Your leaking thatched hut during the restoration of a pre-Enlightenment state.


Hello, my name is Judas Gutenberg and this is my blaag (pronounced as you would the vomit noise "hyroop-bleuach").


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   importance of salt
Monday, February 16 2004
Today was my 36th birthday, something I hadn't really thought much about. Evidently Gretchen had thought about it a bit more than I had, because she obviously sent out a mass emailing to a bunch of her friends telling them to wish me happy birthday. They kept doing so by email throughout the day.
This morning Gretchen gave me a number of presents, including pajama trousers, a sweater, a heavy bathrobe, and a framed print she'd bought at that open studios event we'd attended near Boston some months ago. I wore my new pajamas and sweater together and referred to them as "my birthday suit."


When I came home from my housecall today, I expected the downhill neighbors to be over to help eat the birthday cake Gretchen had baked. Unexpectedly, though, the Stone House people were there too. The cake eating had metastasized into something of a surprise party. We all drank a little wine, and then had slices of birthday cake. It was a very moist pumpkin cake with maple glazing. I can't remember anything too notable about the conversation except for a little gossip about our neighbor's reclusive tenant, who resembles (as I said) both Rasputin and Ted Kaczynski.

In the evening Gretchen and I went to Redhook (across the Hudson and northeast of Rhinebeck) to try out a purported Curry House there.
Initially the food wasn't too disappointing because it lacked the obvious physical failings of other local Indian restaurants (mishapened and insufficiently-filled samosas, greasy rice, etc.). We were also very hungry. But when the main courses came out we quickly determined that the food had somehow (perhaps in deference to white bread American tastes) been prepared without any flavor. Much of this problem was a lack of salt, and with every serving we had to re-enact Gandhi's walk to the sea. But there wasn't much cumin or heat in the food either. In the cook's defense, I suppose that if you're Indian and accustomed to eating extremely spicy food, it might be very difficult to gauge the difference between mild flavor and no flavor at all.
But back to the subject of salt. Gretchen and I discussed the importance of salt in food and inevitably one of us mentioned the "fact" that there were tribes in Africa who traded one ounce of salt for for an equal weight of gold. In a society where salt is that expensive, you have to wonder what thoughts go through someone's mind when he's eating some food that really could use a little salt. I wonder if one of thoughts is, "I could really splurge and make this food taste a whole lot better, but then I won't be able to pay this month's rent on my hut!"
Interestingly, the Redhook Curry House didn't serve alcoholic beverages, perhaps because its owners were actually Pakistani Muslims. We had chai tea instead. It contained so much caffeine that we both stayed up until well into the wee hours. As decadent birthdays go, this one wasn't very high on the list.

My health seemed to be a lot better today than it has been. There was a time this morning when I could feel my esophagus clenching, but not badly. Later I was driving around and I felt so normal that it kind of gave me a buzz, if that makes any sense. It made me wonder if people who never take any mind altering substances (including caffeine) have the same number of "buzzes" as people who take drugs, but they just come at uncontrolled times. But even if drugs don't actually add to your happiness and the buzzes in your life, being able to control when your buzzes come is actually a very useful thing to be able to do.
Later tonight as I lay in bed my esophagus was experiencing a problem of a more familiar sort: acid reflux. I'm used to a little acid reflux now and then, especially when I eat certain foods. But for the past couple weeks, my esophageal clenching problem has made it such that acid never makes it into my esophagus. Tonight, though, it seemed my esophagus had finally figured out how to relax again. Though the heartburn was uncomfortable, it was reassuring nonetheless.

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