A Girl and Agar

Being should not require an explanation. I am who I am. You are who you are. He is who he is. It’s very straight-forward, like conjugating verbs. In fact, there are more verbes (oops, excuse the french spelling…I tend to automatically go into french mode when I start thinking about grammaire and conjugasons) in this life than one that should not require an explanation. Sleeping, feeling, breathing, laughing, loving, crying…the list goes on. Oh, and needless to say, eating would be a member of that list too.

So what happens when you try to explain these things that aren’t meant to be explained? How can you explain to someone what sleeping is when you’re not even awake when you engage in it? How can you explain laughing when it’s often laced with tears, and crying when it wears a most heart-breaking smile. How can you?

You can’t. I can’t.

I’ve tried, I mean with the eating bit.

I’ve tried explaining to people how I eat. No, not the mechanics of sinking the teeth of a fork into a cherry tomato, subconsciously employing triangulation and advanced hand-eye coordination to bring it to my mouth, then embracing it with my lips only to sink my own teeth into it. No, I mean what I believe to be the right fuel for my body, mind, and soul. I’ve tried, but since I can’t really explain even the nouns body, mind, and soul, I was rather ill-equipped for the challenge.

And another thing, usually these attempts not only bring about confusion, but also casualty…ies. I mean, it’s only a tad bit awks when the person jabbing at a breakfast sausage in his plate sitting beside you in the cafe asks why you don’t eat meat (when you actually do, but just prefer to avoid those that are anonymously sourced.) Do you feed their brains right there and then of the hormone- and antibiotic-saturated conspiracy behind the commercialized farming practices that produced the now-become last bite of the sausage left in their plate?

Excuse me, but that would be rude. Then what? Well, maybe this will help.

Those who feel free to eat anything

must not look down on those don’t.

And those who don’t eat certain foods

must not condemn those who do,

for God has accepted them.

– Romans 14:3



Ingredients for the Sesame Cucumber Slaw:

1 cup dried agar weed, cut into 2-inch strands

1 long English cucumber, julienned

Ingredients for the toasted sesame dressing:

4 tbsp Chinese sesame paste or tahini

1 tbsp packed brown sugar

1 tbsp rice winegar

1 tbsp Chinese black vinegar or shiitake vinegar

1 1/2 tbsp soy sauce

1~2 tsp Szechuan chili pepper confit (or chili oil)

1/2 tsp toasted sesame oil

1 tbsp toasted sesame seeds or chopped toasted peanuts

To make the slaw, soak the agar weed in water that’s hot to the touch for 10~15 minutes. Meanwhile, combine all ingredients except the sesame seeds for the dressing. Once the agar is re-hydrated, squeeze it very dry with your hands and place in a large bowl. Toss to combine with the cucumber and sesame dressing. Serve immediately or chilled (just make sure you stir it up a bit before serving), with sesame seeds sprinkled on top.


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