This is the sort of thing I put on my Netflix Streaming Queue. It’s a gentle little documentary profiling a very old sushi chef in Tokyo, Jiro Ono. He runs a teeny tiny sushi joint; it only has 10 chairs at the counter, no tables, and you have to use the bathroom down the hall because his establishment does not even have one. He was 85 when the film was made. His sushi joint received 3 Michelin Guide stars. Apparently, fewer than 100 places worldwide have this very high honor. The 3-star rating basically means, “it’s worth it to make a trip to this country just to eat at this restaurant.” Jiro’s sushi is quite possibly the best in the world. It’s all he does, too. At Jiro’s place, you can’t even get any appetizer or whatever. If you want tempura or edamame, go somewhere else. He just serves sushi, and also only omakase-style, meaning that you get whatever the heck he says you get. That’ll be $300, thank you very much. Make your reservations at least a month in advance.
I felt such serendipity while viewing this film, as if receiving a message from the Universe. I recently had a conversation with a friend about how obsessive I can get. I couldn’t deny the accuracy of her remarks and I felt sort of ambivalent about it. But this film had a very Japanese answer for that issue. The answer was that there is no such thing as being too obsessive about something that is important to you. Whatever it is that lights your flame, go on and do it ‘til you’re satisfied. And when should you be satisfied? Never, that’s when.
Practically the first thing Jiro says in the film is that the secret to success is to fall in love with your work and really devote yourself to it. He pursues excellence in sushi-making with single-minded focus. Even at 85, he is still slowly, methodically tweaking every little thing to make it better. The documentary also covers the people Jiro does business with, and they all have the same attributes. The guy he buys tuna from, that’s all the guy does. He gets up at probably 2:00 am to go to a truly Japanese tuna auction. All he does is buy and sell tuna. He knows all there is to know about how to choose good tuna merely by looking at it and smushing a bit of it in his hands. Jiro buys from him because he has the best tuna at the best fish market in the world: literally the best tuna anywhere. The guy who Jiro buys other fish and octopus from actually says this: “We don’t want to sell our fish to just anyone.” His fish, his perfect fish, should only go to someone who can appreciate it and do the right thing with it. (Also, it was a highlight for me to see this guy deftly stuffing a live, squirming octopus into a plastic sack. Skills, yo. Jiro’s apprentices will later massage the octopus for 50 minutes straight to tenderize it before it becomes sushi.) The rice merchant is even more clear. He has rice he only sells to Jiro. They have a whole conversation about how the rice takes some skill to cook, and they chuckle and laugh about it, two old Japanese dudes who both love good rice. The rice merchant explains that the Hyatt hotel people wanted to buy that same rice, Jiro’s rice, but that he would not sell it to them. What would be the point, since they would not know how to cook it right anyway? These people were so deeply invested in the excellence of their stuff that they no longer cared about profit at all. They never said, how can I get that customer’s money? They only said, is that customer good enough for my stuff? This is why, in the documentary, several of Jiro’s customers said that when they sat at the bar in Jiro’s place they felt extremely nervous.
I can’t deny that there are some problematic aspects to Japanese culture. But I think it’s pretty clear that they are acknowledged masters of the art of living a simple, elegant, beautiful life that is vigorous even into very old age. So I receive this message from Japan and from the Universe with gratitude. Devoting one’s self deeply can be a beautiful thing and it can be transformative. So I think I’ll stay the course.
Once you start thinking about something, you see it everywhere. Look! It’s the Pitta Dosha, perfectly exemplified. The intensity, the impatience, the fiery personality. Even the classical manifestation of a ruddy complexion and reddish hair! Eat raw foods, Louis… stay away from seafood. Get to sleep before 10:00 pm!
I was meaning to make this post for punkpaleo but I had to get my act together. So here it is: a few suggestions on how to manage an aggravated Pitta Dosha. And since you are also having some pain, which is typically a product of aggravated Vata, I’m gonna throw in some of that too. My reference for most of this is Svoboda’s book Prakriti. He says that for a Vata-Pitta type, Sweetness is the most important taste. It’s soothing and grounding. I have also tried to keep it Paleo.
So here are things you should try to eat:
Avocados, coconut, and all sweet fruits, with some exceptions noted below. If you are enjoying a lot of melon, sprinkle it with a smidge of fennel or cloves. Moderate amounts of lemon are okay.
Chicken, eggs, venison, goat, small amounts of beef.
Take it easy on spices; the Vata side loves all spices but the Pitta side needs a break. Fresh herbs are generally good: parsley, dill, basil, tarragon, mint, fennel, orange or lemon zest, ginger. Also you can use some gently-warming spices like cinnamon and cardamom, as well as cumin, fennel seeds, coriander and a bit of asafetida. (Don’t bother asking me for a recipe for that one. I never mastered its uses.)
I don’t know if you eat any sweeteners, but if you do, it should be raw honey only, and it should only be raw, not cooked in any way.
Try to stay away from:
Bananas and papayas which apparently are not great for Pitta. Dried fruits which would normally be great for your Pitta side, but they’re aggravating to the Vata part because of the dryness. So skip it for now. Dates are okay though and a nice source of sweetness. Stay away from onions, garlic and nightshades, as well as really bitter greens and mustard.
Lay off the seafood for now; it’s aggravating to the Pitta. And take it easy on salt, same thing. So unsalted butter, unsalted ghee.
Stay away from coffee but tea is okay. Even better paleo-style with cream or coconut milk and chai spices in it.
Try to eat mostly cooked food rather than raw food right now; raw food is a lot more work to digest and it sounds like your innards need a break. And also your Vata side likes meals that are sort of homogeneous, so try making some mild curries or chili or stew or soup, like that.
To clear ama out of your system, you can try taking Triphala, which is a powder made from three Indian fruits. It scrapes the gunk out of your system very effectively.
I am, of course, not a trained practitioner of Ayurvedic medicine. I am just starting to experiment with this body of knowledge. So good luck with it!
Down another pound, back to 133 lbs. Huh. The body is so funny. I wonder if my body is in the mood to drop a few pounds right now? Very mysterious. I can’t think what I did differently, if anything, these last couple weeks. Let me think. I tried to take it a bit easy on carbs, although not in any very serious way. I was not quite as good about drinking water as I should have been. I ate a whole bunch of fish curry… which I shall be doing again this week as it was seriously fuckin’ delicious, and apparently as a Vata dosha type, I am supposed to eat plenty of hot 1-pot-dish type meals. I did not do a bunch of serious working out at all, enjoying myself instead with walking outside and doing yoga. It did make me bit itchy, not going hard, but I certainly did like having a bit of a break. Still, I think I’m gonna bust out my pull-up bar again this week. I only have a few more months to reach my goal of doing a real pull-up!
So… I guess what I did was to enjoy myself and exercise a bit less. How…counterintuitive.
I don’t personally know any raw vegans but from all the things I’ve read and heard, I know it cures a lot of diseases from the high vitamin intake, fibre etc. My only concern is the omega 6-3 ratio seems to lean extremely on the o6 side of things and I wonder what health consequences this would have in the short and long term…
Does anyone actually know?
I feel like a lot of people are raw vegan because they think it is the best thing you can do for your body when if this is the case, and you’re 06 overdosing everyday and perhaps don’t realise it…
If I’m being ignorant tell me haha I am genuinely interested from a nutritional point of view
I don’t know that one can generalize. By eating raw, they are avoiding so much crap and also pretty much all grains. I dunno, they might eat oats, I suppose. So right there, so many inflammation issues should just vanish. But then if they eat a metric ton of nuts… you’re right, a lot of omega-6 and since no fish, probably not nearly enough omega-3. I think it really depends on how they actually eat. If they eat mostly actual raw veggies and fruits, I think it would be a pretty good way to live, especially if they manage to get enough fats. The proof is in the pudding, I think. Is the person thriving? Or do they have a bunch of little, annoying issues that never go away, like colds and allergies, aches and pains, headaches, insomnia, etc?
In Ayurvedic medicine, which I’m currently reading up on, people are categorized by their dosha, which may be roughly translated as “mind-body type.” Although Svoboda translates it as “that which gets out of whack,” which I really like. The three doshas are Vata, Pitta, and Kapha. Of these three types, only Pitta does really well on a diet of largely raw foods; Vata types like me do better on a diet of warm, cooked foods. But OTOH, Pittas also supposedly do better to take in a wee bit less protein, and Kaphas need a lower intake of pretty much everything, while Vata is the only dosha that really needs animal protein to thrive. I’m still checking out this whole Ayurveda situation; we read about it some in YTT and I just got interested in it. More nutty fun to follow.
I did my very first Bikram yoga class today just for fun. My GOD the sweat. It was literally running off me in little rivulets. A small puddle formed at the front of my mat. Of course the towel was completely drenched, as were my clothes. Absolutely sodden. I actually sort of liked the heat. Although it was funny how, when it’s 105 degrees, even lying down is not that comfortable. Every time I laid down, I would immediately become extremely aware of my heart, pumping really hard in my chest. That sucker was working, sort of shaking my whole torso. Very odd sensation.
In terms of poses, it wasn’t really what I would call a challenging class. There was one serious balance challenge, the full expression of Eka Pada Hastapadangustasana, where you grab your one foot with both hands at once and then, extending the leg forward, also try to bend your torso down to extended leg. That was a fun one, especially with slippery, sweaty hands. Oh, also the one-legged toe-balance thing. I don’t know the name of that pose. Where you put one leg into a half-lotus pose, and then squat down and balance on the ball of the other foot? Not easy. The weirdest part was the sequencing. There was a Shivasana about halfway through for no apparent reason. Then there was a loooooong sequence of seated poses where we kept having to spin around on the mat, lie down, sit up and do Paschimottanasana, then spin back around and do some other pose like Supta Vajrasana, then spin around and lie down again, etc. So a lot of up and down, which was seriously annoying. As I understand it, all true Bikram classes follow a preset sequence? Is that right, anyone? If so, that might be a problem for me. There was not enough real challenge there. Maybe I’m getting to be a bit of a yoga snob. But there were almost no twisting postures, and also no inversions. Not even a Down Dog.
Now the bad part: the teaching was really alarming. The little man was reciting the pre-set Bikram sequences and apparently was regurgitating exactly what Bikram says to say. And that included a lot of weird stuff like “push until your back hurts!” Or “lean farther; you are trying to fall backward!” Or best of all, “lock your knee, lock your knee, lock your knee!” And really NOT a whole lot of actual pose instruction. I am an experienced yogini now, so I didn’t need the instruction, but it would be hell on Earth if this had been somebody’s first class. That would be a real trauma. So, since I know better, I just ignored all the insane stuff he was shouting out. But I feel pretty sorry for all the people who might actually follow those instructions. Oddly, Bikram really cares how your hands are aligned. He repeatedly reminded us to keep the fingers and thumb all clamped together like a mannequin hand. He even corrected me when my fingers splayed apart. Really, dude? THAT is the alignment that you are worried about?
And then, after class, funniest of all, the teacher actually spoke to me to tell me my yoga was good. He complimented my Natarajasana pose. And I really had to stifle the urge to smirk and reply, “of course my poses are good; in Anusara yoga we actually do alignment instruction, good sir.” But I was nice, I swear!
Final verdict: NOT FOR BEGINNERS AT ALL EVER. But the heat and the sweating were fun, and I might go back just to enjoy myself in spite of the crazy. Also, on a very hippy-dippy note I must add that Bikram seems like an excellent way to reduce excess Kapha Dosha or strengthen up your Pitta Dosha. LOL I can’t believe I just wrote that… what is this life I am living?