Saturday, September 5, 2009

Thinking Through My Stomach

Recent discoveries:

1.) Not eating for long (up to 20 hour) periods of time won’t necessarily result in torturous stomach pain, inability to work, or death. I think I may have believed the contrary up until last week. American culture is focused on eating at every available opportunity-- woe the person who suffers from a pang of hunger. I definitely had an almost diabetic’s obsession with making sure I had access to something, anything, at all times just in case my stomach was empty and I started to feel tired or hungry.

It was hard to imagine that it could be possible to go through the day without food (or water) and still be able to function. So with Ramadan coming up I prepared myself to suffer considerably and was completely surprised to find I could grow accustomed to it, virtually pain-free. In part I think it helps that I have no other chemical habits to give up (cigarettes, coffee), but there is a lot to say about forming eating habits. When at my most scheduled, I can feel the first signs of hunger exactly at 12 noon, when I allow myself to declare “lunch”. A snack at 3pm becomes almost necessity to get me through the afternoon. However, if I simply tell myself I can’t eat until exactly sunset, well, so be it. There is no big temptation in treating myself to something between meals if I’ve forbid myself from putting anything in my mouth until the appropriate time. The hard rule makes it easier for my body to accept the challenge.

Of course, I’m also glad that Ramadan is only a month for the fact that I am a morning person and don’t think I could put up with eating for the day between sunset to first light for much longer than that time period. Also, if you make the mistake of not drinking enough water during the night, you may suffer more considerably during the day (we need water before food, after all).

A final note, it doesn’t seem like condensing your meals saves much time. Every day I wonder where the time went, I never feel like I’ve accomplished quite enough “before breakfast”.

2.) I can eat my chicken and her eggs too. So, to follow up on my chicken experiment, I’ve found that I would definitely keep chickens for their eggs if I had space to do so in a future living arrangement. However, they sort of took over my small courtyard and with the cooling weather I imagine a nice outdoor sanctuary for me and a few potted plants. Also, the landlord upstairs was starting to complain about the noise (this was mostly due to a visiting rooster, and grumpy Ramadan mornings, but I don’t need to pick that fight).

What did this mean for my hens? It meant finding out if this suburban child had enough farm girl in her to mercilessly eat her “pets”. Apparently, the answer is “yes”. The scrawny, noisy one was up first. We made pastilla, the delicious and famously Moroccan savour-sweet pastry dish. We buried my hen between layers of thin pastry, herbed scrabbled egg, and almonds, topped with cinnamon and sugar.

“Big Momma”, my other girl, is up next. She once extended her life by allowing me to pet her, but now my cold, cold heart races as I flip through cookbooks.

3.) It is, in fact, worth it to take a trip back up to the mountains specifically to pick blackberries (and visit my former host-family). Wild (i.e. free) fruit is sweetest!

4.) Cheese can be a simple, yet tricky culinary challenge. I’ve been learning leaps and bounds as I gear up for a cheese-making workshop I am hosting this coming week. It has been interesting trying to figure out what ingredients are really available in Morocco. I think I can find everything locally now.

It amazes me how much variety you can get simply by changing the timing and temperature of the same basic ingredients. Nope, still no Brie without the mold culture. Bummer.

5.) It has been nearly a year since I’ve arrived and I have been free of any major stomach issue! Even the minor stomach issues have been few and far between. I can only imagine the amazing stomach flora and fauna I must have to put up such a good fight. Keep it going team!


Raichel said...

"...but now my cold, cold heart races as I flip through cookbooks..."

Hilarious. I have to say, Rafisa pastry sure looks tasty!

Glad to hear you and your tummy are doing well!

Loda said...

Lisa! hahah you're so awesome! That's so cool that you butchered your own chicken and ate her. You are really amazing m with your tales of adventure from the far away lands of Morocco! I want to try everything you talk about.. well, not the brains, I'm still not a zombie...

Ann said...

Ha! My friend Christine could never eat her chickens, but she also sees them as pets. However, I'm sure your chickens had a good life.

It's definitely doable to have chickens in the states in town, but you have to check the city ordinances. :)