Monthly Archives: May 2013

Have You Touched A Dead Whale?

A dead Fin Whale washed up on the shore of a Burien park, Seahurst on April 13th. Burien is just south of Seattle, Washington, so I was able to go see it in person. Hundreds of people came out over the weekend and Monday to see it too. In other countries, like Japan or cultures like our local Makah Native American Tribe on the northern corner of Washington, hunting and using whale is normal.

We don’t always see a whale up close, or a dead one. It was a great attraction because it was unusual. It took officials 4 days to decide what to do with it. I was drawn like many others to go see it in person.I brought my cousin, to see it with me. We had to walk quite a ways to get to the beach, and were both waiting to smell decay. We didn’t smell anything until we got within about 50 yards of the Whale.

FinWhalebyHolli1There were several dozen people up close to the whale, touching it, looking into it’s mouth, poking the skin, and one girl even kicked the whale to see if it would bounce. Standing within 5 feet of the whale myself, it started to smell really badly. I didn’t want to get any closer for the smell, but in order to take any photos, I had to get beside the folks standing so close to it that they could touch it. One girl who I would say was about 10 rubbed her hands along the whale’s jaw, and then touched her face. I was really upset. First, it bothered me that so many people were being disrespectful of a dead animal. Then, as a mother I hated to see kids touch the whale and not wash their hands afterward (not like it was an easy option being on the beach).

FinWhalebyHolli2My cousin and I walked around the whale once and spent about 10 minutes total looking at it before we both had to leave. That smell of decay, especially whale or any fish for that matter is really terrible.

One day later, officials roped off the area. We don’t now what exactly killed the whale or what diseases it could have carried. Two days later, the whale was towed away to decay naturally in peace on a deserted beach. It was sad to me that it took us this long to decide what to do with the whale.

FinWhalebyHolli3Juli told me that in China they are taught to take care of the dead quickly, and with great care to cleanliness. Germs spread easily and it is a basic sanitary matter. If it smells bad then, it seems like common sense to not touch it. Hand washing is still the best way to stop spreading germs, but if you must touch something dead, wear protective gear.

As Juli said, “Being curious can be good or bad thing, the rules is if it smells, looks and taste bad it is bad for you. Exception of our earthy, bitter tasting herbs, the bitter the herbs the better for you.”
So, I learned something new last month: be careful when you’re curious!

Holli Margell

Searching for the Elixer of Immortality

Do you want to live forever? I believe we all want to be immortal especially the emperors of China. The search for an immortality elixir is ancient.

The first Emperor of China, Qin Shi Huang Di, conquered all of China and believed he could conquer life during his reign from 259-210 BC. He desperately sought the fabled elixir of life, which would supposedly allow him to live forever, by sending hundreds of people to find it, but failed.

He died of mercury poisoning after he had eaten too many mercury pills, prescribed by his court doctors to make him immortal. He actually turned the color of Silver! The search for the elixir of life finally caused enough deaths from mercury and arsenic that the Chinese stopped looking.

My father has forbidden the teaching or usage of Elixir for immortality. He believed that life is betrayed by immortality. We all seek to live a better life, as we age, the struggle of remembrance, ability to do our daily chores and our body giving in causes fearful.

I believe that immortality is living without pain or regrets. Preventive care is a must in the early days, and to live a balanced life. Our daily function affects our longevity. When we are young, parents teach children respect, to eat healthy and making sure we take our herbs to prevent illness. And most important is to educate us so we can find better jobs. Better jobs gives us prosperity, good health gives us a chance to use that prosperity. I wish us all great health and prosperity.

A great physician should not pay attention to status, wealth or age; neither should he question whether the particular person is attractive or unattractive, whether he is an enemy or friend, whether he is a Chinese or a foreigner, or finally, whether he is uneducated or educated. He should meet everyone on equal grounds. He should always act as if he were thinking of his close relatives. This is how my father taught me to be a healer.

Live your life with good health,

Are You Good Enough To Be My Bread?

As I promised last month, I am going to discuss the difference between good bread and bad bread in terms of health. I shamelessly confessed that I am addicted to bread, particularly the bread I bake myself. But, I wouldn’t dare to say that bread is healthy for you. In fact, I believe average breads are quite unhealthy. Most breads are hard to digest and make you sluggish for various reasons. But, who can live without bread? Maybe you can, but I can never live without a good loaf of bread. So let’s see what we can do about that!

In my opinion, breads can be categorized into 3 different groups (For the sake of simplicity I will discuss only WHEAT bread): First group is called “Fake,” which is the regular sliced bread in the plastic bag that you see on the shelves of grocery store. They usually contain preservatives and mold-inhibitors for a much longer shelf life. Some additives are added to make bread lighter (fluffier) and uniform in texture. Dough conditioners and stabilizers are added to structurally weak dough which is quickly raised with strong commercial yeast in order to mass produce in the shortest possible time. Because of this fast modern production method, flours are never given the chance to ferment into more digestible form. I believe they are really sticky and hard to digest. To me they taste like pulp and I would usually never consider buying them.

The second group is called “Honest” bread. In this category is bread made with real natural ingredients. In many cases, ingredients consist of various grains and seeds, honey and molasses (besides wheat flour, salt and water) to give good texture and flavors. Strong commercial yeasts are used for leavening in this category and fermentation time is usually very short. Thus again, not as digestible in my opinion. They are made with good intentions without the use of any additives. “Honest” bread are much better than the first category but not good enough for me to eat on regular basis. I enjoy eating them every once in a while though.

The third group is called “Respectable” bread. This bread does not use commercial yeasts. Instead they are made with a pre-ferment method, which is basically a loose dough or batter prepared prior to mixing the final dough. In the development stage of preferment, loose mixture is allowed to ferment from several days to one week. During this period, half of the dough is discarded and replenished with new flour and water every day until desirable characteristics and flavors are developed. In general, good Italian and French hearth baked, rustic breads are made using this method and they are most commonly available. Not only do they have intense aroma and good texture, they are also the healthiest among these 3 categories because longer fermentation process involved in this method converts most of the flour into more digestible form. Unlike most of the gooey refined flour products including the breads in first two categories, they do not clog up your digestive tract.

If you are lucky enough to live very close to a good small neighborhood bakery that makes bread using traditional method described above, look no further. Go ahead and buy a loaf and enjoy! Nothing beats the smell of good bread right out of the oven. Some of the big grocery stores carries this type of bread. They are usually baked in much larger scale and distributed throughout the local area or region, but still made with pre-ferment and baked daily using traditional methods. Th only drawback is that you don’t get “Fresh out of the oven” smell, but that’s ok.

So, look for breads that are baked fresh daily. If flour, water and salt (not even a mention of yeast) are only ingredients listed, that is a good indication that the bread is made with natural pre-ferment. And keep in mind that good freshly baked breads usually comes in paper bag instead of sealed plastic bag. They are respectable quality breads that are good to eat regularly in moderation, but I think you can do much better if you bake your own bread!

For those who never made bread before it might be a little intimidating at first, but I guarantee that learning how to bake bread with pre-ferment will be worth your time. Once you aquire the taste for good bread, you will never want to buy bread from the store, including those loaves in the “Respectable” category. I want to show you how to prepare good pre-ferment and bake a wonderful loaf of bread. But it’ll be in the next month issue.

Kaz Isogai