Day 6

Attention. STOP. Change in challenge. STOP. Rather than finish forty pounds of lentils in thirty days, the time limit has now been removed. STOP. That is all.

Okay, so let me run you through my thoughts last night. First and foremost, I am not sick of lentils. In fact, I have gained a greater appreciation for them and am excited to continue using them in my cooking. Most of my posts have generally been positive as my outlook on this great adventure. This is because I tend to write them while starting dinner. Here’s where the problem arises. What I am sick of is overeating. I’ll eat half, maybe three quarters, of what I ‘should’ eat and feel full, then need to continue to stuff my face beyond satiety. Three meals a day. Everyday. This has resulted in the following:

1) Abdominal pain.
2) Prolonged periods of eating.
3) Temporary disinterest in lentils and food in general.
4) Lethargic food comas that increase in duration as the day goes on.

This is not what this ‘challenge’ was originally intended to be. The only question from the original ‘purpose’ that might have been related was: would I get sick of lentils after eating them for every meal for thirty days? Forty pounds was pseudo-randomly chosen. It was not originally intended to be a Supersize Me-style endurance challenge. After all, in said documentary, the ‘over-eating’ element had a purpose: each ‘meal’ is what McDonald’s considers a one person meal and therefore Morgan Spurlock was trying to see what would happen if a healthy person were to eat a McDiet three meals a day for thirty days. With my personal project, there is no ‘McDiet’ to which I can compare. I was just straight up eating a shitload of lentils (no pun intended).

Knowing what I know now about the weight-to-time ratio originally chosen, I have decided to modify the challenge. No more time limit. I decided this last night after finishing the over-sized portion, most of which was painstakingly done in multiple steps (controlled breathing, food into mouth, controlled breathing, chew, controlled breathing, swallow, repeat [with pauses in between each stage]). My original thought last night was to shorten the challenge to one week: finish 10 lbs (3lbs more) by Wednesday morning (a total of one week). That would mean ~1.5lbs. today and tomorrow (around the amount I have been eating) with Wednesday breakfast making up for whatever I hadn’t finished the previous two days. However, since I forgot the leftover lentils before coming to work today and would thus miss lentils for breakfast and lunch (minus the lentils in the deliciously curious Huckleberry Lentil muffins I brought for lab meeting), I figured I would just change things up today.

So here is the new challenge: finish forty pounds of lentils while attempting to maximally utilize the versatility of the ingredient. It’s basically like the world’s slowest Iron Chef competition (well, without an opponent….or judges…..or Alton). It no longer needs to be for each meal (because I most certainly don’t have time for that), but probably a few times a week until I am done. This change helps redirect the whole approach of the project. (In fact the first change is that it is less of a ‘challenge’, but rather a ‘project’.) Now, rather than needing to put everything else on the back burner (half-marathon training, applying to grad school, work and personal well-being), I can instead concentrate on how best to present, utilize and appreciate the lentil. Our battle of wits and intestinal endurance has evolved into a culinary courtship, and I must say for that I feel a wash of relief.

Do I regret the power-through-it, Fear-Factor-style attitude that started this journey? Not at all. By diving in head first, I enveloped myself in a crucible of lentils. I proved that even after eating uncomfortable volumes of a single ingredient every meal for almost a week, I did not develop a lifetime, or even temporary, aversion. Rather, in thinking solely about lentils, I was able to not only learn lots of cool facts, but ventured into ideas that might have taken me a while to explore otherwise (Lentil Beer!). I’ll look back at this week as a very interesting time in my life that will hopefully give birth to some delicious and creative culinary adventures.

So what to should anyone who actually reads this expect from now on? (And modesty aside, it is nice when people are interested in what you have to say). Posts will be reduced to each time a new lentil meal is made, which should ideally be once or twice a week until the forty pounds are gone. I think I’ll still stick with forty pounds as the standard because it helps hold a connection to the first part of the adventure but also because I think that there should be enough unique culinary creations to get up to forty pounds without completely exhausting the ingredient. I’m excited to start this new phase and, if all goes well, I can even see this becoming a regular part of my kitchen routine: picking an ingredient and exploring each use for it (perhaps I should rename it “Snail Iron Chef” [I’m sure I can come up with a better name than that eventually. {If anyone has any better names, please let me know. (Yeah! Embedded parentheses!)}]).

So now I say unto….me….in the words of the Chairman’s not-actual-uncle………….”Allez cuisine!

and yes, I still plan on making lentil beer.

2 thoughts on “Day 6

  1. I propose at least a twice or thrice a week lentil meal, or some sort of schedule to ensure the project continues with some diligence above and beyond what one would normally cook.

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  2. Peeeeeter. I did it. I read your blog. And I am actually going to pass it on to my sister, Erin. She loves to bake and cook and whatnot and she may have some ideas for you as far as how to use lentils. Plus, I'm sure she'd like to try anything you come up with – there's not a lot to do in AK once winter hits…LENTILS!!!!

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