Ah, the Aroma of Arame…

If everything yesterday felt completely up in the air, things feel more settled today. It’s not that there have been any definite, positive changes since yesterday, job-wise. It’s more that yesterday gave us a big old leg sweep, and today we’re standing up, dusting ourselves off, and looking about somewhat dazedly.

I attribute this to time and three other factors:

1) We moved furniture. I’ve been lobbying to move the “office” upstairs since we moved in two years ago, and now that my husband is doing his job search from home and would like a door separating our children from his rickety train of thought, he’s finally relented. Now that I think about it, clearing off the desk and lugging it upstairs might not energize everyone, but I love to move stuff around. Usually I have to do it at night all by myself since my husband generally refuses to take part in what he considers a waste of time and energy, so it was an extra treat to have his assistance today! I don’t know if it’s a flow of chi thing or a control thing or just the illusion of progress that results from shifting the position of our possessions. Whatever it is, it gives me energy and a sense of hope.

Looks delicious, doesn't it?

2) I seem to be adjusting to my diet. I’m not so weak with hunger as I was yesterday (in fact, I feel pretty great, physically), and I’ve quickly readjusted to the lack of meat and sugar (and those flavors) in my diet. I still crave coffee. And, strangely, frosted mini wheats. I’ve not had those in years, but I can practically taste them. But I don’t feel like avoiding eating just so I don’t have to consume any more greens. I even ate sea vegetables tonight and didn’t gag.

I have an affinity for things Japanese (collectivism, stoicism, Aikido, Japanese Buddhism, furoshiki), but I’ve not embraced the cuisine the way many of my compatriots have. I can roll fish-less sushi and make onigiri with salted hands, but while my children stuff sheets of nori into their mouths, I need to have some pickled ginger or umeboshi paste to mask the taste of mine. Two years ago, after reading the previous edition of Feeding the Whole Family (the one with the purple cover and the rave reviews of the flavor and health benefits of sea vegetables), I bought every kind of sea vegetable the store had (hijiki, arame, wakame, dulce, nori). To give you an idea of how quickly my interest waned, the package of arame was still unopened when I fished it out of the cupboard tonight for my Blackeye Peas with Arame and Cilantro (guess which recipe book it’s from. Seriously, just buy it. You won’t regret it. Except maybe for the Thick Potato, Cauliflower, and Dulse Soup. That none of us could palate).

I smelled the arame when I opened the package. Ick. Sea vegetable-y. That’s OK, I thought. Maybe it will be OK in the finished recipe.

I smelled it after it had soaked in cold water for thirty minutes. Uh-oh. If anything, it was worse. Still, I pressed on, but whipped up some hummus, just in case my main dish was entirely unpalatable.

I smelled it after I’d added it and the ginger and tamari to the cooked blackeye peas. I could still smell it, but it was a little better. I was still doubtful, but I put on an excited face for the kids.

“Look kids! Blackeye peas with arame! It looks like little black strings, but it tastes like nori!”

My daughter put one in her mouth and scrunched up her nose.

“This does not taste like nori,” she declared. “And these are not the kind of beans I like.”

So, I gave her and her brother a sheet of nori torn into squares, and they ate nori and hummus and veggies and lots of pickles instead of the blackeye peas and Emerald City Salad I’d made. But I was surprised to find that I actually liked the blackeye peas with arame. I think I like it in spite of the arame rather than because of it, but I still ate it, and that’s something.

3) Darnit, I spent so long writing about the arame, I forgot what the third thing was. Well, I’m sure it’ll come back to me in the middle of the night.

At any rate, while I’m still anxious about the future and a little overwhelmed at my inability to take any concrete action until my husband accepts a job offer, I’m feeling less apt to hyperventilate than I was yesterday. And I’m actually starting to feel energized about Social Month!

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