May 19, 2011 by Leah
The other night, I dreamed I was buying fresh sardines and mackerel from the fish counter at a supermarket. I can’t imagine where I’d have to be to have this scenario play out in the real world. The whole premise of the book “Four Fish” is that there are now four species of fish available at every fish counter in the entire country (if not the world), which can be either a good thing (woo! technology made fish husbandry possible!) or a bad thing (let’s lament lost biodiversity and regional differences!). Sardines and mackerel, though once seemingly prevalent the world over, are not any of these four species. They are recommended as ideal fish to ferment on the GAPS diet, and they are extremely hard to find fresh.
I’ve been speeding through the introductory portion of this diet. I got sick of soup after a day, and I’m also kind of sick of the complexity – any diet that has six introductory stages wherein I’m supposed to add some new food or three is annoying. I’ve skipped “fermented or cured fish,” because I didn’t go to my regular fish guy on Sunday. I made a loaf of “bread” with almond flour, which is pretty tasty even though I overcooked it. At this point I’m not really sure what stage of “intro” I’m on and am thinking I’ll just transition into full GAPS.
I’ve been cheating some. I’ve continued to add a splash of cranberry juice to my glasses of water. I had some non-organic herbal chai tea this morning. I had some cheddar cheese on day two. I’ve had more than the recommended amount of wine (which is a glass with a meal) on two occasions, and yesterday I had two cups of coffee when I’m technically only allowed one. All of this would probably not be acceptable if I were trying to cure a child of autism (well, particularly the wine and coffee), but since I’m an adult with no known food intolerances, I’m over all this obsessive attention to detail. I need the broad brushstrokes, and I’ve been doing well at following those.
We haven’t had any grains or legumes and I haven’t been drinking any milk. I so miss drinking milk that I bought some freeze-dried kefir starter, as kefir is allowed while milk is not. (In the part of the book where she talks about how to eat while pregnant, the author says that raw, grass-fed milk from a source you trust actually IS allowed, so I might just pretend to be pregnant so I can drink milk.) The kefir isn’t bad. It’s like a mild-tasting yogurt milkshake. I’ve got another half-gallon fermenting right now.
I miss the legumes, kind of, but I don’t really miss the grains. (Aaron says he does. He’s on the diet by default, having declined my offer of free run of the kitchen in order to make himself whatever he wants. Apparently it’s easier to eat whatever I make.) I haven’t had any fish this week and that’s what I’m really craving. I actually looked for salmon at the store (three stores, in point of fact), but the only wild-caught never-frozen salmon available was $29.99 per pound, and I don’t want to spend that kind of money on salmon I’m going to cure, especially because I’m not sure how fresh it really is. Luckily, fish canned in olive oil or its own juices is allowed on the diet, so I’m popping some sardines to go with lunch today.
I was doing well on the budget until yesterday, when I decided to make chicken liver pate to go with my almond “bread” loaf. The recipe I am planning to use for the pate (actually, I’m trying two different recipes) called for brandy or scotch. Since scotch is on the diet and brandy is not, I had to spend $20 for the surprisingly decent Trader Joe’s Highland Single Malt, and a little extra for more butter. (The fact that I love scotch has no bearing on this purchase. Whatsoever. None.) Then I went to pick up my bulk order from the buying club (THAT was an experience I am not sure I want to repeat, btw), so in effect added $80 more to this week’s now very-over-budget food spending. (That included $40 for a gallon of coconut oil, which should last a while.)
Excesses aside, it’s kind of nice being on this diet because I really can’t make impulse purchases of baguettes and ice cream, and it’s not that fun to “treat yourself” to, say, a green pepper. I’m going to continue the full GAPS diet for the next month, like I originally planned, but I have a lot of confusion about the specifics. I get avoiding processed foods and toxins, but balsamic vinegar, okra (which is growing in my garden), legumes (canellini, butter, garbanzo, and fava beans), certain cheeses (chevre, gjetost, feta, gruyere, and mozzarella), and chocolate are all on the “foods to avoid” list, along with the more expected grains, potatoes, soft drinks, etc. I’m of Norwegian extraction, dammit, and I want free access to gjetost!
If I hadn’t already been interested in traditional ways of food preparation, the GAPS diet would have blindsided me with all the work involved. It calls for making your own yogurt and kefir and fermenting your own vegetables and fish. It suggests buying raw nuts and curing them (soaking them in salt water and drying them in an oven set on low), and then making nut flour if you want “baked goods.” Of course, if I hadn’t been interested in traditional foods, I probably wouldn’t have come across this diet protocol, and doing all this work at home definitely makes for less waste and fewer trips to the store.
It’s been five days. I don’t have any major conclusions to draw. I feel good, although I did experience some exhaustion and joint pain (these are supposedly signs that my body is detoxing itself). Aaron feels “more clear” (even if he has been supplementing with verboten Pepsi and chocolate and peanut butter with added sugar). My fridge is full of meat, eggs, vegetables, and home-fermented foods. I have an excuse to take a long bath every day (yep, that’s part of GAPS protocol, too). Things could be worse.