Bunny week thoughts…

I’m not big on promoting my political views when having to participate in speculations based on under-educated information, but the story about Malaysian flight 370 is rather a simple truth, whenever we are able to get the recordings:

First off, the few details we are not being told by any media might help understanding a little about the lack of communication by plane, by phone and from controllers on the ground. When a nation purchases a 70 million dollar air craft the transaction is similar to you buying a car. You can buy a vehicle with the bare essentials i.e. radio and cigarette lighter…. Or the full shebang with leather seats and WiFi flat screen TV behind the seats and NFC activated locks and ignition starter…

Malaysia most likely got the less expensive version, with little modern outfitting electronics. Unlike in the US most people in South East Asia (except major cities) are not as well equipped with the most modern cell phones; most Malaysian citizen opt for a “pay-to-go” phone service plan and most have a simple handy… There is NOT a cell phone atenna on each corner boosting signals, some areas in the jungle are remote and there is no “bar” to text amass!

If there is a catastrophic decompression issue and the oxy-masks drop in front of you – everyone in the cabin will look around and ponder what they should do next… Next time you watch the flight attendants doing their silly demo; pay attention. What they are not telling you – the ominous facts – you have about five seconds to put that oxygen mask over your mouth before you will pass out – and there might be only a few minutes of pure oxygen available for all passengers (scuba divers love this part…). The pilots have a longer supply. Hence, in a dramatic decompression situation (a door blows out or a window explodes…) all passengers and crew will pass out within seconds… There is honestly no chance to pull a mask over your own head – and next over a child-  if the cabin pressure violently changes. It’s like telling the school kids in 1950 to hoover under the table when the Atom bomb hits the roof – whilst cement evaporates, its a funny exercise, but hopless an attempt!

The airplane however is programmed (equipped with onlly bare essentials) to dive on auto-pilot down to about 4000 feet to equalize and cruise in a speed and altitude that is livable… for the few that might survive, this is the time to spring in action and check on the pilots. These professionals too could have passed out? Keep in mind, you might have been tossed around, popped your ear drums and blown a lung (or two) but heck, we are able to do survive beyond logic!

The odd flight pattern, as we know it today, is a sign that someone “steered” the aircraft, however we will not know all details until we find the black box. Could be a pilot slumped over the equipment, or something far more nefarious.

They are going to find this plane. In time we will know the details of this tragic flight. The ocean is much larger than most can comprehend and most unexplained stories invite for conspiracy, yes it is annoying. Add to it religious speculators and we just have another human version; revoked science blabber. Even CNN makes up days of stories; adding Titanic, digital camera, Submarines and a side-story of Ebola outbrake in Africa.

In the mean while we all need to come a bit closer and try educating the next generations about the fact we are made from the same DNA as most other living forms. I respect a strong opinion – but, please spare me your speculations that lack science.

Side note:  The ears of the chocolate bunny are usually the body parts containing the most chocolate, the mold is poured upside down  – just in case someone asks if you want a piece… Go for them!

Back to the stove:

chef raphael

Did I – did I not?

In the past my blogs promoted food products, TCM remedies and travel experiences, all mixed with a touch of personal views and political ranting. As Private Chefs and Estate Managers we are super cautious to advertise personal services; We rely on hands-on experience and facts!  During January’s 2014 meeting of the EMC (Estate Manager Coalition), I was introduced to Clinical Director Lovely and her husband Jake Laban from Skin by Lovely in Santa Monica.

Raphael Gamon 2013

owned by TCM chef Raphael Gamon

What a small world: I met a beauty professional in Beverly Hills! Ah, yes – I too look into the mirror with wondrous eyes: What the heck…?

I express no fear of appearing original. As my close friends will quickly confirm; “there is hardly anyone as simple about their hair, fashion and exterior …” Self-appearance to me is embracing seasons, waving off the notion of visual beauty by appreciating my aging and foremost focused on how I reflect in the heart of others.

Working as TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) chef in Hollywood certainly confronts me with every aspect of adjusting to life, the aim to stay healthy, fit and sharp. That includes the sometimes odd struggles we witness of public figures trying to defy vanishing good looks – by replicating an advertised “beauty-standard” of modern media.

My grandmother had such lovely “happy lines” (some know them as ‘wolf lines’) around the edges of her eyes –her beautiful face exhibited comfort, wisdom and happiness.

I also remember the moments she carried me out of the bathtub, wrapped in a lush towel, kneeling to my level and gently applying cream onto my face while encouraging me to take care of my skin. Bathing was a spa moment. She too, with all her simplicity understood the need to take care of our body.

Now, having celebrated 50+ years rushing through life, I’m confident that those moments – when I engaged in caring for my exterior reflection – have preserved me from too much damage. Today I look into the mirror with the mind-set of a twenty-one year old and ponder about the wrinkles. Hey, I’m not quite ready!

Why not boasting my ego a bit? Modern science provides us with simple and effective opportunities to improve our moral. From a TCM perspective we encourage you to engage in soul-boosting activities. We live in a toxic world and professional, gentile treatment by qualified healthcare professional is a perfect solution.

This is not about “altering”  – the magic is in enhancing, preserving and health.

SKIN by LOVELY came highly recommended to me, I agreed to an appointment. Lovely and her Team invited me to their medical office in Santa Monica for a consultation. Walking from Wilshire Blvd into the tranquility of her office, I was instantly reassured that I was in professional hands. Aided by the chocolate truffles and coffee machine, I quickly found comfort in talking about the possibilities available. This is a perfect fit for VIP principals to consult any of their beauty questions.

The team is a stellar cast! Lovely herself is a leading trainer in her professional trade, I learned that Skin by Lovely is actually the busiest Botox clinic on the Westside and one of the busiest in the country, so I knew I was in the hands of a true expert.  Her second VIP office space is perfectly suited for celebrity treatments, with a discreet elevator entrance from a secure parking structure directly beneath.  Or, you can hire her specialized care for a ‘house-call’. There were no uncertain moments, no pain and I actually walked away as if I simply had a coffee break with a good friend. My comfort level completely intact I went back to work having never to use the word “vanity”…

Thank you Lovely and Team!

chef raphael

cook book out!

Dear Friends,

It slowly dawns on me that a six-year journey of writing and designing the “cooking with traditional Chinese medicine” (TCM) cookbook is finally in print. It is now available for anyone curious about everything we consume and how it affects us.

TCM cookbook cover Raphael Gamon

cover image of cook book by chefraphael

The TCM cookbook with over 170 pages is chuck full of helpful information and designed as a mini-self-study to introduce all of you to the complex world of Eastern medicine from my perspective as a TCM chef.  I’m fusing two great traditions: Chinese medicinal food and French cuisine!

“As a trained chef, my curiosity early on focused on learning how food has an affect on us, not just on our physical wellbeing, but how we psychologically react to what we intake. My work informs beyond eating, drinking and the product choices we consume to sustain life; we are affected by what we see, breathes and listen too – we respond to everything we touch, we apply and the circumstances we choose to live in.  We all agree to know this, but turned away from confronting to understanding it – it seems too complex to comprehend. This full colored work is designed for young and old to quickly understand the basics of Traditional Chinese methods. My recipes are easy, tasty and original!”

Cooking with TCM is a visually stunning and clever book; a simplified presentation with well established wisdom and modern references to scientifically support facts. Learn about the remedies that have been studied on millions of people without side-effects. You quickly realize how to make perfect choices to support and sustain health.  With this book you can wisely filter through today’s luring promotions of products that are natural, safe and share with others these powerful alternatives.

There are 40 recipes with vegetarian and vegan variations and hundreds of healthy remedies to include into your daily routine. The TCM cookbook is chuck full of fun information for people pondering how to sustain health, cope with illness and curious about non-invasive options to enhance our bodies ability to heal, boost immune response and guarantee longevity.

Please, support me in sharing this blog. Cooking with TCM is a perfect gift for friends, family and a collectable for all chefs!

Thank you,

Chef Raphael

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 TCMchef.com 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

Bucket list # 17

I have to reach back to 1986 to explain this blog. I had just finished my job assignment as chef to Jack Lang in Paris. Slightly frustrated with the responsibility of running a very tight and conservative professional government kitchen – I wrote onto my bucket list:

“March 17th 86 – to be for two weeks merely a chef with no responsibilities, simply following the guidance of others and responding with ‘yes chef’ to any and all requests – as ridiculous and banal as they seem…”

My bucket list since has grown to 81 items I felt are important to achieve in my life. Four of them where time-lines. As 14 year old, when I first started this collection of  valuated goals to achieve, I pinned down that I should live to my 24th birthday. That was extended to live another nine years – within reaching the age of Constantine the Great, W. A. Mozart, Richard II, Eva Peron and so stated Jesus… I wanted to outlive their 33 years of age. On my 33rd birthday I wrote bucket list #50: fittingly setting my new “deadline” to live to celebrate 50 years. Last July I reached that objective – an incredible journey so far and I will not extend the silly notion of yet another time to “survive” – I’m living. I have embraced this miracle as an extension of my experiences and my focus is on helping others to enjoy their journey on earth.

Last July on my 50th birthday I decided that bucket list #17 was to be tackled. Inspired by the economic comical turmoil and my “in-between-job-time” that I could take two weeks out of my schedule and with a limited allowance of $100 I would dive into a two week adventure of being a “simple chef”. I signed up with a temp agency that instructed me in how to be on time, how to use their online schedule system, how to show up shaven and smitten whilst representing their image and good standing with kitchens that required help. Most of the attendees in this orientation where students from various culinary schools or simply peeps dabbling into getting any job. The pay is between $10 for “cook students” to $13 for cooks. During that initial meeting I was twice corrected that I was a cook, not a chef… First off had to attain a “California Food Handler’s Certificate”. A document I never had, although teaching a many chefs the lessons needed to obtain this mandatory license when working in the food industry. $10 and a very boring two hours of internet schooling later I went to Bargain fair and purchased an uncomfortable cynthetic white chef-jacket. $19.50 before taxes. Next off to the second hand store shopping for shoes and black pants and an apron; $23.50.

With $47 I was to pay for gas and food… I would try.

My first job assignment brought me to a five star hotel in the center of Beverly Hills. I arrived fifteen minutes early at the kitchen and received a chef jacket and a hat. My duty was to help in the staff kitchen, prepping salads and within two hours the “cook in charge” excused herself and explained that she had to leave early – everything should be easy… The next shift starts in two hours: If you need help just ask in the kitchen downstairs. On the menu was Pasta, baked chicken, various vegetables and maintaining the salad bar and curricular food choices that cater to a +200 hotel staff eating at any time. She left. Faced with the dilemma of abandoning my bucket list efforts or professionally just “taking over” I marched into the kitchen downstairs and ask the first chef that came in sight if they could help; I played abandoned. It doomed on me that this scenario would make for a perfect hidden camera story. Take a highly qualified chef and put him into the shoes of a cook with no responsibilities and enjoy the experience. Although everyone in that hotel kitchen was nice, correct and attentive; it is odd being patronized by chefs half my age. The kitchen was run tight, most product was in the control of the executive and the menu selection was to standard. I got hired a second day by the same kitchen, this time to work in the main kitchen – I quickly was recognized for having some technical talent, although I could “feel” the questions that lingered thick in the air: What is this older guy doing here – where did his life go wrong… The sous-chef struggled to stack crabmeat onto wasabi lazed pannecotta topped with Avocado while I pondered that this combination of color, flavors and ingredients made little sense. I was not as impressed about the creativity as the sous chef seemed to be: “Is this not genius of the chef..” he would say – and I thought nah, that’s rather simple and lacks depth and taste – but I responded with an enthusiastic: “yes chef…”! My understanding of creativity is not just acting upon ideas and trying them out – it is the result of something rehearsed, noval, useful and delicious that expresses a wide range of study, experience and respect for palat, season; in includes a rebel’s attitude for disrespecting common sense…

These grey-green stacks of poorly flavored ingredients on a white base could not impress me.

When at the end of that shift the executive chef said he liked my work I was flattered – until he asked: “ Have you learned something today”?

“Yes chef” – I responded and went home dog tired…

Next day I ended up in downtown Los Angeles; Staple Center. I will not mention any names and localities, but if you plan on having a party in that area you should read my blog and take a few points to heart. The food prepared and catered in some of these venues do not equal the money they cost, are not prepared in a manner I would consider sanitary and lack fair quanitity, quality and are merely a faint substitution of an image of “name recognized chef” – These meals serve as “feeding” not as pleasing any consumer…

Here I certainly was a cook help amongst other cooks with an attitude that befits that poor image of irate kitchen attitude. The basic product is cheap (as in quality) and the chefs in charge are quick to brag about the logo they carry on their shirt. I find that modernity has suppressed creativity and talent amongst the compeditive culinary world. For whom you work is of foremost importance even if there hardly is any interaction with the “grand name” that hired you. You become an extended marionette of someone else’s creativity with absolutely little insentive to self-development and growth.

I’ll skip the details. Basically we prepared some of the food in the bathroom, which seemed completely acceptable to everyone working there regularly. I had to send frustrated guests away, explaining that this was a food prepping area for today, there would be other bathrooms – I just did not know where. The chef in charge had prepared too little sauce, too little side dishes and we cooks struggled to “stretch” as requested. What originally on the first plates swirled as a salad sauce was on the last plates a smirch of my finger of a faint taste of cheap oil and miserly spices… It would devaporate completely by the time the waiters sat with plates in hand in the hallway, waiting for their call to serve the salad… I withheld my opinions, although they screamed in my head. A very proud German accented pastry chef with logo on his jacket asked me to pick up some cake that dropped onto the floor. He too expressed himself to me with this curious question: “Did you learn something today”? It did take me a second, but I responded: “Yes chef”…

Well, with all the ego and that fancy logo on your chef coat, I cannot fancy why you would have such a high self-esteem being that you are a chef that prepares food in a bathroom!

During the first week I agreed to cook for a food festival held off Sunset close to Malibu. I would be one of six cook stations with a BBQ grill. The lady in charge communicated with me on the phone several times and each discussion would be a lesson in how I was to prepare food. She expressed herself fittingly with a “current Republican notion” of using “all inclusive” ideas when explaining her personal dislikes: “Bell peppers? No, people don’t like bell-peppers. Don’t use them!”

It would be a job after the two week bucket period – let me write about it later. In the second week I was assigned to a beautiful resort hotel in Laguna Beach. By now I had long outspend the $47 budget. Although I was hired as a cook with a $13 salary, by the time I gased my SUV (shame on me…) and arrived back in Hollywood, I barely would generate a salary over $25… Working in this kitchen was really nice. The Sous chef took me aside within the first ten minutes and expressed he was sorry but; “…you have to take that ear ring out, our executive does not allow any visuable tattoos nor jewelery…”

“Yes chef” I responded. In a way I wanted to comfort him with an “…it’s okay, there is a territory for all of us within we try to be the one in charge. It has no larger meaning to the better good of the world…” – but heck, I was a cook; so I took out my stud.

They soon would discover I had some experience. Unlike the Hotel kitchen in Beverly Hills, creativity here was encouraged, practiced and shared. The chef responsible for house made sausages is a truly talented soul with an artistic sense for spicing and method. Lovely! Like most kitchens that hire me to train chefs in menu development I cannot shut out my sense for realizing where mistakes could be tweaked to better outcome. Staorage, re-usage and fusion are still foreign to many chefs – especially when bothered with inflexible rules and narrow ideas about national Cuisine. Here too it lacked tidiness and direction, but I can recommend that food prepared here is delicious, of great quality and quite tasty. I would love to add a touch of Asian Fusion, just to expand their already rich selection and enable tools of methods that trigger even more creativity…

The experiences as a cook help were humbling to say the least. I will never give in to this urge again, cured from the idea that “a chef with no responsibility” would be simple. I love being in charge and foremost being the compassionate and encouraging chef most of these kitchens lack. I brag not with the logo on my jacket but the fact that after more then 30 years as a “responsible” chef in the kitchen I have never yelled at another chef. I have gotten some close to tears, digged into their sensitive minds and challenged them beyond what they thought was already brilliant – just to show that there is no limit – there is no such thing as a perfect chef. The abilities to expand and adapt within the realm of preparing food for others is an unlimited journey. Any chef acting within limited frame work is merely a handicap to the talent of others. Don’t aim for “name and rang” as I have worked with fascinating chefs that had no professional background but a natural sense for beauty, food and taste.

The questions about my being in that kitchen became too much to hide on my fourth day. When the chef told me they would love to have me full time on the team I was flattered and amused at once. I did tell him I had a “reason” for being there. Still felt awkward, standing there in my dirty polyester chef jacket trying to explain my bucket list #17…  Especially when I heard myself saying: “You have a very nice kitchen, good people and delicious menu, chef…” Too much words, I agreed immediately…

That eve I went home and send my resume and picture over to that slightly neurotic lady requesting my info for the food festival. I figured that now that I had done my two weeks I could reveal my true persona. But heck, the name (my own) on my jacket made no difference to her: To her I was just another cook under her supervision. I bought the best Angus Tri Tip and paid out of my pocket beyond the miserly budget she had available. I would have to uphold my quality.  The day of the event I received a call from her why I was not there setting up yet: “I’m all ready to go, on my way – no worries, I have done this professionally for thirty years…”

“Not cool” she responded – “…not cool, get over here immediately, I really don’t like this…”

During the festivity a client expressed something about Kobe and meat. Turned towards the BBQ I corrected over my shoulders: “No, it’s Angus – Tri Tip, not Kobe…”

And then it dawned on me that on the poster outside the booth is mentioned I had cooked for Kobe Bryant.

“Oh you cooked for fancy people… the lady continued, you must be a very good cook..’!

One last time, holding back any expressions of emotions I looked at her with a big smiles on my face and said: “Yes, ma’am chef actually…”

“Oh yes, I forgot, a cook is not a chef, sorry…” She walked off.

Gosch, that felt so good! – I will never wish to be anything less; not even for a day!

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

the myth about chocolate milk

June 2nd to June 9th I will partake with Team Swiss at the annual ALC (AIDS LifeCycle) bike ride from San Francisco to Los Angeles. A seven day journey shared with 3000 like minded people coming together from all corners of the world to cross 545 miles through beautiful California.

This blog is not about my yearly participation; I’m writing about one product that is heavely promoted as the perfect “recovery” drink post exercise. My father taught me early on to reject drinking too much milk for this liquid is intended to grow a 30 lbs calve into a 1200lbs cow.

During ALC many encourage chocolate milk as a perfect energy and muscle recovery drink that replenishes energy and replaces electrolytes – but this myth is simply bogus! I hear friends praising the well-being effects and I will specify why consuming chocolate milk makes you feel like this…

There is no benefit of consuming chocolate and sugar enriched dairy (apart from being the source of whey protein). Most humans after the age of ten lack an enzyme called rennin to digest milk! Quite to the contrary, dairy seems to have detrimental effects to your health. Milk should be for calves (baby cows), most humans cannot digest it. You may tolerate it, but you DO NOT fully digest it. I have aided clients with chronic constipation, irritable bowel syndrome, arthritis, chronic sinusitis and a variety of serious allergies by simply limiting their milk and cheese consumption.

To understand the complexity of my blog I must bombard you with a few milk facts that are necessary to understand these over-promoted products. It’s a hundred and twenty billion dollar indutry in this land!

Today’s dairy cows are fed gas preserved storage food, which does not only changes the nature of the milk but causes health problems for the cows. They are fed soy, corn, cottonseed meal or other commercial feeds, which contain all sorts of things including chicken manure and citrus peel cake, laced with pesticides. These foods are not appropriate for cows, who are ruminants and should be feeding on green grass in the spring, summer and fall. By nature they are supposed to regurgitate green feed, silage, hay and root vegetables in the winter. Unfortunately most dairy cows are kept in confinement, given antibiotics and hormones, and never see green grass their entire lives. These same cows have been tweaked and shot-up with Posilac to produce up to 55 or more pounds of milk per day nearly all year long. But alarming is the injection of a genetically engineered form of bovine growth hormone (rBGH). A man-made or synthetic hormone used to artificially increase milk production. For humans, rBGH also increases blood levels of the insulin-growth factor 1 (IGF-1) in those who drink it. And higher levels of IGF-1 are linked to several cancers. (read link below)

First off, we have to preserve what nature would spoil in two days by mandatory quickly heating milk to 165 degrees for about 5 seconds. (Water contaminated with equal amount of feces and bacteria in the US, as mandated by the same regulatory board must be boiled for more than seven minutes by 212 degrees before being considered drinkable…) Hence, pasteurization merely kills certain bacteria. However this process disables certain enzymes needed to break down milk fat in our human digestive track. It robs the milk serum of vitamins and denatures fragile milk proteins, kills beneficial bacteria and promotes pathogens. Even calves fed pasteurized milk reflect poorly and many die before maturity. Pasteurization was instituted in the 1920s to combat TB, infant diarrhea, undulant fever and other diseases caused by poor animal nutrition and dirty production methods. By today’s standard, pasteurization is absolutely unnecessary for public protection. It’s an archaic ineffective law…

In some cases, milk is ultra-pasteurized to get rid of heat-resistant bacteria and give it a longer shelf life. Ultra high temperature pasteurization is a process that takes milk from a chilled temperature to above the boiling point in less than two seconds. This process is utilized for the boxed milks that can be kept at room temperature for weeks… Unlike the regular milk that at room temperature multiplies the number of microbes and DOUBLES them every 20 minutes. No wonder milk spoils very quickly.

To make matters worse, milk is homogenized. Homogenization is a process that breaks down butterfat globules so they do not rise to the top. Homogenized milk is harder to digest, so proteins that would normally be digested in the stomach are not broken down and instead are absorbed into the bloodstream. Often the body reacts to these foreign proteins by triggering the immune system, causing inflammation. It can even trigger auto-immune problems. Homogenized milk has also been linked to heart disease probably because of the fat globules that are dispersed by the process. This means, homogenized fat molecules are so small they can escape your stomach wall and enter into the blood stream.

In addition to being chemically altered into something that is hard to digest and causes problems, today’s milk usually contains steroids, antibiotics, pesticides from treated grains, bacteria from infected animals, and genetically engineered growth hormones. If you think it’s just a few sick cattle I’m ranting about look at the statistics of the FDA released October 2012: 40% of all cattle in the United States carry AIDS and Leukemia Viruses. 64% of dairy cattle are infected with bovine immunodeficiency viruses (BIV) and bovine leukemia viruses (BLV), worldwide. (Bovine immunodeficiency viruses can also be properly referred to as bovine AIDS viruses.) They are commonly tainted with disease-causing bacteria, such as salmonella, staphylococci, listeria, deadly E. coli O1573 and Mycobacterium paratuberculosis (possibly one of the agents causing Crohn’s disease; a form of life-threatening chronic colitis), as well as viruses known to cause lymphoma and leukemia-like diseases, and immune deficiency in cattle.

I’m not trying to scare you – that is not possible – because as a mass we cannot accept that science might be correct. (..bring on the responses, this is a blog afterall…) Besides, dairy is incorporated in 300 baby products and over 2000 food products sold in stores through-out the US; there is just no stopping this madness.

I grew up next to a dairy farm and as a chef I still love cooking with cream and cheese; but in moderation. I do however not substitute electrolyte-fused water with chocolate milk. Just fact-check this point: Today’s low-fat milk contains 59 uncommon hormones. Of those 59 hormones one is a powerful GROWTH hormone called Insulin- like Growth Factor ONE (IGF-1). By a freak of nature it is identical in cows and humans. Consider this hormone to be a “fuel cell” for any cancer… (the medical world says IGF-1 is a key factor in the rapid growth and proliferation of breast, prostate and colon cancers, and we suspect that most likely it will be found to promote ALL cancers).

So if you do drink milk, I suggest you look for pure raw milk from grass fed cows (which is hard to get in most states unfortunately), because it may not be the milk per se, but how milk is chemically altered that causes the problems. To be fair I must clarify that unsweetened fermented or cultured dairy products such as yogurt, kefir and sour cream are acid neutral. Yogurt in particular is chock-full of beneficial qualities. As is the case with milk, organic yogurt does not have rBGH. (That grass and those roots however might be lazed with Mansanto by-products…)

Let me specify what started my blog: Chocolate milk is recommended because it is said to be rich on Vitamin D and calcium. Since today’s dairy cows don’t eat grass they do not have sufficient magnesium in their milk. The calcium in cow’s milk is basically useless because it has insufficient amount of needed magnesium content. Cows milk has three times the calcium as does human breast milk. No matter, neither are very usable because in order to be absorbed and used their MUST be an equal quantity of MAGNESIUM.

Per the USDA 8 ounces (one cup) of cows milk contains:

Calcium, Ca mg 291.336

Magnesium, Mg mg 32.794

After consumption, now that excessive bone building calcium has to be flushed out of your system, causing your chemical household to overproduce acid (…it’s actually simple chemisty) and add to it the lactic acid formed after strenuous sport – you are now “attacking” your calcium reserves  in your bones with this acid surplus! Your bone density diminishes when consuming more than five cups of milk per week. Your calcium rich milk is causing the opposite effect.

Milk is fortified with vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol) which is cheaper than vitamin D3 and rather useless for supplementation. Vitamin D supplements require saturated fat to make them bioavailable so they can be incorporated into the body structure but when you drink low fat milk this vitamin is inert.

The protein myth:

87% of milk is water. That makes it VERY expensive water.

Broken down into its basic groups

Whole milk is: Water 87%, fat 3.25%, casein 4%, other protein 5,75%

(note: that is 3.25% “milkfat” which includes the 87% water.) 80% of the protein in milk is casein. Casein is a powerful binder, a polymer used to make plastics and a glue that is better used to make sturdy furniture or hold beer bottle labels in place. It is in thousands of processed foods as a binder promoted as “something” caseinate. Casein is a powerful allergen, a histamine that creates lots of mucus. The only medicine in Olympic athlete Flo-Jo’s body was Benedryl, a power antihistamine she took to combat her last meal… cheese pizza. And she drank a chocolate milk as recommended for her quick recovery:

For the whole Flo-Jo story: http://www.notmilk.com/deb/092198.html

So it is not ideal to drink milk that promotes liquid formation in your lungs, especially if you bike the next day in the early morning mist! After sport, in all current scientific studies – any fresh fruit and water combination replenishes your system equally and sufficiently. (any adverse study was surely published under sponsorship of dairy farmers…) Yes, chocolate milk will give you an elevated positive feeling but most likely it is due to the high amount of sugar and the “upper” effect of the cacao (Next time I’ll write about processed cacao and coffee beans…). Next time, check the sugar content in one cup of chocolate milk!

chef Raphael

Ref source:
–         Chan J. Dairy products, calcium, and prostate cancer risk in the
Physicians’ Health Study. Am J Clin Nutr. 2001 Oct; 74(4): 549-54
–         Holmes MD. Dietary correlates of plasma insulin-like growth factor I
and insulin-like growth factor binding protein 3 concentrations.
Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2002 Sep; 11(9): 852-61
–         Weinsier R. Dairy foods and bone health: examination of the
evidence. Am J Clin Nutr. 2000 Sep; 72(3): 681-9
–         Kerstetter JE. Low protein intake: the impact on calcium and
bone homeostasis in humans. J Nutr. 2003 Mar; 133(3): 855S-861S
–         Barr SI. Increased dairy product or calcium intake: is body
weight or composition affected in humans?
J Nutr. 2003 Jan; 133(1): 245S-248S
–         Oranje AP. Natural course of cow’s milk allergy in childhood
atopic eczema/dermatitis syndrome
–         Lund BM. Pasteurization of milk and the heat resistance of
Mycobacterium avium subsp. paratuberculosis: a critical review of
the data. Int J Food Microbiol. 2002 Jul 25; 77(1-2): 135-45
–         http://www.dairycheckoff.com/news/release-012403.asp

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

About Lying – from the perspective of TCM

A lie is not the truth.

Is lying a moral obligatory action or used to deceive? Correct definition: To make a believed-false statement to another person with the intention that that other person believe that statement to be true.

There are four putative necessary conditions that define lying; simply – one lies knowing this is not the truth – or one tells a lie believing this is the truth… e.t.c. The “clear” lie is the one told with intention to deceive and advance personal gain… Either way, truth or not – bad words spoken are hard to forget and all we say leaves a trace: We should choose our comments about others to be formed with kind words and caution, for this trace will stick in our minds for a lifetime!

I could bore you now with a book long philosophical analysis about how much of a lie is a lie and when the truth is not real either. But some of us do agree that the truth – as a general understanding of “factual real” – has a different affect on our physical being compared with “lies” or dishonesty. Psychological effects are influenced on how we perceive either to be; debatably, the assumed truth might generate more positive and comforting feelings and assumptions of dishonesty seems to trigger a reaction of discomfort and can trigger physical signs of illness.

I’m purposely avoiding the recognition that a placebo effect (lying about the reality of physical dismay) has shown people to overcome illness by strongly believing in a distorted truth. Rectified lying?

Let me set two (2) opposing points on a linear model with truth being on the right end and lie on the left side. Most of us might agree that we all place ourselves somewhere between these to endpoints on this model, indicating we are not fully capable of convicting others (or myself) of neither being fully truthful nor self-affirmed liars.

It is fascinating to think that all logic and linear thinking human beings could not place themselves clearly on either end point. We are all more or less dishonest!

It could be that we either have a strong understanding of nobility and morality or a clear understanding that life – as we live it – for most of us presents us with an impossibility to manage without choosing to manipulate specific circumstances within these two end points. We equally embrace that there is hardly anyone around us that is 100% poled left or right. It comforts us that within this mathematical scheme we all understand each other as not fully truthful. It makes lying not so uncomon and a fact of managing…

To make it even more complex; we have the ability to perceive information, ideas and combinations of influences to be either truthful or we choose to doubt.

Even if we are presented with science and “reality” we can deny ourselves to accept the presented information as real. We can even choose a lie to be true. Really confusing.

I have to leave you hanging with this conundrum and ponder about where you place yourself on this chart. Here are a few suggestions to guide you with the wisdom of old souls to find comfort when confronted with either – a lie or a truth – that seems difficult to confront and accept: Life is short, forgive fast.

Be honest to yourself.

Be weary of people that have lied to you in the past. Try to convey the truth without calculating your own benefit (or loss).  Do not over-react when you are confronted with anyone telling you a hard to accept fact.

Do not surround yourself with people that lie a lot – their mission is to lower your own standard for they will not change.

You can avoid responding to everything and let “the action speak” – It might take longer to convey your message but it is better than leveling with dishonesty. I do recommend to speak up, but sometimes diplomacy is just not possible…

I’m currently stuck in a very difficult scenario; a complexity of lies and thieveries and I have to patiently endure being critically observed, doubted and distrusted. But for my own sanity and health I must simply follow my path and focus my energy on being kind and correct while becoming a witness of odd consequences of misbehavior. It is fascinating how people with ill intend flip between good and evil in the shortest of moments while unable to change their adapted “false sense of reality” – still pilfering and manipulating the truth to their advance. I’m equally awestruck about anyone supporting and fueling such characters, clearly entertained by this play on hand. It is an ugly situation!

I focus on building strength, meditation, sport and eating healthy. The best medicine to cope with difficulties in life is self-love. Be kind and honest to yourself. This will reflect on others. It is not always in our power to make others happy. They need to want to be happy.

I avoid negativity on screen, in music and restrict my own actions to balance my decorum.  Sometimes it is okay to wait and watch; It might be the “lesser truth” but it is a “lesser lie”… Within I am squeezed away from where I would like to place myself on the above equation.

That makes me so “normal”…