12 October, 2011

Whether or why?

I am not a very ambitious cook. I love good food, and I've made some great food! And I still do. But if it takes longer than 10 minutes to prepare, I usually have a problem.

That problem is not the same every time. Boredom and irritation are pretty close to the top of the list right now. And maybe all the time. I've talked about risk vs. reward before, and really, this is the main problem with my attention span.

I can be RIVETED to something I don't really understand, because I love to feel like I can solve a problem. But I am also quite fond of things I know very well. There are books I have read upwards of 20 times!

In some ways, I am aware that 'thinking I know something quite well' is usually an illusion. Or a delusion. And perhaps a mystery I am hoping to actually understand, despite the real possibility that, philosophically at least, this may be an impossible goal.

Food doesn't seem that complicated anymore. I am not a great cook right now, because I don't care. And I have never been a good chef, because I like to follow recipes.

But recipes leave important stuff out. Important stuff I do not always know, but could probably figure out on my own, if I weren't trying, carefully, to follow directions.

There are two grocery stores within walking distance from my home. One is Safeway. It is a supermarket chain store. The other is far more fun! And I don't even know the name of it. East-Asia Market?

If I ever wanted to make a recipe with obscure ingredients, I would totally look there first. Frankly, I shop there a lot! But I can't read all the labels, and I don't know what I want when I go in, because I rarely want to make a recipe with obscure ingredients.

Everything there is so exciting, I literally can not decide what to buy! Or figure out what it is. Today I went in on my way to the mailbox, during an unexpectedly harsh rain shower, and I think I saw:

Fresh Lychee
Fresh Dragonfruit! *swoon*
Dried lotus seeds. I think you make them into soup? Or a dessert kind of like tapioca?

And I know they had fresh durian (chilled!), eleventy-million kinds of sardines and other little fish, and a slightly smaller variety of pickled garlic. And other frozen and dried and pickled and fresh and even baked things.

Some of which crack me up because I can recognize, like this White King brand pancake mix imported from the Philippines, complete with scary white king mascot:

And some of which crack me up because they are clearly labeled but unrecognizable, like these corn flakes. Which are green:

With a variety like that, and no agenda, who can decide? I am working on my agenda.

I entitled this post Whether or Why, which is the title of an article on LessWrong.com. One of the many enjoyable learning experiences I have had today. I usually ask myself the question Why? And, apparently, this wastes a lot of valuable brain processing power.

I do not even know what I use my brain processing power on, most of the time. I kind of get self-conscious if I notice, though I am trying to get over that.

In a shockingly abrupt conclusion, another word I used to find fairly inexplicable, but totally delightful:

yowe - n. a Scot word for ewe.

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