What’s For Supper, Son of B---- Stew?

By Marion Tucker-Honeycutt | Feb 20, 2014

The latest diet craze is the Paleolithic diet, aka the “cave man diet.”

I once wrote an article titled “Eat Like a Savage.” (As you can guess, that was pre-politically correct days.) The gist was to eat the foods native to the area we live in, the foods that made up the daily diet of the people who lived here. Early-explorers and colonists marveled at how much healthier the "Wilde Savages” were than themselves. Given that Europe was already so polluted that one did not even drink the water for fear of dying, that’s easy to understand.

My favorite magazine, a weekly, has a different gal on the cover each issue, with her special new diet that resulted in losing big pounds. That’s about 50 new diets a year. That’s like publishing a “new cure” for the common cold every week.

Usually, the diets will outline meals to follow for breakfast, lunch and supper — with a couple interchangeable choices. I’m no good at that nor at counting calories, proportioning out carbs versus protein versus fruits versus vegetables versus versus versus ...

Then there are the diets that feature pre-paid frozen meals shipped to your door. How are they different, except in price, than just buying the “lean” frozen foods meals at the store? (And basically, all they are is the same as the rest of the frozen dinners, just in smaller portions. But they sell like gum drops.)

I pay no attention to the myriad new diets. I get the magazine mainly because, other than being the cheapest on the racks, you don’t have to hunt for the articles in between the ads, which in most magazines out-number articles, it seems, 98 to 2. (It also has a crossword puzzle which is, per a study done on the last elderly Shaker ladies at the last Shaker village in Maine, beneficial in keeping your brain working, Never hurts to hedge your bets.)

The ancient Essenes had a couple of simple, reasonable rules for their diet: “Let the weight of your daily food be not less than a mina and no more than two,” and chew each mouthful until it has the consistency of water. That’s about a hundred chews for stuff like meats, which sounds a bit much but actually goes by fast. This leaves the food dropping into your innards much easier for your system to handle. (A “mina” equals, roughly, 2 ½ fists worth of food. That makes sense as the measurement is in keeping with the individual. After all, a slim 5’2” gal wouldn’t need the same amount of food as a 6’2” man. You can find out you mina by putting water into a large measuring bowl, leaving room for your fist and then measuring how many ounces of water your fist displaces.. Multiply by 2 ½ and you have your mina. (I even found a couple of bowls that are just my mina size.) I find the above Essene dietary rules make more sense than most diets today. It’s about portion size for the individual. Another trick is to use a salad plate for a dinner plate. It looks full with less food.

How many different diets can you think of that have been touted as the diet we should all be eating if we want to see tomorrow? There’s the Atkins diet, the Hillsborough diet, the Mediterranean diet, the low carb/high protein diet, the high carb/low protein diet, the low-fat to no-fat diet to we-need-fat diets — the list stretches on.

Now the rage is the Paleolithic diet. But just how “Paleolithic” is the new cave man diet? Do they hunt and dress out wild game free of chemicals, growth hormones, antibiotics? Do they feast on the warm raw liver and heart? Do they make what the mountain men of the Wild West days called “Son of a B---- Stew,” made by tossing all the unmentionable innards into a big pot and simmering (the original Crock-Pot recipe?) to a mess of probably healthy pottage, but something best eaten only if in dire threat of starving?

Myself, I try to stick to "What did we eat up on the Ridge?” Up there, in the ‘30s and '40s, everyone grew, hunted or fished their foods. “Organic” was a word you never heard in relation to your food. It was all organic. There was about a year's worth of food on hand, in the barn, the coops, woods, waters, gardens, cellar, canning jars, etc. (You never had to run to the store to stock up ahead of a storm.) We stuck to foods that grow best here, many of which we inherited from the Indians, like corn, peas, pumpkins, potatoes and tomatoes. The exotic foods, like mangos, artichokes or arugula and spaghetti didn’t grace our tables. An occasional orange was a real treat. (They did, however, use far too much white flour and sugar.)

How blessed we are to be where we are and able to grow, raise and/or hunt some of our own food or get it from our farmers and farmers markets — fresh from the fields instead of shipped for thousands of miles and several weeks from our tables, kept in cold storage and often revived at the store with a chemical bath?

This keeps things simple. And these, days, I’m into simple. That includes Crock-Pot cooking. But I’ll skip the Son of B---- Stew, thanks all the same.

Marion Tucker-Honeycutt, an award-winning columnist, a Maine native and graduate of Belfast, now lives in Morrill. Her columns appear in this paper every other week.

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