rambling

Of Salt and Artifice

There comes a time in every person’s life when they question their dietary choices and habits. I must admit, I’ve come to that time in my life at least a few times. Around four years ago, I had just been released from a relationship with someone who was attempting to go vegan (that’s my nice way of saying she broke up with me), and I was a few months into a new job as a cashier in a middle-of-the-road Trader Joe’s wannabe grocery store. This meant that I had a decent discount on groceries (yay, they probably cost, well, closer to what they should have cost without bullshit markups … but that’s a complaint for a different piece). Anywho, since I was dating someone who wanted to be vegan, and I care about animals in my own way, I also tried to be vegan. Even after that relationship ended, I tried to be plant-based. I did a pretty decent job of it too, until I lost my job at that grocery store.

That time had the potential to be immensely transformative. I don’t often make radical changes to my habits, and in a way, I’m not sure it’s necessary for people to push themselves so hard all the time. The best thing about attempted radical changes, on a personal level, is that even if they don’t pan out, they usually allow space for a person to make smaller changes to their habits. And as some argue, consistent small changes are easier to stick with. So I kept the desire to be vegan in the back of my mind, and fell back a little. When I was a kid and a teenager and oh fuck it, pretty much my whole life I’ve been a huge devotee of fast food, frozen delights, and pre-packaged salt-sprayed junk extravaganzas. And sugar. So much sugar. Have I ever mentioned that I’m a type 1 diabetic? Yeah, my longtime love affair with fast food and sugary snacks is not healthy for me. Hence, my reflecting on my eating habits.

Moving into my brother’s newly acquired house has not given me a lot of space to fix my habits, but that’s only because I don’t take the time to shift my behaviors. My brother, Alex, has actually been trying very hard to cook his own meals every day, and it’s really good to see him paying so much attention to his health. Meanwhile, our roommate Dalton is a longtime friend of Alex’s, and a medium-time friend of mine, and he eats more like I do: hella fast food, salted snacks, and frozen meals. We also tend to be at home more often than not, and because of this, he and I go shopping together. So I default to the Dalton method, and I buy a lot of snacks, and frozen stuff, and only a smattering of fresh ingredients. This makes me sad, but I also take full responsibility for my ultimate lack of regard for my health. I fall into other people’s influence too easily, and I want shopping to be easy for me and for Dalton. So I get the crap I grew up with.

Yet I still dream of healthier living. About a month ago, while I was shopping by myself for a handful of things, I thought “Maybe I should learn how to cook tofu.” So I went to the aisle that houses the tofu, and I looked for a small pack of the stuff. They were out of the unflavored tofu, which I wanted so I could learn how to flavor it myself, so I grabbed a pack of Moroccan-spiced tofu … or something like that. Supposedly, it’s seasoned with spices one would find in Morocco? I’m not actually sure, and it might be a marketing thing. The important thing is, I got pre-seasoned tofu, put it in the deli drawer at home, and just let it sit there. Until today.

Before I talk about today though, I should address the last several weeks. Dalton and I were shopping a few weeks ago and we wandered into an aisle that displayed all kinds of noodles. As in, cups of soup, and pre-packaged ramen. We went for some cups of soup, were not too pleased with the later results, and resolved to buy a bunch of ramen the next time it was available. Well, about two weeks ago, we found a bunch of chicken flavored ramen. And we bought a box of it. So we started making ramen for ourselves, like the relatively poor American dudes we are. I went with just ramen and flavoring the first time, and Dalton mentioned how he cracked an egg into his to give it more flavor and body. I said, oh yeah, that sounds fucking great. So the next time I made ramen, I cracked two eggs into that shit, and used way less water so my broth would be packed with good flavors.

So a few weeks of ramen go by, and I’m feeling pretty good. Today, I go downstairs to make something to eat, and I think “I don’t have any bread right now, so maybe I’ll just wrap cheese in ham and have a little snack.” Then I look past the lunch meat and cheese and I see it: the tofu I bought a little more than a month ago. I think to myself “Tofu is pretty good in ramen.” So I set out two eggs, a package of ramen, a bowl with a fork, a pot, a wooden spoon, a small pan, and the tofu. I put water in the pot, and start heating it. I also start heating the pan as I cut open the package of tofu, then I slice the tofu into cubes. I drop all the tofu in the pan, and when the water boils, I drop the ramen noodles into the pot. I have the noodles going on the left, and the tofu going on the right. After two minutes, I crack the eggs into the ramen, and I push the tofu around with my wooden spoon. Another minutes goes by, and I put my ramen and egg concoction into the bowl. I throw the chicken flavoring all over it, and I stir it well. Then I toss all the tofu into the bowl.

Voila, as one would say in French. I made ramen with eggs and Moroccan tofu … I think. It tasted damn good, and I’m now wondering how I can flavor tofu on my own so I don’t need to bother with the pre-flavored stuff. I think tofu with noodles and eggs is actually pretty fuckin’ tasty, and I was happy as I ate my work. It’s not vegan, and it’s not as healthy as it could be, but I’m still glad that I’m making some kind of food for myself. One of these days, I’d love to make my own noodles, and master that art. For now, I’ll put noodles and tofu and other stuff together, for a pretty good meal. Happy days to you, and don’t stay hungry if you can help it!

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