Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The Highway's Jammed with Heroes on a Last Chance Power Drive

Here at The Greasy Skillet we love books about as much as we love food. Periodically, I'll share books that I’ve been reading in a feature I call The Greasy Bookshelf (I know it’s not a very original title). I do try to put an original spin on this feature by sharing excerpts that have a connection with food.

I don't like to run. I might run if I'm being chased by someone who wants to kick my ass. I might run if I'm chasing down an ice cream truck. I might run if I'm playing a game that requires running. Otherwise I don't care to run. However, my ever-expanding waistline is demanding me to adopt running as a form of exercise. In the past, I tried to develop a relationship with running in the past, but it quickly withered. You see, when I run there's no "runners' high" and I spend the whole time thinking about how miserable I am. That's no way to spend 30 minutes.

Depsite the fact that I loathe running, I'm reading a book about runners titled Born to Run by Christopher McDougall. In this nonfiction book, the author tells his story of traveling to Mexico, so he can learn about the Turahumara Indians, who are known for their superhuman ability to run long distances without resting. These individual can run for two days without stopping to rest. The book is an incredible look at the culture of the Turahumara, and of course, you can't talk about culture without talking about food and drink. Some of the Turahumara's endurance can be credited to a beverage called iskiate. The following is a description of that drink:

  • "It's brewed up by dissolving chia seeds in water with a little sugar and a quirt of lime. In terms of nutritional content, a tablespoon of chia is like a smoothie made from salmon, spinach, and human growth hormone. As tiny as those seeds are, they're superpacked with omega-32, omegas-6s, protein, calcium, iron, zinc, fiber, and antioxidants. If you had to pick just one desert-island food, you couldn't do much better than chia, at least if you were interested in building muscle, lowering cholesterol, and reducing your risk of heart disease; after a few months on the chia diet, you could probably swim home. Chia was once so treasured, the Aztecs used to deliver it to their king in homage. Aztec runners used to chomp chia sees as they went into battle, and the Hopis fueled themselves on chia during their epic runs from Arizona to the Pacific Ocean. The Mexican state of Chiapas is actually named after the seed; it used to rank right up there with corn and beans as a cash crop. Despite its lquid-gold status, chia is ridiculously easy to grow; if you own a Chia Pet, in fact, you're only a few steps away from your own batch of devil drink."

Interesting stuff. It's just a matter of time until this gets incorporated into one of those newfangled energy drinks. It's probably already out there.

I know there will be more food moments in this book, and I'll share them with you as I continue to read the book. Later I'll get to learn about the corn beer that the Turahumara like to consume with great gusto.




Jenni said...

I'm putting Chia Pet on the shopping list. I need some of that! It doesn't taste like a smoothie made of salmon, spinach, and human growth hormone, does it? I've been thinking about how I need to get back into shape myself. I'm really great at thinking about it. Running is probably not going to be the answer for me. I'm a great walker, but I get winded running to the end of my driveway. I can't seem to coordinate my breathing. That sounds ridiculous, I know, but it's absolutely true. It must make me about the most uncoordinated person on the planet.

muddywaters said...

According to the author, it tastes like a tangy lime fruit punch.

I've done some research and chia seeds can be purchased at some health food stores.

Kate said...

O it always pains me when I hear people say they hate running. Running and eating are my two favorite parts of the day. Stick with it though, it gets better with time.

I'm going off in search of chia seeds now.

Another good running book: Once a Runner.

muddywaters said...

I didn't mean to make disparaging comments about running. I admire people who are disciplined enough to stick with running. Thanks for the book recommendations. I'm always looking for new books to read, and I'm always suggesting books for my students. This book might be the perfect fit for one of my students.