this is the archive for the ‘foooood’ category:


a week of powdered food

a while back, we spent a week eating just meal replacements, for the sake of the experiment. i love self-experimenting and stuff like soylent intrigued me… so after some reddit research, we ordered a bunch of jimmy joy and just went for it!

on a monday morning bright and early, we made our first plenny shake with lukewarm water, adjusting the quantities to our daily needs.

i confess the taste was my biggest fear — would it be too sweet? too grainy or gritty? turns out, neither! they all taste vaguely like oatmeal with hints of fruit or chocolate and definitely don’t feel weird or too sweet. the consistency is that of a thickened milkshake, and the best description we could come up with for the taste was “watered-down cerelac” — not a bad thing in my book! we tried all their current flavors: banana, strawberry, chocolate, vanilla, mango, plain and cappuccino (with coffee), and even mixed a bit of leftover powder to make a sort of tutti-frutti flavor. :D they were all ok, some more true to their flavor than others, but never overpowering or off-putting. banana was our favorite, with vanilla and chocolate being close seconds.

we had 3 meals per day and tried to space our meals more or less 5 hours apart, so we could have a break in the middle of the day, and ended up not feeling particularly hungry at any time. turns out, drinking a thick milkshake can be quite filling! we drank ours in the terrace, enjoying the sunshine and getting some extra vitamin D in the process.

so… did we like it? unexpectedly, yes — a lot! :D

after giving it a try, i can definitely understand the allure on different levels, but especially if someone lacks the time, skills or motivation to cook. as every adult who leaves their parent’s home quickly discovers, cooking (and cleaning!) is a time-consuming activity which you end up doing most days of your life. so by not having to shop, cook or clean, one can easily save some time. it also makes it super easy to make sure you get all the nutrition and calories you need (and not more), which can be hard if you’re normally not in control of the things you eat, or you’re always on the go.

actually not having to worry about food, made me realize how much i worried about food on a normal week. even with our very streamlined meals (we mostly eat eggs for breakfast or soup for dinner, for instance), i would randomly find myself thinking about whether i had something prepared, or whether i had remembered to defrost the soup… before reminding myself that i didn’t have to do that.

some friends asked us whether it was boring, and it’s hard to say. i like eating, and i enjoy a good meal, but if i’m being honest, 80% of the meals we eat are nothing to write home about — just a way to get nutrition in our bodies. so eating the same thing over and over for a while doesn’t really bother me — but i guess it could be different for different people.

another thing we were asked was whether it was expensive, and honestly, i don’t think so. i ordered €80’s worth of meal replacements which i thought would last us a week, but we ended up using less than that after adjusting for nutrition, so maybe €70/week would have been a better estimation. my grocery bill for a week of meals for 2 doesn’t usually go that high… but in the end, i don’t think the difference is that significant, especially when you factor in the time saved.

the one thing i didn’t like about it was all the plastic packaging. as someone who shops mostly in the farmer’s market, i’m able to avoid most wrappings and just shove produce into my basket or re-use the same plastic bags until they fall apart. but with meal replacements, that’s impossible and it bothers me. so for now, a compromise: we’re using them as planters for all the cuttings we’re growing at the moment, extending the packaging’s lifespan until they end up in the recycling bin.

the plants seem to like it too! :)

ps – funny enough, on the week we did this experiment, our gas company decided to do some impromptu repairs which left us gas-less for most of the day. no problem though — we didn’t need it!

pain de sucre

everyone has seen the famous sugarloaf mountain in brasil, but do you know where its name comes from? here’s a clue…

it’s sugarloaf, or pão de açucar! we found them in carrefour in morocco, and i had never seen one in my life. apparently, this is how sugar used to be sold in most places up until the 20th century, and they still sell it there. the cones are big (around 2kg each) and can be grated or chiseled, breaking off small pieces to use.

we probably had it on the numerous cups of mint tea we consumed there!

fried aubergine

ok, so one thing we noticed on our incursions into andalusia (and córdoba specifically) is the deliciousness that is fried aubergine (or eggplant)! what a way to turn an otherwise boring vegetable into something amazing. we loved it so much, we practically spent our short time in córdoba trying it in different restaurants. proof:

it’s usually served with honey for dipping, or with bits of salt. it’s crunchy and smooth at the same time… like mozarella sticks but less cheesy and more… auberginey.

this last one was my favourite though. turns out, deep fried aubergine with honey and goat cheese is the bomb. if you pass by córdoba, give it a go!

dom rodrigo

yesterday at a restaurant over lunch, a british lady sitting with a group of friends on the table next to ours asked the waitress for a dessert recommendation, “something typical!“, she said. the waitress pointed to one of the few items on the menu that didn’t have a photo and said “try this — you’re going to like it. if you don’t, you don’t have to pay!“. she laughed and ordered it.

while we waited for our food to show up, i wondered what she had recommended… and then when she came over carrying a mysterious tinfoil pyramid, i knew she’d made a good choice. the group of friends ooooh’d and aaah’d at the contraption while she twisted and unwrapped the surprise package until an unappetising “nest” emerged. urged by the waitress, she hesitantly scooped a bit onto her fork… and then proceeded to gobble the whole thing in a flash! :)

dom rodrigo

dom rodrigo is a traditional sweet from the south of portugal, consisting of (what else!) egg yolks and sugar, sprinkled with a bit of almond. the yolks are turned into angel hair, delicate golden strands drenched in a syrupy concoction of almond and more yolks.

here’s the boy opening his:

it looks like a mess and would probably be a hard sell were it merely scooped onto a plate, but the fanciness of the package gives an almost dignified air to the whole thing.

not that it matters how it looks because the taste of it… goodness. those gooey strands are the thing of dreams! they melt in your mouth and leave nothing behind but sweetness, the faintest hint of cinnamon, and a crave for the next hit.

dom rodrigo

a couple of scoops later and it feels like it’s over before it even started. soon enough you’ll find yourself trying not to lick the paper!

the fish basket

back in berlin, we had a weekly delivery vegetables in a basket. i’ve always liked the concept and it made sense when we lived there… but around here, with a market brimming with fresh stuff practically around the corner (including bio produce), i can’t really justify the indulgence. that said, i do miss one of the aspects that i liked the most about the basket, which was that it removed the choice element, forcing us to improvise and try new things.

enter… fish.

fish is one of those things that took some time to acclimatise once we moved here. we knew we wanted to try eating more of it (hence #54 on the list) and the market is filled with fresh stuff, but frankly, for a beginner, it’s more than a little daunting to pick and choose what to try… so why not leave that choice to the local fishermen and go with whatever they catch that day? i’m a fan of the throw-yourself-to-the-deep-end approach sometimes.

and this is how we now we have a semi-regular fish basket! :) it comes from fuzeta, a seaside parish of olhão around 15km from here. whatever their group of fishermen catches the day before, it’s delivered in less than 24 hours, gutted, sealed in vacuum and covered in ice — and that’s what we’re having throughout the week.

we’ve only had a couple of deliveries so far, but it has been working brilliantly, and the feeling of supporting the local community on their traditional trades is a great one. plus, we’ve also been trying quite a few new species with yummy results. this week: cuttlefish, ray and horse mackerel.

let the adventurous culinary exploration continue! :)