One of my main sticking points with raw has been this air of rigidity that swirls in certain circles. Even if you think you're doing a heckuva job eating 100 % raw, there's someone eager to point out that well, actually, those almonds you're eating aren't really raw, and you should be careful about how much fruit you're eating, and you shouldn't be drinking water with your meals, or eating fruit with your salad, and it sounds like you're getting too much salt -- no, not enough - no, too much salt in your diet.
It can be paralyzing, this constant correcting. My first two weeks I had this sense that no matter how thoughtfully I went about my food choices, I somehow was still doing raw wrong. When you get these bits of discouragement coming at you from different directions, you just want to throw your hands up at the impossibility of it all. I can understand the enthusiasm people might have to share what's worked for them, but it can be counterproductive in what should be the real goal : to encourage people on the path to making healthier choices and give them reason to keep going. Otherwise, it just becomes about being able to wear the "100% raw" label. And who exactly is keeping score?
Which is why our celebration dinner at Pure Food and Wine in New York on Sunday was so refreshing. Forget the fact that the meal, from appetizer to dessert, was absolutely delicious, with each innovative dish presented like a little piece of artwork. But there was no sense of raw vs. cooked judgment around the dinner tables. About 14 or so people, all at their own levels of commitment to raw foods, came along with our raw coach, Glen.
I particularly liked something that Frank Giglio said. A local raw food chef with an inspiring story, he just came back from a 10-month apprenticeship at The Tree of Life Rejuvenation Center in Arizona and is training for a 100-mile endurance run this summer. (That's not a typo. 100 miles. Non-stop. Fueled by raw foods. Really).
There are so many raw food gurus out there, he said, each with a different take. He suggested people not get so caught up in all their various "rules", but to take in all the information and try things on for size. What fits, keep. What doesn't, toss. Trust your intuition. He told a great story that bordered on parable about his friend, a vegan-raw foodist who lives out in the wild somewhere. She had been weak and underweight, and started having recurrent dreams about eggs -- not part of a vegan diet. When she woke one morning to find a chicken had laid an egg on her bed, she figured it was as clear a sign as any. Veganism aside, she started adding raw eggs to her smoothies. Sure enough, her strength and energy came back.
My intuition tells me pretty strongly that I can skip that raw egg idea entirely. But now I'm wondering what to make of the weird dream that I had last night. I'll tell you if anything strange shows up on my bed tomorrow morning.
If you can't stand the heat...
...sneaking a peek in the kitchen at Pure Food and Wine.
I had these asparagus and avocado nori rolls for an appetizer. (No, not sushi!) The rice, I'm told, is made from a jicama base.
My main dish, a flavorful saag paneer with "rice."
The flourless chocolate cake that Cindy and I had. She declared it "the best dessert I've ever had."