“That’s it! I’m not eating
So shouted my husband early one
Saturday morning shortly before Christmas as he was drinking his usual vat of
coffee and I, already bewildered due to my eternal inability to function
properly before, say, 11 a.m., felt even more perplexed since neither of us had
been saying a thing and I don’t think there was a dreaded carbohydrate in
Then I realized he was listening to
an interview on the radio with science writer Gary Taubes discussing his book,
Calories, Bad Calories,
the conventional wisdom on diet, weight control and disease.” According to Mr.
Taubes, an award-winning correspondent for
magazine, it ain’t the saturated fats or the sedentary
lifestyle that ails us, it’s the carbs, with their impact on insulin secretion,
and the sugars, especially sucrose and that high-octane/high-fructose corn
syrup, that are our weighty undoing.
So no carbs it was for Peter, or at
least very few, quite the sacrifice for a bread and cookie lover amidst a
holiday freezer full of good bread and Christmas baking, and other assorted
Despite earlier misgivings, I have to
admit some half-year later, that I hand it to him. He’s down a pant size or two
and has recently added small amounts of decent whole grain complex-type carbs
back into his diet, which now reminds me of that of my diabetic god-daughter’s.
I’m even off much of my usual
carbo-hydration, cutting that mound of rice to a modest spoonful or three and
grabbing a handful of raw almonds instead of my usual chips.
Given his track record, I’m now
paying attention to Peter’s latest fancy, tempeh — no big surprise given
he’s usually ferreting out something or other off the beaten path.
At first I had no idea what he was
talking about, until I started poking around and learned that it’s a fermented
soy product from Indonesia. So that’s what that was in a veggie stir fry-type
dish I had in Surabaya on the island of Java and couldn’t figure out. And here
I thought it was just the residuals from malaria that had cooked my brain.
Tempeh, according to Harold Gee in
Food and Cooking
, was invented in
Indonesia, and is totally suited to that hot, humid tropical climate. It’s made
by cooking whole soybeans (without the hulls), forming them into thin layers
and then fermenting them with a mould, Rhizopus oligosporus or R. oryzae, for
24 hours at a warm, tropical temperature (30-33 Celsius). The mould grows and
makes long thread-like hyphae (a network of fine white filaments that make up
the vegetative part of a fungus), which penetrate the beans and bind them
together. As the mould grows, it also digests “a significant part” of the oil
and protein in the soybeans and transforms them into tasty bits that some
people much prefer to the taste of tofu.