Sunday, 4 October 2009

Food

I'm having major issues with food lately.  The root(s) of it are 1) I have trouble with quite a number of foods which I can't eat either because I'm allergic to them or because my gallbladder, which I inherited from my mom and grandma (I love you guys, but why am I a physical carbon copy???), doesn't work right and they either make me nauceous or cause me pain.  2) (Split up because that sentance was really long) Everything in Japan, and Tokyo in particular, is outrageously expensive.

Okay, so I'll make an attempt at not incoherently babbling this whole thing out.

Anything made with egg and shellfish is flat out.  For the last year I've been forcing myself to keep down food with some egg in it, just because complete abstinace was making my allergy dangerous.  The most notable problem was that cooking something in a pan that had been used to cook eggs and not washed thoroughly before used again gave me a fever and I passed out.  Compare this to a few years before when I would just be nauceous all the time.  Granted, avoiding eggs altogther meant I could eat more because I wasn't feeling sick all the time, but it's just impossible to not accidentally eat eggs or something that's touched eggs once in a while.  (And side comment, if the tea/coffee is too hot to drink, don't sit there and forcefully inhale until you get a drop or two at a time.  WAIT!! Gah, Japanese eating habits gross me out sometimes.  And small offices that are dead quiet otherwise are torture...)  So, back to the egg discussion, I'm now able to keep down about 1 meal every day or so that has something cooked with egg in it.  I can eat egg yolks fine, as long as they're hard boiled to avoid the whites clining.  I've even managed to eat cooked egg whites (on accident) once, but I got a nasty nasty stomach ache (and omg my headphones are going on NOW ><#).  If I eat more than that I start feeling not so good.

I found out in the spring of 2007 that I'm also allergic to shellfish.  Who'd have thunk?  Well, I never ate them before that... cause fish grossed me out.  Shellfish still gross me out, but I was up for trying things after I discovered I liked some types of fish (not many).  So, at DisneySea I had a sandwich thing with  scallops(?) in it and spent the rest of the day feeling gross and awful.  Lindsey and I figured it had to be the scallops, cause we'd been really careful to avoid egg that day.  Then, when I had my layover in Hawaii, Chieko's family took me for shrimp scampy, and I was a bit nervous but, hey, Hawaii for 7 hours with an awsome friend who I'm not gonna see for years + free something I've never had before = I ate it.  And really had a hard time not puking on the plain to Chicago.  Actually, probably partly because I traveled for over 30 hours all told, and partly, I think, cause of the shrimp on top of that, I still felt bad when I landed.  I've had one more run in since then.  Kazu tried to be nice and put scalops in my pasta (for free) at the bar one time.  He pulled them out one by one after he found out I couldn't eat them, but I still got sick.  So... no shellfish.

Gellatin in some forms, and some preservatives give me a similar (but not as strong) reaction, but whatever it is isn't as common in foods here.

Okay, so no shellfish or eggs.  That cuts out the vast majority of cheep foods here.  Even hot dogs have eggs in them for some reason.  Hamburgers are completely out.  Most types of bread are out.  Lots of pastas and any frozen dinners are out.  Aside from the hot dogs and hamburgers, it's pretty much the same back home, to be honest, but whole wheat bread doesn't cost $3 for the end crust + two thin slices.  Pasta's not cheep either.  Actually, neither is rice, but it goes farther than pasta.  $20 will last me a month at least, longer if I don't eat it every day (obviously).  Fruit is a no-go unless I'm feeling fabulously spendy.  I did get apples yesterday, but they were half priced at $.69 per apple.  Mikan are cheep sometimes, cheep being about the same as the deal I got on the apples, but that's only for a season.  Grapes... holy crap, they're unbelievable!  For one, they're mutants.  They're easily the size of a normal strawberry.  They come in a bunch that's not impressive.  Because of the size of the grapes, it's just bigger than my hand... for $4 or more.  Gone are the days of eating a bag of grapes while I watch a movie instead of popcorn.  Strawberries I bought once when I was a student and feeling fabulously spendy.  They were good, but not worth the money.  Peaches are delicious but hard to get and $2 or more per peach.  Watermelon, which I got often over the summer cause I could cut it, take it to work, and it'd last me a few days, is $3 or more for 1/6 of the melon if you buy it on the rind.  Cut... just don't buy it.  Pineapple's cheeper to buy in a can or cut, but then it's still a few bucks and not very good. 

Veggies are expensive too.  I haven't bought them in a while because they're pricy, so I forget how much tomatoes are. Carrots are 3 for $2 ish.  Potatoes are $1 for 5 - not bad, so I buy them to put in stuff, but, starch....  Corn is like $1 or 2 per ear.... and it's really not good.  I buy it for my soup, because I refuse to put canned corn in anything, cause canned corn is nasty.  Broccoli is $2 or so for a small head.  Lettus... I forget cause I can't really eat it.  When I was buying it to put on pork/beef hamburgers (explain later) I got 5 leaves for $1 cause if I got the head it would go bad in like, 2 days.  Cabbage is cheep.  $1 ish for a head, I usually get 1/2 or 1/4 cause I don't eat it that much for the same reason as lettus.  I'll put it as filler in food though, cause it's cheep.  I don't even look at the cucumbers, celery, asparagus, or any types of squash.  Bean sprouts are cheep though.  $.39 for a decent sized bag.  Edamame (soy beans) vary depending on store and quality.  I can usually get 400g of decent ones for under $2.

Onto meat!  Chicken is the cheepest.  Well, actually, fish probably is, but not salmon, and I don't know how to cook any of it really.  I've fried some in my pan, but picking out the bones is too much of a hassle, and I really don't like most of it.  And I'm not going grocery shoping every day after work to buy fish for dinner.  Thank you, no.  So I usually eat chicken.  Chicken breasts are about $3-4 for 250g.  Sometimes my store will have a sale, 3 packs for $10, so I like buying it then.  But I can only get 3 because I have no freezer, and meat goes bad here before it's sell buy date sometimes.  Beef is insane.  They don't sell it in steaks.  Squares of something really fatty (I have no clue what) are, like 1in squares, about 10 of them for $5.  Ground beef I've never bought.  I usually end up with pork/beef mixed that's about 2 1/2 hamburgers worth for $4.  But it's really dry and only tastes good if you add a bunch of sauce, so I stopped getting it.  Plus, they don't sell hamburger buns (.....?) so I had to use bread, and that just doesn't work well.

I stopped eating the bran cereal I was because it's $4 per box, and a box lasts less than a week.  Yummy though.  I eat the kids stuff, which isn't as sweet as Frosted Flakes (thank heaven!) but still sweet.  That's under $2 per box.  I tend to make taco rice for lunch because the chicken tastes good for one, and it's easy to make every day.  Just make a bunch of chicken early in the week, make rice fresh every day (yay timer!!), and assemble before work.   I don't have a microwave at home though, so I can't do stuff like that for dinner.  (I didn't want to cook yesterday, so today my lunch is ... rice with seaweed.... and an apple...)  Dinner is the big issue when it comes to "What do I eat?"  I hate cooking.  I should mention that as a part of my food problems.  Hate. Hate. With a dash of Loath.  I don't mind cooking meat once in a while.  I like experimenting with new flavors and sauces... but I don't want to make anything that goes with the meat.  And I only have one burner, so I have to actually coordinate how I'm cooking.  It makes it really easy to cook rice, because my rice cooker is epic in its awsomeness.  Lately I've just been settling for a bag of edamame, but that's not enough on a normal day.

So, rice is obviously the easiest, but rice makes you gain weight like nobody's business... and I'm honestly sick of eating it. I want a variety, which isn't going to happen, but rice for lunch and dinner is just a no.  And I've been gaining weight and my pants are all uncomfortable (even my loose work pants, of which I now have one less pair because the sun bleached out one of the outer seams.... I hate sun-dried laundry....).  So I was looking up ways to readjust my diet without cutting portions, cause I really don't eat that much.  Apparently pasta is significantly better than rice.  Long grain rice is better than short grain rice.  Whole wheat is better than rye bread and in the same catagory as pasta in the glycemic index, whereas rye bread is in there with white and pizza.  Sweet potatoes are better than regular.

I looked up what the glycemic index was, and it's not a diet "loose weight" thing.  It's a measure of how different foods react in your body compared to pure glycose.  Lower GI foods, or a low GI diet can help control weight.  It's also good for reducing cholesterol and lowering the risk of heart disease.  Or so I've read.  Anyway, what I know is that rice makes you gain fat, where as pasta makes you fuller.  So... more pasta it is for me.  They don't whole weat, but all of the spaghetti pastas are made from purely semolina, which, apparently, is among the better kinds.  I only know because I sat at the grocery store reading every pasta label and checking for eggs....

This was one of the sites I was looking at.

So yeah... I don't really know what the point of that was.  I've just been having a lot of problems that boil down to "food in this country is a royal pain."  I've made a menu of sorts for this week, so I don't have to think too hard.  The biggest flaw I'm finding is that the only things to add to pasta, because butter and parmesean are insanely expensive (and butter's hard to fine.. it's all margerine), are oily and fatty... and don't taste that good.  I got garlic and parsely to put in spaghetti sauce to make it not taste like katsup though.  I'm also gonna try to cut my rice portion in half and put more meat and ... other stuff.... if I make it.... Yeah... See how that works.

How much of our lives are spent thinking about, preparing, or consuming food?

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