Now it’s food season. What’ll you have?

In Columns, Features, Pieces to Peter's Puzzling World by Peter Webster

Snow this morning, a spattering, and now bright blue sky and we turned off the heat. It was fall and now it’s quickly shifting into winter. The Cascades have decent snow-depths for the winter sports folks. We got
the studded tires put on a couple of days ago. This is the time of year I think a lot about food…

Beth doesn’t like to cook (although she’s good at it), so I’m the bull cook and bottle washer. I’ve heard about all these couples where the man (or equivalent) does the cooking and is into exotic recipes. I’m not; though I have a wide range of tastes-yesterday we went to a Taqueria and I had tacos made of beef cheeks and barbecued pork.

I like Vietnamese and Thai cooking. Japanese. Buffalo, elk, goat, duck, salmon, venison, huckleberries, camas roots, yams, tofu and taro-I like to eat it all. I’m just not too involved in coming up with unique ways to prepare food.

Buffalo? Broiled or roasts or even in chili. Elk? Nothing like elk hamburgers, as far as I know. I like to eat huckleberries in “wajepay”-that’s a cold huckleberry soup; on fry bread there’s nothing quite as
good, but the wajepay is good any way I can get it.

The same with huckleberries. Up in Washington, on the Indian Reservations, you can often find them fairly cheap. Of course the trip up to the Reservations Goat, they tell me, tastes like pronghorn antelope; it reminds me of lamb without the grease.

Salmon? Split and cooked by an alder wood fire is my first choice. I usually just cook it on one of those George Foreman grills; a little dill and pepper for seasoning. I’ve had salmon jerky that was unbelievably good.

Incidentally, I’m talking about wild salmon. A local market has frozen filets of wild Alaska salmon for $3 to 4 a pound. The farmed salmon, though it’s often quite cheap, is an environmental disaster-in-the-making. It has a wuss-like taste.

When the First Nations people celebrate, there are ceremonies involved with eating the fruits of Mother Nature. It’s served in the order each food arrives during the yearly cycle: salmon, roots, berries, and deer.

Foods are served that order. They are washed down with water: the ritual begins and ends with ceremonial drinks of water. The water, as an old man up on the Columbia River told me, is “The blood of our Sacred Mother Earth. Without her blood, there would be no life.” I like the ceremonies.

Today’s dinner, though, the only things close to indigenous food are going to be squash and corn. Squash is a fine cold weather food. I have chicken marinating in the fridge. The chicken is factory made, however.

It’s the end of the month and we’re eating what we can afford. Lots of tortillas, chilies, beans, and cheese toward the end of the month. Nothing wrong with that diet, other than it gets monotonous after three or four days.

Aztec warriors grew up eating tortillas, beans, and chilies. They were hardy and fit. It’s our American diet that’s screwy.

There’s a famous study about the eating and health of the T’hono d’odam people of southern Arizona and northwest Mexico. The people, who live in Arizona, watch TV and eat like the rest of us are wracked with heart disease and diabetes.

Their relatives in Mexico, though, eat traditionally: chilies, corn, beans, some goat, a little pork now and then, plenty of physical exercise. They have almost zero heart problems and a near-zero incidence of diabetes.

Diabetes is rampant among American Indian
people: bad diets-white bread, hundreds of fried foods, processed everything.

Diabetes is now hitting more and more Euro-Americans.

Cardboard is healthier than the diet of the average American. When was the last time you went out to eat and didn’t have fried food? Driving the highway through town, about all you see is hamburgers, fried fish, and more hamburgers.

Mostly that’s all the chain restaurants have: Denny’s, Carrow’s, Shari’s, Skipper’s, Wendy’s at least at Taco Bell you can get vegetarian non-fried burritos, Burger King, McCholesterol’s, Carl’s Junior, IHOP, truck stops.

You know what I mean. If I didn’t mention your favorite fried food farce, it’s because I just got the ones here in town.

Eat well: it’s one of life’s great pleasures!

November. Now it’s food season. What’ll you have?
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