When it comes to food in general - and preparing it for others in specific- there are occasions for fanfare and performance. After all, it feels special to sample an exotic ingredient in a surprising partnership with perhaps another culinary underdog (think black garlic gelato) However, as the 'IT' ingredients of last year find their way into main-stream kitchens of right now (anything with sea-salt...am I right?), it becomes clear: in order for us to commit to preparing food from scratch - or even just mostly from scratch - it has to feel familiar. Consider the root of this word: familiar-of family. It speaks to not only our anthropological drive to share food but also the therapeutic underpinning of its preparation. Being a part of a familial unit that prepares and provides sustenance is a core mark of our humanity. Over the last few decades, we have lost some of this connection to our core and my mission is to play a small part in us getting it back. For that, cooking has to be....well....easy. My cook-book MEAL-ON-A-PAGE will bring us closer to this core of our humanity with clear instructions, use of easily available ingredients and vivid photos. I invite you to join the mission.
Watch this space for details on cook-book release date and how to order your copy
A LOOK BETWEEN LAYERS: MY LIVE DISSECTION EXPERIENCE, May 2020
Even when many are learning together in the same literal or virtual classroom, there is a felt intimacy between the lesson, the teacher and the taught. This was powerful for me in the dissection study I recently undertook. When I refer to the teacher, I refer not only to the individual(s) demonstrating, speaking or leading the study in a visible way but also to other containers of the lesson.
In this case, the teachers speaking or otherwise leading the study were Todd Garcia, Director of The Laboratories of Anatomical Enlightenment and Thomas Myers, body worker, founder of the Structural Integration method and author of the ground-breaking Anatomy Trains. Their guidance through this lesson was invaluable. However, the intimacy I refer to above was most strongly felt through the other teacher - the donor. His gift after death provided us with an unparalleled insight into life. For us - students of humanity’s movement dimension - this was a sublime privilege. We were requested to refrain from photographing or otherwise recording any of the sessions out of respect for the donor and his family. This request further reminded us of our fortune as the taught, to be benefactors of this great opportunity.
I admit the first glimpse of the subject - we referred to him as Carl - was a bit breath-taking. Photos in anatomy books rarely elicit this kind of catching in the throat (even for nerds like me). The contrast to the orderly images we see in books was at once startling and reassuring. That the messy realness of the human body still looked perfect was comforting.
As the workshop proceeded, Garcia expertly began to pull apart the layers of tissue while he and Myers narrated this almost cinematic experience. Both drew attention to the fact that the layers appeared stuck together but were separable. This is a key observation to make in a live dissection as this quality in the tissues is not at all evident in a two-dimensional representation from a book. That leads beautifully and easily to the conclusion that contact between the surfaces of the layers moving on top of and underneath the neighboring ones is of singular and paramount importance to human movement. It is clear that just under the skin is that first responder: the superficial fascia/dermis or the anatomy trains that Myers defines so eloquently in his book of the same name.
Unstick that layer, dissipate the fuzz - as Dr. Gil Hedley playfully and famously refers to roughened fascia- and you tap into greater mobility right away. Go deeper, to the next layer of supporting, shaping fascia and you come to the fascia profunda (deep) which lies in varying thickness over the musculature and under the hypo-dermis (adipose, fat).
The layers are visible and what becomes unmistakeable is the space between the layers. This is not the space of ether but a portal to possibility. Every fibril of contact represents - as Garcia says, “a potential for movement”. In fact, many times during the presentation, he noted that we could make that phrase interchangeable with ‘connective tissue’.
As I witnessed the separate togetherness of the layers being literally peeled away from the ones below, I saw new potential for movement revealed with each one. Myers often emphasizes that we are not separate parts that attach. We have always been “already attached”. Our conceptual compartmentalizing of the body and our labeling of the regions is our way of rendering this perfect operation into comprehensible sub categories. He says of our nomenclature that it is like a map. This map sub-divides our geography into zip codes. Just like on a map, there are zip codes that are more densely populated, more dangerous; ones with better traffic management or more park space. And just like those neighborhoods, we are woven community by anatomical community, into one world.
Do you want to know more about fascia? Attend a workshop https://taniateaches.com/events%2Fcalendar
POST PANDEMIC PORTION CONTROL April 2020
Despite seeing new hashtags like #quarantinebaking, #greatamericantakeout and gaining #thecovidnineteen (as in lbs.) and the gluttony they infer, are we heading into a future of eating less rather than eating more? Less, of course does not mean insufficient. Less is a quantity ample to fuel our bodies, deliver nutrients and provide pleasure to our senses and our souls. It may be a quantity, however, that we have been clearly surpassing in pursuit of a perversely reassuring torrent of plenty. Until now. Or more accurately, until a few months from now.
It is surprising to me how much more predictable the behavior of many is relative to the behavior of few. If we look at supply chain impact, a macro-economic phenomenon studied closely during this crisis, from it we can make out a definite shift whose micro-economic course we might be able to forecast.
transportgeography.org explains that supply chains can be affected by supply shocks, demand shocks and distribution constraints. Supply shocks and demand shocks arise when - as the nomenclature suggests - there is a sudden or shocking increase/decrease in demand/supply created by factors sudden and unique to circumstances. For example, take the notorious amassing of toilet paper that became the subject of memes for weeks. In a regular publication of the Yale University Press, Professor Nathan Novemsky explains how this works. Suppose one person- Alex- sees another person- Sam- buying a bunch of toilet paper. Alex then assumes that toilet paper must be scarce and that’s why Sam is buying so much. So, Alex buys more than they need. Multiply this by a few hundred thousand Alexes and a couple of million Sams and eventually the large scale ‘perceived scarcity’ creates a demand shock which, in turn leads to a supply shock. As stages in the chain that precede the Alexes and Sandys getting their hands on the TP react, distribution constraints emerge.
So far, it’s pretty clear: Hand sanitizer hoarders start the reaction. Pretty soon, the critical mass gets on board and shelves are devoid of sanitizer, wipes, alcohol, toilet paper…..until the chain recovers and we once again behold towers of Charmin gracing the endcaps at even the smallest of corner stores. Plenty.
When it comes to our food, however the terror of not having enough is far more visceral. When the supply chain responds to the shocks and constraints, that terror may become so urgent that when first faced with a possibility of not having enough, rather than hoarding, we start to edit more instinctively.
We bring this thriftiness into our new online grocery shopping habits- habits that Professor Novemsky predicts may remain as predominant consumer behavior post-contagion. Apptopia, an analytics program that measures app downloads reported a 215% increase in online grocery app downloads. Now, it will only take one Alex merely mentioning running out of rice to send the Sams into their pantries - and their Instacart - to carefully take stock of what they truly need.
Google Trends shows a sharp increase in searches for how to freeze, can and otherwise preserve food for future consumption. This urge to preserve and the remarkable increase in online grocery shopping are strongly suggestive of a long term shift to a more anthropologically driven consumption profile. Put simply: we’ll buy less; we’ll eat less.
The Apptopia statistics reflect the movement towards preparing and eating food at home as opposed to eating out. Certainly once social-distancing and isolation efforts relax, we will return to eating out and commuting to grocery stores. However, we may not go back to restaurants - or even post mates - with the vigor we once did. And even when we do return to in person grocery shopping, we are less likely to spring back completely from weeks (months?) of not being able to approach up close, touch, choose and reject the products on the shelves before purchasing. After multiple experiences of having substitutions suggested to us by virtual stock-persons, we will have trained ourselves in discerning between what we can have and what we truly need. Hard pass on the ‘family size’….even if it is on sale!
Our motivation to learn how to lengthen shelf life and reduce waste comes on the heels of buying less. Overlay these preferences with the potential micro-supply chain responses and you have communities across the continent who are more resourceful, less wasteful and who cook and eat at home, even if it happens unintentionally.
So, when Alex and Sam do eventually go back to the brick and mortar store, their experiences are reminiscent of ‘grocery gateway’ politely suggesting alternatives, of perhaps settling on the small bag of potatoes- maybe because each suspects the larger may go to waste or maybe because the big one is just too large to store. Maybe they are not sure why but it has something to do with not having been able to inspect the bag themselves. And so, all the potatoes get eaten and Alex and Sam- and all of us along with them-realize we got less but we have plenty.
https://yaledailynews.com/blog/2020/03/31/professors-explain-consumer-behavior-changes-during-pandemic/Nathan Novemsky - professor of consumer behavior, Yale
Want tips on how to be more resourceful in the kitchen? Waste less? Check out the ZERO WASTE KITCHENT WORKSHOP on May 2nd here https://taniateaches.com/events%2Fcalendar