Tuesday, August 9, 2011

A Week in the (Mostly) Raw

Dear Mouse,

What is this?

Me neither.

It came in The Box.

The box, that is, of neatly packaged, strenuously prepared, vita-licious, week's worth of gourmet live raw food dishes that I ordered this week from RawVolution as an experiment. For $120/box, which is honestly cheaper than any raw food joint I've known, you get a week's worth of entrees, soups, sides, and a couple of desserts delivered to your home. Everything is labeled except, for some reason, the soups. I honestly have no idea what I'm putting into my mouth; it's a very odd sensation. (I"m gonna say garlic and cilantro for sure).

Rawvolution, a celebrated outpost (outpost? Is that the word? I dont know, I'm ingesting so few calories) of the Raw Food lifestyle in Los Angeles, has just opened up a NYC outpost (now I'm repeating!), which I heard about from my lovely, in-the-know hair stylist on the LES. On her recommendation, I wandered into the cafe and timidly ordered a bowl of squash ribbon "spaghetti" and a ball of "chocolate chip cookie dough" that tasted pretty much like a sweet stick of butter (and isn't). Charmed by the obvious talent of the chef, and the intense cheeriness of the staff (maybe this food will make me as happy as they are!!), I thought maybe there's something to this. (Raw Food: the Scientology of the culinary world?)

I went back the next day for a Big Matt with Cheese and a brochure, and when got home I ordered The Box.

Big Matt.

Anyone who knows me (for example, you) knows that I am not big on following rules and restrictions, especially when it comes to food. You will recall the time I tried the Master Cleanse, a ten-day liquid fast in which you're supposed to ingest only this water/lemon/cayenne/maple syrup concoction. People swear by it. I lasted four hours and then had lunch.

Yet at the same time I am strangely drawn to these various regimens, lord knows why. I am (almost) always ready to hop on the latest bandwagon (within reason). It isn't entirely out of vanity. It's more like a "Jackass" - style curiosity; ie, what will HAPPEN to me on atkins/south beach/elimination diet/raw food for a week? I always, ALWAYS 'cheat'. I guess you could say I only commit to these things as a way of definitely getting myself halfway there. Like, in order for me to significantly cut down on bread, I have to declare "no more bread!" and then like, only have it at breakfast.

So the idea was to maybe do a cleanse... without really doing a cleanse. Like, a fast while still eating.

Quick review for those who have never lived in LA and do not currently go to a vegan hair salon: Raw Food = nothing heated above 118 degrees, ever. No grains. No dairy. No soy. No animals. "Milk" and "butter" is made from nuts, "Bread" and "Crackers" from dehydrated vegetables and also probably some nuts. Desserts are all about agave nectar and coconut.. I think that's all you need to know for now.

Anyway, it's been three days since the box arrived, not a week, and I'm already blogging about it, which should tell you something. I'm pretty sure I'm done. For one thing, I already had some bread today after a chocolate chip ball for "breakfast" made me "nauseous" * , and I've been nursing a coke (a real coke!! which i NEVER drink) for hours to settle my stomach? cope with sugar withdrawal? Probably both.

* The brochure says some people eat the desserts for breakfast. Some may. I shouldn't have.

Before I go further, YES there are reasons to do this. Number one: The entire Box contains less than 6,000 calories, and I. Am. Not. Hungry. I'm not. I feel fine. It's kind of amazing ... but also .. um, is that good? And I feel a little dopey. I'm sure that is largely sugar withdrawal and detoxing. Still ....

I get it. We all - generally, in this culture - eat too much. What we think is normal is not. If we were eating the same amount of vegetables, fruit and nuts as we do of simple carbs, sugar, and meat ... well, we wouldn't! We would get our fill of necessary nutrients WAY faster. And I'm sure there is something to the idea that we kill off a lot of nutrients and dehydrate ourselves by cooking everything. Raw, living plants are certainly just as nutritious as you can get. Eat them.

And let me say before I go any further that Matt Amsden's creations at Rawvolution are really works of art. They look pretty, they are incredibly inventive to the point of being magical, and they taste really good ... at the cafe. Because (here's the thing) what is becoming painfully clear to me is that while "Greek Pizza", "Indonesian Noodle Affair" and "Veggie Patties with Dill Sauce" are probably miraculous the day they are made, the same is just not true after they have sat in your fridge for a while. Like, the "bread" which was a marvel on the Big Matt (chewy! interesting! dry!) but was soggy on the greek pizza by the time it got to me, despite wax paper carefully placed between it and its topping.

Maybe it's just me. The brochure hastens to reassure you that the food "will keep" ... which it does!! in terms of health and safety. For sure. But right now it mostly just tastes ... cold. And confusing. And needs salt.

So, no lifestyle change imminent. As you know, I really, really like COOKING. I don't think I'm going to buy a dehydrator anytime soon. Also, I'm not sure I feel so good. Also, I have a Dinner Out on Friday and I'm actually scared to think what might happen if I suddenly have cocktails and restaurant food after a week of Noodle Affair. For everyone's sake, I'd better go eat a slice of this:

Which I made the night before the box arrived
and which came to us via our fan leolennon on Twitter - thanks for this!

from the blog Chez Loulou

12 oz fresh apricots, pitted and halved
1 C minus 2 tbsp flour
1/4 tsp salt
2 C whole milk
3 large eggs
1/2 C vanilla sugar (I used plain but you can make vanilla sugar by keeping half a bean in your sugar bowl)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp butter cut into 6 pieces

Pre-heat oven to 450. Butter/lightly flour a 9 inch round baking pan with deep sides.
Place apricots cut side down in pan.
Combine flour and salt in bowl, whisk.
Add 1 C milk and whisk til smooth. Add eggs one by one whisking briefly after each.
Whisk in sugar, vanilla extract, and remaining 1 C milk.
Pour batter over fruit and dot with butter pieces.
Place in center of oven and bake for 25 or so minutes until puffed and golden brown.
Let cool completely before serving (also it's good cold the next day).

Here's to health and deliciousness, served hot or cold.


The Boo


Anonymous said...

Great post....and funny. I believe that I, as well, have tried every single diet on the market (except for those that require the purchase of their food - not down for that - too picky). Bravo to you for trying it - clafoutis sounds delish and can't wait to try it. xoxoArn.

Anonymous said...

oh boy, you are an adventurous eater!
btw, I loved your soup recipe - it was absolutely delicious, healthy and totally satisfying - WARM. I recommend it to all your (silent) readers!

Anonymous said...

How was the Big Matt?