Sunday, May 26, 2013

Week 21: Eat More Fish

   Poet and writer William Stafford said the way to never get writer's block is to just lower your standards. For me, that idea has opened a whole world of creative playfulness, which in turn has led to some serious topics. However, this week's book-of-the-week is a lighthearted nod to all those adages you've heard your whole life...things your mother and dad rarely let a day go by without lovingly reminding you... The book for Week 21 is Eat More Fish.
A chinese circus on the cover
   The pages are little waxy paper sandwich boxes from a take-out restaurant in Taipei, Taiwan. Every morning my brother walks to a neighborhood street vender and gets one of these little boxes filled with his morning fried-egg-crepe-thing (which has a name that sounds like DomBean). He has been collecting these boxes for me for about a year, and I just received a box shipped all the way from Taiwan with about a hundred of these things.... along with cute thick-paper coffee sleeves. See? art is all about collecting things... (and I'll be opening my Etsy shop of little coffee-sleeve covered books real soon)
The title page... Eat More Fish
   In Taiwan, the food is really delicious. In the open-air markets every kind of fresh fruit, vegetable, and shaped tofu is artfully stacked on the labyrinth of tables that line the streets. Live chickens are housed in large wooden crates, clucking and crowing for attention.... and fresh seafood of every ilk is iced down and arrayed in buckets and bins for a city block. My sister-in-law, JinJin, is a fabulous cook and makes a mouth-watering whole spicy fish, sautéed in fresh ginger garlic sauce and garnished with lemon slices and chives. Yum.
Taiwanese snails? shell creatures?? Not JinJin's fish!
   But life isn't always about food. Some of us just never get our internal clock synched with the clock on the wall... and bedtime can be fraught with tears and temper and "But I'm NOT SLEEPY!" So Mom says things like "drink chamomile tea" and "a glass of warm milk." EEEW Yuck! In my house, the suggestion was effective... I stopped complaining about not being sleepy. Adages make sense for lots of reasons.
Ever wonder why sheep are always counted and not cats?
   Another adage often heard at my house was "START THE DAY WITH A GOOD BREAKFAST." Scientific studies have proven that a healthy breakfast helps ease one through a hectic day. 
Cereal and oatmeal? Eggs and bacon? Yogurt? Pop-tarts!!
   When breakfast is done, it's time to think about how vegetables are good for you. All the vegetable admonitions... about eating peas, carrots, broccoli, brussels sprouts... those adages have to be the least favorite... Still, several years ago we sat back aghast as government got into the vegetable business and stated that ketchup and pickle relish constitute vegetables for school lunches. ha! ha! (Is foot-in-mouth a vegetable? No, not really even if it's mostly shoe.)
What are your favorite veggies? What are your least favorite?
    Speaking of fashion... since the days of the cave children, parents have been reminding their little ones to dress appropriately. What IS the deal with fashion? How is it related to body temperature? Why does fashion cause the body to shun warm clothes when it's FREEZING OUTSIDE!!! And what about sensible shoes?
...hat, mittens, scarf, glasses, belt...
   No matter where you call home, every culture has it's own set of adages to make life easier, healthier, safer....

Every neighborhood has it's own jungle...

Finally, not all adages are about dire circumstances and bossy advice...This adage, my children taught me.

Take care, and be happy!