Nestle attempting to patent old wisdom

This is the article that triggers my latest blog:

In a paper published last year, Nestlé scientists claimed to “discover” what much of the world has known for millennia: that nigella sativa extract could be used for “nutritional interventions in humans with food allergy”.

But instead of creating an artificial substitute, or fighting to make sure the remedy was widely available, Nestlé is attempting to create a nigella sativa monopoly and gain the ability to sue anyone using it without Nestlé’s permission. Nestlé has filed patent applications — which are currently pending — around the world.

I am perplexed about this last public outreach: My response is, let Nestle Corp. patent any idea they want… What difference does it make? Anyone interested still has the same access to fennel flowers when trying to find benefits, regardless. It does not limit anyone from brewing a fresh fennel tea at home. I actually think these silly attempts to claim “title” to ancient knowledge is great exposure of public knowledge in today’s uninformed, pill-pushing culture. Look at this example: Although chicken soup has been demystified as a scientifically correct cold remedy, this data ignores the placebo affect of any caring mom, sister or friend preparing it for you, when you are sick –i.e. health benefits nobody doubts and science can’t really pin it down into data either…

Nestle, after getting in contact with EYS (Eu Yan Sang) a Hong Kong based Chinese traditional pharmaceutical corporation – produced in collaboration a TCM (traditional Chinese medicine) -fused bouillon that did not successfully breach the market – but within this relationship Nestle must have discovered that there is more to consuming food than “feeding”… Now, a few of Nestle’s modern scientists seemingly hashed out this idea they could patent 3000 years of herbal research, as if to dominate the market with a singular “ownership-certificate” of common natural wisdom. Next, they might attempt to patent that fresh ginger root corrects equilibrium and goji berries significantly slow the progress of cataract. Let ‘em claim!

Any good TCM practitioner will merely smirk about this naïve attempt to secure greedy power. It is a misguided marketing scheme that one isolated entity is the “cure-all” for trusting consumers in search of alternative help. You should never trust a laboratory geek selling you enticed packaged “wellbeing” especially if they produce junk-food brands like Coffee Mate and Lean Cuisine (run)!  Sugar and food color loaded products like Cheerios and Shreddies cause tooth decay and child obesity/diabetes and skin disorders… Now Nestle intends to create a natural skin cure based on ancient herbal knowledge and they push to patent this idea. Well, it’s like trusting Coca Cola or Pepsi Cola who target consumers with “healthy fruit juices”. They are loaded with corn syrup, preservatives and a multitude of ingredients you should never poison your child with… Heck, all their “fresh” ingredients have a shelve life beyond naturally possible… Contains 100% fresh fruit juice! …“how much”, you should be asking – “how much is artificial and how much is fruit juice?” We just “read” the words that comfort us, not the text, intrinsically trusting.

From the perspective of TCM it takes a multitude of herbs and minerals to successfully support a patient. Not one singular remedy. As we all know, the same good herb that is intended to aid one person could harm another with the same symptoms. Modern pharmaceutical corporations like Nestle, blind-sided by generating revenue, are now laughably attaining a patent for an ancient claim that fennel flowers have skin healing properties… rather reflecting silliness in the face of simple herbalists: Yes, tea of fennel flowers reduces skin ailment in people – only if they have no internal inflammations. You cannot just isolate one powerful substance and give it to “all”. Most of the “natural medicines” you will find in today’s health-food stores are packed to lure consumers to find “help” but are branded falsely or even promise “cure”.  Some go as far to claim “healing power”.  These are all mass produced “remedies” by factories producing little valuable substance for anyone. As if all human kind with the same symptoms – an ongoing catch 22 – could be cured with one singular ingredient, regardless of our height, our originality, condition, sex or age… Nothing TCM supports nor recommends.

Contrary. Fennel flower tea might indeed aid one woman during her dysmenorrheal (painful menstruation) but at the same time can cause severe photodermatitis (skin rash) to another. While Nestle files patent requesting world-wide to create a skin remedy “cure for all” – no modern practitioner would prescribe singular fennel flower tea as a successful skin remedy. Not in the last 3000 years of well-researched herbology was such simplicity effective enough to millions of well-educated people with a scientific sense for using medicinal logic when aiding others. It would certainly be a multitude of herbs, minerals and even breathing exercise, based upon a personally drafted prescription.

Nestle can claim they “own” part of this wisdom… even so it is documented in over 3000 years of medicinal history. It is knowledge that any well-rounded druid will pass on to you (to no cost). Like mom teaches her kids to brew a chicken soup for an ill sibling and encourages them to go and get him to take it… She will give them the best advice yet: “Watch, he might be a bit grumpy, just ignore it and join him in eating the soup…” There, healing is initiated!

Hint; fennel is health boosting and can stop vomiting and reduces fever… If you want to learn more about it, visit and learn how to prepare a healthy shrimp and fennel salad – it is an aphrodisiac… That free recipe for all was drafted by myself in 1998… Just in case Nestle gets any ideas!

chef raphael

a "cocktail-minute" response about your spleen


Amongst the five elements it is the Spleen (earth element) that seems the most mystifying of all organs and the least understood. It also is the one element that in Western medicine (with today’s research and understanding) does not completely line up when comparing the respected understanding and teachings of TCM.

When people with digestive problems approach me with their “simple” inquiries about how to adjust their food intake, I cringe a little: It takes more than a “cocktail-minute” to respond to such complex questions – how to support or strengthen our digestive systems.

Today, in modern medicine, the spleen is understood as part of the immune system and responsible for the production of white blood cells (lymphocytes) and the removal of old red blood cells. This was not the same priority in TCM. The spleen in Chinese medicine is paired with the stomach, and both are the main organs of digestion for the body. The fundamental difference to Western understanding was the wisdom that the spleen not only digest food, but also stimulus and information – respecting the effects of all that comes into the body through our sense organs as well.

From the TCM perspective we live in a spleen0-deficient culture. (In TCM we treat the origin of a dilemma, in this scenario the spleen function is not sufficient enough to process the volume of physiological and psychological inputs). We are constantly over-loaded with information, which needs to be processed through the stomach channel. With urban competition we have become multitasking – media and food consumers; cell phones on the dining table  – devils, eating on the go, nervous multitasking… Never doing just one thing at a time.

We do not chew our food well. Chewing helps the breakdown of the foods before they enter the stomach, making digestion allot easier and we could sustain on less!

When the earth element is imbalanced there will be symptoms of digestive upset reflecting in loose stools, poor appetite, low energy, edema (water retention), nausea, vomiting, weakness in the four limbs, pale lips, organ prolapsed, bruising, a feeling of cold, tired and a lack of motivation. A spleen imbalance causes a weak Qi (lassitude and lethargy), appetite is poor, digestion is sluggish and the stools are loose and watery. You will be lethargic, show pale lips, dragging around unmotivated and food will taste dull.

Foods that are not ideal in these conditions: dairy, wheat, cold drinks, fruit juice, processed foods, refined flour, pastry, pasta, breads, uncooked raw foods, refined sugar and sugar substitutes, coffee, alcohol, deep fried foods, peanut products, bananas, avocado.

Back to the cocktail-minute advice: Stop trying to fix this with a “healthy” juice-blend!

When the earth element is balanced a person will feel energetic, their digestion will be smooth, their bowel movements will be regular and firm. Your thoughts are clear and you can concentrate at will. If transformation and transportation is adequate, the Qi is strong, digestion is smooth and the body is kept moist. The spleen is responsible for the intake, processing and distribution of nutrients; extracted from food and drink and converting these nutrients into uplifting Qi and blood tonic – both vital substances for all the body’s functions. A spleen-healthy person will have red, moist lips and a “go-get-her” attitude.

Spleen balancing foods (depending on condition to achieve):

Organic lightly steamed vegetables, corn, celery, watercress, turnip, pumpkin, alfalfa sprouts, button mushrooms, radish, caper, brown rice, barley, amaranth, rye, oats, legumes, kidney beans, adzuki beans, lentils, small amount of lean organic meat, poultry and fish, tuna, small amount of whole fruits, lemon, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, seaweed, kelp, green tea, jasmine tea, raspberry leaf tea, Chai tea, raspberry, peach, strawberry, cherry, walnut, chestnuts, pine nuts, pistachios, lamb, venison, lobster, mussels, prawns, shrimp, trout, black pepper, cinnamon bark, clove, dill, fennel, garlic, ginger, peppermint, rosemary, sage, turmeric. (However: combinations and time consumed will effect the spleen as well).

The Spleen is responsible for the body’s “holding” function. This is called the upright Qi, the force that counteracts gravity when it comes to holding things. Without boosting Qi, all of our organs would be at the bottom of our abdomen! When the spleen is weak, we see prolapsed of organs (uterus, bladder, stomach), prolapsed of the vagina as well as bleeding hemorrhoids i.e. prolapsed of the anus.

I will leave you with this last mental image: Watch your total intake, adapt, and change as needed!

chef raphael

High Fructose Corn Syrup

There is a problem with today’s average consumption of sugars!

It is impossible for me to write this topic as a “short-cut” – Hence my longest blog to day! It is after all my tenth year blogging anniversary!

Lets understand a few statistics. There was a Japanese Dr. Yoshiyuki Takasaki in 1955 that developed how to extract sugar from corn and within found a super cheap way to sweeten anything. His method was equally as sweet as conventional sugar cane extract, but easier to blend with other products. Nixon helped signing a draft agreement against FDA health recommendation… Today Corn Syrup is in most everything sweet we consume. To guarantee a long shelve-life of preserved products you need to take out fiber (so it can be frozen for years) and add High Fructose Corn Syrup. It is in most all artificially sweetened drinks, breads, yoghurt, honey, ice-creams, sauces and candies. It is used to make fake honey and is added to medicinal drinks served in hospitals and clinics. It is more addictive than heroin!

After WWII the US average consumption of sugar was 16lbs per person but we have increased this modern addiction to a dramatic 120lbs per head! (…estimate excludes sugar from natural sources). The US market for High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) is about 6 billion a year. The same market for obesity drugs/products is worth over $2 billion a year, with some 300 million potential patients in the US alone… The healthcare cost because of obesity is estimated by 3.5 billion a year – do the math of the damage a healthy population could make if we did not needed gyms, less food in the markets and everyone would wear five sizes less material on their inflated corpses…

Here is the dilemma: modern science knows that high amounts of Fructose suppresses an enzyme called ghrelin also known as the hunger hormone. In your primary digestion, while consuming foods (although often this is a synthetic product) your body signals your brain that either the stomach is filled or digestion is working overtime: Please stop stuffing more products down your pipes!

Fructose enhanced products do not adequately stimulate this natural insulin response and a chain reaction follows. If insulin levels do not rise, sugar cannot be turned into energy. But when energy is not using sugar as fuel, it is “trapped” in our body… This diabetic reaction causes us to become comatose, either way by too much sugar in the blood hyperglycemia or because of diabetic ketoacidosis – not enough sugar converted. It is claimed by modern medicine as incurable, but TCM treatment has simply proven that statement inaccurate. (Check out my Keto blog above)

Insulin is a hormone. Hormones are chemical substances that regulate the cells of the body and are produced by special glands. The hormone insulin is a main regulator of the glucose (sugar) levels in the blood.

Insulin is produced in the pancreas. When we eat, glucose levels rise, and insulin is released into the bloodstream. The insulin acts like a key, opening up cells so they can take in the sugar and use it as an energy source.

Natural sugar is one of the top energy sources for the body. The body gets it in many forms, but mainly as carbohydrates (cell building blocks) that are broken down to glucose during the digestive process. Examples of food rich in carbohydrates are pasta, rice, bread, potatoes, and of course, all sorts of sweet fruits, berries, corn and roots.

The cells of a person with diabetes have problems taking up glucose due to either the lack of insulin or a resistance to insulin. Instead, the sugar remains in the blood, resulting in the rise of blood glucose levels.

People with type 1 diabetes must have injections of insulin every day. Each diabetic patient needs an exact dose of insulin, calculated especially for him or her. An overdose of insulin lowers the blood sugar concentration. If it becomes too low, it can result in a coma and eventually death. An overdose is treated by giving the patient sugar in a form that is as pure as possible – for example, orange juice or table sugar. If the patient is in a coma, glucose must be injected directly into the bloodstream.

If a diabetic gets too little insulin, he or she can go into a coma just as when overdosing insulin. The two types of coma are very hard to distinguish from each other without testing the blood glucose levels of the patient. If the levels are low, the patient suffers from an overdose of insulin. If blood glucose levels are high, the patient doesn’t have enough insulin.

Type 2 diabetes is often hard to discover. An average of seven years passes from the onset of the disease to its diagnosis. This means that a fraction of the patients already suffer damage to their blood vessels, kidneys, eyes, or nerves. You could have this dilemma and not know for years!

The liver is responsible  for breaking down fructose and converting it into fat. To understand the dilemma, I must bore you with my version of a simplified but  stunningly complex interior liver-laboratory: For your liver to convert Sucrose (sugar) or Corn syrup into carbohydrates, it needs lots of fiber!

Modern diet will tell you that neither fat nor fiber is good for you, atop nutritionists will convince you to intake high fructose sugar lazed low-fat supplements: drinks, power mixes, sports-bars etc. Add to it the lack of exercise and your liver becomes stressed: This organ is burdened with converting massive intakes of various chemical sugars, synthetic substances, food color and carbohydrates – trying to turn all of this into sugar- and converting half of it into fat reserves. Since we chronically overeat, mix and drink, the liver cannot keep up with the other main duty; to produce High Density and Low Density Lipoproteins (HDL and LDL) cholesterol. Hence sugar energy and cholesterol in uncontrolled manner is released into your system. They mix up with high levels of oxygen in your blood serum where it is now attacked by serum lipids and proteins via fructation. The HDL (the good protein) suffers and the LDL (the bad protein) survives… The liver must produce both variations for various purpose of energy transportation – just not in this horrid amount. I’ll come back to this…

At this point I must make you aware that either diet, the eat-all-animal fat-Atkins diet seems equally successful as the only-uncooked-roots and juice-diet… Why is that?

Well, they both reject intake of human extracted High Fructose Corn Syrup!

You wonder how diabetic 2 people could be suffering from a cholesterol deficiency: Modern medicine teaches that the human body can synthesize all the cholesterol and fats that it needs, but this is not true when the liver is overburdened; especially during strenuous diet with additives that contain HFCS and diets promoting low fiber or carbohydrate intake!

The most powerful side-effects of consuming HFCS is the consequence of this poison to suppress your gherlin-hormon indicator: remember, that thing that tells your brain to stop eating. And your liver can store a stunning amount of fat (yes, duckling).

If you suffer from lack of insulin response – your hunger hormones are not telling you to stop overeating – you keep eating – your liver will store excess sugar as fat – mostly in the liver and you become unable to reduce sugar levels in your blood. This conundrum causes a chain-reaction dilemma known as metabolic syndrome: Systolic blood pressure, Cardio Vascular Disease (CVD), blindness, hypertension disorder, etc.  Your liver grows and grows. Fat is now stored in all corners of your system – hence child obesity, fatty babies (poisoned from the mother plasma…as if they knew how to overeat at this age…) and Type 2 Diabetis (T2DM)! In TCM we simply recommend you eat walnuts and almonds. Four nuts of each, every hour – suppresses hunger (scientifically: The glucagones-like peptide levels doubled when chewing them for a long time…)

Normally, the liver releases fat, cholesterol, and antioxidants to all the tissues by converting them into Very Low-density Lipoprotein (VLDL) particles (yes, a variation of the bad cholesterol). The liver would actually clean your system from bad cholesterol via the bile secretion, using the HDL’s, but those good cholesterols have been damaged by a high level of glucose, fructose, and oxygen in your blood and now the bad cholesterol (LDL) seeps through your tissue and sticks” to your arterial wall. Since you reduced your fat eating intake, rescued VLDL remnants can’t be recycled in your bowl.  Making matters worse: You are probably adding fructose and glucose by stuffing your belly with HFCS rich fruit and low fiber energy supplements. I love people in an office chairs eating such high-sports products…

If you are an active sports participant, runner or bicyclist on a non-fat but high carb diet and you load up your body up with fructose and salt enriched Gatorade (I’ll blog about food coloration another time…) your liver will not cope well with the excess sugar consumed and/or produced and will releas it into your plasma where your homeostatic mechanism is running amok. Your oxygen enriched blood serum now collides with the carbohydrates and an unfavorable chemical process initiates a sugar-burn – wasting energy – resulting in Carbon Monoxide (CO) particals in your plasma – resulting in interior-suffocation of your body. To simplify this: Oxygen can occupy red blood-cells (RBC’s) hemoglobin for the duration of a two minute transport through your vessels, whereas monoxide occupies the same cell for twelve hours preventing sufficient respiratory gas exchange. Cherry red lips, cramps, dizzyness – similar symptoms to heat stroke.

You will never see a sports person seriously gulping down colored Gatorade. Early on, it was a well-designed sports nutrition supplement containing sodium, sugar, potassium and phosphate to replenish carbohydrates and electrolytes. After acquisition by Pepsi Cola in 2001 High Fructose Corn Syrup was added to cover up the unpleasant taste of salt and potassium. 350ml (12 fluid ounce) of Gatorade contain 21g of sugar, 21g Carbohydrates, 45mg Potassium and 150mg of Sodium (salt). The sugar however is HFCS!

Fructose is NOT Glucose!

Lets look at this:

Two slices of white bread are equal to 120g of Glucose. Your body breaks down the carbs and converts it into energy ready polysaccharides (Glycogene). About 50% is stored as fat in your liver the other half is dispersed to muscles, brain and into your blood plasma to be immediately ready as energy fuel.

As a sports person you would ideally store up on carbohydrates by “loading up” on pasta, rice and potatoes. To sustain glucose energy levels during exercise you should consume carbs at elevated heart rate during activity. But you should alternate (ten minute intervals) between fructose and carb intake. NOT CONSUME THEM TOGETHER!

When you experience signs of muscle-fatigue you should replenish with caffeine and carbohydrates and NOT with fructose enriched liquids. Basically you should drink lots of water but not only sweetened fruit juice.

A few points to remember: For carbohydrate energy exchange to sufficiently work, you must add Vitamin D (not from milk). You must consume an equal amount of cholesterol as potassium and intake fiber. Bananas are effective as a “starter” and “recovery” food but “during” high-energy exercise they interrupt liver function. Reduce intake of HFCS but consume high amounts of natural fruit sugar or fresh fruit. A perfect diet would consist of eating a high-fat, low-grain fiber, skip the salt and reduce all artificial sugars.

Eat your fats! Gently roast fish in butter without browning it. Enjoy Olive oil, cold pressed fresh oils and avocados. Try not to mix dairy fruit and meat.  quickly blanch high fiberous vegetables (raw broccoli or spinach is not healthy). Start your day with a fiber rich meal, add fruit and enjoy your crispy bacon!

Half of what you consume (if not on a diet like KETO) should be fruit, berries or vegetabes. Cooked, baked, raw and even juiced once a while. There is no big advantage of juicing everything; You MUST eat the fiber for your system to efficiently extract and store the essence of the product you ingest. Nature has wisely packed everything that is sweet in lots of fiber! If you consume high amounts of sugar you need fiber to aid your liver in the process to convert it into energy! Listen to your senses. Slow down your eating. Chew better.

Enjoy, chef raphael

a very personal story…

In a Corner of Los Altos

I just returned from a visit to my mom living in Los Altos California. I’m equally concerned as I am disturbed about the development of the last year since my mothers 2nd husband of 18 years past away. Clearly, now at the age of 84 my mom is distraught and discovering loneliness. She has expressed numerous times how much she would love for me to re-locate from Los Angeles to our family home, our grandfathers house I grew up in. It is one of the earliest original constructions from 1945 area, cuddly, with a large backyard – one of the few places in this upscale neighborhood and still, without a pool.

Mom is well off; better than she realizes. She rents out a second property on Oakhurst, to a family of four from Iran that lives there for quite a long time. They seem nice and kind on the surface and have stepped up to the plate when mom needed company. Tom fixes up the house in exchange of rent reduction, Homeira sometimes shares traditional tea and cookies when I stopped by in the past – on my mothers request to check on the property; to assure mom that new appliances or paint work was needed.

Recently the relationship with her tenants changed. At first, mom expressed how much she likes cooking for them, regularly takes the entire family out for dinners and was even invited for Thanks Giving where she met their extended family.

“We all bonded. These are lovely people, although they are from over there…” my mom would express.

When she started to share stories of purchasing elaborate Christmas presents and even financed vacation trips, my warning bells went off. I have never received a phone call nor a postcard from these strange new “friends”. As much as I appreciate their kindness in spending time with mom, I am equally alarmed about their constant attendance in everything my mother recently does and talks about. They advise her in all she does, my mother explains!

After mom’s second husband Michael past away late 2011 she displayed a familiar fragile sense of reality – the same way she had displayed a deleterious sense for security in her past, fragile to malicious influences after a serious traumatic life episode.  I had hurried back home from Europe to her bedside, after a cancer scare in 1993 where doctors had to remove fifteen(15) feet of mom’s small intestine. Her renter then, Michael,  alarmed me that my mother might not survive the operation.  She did pull through and married her renter, Michael became my step dad – under protest from the family and close friends. Turns out Michael was the best thing that happened to mom, super protective, quietly holding the strings and finances together and balancing his wife through the electronic and political boom of the last two decades. Even while he fought lung cancer himself and physically melted away in front of our eyes, he shielded her from the reality of a much crueler world and lovingly supported an utopia of this safe corner on Concord Avenue in Los Altos. He was quite the man!

Mom was devastated when he died; although she did display a familiar odd sense for reality; She could not understand why Michael’s daughter from a previous marriage would inherit money and refused to pay her out. A grieving mom expressed openly how much she disliked my step-sister Michelle. I encouraged her to do the right thing and promised to visit more often. My mother never calculates an emotion beyond her stern perspectives and can sound insensitive to a stranger. Her life has been sheltered, she is actually a lucky woman, physically healthy just a little slowing on the mind and unaware of conniving people.

Tom and Homeira quickly realized the opportunity on hand and I believe they sincerely intended at first to help mom through her adjustment of a single life in her house. Mom is a lovely person to be around with, cooks up a storm, functions independent on the surface and is routinely orderly. She loved carrying for her husband, baking, shopping and they arranged travel plans together. The extensively wandered the world on water and on land. He was a good husband. My mom lacks a sense of reality about the electronic evolution (not kitchen appliances…!) – she had relied on her husband for financial decisions, political views and foremost to be guarded from anyone taking advantage of her wealth. Mom still seems clueless about the fact that she owns two properties that are fully paid off and have a property net-worth super-exceeding the house value build atop. Mom has always paid her bills on time does not lease nor barrow and can comfortably afford to travel several times a year abroad; cruise ships, Europe tours and vacations in Mexico’s time share. With her husband death came the reality of loosing a companion, a soul purpose of living a joyful day.

My step dad, month before his death would take me aside during my visits and make sure I knew that everything was in order, should either one of my parents fall ill or even pass on. He was aware of my colorful relationship with mom and encouraged to never forget a birthday, mother’s day and little “thank you” cards for special occasions.

With Michael gone she developed a vacuum to care for someone, cook, share and mother others. Mom loves to travel in company and takes tons of pictures. Myself, working as a private chef with uncertain schedule, would only sporadically visit. I moved to Los Angeles twenty years ago to be closer to my birthplace; still distant enough to respect our individual life styles.

Throughout last year I became aware that the renters on Oakhurst had taken on a greater responsibility and at first I was very pleased.

“They are here, Raphael – when I need them…”

When my mom expressed that she had communicated with Homeira and Tom that they should be on the family vacation time-share, I tried to find out who they really are. I knew little about our long-term renters on Oakhurst and I know my gullible mom can be super generous with any strangers that gains her trust. Mother did not make sense when explaining their constant presence.
She refused to have a conversation about caution and reason – My mom has always displayed a stubborn and narrow view funneled by her perspective of correct. Mixed in with this qunundrum her sad new reality of repetitive story telling; signs of my mothers mind bouncing off track. Within she did express clearly that she feels left alone. I encourage her to pick up hobbies, travel to places she had not seen and get involved with charities, church even was discussed…

Two month ago, January 2013, mom sparsely framed her idea of changing her last will.  Alarmed by my ailing mother’s words – I hurried to come out to Los Altos and spend two days with her. I brought my longtime buddy Ulf with me, a family friend whom she loves to be around with.

The very first hour at home mom put the stunning news onto the table. She had already changed the family documents of inheritance and generously assigned the House to her new friends, Tom and Homeira, our renters. Mom invited me to tag along to the new lawyers to sign it! While driving she expressed that our family attorney had refused to change her will as requested. Instead, Tom and Homeira knew a law-friend and he had advised and guided her in this change of mind. Mom even expressed:

“You are a Buddhist, son – I’m sure you agree with my decision!”

“No – I don’t”

“Well, It’s a done deal”

“We must talk, mom…?”

“Look, Raphael – the gas prices have gone up…”

At the law firm I shook hands with the financial advisor whom had helped drafting mom’s new legal documents. There is a lawfirm in Los Altos supporting greedy people pilfering properties and inheritance with absolutely no suggestive reasons. I could not avoid pondering what under-the-table deal had been spurred this questionable officially authorized action. Clearly, when hearing my mom’s story they must have realized this confused woman might acted impulsive and might not be in full capacity of her mind to drastically write her entire possessions over to strangers… While her son was sitting in the hallway…

I’m stunned about the insensitivity this lawyer displayed when lured with making a quick dollar. My mom paid them a thick check for their assistance.

Next off, my mom invited me to go over to Tom and Homeira for tea and cookies. It had to be the most awkward of moments in my family life. Here I sat, freshly robbed of my inheritance while Homeira served me cookies (baked by my mom…) and Tom called a few times, late for our meeting. Under great protest by my mom to show up, he finally arrived, accepting the documents. He was uncomfortable and aware of the bizarreness of our tea gathering.

No word was exchanged about the yellow envelope on the table. I was merely there for a friendly chat over tea.

I was introduced to their daughter, while satirically amused agreeing to pose for a picture: me, the Hollywood star-chef, as my mom re-introduced me.

My mind was racing: Yes, little doll – how will your parents explain to you how they acquired this house you live in?  Are you going to remember the nice gentlemen that took a picture with you the day he got cheated out of his family will?

My confused mother showed absolutely no sign of being aware of the awkwardness of this dilemma. She encouraged me to taste her cookies and was so proud that now her property would be in the hands of good people that would never sell it and take care of it – for eternity.

‘Mom, what is my role in this scenario!’

To the people stealing away the house of my childhood with little regard for my personal life story, I have a simple message: Dishonesty is never the foundation of building a happy family. If you sincerely cared for me while callously pulling my inheritance from underneath my feet – you utterly failed showing me sensible heart and decorum or avoided to contact me and share the insane action of a fragile and lonely mother that has taken to you beyond reason. I must conclude from your silence that you knowingly overstepped her kindness and lowered yourself with common criminals abusing my mothers trust. You must have had a hidden discussion between yourselves about how much is too much…

To the renters at Oakhurst: You calculated your chances! Instead, and this is where your actions are so painfully atrocious: You did not just aimed for the house you lived in and paid rent for: You aimed for my childhood home. Tom and Homeira; you underhandedly convinced my mother that she needed to give you both properties – with a very foul excuse, that one of the properties is needed to generate the income to pay for the property taxes of both places.  Clearly, mother is discombobulated and her clear judgment is slipping away. You wisely withheld sharing the monetary reality that a mortgage free property lot could perfectly finance and even guarantee a grand rebuild. You have no sincere intention to preserve my mothers idea of eternity. You are not a friend of the family; You merely charmed up mother under false pretense. We have never exchanged a card, a message a sign of caring beyond my need to validate your renters needs for a fix or new appliance on Oakhurst Avenue.

It’s a valuable gamble and invitingly you charge for the full jackpot. You even ended up on the vacation time-share! Any clear thinking mind cannot avoid the idea that now – that you are the sole inheritance of my family fortune – my mom’s life might be at serious danger. You gained access to her home, her finances and her trust and you better keep convincing her that I am not a caring son. This is your only defense in this sad display of corruption!

You are wrong!

To all the neighbors, trying so hard not becoming involved and shying away from knowing each other: We all deserve protection from such thieves. You all hold a responsibility to care about each other, know each other – show compassion and extend kind gestures. I once played as a child on the streets of Concord Avenue, a cheerful, unconcerned child amongst neighbors that now raise families of their own – on that very street. Most original families have left. Most houses have changed: my family home is the spitting image of the original building from after WWII – stuck in time. Mom kept it in mint condition. Instead of building walls and trying to live sheltered existence we could equally choose to be neighbors again. We all age admits the hurried chances of making a living, raising a family, preserving our retirement. My beautiful mom is lonely on your busy street. Now, victim to elder abuse. It is not my mom that keeps me away from Los Altos; it is that precise fear of having to live her loneliness, in your neighborhood – unconcerned neighbors, uninterested about the crimes next door – that renders my decision to move back home impossible. We have become sadly estranged. But I am close!

While mom slips deeper into her own world of reality, it is oddly a safe place for her to be. In this blend of her childhood memories, the stories of that street she lived on the fading memories of past time, including me, the son she does not know how to fully embrace. Throughout all her painful rejections, I love my mom. Like the trees that grew old and thick on the roadside, she shows the signs and scares of many years of compassion, worked hard to earn a living, supported wars, lost her children, fought illness, shared pleasures, cheered American highlights, cried, voted, survived cancer and proudly displayed holiday décor, outlived many friends and two husbands… She is my mom. She is a kind soul. Mom needs protection, like a child that plays in those streets.

Do not let people like Tom and Homeira sneak into your house. Their lack of communicating any sense of my mom’s confused actions marks their dubious intention criminal. They are smart and manipulative. It is a common crime in these days. I would have accepted my generous mom giving them their rented house to live in, but their greed super-exceeds my Buddhist kindness! They even robbed me of being generous at will!

I might not have much of a chance to change my mothers stubborn will – but I do have the inborn freedom to share my story as I see it!

Update July 2018:

Mom remarried two years ago – a guy she met on a cruise trip. Although she has reached out with more Lawson-Greeting-Cards on my email and called on my birthday; I have stayed away from further interactions. I’m estranged to her and her behavior and I find it utterly weird that the “new husband” shares absolutely no interest in introducing himself to the “son of his wive” – so, I make up my own modus operandi why my gullible, old mom got hitched with yet another dubious character…

chef raphael

devil in hiding…

It rains every day a few hours in Singapore, this is the season. Christmas decorations dominate on Orchard Street and unfamiliar over-the-top kitsch in display windows invite the curious; the Asian way of celebrating is a bit extravagant, too many colors, glitter and plastic ornaments mottled with religions create this bizarre advertisement for the shopping crazy inhabitants of this South Asia island. I sometimes feel overwhelmed living in a city with a general curricular activity consisting foremost of eating and shopping.
My position as Executive Chef to this project matures to be an important one for both sides involved. After boot camp last week I found myself bonding with the core team now aboard for quite a while. Although we are still short on chefs for the kitchen operations I am now confident I can realize my menu suggestions into a spa cuisine menu and the excitement is rising with every day we are preparing towards opening day on December 10th. If only I could draw more attention to the fact; a well trained and fully equipped kitchen staff is the core operations of a restaurant… So far I struggle to gain such respect.
Red white & pure is still showing little doubts around me and with me; my personality is unusual composed compared to most chefs out there and I care and brag little about my true talent until I am in cooking action. I long learned that the positive energies of the Universe indeed had a hand in this match making and to fuel optimistic energies are the most important in our successful forthcoming, regardless of titles, money and talent.
This unique chance to study TCM and participate in a venture that concentrates on the well being for others is self rewarding. Everyone puts their soul into this project. No worries – I have not turned religious, just realizing the possibilities of our business and dancing on the ceiling about the chance to be aboard. I have rarely found myself this happy working this hard.
I go to bed tired and have no life on my own. No need for complains; I have still not received my furniture shipped from Los Angeles three month ago.
Check out the sample menus on the website showing off the way we are incorporating Chinese Herbs in our concoctions. The menus read as an educational experience for the few that want to learn something about the healing entities in all we intake.
My dream is to publish a very special cookbook; A reference in the usage of TCM with healthy food preparations and a home-kitchen guide that can be resourced for all health troubles that are pondering modern city living. People active in nature have a better connection with healing plants compare to city people who are disconnected from instinctive knowledge.  I will present a cookbook that helps anyone  from simply eating better to cancer patients needing a tasty choice to cook. All of us need to re-discover that magic that grows amongst us and learn that prevention is better than healing.
For now I am spending most days educating and often defending my perspectives of cooking and slowly I am gaining respect for my wisdom and my kind personality. I still have not shown my devilish talents on the stove, but soon, soon…

Traditional Chinese Medicine

Fall rewards us with the harvests of the year. What one has seeded in spring, shows its result now. I strongly believe in this philosophy applied to life in general. My Journey has brought me to this part of the world for many wonderful and wondering reasons. October is a month I preferred as a child, but growing older it has in my own odd way shown to be the most challenging times of a year. And so, it is not different this season.
Moving all my belongings to Singapore is still in the make. The contracted overseas transportation company called Omega Shipping in Florida is playing a cruel game with my new employer. First they quoted me US$ 4000 for a twenty foot container and now, after picking up my possessions, they’re charging us US$ 9000. I recommend you stay away from them! I talked with the owner Mark, the day I had arranged my entire home to be transported to South East Asia and he warned me about the unworthy competition; how someone like me could easily be taken advantage off…
Project Q, my new culinary challenge is coming along. Although we are still in the process of recruiting staff and hence postponing staff training, the excitement is running high. Opening day has now been set for December 10th. Chef Andrew Jacka my mentor in creating this start up menu has shown great patience.  In the mean while I am submitting myself to self-schooling and midnight hours on the computer, writing formulas and studying like in my teens. My respect for traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) has grown. These are the challenging ingredients of my new venture into the world of culinary exposés. I am inhaling books of antique knowledge, fascinating repertoires of powerful natural healing agents, easily churned on by my fascination for history. Within am involved with the creation of recipes that include unusual elements and sometimes even strange ingredients. Often I find myself in a situation comparably with Monks of the past, experimenting in closed-away laboratories, discovering concoctions and amalgamations of which most taste awkward and unpleasant. After six weeks, the results are fascinating and securely my new kitchen-staff can adapt these new formulas.
But my real challenge is a contemporary devil, a familiar fear inflicted by the knowledge of modernity; or is it not the lack of knowledge that is the cause of all subliminal angst’s in today’s society? I finalized a menu selection and struggle to comprehend the many inputs about what “healthy food” represents. The more I am hearing about calorie charts and fat calculations the further I want to run away! The people that seriously need to mathematically summon their nutrition intake in a restaurant are few. Even if I follow dubious diagrams for every percentage of fat and calories on a menu item; such result would be based upon an estimated chart created by a Federal Food Administration sponsoring Government laboratories or even worth, some health guru with little scientific background. Such charts never embrace the reality that a carrot or a potato grown in the salty soil of Singapore impossibly could compare to a root or knob cultivated in the heart of France or the mineral rich lava grounds of middle America. A chicken grown in an enclosed cage certainly has not the same nutritious value as a hen raised on a farm in Italy. Most tropical fruits are picked “green” to ripen in gas infused containers on their transport to the stores that sell them in their “natural colors” and never given a chance to fully develop nutrition or flavor-bouquet. Today’s consumer believes to gain “health” by consuming such fictionous constructed foods. Have you ever seen any label on a pineapple or that pretty looking pear that tells you the process of genetic manipulations that make it appear to be bright yellow? Instead we read labels on diet coke, coaxed to ignore that the artificial sugar added is much worse than the diet it falsely promotes. You never wondered what the wax does to your system after consuming the “keep the doctor away” apples every day? This should be the consumer’s urgent concern. In actuality, the majority of patrons (even those with a weight issue) do not want to eat in an environment that medically lists the technical ingredients of their devoured meal. Health consciousness has become fashionable nonsense to endorse consumer activity and wellbeing has little to do with it. “Healthy eating” is bribed by the very value of time, wasted on chewing and enjoying food in good company as if we finally need to be convinced to inject all nutrition directly into our systems and spare our teeth from grinding vegetables and our bosses from missing us on the office desk.
Our restaurant shall be a tranquil rest-stop whilst hectic chasing after fame and fortune. A instant rescue, peace; for the mind and the body. Meditative.
In our restaurant, (active October 16/06) the world is ordinary again. The food is basic, clear and honest with an introduction of TCM as to show that we live in union with the power of nature. One might even find a moment to inform about the wise old knowledge that advocates; all problems on earth are equally presented with a fair solution. So lets not confront guests with calories, glycosides and polysaturated estimates…
I stern believe loyal guests come to us trusting that we serve promised quality, guarantee ambience and an inside-out healthy atmosphere and foremost use products and produce that have been spared from generic manipulations.
I have created all menus to be prepared with sensitivity to today’s nutritional needs, cutting out ingredients that are known to be sluggish in the digestive system and reduced the sugar and salt intake by more than 200% compared to a classical French restaurant. Within I still uphold the luscious pleasure of the Gourmet tongue and gum and let the many flavors dance its prelude to the mind. As the study of TCM has endured human trials of 1600 years, I too rely on the experience of past great chefs and their clients. To achieve succulent results I’ve applied my secret little twists and tricks to entice a culinary delight. I refuse to forfeit chocolate and cream to a only hale and hearty menu experience; we eat for the soul as well. The old Chinese herbalist well knew about the magic of mind that first off leads a body to cure its worldly pains. Even today you will find in TCM stores the sweet choices to cure broken hearts and they knew 1000 years back that the sweet liquorish root distracts a kid from the scratch on his knee. Besides that chocolate boosts the immune system, calms fever, prevents the flue and simply puts a smile on many faces, it even soothes the one giving it as a present.
Over many generations we have adjusted to too much sugar, artificial flavors and fat. Now, natural ingredients don’t taste “customary”. My challenge is to re-introduce pure products without diminishing the “soul factor” and guarantee joyous eating. I still use all the familiar mouth-watering flavors but in moderation. My adaptations of healthy substitutes are so secondary it will fool a sophisticated eater.
This is the right moment to extend a Thank You to my bosses for supporting my choices in organic farmers, and letting me pick only outstanding quality of ingredients available. Within I am working for a truly unique company supporting the sensible understanding that we are the result of what we put in our body. I have chosen for you from the purest of what is available!
Back to work, I need to find a few more chefs to join the new brigade.