August 14, 2002
Pod People

miles to go: 859.03

The soy pods are a lot chewier than I expected them to be.

I thought they were going to be like regular pea pods: faintly sweet, delicately earthy, with a crispy texture and a pleasant *snap* when you bite into them. I love pea pods, especially in stir-fry and in Chinese Chicken Salad. But these aren't like pea pods at all. They're tough and woody and thoroughly unpleasant ... sort of like trying to chew on raw asparagus. (Or plywood, maybe.)  I've been chomping away at a big lumpy mouthful of them for a couple of minutes now, but the lump steadfastly refuses to dissolve enough for me to choke it down. Plus the pods don't taste like much of anything at all: I've chewed on toenails that had more flavor, frankly.

I'm so disappointed! I thought soy pods were going to be the answer to my mid-afternoon blood sugar woes.

David walks into the kitchen just in time to catch me spitting the soy pods into the garbage. "What?" he asks, looking surprised. "You don't like them?"

Guiltily, I look at the sodden lump of regurgitated soy pod sitting on top of yesterday's newspaper. "No," I lie. "They're great! I just think I bit into a worm or something." And I make a big show of helping myself to another handful, right out of the package.

Mmmmmmm! I smile at him. Soooooooooy pods!  Yum yum!

We've spent most of the past week driving from one end of Alameda to the other, searching for the elusive soy pods -- or "edamame," as they're also called -- mainly because my Internet journaling pal Jill recommended them as an energy-boosting afternoon snack. ("All at once you get raw veges, hormones, and protein," she wrote. "If you get the salted kind, they are particularly nummy.") Lately I'd been on the lookout for an alternative to snacking on fruit in the afternoons -- the sugar, I suspected, was actually contributing to my exhaustion at the end of the day -- and she suggested the soy pods. We finally found them last night at the Marina Village Albertsons store, in the health food department. They're not cheap: a twelve-ounce package of them costs almost eight bucks. (And even so, you only get thirty or forty pods in a package, from the looks of it.)  But I figured what the heck, I'll give them a try. If they do the trick -- if they help me remain vertical during the dangerous late-afternoon/early-evening hours, when my *Energy Molecules* are running low, and my desire to go home and eat Pop Tarts for the rest of the evening is running high -- then we can start looking for a cheaper "pod source." A local health food store, maybe, or an open-air market.

(Or a lumber yard.)

In the meantime,  I've just got to figure out how to swallow the damn things.

"You know," David says carefully, watching me pop another handful of pods into my mouth, "I believe you're not supposed to actually eat the pod. You shell them first, like peanuts."

I stop chewing and snatch the package off the countertop in disbelief. What does David know about soy pods, anyway? But the proof is in the packaging. "Pods are not edible!" the label shouts in bold lettering. "Gently squeeze beans out of pod and rinse before eating!"

Oh. OK.

Feeling mildly chagrined, I spit another $1.25 worth of soy pods into the garbage and dive-bomb into the nearest glass of ice water. ("Thank god!" I gasp in relief.) As soon as the water has washed away all the evil pod taste in my mouth -- as soon as my throat has cleared, and my assaulted palate is restored to semi-normal -- I extract another soy pod from the package and give it an experimental squeeze. It pops right open, like one of those little plastic coin purses my Grandpa always used to carry. Three soy beans lay nestled and gleaming with oil, inside the pod, like a row of little bald heads. I bite into one. It has a pleasing texture -- soft but not mushy, like a perfectly boiled potato -- and a rich, buttery flavor reminiscent of walnuts.

Maybe this is going to work out, after all.

Happily, I finish packing my food for work. Three kinds of fruit this week -- bananas, citrus, green grapes -- to munch on in the mornings. A delicious nutritious Slim-Fast Meal Bar for lunch. (Less for weight loss, these days, than for convenience and nutrition.)  A container of yogurt, and a little Zip-Loc baggie of granola to dump on top of it, in case I'm in the mood for something desserty. Another Zip-Loc bag of baby carrots for crunch value. A fresh bottle of Fruit2-O Plus.

And -- the brave new experiment -- the package of soy pods.

"I'm impressed," David says, watching me pack the soy pods into my lunch bag. "You're probably even ready to try tofu again one of these days!" 

I don't know about that. I've become pretty thoroughly Californicated, foodwise, the past four years ... but even *I* have to draw the line somewhere. (And pale slimy blobs of taste-free phlegm are pretty much where the line is drawn, as far as I'm concerned.) Still, I have to admit that I've become a lot more open and adventurous about food since I moved in with David  ... especially since we started paying attention to things like nutrition and energy, and how one thing affects the other. Who could have guessed that someday *I* would voluntarily put nonfat milk on my soy cereal? That I would request Vietnamese food instead of KFC Honey BBQ Wings? That I would be packing a lunchbag full of fresh fruit, raw vegetables ... and SOY PODS?? Maybe tofu isn't so far out of the realm of possibility, after all. The next thing I know, he'll have me eating squid tubes and lychee nuts and all the other weird stuff I've been resisting, all these years. 
Hell ... he might even get me to try lobster again.

(Although I think I'll probably peel them first, this time.)

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