Grabbing the Gusto

Deirdre Reid – Freelance Writer & Home Cook

I’ve been feeling strong lately. As others around me got sick with the sinus/chest virus that’s going around, I’ve remained healthy. Until last night. Ugh. I dragged myself on a 4-mile hike with Jim this morning in Raven Rock State Park to try to kill the beasties inside, but I don’t think it worked. My legs and butt feel tired in a good way but the rest of me is absolutely exhausted.

Because of my dull state, this will be a short Sunday Table today. I’m starting with a book that I’ve added to my wish list, High on the Hog: A Culinary Journey from Africa to America, by the food historian and cookbook author Jessica B. Harris. It’s a story of “how African slaves, thrust into a strange land, carried with them the taste memories, cooking techniques and agricultural practices of their homelands and transformed the way Americans ate.” Combining two of my favorite topics, food and history, this is the kind of book I’d love to read on a day like today.

I’m hitting a milestone birthday this year and can’t help but think about the years remaining as signs of aging slowly creep up on me. I’m getting back into regular yoga and meditation, but I really need to pay more attention to my diet. The Mediterranean diet has always appealed to me, lots of vegetables, fish and olive oil, along with a daily glass of wine. Now the experts are saying that a Mediterranean diet “may be associated with slower rates of mental decline in the elderly.” Woo hoo!

mediterranean diet bananas cooking food

flickr photo by Katina Rogers

Here’s a fun site for those times when you’re too lazy to get in the car and go to the supermarket – Supercook. Enter the items you have in the refrigerator that you want to use, they’ll suggest other items to check off that you might have on hand, and voila, a list of recipes that’s bound to spark an idea for dinner.

The story about the impending demise of the Cavendish banana, the familiar yellow banana in our supermarkets, has been around for more than five years. But it’s coming back into the headlines dues to a recent story in the New Yorker (subscription required), We Have No Bananas: Can Scientists Defeat a Devastating Blight? The killer is a soil-borne fungus, referred to as “the HIV of banana plantations,” that’s spread through Asia and Australia and is expected in Central America, the source of most of our bananas.

bananas mediterranean diet supercook food cooking

flickr photo by Sharon Mollerus

5 thoughts on “The Sunday Table: January 16, 2011

  1. Monika says:

    Hope you’ll feel better soon! Enjoying your postings!

    1. deirdrereid says:

      Thanks, Monika. I feel no worse today so that’s good. Maybe Jim’s crazy “work out and sweat to beat a cold” solution does work. I’ll believe it if I’m 100% tomorrow! (sort of doubting I will be).

  2. Mary Tate says:

    I hadn’t heard about the banana blight/fungus. Hard to imagine a diet without bananas, yet I don’t think they were introduced to the US until fairly recently (in a historical perspective). People were apparently very afraid of them for a long time because of the mistaken association with poisonous spiders that would get shipped with the bunches. Where else will we get our potassium? Good idea for a blog?? Love ya, Mary

    1. deirdrereid says:

      I eat a banana every day so I’m with you there. Although I know we can get potassium in lots of other foods, like root veggies, greens, winter squash, lima beans and edaname. Yeah, I looked that up — knew about the greens and winter squash but wasn’t sure about the others. I actually have a book about bananas (Banana: The Fate of the Fruit That Changed the World), but I haven’t read it yet. I suppose if I had read the book instead of letting it sit in my bookcase for a few years, I’d know about those poisonous spiders, oh well.

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