Category: Funny food stories


The Dreaded Yeast Returns

Candida Albicans

One of the occupational hazards of being a chocolatier is succumbing to candida from time to time.  For me it happens like clockwork in mid January, after a solid month of overindulgence in all things sweet and starchy.  The chocolate business booms in December (along with my appetite), and the holidays bring on feast upon blessed feast. The festivities continue in January as all the Capricorns stuff me full of birthday cake, wine and irresistible hors d’oeuvres. Pair that with lack of exercise and a dwindling supply of appetizing fresh vegetables, and you’ve got yourself one mother of a case of candida.

So here I am on January 26, one week into my austere candida regimen.  I have to admit I’ve slipped a couple of times—like when I was simply possessed to lick the scoops after packing gelato pints, and when I just plain HAD to eat one of Kitchen Alchemy’s raw macaroons (I felt so happy I almost cried).  But what do you expect when I spend a day surrounded by temptations that I cannot eat? It’s torture!  Luckily Clive has been working a bit more than his fair share, so I can stay home and surround myself with quinoa, kale, grass-fed beef and avocados.

The candida diet is not all that bad. You can actually eat quite a lot of things on it, just not the things you crave most. The purpose of it is to kill by starvation the excess yeast that has hijacked your system. And more than anything, yeast loves sugar.  That means cutting out the obvious: cookies, cakes, pastries, CHOCOLATES, caramels, etc; but also severely limiting fresh fruit and complex carbohydrates.  It’s like the Atkins diet, but the aim is purification rather than weight loss. The mantra is “DON’T FEED THE YEAST!”

You’re also not supposed to have caffeine, but please, who am I trying to kill, the yeast or everyone around me?  I tried the recommended Pau d’Arco tea and the taste turned my mouth inside out.

The worst part of the diet is the inevitable “die off”: If you’ve been a real good girl and stuck to veggies, ancient grains, and unprocessed meats you will be rewarded by the speedy extinction of your parasitic fungus.  The catch is that as the buggers die, their last gasp sounds like “fuck you.” Like suicide bombers, they release toxins that assault your already lethargic human vehicle. From candida-cure-recipes.com:

As the body works to detoxify, you may experience symptoms including dizziness, headache, “foggy” headedness, eye floaters (the little blurs in vision which can be detected when the eyeball moves back and forth), depression, anxiety, heightened anger reactions, gas & bloating, flatulence, diarrhea, constipation, joint pain, muscle pain, body aches, sore throat, general malaise, exhaustion, need for more sleep, sweating, chills, nausea, skin breakouts, or other symptoms.

Yup. Sounds about right. All the reasons why I started the diet in the first place are magnified, and all I have to ride on is a glimmer of hope that if I hang on a little longer I’ll feel good again. Until next winter, that is.

So I’m recovering in fits and spurts, as quickly as my discipline (or lack thereof) will allow.

Opalescent Meat

I did not know roast beef could look like a boulder opal. Look closely at the right hand side and you’ll see what I mean.

opalmeat1

Gastroporn

When I was invited to appear on a “Women in Chocolate” panel at the Commonwealth Club of California, I nearly shat my pants.  I’ve heard Commonwealth broadcasts a few times on npr, and I know the panelists are usually big names in their fields (ex-presidents, Nobel laureates, billionaire CEOs).  To say I fit right into that group would require sarcasm of a magnitude that would make my head implode. 

I figured my best defense is preparation, so right away I youtubed Commonwealth presentations, to at least see the type of tone these things usually take.  It didn’t take long to find this post, in which Fred Kaufman addresses the club about a well accepted concept called “gastroporn”:

Basically he’s saying that the Food Network is a front for food pornography, and everyone in production is shamelessly aware of that.  I can’t tell you the relief I felt after watching this clip.  These Commonwealth folks can take a joke!  Maybe not the dirtiest of jokes (I am the creator of the “Andy Samberg Special” chocolate after all–see pic below), but I wouldn’t expect that of them anyway. 

I probably won’t mention my own brand of gastroporn during my presentation, because there are plenty of other things to talk about.  Still, it sure takes a load off knowing that the Commonwealth is open to the idea.

"Andy Samberg Special"

Sausage Saga

 sausage-assortment2

Well lets face it, you just shouldn’t force yourself to eat a sausage you don’t like. As I sit here digesting, my intestines tying themselves in knots and my stomach letting out the occasional weary groan, I wonder how they tempted me in the first place.

I recall the moment I obtained them– it was as if lady luck herself had handed them to me. Clive and I were at the fancy food show in San Francisco, right at closing time. We had deliberately hung back knowing that after three long days of desperately hawking their products to potential buyers, the exhibitors just might forsake the leftovers, the reason for their toils. Clive and I split up. He took the Italian pavilion while I did Spain. We walked swiftly as it was only a matter of time before we would be kicked out. They knew our type, those security guards. That’s why we had been given clear plastic bags at the start of the show, bags marked “for literature only”. There were prominent signs posted on the walls, reading “samples must not leave the building”. We knew our task had to be quick.

I zeroed in on my targets: cheese, charcuterie, olives and truffle mushrooms. It happened like a drug deal in fast forward. I would approach the open pastry case, sidling in and whispering,”you giving anything away?” “Take what you want but be quick” they’d say, “they’re coming to shut me down any minute.” Into my bag would slide the manchego, chorizo and salmon pate.

As my eyes searched frantically for olives and truffles, they fell on one of the most decorated booths in the whole building. Trophies lined the top of their pastry case: outstanding product award 2004,5,6,7,8. Lo and behold, I was just in time. “Here you go” the strapping young man said as he handed me a pack of truffle mushroom and chicken sausages. Looking a gift horse in the mouth, I read the ingredients and sure enough, actual Truffles were the second ingredient. Yes!

It didn’t phase me that they were warm to the touch, although I should have taken that as a warning.

Armed with my various logs of meat I met Clive at the end of the aisle. We dashed out just as they began ripping the carpets up, oliveless but grinning nonetheless.
Once in the car we overturned our bags of loot for examination. Bruschetta, Brie, foie Gras, cured meats of many colors, blood sausage (that was Clives pick) and truffle mushroom sausages. We could hardly wait to get home and eat.
Almost a week later, here I sit, several cholesterol points higher, staring at a breakfast plate of truffle sausages. They taste at once bland and sour, but they contain Truffles goddammit, so I choke down a few bites. Long story short, I think about kneeling before the toilet for a little while but no, those sausages were free and I’ll be damned if I don’t enjoy them.

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