Thursday, January 12, 2006

Not Turning Japanese After All

A few days ago (I guess it was New Year's Eve), I drunkenly wrote that I would like to direct my life in a more Japanese-inspired fashion (prompting Tallulah to post the complete lyrics to "Turning Japanese"). Whilst seeking recipes to fuel my new goal, I unearthed a never-before-dreamed-of culinary option; one more wonderful even than being Japanese, for it encompasses a cultural smorgasbord of delights that includes all the best that is Japanese and then some.

I will now become...(wait for it)...MediterrAsian!!!!!

Perhaps you've heard of the Mediterranean Diet, which encourages we cheese-lovin' Westerners to abandon our heart disease-inducing lifestyle in exchange for one lush with olive oil, fish, vegetables and vino! Not bad, you say? I agree.

But the smarties over at noticed that it was not just the Greeks, Spanish, and southern Italian and French who have unlocked the portal to healthful longevity, but that a very similar robustness is enjoyed throughout the Asian continent as well. Furthermore, it turns out that while superficially quite different, the cuisines and lifestyles of these disparate regions share many intriguing similarities.

First, the diet similarities:

1. Grain foods, such as bread, pasta, rice, noodles, couscous and millet form a staple part of the daily diet.
2. Fresh vegetables and fruits are eaten daily.
3. Vegetable and fish oils are the main sources of fat in the diet.
4. Red meat (beef, pork & lamb) is eaten only a few times per month.
5. Fish is eaten regularly.
6. Legumes (peas, beans & lentils) are eaten regularly.
7. Alcohol such as beer and wine are consumed in moderation daily.

Second, lifestyle similarities:

1. Family ties are strong.
2. The pace of life is relatively leisurely.
3. Moderate exercise is a part of daily life.

(This is particularly true in the more rural areas of both regions.)

The site is fantastic with recipes, scientific and medical research, a 7-day plan for implementing the diet, books, links, and more! The cuisines that receive the most focus are: Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Chinese, Vietnamese, Provencal, Greek, Thai and Spanish. You can well see that with that kind of selection, "diet" doesn't mean a restrictive way of eating, but an incredibly interesting, varied and inclusive way.

I'm all about MediterrAsian now!! I just need to completely re-stock my kitchen!!

By the way, I tried the Miso and Rice for breakfast thing, and I'm sure I will get into it after I get a decent instant Miso or actually make some from scratch. Unfortunately, the nasty s**t in my cupboard that I used was almost inedible. My advice is don't buy a Miso product made by a company called Edward & Sons -- doesn't really scream "Japanese" does it?


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