Quick Links

Find Authors


Diabetes type 2? Weight problems? Find your answers!
Water is the stuff of life - warm inside, cold outside. Did you know?
Best and cheapest little book about how to live a healthy and long life!

Blog: On Health. On Writing. On Life. On Everything.

Peasant Food

April 1, 2014

Tags: food, order, herbs, movement, agribusiness, antibiotics, athlete, baking, baseball, basketball, California, canning food, career, chef, cookbook, cooking from scratch, crabs, diet, different, dinner, drying food, Earth, easy farmer, field, filling, fish, five-star, football, fossil fuel, fresh, friend, garden, gourmet, grill, growth rates, hand-me-down, happy, harvest, healthy, healthy families, healthy nation, healthy people, home-cooking, joy of movement, livestock, local, make do, monster harvest, neighbor, New York, New York Times Magazine, open fire, Paleo Diet, peasant, Peasant Food, poultry, raw food, restaurant, roast, seasonal, school children, shipping, slow-cooking, soup, stew, stir-fry, South Beach Diet, squirrel, superfood, superstar, tasty, vegan, vegetarian, weight loss, wild food, Zone Diet, zucchini

For a talk in New York this week I have been thinking about giving the kind of nutrition I am favoring a name – preferably a catchy name. We all have heard of the Paleo Diet, the South Beach Diet, the Zone Diet, and so on. What would I call my brand of eating right?

For starters, I would not call it a diet. Because it is not something you eat for a month, shed fifty pounds, and then go back to your normal dismal ways.

It occurred to me that I have invented nothing new. In fact, farmers all over the world eat like it. So let’s call it Peasant Food. I could also call it Gardener’s Food, or Farmers’ Market Food – because they all are served fresh and whole. But Peasant food it shall be.

This weekend, the New York Times Magazine ran an article about a very young man (he is all of fifteen!) who aspires to become a famous gourmet chef. I commend the young man for applying himself, instead of dawdling his time away. But as a physician I know that healthy people, healthy families and a healthy nation depend on daily fresh dinners cooked at home – not five-star restaurant fare (as delicious as that might be).

The young man is groomed as a future superstar in the kitchen. Same as we groom young athletes for a big career in football, baseball, basketball – instead of teaching all our school children the joy of movement that could offer them a life of health and physical gratification.

But back to the Peasant Food! What do farmers all over the world have in common that should make them our models for healthy cooking and eating?

Peasant Food is
• Fresh: Farmers eat what they find in their gardens, their fields, and growing wild nearby. They cook from scratch every single day. They are not too busy to bring a fresh meal on the table every day, and share it with family and friends. In fact, these shared meals are the highlight of every day.
• Local: Farmers don’t ship in food from California, or even other continents. They don’t use up much fossil fuels for shipping food across the country. They eat what they find. That is why the people in Mew Mexico eat different from the New-Englanders, and the Italians eat different from the Russians.
• Seasonal: Farmers eat what is growing and ripening right now. Should there be a monster harvest of zucchini, they deal with it by creating a variety of zucchini dishes, canning or drying some zucchini, and distributing the rest to friends and neighbors.
• No “superfoods” – just foods that are grown nearby, and made into so many dishes. Farmers make do with whatever is at hand – they have no preconceived notions of what the “best” food is.
• Not only raw: Farmers can’t subsist on salads alone – it would not give them the strength and nutrients they need in the fields. They might bake a piece of meat in the oven slowly all day, they throw a stew together, or a stir-fry, they cook soups with everything in sight. They cook.
• Not vegan/vegetarian: For a rare feast, they might grill a rabbit or a lamb over open fire. They eat meat, poultry, fish, crabs – and in some regions they are glad if they can find a squirrel to skin and roast. But farmers would not feed their livestock antibiotics for better growth rates – if agro-business wouldn’t push them.
• Easy to cook: Farmers don’t have time to concoct gourmet meals, and read one cookbook after the other. They follow old recipes. Their fare has to be easy – sometimes using slow-cooking that does not need further attention once the pot is filled and on the fire.
• Filling: Farmers wouldn’t dream of leaving out fats for slimming down – they need the energy fats provides. But they get in good fats: olive oil, coconut oil, butterfat.
• Tasty: Like everybody else, farmers want to eat something that tickles their palates. Fresh vegetables and healthy meats automatically taste good. Fresh herbs spruce up the taste. And adds nutrients like polyphenols. .

This is what I will call what I have been cooking every evening for so many years, making my family healthy and happy: Peasant food.

January is Novel-Writing Month!

January 1, 2011

Tags: order, adventure story, children’s book, cookbook, family history, legacy, life story, film script, health book, holidays, January is Novel-Writing Month!, journal, learning a musical instrument, medical novel, memories, mystery, novel, painting, publishing, purpose, satisfaction, theater play, thriller, travel report, wonder, writing

No clue who invented it – but January is novel-writing month.

Don’t feel restricted to a novel. You can write a thriller, a mystery, a children’s book, an adventure story, a film script or a theater play, a book about health or letting kites fly, about travels and favorite dishes – there is no limit.

The easiest is starting by writing down your own story. If you write it in the first person, it will become part of the family story. If you the find it turning out embarrassing – change it to the third person, and make it a novel.

This January just write a first draft. The first month of the year is usually a quiet month. The evenings are long and dark. Holidays and vacations are over. This is the time to write something down that you always wanted to write – instead of sitting in front of TV or computer, passively, turn on the “active” mode and write! At the very minimum, start writing a journal. Jot down your thoughts, observations, feelings. Show how YOU see the world.

You think you can’t do it? At one point, I had no desire to ever write – it just wasn’t on my agenda. I was a happy doctor and terribly busy to juggle medicine and family. One day I got an idea for a health book and started writing. I published two non-fiction books. Even before I published those, the idea for a medical novel came to me – I will never forget the date because it was two days before Christmas - December 22nd, 1999. The holiday pressure was just at its meanest when the idea struck. And what did I do? Wait prudently until the holidays were over? No! Of course, I had never heard that January is novel-writing month, and the urge to write down my ideas was too great – I sat down then and there at the computer, and began writing the novel. That first day, amidst pressing holiday needs, I wrote nearly three hours.

Little did I know that it would take me eleven years and 82 versions before I had brought it into publishable form.

You don’t have to aspire to publishing. But if you do, be aware that it never will be done with a single draft that – miraculously! – a publisher will want to buy and which then will make you millions of dollars. It will be many, man, many revisions before you will be there. And truth is: There’s no money in writing, in all likelihood. But there is satisfaction, wonder and purpose in writing.

If you don’t aspire to publishing, you still should write down your story. A friend of ours did it. He had been a career army man and a (responsible!!) father at sixteen, and he told his fascinating life story, interspersed with newspaper clips from the times – a wonderful legacy he one day will leave to his children and children’s children.

The only thing you have to do is: begin. January is the right (write!) month to begin.

Okay, okay, I hear you – you can’t write, you don’t want to write, und you will never learn to write. Suggestion: Paint a picture! Or learn to play an instrument!
Aspen eyes, by Peggy Peters

Iguazu Falls, by Xin Liu

Alexa Fleckenstein M.D. 2012, by Lolita Parker jr.

Tags - see also the non-captalized entries below!