Friday, September 30, 2011

My Therapy Session with Dr. Sigmund Food

"The Intervention" (#3 in the Sigmund Food series)

Dr. Food: Vhat brings you to my couch today?

Lentil Breakdown: I’m holding an intervention for my blog. I hope all my readers will fit in your office.

Dr. Food: I’ve seen your Google analytics. Tell zem to bring zair friends. Who calls an intervention for a blog, anyvay? Lady, are you cuckoo?

Lentil Breakdown: Well, doc, since Lentil Breakdown turned two, I think it’s time to confront it with some serious questions. Like where has it gotten me and where is it taking me?

Dr. Food: It got you on zis couch, and now I can afford another trip to Vienna! Cha-ching! And it looks like it’s made you lots of friends who enjoy a good nosh!

Lentil Breakdown: That’s true. I’ve made so many friends, it’s incredible! I’m so lucky and grateful for them all, but sometimes this social networking feels like, well, high school. How many people “Like” you? How many people follow you on Twitter? How many visitors did you get? How many people left comments? How many people signed your yearbook? And I'm still an outsider without a date to the prom!

Dr. Food: Vhat did you expect? To be homecoming queen?

Lentil Breakdown: No, but I figured this is where I would shine—just me in the trenches, crafting my magic, without fashion or personal grooming to get in the way. But my blog doesn't really fit in with the other food blogs. It's not a cheerleader, a nerd or a stoner. It's a lot like Ally Sheedy in The Breakfast Club.

Dr. Food: Vell, other zen to avoid Bloomingdale's and za bathtub, vhy did you start it?

Lentil Breakdown: I thought I might get a humor food column out of it.

Dr. Food: Lady, everyvun’s middle name is Shecky, and vee all have a food blog. Did I tell you about mine? It’s called Oedipal Edibles. I subconsciously cook all my mother’s recipes. Turns out I'm in love vith her tuna casserole!

Lentil Breakdown: But doc, I may not be a real chef, but I’m a real writer!

Dr. Food: And I’m a real shrink. Vhat's your point?

Lentil Breakdown: It's just that I have a food-related book inside of me that wants to come out! But between my full-time job and this blog, I can't write it! I can barely keep up with the blog! I have all these ideas, but they're sitting around languishing in my brain. Everything's a struggle! Formatting issues, widgets, HTML, SEO, ISO, white balance, Photoshop, Light Room, StumbleUpon, HootSuite, TweetDeck, Google Plus—WTF! It's all Swahili to me and a huge time suck! Doc, I feel like a dinosaur. Spielberg could hire me to play a brachiosaurus in Jurassic Park 4. They were herbivores, you know.

Dr. Food: Ah, a technophobe vith vegetarian proclivities.

Lentil Breakdown: Days vanish before my eyes and and all I've got to show for it is a phallic ode in cyberspace!

Dr. Food: Sounds like vee need more sessions! Cha-ching!

Lentil Breakdown: And I'm a perfectionist who obsesses over every detail! Can you tell me something to make me work faster?

Dr. Food: Vith your OCD? Zat would be like Michele Bachmann telling Harvey Fierstein to pray away za gay!

Lentil Breakdown: But can’t you rewire my brain or something?

Dr. Food: Zair aren’t enough circuits, lady! Vee’d have to build more dams!

Lentil Breakdown: What's the point of a blog, anyway? Is it a place for narcissists to say, “Hey, look at me!” and whoever screams the loudest wins? Do we all have something so unique to offer that it needs to be broadcast to the world? Is disseminating useful information more noble than simply talking about ourselves? Who's to decide what's useful? What makes us relevant? What makes a person an authority? Is educating and informing people more respectable than merely entertaining them? Can you educate and entertain at the same time? Is "edutainment" really a word?

Dr. Food: I see vee need more dams zen I thought!

Lentil Breakdown: Doc, it just seems like I should be doing something more useful with my time than creating this light entertainment. Who am I, Mario Lopez? I’d rather be someone who’s making a difference like a Michael Moore or a Michael Pollan. But those Michaels are already taken. And they’re probably better at being them than I could ever be. Although with the portions I’ve been eating, I may have a shot at being Michael Moore. Doc, I’m like a neutered Chihuahua. I sit around barking, but I’m not humping anything! I should be out there protesting against the corporate machines!

Dr. Food: I saw you at an anti-GMO rally vith your lawn chair and picnic basket. Looked like quite a spread!

Lentil Breakdown: It was! All organic and no GMOs!

Dr. Food: But vhy veren't you marching?

Lentil Breakdown: My vegan fried chicken took a little longer to prepare than I expected, and I didn't have time to make a protest sign. Simulating bones is harder than you think!

Dr. Food: A picnic to a protest? Is zat vhat you’re bringing to za table?

Lentil Breakdown: I don't know. What am I bringing to the table? What are any of us food bloggers bringing to the table? Is sharing our love of food enough to warrant all the hoopla we make out of this colossal time suck? How many cupcake recipes does the world really need? What other parts of our lives are we sacrificing? Doc, I haven't touched my toes in two years. I'm not even sure they're still down there! I miss my muscle tone.

Dr. Food: Zen quit yer bitchin’ and get out of za kitchen!

Lentil Breakdown: I don't know. I’d like to hear from my interveners.

Dr. Food: Oooh, I love a good viener! Vith a little kraut!

Lentil Breakdown: I want to know if bloggers enjoy spending countless hours on social media or if they just accept it as part of the job? Do they have an end game in mind for their blog? How long do they plan on doing it? What else would they be doing with their time? Doc, I can't seem to quit high school! But what’s the point of going on if I never get my diploma?

Dr. Food: Vell, it’s like a client of mine vunce said, “My sister thinks she’s a chicken.” So I said, “Vhy don’t you have her committed?” And he said, “I vould, but I need za eggs.” Maybe you need za eggs!

Lentil Breakdown: Oooh. Suddenly I’m in the mood for a frittata. I'm thinking sundried tomatoes, arugula, caramelized onions and fontina on a periwinkle blue plate with a fuchsia napkin and post-modern fork perched perfectly on a distressed oak tabletop near my westward window at 5:18 pm. See you next week, doc.

Dr. Food: But our time isn't up!

Lentil Breakdown: Sorry. I gotta go charge my camera battery.

Calling all interveners!

Related Links:

My Therapy Session with Dr. Sigmund Food: “The Salad Bar”

My Therapy Session with Dr. Sigmund Food: “Guy Trouble”

Shishito Chile and Cheese Frittata

Friday, September 23, 2011

Ode to a Choke

To nab the bounty underneath
Sometimes a girl must use her teeth
So I undressed you leaf by leaf
And now I wonder, where’s the beef?

Monday, September 19, 2011

Lentil Breakdown Turns Two!

It’s the terrible twos for this L’enfant L'entil terrible.
Even though it's only two years old, I think my blog is having a mid-life crisis. It's at that tantrum-throwing, nobody-tells-me-what-to-do age. Yet here I am, wanting to know what to do. I’ve put a lot of my life into this feisty little legume, and now what? Is Lentil Breakdown a viable brand with a clear message? Should it become a more strategic enterprise with a precise end goal? Are there enough readers to warrant its existence? Could I parlay my preoccupation with all things edible, ethical and alphabetical into something more meaningful? Do I have any lentils stuck in my teeth? I hope you know the answers to these questions because I sure don’t. Especially the lentils in the teeth one. I hate it when no one tells me these things.

So while I ponder this blog's future, I thought it would be a good time to peer into its past. If you feel like joining me where "Fork in Mouth Meets Tongue in Cheek," then get out your napkin and pull up a chair. I'm really glad you're here.

Lentil Breakdown’s Year in Review (in order of appearance):

I lost my virginity to Tom.

I headed for the loony bin.

I hung with the Crips in Watts.

I got naughty with Giada’s cleavage.

I found a new shrink.

I trashed the Girl Scouts and was featured in Bon Appetit and Yahoo's Shine.

I cooked for the Queen.

I had my first guest blogger (and a cupcake's first appearance here, but don’t worry—it’s still a bacon-free zone).

I pleaded for rich benefactors to support me in my Starving Artist series.

I demystified cute wine.

I got my quinoa photo in the LA Times.

I revisited the Dairy Queen in my first guest post on Sippity Sup.

I shared travel shots from Vienna, Prague, London and Turkey and waxed poetic about bok choy, star anise and cardamom.

But this isn't the last you’ll be hearing about my blog's existential angst. In fact, I think it’s time to pay a visit to Dr. Sigmund Food. In the meantime, thanks for reading, and I hope you'll be here for my next Lentil Breakdown.

Related Link: Lentil Breakdown Turns One!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Caprese "Egg" McMuffin

Who needs egg on their face from eating at McDonald's?
My anti-Egg McMuffin is a deliciously devilish way to thumb your nose up at the fast-food empire and its nefarious scheme to rule the world. In fact, maybe this tromp l’oeil or “fool the eye” creation should be called the Egg MockMuffin. A slice of fresh organic mozzarella and a locally grown yellow cherry tomato coyly conspire to fool the eye before you assemble the ultimate caprese breakfast sandwich by adding the surrounding tomatoes, fresh basil and a splash of olive oil and balsamic to the whole-grain English muffin. This version not only reduces the factory-farmed and artificial ingredients of a real McMuffin, you'll see how fast slow food can be.

My mother used to say that McDonald’s was responsible for raising the nutritional level of Americans by being the first fast-food chain to offer breakfast. I don't know where she got her data, but I looked up the ingredients in an Egg McMuffin, and it has high-fructose corn syrup, sugar, artificial flavor and color, canola oil (most likely from GMO canola), hydrogenated oil, preservatives—and I could go on, but who knows what azodicarbonamide is anyway? Do those mad scientists who created it even know? And if that weren't distressing enough, I'm starting to wonder if I was adopted. How could my own flesh and blood think that's good for you? Could the hospital have switched babies? Fake American cheese, factory-farmed Canadian bacon, and an egg prepared with hydrogenated oils, mono-and diglycerides, sodium benzoate, potassium sorbate and artificial flavor does not a breakfast make, "mom!" Has my whole identity been a fraud like that American cheese? Is my real mother out there somewhere in Birkenstocks with a protest sign and dreadlocks? Do I even exist? If not, then whose varicose veins are these?

Well, in the off-chance that I do exist, I say, who says you can't have a caprese sandwich for breakfast? It's not in my caprese handbook. True, it has cheese (see notes below), but not everyone is ready to go cold turkey. Vegans can use vegan cheese. Find a muffin that's gluten-free. Whatever floats your diet boat, the MockMuffin is a kinder, gentler McMuffin. I just hope searching for my real birth mother doesn't take too long because I can't wait to start working on the Tofu McRib. Now that's going to be special.

Mock Recipe

1 whole-grain English muffin

1 thick slice fresh buffalo mozzarella cheese (2 slices if you eat both halves open-faced)

Yellow cherry tomatoes, sliced in half

Fresh basil leaves

Splash of olive oil and balsamic vinegar mixed together

Crack of fresh sea salt

Lentil’s Breakdown

  • According to Environmental Working Group’s Meat Eater’s Guide to Climate Change, cheese has the third worst environmental impact as a result of greenhouse gases from cradle to grave, after lamb and beef. Pork is fourth. EWG recommends opting for lower-fat dairy products like cream cheese, part-skim or fresh mozzarella, gouda, feta, muenster, cottage cheese and non-fat yogurt. Choose organic when possible.
  • According to, the pork in the Egg McMuffin and McRib comes from pigs who live in tiny enclosures called “gestation crates,” in which the pigs can barely move and often get sores, open wounds and infections. Please sign this petition asking McDonald’s to stop using pork from abused pigs from Smithfield Foods, the largest pork producer in the world. To learn more, watch this short video.
  • According to EWG, if everyone in the U.S. ate no meat or cheese just one day a week, it would be like not driving 91 billion miles—or taking 7.6 million cars off the road.