cultivating & crashing

an organic collection of notes, observations, and thoughts

Food in Israel

sabich + pickles
shakshuka + tahini, bread
sandwiches: meats with mayo, pesto, sweet chili sauce + pickles (carrots, cukes, cabbage in turmeric)
fresh chimichurri eaten with bread
masabacha + hummus + ful
tuna with corn for breakfast (I wish I had taken a picture of the breakfast spread in the Netanya/Tel Aviv hotel.)

everything served with pickles, radishes, sauces, or even just raw onion.

so many vegetables everywhere! food based primarily on delicious veggies.

Israeli music

Omer Adam feat. Arisa – Tel Aviv
עומר אדם עם אריסה – תל אביב
Official song of the

Goodbye my Love Goodbye, Demis Roussos
Ari says it’s for arriving to base at 7 in the morning, wondering what hell the week will bring, saying goodbye, depressed, to life.

Cafe Shahor Hazak – Ihiye ּּBeseder
קפה שחור חזק – יהיה בסדר

Ido B & Zooki – Zooloo

What animal are you?

My aunt recently did an activity where everyone in the family had to choose what animal they thought they were and what animal each other person was. They were a monkey, a kangaroo, an elephant, and a goat. My sister was told she was a cat.

I have always wanted to do this kind of thing. My aunt thought I was a chipmunk because I’m all over the place. I thought I was a beaver, because they are methodical in building things and then enjoy good times in the home they build for their families. Mike made my day, though. He said I was smart and powerful but mercurial, and therefore a wolverine. He explained a wolverine is fierce, fighting off bears at times, but sometimes mean. As in, “they get what they want, even if that involves chewing down a door.” That is my kind of compliment!

Veg, Mool, and Bear, I look forward to discussing what animals we are.

Bad (nutritional) science

This is a great follow up to the last post. I’m reading Bad Science by Ben Goldacre, which is wonderful. In it, he compares the difference in life expectancies in two areas of London, England: 70 years for a male in working-class Kentish Town, and 80 in wealthy, middle-class Hampstead.

“The reason for this phenomenal disparity in life expectancy — the difference between a lengthy and rich retirement, and a very truncated one indeed — is not that people in Hampstead are careful to eat goji berries and a handful of Brazil nuts every day, thus ensuring they’re not deficient in selenium, as per nutritionists’ advice. That’s a fantasy, and in some respects one of the most destructive features of the whole nutritionist project, graphically exemplified by McKeith: it’s a distraction from the real causes of ill health, but also — do stop me if I’m pushing this too far — in some respects, a manifesto of right-wing individualism. You are what you eat, and people die young because they deserve it. They choose death, through ignorance and laziness, but you choose life, fresh fish, olive oil, and that’s why you’re healthy. You’re going to see eighty. You deserve it. Not like them.”

This reminds me also of The Rebel Sell, which articulates a similar thing: that the alternative becomes an elitist cultural marker for the few that can afford it. Ironically, the bleeding heart left-wing people that do this end up supporting a very right-wing ethos that is just branded differently.

Something here has changed

This morning, as I was walking around in a city I’m not from, I spotted a natural health foods store, and I didn’t walk in. For most of my life, health foods stores, especially granola ones like this one, were my sanctuary anywhere I was. Ten years ago, I would have walked in just to be in there, to feel refuge from the unknown city in a space that would feel familiar despite never having known it existed. Today, the place struck me as elitist and self-righteous and, for lack of a better term, very white. I still love kombucha and sprouts and fair trade chocolate, and would go buy at any health food store that has something I can’t find elsewhere, but I no longer identify with it like I used to.

Part of it is simply that the 90s are over and nowadays shopping in immigrant stores is more exciting and edgy and generally the current marker of a socially conscious, forward-thinking individual. Tie-dye shirts out; hipsters buying local homemade kimchi is in.

But a big part of what that bothers me is the concept of “health foods”, as if you have to go to a special place to buy food that is good for you. As if bananas and kale from the supermarket aren’t truly healthy foods — for that you have to go to this place to buy spirulina and goji berries and whatever other crap is not marketed as being *especially* good for you. That the nutrition from regular fruits and veggies are inferior to the nutrition you obtain from a different kind of store. With the massive problem that we’re having in North America in getting people to eat right, I find it pernicious to insinuate that nutrition is any more outside the reach of regular people that it already is.

So while I’m sort of tempted to open an immigrant-run Marxist food co-op, I think I’ll keep doing my groceries in the cheapest place I can find.

First sighting of WinBUGS in the wild

Bayesian analysis in the NYTimes

The Odds, Continually Updated

I had read the story of the fisherman who was found, but had no idea Bayesian statistics was the hero.

Multiple imputation

Multiple imputation is my new favourite thing. I still need to figure out how Stata manages (pretends?) to do it, or if it’s just executing an approximation of the Bayesian process of iteratively drawing samples from distributions of alpha and the beta(s) in the model. To be continued.

Huir y enfrentar

Cuando sentís algo de lo cual querés huir, respirá. Y aceptalo. Sumergíte en la sensación, que te lo alivia. No te escondas, porque te termina trastornando.

Garlic, butter, mussels

I used this recipe (with different quantities) to put on linguine. My grandmother would hit me if she heard me, but I think it’s necessary to overcook linguine in order to properly roll them on your fork, as al dente they’re too stiff.

3 pounds fresh mussels, scrubbed and debearded
10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) butter
3/4 cup finely chopped shallots
6 large garlic cloves, minced
4 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon grated lemon peel

Place mussels in heavy large Dutch oven, cover and cook over high heat until mussels open, shaking pan occasionally, about 5 minutes. Drain mussels, reserving liquid. Transfer mussels to bowl; discard any that do not open. Tent bowl with foil.

Melt butter in same Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add shallots and garlic and sauté until tender, about 3 minutes. Add 3 tablespoons parsley, lemon juice, lemon peel and reserved liquid from mussels and bring to boil. Season to taste with pepper. Drizzle garlic butter over mussels. Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon parsley.


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