Monday, December 12, 2011

Magazine Review: Spacing Fall 2011

I have already gone through some of the local magazines in the last while and I have left spacing until last.  It has been the hardest one to review for a variety of reasons.  I always look at this magazine as a blog first and I read it like I would read a blog.  

I bounce around the issue and ignore the pieces that I am not interested in and spend a lot of time on the pieces that I like.  The best blogs are conversations.  The best pieces in spacing invites disagreements and discussions.  This is where the value in spacing lives.  It is the beginning for a larger engagement.

I'll try to explain a little better with some examples.  Last year I was talking about how the best ethnic food is no longer going to be found in traditional ethnic centres (i.e. the best Indian food will not be found on Gerrard street or Italian on College.)  I was not quite sure what that meant.  There is a thoughtful piece about the move of good ethnic eats to suburbia by Sarah Efron.  It attempts to explain the migration of communities from downtown to the suburbs and it does provide a likely story.

This year, a new market started in the Beaches and I wonder how they will survive.  A piece that examines the business of the markets written by Dylan Reid appears using the St Andrew's Market as its case study.  It provides some good background information on how it came to happen and whether it will succeed.  It provides a basis to open a discussion on the viability.  Coupled with the article around whether farmers' markets are just feel good by Shawn Micallef and you begin to get the start of a dialogue.

The rest of the food related articles are similar thought probes that provide the opportunity for action, discussion and mobilization.  It makes we want to get up and be a joiner.  Something I definitely am not.  But then...  I go to the website and try to find a way to become engaged.  It seems that this may just be another magazine with no ability for readers to become more involved.  It is obvious that the people behind spacing are empassioned and informed.  They are doers.  But there is no way for me to find my way into the picture.  I am having difficulty navigating by category and finding pieces that I know must exist on their site.  Hopefully this is a temporary technical problem.

The whole idea just promises so much.  With such smart writing and good ideas, it should be making a bigger impact on our city.  You need to take the mag along with the blog and all the other social media before you can become connected and it shouldn't be as filled with barriers as it is.  Still, pick it up.  It will get you thinking and if that is all it does, then that is enough.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

What could be worse?

So, I have been feeling off for the last few weeks.  My cast iron stomach has been feeling like stainless steel.  I even had heartburn.  My wife was sick a little while with a terrible cold and I believe that I may be getting it.  I was feeling sorry for myself because when I get a cold and lose my sense of smell, I do not like food.  It tastes dull and the best part is the texture.  I lose my appetite and largely eat soup and whatever because it does not matter.

Earlier this year, I had my wisdom teeth out.  (Stick with me, this is not a litany of poor me.) I only had two teeth to remove and the operation was not very painful.  I was put off my feed for a few days before getting right back on the regular meals.  There was some issues with carrots and nuts but really it was not much.  Still, I complained a little and felt a little sorry for myself for the week.

Like many people, I am at risk for heart disease, mainly because of my genetics.  I can keep the risks down but it will never bring it to zero.  It does mean making sure that I understand more about salts and complex starches and sugars.  But in reality, it means being a moderate and enjoying all aspects of food.  I have learned even more about seasonal fruits and vegetables.  I cook better without cooking "healthy".  This type of consideration makes you better at meal planning and constructing a diet that no one would consider a diet.  This I do not consider a reason to feel sorry though sometimes I wonder about inevitability.

While I am waiting for the inevitable of the cold to happen, I have been going through some old posts that I have been meaning to read.  I came across Life, On the Line which is Grant Achatz's memoir and realized that I was being a bit of a baby.  This guy had mouth cancer.  For him, it wasn't just about the inability to taste but it was about his livelihood.  I am not sure how much worse it could get for a chef or a foodie.

Last week, a link came in my email about a relative of my wife's who also has oral cancer.  It is a cool video of a novel feeding tube.  I work in healthcare research related field and I found the video very interesting.  It seems to me that more and more care is being taken to ensure that patients are being treated as people rather than a more prescriptive practice of telling them what to do for the convenience of the healthcare system.  But what struck me was the idea of not eating food but being full.

Another relative had a feeding tube and one of the things that they missed most was the sensation of chewing.  It felt odd to be full without at least partaking in the physicality of eating let alone tasting.  So, for the rest of the flu and cold season, I am not going to complain about not being able to taste.

I do wonder if I was unable to eat for an extended period of time how it would affect me.  My dad after finding out that he had heart disease (Metabolic syndrome), eventually tired of eating none of his favourite foods and began eating what he liked in moderation.  In the end, something else got him.  I guess I am glad that he did not let his disease dictate his diet wholly.  This lesson of moderation and doing what you love was not lost on me.  I still wonder what I would do if I was forced to an extreme change but I am grateful that I do not have to worry about that.  I enjoy my meals while keeping one eye to the future.