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Do babies get spicy food in your "native" cuisine?

I was eased into spicy and fiery southern India food as a child. Mother says I ate mix of bland and adult-spicy foods by age 1-1.5 yrs and was eating everything adults ate by age 2-3. Her friend was giving 8-9 mths old baby adult-spiced food at some meals, about one per day, with no adverse effects. I mean with chile peppers and everything, hotter than some adults can eat, and she (the baby) really liked it.

I have some cousins who could not tolerate adult-spiced food until ages 8-10 yrs and were given food without chile peppers until then, but still otherwise seasoned same as adult food. But I also have some cousins who learnt to enjoy a variety of spices and chile peppers very early, during infancy. About fifty-fifty it seems, it varies from child to child. Try small amounts. If your baby reacts well and doesn't suffer any digestive problems, you can continue easing him in.

We always had yogurt and rice at meals and we ended all meals with yogurt, often mixed with some rice. This soothes the tongue and the digestion. And helps with acidity, for elders.

I always thought it strange that westerners think it's normal for children to refuse all strong flavorings at table and they prepare so many separate meals for the children. As if children are a separate species needing a totally separate type of food. We ate meals very similar or identical to what the adults ate, throughout my childhood. What was on the table, was on the table, and we could choose only from that. Given this there were always curd (yogurt) and rice at meals to mix with small amounts of other foods if we really could not handle them. As Rasam says, old people and children are often fed in similar ways because they are more sensitive, both the palate and the digestion.

May 19, 2008
tocsin in General Topics

Wii Night!

This is hilarious and I think these recipes would be good for a cocktail party or Wii night. I never go to cocktail parties, but half the people I know have a Wii and get together to drink, talk, and game...

May 10, 2008
tocsin in Features

Will Mayonnaise Give Me Food Poisoning?

Depends on whom you ask, but an opened jar of commercial mayonnaise, refrigerated, has an "official" shelf life of 2-6 months. If it smells and looks okay within that timespan, it's fine.

If you keep your mayo in the pantry, it's obviously not going to last that long, but who does that anyway?

On a practical level, the commercial stuff actually can probably last longer than a couple months in the fridge. I've had jars of Hellmann's that were fine after a year in the fridge. YMMV, and if you're concerned, toss it after a few months or after the expiration date.

May 10, 2008
tocsin in Features

Forgotten foods.

At least in the United States, offal/variety meats/organ meats are difficult to find on "mainstream" plates these days. Liver and onions included.

May 05, 2008
tocsin in General Topics

CRON diet: Calorie Restriction with Optimal Nutrition

As someone who's been learning about the CRON method for some years now, I'd like to direct anyone with questions to the CR Society discussion archives at

There are also a number of CRON bloggers out there. The most prominent is April, whose blog is at

April also links to a number of the other CRON blogs.

As most CRONies put it, the bottom line is "calories, calories, calories." The number of calories an animal consumes correlates directly with its lifespan. But the ON (optimal nutrition) part is obviously critical as well. Some nutritional deficiencies will reduce quality of life, and others will actually reduce lifespan. Some CRONies also like to tack on an OS, as in CRONOS. The OS stands for "optimal supplementation." Certain supplements may offer some benefits, but are not a replacement for optimal nutrition. Nutritional science is not at all advanced enough for us to be able to eat crap, or eat insufficiently, and pop pills.

CRON practice and enjoyment of food are not mutually exclusive. You tend to enjoy the foods you habitually eat. If you are used to consuming a lot of fresh vegetables, lean protein sources, perhaps dairy, "good" fats, some fruits, and some beans/grains/legumes, you will probably enjoy them.

The level of calorie reduction varies from person to person. There are older women on CRON who eat around 1000-1100 calories per day, and younger men on CRON who eat around 2000 per day.

The key, in every case, is to minimize calories while maximizing both length of life and quality of life. Apart from the desire to usually keep calories low and nutrition high, there is nothing stopping a CRONie from having a piece of cake, a bun, a cheeseburger, or a bag of Cheetos every once in a while. Some CRONies choose never to have these foods. Others will have a small quantity of junk food once a month or once a week. The main concern is that the calories be accounted for, so that you don't accidentally consume 500-1000 calories worth of cake if you were only intending to have 300.

Some CRONies drink alcohol. Many of them have a daily glass of red wine with dinner. Again, the main concern is that the calories must be counted and the amounts shouldn't regularly exceed sensible levels.

Yes, the nutritional tracking does take some time. For experienced CRONies, tracking may take only about five minutes a day (no, I'm not exaggerating). For new CRONies, getting a feel for the nutritional values and calorie counts of the foods they often eat can be time-consuming. The first month or two may be difficult.

The question about every-other-day levels of eating hasn't really been fully resolved yet. Meal frequencies, and types of food consumed together at meals, are frequent topics of discussion among CRONies.

Yes, it is an odd hobby. Yes, it requires a knack for analytical thinking and some organizational skills. Yes, for many it also requires that you spend more money, not less, on your food. High-quality food is not cheap. Yes, it's true that you can't decide on a whim to have fish with beurre blanc, or fried chicken wings, or a big burger for dinner.

Like any other eating style, CRON is not a disorder unless it impairs your health or quality of life.

If CRON itself impairs your health, then you're obviously not properly practicing the "optimal nutrition" bit, either by not consuming enough calories or by consuming non-nutritious calories. If it impairs your quality of life, then of course you shouldn't be doing CRON.

No one should engage in long-term habits that make them less happy or less healthy!

For the record, most CRONies report being pretty happy with their eating style and their quality of life. Many of them maintain very regular check-up regimens with a supervising doctor, to track things like cholesterol counts, blood pressure, blood cell counts, body temperature, bone density, etc.

There are certainly downsides. Some CRONies report that they get cold more easily due to their slender builds. Some (not all) male CRONies experience a drop in libido. (Female CRONies often report an increase in sex desire.) Injuries and surgery require an increase in calorie levels so that the body can shift out of maintenance, and into active repair mode. Extended family members and friends may become resentful of new eating habits -- any of you who have tried to change your eating habits in any way at all may be familiar with this.

To tie this back into Chowhound -- it is certainly possible to both enjoy your food and to practice CRON. You probably won't be eating fatty pork belly or gnocchi or white bread very often if you're on CRON, but plenty of good things remain on the daily menu: sashimi, composed salads, good oils, fresh berries, a large variety of vegetables and fruits, braised meats, yogurt, some cheeses, nuts, avocadoes, perhaps beans/legumes, oatmeal, teas and coffees...

May 05, 2008
tocsin in Not About Food

time for Indian mangos yet? (San Jose)

Final verdict: the mangos were very good.

I lost one to rot, which left me a little peeved, and the others needed to ripen for a week in a paper bag. They were already soft when I got them, but still very green and tart. I ate the first one with salt and chili powder.

They have an entirely different aroma from the Central American mangos we're accustomed to buying in the supermarket here.

Once ripe, the mangos were sweet, aromatic, and custardy. I'm already thinking about getting someone to buy me another box.

Apr 28, 2008
tocsin in San Francisco Bay Area

home cooking basics everyone should know

I have a younger relative, just graduating from college and moving into his own place for the first time. He hasn't done much cooking up to this point -- just ramen, burnt grilled cheese, scrambled eggs, the usual. But he's gotten pretty money- and health-conscious lately, and wants to start.

I'm trying to compile a list of cooking basics to help him out. I'm not looking for recipes so much as instructions on basic techniques everyone should know, or foods he should always have in the fridge, freezer, or pantry.

Any suggestions or instructions? I'm looking for ideas that are
1. very basic
2. not too expensive
3. pretty healthy (what? no more meals composed entirely of pasta and grated cheese?)

To give you an idea of what I'm thinking about, here are the first few things I thought of:

How to steam and serve broccoli

How to make a hard-boiled or soft-boiled egg

Something to always have in the pantry: a tin of tomato paste

Apr 27, 2008
tocsin in Home Cooking

time for Indian mangos yet? (San Jose)

Thanks to all for their help. I made phone calls to Kumud Groceries and Laxmi Bazaar. Kumud said they expect a shipment of Indian mangos next week. Laxmi does not know when they will have them.

I made it to India Cash and Carry in Sunnyvale early enough in the day that I was able to only wait in line for about 5-7 minutes for a cashier, and snagged a $35.99 box of 12 Alphonso mangos. They keep them away from most of the other goods, in a stack hidden behind the cashiers. I haven't tested them yet, but will post back when I do.

Apr 20, 2008
tocsin in San Francisco Bay Area

time for Indian mangos yet? (San Jose)

That place is notoriously awful on the weekends -- half hour waits. Any other suggestions? Anybody? Hook me up.....

Apr 13, 2008
tocsin in San Francisco Bay Area

time for Indian mangos yet? (San Jose)

I'll be in San Jose and/or Cupertino next weekend and I'm wondering if quality Alphonso and/or Kesar mangos / mangoes from India are showing up in shops yet. It might be a little bit early for them, but I don't know if I'll have a chance to get to town after April 20 so I'm hoping to buy some on this trip.

Where should I go to get my fix? I'm not terribly familiar with the area, so names of specific shops in San Jose and Cupertino that are known to be carrying Indian mangos / mangoes by this coming week would be very helpful.

I'm dizzy with expectation -- there's almost nothing better than a ripe mango.

Apr 12, 2008
tocsin in San Francisco Bay Area

Dollar-Store Dining

You can only make a pie for $3.99 per pie if you already have all the ingredients. It's probably cheaper, for one pie, to do it her way than to have to buy the flour, butter, sugar, apples, spices, etc.

Mar 24, 2008
tocsin in Features