Thursday, May 10, 2007

Bacteria Bender

When you wake up in the morning, you don't remember what happened last night, and your mouth tastes of half sours.

So, as I've written before, I have achey-breaky bowels that tend to flare up and bother me. Bother is actually too weak a word - when it's a really bad flare-up, I often can't sit or stand upright. It's taken me a long time to get used to the idea that I have an actual health problem, since I've always had a pretty unflappable constitution - delightfully dependable and hassle-free. However, now I'm worried about silly things like taking baths (the hot water can actually trigger a multiple-week flare) and Chinese food (which is again on my shit not that kind of shit list, the normal kind) and even cold water at the wrong time of night. Yeah, I know, ridiculous.

So, I've recently been in the midst of yet another bad week - spurred, I feel, by too long in some hot, salted water - and mom reminded me that I should think about trying probiotics again or energy healing, two of the only things that have ever helped.

I went into People's Food Co-op and got a long, long, lesson in the HOPE diet - which stands for (very) High Fiber, Omega-3 oils, Probiotics, and Enzymes (which my sister Tanya has been trying to get me to use for years). Over the last couple of days, I've been taking enzymes with my meals, which I think may be helping, but I can't tell if it's that or the BILLIONS upon BILLIONS of bacteria I am joyfully consuming.

I left PFC with chewable acidophilus tabs (Blueberry-flavored bacteria - I know what you're thinking: if I like bacteria so much, why don't I just eat off the carpet or something...but I'm snobbishly seeking lactobacilli and shunning E. coli), and my new BFF - Kombucha! Kombucha is a fermentedly delicious drink that fizzes when you open it. It's difficult to describe, except it's like drinking vinager and that it is tasty without being sweet. You can tell that it was once kind of sweet, but the sugars have long since been consumed by those busy little bacteria...who I then drink over crushed ice (no, you can't hear them scream tiny bacterial screams...they're supposed to survive in my gut. I assume they might prefer my warm body to a cold bottle, but who am I to speculate bacterial yearnings?). I recommend the Guava.

The third, but perhaps most significant bacteria-delivery device I've been utilizing is Kimchi. I've always been afraid of Kimchi because of its threatening redness, but it actually doesn't have to be that spicy. I went to one of the Korean groceries (there are two within a mile of our house - take that, New Yorkers), and bought a bottle. I opened it up when I got home and promptly ate two-thirds of the bottle. It's not just that I like it, though I really do, it's as if I discovered a Kimchi thirst, a thirst I never knew needed slaking. It's been always on my mind, and it feels necessary for my comfort - like flossing. I finished the rest of the bottle for breakfast, went back to the store and bought a half-gallon of it.

This gets costly, so I've also decided to try to make my own. Which is also costly but which I mistakenly believe makes me kind of cool.

Two secrets of Kimchi: sugar and fish sauce.

A pile o' garlic, and the view of our lovely day.

Mitn tsibilekh.

Salt destroys plants! You want them wilty? Salt 'em good!


...and this from a 4-pound Napa Cabbage, two large Diakon roots and a cucumber. Look at that compression, people!

I'll leave it a'bubbling for the weekend while we're away.

A final word about bacteria. Please be aware that a ful 1/3 of your um, leavings, are bacteria. When you significantly increase your bacterial intake, well, I'll let you do the visuals (lest I be branded a filth-mongerer).