Melissa's blog

Broths of Babylon

A few months ago when my friends and were planning another themed dinner party, I submitted the idea for Mesopotamia on a whim and it was picked. So I delved a bit into cooking from the Fertile Crescent, where many foods we eat every day originate. There are "recipes" that exist from this time and place, in the form of tablets from Babylon in the Yale collection written in cuneiform. The problem is that these terse "recipes" have certain ingredients that have not been conclusively translated. Perhaps archeology will fill in the gaps.

Atherosclerosis: The Human Condition?

 I've written about mummy abuse before, but today the press is having a field day with the preliminary findings of the Horus study, an examination of atherosclerosis in ancient mummies. Luckily, you don't have to listen to them, because the study is available online for anyone to read. It's also pretty readable as studies go.

The time I was happy about fungi in my bathroom

 A few months ago I had some serious fungi in my bathroom. And unlike the time it appeared, grey and speckled, in the dark dank bathroom of my old rat-trap Brooklyn apartment, I was thrilled. This time it wasn't mildew, it was oyster mushrooms. 

Slim is Not Simple

 When people use the contact form on the bottom of this site, maybe they should take a few seconds and think about two things I don't tolerate very well, which are

  • packaged industrial products being sold under "real food" or "paleo" labels
  • complete and utter misuse of history to sell a particular diet

Maybe don't send me that stuff, because I will post about it, and I will criticize it. Or maybe on the latter case, just leave the historical narrative out of your spiel if you can't waste more than an hour thinking about what it might actually imply. 

Crio Bru: Cocoa-based chocolate-like drink

 I have a complicated relationship with coffee because I seem to be very sensitive to it. Even if I drink it regularly, it seems to make me a bit jittery at times. I reserve it for days I really need an edge in productivity. Other days I drink tea. I used to not be able to tolerate coffee at all because it upset my stomach, but I figured out thanks to reader Mike White that I could drink paper-filtered, but not French-press coffee. There is a lot of great coffee here in Chicago, so I'm happy I know this.

Betaine HCL: What's the deal? Does it increase stomach acidity? Does it help GERD? Improve digestion?

Now and then I get an email asking about using Betaine HCL to heal from GERD. I first heard about this supplement through Robb Wolf's podcast. By the time I heard of it, I already did not have GERD. I bought a bottle to use as a digestive enzyme after large meals like Thanksgiving, but it didn't do very much for me and I kind of forgot about it. 

Soul Food Junk Food- How Soul Food Junkies demonizes traditional foods

We "know better" than to eat deadly traditional Soul Food, says Nation of Islam* minister Abdul Hafeez Muhammad interviewed in a new documentary aired on PBS called Soul Food Junkies. I was hoping for an in-depth exploration of the history of soul food, but unfortunately most of this documentary was self-deprecating in a rather familiar way. It's no coincidence that one of the trailers is titled moralistically "Soul food: sacrament or sin."

The Paleo-Political Continuum

 Recently a friend sent me this piece on the "paleo" diet and libertarianism in The New Inquiry, which quotes me. It is well-written and thought-provoking, even worth reading if you probably disagree with the author's politics. I myself had thought of writing something similar for awhile, because at some point it's just too interesting how the diet-self-identity movements have become associated with various political leanings. My own are somewhat nebulous.

It's all connected: Posture, Pain, Genetics, NSAIDs, and Stomach Problems

 I was fairly young when I started having health problems. One of them was headaches. I had severe headaches and then migraines starting when I was maybe 9. By the time I was in high school, headaches, constant infections, fatigue, and stomach problems caused me to miss over a month of class every single school year. One thing that helped quite a bit was Excedrin Migraine, a combination of ibuprofen and caffeine. I popped those things like candy. I bought them all the time, taking the maximum dose for weeks at a time.