Tuesday, October 30, 2012

RR: The Omnivore's Dilemma (Part I): NYT ~ The Island Where People Forget to Die


The other night I was eating dinner with Kalamazoo College's professor Leslie Tung.  Over our school-provided dinner of chicken, zucchini  and pasta salad, we discussed the meal and how much better it made our bodies feel then the typical processed foods I had been grabbing lately for conveniences sake.  Dr. Tung referenced a New York Times Article called "The Island Where People Forgot To Die", in which a man miraculously manages to beat cancer and live a long and fruitful life.  Studies at the University of Athens show that people on Ikaria where setting records such as "reaching the age of 90 at two and a half times the rate Americans do... [and] were also living about 8 to 10 years longer before succumbing to cancers and cardiovascular disease, and they suffered less depression and about a quarter the rate of dementia. "  Whether it's the air, the soil, the more relaxed style, or as Dr. Tung speculated "all those good oils" in the food, there's something about Ikaria that helps peoples health.  
In the Omnivore's dilemma the introduction talks about how americans experienced "a collective spasm of what can only be described as carbophobia" as bread became the villan and meat once again became an amicable friend.  There always seems to be a new diet or lifestyle choice or set of standards and rules, all promising thinner waistlines and healthier mentalities.  Personally, I think instead of focusing on what we eat, how we eat should be the focus.  In Food and Travel Writing we've read many texts such as Stealing Buddha's Dinner and essays which reference the "buffet" or America's tendency to overeat for the sake of bang vs. buck, such as beefsteaks.  Food becomes a substance abuse.  "there are other countries, such as Italy and France, that decide their dinner questions on the basis of such quaint and unscientific criteria as pleasure and tradition, eat all manner of "unhealthy" foods, and, lo and behold, wind up actually healthier and happier in their eating then we are." [3]  If instead of calories we focused on the quality of our food, I honestly think we'd come out better on the other end.
As someone who in the past has had difficulty with self-image and weight, and is still fighting to balance chemicals in my brain, I'm finding that my new eating habits are impacting my personal battle in a positive way.  Instead of calories, I focus on nutrients and food groups.  I feel better, mentally and physically, when I eat things that are filling and make me happy.  Happy is key.  I've been cooking with butter instead of less-caloric substitutes, because frankly my body feels better afterwards, even if it means I need to burn off more later.  Instead of skipping dessert completely or loading up on processed cookies, I make a small mix of nuts and bitter dark chocolate and butterscotch drops.  In some ways, this new approach to food reminds me of the New York Times Article.  I love eating, and I now love what I eat.
 That being said, once in a while I want processed foods like chicken nuggets.  McDonalds, like for Michael Pollan's son, becomes a treat.  It's true that a lot of these chains "[deny] the denier" [110] by putting in a "salad or veggie burger", which I'm guessing has its own processed chemical concoction in the mix.  After reading Part I of The Omnivore's Dilemma and corn's impact, I'm now more skeptic of everything processed.  From my calorie counting days (and Pollan's narrative), I know corn packs a punch.  But it's more than that.  I don't know where my food comes from.  I'm now jealous of my friends who take the time to know exactly where their produce and meat come from before they consume it, because they know what chemicals are or aren't possibly affecting their system.  Everything super-marketed now feels like a secret toxin.  Like the discussion during Colin's CYOA, I have to pick my poison on a budget.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Review (draft): Sushiya. Intended Audience: The Index

After popping onto I-94-BR E for a 4 minute drive from Kalamazoo's Campus, one is greeted by the fuschia clash of a Sushiya sign behind rust-colored supporting beams and glass panel windows.  The cheery white "ya" of the title pops out at you in juxtaposition to the black of "sushi", as if foreshadowing to a skeptic how enthusiastic you should actually be. It cheerfully comments in the same white color that it is an asian fusion cuisine, even if the modern-styling of the multi-business building doesn't seem to agree.  Entering the building you skirt to the left of hovered carpeted steps to maneuver to the entrance door to Sushiya.  
Entering, the first impression of the glassed-in restaurant is Japanese themed highlights of black lacquered furniture, silk screen motifs of Geisha's and bamboo (with the occasional fake canvas painting) in the expected tan, red, and natural toned hues, displays of Japanese themed figurines in a boxed display case near the kitchen, the bathroom hidden behind a partitioning curtain of the well known woodblock "The great wave at Kanagawa" by Katsushika HOKUSAI, and fake blossoming plants.  Lots of fake plants.  Seeing as it is near to Halloween there is also a few chintzy decorations of ghouls and fall leaves in the front near the check-in station.  The walls have similar themes to the artwork of yellows, greens, and maroon accents.  The three televisions over the bar to the left of the entrance sport the NFL recap of the Ohio State and MSU football game,  TBS featuring Faceoff with John Travolta and Nicholas Cage, and the movie Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure.  The room is near empty at 5:00 pm, and we're greeted by a relaxed waiter.  "Three?" he asks, picking up the same number of menues and ushering us towards the best tables close to the open glass windows.  My counterpart notes the Bill and Ted movie, and the waiter changes his trajectory to make sure to seat us where my friend can watch and talk to the group comfortably at the same time, while the rest of the group still has a pleasant view of outside.  The sound levels of both electronics and patrons were low enough I hardly even noticed the other three small groups like our own.  The space was large enough for reservation-less groups, but relaxed enough for children. The soft toned colors of the space and Japanese-Korean infusion food seem to almost absorb all negative energies, leaving you sated and warm like the free refills of green tea: the real stuff, with the cloud at the bottom that tells you they used a tea acorn instead of a bag.  It may come in a plastic teapot with a bamboo stalk painted on, but it's warm, and heats the standard clay tea-cups just-so in the ambivalent temperature of the space.
We talk, taking our time to pick out entrees, the vegan of the group hunting for something compatible with her dietary restrictions.  "Secret to ordering vegan?  Don't necessarily look at the entrees."  The waiter came back a comfortable three times to take our order, and was patient with our indecisiveness.   When one of us tried to order from the children's menue, we found out that Sushiya is not supposed to sell children bowl sizes to people that aren't children, but the customer's friendly argument was "but it's my money" and with a returned smile the waiter parried "we don't have managers here on Sundays", and that was that.  When the Children's Menue Teriyaki Chicken came, it was deemed "actually a good size for what I wanted", and also "quite tasty".
We started with an appetizer of Edamame  in the shells on a square plate.  Often considered "Vegan bar food", these beans easily pop into your mouth with the tangy seasoning of salt that makes you want to re-lick your fingers.  The waiter came back to calmly check if se had asked for tempura Udon (an appetizer) or Vegetable Udon.  With a reassured "Vegetable", muttering about how tempura has egg in it, that was yet another "and that ways that" moment.  Our main courses came, and we did our best with take-out style chopsticks that came complete with paper wrapping featuring their separate locations at 242 East Kalamazoo Ave. #101, and their second location in East Lansing at 529 East Grand River Ave.   The seaweed salad had a light dressing, with a hint of chili and lime amidst vinegar  soy sauce, sesame oil and seeds, with 2 lemon slices on the side.  It wasn't slimy, but with a crunch to it, just like the cucumber rolls.  There came a point where we got tired at unsuccessfully stabbing at fried tofu in broth with scallions.  After joking "We are civilized, we do not carve our meat at the table", we caved and asked for soup spoons.  We received smaller table spoons, and continued to carve and wiggle away.  Difficult, but delicious.  As music from The Beatles, The Doors, and The Who, tied the dishes together, we joyfully slurped away at our vegetable udon (sans tempura) with fried noodles, udon noodles, cabbage, celery, onion, carrot, more scallions, and large slices of white radish in unpickled form with expected dyed pink edges.    My favorite roll was the pickled radish.  It came presented on the same plate as the cucumber rolls, with fresh ginger and a leafy garnish.  The yellow of the radish looked almost like mango, but had the texture of boiled carrots with a little crunchiness left in them.  Crisp was the theme of that plate.
As the waiter set down the same menues, now open to the dessert section featuring multiple ice creams, he left a ven-diagram of water on the table to refill our tea-pot yet again.  My companion joked, "If you want a Vegan dessert [here], you get alcohol".  After skimming, the other two at the table made up our minds.  Our tight schedule helped us to discover you can get takeout, even if it's dessert.  You can even order half of one type and half of the other, that is if Sushiya keeps themselves stocked.  So at 6 in the evening, without a crowd, my order of half plum red wine and half red bean ice cream became just a full serving of red bean in a styrofoam container with a spoon for the road.  After leaving a 20% tip of 5 dollars, my grand total of cost reaching 31.24, I re-entered the car.   We hit the highway for another four minutes to return to campus, my tastebuds experiencing the red-bean ice cream as the period to the meal that would end the agreeable "ya" statement when someone would ask me, "Sushiya.  Should we go?"

Sunday, October 21, 2012

The expectation and anticipation: Sushiya

I am someone who sees the skies as only a partial limit when it comes to eating food.  I like trying everything, and make it a habit to push my comfort zones or order whatever I can't pronounce.  Therefore, for my "border crossing" I was going to go to Fuel and eat with a vegan's set of rules, but seeing as Fuel is closed until the beginning of November, I've since replanned.
I have a lot of history with Sushi.  When I was growing up I had a Japanese AuPair for a year who introduced my Mom and I to the sushi she knew from back at home.  After she returned, sushi became that favorite meal when we wanted to do something special.  And it wasn't just sushi, but chirashi and sashimi, and other things like like to tickle my tongue when I say them.  I extensively knew what I liked and didn't like from the menu at Yotsuba, our favorite Japanese restaurant back in Ann Arbor, MI.
When I asked my Vegan friend where she could easily eat in Kalamazoo with her vegan dietary restrictions, she said Zoorona, Saffron, Fuel, and Sushiya.  Seeing as I had already been to the other two, Sushiya is the new game plan.  When looking it up online to find out its hours, it described itself as a korean and japanese sushi bar.  The korean threw me for a bit.  It's called Sushiya, which makes me think of sushi.  I had no idea that there was such a thing in Korea.
When I try to picture the space, I think of low warm tones of noise with black lacquered furniture and velvety cushions, warm orche walls with silk-screen images of bamboo and red tategaki characters, and little tea lights accenting the center of the table, and no televisions tucked in corners making white noise.  The sushi culture I know has always been intimate, calm, relaxing, with a cup of green tea to the upper right of my plate and a soup course happily slurped before the main meal.  
As someone whose favorite cuts are octopus, eel, salmon roe, and squid, It will be an interesting night of ordering vegetable sushi, which I know nothing about.  I'm afraid of being severely disappointed, not in the food, but in what wont be on my plate.  I will miss the hunk of tuna embellished by vegetables wrapped together in a taste medley of seaweed and rice.  How much can you do with cucumber and carrots by themselves?  I suppose I will be finding out.  Any dietary limitation is scary to me.  I can't imagine what some of the people in our class goes through, having to check every little last item to make sure it doesn't impede on dietary limitations.  I take my allergy-and-restriction-less body for granted.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

CYOA: Water Crisises and Culture

Water.  It's the simplist drink out there.  We don't need an ID to purchase it, and there's nothing evil like "calories" in it.  Except, there's a lot more to water than meets the eye.  There's the rumors that pregnant women shouldn't drink water in Kalamazoo because of the high levels of metal, and we've all heard of water that smells like eggs or is funny colors because of rust content, or have seen spots on plates because the salt level isn't high enough in someone's well water.  In my adventure, we're going to explore the benefits of water consumption, examine the difference between tap and bottled water (besides checking the number on the underside of your plastic bottle), and focus on the global scare for water's scarcity, and how it affects the global scale.  Here are two short videos pertinent to American and Global water, and some basic links with facts you can skim if you're curious. 

Bottled Versus Tap for dummies: 

How much you should drink and why (according to the Mayo Clinic): 

Global Statistics (Center for Disease Control and Prevention):

Water Changes Everything Campaign: 


The Great Bacon Hoax: 

RRb: Culinary Tourism

"While the industries associated with tourism... have been made possible by the availability of leisure time and expendable cash, the phenomenon of individuals exploring other cultures out of curiosity is neither postmodern nor peculiarly Western.  I see tourism as a universal human impulse--curiosity and an adventurous spirit are facets of personality that are shaped in their expression by the ethos and institutions of specific cultures, but the impulse itself is not dependent upon particular historical circumstances.  Food is an arena in which that impulse can be exercised regardless of the institutionalized practices of tourism."  [7]  ~ Lucy M. Long - Culinary Tourism

Indian was a cuisine that my Mom and I would indulge in when my Stepfather wasn't around (he doesn't like curry).  When going to India the food wasn't anything like I expected, but I embraced it.  "consuming, or at least tasting, exotic foods can be the goal of a touristic experience, but food can also be a means by which a tourist experiences another culture, an entree, so to speak, into an unfamiliar way of life." [2] The desserts were more sweet in a natural way, the taste of food cleaner, and the stickiness and licking of my fingers enjoyable.  I felt like what was going in was healthier, that the things I was eating and the way I was eating was right, even though it was mostly Naan, rice, and spices every day.  The chai tea there, made of old tea leaves boiled in the sugar and milk and water mixture (as apposed to adding it afterwards), tasted better to me, even though State-side I prefer tea heavily steeped, strong, and with honey.  I've tried making chai since and it's just not the same.  "ethnography rests on context, on observing the immediate setting and surroundings of an event as well as the historical, social, cultural, and personal background of the event and participants.  People react to all these forces, so that context shapes their action." [12]  In the same way, Indian food wasn't just different between it's Americanized counterpart, but the experience of sitting with the cooks in the kitchen, eating a meal with my castmates, and preparing to perform a piece set in India, in it's actual setting, all primed my tastebuds.
When Lucy Long says, " "The culinary tourist anticipates a change in the foodways experience of the sake of experiencing that change, not merely to satisfy hunger." [21]   in Culinary Tourism, I think of a few things.  Anthony Bourdain in the Cook's tour mentiones in his reaccounting of France that the crabs just don't feel right, even though is Brother is there, and they're in the same location. I can look back at the turtle I tried in the Cayman Islands or the Goat I tried at Zingerman's in Ann Arbor, Michigan (where I'm from) and look fondly on both experiences, even if one was next to an ocean and one was next to a busy intersection.  I'm sure my peers who got sick from trying pan they bought off the street (beetle nut wrapped in a leaf with tabacco and such) might have enjoyed the initial flavor and experience, but will never want to try it again, even if it's not questionable street food.  That being said, they would have regretted not trying it, purely because it was a trait of Indian culture.  It's all about situation.  Like Long, I think food in tourism is determined just as much by location and culture as it is by the context. 

RRa: Culinary Tourism

"Smaller portions, bigger pricetag" ~ Anonymous Food Advice

I've had the most exposure to different cultures, and food cultures, in living with my Mom.  Between adjusting to my step-father's tastes, establishing Mother-Daughter food traditions, and exposure to literal other cultures.  Mom's house was a constant, even with it's instabilities and fluctuations, not to mention gender roles.  In Lucy Long's Culinary Tourism, she mentions how at thanksgiving some women carve turkey or grill "out of the curiosity to experience what are usually considered male activities."  At home, Ma almost always grill's, and she definitely carves the turkey so she can present it her way on the platter.  Already, I've experienced a different culture between my home life and the standard.  "The tourist gaze can be turned inward to look at the familiar and everyday, recognizing them as potential offering a different kind of experience." [12]  Sometimes home feels like an entirely different continent, depending on what's for dinner.

This past week I have been internally celebrating my birthday with food.  When I went to Food Dance in Kalamazoo I treated myself to stuffed squid and Thai chicken lettuce wraps, and I requested Lamb Shanks from my mother.  The other meal I requested of her is called slop, which is pretty much a cowboy's meal of beans and meat.  Comfort food.  My tastes range from the exotic to the mundane.  Maybe it's because as a child I was really well fed.  Mom, being a starving actress for a while (pun intended), wanted to give me the best food culture possible.  Instead of plum baby food (her favorite from her broke days), she'd throw her and my father's dinner in the blender.  In some ways, like Lucy Long, "standard American foods - steak and baked potatoes, fast food hamburgers - were an exotic treat for me, offering me an experience of what was to most Americans the culinary mainstream." [2]  As a child my mom and I had Friday nights to ourselves.  Fishsticks and katchup and mayo in splotches appeared on a serving plate, or just the cookie sheet they were made on.  The sauces were swirled together in the middle to a nice pink, and we'd watch old black and white films.  Mamma could have cooked anything, but our special meal was the easy junk food like chicken nuggets and some kind of green.  In Secret Ingredients, in a few of the essays, cooks discussed that even with their advanced knowledge of "fancy dishes" they still preferred the standards at home with their family.  As much as Mom laughs when I request Hamburger Helper, there are certain comforts in it.

"Folklore as an academic discipline has a long history of including food...  Folklore scholarship has addressed the aesthetic and sensory nature of food, the use of food in expressing and constructing cultural identitites and social relationships, as well as the emergence and imposition of meaning in relation to food."  [8]  For me, food can define the difference between Mom and Dad, Mom and Stepdad, Me and friends, me and school, me and home, and other pairings. "Culture, which includes ethnicity and national identity, is one of the most obvious ways of distinguishing food systems as other." [24], even though my culture isn't about ethnicity and national identity.  I can find culture in just my immediate surroundings.  When I went home I missed my grandmother's canned jam and jelly, and to this day am disappointed by any pickle that wasn't made by her.  My mom made up for it by making applesauce to put on waffles (the waffle-maker was my Christmas present when I was a Junior in high school).  But what really oriented me was the requested lamb shanks, which were delicious by the way.  Then there was the red velvet cake with candles that got glitter all over our faces.  Like Long says, "foodways set aside for holiday celebrations" [28].  Sometimes my birthday foodway is sushi, sometimes lamb, sometimes another craving, and the dessert is typically red velvet cake, but they give me a direction which distinguishes the difference between my birthday at home, and my birthday with friends.  When I came back to school I went over to the house where a lot of my friends live.  There was many hugs, and one of my friends gave me a blue kool-aid in one of those plastic bottles with the face.  Like Lucy Long with her grape Popsicles or soda pop, I consummed it with the hope to "recapture the intensity of flavor they seemed to hold for me as a child," [32], but as expected, it wasn't the same.  As much as my friends define a different home for me, it is a different culture that can never replace the one I developed at a young age.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Chicken Gypsy - Final Memoir Draft

Chicken Gypsy - McKenna Kring

“Dadikins,”  I admonish.  I lick my thumb to wipe away a stray mark of my father’s super secret flour mix from his brow.  I’m roughly a Sophomore in Highschool, and I still refer to my father as Daddy.  It’s what fits.  It’s the first time we’ve seen each other in 4 months, and he’s teaching me how to make the standard chicken dish that pinpricks that moment of “I’m home”.  Between the simmering of poultry parts in red wine sauce and the salsa-ing to old records, we’ve already had a conversation on my change in bra-size, advice on clothes to better suit my self-proclaimed thunder-thighs, and how I want Kelly Hu’s boots from The Scorpion King while he just wants her legs. These three body parts were few of many never-sore subjects between us, even with the constant flow of them on our plates. 
On this particular night, I’m learning Chicken Normandy.  For the squeamish, breast, thighs, and legs will do, but we want organs for this special occasion.  For the first time, we’re in my father’s third apartment in Sleepy Hollow, New York, and we have five days before I have to return to my permanent residence in Ann Arbor, Michigan.  We need to be able to digest as much lost information together as possible over chicken gizzards and hearts. After he shows me how to use the rest of the red wine to transfer the contents of cast iron into clay cookery, the top goes on the gourmet-topf and the oven door is closed.  A timer is set, and I fumble a different record onto the turntable so we can sing, play trumpet and piano, and dance while almost breaking furniture he fashioned out of pieces found in garbage bins.  The timer goes off, and the dish is gently laid on a bed of mashed potatoes.  Plates are carried upstairs and set on t.v. trays from my childhood of married parents.  Now it’s episodes of Buffy The Vampire Slayer until we descend into more personal conversations around 2 am over ice cubes wrapped in paper towel for dessert.
Four more days, a silent car ride to the airport punctuated by the occasional sigh, an unaccompanied minor pass to travel on the plane, and a bumpy landing in DTW.   The break is over, and I’m back in Michigan.  Mom calls me down from homework to set the table.  It’s 7:30.  I still have at least three more hours ahead of me, but family dinner time is a requirement.  I go down and set the three placemats on the one bar that loiters over the “Man Cave” which makes downstairs, setting two on the back bar for the serving dishes.  I turn on the television to the HD Channel version of 4.  My fingers punch 2 3 2, and my stepfather’s fingers make a similar pounding on the light switch above the bar.  The switch I always forget.  I carry the remote and place it to the left of Joe’s placemat, as far away from everyone else as possible.  That’s where he likes the control.  I go back up to help Mom carry food down, because she hasn’t had her two hip replacements yet.  It’s close to the end of the school year, so Michigan corn and tomatoes are making the first of many appearances on our plates accompanied with hunks of meat: a full steak for Joe, and one split in half between my mother and I.  I hit the top step, and Mom’s using tongs to transfer the corn that I shucked earlier from the boiling pot to a presentation plate.  There’s one cob for me, two for her, and five for Joe.  There’s also a pint of ice cream in the freezer for his dessert, and an iced mug of beer next to his placemat.  I learned the right angle a while ago to get the least amount of foam in the glass.  Mom has a scotch and a water.  I have milk.  We all come down, spoon up, and eat, America’s Got Talent shooting a red, white, and blue theme song of stars to cover our static noise.
Dad intimately knows three dishes: Chicken Normandy, Chicken Marsala, and Chicken Tikki.  In his carefully budgeted house, it’s almost always chicken.  At my Mom and Joe’s house, the meat is always red and medium-rare.  Definitely not chicken, and if so, only dark meat.  Before I ever went to visit my father in New York, in whatever city he happened to be in at the time, my mother back in Michigan would ask me, "What would you like for your last dinner before you go?" and I'd always reply "anything but chicken!" before we burst into a fit of giggles.
In my most recent visit in December of 2011, I learned Chicken Marsala in his ex-girlfriend’s house.  My Dad had just moved to Nyack from Suffern, and I had yet to see his place, because we were staying at hers.  Here I was in someone else’s house, someone new, but then there was chicken (as always), and I knew it was all right.  Chicken means home.  Flour, salt, pepper, oregano, mushrooms, butter, olive oil, and Marsala and Sherry, were lined up and introduced to me as a concoction that would test if a relationship was worthy or not.  I was then handed a meat pounder, and told to have a go.  At the time, I was a new college student, and we both knew that meant that our 4 month intervals were going to become longer.  Much longer.  That chicken became very flat very quickly.
Here’s the potion: first you heat the pan.  The way to tell if the pan is hot enough is if the "water dances".  If when you flick water accusingly at the pot and it beads and runs around, then it's ready.  You caress the flattened chicken in the mix of flour, oregano, and seasonings, mixed together in a bowl (Dad’s super secret flour mix is preferable), and get your hands as involved as you would making a sand castle.  Then you carefully plop them into the pan that already has butter and olive oil in it.  Then you let them become golden like marshmallows, adding the mushrooms (optional) in on the flip, then rinse it all into a larger pot, or keep it in the same pot, using Marsala and Sherry (both can be either the alcoholic or cooking type, depending on who's going grocery shopping).  Then, also like Chicken Normandy, put a top on it, and let time, magic, and the oven do its work.  Then put over a starch, grab a green, and enjoy.
A month later I return to college, and sit on an unsanitary tiled floor whacking a piece of chicken on paper towel with the back of a frying pan.  My friend-to-be-Mike’s table is too rickety and he doesn’t have a meat pounder or a cutting board. "More pounding!" and "FLIP IT FLIP IT NOW" accentuate the evening and end up on a plate of rice Mike purchased to remember his time in Japan.  Needless to say he passed the friendship test, and even through graduation he’s another pinprick of home. 
In both the dishes I learned, there’s patience, collecting all stray morsels, and a willingness to put a cover over and let time do its work.  The flavors need to bubble and boil before being laid down on something gentle, the same way Daddy did while singing and rocking me out of nightmares, or when our 2 AM talks found me in his arms.  It’s been ten months since I’ve been there. Ten months of hurried phone calls, emailed exchanges, and too high plane fares.  He’s told me of his new garden, and how he loves to use his fresh herbs.  This is why he found his new favorite dish, Chicken Tiki.  “I can’t wait to teach it to you.” “Dadikins,” I admonish, neither of us being able to explain the ache between our own complicated culture of father daughter, and me struggling with the fact I can’t learn it from him in person any time soon.  Some days it feels like I’m surrounded by anything but chicken.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

RR - Biggby and Beefsteaks

 "What size?" the Biggby barista inquired.  I order the largest available, because it's the best ratio of liquid per munch money.  My lack of sleep mixed with sugar and caffine combines into a joyful buzzed jittery awakeness as I casually sip.  I throw back the last swallow, and I hit a nose dive of overdose.  I have a caffeine crash, which could have been controlled with quantity limitations.
In American culture, there's this concept of excess being optimal.  More bang for the buck.  This is mentioned in Bich's Stealing Buddha's Dinner, when she talks about their family gatherings at buffets, and how they'd cram as much food in as possible.  In All You Can Hold for Five Bucks by Joseph Mitchell in Secret Ingredients, there are avid discussions on what is the proper fare and preparation for a Beefsteak, such as, "Day old bread is neutral.  When you lay steak on toast, you taste the toast as much as the steak." [8] Whereas another chef, Bob Ellis, believes in putting the "hamburger" on toast.  The cooks care so much about their presentation and taste, while for the participants it's about leaving being rolled out of the establishment.  The chefs take pride in having the best sauce made out of butter and Worcestershire, or what kind of bread they use to emphasize the flavor of the meat, or their use of hickory embers, or pride in their traditional crab meat cocktails and "some skewered kidney shells.  Lamb or pig--what's the difference?" [12]  Yet in the long run, it becomes more about quantity for the consumer.
At one point Beefsteaks were a primal affair.  If a man wanted noise he would just howl, whereas now there are noisemakers used as advertizements.  Modernization has replaced barrels with chairs, fingers with occasional silver wear, and your worst suit with aprons and hats that remind Mitchell of the Ku Klux Klan.  Don't forget narrow minded expectations, instead of expectant taste buds.  A woman came up to Bob Ellis, complaining first about how the meat was prepared like a burger, and then complaining about how the table didn't have ketchup.  I found this to be a dichotomy, seeing as the food isn't just presentation, but taste, and she would rather cover it up and have it look like something else.  After she left, he exclaimed, "Ketchup!  I bet she'd put ketchup on chocolate cake" [9] recognizing that even though she had expectations of a beefsteak, it was a commercialized one that didn't appreciate the finesse and undertones of a preserved culinary tradition.
The most I can try to learn is maybe next time to order the next size down, where they only need one tea bag instead of two, and where I only need the taste, not the quantity.  Or I'll continue to have my caffeine crashes at the same excess as Beefsteak goers and buffet lovers.  Either way, it's a lot to stomach.