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Sunday, March 1, 2015

HAPPY BIRTHDAY RIO!

The age of a city, of course, depends on a variety of historical factors.  Honolulu, for example, was settled some time in the 11th century.  Are we, then 1000 years old?  King Kamehameha I headquartered in Waikiki from 1804, so perhaps we are 200+ years old.  Our incorporation date was 30April1907, so that was only a little more than a century ago.

In history texts, the European version of the beginning usually prevails, as for example, the Portuguese arrived in 1502, 500 French colonists in 1555 and the city of Rio was named by Portugal on 1March1565 as Sao Sebastian do Rio de Janeiro.  Anyway, Happy 550th Birthday Rio, which I previously described as "The Happiest and Most Beautiful City in the World."  


Just behind the statue of Christ the Redeemer, I dropped Pearl's ashes.

Click on my posting for why Rio is so happy and beautiful, but, there are several serious problems facing the city:
  • I got bitten on three fingers in a Rio de Janeiro biological park tour by what must have been a spider (recluse?). They all swelled up and looked terrible. A doctor on our tour diagnosed my ailment, and told me to just tolerate it until it ran its course. This could have been fatal, and there was a finite chance that the flesh would continue to decompose, so my survival was especially sweet, for my fingers have totally recovered. (Tauck has subsequently removed this park from their tour.)
  • Copacabana is an exceptional beach, but the past few years have seen mass beach robberies.

However, the country pulled off the 2014 World Cup--even though Brazil got embarrassed by Germany, 7-1, in the quarterfinals, and by the Netherlands, 3-0, for third place--so there is confidence that all will be well for the Olympics.  After a $26 billion make-over,  Rio should be even more beautiful:


Today I went to Lily's 3 year birthday party at Orchids:


My posting yesterday was so memorable, that this morning I arrived into the Marukai parking lot at 7:50AM, and was ready to enter the store at 8 with a dozen others.  However, I forgot my Marukai card, so had to return to my car, and I feared those Japanese beef packages would be gone because of my negligence.  I raced over and came upon:


I purchased three packages:


Just the fat cost $10/pound, while the price of the real stuff went up from $57/pound to $79/pound:


You would think they would spell better for the cost being charged.  I have a few extravagant plans to be exalted in future postings.  Scroll down to my best steak meal, ever.

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Saturday, February 28, 2015

POSSIBLY, MY BEST STEAK MEAL EVER!

I'm monthly sent a Marukai membership newsletter.  From February 24 to March 2 they are featuring a Kyushu Fair.  What caught my attention was:

Miyazaki Wagyu feef cattle, raised in Miyazaki Prefecture (near Kagoshima--I'm familiar with Miyazaki because I now and then stay at the Ocean Resort there), have won various awards... including the most honored "National Wagyu Award," which is presented to the best beef cattle once every five years.

In short, their Miyazaki Gyu is superior to all, has a reputation for quality in taste and texture, and was the first Japanese beef to be exported to the US.  Although high in fat content, it is unsaturated, with exceptional flavor.  NO PRICE WAS QUOTED!

Remember, the best Japanese beef in the basement markets of Japanese department stores such as Mitsukoshi sell beef or $200/pound (only because the Japanese yen has fallen--this photo was taken when the yen was just below 100/$, making the price $250/pound).  I was curious what they would be charging here in Hawaii.  So I went to Marukai at Ala Moana and found out that you need to to show up when the product is made available.  And it was uncertain when they would appear, for it comes from the main store on Dillingham.  So I showed up soon after 8AM (when the store opens) yesterday at the main market, found my way to where this meat was sold, and they were all gone, at 8:12 AM.  But an old man was holding the final package, and seemed concerned about the price, so asked me if I wanted it, so I grabbed it and practically ran to check out before he changed his mind.


It says Kagoshima wagyu beef, but Miyazaki is adjacent and this had to be the authentic version.  As you can see, the price is $57/pound, a true bargain compared to $200/pound.  I added to the 1/2 pound steak some fresh shiitake mushrooms from Japan.

I cooked a Niigata rice and opened a bottle of Robert Mondavi 18-year old wine.  Why I still had it is a mystery because this is a cheap wine costing way less than $10/bottle.  
But I filtered it and poured into a decanter.  It was exquisite, if not fabulous:


Thus, if you have the time and space, consider storing some inexpensive bottles. That's my wine cellar to the left, keeping whites at 50 F and reds at 60 F.

I also splurged on some high quality yellow fin tuna for sashimi.  I might add that I had breakfast this morning, went to Marukai, came home,  then went golfing at the Ala Wai Golf Course.  

I walked all 18 holes, missed lunch, and by 5PM was very, very hungry.  Yet, my blood pressure measured 136/74, extremely low under these conditions.  At this stage of hunger I manytimes find myself as high as 180/100.  (An hour after dinner, my pressure dropped to 103/60, indicating that walking on a golf course must be good for my health.)  I'm standing next to Pearl's Gold Tree at the 17th tee.  Anyway, here was my lanai meal:


Perhaps because of the enhanced anticipation, but the steak was the best I've ever had in my life.

Maybe my most memorable steak was more than a quarter century ago at Trail Dust in Denver:


I tried, and could not finish, their 50 ounce porterhouse (Bull Shipper), for $18.99, which came with all the trimmings and free red wine.  Mind you, this was memorable, not tasty, but okay.

You never heard of the top 50 steakhouses in America, #1 being Cut (left, Four Seasons) in Beverly Hills, California.  No Ruth's Chris, Morton's or Hy's.  New York City, Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles and Las Vegas seem to dominate the lists.  I've been to many of them, but the taste of U.S. beef cannot match the best wagyu from Japan.  A close #2 might have been two Matsusaka beef experiences.  For two nights in a row I had that steak at the Four Seasons in Chiang Mai.  In Matsusaka, the mayor of the adjacent town took me to a barbecue restaurant featuring their steak.  Omni beef is also excellent, Kobe seems absent from the the top, and Miyazaki is mentioned as the second largest producer.  


Japanese cows are said to live an emperor's life, which is why they produce the fattest and most succulent flesh in the world. Every cattle farmer in Japan has his own method of indulging their cows, from secret blends of soybeans, tofu byproduct or sake mash in the feed; mineral water to drink; and daily walks and supposed beer massages to encourage fat distribution. Some even play classical music to relax the animals, while making sure they receive plenty of time in the sun.

This quote also goes on to say that Kagoshima (Miyazaki) beef is the highest exported from Japan.  So, Marukai's ad was accurate.  Interesting that Kobe beef is all male, while Matsusaka is all female.  Anyway, my 15 Craigside lanai steak yesterday was the best I've ever enjoyed in my life.

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Thursday, February 26, 2015

I REPEAT, SUGAR IS BAD, BUT EATING HIGH CHOLESTEROL FOOD, MIGHT, ACTUALLY, NOW BE OKAY

Every five years the U.S. Departments of Agriculture and Health/Human Services revise diet guidelines.  Yesterday, we heard that sugar was bad for your health.  Nothing new, but now the matter of taxing sugar products is being advanced.  The next step to is to sock it to, especially, fructose.  Get ready for some resistance from the corn industry, which, to a much lower degree, is where tobacco was  half a century ago.

As someone whose first job as a chemical engineer was a sugar factory engineer for C. Brewer in the southernmost community in the USA, Naalehu, the fall of this sweet toxin has been like a bad dream.  Fortuitously, that same half a century ago I essentially left sugar processing for research and graduate school, which resulted in a Biochemical Engineering PhD and a lifelong tenure with the University of Hawaii.

I still have an office on the Manoa Campus and almost can't believe my luck, for instead of having to suffer through the tribulations of life in a sugar factory if I never left Kau on the Big Island, I instead went on to  laser fusion with the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence with NASA, helping draft original legislation for hydrogen, ocean energy, wind power and more for the U.S. Senate, and a professional lifetime developing renewable energy and sustainable ocean resources.  All this while traveling more than 2 million miles with United Airlines and taking a dozen around the world trips, dining at Michelin 3-Star and Pellegrino Best 100 restaurants.  Was this pure luck, or by design?

So today, I shift to the latest U-turn of the medical profession:  you now can essentially go back to eating foods with high cholesterol, like eggs, steaks, butter, lobster and shrimp.  The truly embarrassing part to all this is that our best scientific minds actually confused dietary cholesterol and serum (what is in your blood) cholesterol.  Incredibly, this same panel seems also to be backtracking on the dangers of salt (sodium) and eating read meat, in the sense that those current limits were left vague and uncertain.  Wow, it's a good thing I never listened to them and maintained a diet high in cholesterol and salt, while enjoying my steak, now and then.

Mind you, a high cholesterol count in your blood is not good at all.  It's just that, not the food you eat, but the following factors are to blame:
  • Smoking
  • Obesity
  • Lack of exercise
  • Genetic inheritance
  • Diabetes
Ironically enough, FRUCTOSE, a sugar, can induce diabetes, which raises your cholesterol, leading to heart attacks and strokes.  So, enjoy your morning egg, but watch out for those corn syrup sweeteners.

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FRUCTOSE IS VERY BAD FOR YOUR HEALTH



The Federal Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee recently filed a report to eat less red meat, not particularly because it might not be good for your health, but more for the contention that cattle messed up the environment.  They also flatulate, contributing to The Venus Syndrome.  However, I'm the guy who last year posted on:  EAT BEEF FAT AND BETTER ENJOY LIFE!  Thus, our government agencies don't seem to be coordinating their message.  Mostly, though, the Committee recommended taxing sodas and snacks.  The increasing presence of sugars in your diet was of especial concern.

In some ways, this could be the beginning of what the tobacco industry faced half a century ago.  Today, New York City residents pay Federal, state and city taxes amounting to $5.85/pack of cigarettes, versus 17 cents in the state of Missouri, plus the mandated $1.01/pack, which is taxed nationwide.

Why this tax?  First, tobacco products are bad for your health, so it seemed sensible to make them so expensive that people would reduce smoking and chewing them.  Second, every government entity is looking for ways to get your money, and this one could be foisted on the general public with minimal resistance, except for Missouri and other mostly southern states.  

And these taxes worked, for smoking rates have dropped by 59% since 1964 and life expectancy has increased.  Ironically, in Hawaii, the drop has been so great that the budget of the University of Hawaii's Cancer Research Center is now in  jeopardy because their share of the smoking tax has subsequently fallen, putting the organization in jeopardy.

I might add that not only did we win the Cold War, the U.S. surely must have been responsible for the fact that Russia and former Soviet nations now smoke more cigarettes/capita (2861/year in Serbia and 2,786/year in Russia) in the world, with China trying to catch up (world's largest consumer and producer of tobacco):


We all saw those films where tobacco industry witnesses lied at hearings.  So they got what they deserved, and people now live longer.  Today, these companies are fighting back and are actually winning court cases to reduce their guilt in required ads.

Which leads me to what might, in fact, be now happening to the assorted sugar industries.  Certainly, they can't be so dumb as was the tobacco industry in attempting to deceive the masses and government, but don't be surprised to over the next decade witness something similar with sugar, especially with regards to fructose and the corn industry.

First a tutorial on sugar.  The sugar you get from sugar cane is sucrose.  Sucrose is formed of glucose and fructose.  Turns out that all are bad for your health if taken to excess, but fructose is really, really terrible.  The fructose you ingest generally comes from fruits and corn syrup, which are half fructose and half glucose.  Here are ten reasons why you should limit fructose consumption:
  • Not only can't fructose be used by your body cells as energy, it is a toxin.  The liver tries to get rid of it mainly by transforming it into fat.
  • Fructose, thus, damages the liver, leading to insulin resistance, somewhat similar to ethanol (or the alcohol you drink).  Diabetes!!!
  • Fructose forms advanced glycation end-products seven times more than glucose, leading to inflammation and a host of chronic diseases.
  • Fructose increases uric acid production, which can cause gout, kidney stones and hypertension (high blood pressure),
  • Apparently, pathogenic bacteria in your gut are prone to increase because they can use fructose.
  • Fructose is a direct cause of heart disease.
  • Fructose leads to obesity.
  • Cancer cells use fructose for energy.
  • Fructose impairs memory.
What foods have little or no fructose?
  • fresh meat and fish
  • beans
  • nuts
So, keep in mind that eating too much added sugar increases your risk of dying.  Study participants who took in 25% or more of their daily calories as sugar were more than twice as likely to die from heart disease compared to those who consumed less than 10%.  Sugar-sweetened beverages such as sodas and energy/sport drinks are by far the biggest sources of added sugar today.  Cookies, cakes, pastries and ice cream are also not so good for you.

Okay, so as you need to cut back on salt, alcohol, carbohydrates, red and organ meats, fats, dairy products, fish with mercury, and now sugar, what can you, then, eat?  Here is a food pyramid from Australia:


Note the walking/running around.  Don't be a couch potato.  At my age I consider all the above and eat whatever I want, with balance and moderation.  However, I might ingest slightly too much salt, as with sashimi or in poke and soups...more ice cream than I should...an alcoholic drink or two or three...a steak and even foie gras on occasion...tiny servings of rice, pasta and potato, usually, but Rainbow Drive Inn and Zippy's are unfortunate exceptions...some nuts...creamy blue cheese...a regular breakfast of cereal, fruits, milk and yogurt...and a whole lot of raw vegetables.  I walk on a golf course two or three time per week and now and then use the exercise machines in our center.  I recently fought off the flu in two days and feel healthy.  Yes, I minimize my fructose input and avoid those chemical sweeteners.  Life is great.  That's me at Rainbow Falls after the first ash tossing ceremony.

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