December 2010

Served with scallions, grated daikon and ponzu sauce, monkfish liver or ankimo would be my alternative to foie gras if I felt a twinge of guilt about gavage practices. Except that it’s probably even worse to eat.

Monkfish is on the list of fish to be avoided due to overfishing but it’s just so good. Its taste and texture is very close to foie gras but about four notches lighter.

What to do?



I was up north two weeks ago, visiting friends I hadn’t seen in a while, some in years. I was all over too: the East Bay, the South Bay, San Francisco and Marin.

On my first night, I had to make an obligatory dinner stop at Chez Panisse Cafe, my favorite restaurant ever. My brother gave me some good advice when I was a college student: to scrape up any money I had and eat dessert at fancy restaurants, which became a good primer to fine dining. Chez Panisse was down the street from campus, so I’d go there whenever I had the chance. It’s not the fanciest place, but its place in California food history and lovely Julia Morgan digs make this place feel very special.


My friend sent me this link with the note: “You should go work here for a little while.”

This looks amazing but one thing I never really got about permaculture courses is that, while it totally appeals to people like me, the idea of flying out city folk to remote and beautiful locations seems too precious and somewhat unconscionable. Isn’t it more sustainable to leave these places alone and stay on working farms instead? I already feel a twinge of guilt when I go backpacking in the wilderness.

But I’m so tempted by this Bush Skills course! I think there are skills in here that would be relevant in my life, like primitive cookery, fire by friction, forest foraging, spear-making for fishing and indigenous root crop planting. Someone needs to create a course for urban survival, for instance, when the Big One hits. No doubt, knowing how to make fire by friction would be advantageous.

When I was a kid and any one of us complained of those initial body ache symptoms of flu — my mom would make this tea for us to drink:


Most of my life, when I wanted to experience this thing called “winter,” I would head to Big Bear or Tahoe and go see the snow for maybe a day or two then go home. That would be plenty of cold weather living to last me a year. It’s probably very nice when you’re a kid, but as an adult, real winters wreak havoc on your life in so many ways. So it was mostly the weather and the depressing grayness that had been blanketing Paris for the last few weeks before my departure that made me feel like it was really time to go.