27 April 2013

Food Flashback and Labels



This is the 179th blog post on Gothic Granola, formerly Screwfoot Q. It's time to make a 180 degree turn on some issues.



When I was in college and became vegetarian, then subsequently vegan, my suppers consisted of the following:
greens, crunchy raw veg, beans, nuts, dried fruit, maybe hot vegetable if it was decent, maybe a cup of soup. Dessert was cereal and non-dairy milk and decaf coffee or tea. More often than not, the hot veg entree was some kind of ethnic dish, not half bad. This I ate in the residential college dining halls; at the Center for Jewish Life I would maybe be able to have a hot entree. When I look back on what I ate, I shake my head and don't wonder why I felt deprived (no real dessert! What nonsense!). The special diets situation has since improved slightly in Princeton's dining halls, but I do not plan on going back anytime soon to confirm this.

I bought Nature Path's Mesa Sunrise cereal recently. Sugar is my drug, as frequent readers of this blog know. Sugar for breakfast or in more than 2 tablespoons per day is not good for Q. So I had this cereal for dessert because it contains sugar, and the high-fibre dinner insulated me from its effects somewhat. I know I'm playing with fire, so I will bake with the cereal or manage my intake well. Next time I have a coupon, I'll stick to the fruit-sweetened cornflakes.

Curry Bean Salad
Inspired by
http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/recipe/curried-chickpea-salad

1 16-ounce can pinto beans, rinsed and drained
1 16-ounce can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1/3 cup raisins

1 yellow onion, diced
pinch salt
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/4 cup water
2 cups beet stems, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 teaspoons curry powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
dash cinnamon
dash cayenne
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1 teaspoon tamari

Place the beans and raisins in a large bowl and set aside.

In a medium skillet over medium heat, dry-sautee onion with salt until beginning to brown and turn translucent. Add the turmeric, cook for another minute, then remove from heat and scrape into bowl.

Return pan to the heat and add the remaining spices, stirring, to toast for 30 seconds. Deglaze the pan with the water, scraping up the browned bits of onion. Add the beet stems and the liquid ingredients and stir. Cook for 3 minutes or until the beet stems have softened somewhat. Add the beets to the beans and onions and mix well. Serve over greens and enjoy cereal and unsweetened almondmilk for dessert.

I served mine over raw collards, which with the beans, is probably too digestively hardcore for most people. I drank a lot of water and had a tall glass of zombie tea with the cereal.

Vegan and vegetarian are lovely labels for convenience; living in an urban area means restaurants know what they mean and can prepare food accordingly. However, as with saying my alma interfector, saying I'm vegan tends to suck the air out of the room. Wow, judge much, people? No, I cannot change others. I can change myself.

While it's cutesy to use "vegan and gluten-free goodies" in my blog tagline, this blog is about being oneself and doing things for oneself. I just happen to not eat animal products and gluten at this time. I can't eat dairy, eggs, and gluten. Maybe one day I will eat animal flesh again. Labels are convenient tags for experiencing conventional reality, but they have no place in ultimate reality. The more I cling to labels, to marks of this world, the more difficult it will be when we eventually part (in this life, in the next...).

It's time to begin divesting of labels. Goth, ace, androgyne, vegan, gluten-free, catholic, buddhist, metaphysical. These are the labels I use most often. Even together they form an incomplete picture, a fractured mirror.

What is the best mirror? A boon friend, as Buddhists call it, someone who helps you in your striving for nirvana, for escape from the world cycle. Someone who encourages you to be the best you.

In divesting myself of labels, I'm disrobing my soul, as it were. Labels are protective and keep people at bay ("I dress this way/ just to keep them at bay"). Losing labels affects my art and how I keep my heart on my sleeve as an artist. Pain and pleasure, the extremes and the mundane, are all the more intense when one experiences them with bare awareness, mindful attention, rather than experiencing them with the scratched and coloured lenses of labels.
The harder the cling, the harder the sting. Let 'em go, and there's no sting. That's the hardest thing.
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