be able to "put together" something yummy and nutritious from whatever scraps happen to be about the kitchen. This afternoon I discovered a container of plain (whole milk) yogurt with today's date on it, AND about a half-cup of Half-&-Half with tomorrow's. On this warm afternoon, I dumped 'em into the blender and then decided to process half a bunch of fresh spearmint into it. The yogurt was quite sour, so I added sugar...and then one drop of essential oil of spearmint, for zing. What a lovely, refreshing snack! Bonus: The pale green (my favorite) color. I enjoyed it with a few spears of fresh watermelon. B-Heaven.
For dinner, I'm thinking Salade Niçoise: Butter lettuce, tuna, a hardboiled egg, red peppers, and a small potato, with some sort of dressing: Vinaigrette or Aïoli. No rosé in the house, but I can finish-off the 2005 Sauvignon Blanc (or the '95 Vosne-Romanée!) that's in the fridge door.
More LITTLE food things:
- Whole Foods Market now sells these mini-bagels, a dozen to a sealed plastic bag - I love 'em! Here's why: You can keep them in the fridge and pull out one-at-a-time, per person, for a very small (enriched white flour) wheat portion: Just enough! Each whole "Bagelette" weighs 1 ounce, the equivalent of one slice of bread; and I only eat that much bread per day, so it's perfect. For those with a yet smaller bread allowance, eat HALF a Bagelette!
- Portions: Since I tend to forget to eat what's perishing in the fridge, I have reverted to shopping à l'Européene: One meal at a time! I might buy ONE lamb chop, or a quarter pound of halibut, or ONE little potato. I have the cheese guy slice me the tiniest sliver of cheese. Don't be ashamed to ask for minuscule amounts; if the clerk has attitude about that, wonder why, but don't be intimidated.
- Clean, natural rice pudding comes in single serving kid-packs, very handy for snacktime. Spoon a whole (large ice cube-sized) pack onto a dish with a few berries or disks of banana.
- The little "shot glass" portion of heavy cream I occasionally enjoy at bedtime - sometimes diluted with cooled tea.
- Little sips: I buy Trocken Sekt (champagne-method dry sparkling wine, made from German Riesling) in single-serve bottles that come 3-to-a-pack. Perfect for small brunches: No more gone-flat ex-sparkling in the fridge door.
Non-Gustatory Little Things:
- The unbelievably fragrant green/white blossoms growing between my sanseveria's (snake plant's) leaves: I've never seen/smelled these, over the years. Maybe the plant really loves its relatively new location by the (N-facing) window.
- A few pairs of little reading glasses, "grabbable" from any (yes, ANY) perch in the house.
- Little Pacifica-brand votive candles in favorite fragrances, on sale: "Rose" for the bathroom, "Indochine" (lemongrass/cucumber) for the bedroom, "Spanish Amber" and "Guaiacwood" for hall and living room....
- Picked up a little book(let) at a book sale yesterday, called "The Principle of Non-Intrusion", a series of sermons (1952) by a Baptist named Duncan E. Littlefair. An amazingly applicable point of view (vis-à-vis SHARING, as opposed to IMPOSING or even PERSUADING, re: the Blood Type Diet, et al.), clearly and methodically explaining why Intrusion (defined in novel ways) can be counted upon to result in rejection of both idea/product and intruder! Good for anyone in sales, family life, marriage, courtship, community, u-name-it. A refreshing perspective, challenging the reader's expectations or prejudices, given the denomination!
- Little bottles of essential oils. Some essences are so costly, they come in 1 millilitre bottles: That's 1/30 of an ounce! Some people exercise their pecs or glutes; I enjoy olfactory workouts at my organ of 100 essences.
The Best Saved for Last:
- The littlest people in the world, because of whom I make (almost) a living. My smallest ever, born last December, weighed 4 lbs., 8 oz.
-- "Hello" and a smile to the neighbor.
-- Remembering peoples' names.
-- Holding the elevator door for someone, even when you're in a hurry.
-- Tipping the counterperson.
-- Waving the other driver in.
-- Giving up your seat for your elder.
-- Saying "Thank You".
--...Refraining from Intrusion.