October is my birthday month!
This is always a special time for me, as I really take care to reflect on the past year and also set intentions for my upcoming year. I’ll say more on this as the month progresses. I also have a lot of goodness happening this month: I’m taking a trip to Utah and also climbing Mount Whitney! I’m not exactly sure what my actual birthday will entail, but I intend to create a day filled with joy and laughter, lots of hugs, and a general sense of excitement. However, right now, I’m doing a fast/cleanse called kitchari (pronounced kitch-a-ree) in preparation for my birthday. The word “kitchari’ means “mixture” or “mess” as in “mess of pottage” or “mess of stew” or porridge. The main ingredients are basmati rice, lentils and mung beans, to which a variety of spices and other vegetables may be added.
As a self-proclaimed lover of food, from tacos and dumplings to chocolate chip cookies and kale and lobster and rottisserie chicken, this is exceptionally difficult. Frankly, it’s a challenge to eat the same slop, I mean porridge, three meals a day.
I keep thinking of most of our cat and dog friends who are fed the same daily bowls of dry food, or who sometimes get wet food or treats added to the mix. I feel like my kitty; I’m eating prepared containers of kitchari and occasionally adding salt and a cucumber for cooling my body. She gets a bowl of food to graze throughout the day and occasional pieces of tuna or sweet potato. She’s so happy to taste something different! I see her licking her lips when she gets coconut oil, and she looks so happy! So am I!
My program is ten days long and towards the end, I’ll incorporate some winter squash and greens. Thus far, I’ve completed five days.
I realize this is an austerity program.
Austerity, as defined by the Merriam-Webster dictionary:
: a simple and plain quality : an austere quality
: a situation in which there is not much money and it is spent only on things that are necessary
austerities : things that are done to live in a simple and plain way
It’s a real challenge to involve myself in something both as rigid and freeing as this.
Why am I doing this?
Well, I like pushing my own boundaries. I like taking myself to the limit, to know how far I can really go. I guess that’s why I’m also climbing Mount Whitney in a few weeks or why I like to talk things out (as I mentioned last week) and get a deep understanding of a person or a problem. This austerity diet, for lack of a better expression, is my way of getting closer to myself and challenging my beliefs about myself. I’ve been feeling like I need a full reset, and this is a good way to do it.
When I slow down, I not only taste each spice in the kitchari, I also have time to think and feel.
I’ve been noticing how much food waste we have, as well as how much extra food we place on our plates at every meal. One small, Persian cucumber and a few ounces of kitchari per meal really satiate me now. I love having dinner parties and trying restaurants all around the world. I’m certainly not afraid to travel hours for perfectly juicy Armenian dumplings or the best pupusas. I experiment with ice cream flavors, doctor up homemade mac and cheese, and obsessively read the Ottolenghi and Bittman cookbooks. Clearly, food is a passion, not just a means to an end, for me. And yet, my austerity plan is giving me so much gratitude.
I have appreciation for my taste buds, the use of my hands to hold a fork and knife or chopsticks. I’m grateful for friends who join me at meals. Seeing a beautiful pastry warms my heart and smelling freshly baked bread makes me drool. I love hearing the snap of a carrot or feeling the elasticity of ramen.
I’m really happy to be able to do this program in time for my birthday. I’ve realized that I go to far ends of my mind (boundaries) and I can also appreciate the slowness or monotony of kitchari. This program is helping me simplify my life and remember what I really want. I’m starting to plan my actual birthday week and all the good food I’ll be eating then! Until then, my austerity diet is helping me immensely.