Exiting a subway car in Hong Kong during rush hour is as close as we will ever come to the experience of Coho Salmon swimming upstream to spawn. The train doors open and a wall of people rush in. If you want off before the final stop, your only option is to lower your head and power forward into the wave. Above all else, never stop moving. If you stall, even momentarily, the momentum of workers desperate to get home from work will drag you back onto the train. Perhaps a better analogy would be defeating the pass rush of the Baltimore Ravens.
We are adventurous eaters. We avoid wheat and dairy because of allergies and we dramatically limit a few other things, such as added sugar, because of DYC. Everything else is fair game. If we’re travelling and the local delicacy is squirrel heads our only question is: “How are they prepared?” As long as they aren’t battered and fried or drowned in a cream sauce we’re all over it.
Of all of the foods we’ve been fortunate to try, the most perfect DYC food we have ever come across was Meat Cooked in the Manner of Thieves on the Greek Island of Crete. Whole, salted fish-on-a-stick in Kyoto, Japan was a close second, but it just can’t compete when it comes to backstory.
We just returned from a trip to the East Coast. We visited friends in New London, New Hampshire. Then we attended a wedding on Cape Cod. The trip was fabulous. The weather was mostly sunny and warm. The wedding took place on a beautiful stretch of beach, no one was pregnant and both the bride and groom looked happy to be there. The trip was a success in every way but one.
We won’t candy coat this. From a dietary perspective, we cheated more often in the past week than we did in the previous three months combined. This dietary lapse, however, did not come as a surprise. We knew that would fall off our diet and exercise routine even before we purchased our tickets. When it comes to divining the future, Uri Geller and Sylvia Brown can only dream of such certainty.
Our not-so-psychic premonition left us with two choices. We could act surprised when our diets faltered and return home to a week of self-loathing and Nightmare Mode. Or, we could plan ahead and perform the DYC equivalent to the Polio Booster. We opted for immunization.
We are not morning drinkers. We occasionally have wine or beer with lunch, but it’s rare. We typically open a bottle of wine in the evening and pour ourselves a glass as we start cooking dinner. Some of the wine goes into the food. Whatever’s left is carried to the table. Mornings are reserved for coffee and Steven’s famously gray, spinach-infused fruit shakes.
This is not to say that we can’t be rallied to the cause. We are more than capable of drinking all day. Anyone who doubts this or would like to get incriminating video needs only to attend Hospice du Rhône in Paso Robles, California.
As we mentioned last week, there is still a question which must be answered: if people in Hong Kong and Japan eat tons of high-carb white rice as well a lot of sweets, why don’t they have the same obesity problem we have in America?
We believe the answer lies in calories in vs. calories out. All weight gain or loss is directly tied to this formula. If you eat more than you burn, you put on weight. If you burn more than you consume, your friends start throwing veiled compliments like, “My God, Stan. Where’s the rest of you?”
There are several factors we observed on our trip that we think dramatically reduce the calories taken in on a typical day in Asia. We will begin with a factor that’s nearly absent in America: surgical masks. Huge numbers of people on the street in Hong Kong and Japan wear surgical masks everywhere they go. To Americans, it gives the streetscape a uniquely post-apocalyptic feel. At the same time, we must admit that it makes snacking more difficult.
Remember how we told you that the world wasn’t going to end in 2012? Turns out that we may not have been entirely right. We just returned from Japan where we saw, with our own eyes, the chilling scene of people in cages feeding monkeys who roam free. It’s a clear harbinger of the apocalypse, although it is worth acknowledging that it has nothing to do with the Mayan calendar. Evidently, Armageddon will look more like the Planet of the Apes.
If you have a bottle of wine you’ve been saving, now is an excellent time to pop the cork. You’re also going to want to spend some time in front of a mirror practicing the words, “Take your stinking paws off me, you damn dirty ape!” If you giggle, even nervously, it will be interpreted as a sign of weakness by our simian overloads.
Knowledge of the coming monkey rebellion—we assume it will be referred to as the Monkeypocalypse—is not all we brought back from our trip. We also learned that staying on DYC is more than a little difficult in cultures with rice-based cuisines, particularly when we don’t know enough of the local language to say, “Extra veggies, no rice.”
Perhaps the four most frightening words we’ve ever heard spoken are, “No, no. Not spicy.” We were sitting in Chili Fagara, a small Sichuan Chinese restaurant in Hong Kong just a few blocks away from the Cat Street market. We’d just polished off the last of an appetizer called Dumplings in Chili Sauce which was essentially pork-filled ravioli floating in a thick stew of bubbling red chili oil. It was the single spiciest food either of us had ever tasted. We were on fire. We were visibly soaked in sweat. No quantity of beer seemed able to quench the burn. We grew up in Colorado. We pride ourselves on being able to handle spice. If this restaurant considered this dish “not spicy,” we were in serious trouble.
The waitress must have seen panic on our faces. She smile softly and added, “Not spicy, numbing.” And she was absolutely correct. It took a moment to realize it, but our mouths weren’t on fire at all. The sensation we were feeling was more akin to having your foot fall asleep or licking a nine-volt battery. For the first time in our lives, we were experiencing numbness. It turns out that there’s a sixth taste about which we we’d never heard.
Last week, on Saint Patrick’s Day, Steven turned 42. Andrea passed that milestone in early December. Being fans of the late Douglas Adams, we consider the number 42 monumentally important. For those who have not read the Hitchhiker’s Guide, 42 is the answer to the question of life, the universe and everything. Most of the book builds to this punch line. If you haven’t read it, now is an excellent time to start hating us.
We decided that the best way to celebrate this landmark was hop a plane to Maui. We assumed there would be no better place to contemplate the meaning and consequences of getting older than on a beach facing an open ocean. We were right, but not for the reasons we assumed. We came in search of grand metaphors involving waves gradually reducing lava fields to pristine, black sand. We hoped to find some special meaning in the humpback whales jumping and playing offshore in the endless blue of the Pacific. It turned out that best metaphors were marooned on shore among the odd mishmash of families with children, geriatric retirees, college kids on spring break and local surfers working odd jobs to earn just enough money to stay perpetually high. There are an infinite number of ways we can choose to age. Ka’anapali beach resort is a place where all of the most common choices are on display like criminals in police lineup.
This dispatch comes straight from the First Class cabin of an Air Canada jet on route from Tel Aviv, Israel to Toronto, Canada. We mention our class of service only because anyone who has taken this flight will know just how much this upgrade means. Somewhere in the back of the plane, some poor fool is sandwiched between a crying child in the middle seat and men in black suits praying audibly in the aisle. On this particular flight, half dozen members of the ultra-orthodox Lubavitch sect of Judaism are currently praying toward and blocking the bathroom at the back of the plane. We rejected the idea of heading back there to tell them that they’re praying in the wrong direction. There’s no chance they’ll believe us even though we’re right. The problem is that the men are operating under the misconception that because we are flying away from Israel, Jerusalem is behind us. Religious Yeshivas might do well to cut a few hours of Talmud in favor of explaining the geometry behind great circles. For those who have forgotten, great circles explain why it is, when circumnavigating a ball, the shortest path between two points often requires you to head due north. At this point in the flight, these men should now be facing the left side of the hull. As things stand, they are praying to the suburbs south of Moscow.
We freely admit that Drink Your Carbs started as a joke. Nearly five years ago, our friend Chris challenged Steven to a small competition. Both Chris and Steven were approaching age 40, and like most of their peers they had both put on weight as they aged. Chris wanted to reverse the trend. More specifically, Chris wanted six-pack abs. He wanted to be ripped and he wanted it to happen before his 39th birthday. That way he could cruise into 40 in the best shape of his life.