This week I experimented with simplifying my diet. Until Wednesday I ate nothing but oatmeal for breakfast and brown rice for lunch and dinner, with soy milk and orange juice (and water) to drink. I would’ve made it to today, but the temptation of free food at work (and not particularly good food, either) was too much.

I admit it sounds strange to do this, but it did have a purpose. You see, the last time I made rice as part of a bigger meal, I tasted the rice first, just by itself, and it was fantastic – a little nutty, a little sweet, with just a hint of crunchiness (slightly underdone :-)
). I had never noticed how good rice could be, just by itself. So my first reason for simplifying was to make me more aware of the textures and flavors of my food.

My second reason was to respond to a dinner I had heard about, put on by our local church. The idea of the dinner was that guests would eat a variety of different meals corresponding to the relative “wealth” of nations of the world, and the number receiving each meal would represent their populations.

People assigned to the “poor” nations (the vast majority) would receive only rice. “Rich” nations would get a steak dinner with all the trimmings, and a few fell somewhere in between. When I thought about it, especially as a vegetarian, I thought, “I wouldn’t want
the steak. I want rice.” So I wanted to see if I really meant it.

And finally, to be honest, I tend toward the ascetic, especially when I’m alone. Like fasting, a little less emphasis on food makes it easier to concentrate on other things. It’s a good preparation for self-examination in the spirit of Lent, or Yom Kippur, or Ramadan, or whatever your spiritual tradition prescribes.