Thursday, December 20, 2007

Sour You Doing?

Over the years, I've learned to trust my body to tell me what it truly needs. I don't live day to day basing my meals on cravings, but when I do get a strong craving for some particular kind of food, I've learned to listen because it means something in my nutritional intake is lacking and needs to be bolstered.

If I'm feeling tired and run-down, chances are that I need more dark leafy greens because I've probably gotten slightly anemic. If I feel some sort of illness coming on, I may start craving citrus, determined to pump more vitamin C into my system, or garlic, for its antibiotic properties. You get the idea.

During my recent respiratory infection, which is finally (finally!) tapering off, I went through all sorts of cravings: constant supplies of herbal teas liberally laced with honey, lots of garlic, mild starches (especially potatoes), and pickles.

Wait. Pickles? She who never cared for pickles, now craves them???

Believe me, I'm as surprised as you are. Granted, I learned to appreciate some pickled foods a little more this summer, thanks to my vinegar adventures, but I've never before experienced actual pickle cravings. It's just odd.

When I made Indian spiced foods during my illness, hoping that the heat and spices would burn out some of the germs, I also reached for the cantaloupe chutney and... yes, truly... the watermelon pickles. And oh my goodness! They tasted so unbelievably good that I had a hard time restraining myself from cleaning out the entire jar.

Tonight, I felt the craving again, so I pulled out a triple whammy of vinegary treats. I sauteed some bok choy with garlic and tossed it with balsamic vinegar; I browned a vegetarian burger and topped it with local Cheddar cheese and homemade zucchini relish; and I added a pile of watermelon pickles to the plate.

I almost wanted to lick the plate, it tasted so right to me.

I don't quite understand what it is about vinegar that makes it so appealing when I'm under the weather. Is it more full of vitamin C than orange juice? Is it because that tang provides an almost cleansing sensation to a system too long crudded up? After all the bland comfort food, is the acidic nature of vinegar needed to bring me back into balance? (A quick Google search indicates that that might be part of the cause, as well as a need for more potassium.) If you have any other ideas, feel free to let me know in the comments!

I wonder if I'll turn into a happy sour addict? (Probably not, but hmmm...)


At 12/22/2007 5:23 PM, Blogger Bri said...

I do the same thing with listening to what I'm craving and what it says about my internal state. I once read a sweet pregnancy journal where the woman intensely craved watermelon, just so she could have an excuse to eat the seeds. Odd, huh? Well, later she found out watermelon seed are high in iron, so her body led her to a good food source. As for the vinegar/sour kick you've been on lately, I don't know if you know anything about Chinese medicine, but it seems you are open to complementary medicine. Among others, the Chinese feel there are 5 elements that make up everything in the universe (wood, fire, earth, metal and water). Each of the elements are associated with (among other qualities) sour, bitter, sweet, pungent, and salty respectively. We are made up of those five elements and need to have a balance of them in our lives. It's possible that your body is looking for wood/sour energy right now and expressing that by craving pickle (which is very tasty, by the way, I especially like lemon pickle)
Anyway, that's another take on the vinegar craving. You can take it or leave it. :)

At 12/23/2007 7:35 AM, Blogger The Baklava Queen said...

Thanks for sharing the story, Bri... cravings are such fascinating things! The Chinese medicine angle seems to fit very well with the five tastes (sweet, sour, salty, bitter, and umami), so I was thinking along the same lines that I was out of balance in those five things. Since I've never been crazy about sour, though, I'm wondering if this is also a matter of age changing my tastes and metabolism. Whatever it is, I'll just roll with it, especially since I have good vinegar and pickles stocked up!


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