Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Not for the Vegan-Hearted

Not for the Vegan-Hearted
The world is both a beautiful and terrible place. There is so much pain, so much unnecessary suffering, so much intentional infliction of suffering that it is overwhelming. I spend my days mostly doing investigative reporting in the Fort Worth area. That includes looking into private prisons and immigration--both intentional infliction of suffering on populations unable to protect themselves and having few rights by which to protect themselves. I also read about wars that I do not cover, and starvation caused by greed and all sorts of awful things.
By late afternoon I retreat to some red wine and then cooking food. I'm always willing to share the food with whomever shows up and I'm always happy when people show up for it. The wine is another matter: Better to bring your own if you want to have a glass.
The food here is always good, but sometimes there is a string of a few days when it's just mouth-watering. We just finished a couple of weeks of that. When a dozen friends came in from around the country two weeks ago I started with chicken parmesan and a side or two of veggies, after some nice homemade guacamole and good fruit. The next morning was baked eggs replete with lots of veggies and good bread. That evening we had a barbeque of marinated chicken thighs, marinated shrimp, sausage and tons of marinated barbequed veggies, including asparagus, cauliflower, broccoli, onions, scallions, yellow squash and zuccini.
For a going away dinner for the crew my friend Mike made a crawfish boil with corn and potatoes, to which Chepa, my wife/ex-wife added a great ceviche and a mountain of yucca..
Next night, with only a few guest left, I made a baked bean dinner: garlic, onions, diced tomatoes, nicely seasoned; then some fat back bacon, then the really good beef franks cut into 1/2 inch slices. When all was sauteed to the right color, a couple of cans of good beans went in, to which was added mustard, some ketchup, cilantro. A lot of cheating in that recipe but it's the best darned franks and beans I know of, for real. Top it with a bit of cheddar when serving and you're in pig heaven.
Somewhere along the line I made an Uncle Clem's chicken--diced, sauteed chicken breast over a big bed of steamed broccoli florets, covered in a rich sauce then topped with mozzarella cheese and baked till the cheese is brown. Served over Jasmine rice.
We also snuck in lime chicken one night (chicken breaded with good crumbs mixed with parmesan cheese, sauteed, then baked with lots of fresh lime juice so that when you eat it your mouth squeals with delight), with spaghetti squash and sauteed spinach in garlic. Then we went light with hot roast beef sandwiches: fresh rosemary sourdough bread with a bit of mayonnaise popped into the oven till warm, then topped with rare roast beef, homemade coleslaw and swiss cheese. I think we served a side of a melange of broccoli, cauliflower, zuccini, tomatoes, and onions, all cooked in a bit of olive oil and lots of garlic.
Couple of days ago I was in the mood for lamb, so I made a variation on the Greek dish, pastitsio. Instead of using pasta, I covered the base of the baking dish with mashed new potatoes, topped that with lamb sauteed with onions, garlic and scallions and tomatoes, to which was added smoked paprika, cumin, a bit of curry, allspice, and a bit of this and that, which was topped with more mashed potatoes and then covered in a bechamel--a white sauce with parmesan cheese and nutmeg. The whole thing baked for about 30 minutes at 325, till the sauce was lightly browned. Man, that was good.
Last night was an old fashioned mac and cheese. I cooked fusilli cause I like the way the sauce sticks to the screw shaped rings of that pasta. For the cheese I used cheddar, swiss, some mozzarella I had laying around, some colby jack, parmesan. To that the yolks of three organic eggs was added to help keep it light. Also, to the cheese was added smoked diced ham sauteed in garlic and onions and tomatoes (I use that combo a LOT). It was topped with breadcrumbs and parmesan, then baked till brown.
I am sure I'm forgetting the roast pork dinner baked with potatoes and carroes on a bed of celery, onions, apples, and pears; the sauce espagnole I made over the course of two days (with no flour) that I added to several of the dishes; and plain old chicken wings.
I think there is plenty of good stuff left in the fridge, so don't hesitate. When you get here I'll be working on a new story that's due in two days. At least till late this afternoon, when it will be time to cut the grass, open a bottle of wine, and think about what I should make for dinner.

Monday, April 23, 2018

Sapo Note on Vaso Dilation

Someone was talking on a forum about the need to physically purge when doing sapo/kambo to get the desired effect of a good stomach and liver bile cleansing. To encourage that, a lot of practitioners have their clients drink a couple of liters of water half an hour before a sapo/kambo session. I disagreed. I said that among the indigenous Matses very few people purged and that in my experience forcing the medicine to work on one specific area might be to the detriment of it working on other areas. The example I gave was the clearing of plaque from arteries that would then allow more  oxygen to get to your vital organs, a very beneficial side of the sapo/kambo medicine.
    Someone liked that and asked which peptide in sapo specifically eliminated plaque. This was my response:
George: I'll have to refer to Vittorio Ersparmer's (late, great pharmacologist who worked with the Phyllomedusa bicolor frog that produces sapo/kambo) work to tell you which of the peptides acts as vasodilator. The example I use, and I hope it is a good one, is this: Let's say you are blowing up balloons for your kids and nieces and nephews and letting them fly around the room. Sooner or later one or two will drop behind the couch or what have you and no one retrieves it. A couple of months later someone cleans behind the couch and finds it and your kid asks you to blow it up for him/her again. Only problem is that the balloon is now all scrunched up and non-stretchy because the sugars and proteins in your breath when you were blowing it up previously have all dried and made that balloon no longer stretchable. So you stretch it by hand and those sugars slowly drop off--simply from the act of stretching--into the belly of the balloon and in a few minutes you've got a stretchy balloon again that you can blow up. The plaque in your arteries, or the feathering around your heart valves that can result in an irregular heart beat is a build up of things that eliminate the stretchyness of those arteries, or the smooth opening and closing of those heart valves. Introduce a high powered vaso dilator that blows those arteries open a bit and that plaque will simply fall off into the blood stream and later get eliminated. Same with the feathering of goop that can build up around heart valves. So while Ersparmer did not talk about a peptide that officially eliminated plaque he did talk about the burst of vaso dilation (leading to a temporary drop in blood pressure) that I think would be the equivalent of you stretching out that dried up balloon and causing the sugars to drop off the inside of the elastic skin. Make sense?

Friday, April 20, 2018

Visiting the Matses

Someone wrote on FB that they are in Iquitos and want to visit the indigenous Matses. I wrote this, then decided not to put it up, because while meant to deter people, it will probably only encourage them. But since you guys ain't going anywhere, I don't see the harm in posting it here.
Natasha: First, you need to get in touch with the military and see when their next plane is going to Angamos. Get on it. Get to Angamos, a military base, and there is a Matses camp nearby. Don't forget to get chacira, a couple of kilos. Those are Chezhoslovakian seed beads, made from glass. They love those. Rarely sold in Iquitos. Then, unless you want to stay in the dire community near Angamos, you'll need someone to rent you a peque-peque and someone else to sell you gasoline, which they don't always have there. When Angamos is dry, the few people who have some gas might charge you $30 a gallon, and you might need at least 50 gallons. Be prepared. Them the boat owner will take you up the river to a village of very westernized Matses. They will likely charge you to visit. Just a hundred or two for a day or so. You will probably need to bring your own food: They might have a little for you, they might not. Do not expect that by paying a hundred or two hundred and giving each member of the village some seed beads that you will be invited to stay overnight. Mostly they just want your gifts and then want you gone. I could go on. At least they won't shoot arrows at you as you approach anymore. But these are not tourist injuns. These are people who generally do not want outsiders in their camps. That becomes more true the further up either the Yakirana or Galvez you go. Some people have been lucky and made friends with village headmen, but not many. Outsiders are a drain on their communities for the most part, which is why they're not very welcome, or welcome for only a day or two at a camp, essentially while your presents for them last. And they will want presents every day or twice a day, so be sparing with those seed beads. Ruber Castillo and Jhonny Java can get you in for a few days but will cost you. Ask for them at El Noche restaurant on the boulevard. But this is expensive, no fooling, and is still only for a few days, tops.

Sunday, April 08, 2018

Tired of Stupid

A friend of mine, one who swears she is not either Dem or Repub, sometimes posts things on fb that blow my mind. When I call her on it she says she's just reposting interesting things. I tell her that spreading hateful things spreads hate, whether interesting or not. Yesterday, I told her I was done with her. She posted a meme that compared Hitler to Liberals. It said things like: Take away guns, and noted both groups wanted to; "pro Abortion" and both groups wanted to. And so forth. I went nuts emotionally. Today I reconsidered and thought that if I was speaking with her directly, I would explain that a man who ordered and controlled the systematic killing of 6 million Jews, another half million Catholics, half million gays, was not the same as a present day liberal who wants poor kids to have free breakfasts at school so that they can learn with a clear, not starving, brain. I would tell her that the use of pro abortion is a misnomer: People who are for a woman's right to choose when she has a baby are pro-life.They want a baby born at the right time to the right person. They do not want a baby born to parents who do not want it. And then, of course. the people who are anti-liberal are cutting funding for things like day care and school breakfasts, and after school programs, making it harder for the poorest people to maintain jobs and raise kids. So I was emotionally upset yesterday. Today I just want to say that if anyone I know thinks that liberals wanting kids to have breakfast and after-school programs, mental health availability, low cost day care, equal pay for women, good union jobs, health care for all and so forth, are the equivalent of Hitler, then please unfriend me. Cause you know what? I'm done with you and your stupidity. You're taking up too much of my precious life. I'll meet you again when you come around to being human.

Wednesday, April 04, 2018

The Secret Power of Nü-nü, the Matses' snuff

Nu-nu, a snuff used by the indigenous of the border area between Brazil and Peru near the Alto Yakirana, is a hunting tool that is used in conjunction with sapo, a frog medicine that is applied to the subcutaneous layers of a hunter's skin. Nu-nu adds a dimension of visual aid and calmness that improves hunting ability among people who depend on hunting to eat. Someone asked me about it and I responded from my experience, dating back to 1985 with the Matses, and 1986 with the Matses and nu-nu.
While other indigenous groups make several types of snuffs, the Matses generally only make nü-nü, which is made from the inner bark of the cacao tree (reduced to ash), mixed with nicotiana rustica (what was wild tobacco but is now grown). Part of its strength is that it is always made by two hunters, who each impart some of their spirit into the medicine. When administered traditionally--at least in my experience--among people who depend on hunting to eat, it is always the best hunters who administer it, so that the recipient is getting spirit from three separate hunters along with the actual snuff. (Unless the receiver is also one of the makers of the medicine, of course.) The hunters' spirits make for better hunters; the medicine makes for better eyesight, a sharpened sense of accuracy, a steadier hand on the bow and arrow. The cacao in the medicine relaxes the hunter so that he is not tense when hunting, which will affect the trajectory of the arrow. The visionary effects of the tobacco will allow--in large quantities, say 20 1/2 grams in each nostril over the course of half-an-hour, to have visionary prescience as to where animals can be best hunted the following day. Crazy, right? But real and real magic stuff.