Food, Glorious Food

ChorizoTacosThere is no question that I enjoy food; eating it, cooking it, serving it, even taking pictures of it. I realize there exists a thriving industry in mocking people who post photos of food, but that doesn’t bother me. I can only pity those who do not understand and appreciate the beauty of something that makes our lives possible: the sustenance of food.

For example, the photo here shows how attractive corn tortillas are when topped with chorizo, marinated purple onion, red bell peppers, carrots, queso fresco, cilantro, and a delightfully tangy and creamy sauce. No, this was not last night’s dinner; the photo was taken in November 2014. I kept it because I treasure the memory of eating that meal, the recipe for which my wife found and decided to try. She enjoys trying new recipes almost as much as I, though lately I’ve been the one with more fire in the belly to create truly outlandish combinations.

KimchiBakedBeansPorkChopLately, my interests have veered toward fusion food using Korean cuisine as the common denominator. My long-held interest in Korean cuisine surfaced anew recently when I stumbled upon someone else’s recipe for kimchi baked beans . I made the dish (shown in the photo with a pork chop and a few side veggies), which was quite tasty—not stunningly good—but which introduced me to a fermented rice and pepper paste that forms a flavor profile that infuses much Korean cooking: gochujang. Much to my surprise, I found gochujang at Kroger’s in Hot Springs. I decided after making the baked beans that I would seek out other Korean recipes and give them a try. Thus far, I’ve assembled a small list of dishes I will make over the coming months. Unlike the gochujang, though, several other ingredients I will need to make the recipes will require a trip to Little Rock to K Oriental Store.

My revived interest in Korean food comes on the heels of my acknowledgement that I desperately need to shed a number of pounds that I allowed to mount up before, during, and after our trip to France. Several months before that trip, I committed to myself that I would lose 52 pounds by year-end; because of my abandonment of that commitment, unless I carve off a leg, that’s not going to happen. But I will remove the weight I’ve gained and then some. The way I’ll do it is, first, to spend about four weeks on a slightly modified version of phase one of the South Beach diet. Then, I will focus on getting exercise and eating right, the latter which means small portions of foods that are not laden with carbs and sugar and the like. This presents a bit of a challenge for my desire to pursue Korean cooking, but I am not one to be bound by maintaining “authenticity” in ethnic cuisines. (In my opinion, “authenticity” is a word that does not belong in conversations about ethnic foods except with respect to flavor profiles and, even then, adjustments must be made to accommodate the availability, or lack thereof, of certain ingredients.)

After a visit by friends later this week, I will begin a morning regimen of walking some of the trails in around Hot Springs Village. My breakfast regimen will not change from what we already eat; we eat very healthy breakfasts now (an egg or a quarter of a cup of egg substitute, a piece of Canadian bacon, tomato juice and, occasionally, a piece of fruit or a radish). Lunches, too, will remain much as they are; typically, I have a tin of kippered herring or sardines, some tomatoes, a radish or two, and a sliced tomato. But dinner will change to smaller portions, with am emphasis on removing carbs and, later, reintroducing them in lower doses and on rare occasion.

Back to my central theme here: I love food. So, to be successful, my efforts to lose weight and keep it off must not sacrifice my ability to follow my passion for flavor. I expect to find creative ways to make Korean and Korean-inspired dishes without using much if any sugar (a key component in many Korean dishes). And I will use substitutes for another key component, rice; cauliflower is one such alternative I’ve used many times in the past when recipes called for rice and I expect that will be the case henceforth. Of course, I’m not going to eat only Korean food; I’ll continue to eat Indian and Mexican and Middle Eastern and Thai and Vietnamese and American standards. The difference in recipes I follow or create will focus on using low-calorie and low-carb ingredients. It occurs to me that, in my efforts to find ways to use alternative ingredients to various foods (Indian and Mexican, for example), I might come upon interesting options that others will find valuable. To that end, I think I’ll post about such options. Yes. Yes I will.


About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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