Sunday, June 28, 2009

Friends in the house

Now that I'm a professional layabout, our lives have gotten a lot more social. This weekend was no exception, and we had a great time.

Well, it started before the weekend, actually. One day last week we took the train toward base and met Eric, the band's new tuba player. Josh is his sponsor, so we've endeavored to help with Japan survival skills, including the train. We all rode together to Mabori-kaigan and stopped at our neighborhood ramen shop for dinner. Mmm...ramen...That place does not disappoint. Eric and I had miso ramen, aka the best kind, while Josh had soy sauce flavor. We all doctored it up with crushed garlic, chili oil, and vinegar. YUM.
The fellas did a pretty good job of including me in the conversation, kind of. Okay not really, but whatever. Eric's wife arrives with their two dogs in August, so we'll have them over together and retreat to our gendered corners. Anyway, the sky that night was gorgeous.
Then yesterday the three of us met up again to go look for the house Eric is considering, out in Hayama. He knew which roads to take, which is huge for someone so new to Japan! But the details in the neighborhood got a bit sketchy, so mission failure. Still, we had ice cream cones and a nice breezy walk, so it was fine.

Sidebar: everyone should live in Mabori, where the streets are marked and wide enough and near-ish to base. I'm just saying.

Today, Sunday was rainy and dreary, so naturally Josh and I played Wii Fit all morning. We discovered that I'm better at hula hoops, Josh is better at all the strength exercises (duh) and also he is required to put down a tarp or something before attempting any of the aerobics - the swiffer that can handle his workouts has not yet been invented. Kelsey and Mack, we cleaned the board. Cleaned it well.

And it's lucky for our friend Dirk and his family! Dirk, his wife Taeko (apologies if I spelled that wrong), and their kids Sonya and Caillou came over for coffee and a visit this afternoon, and no one could resist the call of the Wii. I wish I'd thought to take pictures of us chatting, eating fruit bars, making fools of ourselves with the hula hoop game, and laughing together. But I didn't, so you'll have to take my word for it.

Know what I did remember to photograph? PRESENTS!They brought us a beautifully wrapped package of traditional Japanese treats.
And my personal favorite: homemade yogurt! Dirk has this down to a science, and it even made an appearance in our salad dressing at dinner tonight. Oh, and can you guess what their last name is?
Hint: it's not "plain" or "full cream."

Now it's eight p.m., and the rain keeps falling, so we've traded in the Nintendo for a documentary. Only four days left until I head for Cal-i-for-ni-a! WOOT. How lucky are we to have such good friends on two continents?

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Wii Fit...into only our fat clothes

But wii're working on it! I LOVE the Wii Fit, y'all. Then again, I generally love any new exercise for the first week or so, so who knows whether this one will last. But having it in my living room, ready to go any time, is great motivation. No need for fancy workout clothes or even shoes, and I can go at my own pace and shower when I'm done. The games are fun - ski slalom is a favorite - and the hula hoops are the best aerobic workout, even though it's supposed to be for balance. I like the thing, and I think I'll buy one.

I know some of you out there have this system, and I have a question for you: how long have you owned it, and how often do you use it now? I'm concerned that the novelty will wear off and I'll stop wanting to play/exercise after a couple months, so is it worth the cost? It's really fun now, when I unlock something new every day, but does that last?

Friday, June 26, 2009

LTO

So I made it back. No arrest, no accident, and our car is officially legal for the next two years. Still, what a stressful morning!

The on-base Vehicle Registration Office is incredibly helpful. Yesterday they gave me a good map and directions to the Yokohama office, and a breakdown of the fees I'd have to pay in yen cash. However, I misread the note and thought I'd need about six thousand yen. Missed a one there, though, and I actually needed thirteen thousand, plus tolls. So once I finally found the right offices, parked the car, got an inspection, navigated the bureaucracy, and got the new registration, I had about four hundred yen to my name.

That's about four dollars. Imagine finding yourself about ninety minutes from home with four dollars in your wallet, at lunchtime. Credit cards don't work, ATMs don't accept your card - ANNOYING! I counted out the coins for the tolls I'd face, and then used my 400 yen to buy a bottle of water and a couple onigiri to tide me over. And then I drove home and passed out for about an hour and a half.

This early retirement is making me soft, people. I still managed to have a coffee with Nadine this afternoon, which was lovely, play some borrowed Wii Fit (thanks Kelsey!) and make some zucchini strand spaghetti from, where else, Smitten Kitchen for dinner. And now I'm off to bed again, to prepare for another trying day of leisure.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Pro-crastinator!

That's right: I have broken out of the amateurs and am now a PROcrastinator. And because of that, tomorrow morning I have to skip yoga and drive to Yokohama to re-register the QE2.

Why do I do this? I found out in April that my registration would expire June 27th, but then life happened, dee dee dee, and I was busy eating pepperoni and throwing parties and getting heavier, so I let it go. I was actually even proud of myself for planning to go TODAY, that's one whole day early, until I realized I needed a base inspection and new insurance before I could get the new sticker. So two days lost, and I just hope it all goes well tomorrow.

If you don't hear from me for a couple days, don't worry. I'm probably just putting off calling Josh for bail money.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

A couple updates

Y'all, it's been a crazy month. There was a pepperoni obsession (and the ensuing weight gain), there was nudity , gardening , a sleepover, and karaoke, even! And putting all those links in here is really annoying, so I'm going to stop.

Still, despite my best efforts to update this puppy, a few things have slipped through the cracks. Let's rectify that, shall we? Take the pepperoni: did I mention I made amazingly delicious pizza out of the last few dozen slices? Well I did, and boy. Did anyone tell me how good pepperoni pizza was during my unfortunate sabbatical from omnivoritude? Cause I don't think they did. Of course I made a veggie pizza too, for my husband, who keeps checking my fingerprints to make sure I'm his real wife and not some meat-eating replacement.

A little later in the month, I made my first drive to and from Narita airport, as I mentioned, to send my knitting student Wendy and her family back off to the U.S. of A. What I didn't mention was that before she left, Wendy completed her first knitted garment! After several months of working together on lace, cables, and washcloth after washcloth, we bested most of the big hits of beginner knitting. Here she is with the inaugural Gomez Garment!I miss my girl already! Oh, and when I returned the rental car I left my water bottle in it, and the rental company can't find it. Me and water bottles are like, uh, Klingons and Romulans. (That part was Josh's contribution).

So that's what you've missed in June. Can you believe it's almost July 2009? I can't. I'll be spending most of July on the old Left Coast of the U.S., visiting my sister Melanie and Josh's parents, so there will be significantly less dried octopus on this little corner of the Internets.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Size

What's up with weight? I really don't understand it. I've been hovering at a particular weight - and I don't want to say what it is, so I'm going to call it 530lbs - since I started serious business travel around 2007. Traveling a lot meant no yoga, lots of french fries, and lots of fancy, buttery dinners out with donors on the corporate AmEx. So I put on a bit, which was fine, but my current early retirement was supposed to take that weight back off.

And it did! A few months of eating better, walking more, and regular yoga classes saw me back around my college weight - call that 520lbs. It was great! My thin pants fit perfectly again, and I felt great.

Then, inexplicably, I went back to 530. Last month, with no major changes in eating or exercise, I put those ten pounds right back on. Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, people?

So now I'm trying to cut back on the ice cream, and add some light weightlifting and cardio in between weekly yoga classes. (I know, I know. I'd do more yoga if there was another class at my level that didn't happen at night, but I just can't exercise at dinner time.) We'll see how it works - I'm tired of my fat pants! Any suggestions?
And I love him right back.

Happy Father's Day, Daddy.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

No Freebird!

There are lots of things that are not better in Japan. Speed limits, lane widths, multiple alphabets, and french fries come immediately to mind. I won't mention the DUI rules (one sip!) or the utter unavailability of whole grains. But I am prepared to say with full-voiced enthusiasm, that karaoke is better in Japan.

And the sky is blue. I mean, you just knew it had to rock here, didn't you? But even after ten months in my host nation, I hadn't been out for karaoke. The language barrier is intimidating, and it's tough to plan evening activities with friends with toddlers, and when I mention karaoke to my husband, I get this face:Click the picture to zoom in, and see that ferbissenah punim.

Still, thanks to the lovely excuse of Beth's birthday and the Ivy's impending return to the Texas motherland, a bunch of us got together for dinner and singin. Dinner was lovely, and we had Nadine, John, and Justine for that portion of the evening. Juju was in rare form - speaking of a punim! She had us all grinning for hours.
She gets cuter every day. She still has to go to bed at a decent hour though, so the Wylie/Theriault clan left us early and the rest of us - Beth and Alex, Andi and Chris, Josh and I - headed to Gogo Karaoke on Blue Street.

We headed in and confirmed the rumors that ice cream and coffee - and, randomly, cotton candy - were free with the karaoke. I navigated the broken English/terrible Japanese dance with the front desk staff, who explained that we could go to room six downstairs.

Room six?

Room six. We went downstairs to a small, private room with a flat panel TV, two mics, tambourines, and an electronic song-choice remote. There was a phone on the wall for ordering drinks and food from the menu, and comfortable couches all around. Our own private room with food service AND free ice cream...heaven. It took us probably ten minutes to figure out how to choose songs, and then we were off! What a great time. Alex and Chris stole the show, including Alex's rendition of "When a Man Loves a Woman" punctuated by passionate bites of chocolate ice cream:and Chris and Alex's duet of "You've Lost That Lovin' Feeling."
video
Swoon!

We even got Josh to sing along once or twice. Around nine fifteen we had to say goodnight so the parents could relieve the babysitter, and Josh and I headed home. But not before I bought a member card to Gogo Karaoke - I will most definitely be back.

*Thanks to Beth for the first three photos!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

We call that "Tuesday"

Kelsey took me to lunch today for ramen, which was only mildly successful. You can read more about it at her blog, from which I snagged this photo:...which she snapped while we were at a stoplight. It's a children's clothing store, folks, but if Daddy's on Daddy in the Boomy Roomy, methinks the kids should've spent the night at Grandma's.

Now you can really come visit. Really. Anytime. Come visit

Wanna know why? Cause yesterday I drove to the airport for the very first time, and it is EASY. Of course it takes twice as long to go half the distance in Japan, but the drive is uncomplicated and on the highway, all the way! Come on over.

The circumstances weren't great, I'm sorry to say: I had to say goodbye to my knitting student, Wendy, as she and her family left for a new life in San Diego. They have two puppy dogs who are not allowed on the airport bus, so they rented a van and I rode along, then drove back home by myself. I wish I'd brought the camera; it would have been nice to document a couple things. Like when the suitcases on top of the car banged into a height warning thingie at a parking garage...oops! And poor Natsumi, the Akita, barking away in her crate as she was about to leave her homeland forever. And then there were the fart jokes coming from the back of the car - did I mention they have two teenage boys?

We said a sad goodbye at the (clean, friendly, comfortable, convenient) curbside dropoff point, and I drove home on my own. On the way I stopped at a rest area for amazingly delicious fast non-food (whassup, chicken teriyaki mosburger?), returned the rental car and then swung by the Japanese grocery store. And there, I found...

A CHICKEN. An actual, whole, chicken, plucked and fresh and head- and foot-less, ready to go in my oven!* I haven't seen one of those in Japan ever. Poultry comes in sterile styrofoam packages here, skin on, bones usually removed, and whole chickens aren't particularly useful in a culture that doesn't typically include ovens. The commissary on base, land of whole wheat bread and skim milk, sells only frozen big-box poultry, which takes days to defrost and tastes like sawdust. I was so excited about this chicken!

So now we've got bellies full of roasted bird, a big bowl of fresh stock in the fridge, and the knowledge to find a chicken again when the mood strikes. (Tori-o ichino kudasai!) It's been a pretty good week so far.

*Well, I had to kind of squish the heart and innards away from the chest cavity, but whatever.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The neighborhood


I love where we live. Josh and I have been trying to take a short walk together a few times a week, to connect with one another and enjoy these cool evenings before they turn into scorchers. (It's essential for pack cohesion, you know. Tsst!) Josh even went so far as to buy me some new walkin' shoes recently, shoes I've had my eye on since we moved here:Oooooh, I love those shoes.

Last week we took a little constitutional and got one of those perfect, cotton-candy sunsets.
I love where we live.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Sleepover, v. 1.0

Last Saturday night I had a few friends over for dinner, games, drinks, and a sleepover sans kiddies. Most of my girlfriends have little children, and the rules in Japan forbid ANY alcohol before driving (even a sip), so most of us had never had a glass of wine together before. So the men took the little ones for a night, and I got to work.
Of course I had a lot of cleaning up to do, given my housekeeping deficiencies. But the food was the fun part, always the food! I made Nadine's famous smoked salmon cheese ball, broccoli-stuffed mushroom caps, a plate of crudite and some chips and salsa. My dear friends Kelsey, Beth, and Andi (yes, we all have blogs) came over at six o'clock for the festivities. It wasn't long before we were in pajamas. And not long after that until we were cracking up!Beth (that's the one in the black) brought chocolate fondue and stuff for dippin,' which was a big hit.
In the middle of stuffing our faces, we added essential oils to homemade sugar scrubs, each with our own custom scent. After the wine came out in earnest, though, it was all games. We played Taboo and MarioKart Wii, then said an early goodbye to Kelsey (in the purple - that's why she wasn't in PJs), who had to get up at 4:00 for a tour of Mt. Fuji the next morning. Andi (in the grey shirt), Beth and I watched some DVDs and laughed a lot more before we finally went to bed around 1:00am.

I wish I had some funny photos of the three of us the next morning, all bleary-eyed and fixated on our coffee. I'd made Jacked-up Banana Bread from my favorite blog, Smitten Kitchen, the day before, so breakfast was a cinch.

And then, all too soon, it was over! We had to hurry out of the house so one of the mamas could tend to a minor emergency at home, and I came home, wrote a paragraph here, and KONKED OUT for about three hours. Now I know why housewives entertain so much - it is FUN, and really fills the hours! I'd have that crew over again next Saturday night if we didn't all have families to tend to. Everybody pitched in for the good times, and I had a blast. Next time, charades!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Zzzzzz...

I am BEAT! Three of my dear friends came over last night for our first (of many!) grownups' sleepovers. There was wine and chu-hi, there was Wii and aromatherapy and oh, the food. We stayed up late and woke up early, so I am one tired puppy. Photos and war stories to come, after a loooong nap.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Look out! He's right behind you!

For summer leave this year, Josh and I talked about going to Hawaii, Bali, or Thailand, maybe Australia or even India. We've never had a real vacation, only visited family, and I think it's about time. I started pricing trips and found some deals and nice resorts, and got really excited. Guess where we ended up picking?

Sequim, Washington.

That's right, folks, scenic Sequim: home of the lavender festival, a mega-Costco, and the elder Sullinses and Burns! We are, yet again, visiting family during our break.

Which is lovely! Josh's parents and grandmother are wonderful, and it will have been a year since we visited, so it will be great to see them and catch up. Still, Sequim isn't Bali, and the main purpose of our trip is to get Josh's eyes burned off. That's right, folks, it's surgery time. No more glasses for Mr. S., beginning this July. Woot!

So in advance of his surgery Josh has to get a bunch of tests done here in Yoko, including one which required hyper-dilation of his pupils. He looked like a scary doll for two days, and he kept sneaking up on me and opening his eyes rrreeeeeaaalllly wide - why do boys love scaring girls so much? Anyway, I give you Scary Josh:

No Bali this year, but my man will be able to see on his own for the first time. I'm sure he won't use this new power for evil.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Progress

So I still can't stay away from the pepperoni. Turns out fourteen ounces is quite a lot, actually, especially when one's husband is unenthusiastic about the cured meats. Remember that episode of Seinfeld wherein George wants to eat pastrami sandwiches while making love?

Yeah, I'm not into that, sicko. But I could seriously eat pepperoni every OTHER moment of the day.

Luckily, that's not the only culinary activity in my world. So you remember back in March, when Josh went to Korea and brought back the stomach plague? Yeah, that was ugly. And unfortunately, he got sick just after eating a bunch of delicious 'welcome home' treats I've made, foods which he now associates with projectile vomiting and other unpleasantness. Cream cheese has no place in our home anymore, likewise marinated artichokes and fifteen-bean stew. So I'm trying to ease such things back into our diets.

So this week before Pepperoni-stravaganza, I cooked up a pot of gorgeous pink and black beans I'd found in Narita, when we went for the Taiko festival. Aren't they gorgeous?
I served them with a little butter, salt, and pepper, and with lots of veggies on the side. Yum!

Well, yuck, actually: turns out plain beans are not that appealing to Josh, or to me, really. But mashed up with salsa and some cheddar melted on top, those beauts tasted just fine. Stew is still off the menu, but beans are back! I wonder how they'd taste with pepperoni?

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Wait, what now?

Did you guys know I live in Japan? Japan, like, the country.

Every now and then it just hits me. I was about to write about going to an Indian restaurant in Zushi last night, with our friends Wendy and Jose, and how happy I was that I had a map and figured out how to get there from my house. (There's no Mapquest in Japan). But then I just got to thinking: Zushi. Zushi, Kanagawa prefecture, Japan - that's where I had dinner last night.

It's unreal. So in honor of my revelation, I want to know the three things you would do if you were in Japan right now. Where should I go, what should I eat or buy or photograph?

Internet, I'm all yours.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

I wish it were a cowbell

I tried to think of how to include a photo for this post - a nice snapshot of me drooling and snarling at the refrigerator, perhaps? Black and white food porn of the object of my desire? Perhaps just a simple, tasteful pic of the size 16 pants I'm going to have to wear if I don't get it under control over here?* But no. If for no other reason than I don't want to get drool on the camera, I'll stick to words this time. Here's the cold truth of it:

I've got a fever, baby, and the only prescription is...pepperoni.

Holy mother of pizza toppings, that stuff is good! I hadn't eaten pepperoni since probably 1993, when I gave up red meat. I started eating a little pork and beef when we moved to Japan so that I wouldn't get sick or miss out on cultural experiences like gyoza and ramen. Anthony Bourdain put me over the edge with this video, which I've linked to before:
I know the video quality is bad, but the audio works.

Still, I hadn't had pepperoni. Not until Saturday night when I went to a party where there was a cheese tray, with two beautiful little lines of red discs, just calling to me. Since then I've bought a fourteen ounce package from the commissary, eaten half of them cold out of the bag, and I'm saving (most of) the rest for pizza tomorrow night.

I'm pretty sure pepperoni, at least the commercial variety I've found, is an EFS, but honey, I don't care. I'm off to sprinkle some on my cereal.

*Just for the record, I'm not hating on people who are bigger than me. I think we can all agree that going up to a size 16 because of unhinged pepperoni consumption would be a bad move, can't we?

UPDATE: Having eaten my animal-fat quotient for the day, I made a bulgur salad for lunch. I think my heart is beating again - thanks, Smitten Kitchen.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Love...true love

At the risk of sounding more self-involved than I actually am (which, let's face it, would be hard to do), I offer this real-life definition of love:

True love is when, after agreeing to clean the kitchen after having cooked so that one's dear husband can go to sleep, and having found (and then lost) a giant evil Japanese cockroach in said kitchen, a wife proceeds to spend an hour scrubbing, scouring, and sweeping that kitchen rather than vacuuming, so the late-night cleaning wouldn't wake her husband up.

No?

Saturday, June 6, 2009

The naked gaijin

I had a very Japanese experience last night - it involved sushi, toll roads, semipublic nudity, and lots of staring. I, at long last, have been to a nude public bath.

I didn't bring the camera this time.

But Internet, it was so fantastic. I was a little nervous going in, especially since we went with our friends Kelsey and Mack (Kelsey of the fantastic sleepover) and it has been a long time since I up and got nekkid with a friend. Turns out, though, once everybody around you is naked - and once you've washed ALL your bits and pieces in front of each other, which is the first thing you do at these places - it's just not that weird. We did refrain from bathing each other, which the Japanese ladies do - U.S. culture is pretty darn repressed in some ways, compared to here. The men, of course, were on the men's side.

The onsen (well, not technically - these were hot tubs/spas, not natural hot springs) was amazing. There were massaging jet tubs inside, and stone seats with hot water running over them for relaxation and cooling off a bit. And a tub of ice-cold water! ICE COLD. These women are TOUGH, I tell you, and many sat right down in the ice water to, I don't know, invigorate themselves?!

The real draw was outside. High walls and trees surrounded the grounds and separated the men from women. There were seven or eight tubs outdoors under a light sprinkle of cool rain - hot spas made of stone with waterfalls pouring slowly in, small round tubs for one person, like sitting in a big bowl of water. A scented steam sauna, hotter than any I've seen in the U.S., and a popular spa full of cloudy water with some skin-softening mineral or something. My dry arms feel like babies' bottoms this morning. And best of all, long, wide stone tablets, constantly washed in hot water, under a little roof, where you can lay and relax, even fall asleep while the breeze keeps you cool.

It was so nice. Kelsey and I had a great talk, and we both liked to move around a lot. We were glad to see that everybody looks funny naked, including the beautiful, thin Japanese women who populate this land. As the only non-Japanese there, though we did get some stares - neither cellulite nor freckles seem to be a Japanese affliction. The little kids were especially unabashed, and I suggested we should charge extra admission for the Naked Gaijin Show.

OH, speaking of the kids? Parents are allowed to bring their kids of opposite gender into the onsen - up to AGE THIRTEEN. We didn't see any adolescent boys, thank goodness, but thirteen?! That's a sexual being, a thirteen year old boy. I'd rather not lean over to get a drink from the fountain, or sit in a spa with any teenage fellas, thanks.

By the time we got home, Josh and I just piled into bed and slept for about ten hours. Kelsey and I made a pact to go back there more often, and I want more girlfriends to come! What a treat.

Friday, June 5, 2009

I don't think he's even a real captain!

Someone actually tried to sue because she though Cap'n Crunch Crunchberries were real berries. I wonder what effect the Western Diet has on brain function?

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Well, it doesn't itch anymo- zzzzzzzzzzzzzz

The mosquitoes in Japan LOVE me, and they are doozies. Whenever I get a bite, which is frequently during the summer and fall, it swells up into a hot, angry, red welt the size of a half a tennis ball and stays that way for a couple days. I got the inaugural two of the season earlier this week, and ouch.

So I have some fantastic lavender balm from Blue Moon Lavender in Sequim, Washington, where Josh's family lives. This stuff is amazing; it's gentle and natural, smells great, and it really relieves itch. But the bites were still driving me nuts, so I found a tube of Benadryl cream and put a dab on each bite.

Guys, I was asleep within a half an hour.

It was 2:00 in the afternoon. There was bright sunlight streaming in the windows. There was loud construction on two houses on my block. And I KONKED OUT on the couch, fully clothed, for two hours. I know I'm sensitive to antihistamines, but really? LOTION?

Le sigh.

Maybe I was just tired, maybe it's a coincidence. But there is a pretty good chance that I am the biggest wimp who ever lived. And that I'll never need a prescription for Ambien - but if you see me smearing anti-itch cream on my forehead like Jimi Hendrix did with acid, go ahead and stage an intervention.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Mostly Plants

Food I've cooked since reading that Michael Pollan book:

*Veggie burgers (processed, I know) on whole-wheat bread with homemade barbecue sauce
*Slaw made of cabbage, broccoli, local carrots, and homemade buttermilk-dill dressing
*A big salad of accidentally-purchased iceberg lettuce - ew! - cherry tomatoes, pea pods, peas, Filipino mango, bean sprouts, hard-boiled egg, sunflower seeds, and more of that dressing
*Broccoli-stuffed mushrooms with Gruyere, served with another big salad
*Traditional coleslaw for a command cookout tomorrow.

I'm really enjoying focusing on the veggies in my cooking. The fridge is brimming with green, and I've got plans for zucchini bread later this week. I even got Josh to drink a glass of wine with dinner last night, thanks to Mr. Pollan and his good work. Amen!

Oh, and we've made one important discovery: salad is not filling on its own, even with boosters like egg and sunflower seeds. We polished off a huge bowl, made eye contact with each other, and headed for the bananas and peanut butter. Good to know.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Edible Foodlike Substances

I know I'm a little late to the Michael Pollan party, as his latest book has already come out in paperback. I picked up In Defense of Food at Camp Zama this weekend, and now I can't put it down.

His message is pretty simple: the Western diet of highly processed, scientifically refined and then fortified foods has made Americans obsessed with nutrition as well as sick, and fat. The answer he offers is three rules: eat food, not too much, mostly plants. Seems simple, right? And I think it is. Josh and I already endeavor to do those three things (although "not too much" often gets overlooked), but after reading 3/4 of this book, I am going after healthy, whole-food eating with renewed vigor.

Edible Foodlike Substances is my new favorite term. It refers to much of the food in the commissary, or American supermarket: Pop-tarts, Go-gurt, cereal bars with milk-like non-dairy frosting strips. Colorfully packaged edible items engineered to trick our senses into thinking they are food, with long, unintelligible ingredient lists and health claims splashed across the front and side panels. Pollan states that avoiding foods which make health claims can, on its own, improve one's health. Eek!

I'm ready for a paradigm shift. It's not a big one for me or Josh, since his weight struggles and my crunchy tendencies (plus unemployment) have already led us to a mostly whole-grain, homemade, vegetarian lifestyle. I'm not giving up white rice in my sushi when we eat out, nor will I start bringing my own food to dinner parties or preaching in other peoples' pantries. I'm going to start cooking more leaves than seeds, though, and eating ice cream rather than "slow-churned low-fat dairy dessert*." I cooked our veggie burgers with a little butter instead of olive oil last night, and made a big colorful bowl of slaw alongside.

Unfortunately, it may be expensive. It should be, apparently: Americans spend ten percent of our income on food, according to this book, while the French spend 14.9%. Avoiding meat saves us some money, accidentally, but I'm through choosing my fruit by cheapness instead of diversity, season, and plain old-fashioned craving. Instead of taking the train to Kurihama Flower World (a garden/amusement park not far from our house) yesterday, Josh and I** bought some potting soil and improved on the little container garden growing on our balcony. Hoo, I'm excited! Who wants to borrow the book when I'm done?***

*I seriously didn't know Edy's (or Dreyer's) wasn't ice cream until I looked the other day. What the hell?
**That is, I repotted and improved the little garden. Josh carried the soil up the stairs.
***I'd borrow The Omnivore's Dilemma if anyone has it laying around.