Visitors to the main post office at Broadway Boulevard and Mountain Road would do their tummies well to drop by Andrea's Tamale Hut for a quick nibble. The bright yellow, doughnut-shaped portable building is thankfully hard to miss. Just park in the adjacent gravel lot and amble up to the window. The posted menu is brief; tamales are sold for a buck a piece and by the dozen. In the morning, Andrea's has breakfast burritos and in the afternoon, carne adovada at three bucks each. Order one of those adovada burritos and the sweet, kind lady in the Hut (I forgot to ask if her name was Andrea) heats up each tortilla on a portable burner before filling it with scoops of chile-braised pork and potatoes. The surprisingly moist tamales are filled with savory red chile and pork. Order the "boat" and your tamale will come smothered in red chile.
Are you unsure whether it's worth it to buy organic produce or not? Here's a quick test: Do you buy the cheapest motor oil, dog food, coffee or tampons? Generally speaking, your body is the most important thing you own and even if conventionally grown oranges look and taste the same as organic, they may not be the best for you. Pesticide use is one of the things that makes organic different from conventional but produce isn't required to carry labels that would disclose what your oranges have been sprayed with. You can't see these chemicals on your food but you can be reasonably sure they're there. According to the Environmental Working Group, a public interest watchdog organization, the fruits and vegetables that are consistently found to be the most contaminated with residual pesticides include apples, bell peppers, celery, peaches, potatoes, red raspberries, spinach and strawberries. If you are only able to buy some of your produce organic then concentrate on those items. The good news is that common foods like asparagus, avocados, bananas, broccoli, cauliflower, corn, kiwi, mangos, onions, papayas, pineapples and sweet peas have the lowest levels of residual pesticides. La Montañita Co-op has arguably the best selection of organic produce, including a fair amount of locally-grown fruits and vegetables (especially later in the season). Vendors at farmers markets can often tell you exactly how their stuff was grown. Whole Foods, Wild Oats and Sunflower Market are all committed to organic produce but the organic sections at regular grocery stores are getting bigger all the time.
Curry: It does a body good. The April 23 issue of the journal Science contains a report from the Toronto Hospital for Sick Children and Yale University School of Medicine showing that turmeric, the spice that makes curry yellow, contains a compound that may help treat the deadly disease cystic fibrosis. The scientists' research was on mice and the results are only preliminary but it's all the excuse I need to eat more curry.