Boston!

It’s nice to have some pure time off for R&R, especially in Boston, one of my favorite cities.  I’ll try to post as often as I can, especially since the readers have informed me that I’m only marginally entitled to a life!

In the meantime, here are some photos from activities yesterday and the day before.

The doors of the “Biolabs,” the entrance to the Biological Laboratories of Harvard, are a marvel (I’ve already shown pictures of the animal-themed brickwork and the rhinoceri in posts about my last visit): they show various animals and plants. Here’s the middle of three doors (with a slight self-portrait), the “insect” door.

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Many advances in biology were made in this building. Behind these doors, for instance, Wally Gilbert devised a method to sequence DNA, for which he won the Nobel Prize. It was here that Mark Ptashne and others discovered how genes were regulated (turned “on” and “off”). And it was here that E. O. Wilson began devising his ideas about sociobiology (he later moved to the newer Museum of Comparative Zoology Laboroatories, where I worked).

A wasp and self portrait:

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Lunch on Friday at one of my favorite restaurants in Boston: Durgin-Park, whose antecedents go  back to 1742. It is a bastion of New England (Yankee) cooking: lobster, baked beans, Indian pudding (more below), scrod, and so on. Here’s a substantial lunch: Yankee pot roast, mashed potatoes (real, not from flakes!), and mashed butternut squash.

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And the obligatory dessert for me: warm Indian pudding with a scoop of homemade vanilla ice cream, which melts into a creamy sauce that perfectly complements this earthy, granular pudding. Indian pudding, found only in New England, is made from cornmeal, molasses, butter, eggs, cinnamon, and other spices, and baked for a long time. Here’s a recipe, and perhaps a reader would like to try it. People whom I take to this restaurant (and offer a bit of the dessert) either love it or say, “meh”: there are far more of the latter than the former. But I regard it as one of the great achievements of American gastronomy.

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Below is Durgin-Park, ensconced now in the temple of capitalism and kitsch that is the Faneuil Hall Market. When I first moved to Boston in 1972, it was a real market with purveyors of meat, cheese, and produce. Now it’s a big tourist attraction with nothing uniquely Bostonian save this restaurant. The rest comprises the usual stores and food emporia you find in these “renovations.” And of course it’s a prime tourist destination.

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After lunch, a walk along the Freedom Trail, which hits many of downtown Boston’s historical high spots: the site of the Boston Massacre, Paul Revere’s house, the Old North Church, the ship the U.S. “Constitution” (“Old Ironsides”), and so on.

But it was cold, and a robin registered its displeasure with the weather.

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I’ m told sidewalk plaques like this one are common, but this was the first I’d seen:

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You could find a billboard like this only in Boston, and baseball fans will know what it’s about.

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My friends Naomi Pierce and Andrew Berry, with whom I stayed the first two days, have acquired a huge rabbit named Wallace (after A. R. Wallace, of course).  It lives in a two-story cage, but it’s sometimes let for noms and romps (no fusses, though, because it bites!) Here’s Naomi feeding Wallace. He is huge, a veritable Jungfrau of lagomorphs. Perhaps some reader will recognize the breed; I can’t remember it.

Rabbit 1

Wallace nomming:

Rabbit 2

Andrew, preoccupied with a talk he was giving in Florida on Darwin that evening, demonstrates the proper way to eat Weetabix, the breakfast of choice at Chez Pierce-Berry. According to Andrew, the biscuits must be eaten only in even numbers (I like three, and am roundly excoriated for it), doused only with a tiny bit of milk, and eaten quickly lest they become soggy. Given that I like them partly soggy and in odd numbers, I suffer greatly at breakfast (Andrew does not forgive miscreants lightly).

Weetabix

Lunch was at the Penang. We tried the Gourmet Dumpling House first, which Steve Pinker, who lives in the area, recommends as Boston’s best Chinese restaurants. And it’s the best I’ve tried, but yesterday it was impossibly crowded. We thus headed for a nearby Malaysian restaurant that is one of my standbys, the Penang.  Here is beef rendang, a moderately spicy beef dish with sauce:

Beef rendang

Chicken with ginger and greens:

Chicken ginger

Green beans with shrimp:

String beans

My favorite dessert, called “ABC”, which is the Malaysian equivalent of a sno-cone. It’s a mound of shaved ice doused with rosewater and other syrup, and various things like corn kernels, black beans, grass jelly, and other oddments. It’s very refreshing.

ABC

A classic: mango with glutinous rice (and pineapple):

Mango and rice

A classic Boston historic sight: The Granary Burying Ground, where many notable American patriots (and other famous Bostonians of the colonial era) found their final rest.

Burying ground

It’s a somber place on a gray winter’s day:

Graveyard 2

The resting place of John Hancock, whose large signature on the Declaration of Independence is famous:

John Hancock

Mother Goose! Actually, Mary Goose (and her husband), supposedly author of the Mother Goose stories, a claim that is disputed:

Mother Goose

Samuel Adams, an active patriot during the American Revolution, which started in Boston, and now known largely for the beer named after him:

Sam Adams

Paul Revere, silversmith, patriot, and the man who made the the famous Midnight Ride to Lexington:

Paul revere

And finally, for breakfast this morning, a passel of Verna’s donuts: genuine homemade dunkers produced by a family operation a block from where I’m staying.
 
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92 Comments

  1. Dermot C
    Posted March 2, 2014 at 7:08 am | Permalink

    Thanks for this, Jerry: makes me nostalgic. Friends and I pre-booked a flat before our flight to Boston: 38D it was called. Imagine our bungaloid low-rise British delight when we found out the 38 referred to the 38th floor: and our childish joy as we watched the planes below us landing at Logan – happy days.

  2. Posted March 2, 2014 at 7:09 am | Permalink

    The absolute biggest breed of rabbit is this. But I think Wallace is a different breed.

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted March 2, 2014 at 7:17 am | Permalink

      I wonder if Wallace is an <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_rabbit"American Rabbit?

    • gbjames
      Posted March 2, 2014 at 8:41 am | Permalink

      Wow. That’s some rabbit!

      • Diana MacPherson
        Posted March 2, 2014 at 9:18 am | Permalink

        I’d love a big bunny like that but bunnies don’t like being cuddled so that would be difficult. I like that they live a long time & I’d keep bunny in the best spoiled conditions!

        • Moarscienceplz
          Posted March 2, 2014 at 2:14 pm | Permalink

          Would you hug him and squeeze him and call him George? ;-)

          • Diana MacPherson
            Posted March 2, 2014 at 3:21 pm | Permalink

            OMG bugs bunny doing a Grapes of Wrath. I saw that cartoon before the book. Now that I think of it, George would be the perfect name!

          • Diana MacPherson
            Posted March 2, 2014 at 3:28 pm | Permalink

            Of Mice and Men! I mix up all my depression nooks.

    • Gregory Kusnick
      Posted March 2, 2014 at 12:07 pm | Permalink

      A giant rabbit named Wallace? Must be one of these.

  3. Posted March 2, 2014 at 7:10 am | Permalink

    Don’t forget visit L.J. Peretti Company for a postprandial petit corona.

  4. Diana MacPherson
    Posted March 2, 2014 at 7:11 am | Permalink

    All those tasty looking noms! But where is the clam chowder? When I was in Boston I ate it as often as I could since in Ontario, you can’t really find good clam chowder and with my dad’s side of the family being from Nova Scotia and New Brunswick (the MacPherson’s came to Boston from Scotland than left during the Revolution because the Crown gave them land in what would later become Canada) I am particular about how clam chowder should be made – no corn & no tomato!!

    I prefer to eat Weetabix in odd numbers as well because 2 isn’t enough & 4 is too much. However, on the whole, I prefer even numbers so when I eat the 3 Weetabix, I feel uneasy.

    I think my favourite panel on the door is the beetle! I’d love a beetle like that on my own door.

    • Simon Hayward
      Posted March 2, 2014 at 9:02 am | Permalink

      I have been having the odd/even Weetabix discussion with my father in law for nearly three decades. I grew up eating them three at a time – and he always has two. Either works fine since they are in strips of twelve. But when one of us visits the other – there is always an odd one at the end that’s just sitting out there alone and lonely.

      • Vaal
        Posted March 2, 2014 at 9:22 am | Permalink

        Yes! I remember when I used to eat Weetabix having the same dilemma, and I always went for 3 of them in my bowl.

        Vaal

    • Posted March 4, 2014 at 9:33 am | Permalink

      One can make corn chowder, but that’s a different dish. Tomato, celery, etc. in clam chowder — abominations!

  5. Posted March 2, 2014 at 7:12 am | Permalink

    Gorgeous doors! I do enjoy the vicarious travelling, and I will add the pudding recipe to the “try” list along with Malgorzata’s Karlsbad cinnamon cake.

  6. Posted March 2, 2014 at 7:25 am | Permalink

    As Jerry knows better than most of us, if you take sweet Indian Pudding, add agar (for firmness) and mold inhibitor, and then spray on a culture of yeast, you get Drosophila culture medium.

  7. jstackpo
    Posted March 2, 2014 at 7:30 am | Permalink

    Second door picture caption:

    “A wasp and self portrait:”

    Which is which?

  8. David Duncan
    Posted March 2, 2014 at 7:40 am | Permalink

    “Weetabix… must be eaten only in even numbers (I like three, and am roundly excoriated for it), doused only with a tiny bit of milk…”

    I agree. Two usually aren’t enough, four are too many. If I don’t let them get a bit soggy then there’s the risk that they’ll break and milk will go everywhere when I try to break off a piece with a spoon, but I don’t like them too soggy. I also eat them only with cold milk, much to the amazement and dismay of my sister.

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted March 2, 2014 at 9:02 am | Permalink

      It’s a fine line between not enough milk & too soggy! Weetabix eating is an art.

    • Simon Hayward
      Posted March 2, 2014 at 9:03 am | Permalink

      Has to be cold milk – warm is just gross

    • Posted March 2, 2014 at 2:17 pm | Permalink

      I, too, am a daily 3-biscuit eater. I used to break each biscuit into four pieces, orienting them so that the broken edges faced up. Then, sprinkle a little Splenda on each piece and drizzle a little milk onto each.

      On hurried days, i mix milk and Splenda in a 12 oz. glass and dunk my biscuits, guaranteeing the perfect sog-quotient.

      I fell in love with Weetabix 30 years ago while in the Catholic Seminary. Thankfully they (and a couple of other Irish habits) have stuck with me better than my religion.

      • ammasbhavya
        Posted March 4, 2014 at 4:14 am | Permalink

        Too funny. Never knew there was a Weetabix dilemma — thought it was one of my nutty bits. I get antsy with odd numbers so had to add fruit to two for the perfect portion. And eat quickly. Same goes for McVitie’s Digestives — two is perfect with tea/coffee, three=antsy, four=too much ;-)

        • Posted March 4, 2014 at 8:48 pm | Permalink

          Oh, the OTHER ambrosia!! McVitie’s!! Unfortunately with them i’m like an alcoholic with drinks: 1 is too many, 12 is never enough.

  9. Chris Laraia
    Posted March 2, 2014 at 8:07 am | Permalink

    I always love your travel photos & commentary you share. Thanks again for another great addition Jerry! :)

    • ammasbhavya
      Posted March 4, 2014 at 12:44 pm | Permalink

      My sentiments exactly Chris. Thank you Jerry!

      Do Jerry’s readers have a name? His “somethings”? His weits? It was great for all to share in the adventures, traveling along with the photos. Living vicariously. Love that door — die for that door!

      • gbjames
        Posted March 4, 2014 at 1:49 pm | Permalink

        I think we’re called “readers”.

  10. gbjames
    Posted March 2, 2014 at 8:38 am | Permalink

    That John Hancock stone is rather… notable. It suggests another euphemism for a fellow’s “Mr. Winky”. Large signature, indeed.

  11. Posted March 2, 2014 at 8:58 am | Permalink

    Serious question Jerry: how it is that you don’t weigh 400 lbs?? Your slim stature and endearing almost obsessive love of food makes a mockery of my struggle not to gain weight ( and to lose weight)

    • Gerard
      Posted March 2, 2014 at 9:11 am | Permalink

      My thoughts exactly. Mmmm, I’m getting hungry. Must eat.

    • Hempenstein
      Posted March 2, 2014 at 9:32 am | Permalink

      He spends all his time in the lab, writing this website, writing a book, and reading Sophisticated Theology™. No time to eat.

      • Moarscienceplz
        Posted March 2, 2014 at 2:20 pm | Permalink

        I imagine the steady stream of comments he gets from creationists often cause him to spew most of his meals onto his computer screen.

    • Vaal
      Posted March 2, 2014 at 9:35 am | Permalink

      Not to answer for Jerry of course, but on the subject of your question: People ask me the same question all the time. Among friends and family I’m known for my obsessive love of noms (hence sit mesmerized by Jerry’s food posts). People see me pigging out, trying whatever food I want in a restaurant or on vacation, seemingly careless of any calories involved in a particular selection. (That includes an obsession with southern bbqs and soul food). And they wonder aloud how it’s possible I’m slim. It’s pretty simple: I don’t eat like that all the time. Most of the time I eat modestly and choose healthy food. (And I exercise, moderately). The times most people see me eating are when I’m cooking for them, or we are out to eat, which is when I allow myself whatever I want, so they have a skewed impression of how I eat.

      I suspect Jerry’s situation is similar, as he always points out “I don’t eat like this all the time.”

      (And when I watch how the people who say “I can’t eat like that it just makes me fat” I notice that, while they may not pig out as much as me at a restaurant, they tend to eat greater portions of food, and less healthy choices on a routine basis, which adds up over time).

      Vaal

      • Diana MacPherson
        Posted March 2, 2014 at 9:43 am | Permalink

        This is my experience as well. I also don’t eat a lot of bread and cheese all the time. On occasion I indulge. The bad thing with me is if I start on a sugar binge I can end up making that a regular thing because I love sugar so much.

        • Posted March 2, 2014 at 11:47 am | Permalink

          Sugar is evil.

          The “Ultimate Answer” is simple, if not necessarily easy.

          Limit refined sweeteners of all types (from sugar to high fructose corn syrup to honey to Sweet-N-Low) in all foods to at most a tablespoon (15 grams) per day; this will almost certainly mean mostly eliminating pre-packaged, processed, and restaurant foods. Indulgences are okay, but should be rare — as rare as Jerry’s, in fact, and maybe not even that often. Eat lots of fiber, especially in the form of fresh veggies. Eat standard-sized portions of protein, fats, and complex carbohydrates; have an extra helping of salad if you’re still hungry. Satisfy cravings for sweets with fresh whole fruit (not canned nor juiced). Snack on nuts, fresh veggies, and modest amounts of dried fruits.

          And, for at least fifteen minutes each three times a week, do intense strength-building exercises. You don’t need fancy equipment or a gym or anything; you’ve got everything you need with your own body. Pushups, squats, pullups, jumping, crunches, lunges, and an infinite number of variations thereon will do the job far better, cheaper, easier, and faster than anything else. See Mark Lauren for a bible of bodyweight exercises, but there’re other sources as well.

          Cheers,

          b&

          • Diana MacPherson
            Posted March 2, 2014 at 11:56 am | Permalink

            I have a very high fibre diet now since getting IBS after my stomach plague last summer. I eat a lot of berries as snacks at work just because I need the water and they are sweet. For years I’ve sweetened my hot drinks with stevia drops. Recently I’ve started drinking cold pressed apple juice (the kind with sediment and not from concentrate). I mix it half with water to cut down on the sugar and if I feel dehydrated, I put in a teaspoon of sea salt.

            Today I overdid my exercise of cleaning my fish tank. I carried 60 pounds of water from my basement then picked up the jug to eye level and poured the water in a controlled manner into the fish tank. I broke out in a cold sweat and I think I’m going to be sore tomorrow. :)

            • Posted March 2, 2014 at 12:41 pm | Permalink

              That’s a big step forward.

              I’d recommend laying off the apple juice entirely, except maybe as an holiday treat or the like. Apples and grapes are already dangerously close to being little more than sugar water, and the juicing process breaks down and discards what little roughage they have and does away with the skins and the like which is where most of the fiber and nutrients are. Instead, eat the whole apple — or, better, an handful of gorp, heavy on the peanuts and light on the raisins. Same things with oranges; orange juice is evil, even fresh-squeezed, but whole orange sections are good.

              And sore is good! Very good. Indeed, you should be sore the next day after exercising; if not, you’re not building any muscle. You don’t want to injure yourself, but being sore for a day or two is the whole point of the…er…exercise.

              That’s the “dirty little secret” about exercise. The work (in the sense that physicists use the term — force overcoming resistance) you do when exercising isn’t even a blip on your metabolic radar. Just a single apple has as much calories as you’ll burn during an entire exercise session — maybe even more.

              So exercise isn’t about burning calories while you’re exercising; rather, it’s about stimulating the body to repair and build muscle fibers. And that is tremendously metabolically expensive. Long after you’ve finished the workout session, you’ll still be burning calories as your body works to clean up afterwards and prepare for the next time.

              Take two people with the same gross vital statistics: gender, age, height, and weight, both sitting on a couch. One is an overweight, tubby, pencil-necked geek; the other is a lean, muscular athlete. Just sitting there, doing nothing at all, the athlete is burning more calories than the geek. And that’s how the athlete can eat so much more and not be fat.

              That’s also why strength-building exercise leads to more weight loss than aerobic exercise. In aerobic exercise, the name of the game is metabolic efficiency; as little superfluous movement so you can get as many miles as possible from your run (or whatever) and still have enough left over for the rest of your life. That’s not bad, and it’s certainly much better to sitting on your ass all day long, but the key to efficiently using your time to build the best possible body for yourself lies in metabolic inefficiency. Make your body work hard by pushing your muscles out of their comfort zone so your body has to burn some of that stored fat to build more lean body mass.

              You can overdo it, of course, but a sound exercise regimen (such as the ones Mark Lauren lays out) makes that generally a non-issue; you’re much more likely to not do enough than to do too much. That’s also the advantage of bodyweight exercises over equipment; the movements are natural and balanced and build multiple muscle groups all at once rather than focus on a single awkward movement that builds only a small set of muscles. Plus, bodyweight exercises build balance and stability. (Yoga and Pilates would be good alternatives, but not quite as efficient of your time and effort; if you’ve got social or other reasons to prefer that sort of thing, of course, go for it!)

              And don’t worry about “bulking up.” The way to look like Arnold Schwarzenegger is to do exactly what he did: stick lots of steroid-filled needles in your ass. Don’t get me worng; he paid his dues at the gym, too, and paid them in full, but exercising just makes you strong and healthy, not He-Man Huge. He-Man Huge comes from drugs (on top of the exercise).

              Cheers,

              b&

              • Diana MacPherson
                Posted March 2, 2014 at 1:01 pm | Permalink

                I actually bulk up easy. I don’t tend toward lean muscles. I have a hard time with exercise now most of the time. I’m chronically tired and ache all over. It’s most likely a combination of two things: adrenal issues which I’ve had tested through saliva tests – it shows I’m very low in everything & a messed up nervous system. All this from chronic stress. So, I have to be careful what I do or a soreness won’t go away until I hit it with heavy medication.

              • Posted March 2, 2014 at 2:24 pm | Permalink

                Um…that’s no fun. Burnt-out adrenal glands can be a real bitch.

                You might find some value in what another of the hunter goddess clan, Diana Schwarzbein has written on the subject. Again, it’s nothing radical, but her perspective as an endocrinologist who specializes in women’s health might be more relevant to you particularly.

                b&

              • Diana MacPherson
                Posted March 2, 2014 at 3:23 pm | Permalink

                Cool I will check it out.

              • Posted March 2, 2014 at 3:32 pm | Permalink

                Do — you’ll appreciate it, I think. One of the things I appreciated about her is her practicality and realism. She doesn’t try to sugar-coat that it’s going to take time and effort to heal and that there might be some alarming intermediate steps. She also, for example, doesn’t recommend quitting (certain) bad habits cold turkey, but rather building up the metabolic support you’ll need to replace them…at which point the cravings will lessen anyway and you won’t have to use Herculean willpower to stop.

                And, again, nothing wacky. No starvation, no magic foods, none of that bullshit. Just stress reduction, healthy foods, constructive exercise — the usual, but presented very clearly and sensibly and honestly without the hype.

                Cheers,

                b&

              • Vaal
                Posted March 2, 2014 at 2:51 pm | Permalink

                Ben,

                I do incorporate strength and body-balance training into my exercise regime (I turned 50 recently), for many of the reasons you sate. It seems study after study ratify the benefits, from all angles, to strengthening exercises, as well as cardio work outs.

                And to pick up on another thing you mentioned: how small a “blip” exercise is on the metabolic radar in terms of calories burned. I’m always amazed at the number of people who try to calculate “what I can eat now that I’ve done a work out today” or “how much I’ll have to work out to justify that brownie for desert.” If you take it in that one-to-one manner, the numbers are so utterly dispiriting – just how much you’d have to work out to burn off some goody you want to eat – it’s ridiculous. To me it amounts to a bad way to go about things, a guilt-forming self-flagellation that would interfere withe my enjoyment of eating.
                Hence, I never equate the food I eat to the exercise I do. Rather, eating a decently healthy diet is how I maintain weight and work on some angles of my health, and exercise simply has to do with increasing or maintaining my health, fitness and energy (and I enjoy doing it). A jog is for my heart, lungs, cardio and energy, not my waist-line, even IF in the scheme of things it may help maintain my weight.

                As for sugar I’m not quite sold yet on the extremes to which it is currently being made the boogey-man. I do normally choose to eat
                sugar in the form of fruits etc (e.g. using fruit to sweeten breakfasts vs sugary cereals). But I’ll be damned if I have to start seeing all the wonderful baked confections and deserts that I love as “evil.” Nope. Food to me is edible art, one of the great joys of life, and some of the fat and sugar laden confections are part of that experience (in moderation). I don’t want to introduce guilt or seeing these things as an enemy…personally speaking.

                Cheers,

                Vaal

              • Posted March 2, 2014 at 3:25 pm | Permalink

                As for sugar Im not quite sold yet on the extremes to which it is currently being made the boogey-man.

                I should perhaps clarify that a bit.

                Essence Bakery Caf&eactute; is a few miles up the road from me, and they’re quite good. Maybe once a month or so, I’ll get some sort of pastry from there for breakfast, especially their chocolate almond croissant. It’s plenty loaded with sugar, but I eat it savoringly and guiltlessly.

                But, again, I don’t so so all that often.

                Sugar in moderate amounts occasionally consumed isn’t at all a problem; indeed, it’s one of those luxuries that makes life worth living.

                The problem is that there’s an amazing overabundance of sugar in everything Americans (especially) eat. There’s sugar in bread, sugar in salad dressing, sugar in yoghurt — we even drench our potatoes in nearly-pure sugar syrup in the form of ketchup. And, of course, we’re constantly drinking sugar water in the form of soda and Starbucks hyper-caffeinated beverages.

                At the time of the American Revolution, the international sugar trade was just barely starting to take off. The average person consumed about ten pounds of sugar a year, which works out to not quite a tablespoon a day or a teaspoon a meal — which, you may remember, was my recommended limit. I’d even go so far as to recommend a teaspoon a day but with special indulgences with the saved amount.

                And, at that same time, obesity and the metabolic syndrome (heart disease, adult-onset diabetes, etc.) existed but in vanishingly small numbers.

                Since then, sugar consumption has increased, and the rate of incidences of obesity and the metabolic syndrome has increased practically in lock step.

                During the Nixon administration, we were urged to cut calories from fat from 30% of our diets to 20% — and we did…but our total calorie intake (unsurprisingly) remained almost constant. The deficit was made up with by increased sugar that poured into all our processed foods. Total sugar consumption has skyrocketed since then — and, as historically, obesity and the metabolic syndrome has kept pace with increased sugar consumption. Today, it’s quite literally a global pandemic, the leading cause of death. It’s even a bigger threat in the third world than infectious diseases such as AIDS.

                Why this should be so isn’t at all hard to understand. Fructose is metabolized exclusively in the liver in almost exactly the same way as ethanol with almost exactly the same metabolic byproducts: mostly fat and cholesterol with a token amount of glucose. Drinking a can of soda is as bad for your waistline as drinking a can of beer, which is why so many Americans have beer bellies that came not from beer but soda.

                So, if, you, as I, eat very little sugar, it’s not evil; it’s one of life’s little pleasures. But if you eat processed and restaurant foods, sugar is in everything you eat in staggering quantities…and that truly is evil.

                To put it in perspective…a single twelve-ounce can of Coke has about a quarter cup of sugar in it, which is almost as much sugar as George Washington would have eaten in an entire week. And people chug 32-ounce (and bigger!) “thirst-buster” drinks all day long! On top of the sugar in the hamburger buns, the ketchup, the milkshake, the “diet” smoothie, the salad dressing, the dipping sauces, the candies, the deserts….

                Sugar is evil because we’re drowning in a sea of it. A little bit is good, but we passed “a little bit” decades and megatons ago.

                Cheers,

                b&

              • Vaal
                Posted March 2, 2014 at 4:20 pm | Permalink

                Ben that all makes sense.

                I decided quite a while ago that when it came to sweets and deserts I would only eat the best I could find, for instance from the better bakeries. This makes them both more rewarding, and more occasional since it usually means a dedicated trip to get them, vs looking to crappy quality sweet stuff like chocolate bars that are easily available everywhere you turn.

                I very guiltily admit that one of my vices is
                soda. I do enjoy vanilla coke, Dr. Pepper…
                BUT…when I buy them I tend to only drink
                about 1/3 of the can, basically some sips, because although I love the initial taste it gets monotonous and simply too sugary tasting to drink an entire can.

                It is mind-blowing to me how many people (large Americans being the classic cliche) drink soda in vast amounts. Aside from the obvious health issues, I don’t even know how they do it!

                Cheers,

                Vaal

              • Diana MacPherson
                Posted March 2, 2014 at 4:28 pm | Permalink

                I can’t eat junky sweats….it has to be good stuff or I get migraines or stomach issues. I figure it’s probably good that my body rebels or I’d just eat garbage all the time.

              • gbjames
                Posted March 2, 2014 at 4:34 pm | Permalink

                “Junky sweats”.

                Like “junky sweets” only grosser.

              • Diana MacPherson
                Posted March 2, 2014 at 4:50 pm | Permalink

                :D even my subconscious makes me stay away.

              • ammasbhavya
                Posted March 4, 2014 at 12:27 pm | Permalink

                Ben — I’m not sure there is anything you’ve written that I don’t fully agree with — it’s so refreshing, yay! And naturally, spot on ;-)

                Although always conscious of a healthy diet since the age of ten (something my mum started), due to chronic stress for some years now I’ve added a few more bits — went gluten free. It was just an experiment my PCP wanted me to try and it took quite a few months to suddenly realize I felt a lot better. I already don’t eat meat so have started to reduce dairy quite a bit. Feel lighter, cleaner, and a bit more energetic. I’m going to check out Diana Schwarzbein as well. Try to reduce those dang cortisol surges.

                Having said the above though, I’m always happy to have meals like the ones Jerry had in Poland and Boston ;-) Although many looked too beautiful to eat (I’d get over that quickly…), and the rest I could have devoured immediately were they accessible via the ether.

                Grew up eating primarily Hungarian/Jewish and European meals — best ever. We used to drive from Philly to NYC to the Hungarian butcher for salami, kielbasa, and such — melted in your mouth…

              • Posted March 4, 2014 at 1:34 pm | Permalink

                Thanks for the kind words.

                The ability to metabolize gluten and lactose are relatively recent additions to the human genetic palette, and as such there’re small but significant numbers who have trouble with either or both. If you’ve got any chronic symptoms of intestinal discomfort, they’re obvious low-hanging fruit (so to speak) easy to check for as the source…but it’s also worth keeping in mind that most people don’t have a problem (even if significant numbers do). More alarming, though, is that so many pre-packaged foods replace gluten and lactose with manufactured who-knows-what that’s unlikely to do anybody any good at all. I wouldn’t touch commercial “gluten free” bread with a ten-foot pole; instead, I’d get my carbohydrates from grains other than wheat (rice, oats, etc.) and starchy vegetables and fruits. Fortunately, I’m in the majority who doesn’t seem to have any problems, at least not in the quantities I consume the foods.

                And I’m all for guilt-free gustatory celebrations — but only as special occasions. Yes, by all means, feast at Thanksgiving, and enjoy the local cuisine when you’re on vacation. Just don’t eat like that all the time. A life without luxury is hardly worth living, but a life that is all luxury isn’t actually as pleasant as it might seem.

                …and some banalities can actually be both luxurious and guilt-free. You’re not going to do yourself any harm by eating as many radishes as you like, for example, and what wonderful food!

                Cheers,

                b&

              • ammasbhavya
                Posted March 9, 2014 at 5:31 pm | Permalink

                You’re quite welcome!

                The GF was an experiment to see if it helped with fatigue and pain as was evidenced by anecdotal experiences of a number of my PCPs patients. I stay away from all GF packaged food — ingredient list is pretty long and unhealthy (horrendous) — about the same as most packaged foodstuffs. There are a few that are okay. My grains are mainly ivory teff, amaranth, quinoa, and buckwheat groats. Pulses and rice (sans cilantro — a result of preparing enough for 200 meals but still ‘soapy’)are great staples too with lots of veg and amazing spices, and of course dried and fresh fruits. Took a while with the GF (I was skeptical), but surprise, it worked.

                There is very little food I don’t like and I make up concoctions are thing are fantastic but they don’t go over with traditionalists ;-) The only foodstuff I might be a bit squeamish about (but a fortified brandy or four would squelch that), is Casu Marzu.

    • Reginald Selkirk
      Posted March 2, 2014 at 11:25 am | Permalink

      It’s all those tropical parasites.

  12. Stephen P
    Posted March 2, 2014 at 9:21 am | Permalink

    I associate Weetabix with something less happy. As a boy I use to love it. Then, when I was about eleven, I went down with a particularly nasty dose of flu, and Weetabix was the last thing I ate before I fell ill. There was no causal connection of course, but part of my brain decided otherwise. The next time I tried Weetabix I found it absolutely revolting, and I still can’t face it decades later. For me it’s a vivid example of a misfiring of an evolved safety mechanism.

    • gbjames
      Posted March 2, 2014 at 9:32 am | Permalink

      That’s how I feel about rum and coke.

      • Diana MacPherson
        Posted March 2, 2014 at 9:41 am | Permalink

        Hs ha! I had a bad experience with Captain Morgan in my youth.

      • Simon Hayward
        Posted March 2, 2014 at 2:23 pm | Permalink

        Ditto – I have to drink it with ginger beer now :)

      • Diane G.
        Posted March 2, 2014 at 2:39 pm | Permalink

        I LOL-ed!

    • Vaal
      Posted March 2, 2014 at 9:39 am | Permalink

      I had exactly the same experience a child with cheeseburgers. My last meal before throwing up and becoming very sick with a long stomach flu was a cheeseburger. My mind and body associated cheeseburgers as that flu trigger and it put me off cheeseburgers for probably over a decade.

      Fortuncatly, with Gawd’s help, I managed to pull through such tragic circumstances and now cheeseburgers are one of my favorite foods :-)

      Vaal

      • Moarscienceplz
        Posted March 2, 2014 at 2:24 pm | Permalink

        Same with me, only it was hot dogs.

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted March 2, 2014 at 9:39 am | Permalink

      I feel this way about melons. That was the last thing before I got food poisoning & was out of commission for a week. Now I can’t stand the smell or taste of them.

  13. Brygida Berse
    Posted March 2, 2014 at 9:23 am | Permalink

    Welcome to Cambridge, Jerry! I guess you are serious about R&R this time and you are not going to give a lecture during your stay here… too bad.

  14. Posted March 2, 2014 at 9:28 am | Permalink

    I always suggest to friends from out of town to take the free tour of the Christian Scientist Mother Church on Mass Ave in Boston. It takes only 25 minutes or so. In the warmer months the reflecting pool outside is a beautiful. I just brought my kids there yesterday, and my son (11) commented that he admired the architecture while still recognizing the faith to be, well, batshit crazy.

  15. Posted March 2, 2014 at 9:38 am | Permalink

    I didn’t realize that New Englanders laid claim to “Indian pudd’n”, an old Thanksgiving favorite in Virginia. My Sonoran Desert version is made with cornmeal, mesquite flour, and mesquite molasses.

    When I ate Weetabix, it was three at a time, sugared and swimming in half-and-half. Nowadays I do the same thing with hot buckwheat kasha, but use chopped walnuts instead of sugar.

    I like the “no dumping” plaque. Lots of U.S. cities could use those.

  16. Walt Jones
    Posted March 2, 2014 at 9:51 am | Permalink

    I can’t decide whether the bird poop on Mother Goose’s headstone is fitting or ominous

  17. Neunder
    Posted March 2, 2014 at 10:05 am | Permalink

    Jerry, I love that Indian Pudding without the ice cream, but with a bunch of extra sugar mixed in!

    And Verna’s makes the best chocolate glazed donut I’ve ever had! Enjoy them!

  18. Neunder
    Posted March 2, 2014 at 10:09 am | Permalink

    Jerry, try the ricotta pie at Mike’s Pastry if you have a chance! I could eat slice after slice!

  19. Reginald Selkirk
    Posted March 2, 2014 at 11:27 am | Permalink

    So many posts already, and no one has picked the low hanging fruit:

    Spiders != insects. They should rename it the “arthropod door.” Hahvahd, harumph.

    • Diane G.
      Posted March 2, 2014 at 2:42 pm | Permalink

      Aack, good point! You’d expect Hahvahd, of all places, to get this right… :D

  20. bric
    Posted March 2, 2014 at 11:44 am | Permalink

    My partner comes from Penang, and I can say it is one of the most dedicated food cultures anywhere, but it centres not on restaurants but street food, reputed to be the best in Asia. The stalls are all over Georgetown and specialise in one or two dishes, which in many cases have been perfected over several generations. Most conversations in Penang seem to revolve around where the best mee goreng or bubur chacha is currently to be found . . .
    The ‘ABC’ shaved ice dessert is called ice kacang in Penang.

    • js
      Posted March 2, 2014 at 4:03 pm | Permalink

      I was in Penang last year and stayed at the Eastern and Oriental. What a fantastic hotel. My suite of rooms was larger than my house.
      Each evening I would saunter down to a hawker centre. They had lovely seafood there and cooked it perfectly. I was interested to see the beer ladies who were not dressed as you would expect in a Muslim country. I also thought it quite amusing to see the young women wearing headscarves, high cut tops but very tight jeans.
      From Penang I took the overnight sleeper train to Bangkok. What a lovely way to travel. The beer was cheap and so was the food but what great food for a train.

  21. Jim Thomerson
    Posted March 2, 2014 at 12:32 pm | Permalink

    That rabbit is about the size of the Flemish giants I saw at the rabbit show.

    During WWII civilian spam came in glass jars. I really liked it and ate two jars full at a sitting. I got so sick. I could not think of eating spam for many years. In recent years, I occasionally buy a small can and fry up slices. I can eat a couple of slices, but the third one will start to tast bad and I quit.

  22. catsto
    Posted March 2, 2014 at 1:23 pm | Permalink

    I used to live in Boston back in the 70’s and have childhood memories of Duhgin-Pahk. Have relocated back to Boston about 5 years ago for a job. Went back to the “local” watering hole, stood front of the place and did a complete 360 aghast with the mall/tourist scenery. Haz sad

    • Posted March 4, 2014 at 9:47 am | Permalink

      Durgin Park has been a tourist trap for decades now. Insipid food & surly waitstaff as some kind of experiential gimmick.

      So many other wonderful places to get good fish in town, plus all those excellent restaurants in the North End!

  23. Erik Verbruggen
    Posted March 2, 2014 at 1:37 pm | Permalink

    I was going to post: “that doesn’t even look remotely like a robin!”, but then I found out you have other robins on that side of the pond using Wikipedia. I shouldn’t have mistrusted your biology skills :-). Have a great time in boston!

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted March 2, 2014 at 1:53 pm | Permalink

      Yes, our Robins are thrushes. I was confused the opposite way when I saw real robins. :)

      • bric
        Posted March 2, 2014 at 1:56 pm | Permalink

        Sounds like my outburst seeing the ‘robins’ in Mary Poppins – ‘Haven’t they even SEEN a robin?’ Those birds looked so wierd

      • Moarscienceplz
        Posted March 2, 2014 at 2:33 pm | Permalink

        All the pics I’ve seen of European robins show orange or rust-colored breasts. Makes me wonder how the phrase “robin red-breast” came about. Are true red colored birds so rare in Europe that they decided that orange is close enough?

        • Erik Verbruggen
          Posted March 2, 2014 at 2:55 pm | Permalink

          In the netherlands it indeed also translates to red-breast… thinking of “redder birds” common here. Well woodpeckers are better described as red. I think it has to do with sophistication: in some dialects here the only distinction among birds made is those that float and those that don’t :-) against such a background calling orange red is not too much of an omission.

        • Diana MacPherson
          Posted March 2, 2014 at 3:25 pm | Permalink

          Funny, I was thinking the same. Maybe when they called it that they though orange breast sounded funny and didn’t rhyme with anything. :)

        • Gregory Kusnick
          Posted March 2, 2014 at 3:37 pm | Permalink

          I suspect that there were robins in England long before there were oranges.

          Wikipedia confirms:

          Before the late 15th century, the colour orange existed in Europe, but without the name; it was simply called yellow-red. Spanish and Portuguese merchants brought the first orange trees to Europe from Asia in the late 15th and early 16th century, along with the sanskrit name “naranga,” which gradually became “orange” in English.

          • gbjames
            Posted March 2, 2014 at 3:52 pm | Permalink

            The word has considerably older roots, back to Dravidian.

            • stephen
              Posted March 4, 2014 at 5:58 am | Permalink

              Odd thing is; really ripe (and most delicious!) oranges can have bright green skin- just buy some in Greece in November if you get the chance…..

  24. Posted March 2, 2014 at 2:28 pm | Permalink

    My batch of Indian Pudding, based on the recipe link you provided, is in the oven as we speak. Used Black Strap molasses, so it might be a bit flavorful. Seemed to be the perfect accompaniment to braised lamb shanks– another thing Durgin Park is famous for.

  25. Jiten
    Posted March 2, 2014 at 3:48 pm | Permalink

    I eat 2 Weetabix with lots of milk and sweetened condensed milk on top.

    • Kevin
      Posted March 2, 2014 at 7:17 pm | Permalink

      Yum. I should try that.

  26. js
    Posted March 2, 2014 at 4:12 pm | Permalink

    About 20 years ago I got into triathlons and each morning after two and a half hours of swim training I would go to work and have fourteen weetbix (cold milk of course), followed by spaghetti on toast with a kransky and then six pieces of raisin toast.
    When I say spaghetti I mean the tins of the stuff in tomato sauce. When I was a kid that was the only spaghetti we ever ate (in Oz).
    I didn’t even know there are gazillions of different shapes if the stuff.

  27. Mark Joseph
    Posted March 2, 2014 at 5:03 pm | Permalink

    I heartily approve of the car dealer’s sign!

  28. Kevin
    Posted March 2, 2014 at 7:17 pm | Permalink

    Donuts look mouth watering. The Malaysian dishes, outstanding. The American pot roast…not so much.

  29. John J. Fitzgerald
    Posted March 2, 2014 at 7:23 pm | Permalink

    While in Boston and Cambridge area, check out Summer Shack for great seafood. Try the pan roasted lobster!

    Also any Legal Seafood restaurant is worth a visit.

    Do not neglect the North End for great Italian cuisine.

    Enjoy your Boston visit!

    John

  30. Dominic
    Posted March 3, 2014 at 4:53 am | Permalink

    Totally agree with Jerry on Weetabix – odd & soggy! Like me…

  31. stephen
    Posted March 4, 2014 at 6:08 am | Permalink

    What’s this? NO comments about Yankees? I always thought the term referred to New Yorkers because of the Dutch (Jan Kees = John Doe/Joe Schmoe/ Joe Bloggs) background. New Englanders have,well, an English background…

    • Posted March 4, 2014 at 9:41 am | Permalink

      Yankee originally meant New Englander, with an obscure etymology. Southerners later referred to all Northerners as such.

      The New York American League baseball team was originally known as “The Highlanders”, from the hilly terrain of their first ballpark in upper Manhattan, but changed to “Yankees” during WWI, iirc.

      NB: a player for the Red Sox is known as a “Red Sox”, never a “Red Sock.”

  32. Posted March 4, 2014 at 11:57 am | Permalink

    Drooling… great post.


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