See you in San Francisco

I’m putting up a short post just to let everyone know I’m still alive.  MD and I have both had incredibly hectic schedules lately that have precluded us from attending to our blogs.  MD and the Santa Barbara Choral Society just performed Ralph Vaughn Williams A Sea Symphony over the past weekend, which activity (the aforementioned wretched choral society) has consumed all her time.  I, for the first time in a long time, have become a working stiff.

The sous vide project has gone wild.  Instead of watching from the sidelines and showing up at board meetings, which heretofore has been my chief activity vis a vis the company, I am now in charge of the entire direct-to-consumer operation.  Consequently, I have been on the road and will continue to be a road warrior for a while.

Tomorrow, in fact, will find MD and me in San Francisco at the Sur La Table store for a Sous Vide Supreme demonstration.  Richard Blais, the chef pictured above with the two us (he’s the one with the faux hawk), will be doing the demo, but MD and I will be in attendance.  So, if you want to drop by and meet us, have a chat or just see how much older we look in person than in our photographs, come on down to the Ferry Building Marketplace in San Francisco tomorrow (May 8th) from 10 ‘til 2.  Hope to see you there.

And I hope to be back to some sort of regular blogging schedule maybe next week.  I don’t have to leave until the end of the week.

Back from Mexico

I’m just getting back to my desk after a several days in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.

I had a little R & R, played some golf, and just enjoyed myself in general.  Had all the same kinds of food I wrote about in a post last year, so I returned well fed.  Now I’m tanned, fed, fit and ready to type, so it’s back to the grindstone.

Thanks to the poor economy, this trip was a little more exciting than previous trips.  At least the golf part.  When we pulled the carts up to the first green on the first day we played, the caddy told us to pull off the cart path and park the carts down by the green.  When we asked why, he replied, “Banditos.”

Turns out that hard times have driven many desperate people to turn to crime to feed their families.  According to the caddy, ‘banditos’ hide in the jungle along side the cart paths and come out while the players are on the green and steal anything they can get their hands on.  A few weeks before we got there, there was an actual armed robbery on the course.  Fortunately, our trip was without incident, so I returned home with all my belongings.  Didn’t even lose anything to the airlines, which is probably a more likely way to lose valuables than to banditos on the golf course.

Aside from banditos, there are other dangers on the courses in Mexico.  I took the photo of this guy shown below as I drove by him in the golf cart.  Anywhere there is water on the Marina Vallarta course, there are crocidilos lying about.  You’ve also got to keep an eye out for snakes whenever you hunt for lost balls in the jungle bordering the courses.  And there are iguanas everywhere.

One of the things I like about Mexico is always coming upon the unexpected.  The giant head in the photo above was half buried in the ground just off the tee box of one of the holes.  I caught a glimpse of it through the trees and couldn’t figure out what it was.  I walked around and through the brush until I could see it and snapped a photo with my iPhone.  What is it?  A football player? Why is it there in the middle of nowhere?

While I was south of the border my web guy was hard at work, which is a nice segue into a couple of blog housekeeping issues.  Those who read the comments have discovered that my comments are now up in a salmon color.  And my tech guy has installed a plug in so that I can answer specific comments and end up indented right below them so that I don’t have to use the @[insert name] business.  Anyone who wants to reply to a specific comment or even to a reply to a comment can do so by clicking the blue highlighted ‘Reply.’

This makes the entire process much, much easier for me, and will help – I fervently hope – me to keep up with the comments in a more timely fashion.

At long last the 6-Week Cure blog is finished.  All I have to do is have the tech guy click it on and you will be able to click on it from the menu at the top under ‘Blogs.’  All it is right now is an empty template.  MD and I have to populate it with a little content before it goes up.  I’m hoping it should be up with some content within a week.

I’m having trouble getting MD to focus on anything but the wretched Choral Society (of which she is the president) right now because of her big event coming up in about ten days, so if there is going to be content, I’ll have to create it.  And I’ve got a lot of other posts I want to do that aren’t 6-Week Cure posts.

MD has been working on an extravaganza that will be performed on Feb 13th and 14th in Santa Barbara that may well be the social event of the season.  I’ll post more on it as the time draws nearer, but just to give you an idea as to what’s going on, her group is singing the world premier of a choral piece written by Sir George Martin (yes, he of The Beatles fame), and, as it turns out, Sir George himself is coming from London to conduct it.  Along with the choral piece, Sir George will conduct the chorus in a version of Eleanor Rigby that he scored as a choral piece.  The rest of the performance will be Beatles tunes scored for chorus accompanied by a world premier ballet choreographed for this occasion.  So, she has a lot of work to do to pull this all together.  I suppose I’ll cut her some slack in the blog-content-creating department. At least until Feb 15.

As for my own content on this blog, the next post will be the long-awaited and promised post examining and critiquing Anthony Colpo’s Fat Loss Bible.  It will actually be a two-part post with the first part devoted to showing the errors of Anthony’s thinking vis a vis the metabolic advantage, and the second will be an in-depth look at a famous paper that Antony has dismissed out of hand but which, as you shall see, is really a brilliant study.  With these two posts, I’ll put paid to Anthony Colpo and hope to never mention him again.

I’ve been so busy lately that I haven’t posted a lot, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t been thinking about posting.  I’ve got a number of things I’ve been wanting to write about that  I plan to have up as soon as the Colpo deal is finished.  I want to add my two cents worth on a bunch of the problems some Paleo dieters seem to develop.  And I’ve got a post cooking on the thyroid and iodine.  One on fructose, and one on saturated fat.  Plus the analysis of the next stupid study that will inevitably pop up and seize the imagination of the mainstream media types who will shout it from the rooftops.

Sous Vide Supreme tour

I’m throwing up a quick post just so you all won’t think I’ve been captured and sold into slavery.  MD and I are on the coast-to-coast Sous Vide Supreme introduction tour, which  ends today.  I thought I would have plenty of time to blog and Tweet on this tour, but it has ended up being a huge time gobbler.  What with getting all the stuff set up, checking in and out of hotels, running for flights and flying all over heck and gone, there has been barely any time to keep up with emails let alone fiddling with the blog.

As I type these words, we’re at 37,000 feet somewhere between Chicago and New York.  After all the complaining I’ve done in previous posts about my disastrous experiences with a multitude of airlines, I’ve got to say that this tour has gone without a hitch.  We’ve flown U.S. Air, American, Alaskan Airlines, and now Delta, and all flights have been on time on both ends.  We’re traveling with a crew of nine, so I am thankful for all the airlines we’ve flown and the weather gods for allowing all this to come off on schedule.

I planned to post about the different venues as we went from city to city, but as I said, the time constraints have been such that I really couldn’t do it.  I’ve got a zillion photos that I’ll post in due course and a lot of info about cooking that I’ve learned from the best.

Richard Nikoley, of the Free the Animal blog, came to the San Francisco event and posted on it, so you can read his take, complete with photos, here.

Another writer who attended the San Francisco event wrote about it after.  It’s a good article but I object to the word ‘shilled.’  In my obviously biased view, ‘touted’ or ‘promoted’ or ‘recommended’ would have been much better choices.  Other press reports that are much better (from my perspective, at least) are here, here and here.

As you can see from the above articles and blog, Heston Blumenthal, chef of The Fat Duck, one of the world’s best restaurants, is traveling with us and helping us introduce the Sous Vide Supreme to the world.  Heston and team (several of whom are with us, too) did the testing of the Sous Vide Supreme in The Fat Duck Experimental Kitchen in the UK.  As one of the preeminent and most knowledgeable sous vide chefs in the world, Heston is also doing cooking and teaching demos with the unit on this tour.

At this point in my narrative breakfast arrived.  It is pictured below.  You can see to what depths airline food has fallen.

Low-fat yogurt, 2% milk, Raisin Bran, fruit, a bagel and coffee.  How nauseating.  I will admit, however, that I ate almost all of it, middle-aged middle be damned.  I did leave over half the bagel because it was totally tasteless, much like eating cardboard and as cold as stone.  I haven’t worried much about diet on this tour because we’ve been eating one meal a day – if we’re lucky – so I’ve been viewing the experience as an intermittent fast.  We get little shards of the foods prepared for the demo, but that’s about it.  The rest of the time we’re on the run and haven’t eaten much at all.

So you can see how the demo events are set up, I’ve put up the schedule and menu to the left below.

MD and I introduce ourselves and talk about how the Sous Vide Supreme was developed, much as I did in a recent blog post.  We then introduce Heston, who shows a video of the preparation of Mock Turtle Soup, which I also blogged about not too long ago.  He follows that with a short video of a dessert composed of all the essences of smoke, apples, leather and tobacco and four different whiskies – all incorporated into a flaming sorbet.  He then talks about how he started The Fat Duck with just himself, a dishwasher and a couple of waiters.  Then he moves into the different foods prepared using the Sous Vide Supreme and talks about all the extensive testing he did of the unit at The Fat Duck.  The staff passes around tasting plates of the food selections to the guests, most of whom are media people, food writers or chefs.  The food is absolutely beyond compare.  When I have more time, I’ll post a description of how each different food is prepared and show photos, of which I have a multitude.

After the event in New York is over today, MD and I have to do a little Middle-Aged Middle promotion tomorrow with some radio, then it’s off to Las Vegas (of all places) for a couple of days.  My niece is getting married there on Sunday (she lives there and is a graphic artist for one of the casino operations), so we’re stopping on the way back to attend.  Then, finally, home on Monday.  At which point, after going through all the mail and other stuff that has stacked up while we’ve been on the road, I’ll get back to more regular posting.

I got word yesterday that the 6-Week Cure blog is set up and ready to go, but so far we haven’t been able to post anything to it.  If you’ve got a 6-Week Cure question or comment, hold it for just a couple more days ‘til we get that blog up.  And if you’ve had a question languishing in the emails, we’re working on that, too.  We had an unexpected glitch, when the new email contact points got mistakenly routed to an email that we never use by the web gurus.  There they sat for about a month before we realized that was why we weren’t getting any emails from the new site.  We apologize and as soon as we get back to Casa Eades we’ll get busy answering those we can answer.

I’m working on another fun post that I’ll maybe be able to get up before we get back, but I can’t promise.  At any rate, it’ll be up soon after we’re home if not before.

Thanks for hanging in there during my absence.

Hard at work on Orcas Island

Deer Harbor, Orcas Island blog

After meetings all day long Monday and Tuesday, we left with our partner to head for his place on Orcas Island.  We drove for an hour and a half then took a ferry for an hour to get there where his wife, who had gone up the day before, was patiently waiting.  We went to dinner and headed to the house.  We got there long after dark and crashed.  I always love to wake up in the morning in a place that I haven’t yet really seen because I arrived under the cover of darkness the night before.

Our partner’s house has a phenomenal view overlooking the sound and is nestled in among the Douglas firs, many of which are at least four feet in diameter.  It is really a forest primeval and a great place to vacation. Unfortunately, we had come to work.

After a breakfast of eggs and bacon, we set to.  MD was working inside on our traveling laptop while I sat outside on the deck and made calls.  In the photo below, our partner is on the phone to London and I’m on the phone to God only knows, since I had about a dozen calls I made while he made only the one.

Hard at work blog

As you can see, it’s not too shabby a place to work.  And work we did.  We got a lot accomplished before we took a break to set out the crab traps to get our dinner for that night.

We rowed out to the boat, unhooked from the mooring ball and headed out to our partner’s secret crabbing spot a couple of miles away.  It was so secret that we could locate it only by the dozens of other crab traps there.

MD tethers boat blogBaiting trap blog

After setting out the trap, we came back, worked a little more, then broke for lunch.  We went into the tiny town of Eastsound and ate at Roses, a lovely little restaurant, serving all natural or organic food.  Our friends needed to run by the hardware store, where I found the item pictured below.  It is a testament to America today (and the whole world, I fear,) when manufacturers can make money producing products like this one.  Thirty years ago there would not have been enough demand to justify mass producing these chairs.  But today I wouldn’t be surprised if it weren’t one of their biggest sellers (no pun intended).  As you can see from the photo, it is named The Big Boy, which implies a large, football-lineman-like physique, but which is really a euphemism for The Obese Boy (or girl).  As I’ve written before, these things make my blood boil, because so many people have been victimized by doing what the ‘authorities’ recommended they do.

We went back to the house, worked for the rest of the afternoon until it was Jameson time.  We walked to the beach (about 50 yards from the house) and sat in the sun waiting for the tide to get right so we could head for our crab trap. In due course, we rowed back to the boat, MD unhooked us again, and we were off to the traps.  On the way there we saw a commotion ahead in the water.  At first I thought it was dolphins, but as we got closer we realized it was two seals (not sea lions) fighting.  They were going at it hammer and tongs.  They would surface with one latched on to the other’s neck with its teeth, then both would submerge.  I thought they might just be playing until I noticed the blood everywhere.  The fight continued as we circled around watching.  I had my camera, but couldn’t get a decent photo because every time I clicked the shutter, the seals went back under during the lag between clicking and the shutter opening.  At last one seal gave up and swam away.  So we went on our way to the crabbing spot.

Once there I got the joy of pulling up the trap from about 80 feet of depth.  As it neared the surface, we could see a few Dungeness crabs within, so we knew we had dinner.

The catch blog

When we got back to shore, we set about cleaning the crabs, an activity fraught with a little peril.  The crabs are not particularly happy about being dragged from their briny lairs and are especially not happy to be handled.  They are extremely quick and have large, strong pincer claws in the front; they should be dealt with with care if you value your fingers.  I’ve never been pinched, but others who have say it hurts like the devil, and that they’re hard to dislodge once they’ve got a grip.

The cleaning is a grisly process.  You grab the crabs with both hands with one had holding all the claws on one side and the other hand holding all the claws on the other.  Grabbing them thusly is the difficult part, because they are strong and quick.  Once you’ve got them, you bang them down on their middles on some kind of an edge.  In this case, the edge of the aluminum row boat worked fine.  As the shells break, you pull hard on the handfuls of legs on both sides, which separate, and you end up with all the edible crab in either hand.

After you’ve got the legs apart, you then have to pick the gills out of the meat, which doesn’t take long, and then you’re ready to cook.

To cook, you simply put the legs into boiling salt water (water that we took from the ocean) for 8 to 10 minutes.  When you’re finished and plate them up, here’s what you have.  And they are delicious…if you like fresh Dungeness crab dipped in butter.

Cooked crabs blog

After dinner and cleaning up, we watched the gorgeous sunset over the sound.  We stayed up talking until about midnight, then hit the sack, got up and started a new day that was a repeat of the first.  Same people, same work, different clothes and different crabs, but basically the same day.  We repeated it a couple of times, then reversed our trek via the ferry and the drive to Seattle where we caught our plane home.

Suset on Orcas blog

Good news!  Just as I was putting the finishing touches on this post, I received an email from our publisher informing me that they had actual printed books in hand and would be sending a couple our way.  This really does mean that they will be available before the publication date of September 8.  They will probably be in stores within a couple of weeks and, I would imagine, be available on Amazon and other online retailers soon.

If you plan to purchase the book it would really help if you pre-ordered it from Amazon.  The name of the game in book writing is to get on the NY Times list, and that involves selling a lot of books within a given week.  So, if we have a ton of pre-orders, they will all go out at once, and be recorded by those who set up the Times list.  Thanks in advance.

I will speak to the publisher tomorrow to see if I can post a lengthy excerpt soon.

Hard at work in Seattle

Mt St Helens blog

I haven’t posted in a week because MD and I have been hard at work in Seattle and at Orcas Island, the largest of the San Juan Islands located in northwestern Washington.

We’re working on our project that we’ve been keeping under wrap.  No, it’s not the new book, and, no, it’s not Metabosol.  It is something pretty cool and even revolutionary in its own way.  Barring further bumps in the road (there have been a few), we should be able to reveal all on September 1. The reason for the secrecy is that this project is most press worthy, but, for reasons that will be obvious when we reveal what we’ve been working on, we don’t want the press to report it prematurely.

We flew into Seattle Sunday afternoon after buzzing across the top of Mount St. Helens and looking into the crater left when the top 1300 feet of the mountain blew off on May 18, 1980.  After landing, we got picked up by our partner and taken to his boat for an afternoon on Lake Union.  A huge annual celebration was taking place, so we spent the afternoon on a lake made choppy by a thousand other boats while the Blue Angels zipped through the sky overhead.  Seattle has been experiencing brutally hot temperatures, which we got blasted by on Sunday afternoon.

When we were in Seattle in December, we got caught in the worst snow storm in 30 years.  All the while we were slogging through the snow, our hosts were telling us to come visit in the summer when the weather is always beautiful.  So, we come in the summer only to be confronted with the worst heat wave since temperatures have been recorded.  I hate to imagine what we may encounter on the next trip.

Here is the Seattle skyline on Sunday afternoon.  Notice the chop on the water.  We were one of God only knows how many boats in the lake.  After getting pounded by the chop and brutalized by the heat, we tied up to a nice restaurant and had a lovely dinner complete with (at least for me) copious amounts of Jameson to go along with the copious amounts of Jameson I had already swilled to combat the heat on the lake.

Seattle skyline blog

Our partner’s boat, which is his pride and joy, is a handmade Venetian water taxi.  He worked with a guy who makes such boats in Venice, Italy several years back, had it built to his specs and then transported to Seattle.  It is a gorgeous boat, and, one day, I hope to go out on it in clement weather.  Below is a photo of MD standing by the boat tied up to another restaurant the last time we went out in it.  The temperature was about 23 degrees (not counting the chill factor), and you can see by the lack of chop on the water surface that we were the only fools out there.  (In case you were wondering, it is heated inside…but not air conditioned, thought the back of the roof slides open to admit fresh air and sunshine.)  As I say, our partner loves to show off his boat.

Boat in winter blog

After our Sunday respite (which it was, despite the heat and chop), we crashed and for the next two days worked from early morning until late at night.  We didn’t have time to answer emails, deal with blog comments, or do much of anything other than work.

We started each day with a quick breakfast at Louisa’s, a little restaurant close to the office where we spent our days.  One of the menu selections, fittingly enough, was called Mike’s Special, so how could I resist.  Especially when it was such a great low-carb option: two poached eggs on a bowl of sauteed spinach, red and green peppers and onions.  Good, good, good.  It came, of course, with a giant piece of toast that was at least an inch thick, which I ate a couple of bites of just to try.

As we were eating breakfast on the last morning, a man was eating alone while reading the paper at the table next to us.  He looked to be about 70 or so and was fairly thin with a pot belly.  He had on two pressure stockings on his lower legs and bruising in the crook of one of his arms from where, obviously, blood had recently been taken.

Watching him eat, I created an entire story about him that I’ll bet is not too far from the mark.  Even if it is not accurate in this man’s case, it is totally (and sadly) accurate in many thousands of others.

The man was eating a bowl of oatmeal.  He had a glass of skim milk so fat free it was almost blue that he poured little bits of into his cereal from time to time.  Along with his oatmeal, he was eating one of the giant pieces of toast the restaurant serves.  He took one pat of butter (I assume there was no margarine available) and cut it in half.  He carefully spread one half pat on one half of his toast then loaded it with an entire individual serving of jelly.  After eating the first half piece of toast, he prepared the second half the same way and ate it.  The only fat he got from his entire meal was that that came from that one pat of butter.  Based on the size of the bowl of oatmeal and the size of the toast (and the skim milk), I calculated that this guy consumed about 100 grams of carbohydrate. (Thirty grams in the oatmeal; at least 30 in the toast; 15 in each container of jelly; and about 10 in the skim milk.)

I imagine (here is where I’m speculating) that he has elevated cholesterol and has been told by his doctor to watch his fat.  And he is complying. He got a whopping 4 grams of fat in his one pat of butter (36 calories-worth) while getting 100 grams of carb in the rest of his meal (400 calories-worth). The tiny bit of fat he got contained short-chain fatty acids that are immune enhancing whereas the 100 grams of carb he got provided really no health benefit.  Since the 100 grams represents 20 times the amount of sugar circulating in his blood, his pancreas had to release a large amount of insulin to deal with it.  His pot belly indicates that he is already insulin resistant with an abdomen full of visceral fat, so he no doubt secreted a lot more insulin than a person without insulin resistance.  This excess insulin help him store fat in his liver, increase his level of visceral fat, ratchet up the inflammatory process, injure his blood vessels even more and increase his risk for heart disease, the very thing his doctor was trying to prevent by putting him on a low-fat diet.

How much better off this guy would have been had he joined me in the Mike’s Special.  But, his cardiologist, I’m sure, would have been apoplectic.  A sad state of affairs indeed.

MD and I were so busy this entire week that not only haven’t we been able to keep up with even our emails, we haven’t been able to go through the over 300 requests we got for a copy of our new book.  We will go through those and respond to everyone over the next couple of days.

Also, I have about 60 comments dating back for months that are stacked up in my awaiting-moderation queue. My plan is to deal with six of them per day and have them all cleared out within 10 days.  And this all while keeping current on new comments coming in.  So if you have had a comment languishing, it should be up within the next ten days.

Our newly designed site is supposed to be up this next week.  Keep your fingers crossed.  I’m certainly keeping mine crossed.

For those of you who still can’t get your minds around the idea that exercise doesn’t make you thin, read next week’s Time. The cover story, ‘Why Exercise Won’t Make You Thin,’ is a long article parroting what Gary Taubes wrote about a couple of years ago.  The notion has finally made it to the mainstream.

Finally, I’ll end with a book recommendation.  I finished The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo on the flight to Seattle.  If you haven’t read it, and if you like offbeat mystery/thrillers, give it a whirl.  A disgraced investigative journalist headed for prison teams up with Lisbeth Salander, the eponymous girl with the dragon tattoo, and one of the strangest and most interesting protagonists to ever find her way into fiction, to solve, at the request of an aging industrialist, a decades-long mysterious disappearance.  The novel, set in Sweden and written in Swedish but masterfully translated, has become a world-wide phenomenon.  The book is satisfying throughout, and I highly recommend it.  As soon as I catch up on all my work, I’ll start the second book in the series, The Girl Who Played with Fire.

Tomorrow I’ll post on working, crabbing and eating on Orcas Island.

Mock Turtle Soup at The Fat Duck

the-fat-duck

When we were in London a few weeks ago we met for an hour or so with Heston Blumenthal, who treated us to a four hour lunch at his famous restaurant, the Fat Duck. The meal was unlike anything we had ever had anywhere, and it shows why the Fat Duck has won the Best Restaurant in the World honors for a couple of years running.

I’ve intended to post on this fabulous meal, but haven’t yet because of the time it would take to describe everything.  I took photographs of every course, and if I included them all in one post, it would probably take a half an hour just to download it.

An article in the Telegraph, the UK’s most widely read newspaper, last week gave me an idea as to how to do the post on the meal.  I’ll divide it into multiple posts whenever something comes up that inspires a description of one of the courses.  Since all of the courses at the Fat Duck are of a theme, this won’t be too difficult.

The Telegraph article is about Heston’s new Alice and Wonderland menu.  We tried one of the entrees from this new menu while we were there, so that’s what I’ll post about this go round.

This particular entree, Mock Turtle Soup, was inspired by the Mad Hatter’s tea party and the Queen of Hearts in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.

In Victorian times turtle soup became the rage.  It was prepared from turtle meat imported from the Orient and was unaffordable by all but the very wealthy.  Less well-to-do households had to resort to an ersatz version made from the head, hooves, tail and other non-muscular parts of the calf in place of the turtle meat and called, appropriately enough, Mock Turtle Soup.

Lewis Carroll took advantage of this substitution in his book, creating a beast called the Mock Turtle.

Then the Queen left off, quite out of breath, and said to Alice, “Have you seen the Mock Turtle yet?”

“No,” said Alice. “I don’t even know what a Mock Turtle is.”

“It’s the thing Mock Turtle Soup is made from, ” said the Queen.

Heston Blumenthal used these lines for his jumping off point in developing his own version of Mock Turtle Soup, but he added another twist, still from the same book.  During the Mad Hatter’s tea party the March Hare dips the Hatter’s pocket watch into his tea.

The Hatter was the first to break the silence.  “What day of the month is it?” he said, turning to Alice: he had taken his watch out of his pocket, and was looking at it uneasily, shaking it every now and then, and holding it to his ear.

Alice considered a little, and then said “The fourth.”

“Two days wrong!” sighed the Hatter. “I told you butter wouldn’t suit the works!” he added looking angrily at the March Hare.

“It was the best butter,” the March Hare meekly replied.

“Yes, but some crumbs must have got in as well,” the Hatter grumbled: “you shouldn’t have put it in with the bread-knife.”

The March Hare took the watch and looked at it gloomily: then he dipped it into his cup of tea…

The presentation of the entree begins when a server puts down a cup containing a sort of a tea bag shaped as a gold pocket watch.  Then a teapot filled with hot water was placed next to each of us.  As with all entrees at the Fat Duck, this one is accompanied by an explanation of how Heston was inspired by the Mad Hatter’s tea party to create this piece of the menu.

The gold fob watch is molded of a kind of gelatinized bouillon (composed of beef and mushroom stocks reduced into a syrup, leaf gelatine and 10-year-old Madeira) hand-wrapped with edible gold leaf.  When we poured the hot water into the cup and onto the watch, it dissolves into a delicious, savory consomme with flecks of the gold leaf swirling about.

cup-and-broth

Once the tea is made, the server brings a large white bowl with the makings of a caterpillar arranged on the bottom.  The striped body of the caterpillar is made of terrine of ox tongue cooked sous vide compressed with slices of Lardo.  The mock turtle egg is made of a puree of turnip and swede with little enoki mushrooms sticking out to represent antennae so that the egg doubles as the head of the caterpillar as well as to call up an image of the toadstool on which he sat, smoking his hookah.  Sprinkled about the terrine and the mock egg are small cubes of pickled cucumber, truffles, and turnip brunoise.

start-of-course

The server then invites the guest to pour the ‘tea’ into the bowl over the above ingredients to make the Mock Turtle Soup.  The entire entree then is a dazzling soup shot through with flakes of edible gold.

soup

All that’s left now is to eat it, which we did with relish.  As you might imagine, it was delicious.  What you might not realize, however, is all the work that goes into this single entree.  Here is the recipe in full.  As one of the commenters wrote:

I think it’d be a lot less hassle for me to fly to London and go to his restaurant than to try to make this at home.

After looking over the recipe, I would tend to agree.

Odds and ends June 28, 2009

globe-trotter

Product review: Globe Trotter luggage

The photo you see above is of my beloved Globe Trotter Cetenary roll aboard.  I took it with me on this last trip to Hong Kong and London, much to the chagrin of MD, who hates this piece of luggage with a passion.

MD is a packer extraordinaire and is totally practical.  When it comes to packing, ‘cool looking’ isn’t in her vocabulary.  Since we travel so much, we have gone through many pieces of luggage over the years, and she has found the Hartmann bags best for her particular style of packing.  She can cram more into her Hartmann bags than any one believes possible.  And when she pulls her packed stuff out, it all looks great.

She has evaluated other luggage (usually at my insistence), but always defaults to Hartmann whenever she needs a new bag.  She picks the Hartmann bag she thinks looks the best, but would never, ever trade looks for utility.

I, on the other hand, will put up with a little loss in utility for a big load of cool.  And, in my opinion, the Globe Trotter luggage is maximally cool.  I’ve lusted over this stuff since the first time I read about it and saw a picture.  Every time we go to London, I would head for the Burlington Arcade where the main Globe Trotter store is housed and slobber over all the different pieces.  Finally, a few years ago, much to MD’s displeasure, I succumbed and purchased the above roll-aboard or trolley, as they call it.

Every time I try to take it anywhere, MD whines.  It isn’t divided into dual compartments- it’s just one empty box on wheels.  And it doesn’t open completely so that the top lays flat.  She feels it limits the amount that can be packed and easily retrieved, and she’s no doubt correct, but that doesn’t mean it’s worthless.  It has hard sides, so stuff is protected, and it has leather straps so it can’t pop open, and it has a great wheel system, so it’s easy to pull.  But those virtues mean nothing to her, so she always beats me down when I want to take it on one of our trips.

This time, however, I manned up and took it despite her protestations.  It functioned okay at best.  It was a real pain to get into in the overhead of the airplane, what with having to deal with the straps and the locks and the lid.  It’s much easier to simply unzip a bag and reach in.  All the gripes MD had about it turned out to be correct.  I’ve realized that Globe Trotter bags, which have been made since the late 1800s, were designed and built for a time when someone else handled all of your bags when traveling.  They’re made for durability and for unloading once you get to your destination – they’re not worth a flip if you live out of your suitcase as we often do while on the road.

I no doubt looked dashing as I wheeled my trolley across the lobby of the Mandarin Oriental hotel in Hong Kong, but that didn’t make up for the  all the downside.  Globe Trotter luggage does look great, but in this case, at least for my purposes, the looks don’t trump the lack of utility.

The placebo effect and observational studies

I got the following comment (reprinted here in part) on my last post:

Dr Mike, I must say I’m a bit uneasy about your attitude to observational studies. Doesn’t that in effect disparage most “traditional” knowledge, whether architectural (”If we build things in this way, they don’t seem to fall down”), medical (”People seem to recover from their fever when I give them this combination of herbs”), societal (”If we set up this kind of committee, things seem to function more or less peacefully and efficiently”)? I understand that an observational study doesn’t prove anything by itself but it seems that it’s a more formalized kind of traditional observation, one that, crucially, makes itself transparent and therefore open to future reinterpretation. I may be misunderstanding your stance, but I worry that in effect it negates most of humankind’s historical progress, and any kind of inquiry that doesn’t fit your preferred methods.

This commenter sets up the problem in a way that it can be explained easily.  And probably more clearly than I’ve explained it in the past.

As I pointed out in my post on observational studies, these kinds of studies are worthless for proving causality, but useful in defining hypotheses that can be tested.  Let’s take one line from the comment and is it to demonstrate what I mean.

“People seem to recover from their fever when I give them this combination of herbs.”

A perfect example.  Let’s say that some witch doctor sometime in the past came up with an herbal concoction that helped his ‘patients’ recover from a fever.  Over the years this herbal therapy was passed down from witch doctor to witch doctor, and it worked without fail.  A traditional doctor heard of the cure, tried it on a few patients and found that it did indeed seem to work.  Every time the good doctor prescribed this herbal remedy, patients had their fevers break and began to get well.  This doctor told other doctors, many of whom began using the herbs, and their patients, too, recovered from their fevers.  Patients swore by the stuff and rushed to their doctors to get it whenever they got sick.  Traditional doctors and witch doctors alike were in agreement that the potion works like magic.

Then comes a scientist who looks at the data and says, hey, here is a great observational study.  All the observational data indicate this stuff works like a charm, so let’s make that our hypothesis, which, simply stated, is that Herbal Mixture X reduces fever in those who take it.

Now that the hypothesis has been developed, it needs to be tested.  The best way to test it is with a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study.  Our scientist recruits doctors in several clinics across the country who are familiar with the workings of Herbal Mixture X (HMX) and provides them with a study protocol and unlabeled HMX and placebo, both of which look identical.  As per the protocol, any patient who comes into the clinic with a temperature above 101 [degrees] F gets a randomly generated number and either the HMX or the placebo.  Neither the patient nor the doctor knows who is getting the real stuff and who’s getting the placebo, which makes the study double blind.  If the doctor knew who was getting the HMX, then the study would be single-blind, not double-blind, which would not remove the physician bias from the study.  The assumption is that if the doctor doesn’t know which is which, he/she will treat all patients the same and not let some subtle bias slip into the experiment.

When a patient presents to the clinic with a fever, the doctor gives either HMX or placebo and waits to see what happens.  The doctor or staff contact the patients daily and have them report their temperatures.  When temperature has returned to normal, the data point is entered on the patient’s chart.  After a specific number of patients have gone through the protocol, the codes are broken to see which patient got the HMX and which got placebo.  The scientist then crunches the data to see whether the supposed fever-lowering ability of HMX is statistically significantly different from that of placebo.  And, lo and behold, let’s say for argument’s sake there is no difference.

There is a huge outcry from all the docs who have used the treatment.  The study was flawed, they scream.  We know this stuff works.  We’ve used it for years, and we’ve seen it work.  Same goes for the patients who have taken HMX over the years: they swear by it, too.  They say, We don’t care what one stupid study showed – we know it works.

So, another group of scientists takes on the project and repeats the study.  And gets the same results.  HMWX works no better than placebo.  All the same outcries arise, and so the study is repeated a few more times, all with the same result.  Clearly, HMX works no better than placebo when compared in a double-blind, placebo-controlled study, yet thousands of doctors and countless patients firmly believe in its efficacy.  What happened?  The observational data seemed to strongly ‘prove’ that HMX worked, but the actual testing showed it to be worthless.  What’s going on here?

What’s going on and what makes HMX work is the magic of the healer telling the patient that the therapy is potent along with the patient’s belief in both the healer and the strength of the remedy.  In other words, the placebo effect.

Don’t believe me?  With the recent death of Michael Jackson, reported by some as due to an overdose of a potent painkiller, said painkiller, Demerol, is much in the news.  I just read a piece written by a doctor on the placebo effect that describes the strength of this phenomenon.  Most physicians who have been in practice for any length of time have similar stories:

Jane D. was a regular visitor to our ER, usually showing up late at night demanding an injection of the narcotic Demerol, the only thing that worked for her severe headaches. One night the staff psychiatrist had the nurse give her an injection of saline instead. It worked! He told Jane she had responded to a placebo, discussed the implications, and thought he’d helped her understand that her problem was psychological. But as he was leaving the room, Jane asked, “Can I get that new medicine again next time instead of the Demerol? It really worked great!”

A placebo as strong as Demerol?  You bet.  Happens all the time.

I’ve been lambasted by many readers over my comments on the lack of efficacy of HCG treatment for weight loss.  Many have received what they consider to be significant benefit from HCG therapy and can’t possibly believe what they were experiencing is the placebo effect.  However, based on the many studies in which HCG was compared to placebo in double-blind testing, it is no better than placebo.  But that doesn’t deter those who don’t believe.  They know it works because it worked for them.  Which, of course, is how the placebo effect operates.  According to the results of at least 20 double-blind, placebo-controlled studies, these people would have experienced the same weight loss had they been given saline (salt water) injections or drops under their tongues and been told that the therapy they were given would keep hunger at bay and make their excess weight magically disappear as it had worked for thousands of others.  Of course, the 500 kcal/day diet helps, but in the minds of those who have had success with HCG, it is the hormone that does the trick.

Fat cells and adolescence

It has long been thought that fat cell number became fixed at about the time of late adolescence, and now a study using carbon-14 labeling pretty much confirms that hypothesis.

People get fat in childhood and up to late adolescence by increasing the number of their fat cells; people who get fat after adolescence do so not by adding more fat cells, but by increasing the size of the fat cells they already have.

What this difference in method of storing fat means is that it is more difficult to lose weight after a fat childhood than after gaining excess weight as an adult.  Why?  Because obese children have a large number of normal-sized fat cells that they carry on into adulthood.  To lose weight, they must reduce normal-sized fat cells to subnormal-sized ones, a more difficult prospect than reducing the abnormally-enlarged fat cells that are a consequence of adult weight gain back to normal size.  It can be done as evidenced by all the people who were overweight as children who have lost in adulthood, but it’s a tougher row to hoe than for those who got fat as adults.

Exercise and weight loss

Gary Taubes has taken a lot of heat as have I for publishing the idea that exercise doesn’t bring about weight loss.  The body compensates for increased exercise with increased food intake, and it takes surprisingly little food to replace whatever calories were lost by exercise.  Exercise has multiple benefits, and I recommend it to everyone because of those benefits, but, sadly, increased weight loss isn’t one of them.

This concept is one like the placebo effect that many people have difficulty grasping.  I’ve had countless comments from readers who have related their own stories of how they lost weight by a rigorous exercise regimen.  And they may have, but how do they know it was the exercise that did the trick?  How do they know they were losing weight because they were exercising instead of exercising because they were losing weight?  That statement seems ridiculous on the surface because it appears so obvious that the calories expended in exercise are what causes the weight loss.  But how do we know?  Perhaps because of a change in diet the body needs to ditch a bunch of excess calories from fat stores that are being emptied and does so by increasing the desire to exercise or increase fidgeting in an effort to dissipate this energy.  The increased weight loss brought about by this increase in exercise would be perceived as being caused by the exercise whereas in reality the exercise was caused by the need to lose weight.  It’s a difficult concept to grasp, but it has pretty much been shown in controlled studies that simply increasing exercise doesn’t reliably bring about weight loss.

As I wrote above, when people exercise, they generally increase their food intake to compensate.  But it’s not just the exercises itself that increase food intake, it could be simply thinking about exercise.

Researchers from the University of Illinois reported on two studies in which they correlated food intake with advertising encouraging exercise and even with subliminal words that had exercise connotations.  People ate more when simply hearing about exercise or hearing such words as ‘action’ in the context of something else.

Wrote they:

Alarming rates of overweight and obesity in the United States have led to the development of preventive communications and interventions to promote weight loss. As weight loss is contingent on energy expenditure exceeding caloric intake, one popular approach comprises promotion of physical activity. Media and community campaigns often encourage audiences to increase their physical activity by engaging in structured exercise or active routines. The present research was designed to explore potential effects of such campaigns on eating behavior.

Their conclusion:

Overall, the findings from these two experiments are suggestive in demonstrating that exercise messages can exert inadvertent immediate effects on food intake. Such consequences may not be apparent if exercise is the only measured outcome, but could potentially jeopardize weight loss.

The body likes to keep things on an even keel and maintain homeostasis and has all kinds of mechanisms for doing so.  If you walk past a bakery and smell the aroma of freshly baked bread, your pancreas figures there is going to be some carb coming its way soon, so it releases a little insulin in anticipation.  Apparently the same thing happens if you even think about exercise.  You eat just a little bit more to compensate – even before you exercise.

The dark side of fiber

You just about can’t read anything these days without hearing the virtues of fiber extolled.  It seems that fiber is on everyone’s good list.  Even low-carb and Paleo diet advocates go to the trouble of making all aware that their diets contain plenty of fiber.  No one has anything bad to say about it.

Well, I do.  I can’t let one of these odds and ends posts end without linking to one of my own favorite posts from back in the days when I had only three readers.

Take a look here at a post about a pretty good study showing how fiber really exerts its effects.

My slogan has become: Fiber…who needs it?

Video fun
And, finally, I can’t quit without a video.  I saw a guy like the one in the YouTube below on the Johnny Carson Show years ago.  I was stunned back then that someone could do this, and I’m just as stunned now.  It just doesn’t seem possible.  Enjoy.

About town in London

london-street

I apologize for not being more attentive to this blog since leaving Hong Kong a week ago.  But my excuse is that we’ve  been in London.  I’ve always been on the same wave length as Samuel Johnson, who said “When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford.”  I have a great blog post in mind, but I just can’t bring myself to spend the three or four hours it will take me to put it up when London beckons outside my window.

There are so many things to like about London that I don’t know where to begin to describe them to those who haven’t had the opportunity to visit.  For one, it’s probably the only major city in the Western world in which the highest  building is only 46 stories.  Most of London looks much like the photo at the top of this post that I took while crossing the street yesterday – non-skyscraper skylines with old buildings with very old buildings interspersed.  One of the main things I really enjoy about London is the fact that being a pedestrian is almost a full-contact sport requiring full attention, especially for Americans who are used to looking the wrong way when crossing the street.

I loath the American way of being a pedestrian.  In the US pedestrians have the right of way and are usually pretty obnoxious about it.  I can’t stand it when I’m in a car and a pedestrian or a group of pedestrians slowly strolls across the crosswalk, taking their time in an almost passive-aggressive fashion.  The most annoying pedestrians are those who consider it a point of honor not to look at the cars coming to a stop as they saunter across in front of them, as if to look indicates a sign of weakness.  These people know that if the car hits them, it is the driver’s fault and not theirs.  But they don’t stop to consider that they, the pedestrians, will be the ones in the hospital or in the morgue.  They seem not to understand that accidents are called accidents for a reason.  Being kind of an  aggressive person myself, I love to close  on these saunterers at a rate that gets their attention.  I consider it a victory if I make them at least look at my oncoming car and perhaps start to consider if they need to jump or not.

In London there is no doubt.  The roads belong to the cars.  Pedestrians crossing where they shouldn’t be need to be quick on their feet, and even gray-headed duffers jump to when the cars come at them.  And the drivers simply lay on their horns and don’t slow down.  I love it even though I am a pedestrian.  But, I’m no doubt not normal.

We came to London as a part of the big project we’ve been working on.  We had arranged a meeting with Heston Blumenthal and a long lunch at his restaurant The Fat Duck.  Although Heston is probably the best known chef in Europe, he’s not as well known in the United States, but that will change as he has a cooking show that will be coming out there early in 2010.  He is completely self-trained, which is amazing in the world of celebrity chefs, and has only one restaurant, instead of a chain of dozens bearing his name.  But what a restaurant it is.  The Fat Duck has won the title of best restaurant in the world as judged by other chefs for two years running, and can’t run again.  To those of you in the US who want to learn more about Heston and his style of cooking, here is a link to a one hour video special about a Christmas meal he prepared.  Watch it, and you’ll learn why he has the reputation he does. Or Google Heston Blumenthal for many short videos, if you’re not up for watching the longer one.

We met with him for an hour and a half or so and found him to be charming and completely self-effacing.  He comes across in person exactly as he does on TV.  And his restaurant is beyond belief.  We’ve never had such a meal.  In fact, there has never been anything that has even come close.  I took a ton of photos and plan to post about the entire meal, but I haven’t wanted to deny myself London for the several hours it will take me to put up such a post.  We’ll be back in the US tomorrow, and as soon as I go through all the stuff that has stacked up in our absence, I’ll put up the post.  I may even start working on it on the plane.  You will be almost as amazed.  Try to give the video a look if you have the chance, so you can see what a different kind of chef Heston Blumenthal is.

I’ll leave you with a photograph of MD crossing the road on the famous crosswalk at Abbey Road shown on the album cover of the Beatles’ Abbey Road.  Abbey Road Studios where the group recorded for six or seven years is right behind her and to the left.  As many times as MD and I have been to London, we’ve never made the trek over to Abbey Road, but we did early in the evening a couple of days ago.  It was a long hoof, but we made it before dark, and MD, who is a huge Beatles fan, got to fulfill a childhood dream.  And I, of course, selflessly went along to document the occasion.

abbey-road

Chinese feast

toast

After our meeting at the factory we’re working with, the president of said factory treated us all to a feast at our restaurant.  As Chinese tradition dictates, such feasts are accompanied with many, many toasts.  The toast works this way:  the person making the toast picks out a specific person to toast, walks over to that person, raises his/her glass and gives the toast.  The translator translates.  The person receiving the toast answers back.  The translator translates back.  Then both toaster and toastee down drinks in one swallow.  After this, the glasses are immediately refilled by one of the servers.

In our case, the liquor used for toasting purposes was either red wine or bai jiu, a Chinese white wine that is actually more of a distilled liquor.  The Chinese love bai jiu, which has a distinctive flavor.  It’s about 50 percent alcohol and has a front end taste that is kind of like the essence of an infusion of dirty socks in some sort of floral alcohol and a back end like lighter fluid.  It’s an acquired taste, and one that I had sort of acquired after a zillion toasts.

As the meal progressed, the toasting evolved into each toast requiring the downing of both a glass of red wine and a glass of bai jiu.  Thank God we ran out of red wine and baiu jiu before I ran out of consciousness.  The photo above shows me just before downing a glass of each after a toast from the head of operations at the factory.

The meal we had was spectacular. And pretty low-carb.  I kept a photo log of it, which I will lay out below. (We had another good meal earlier in the day that MD posted about moments ago.)

We started with shark fin soup, which I didn’t take a picture of because…I don’t have a good reason.  I just didn’t.  I guess I didn’t think about taking photos until after the shark fin soup.  From there we moved on to a giant prawn and an abalone.  Both were delicious, especially the abalone.  I don’t know what kind of sauce it was cooked in, but it was savory and out of this world.

prawn-and-abalone

Then came a weird dish that was served with plastic gloves.  It was a baby dove with head included.  You put the gloves on and tore the little bird to pieces and gnawed the bones.  And, yes, we ate the head.  We didn’t just throw it back and chomp it; we nibbled off the small amount of meat on it .  I watched the Chinese so I could follow suit, and that’s what they all did.  After picking the bones clean, we all removed our gloves and awaited the next course.

pigeon

What came then was some sort of seafood salad.  And remember, all this food was interspersed by dozens of toasts.

seafood-salad

After the seafood salad came the main course, which was a piece of succulent steak that was extremely tender.  It was served with a little pile of fried garlic chips and a stalk of broccoli.

steak

Following the steak, we had a dish of some kind of green vegetable.  I never could figure out what exactly it was, but it was very tasty.  I asked the woman sitting next to me what it was, but she didn’t know the English word for it.  All she could tell me was that it was grown in the area where we were.

local-greens

Then came a tiny bowl of fried rice.  You can see the size of the bowl by comparing it to the spoon next to it and the little glass the bai jiu is served in.

rice

The we had some sweets, which I admit to eating.  Everyone of them.  By that time, after all the wine and bai jiu, I would have eaten anything.

sweets

And finally we were served a small plate of fruit for the end of the meal.

fruit

By that time all the wine and bai jiu were gone, thank God.  I thought we had made it through the worst of it, but the factory president, who was the founder of this feast, had brought two kegs of German beer, so nothing would do but that we all traipsed upstairs to a small room and drank glass after glass of mildly chilled beer and ate dried squid, squid jerky, I guess you could call it.  The beer and squid were served along with, believe it or not, french fries.  I ate no fries, but did eat a fair amount of the squid jerky, which was pretty tasteless but did give the jaws a good workout.

It was a memorable evening, and I can even remember all of it.  I even woke up the next morning feeling fine.

I’m rushing to get everything together to catch our flight to London.  I’ll post later on my thoughts on the China and Hong Kong experience. I do want to make one observation, though.  Earlier in the day that this feast took place, we toured the factory.  There were probably at least 400 people working there of all ages.  I didn’t see a single obese person – all were thin.  You may think that they weren’t obese because they were working hard.  You would be wrong.  Almost all of them had fairly sedentary jobs.  They were sitting doing very little strenuous labor.  Mainly just screwing one component on to another as they came down a line.

Safely in Hong Kong

Your faithful correspondent slaving away

Your faithful correspondent slaving away

As those who follow me on Twitter know, MD and I made it safely to Hong Kong.  We have in enormously busy schedule while we’re here, so I’ll put up smaller posts as we go along interspersed with some larger ones as I have time.  As you can see from the above photo, I’m hard at it, ensconced in our hotel room overlooking the harbor with the Hong Kong skyline in the background.  Below is another photo from our hotel room window.  Our hotel (for one night) is on Kowloon across from Hong Kong Island, which is the skyline you see.  Actually, it’s only a small part of the skyline.  Hong Kong is New York on steroids.  An amazing place.

hong-kong-skyline

We flew over on Cathay Pacific business class, which, if you’ve got to make a 15 hour flight, is the only way to go.  Great seats that make into beds, great service and spectacular food.  The only wierd thing about the whole experience is the realization of how seriously the Chinese and the Honk Kong-ese take the swine flu.  All the cabin attendants on the plane wore masks.  We had to fill out a health declaration to enter Hong Kong and another when we got to our hotel.  I would estimate that about a fifth of the people walking around are wearing masks.

But, masked or not, the folks at Cathay Pacific put out some good food.  Good low-carb food, at that.  Below is a photo of my breakfast on the plane.  Lightly scrambled eggs with salmon, terrific wobbly bacon, sausage, broiled tomato and some hash browns (that went uneaten).

Cathay Pacific breakfast

Cathay Pacific breakfast

Last night we ate in a restaurant not too far from our hotel.  We asked our guide (the guy we’re working with who is a Brit, but lives here about half the time) for a traditional restaurant, not a tourist restaurant.  The restaurant he chose was capacious; I would bet there were at least 200 people dining there.  And we were the only non-Asians.

We sat at a large round table with a lazy susan in the middle.  The waiters kept bringing food and putting on the lazy susan; we rotated the dishes and served ourselves from them with chopsticks.  Our host apologized because he said the restaurant wouldn’t be serving rice like we were used to in Chinese restaurants in the US.  He said the notion that people ate a lot of rice over here is not true – at least not in Hong Kong and the parts of China to which he travels often. (Our host doesn’t know what MD and I do – we are here on a totally different matter that has nothing directly to do with low-carbing.)

We had numerous dishes, all of which were some kind of meat.  The favorite of the table was crispy beef, which is shown below.  Absolutely delicious.

hong-kong-crispy-beef

We ate mountains of various kinds of meat and fish and ended up with a giant plate of Peking duck, which we were almost (but not quite) too full  to eat.  During this entire feast, the servers brought only one vegetable dish to the table.  It’s pictured at the right.  Sauteed, not steamed, broccoli. Delicious. Not a single grain of rice did we see.  A few noodles, but not even many of them.  And no bread. And, sadly, no napkins.  There was a box of what we would call facial tissues on the table that we used as napkins.  But that was it. Oh, in looking at the picture above of the crispy beef, I noticed one other vegetable dish that I had forgotten about because I hadn’t photographed it specifically.  It is the Chinese cole slaw to the upper right of the beef.  All cabbage that is tangy, crisp, spicy and delicious.  They must have brought us a dozen of these little dishes of it.

I looked around at as many of the other 200 patrons as I could see from our table and as we walked in and out.  All were eating the same things we were.  Meat, meat, meat. Of the 200 patrons and dozens of servers I saw, there wasn’t a single obese person.  My observation of Hong Kong as a whole is that there aren’t really any obese people here, at least by US standards.  There is some chubby, but not much obese.  At least not that I’ve seen.

We are heading via ferry and car to mainland China today to go to an industrial city with a population of 60 million.  You read that correctly.  60 million.  The factory we are working with is there, and I’m keen to see it.  We will stay there tonight, then be back to Hong Kong tomorrow.