Blended food for dinner, yet again.

13 08 2009

blenderI arranged to have dinner with my friend Lars. After all, that’s what friends do – you eat, you have a few drinks, you chat.

But Lars has his mouth wired shut, so that puts a bit of a dent in the works. It means that Lars will be drinking his dinner, and I will be carrying the conversation.

We decide to order takeout from an Indian restaurant in the heart of Taipei. Lars had tired of the steady diet of blended yams and oatmeal that he’d been eating every couple of hours since he broke his jaw a couple weeks earlier. He’d become well acquainted with his blender because everything had to be pureed to a consistency that was thin enough to fit through the long, thin straw on his plastic water bottle.

After poring over the menu for a couple minutes, we narrow down our choices to two vegetarian options (because meat doesn’t do too well in the blender).

Back at Lars’s place we pour the paneer kofta into his blender. It’s a spicy orange curry made with a type of Indian cheese called “paneer” plus tomatoes, potatoes and a rich array of Indian spices. After some quality time in the blender, the curry is still too thick, so with a devilish grin, Lars ducks into his refrigerator and pulls out a beer. In the blender it goes.

“So is this what you cook like every day?” I ask.

He gives me a look as if to say: “You mean with beer?”

We both laugh. Lars may be in a bit of a rough spot – facing up to a month of no eating, speaking, laughing, sneezing, yawning – but he still finds a way to make light of the situation.

He motions to the beer and then to the blender and to himself. I interpret.

“One for the blender, one for you?”

He nods. Again we both laugh.

Lars has a way of making himself understood with gestures. And when gestures fail him, he walks over to a little white board and writes on it with a blue marker.

He explains the thought that goes into every one of his blended meals.

“It’s a balance between taste and nutrition,” he writes.

“And the beer would be taste, not nutrition?” I ask.

“Both.”

By now the paneer kofta has become an oh-so-wrong Indian curry drink. Lars pours the uniformly orange liquid into his drink bottle, and fits the long, curved straw between his cheek and his teeth to the back of his mouth. He squeezes the bottle and samples his dinner.

“How does it taste?”

Lars winces a bit.

“Spicy?”

He nods and moves to his white board.

“Tried it several times but when you can’t open your mouth, spice seems stronger.”

Makes sense. After all, we usually temper the heat with a bed of rice. But does he like the Indian curry in liquid form?

“Not so much.”

“Is it because of the beer or because of the spiciness?”

“Hard to say. Could be the combination, or maybe it just doesn’t taste good.”

I dip a spoon into the blender and taste the concoction for myself. I’m surprised by how different it tastes from the original: it now has one flat, uniform flavor. We’re so used to tasting the ingredients individually and enjoying the layers of texture and flavor.

Lars agrees.

“Taste and smell work together,” he writes. “When the mouth is closed, it works differently. Inhaling and exhaling and food and taste are all linked.”

Lars ended up with his mouth wired shut for three weeks. That’s a lot of time to experiment and to really think about the food you put into your body. Sometimes he played around with his food like we did that night. But for much of the time, he relied on carefully thought-out mixtures that would keep him healthy and provide him with enough energy.

He grew thinner, of course. But he looked surprisingly healthy, too. He said that the silence that entered his world had a profound effect on him. His days were filled with meditation and yoga, and yes, a lot of thinking too.

Our time together that night made me think about how eating what you want, when you want it, is a luxury afforded to a very small minority of people in our world today. How very lucky we are.

Today’s program coincides with the 30-Hour Famine in Taiwan, which is organized by World Vision, Taiwan. This weekend, some 5,000 people will experience what it is like to go without food for 30 hours. They will also raise money for people living in poverty and hunger. To find out more, visit the World Vision Taiwan web page: www.worldvision.org.tw

Listen to my interview with Lars in the 8/15 edition of Feast Meets West, by visiting the Radio Taiwan International web site. Click on one of the two links next to “Saturday” in the upper-left-hand corner. Fast-forward to about 11′oo to listen to the program.

Advertisements

Actions

Information

4 responses

9 09 2009
md. sahadot hossain

i like your program very much. the new program feast meets west is very interesting. thanks for the niceprogram.

19 09 2009
taiwandroo

Thank you! I’m glad you’re enjoying it!

2 11 2009
John

i love this programme

6 11 2009
taiwandroo

Thank you… I really enjoyed exploring the topic for this episode. It made me think a lot.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s




%d bloggers like this: