Through the Prism

After passing through the prism, each refraction contains some pure essence of the light, but only an incomplete part. We will always experience some aspect of reality, of the Truth, but only from our perspectives as they are colored by who and where we are. Others will know a different color and none will see the whole, complete light. These are my musings from my particular refraction.

6.24.2010

Raramuri Diet Tips

First, the link, so it doesn't get buried under all the quotes. A link to recipes, which follow this introduction:

In case you're one of the six remaining runners on the planet who have yet to read Born to Run, allow me to explain. The Tarahumara are "the running people" on which most of the book is based, a Mexican tribe of superathletes who run 50 or 100 miles at a time for pure enjoyment, seemingly without effort.

The Tarahumara diet is described in some small detail in the book, with repeated mention of two staples — pinole and chia seeds. The author relates a few stories that ascribe almost magical qualities to these simple foods, and though he is prone to hyperbole, I found myself intrigued enough to do some research and try making them on my own.


Second, some relevant quotes from the book:

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Eat like a poor person, as Coach Joe Vigil likes to say, and you'll only see your doctor on the golf course.

"Anything the Tarahumara eat, you can get very easily," Tony told me. "It's mostly pinto beans, squash, chili peppers, wild greens, pinole, and lots of chia. And pinole isn't as hard to get as you think." . . .

"I'm a big fan of pinole. I love it," Tony told me. "It's an incomplete protein, but combined with beans, it's more nutritious than a T-bone steak. They usually mix it with water and drink it, but I like it dry. It tastes like shredded popcorn.

"Do you know about phenols?" Tony added. "They're natural plant chemicals that combat disease. They basically boost your immune system." When Cornell University researchers did a comparison analysis of wheat, oats, corn, and rice to see which had the highest quantity of phenols, corn was the hands-down winner. And because it's a low-fat, whole-grain food, pinole can slash your risk of diabetes and a host of digestive-system cancers. . . .

"How about beer?" I asked. "Any benefit to drinking like the Tarahumara?"

"Yes and no," Tony said. "Tarahumara tesguino [corn beer] is very lightly fermented, so it's low in alcohol and high in nutrients." That makes Tarahumara beer a rich food source--like a whole-grain smoothie--while ours is just sugar water. I could try home-brewing my own corn near-beer, but Tony had a better idea. "Grow some wild geranium," he suggested. "Or buy the extract online." Geranium niveum is the Tarahumara wonder drug; according to the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, it's as effective as red wine at neutralizing disease-causing free radicals. As one writer put it, wild geranium is "anti-everything--anti-inflammatory, antiviral, antibacterial, antioxidant."

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"You'll like this," he assured me.

I peered inside. The cup was full of gooey slime that looked like rice pudding without the rice, lots of black-flecked bubbles I was pretty sure were frog eggs in midhatch. If I were anywhere else, I'd think it was a gag; it looked exactly like a kid had scooped the scum out of his aquarium to see if he could trick me into tasting it. Best guess, it was some kind of fermented root mixed with river water--meaning if the taste didn't make me hurl, the bacteria would.

"Great," I said, looking around for a cactus I could dump it behind. "What is it?"

"Iskiate."

That sounded familiar . . . and then I remembered. The indomitable Lumholtz had once staggered into a Tarahumara home looking for food while he was in the middle of a grueling expedition. Looming ahead was a mountain he had to summit by nightfall. Lumholtz was exhausted and despairing; there was no way he had the strength left for the climb.

"I arrived late one afternoon at a cave where a woman was just making this drink," Lumholtz later wrote. "I was very tired and at a loss how to climb the mountain-side to my camp, some two thousand feet above. But after having satisfied my hunger and thirst with some iskiate," he went on, "I at once felt new strength, and, to my own astonishment, climbed the great height without much effort. After this I always found iskiate a friend in need, so strengthening and refreshing that I may almost claim it as a discovery."

Home-brewed Red Bull! Now this I had to try. "I'll save it for later," I told Angel. I poured the iskiate into a hip bottle that was half full of water I'd purified with iodine pills, then tossed in a couple of extra pills for good measure. I was dog tired, but unlike Lumholtz, I wasn't desperate enough to risk a yearlong bout of chronic diarrhea from waterborne bacteria.

Months later, I'd learn that iskiate is otherwise known as chia fresca--"chilly chia." It's brewed up by dissolving chia seeds in water with a little sugar and a squirt of lime. In terms of nutritional content, a tablespoon of chia is like a smoothie made from salmon, spinach, and human growth hormone. As tiny as those seeds are, they're superpacked with omega-3s, omega-6s, protein, calcium, iron, zinc, fiber, and antioxidants. If you had to pick just one desert-island food, you couldn't do much better than chia, at least if you were interested in building muscle, lowering cholesterol, and reducing your risk of heart disease; after a few months on the chia diet, you could probably swim home. Chia was once so treasured, the Aztecs used to deliver it to their king in homage. Aztec runners used to chomp chia seeds as they went into battle, and the Hopis fueled themselves on chia during their epic runs from Arizona to the Pacific Ocean. The Mexican state of Chiapas is actually named after the seed; it used to rank right up there with corn and beans as a cash crop. Despite its liquid-gold status, chia is ridiculously easy to grow; if you own a Chia Pet, in fact, you're only a few steps away from your own batch of devil drink.

And a damn tasty devil drink at that, as I discovered once the iodine had melted enough to risk a few swigs. Even with the medicinal after-bite from the pills, the iskiate went down like fruit punch with a nice limey tang. Maybe the excitement of the hunt had something to do with it, but within minutes, I felt fantastic. Even the low-throbbing headache I'd had all morning from sleeping on a frosty dirt floor the night before had vanished.

2 Comments:

At 6/25/2010 7:39 AM, Blogger Degolar said...

Interesting contrast

 
At 11/05/2015 10:15 AM, Blogger Stefan Drnek said...

Hello from Austria/ Europe!

Is it possible to get seeds from the plant "GERANIUM NIVEUM" anywhere around our planet?
I have been searching for about 1 Year, without positive result!
"Is there anybody out there?"----who could help me?

I´d be happy and surprised if there will come an answer!!

Have a good day, Stefan from Austria

 

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