I was flipping through the April issue of O Magazine this past week and saw an article about Michael Pollan. Pollan has written multiple books on the topic of food and agriculture, and the quote used as title of today’s blog is probably his most famous. Many years ago, long before my herbivore adventures began, I read Pollan’s acclaimed book, The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals and was fascinated by it. As the title suggests, Pollan is an omnivore. The Omnivore’s Dilemma is not a self help book or diet book, and there are no recipes or pretty pictures of food. Rather, it is a conversation, supported by history and fact, about what we eat in America and how policy and circumstance have influenced the foods we eat. Regardless of your personal food choices or interest in exploring other options, I would highly recommend this book as an absorbing read.
O Magazine was interviewing Pollan because he has a new book coming out next month, Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation. In the short article Pollan notes that Americans spend about half the time preparing food today then they did in the 60s. He also notes that part of the reason for this is that we as a culture define leisure as “passive consumption, and we’ve learned to think of cooking as hard work.” This resonated with me as I looked back on this the meals I had prepared this week.
I have been quite busy these past few weeks as I prepare to transition to a new job, help plan my best friend’s bridal shower, and start cleaning out all of my flower beds for spring while preparing for the installation of a new fence that requires the perimeter of the property to be cleaned out. All of this on top of the typical weekly needs of laundry, cleaning, bills and cooking. In a way cooking does tend to get lumped in as a chore that requires thought to decide what to make, trips to the grocery to buy the necessary ingredients and then the actual cooking. However, once I do greatly enjoy the process of cooking and consider it a time to relax (the cleaning up the kitchen after part not so much!).
Since this was my last week at my old job there were lots of lunches out with friends so my cooking for Week 12 was limited to dinners. I decided to keep it simple and make tacos. My go to taco/burrito has been Chickpea Tacos, which I love so much and are so quick and simple they are probably the thing I have made the most since embracing plant based living a year ago. The recipe can be found online and I believe is also in the first cookbook. Since this challenge is all about trying new things I gave the Happy Herbivore Abroad Lentil Taco “Meat” a try this week. The lentils get their meat texture by pulsing in a food processor; I will admit that I may have gone a bit too far and ended up with more of a refried bean texture but they were still delicious (though chickpea tacos will maintain their reign, mostly because I love the texture).
I was looking for some kind of Spanish rice to go with my tacos and found the Arroz Amarillo recipe in Everyday Happy Herbivore. This was the recipe that immediately came to mind as I read the interview with Pollan. In the past when looking for a side dish like this I would often buy a boil and serve version from Goya, Zatarain’s, or Near East and call it a day. This recipe took no more time than any of the one’s I’ve used in the past, would actually be cheaper (once your pantry is stocked with a good staple of spices) and tastes so much better. The ingredient list is short and recognizable and because you control the sodium content you can actually taste all the wonderful flavors the spices bring without simply tasting salt.
I look forward to reading Pollan’s next book as he delves into his journey’s learning to cook and the impact of preparing meals on his personal psyche and relationships with others.
New Recipes Made This Week: 2
New Recipe Tally 2013: 45