I don't really do impulse. Too many times have impulsive, even rash decisions caused me to suffer the brunt of my own ineptitude or carelessness. A lack of profundity invested in any venture, adventure, or misadventure nearly always comes back to haunt you. Furthermore, the ramifications of such lack of foresight can be long-reaching and severe.
Take, for example, the time I made a on-the-fly decision in college to try ecstasy. I was with a bunch of friends and we had - impulsively, I might add - decided to go out dancing. I slipped into the skinniest pair of jeans I owned back when I was a size 28 waist and threw on a fabulous long sleeve shirt. After a short drive we arrived and quickly downed an extra large bottle of Gatorade and coconut rum in the car (I have a policy against paying $8 for a glass of vodka and pineapple juice).
My friend Anna suddenly produced a small Ziploc bagged filled with five tiny white tablets. Each was engraved with the image of a small bird. "They're called White Doves. They aren't as long lasting as a Pink Cowboy," she said with an assumption that any of us could really tell the difference. "They only go for a few hours. Trust me, though, that this thing will have you rolling all night," explained Anna.
"Oh. Um. Well... why not?" I replied. "You only live once, right?" Honestly, that thought going through my head was the shortest trip ever made in Sacramento. She dropped the tablet in my hand. I placed it on my tongue and washed it down with another chug of the Gatorade-rum cocktail.
Inside the club we began dancing as the speakers pumped out heavy techno remixes of Madonna's 80's singles and colored lights flickered around the room. Considering our surroundings it seemed that it would be near impossible to tell when or if the ecstasy kicked in or not.
"So when can you tell if it's doing anything?" I asked Anna as I sipped my drink.
"Oh, you'll know," she replied. I wasn't sure if she had heard me as she seemed hypnotized by a nearby gogo dancer like a cobra watching a charmer's pipe. I let the question drop.
"Oh. Okay. Well, if I start acting weird let me know. And, god, why am I so thirsty? This is like my third pineapple and vodka. Also, it's like a zillion degrees in here."
"You're feeling it."
"What? God, I am loving this music. It's really hot in here. Ooooh, look at that guy. I'm going to go introduce myself. Wait, I have to use the restroom first. Hold my drink."
So began a night of hyper-intense ADD, beyond shameless flirtation, and copious amounts of rough groping with total strangers. It might have been fun. I'm honestly not too sure. I only have flashes of memory from that night.
The next morning I woke up on my couch with a blistering headache like someone had trapped me in porcelain room with the world's loudest freight train before taking that train and repeatedly striking me in the skull with it. My shirt was gone and a note was on the table from Anna that explained that my friends tried to find it at the club but hadn't had any luck. In my pocket were three phone numbers and one more was written on my shoulder in black sharpie that was signed, "Harmit. Call me for another sometime. ;)" which concerned me as I didn't know a Harmit or what the first one he referred to even was.
I spent the rest of the day fighting off dehydration and resting in a quiet room listening to a Project Runway marathon. Harmit's number would remain on my back for the next week and a half. I never did call. It seemed that was an impulse worth ignoring.
Of course, this isn't to say all such jumps aren't without any sort of merit. The risk is sometimes worth the payoff. Like a game at a baccarat table the chance to win big is present and palatable. This may be something small such as taking a back road to work and learning later that your regular freeway trip is blocked for miles due to a shoe in the road (if you drive in California you understand what I'm saying). Other times it might be taking a huge risk in the way decide to present a major project to your peers and find that it paid off.
Still, I'm generally not an impulsive person. I do planning. I am an avid fan of forethought. When it comes to pros and cons of any decision I weigh more things than a scale at Weight Watchers. I carefully consider each situation and major purchase I make. Simply enough, I've regretted more than my fair share of bad decisions and I'm skeptical, even fearful enough, to tread as lightly as possible in order to avoid disaster.
Another example: Back when I was in boy scout camp as a teenager, I learned to question the impulse to do a back flip off a high dive because landing a full-flat belly flop from twelve feet in the air hurts like crazy and will leave your entire chest swollen and bruised for days.
The reason I followed the impulse to begin with? Well, I had preformed plenty of back flips before and when you do land them it's just so damn awesome. One big flop doesn't prevent me from doing more flips in the future.
I still follow my impulses once in a while and take a jump. I recently bought a nicer than I needed mahjong set in order to finish some of my resolutions for 2011. For me, that's just crazy as any old set would have been just fine if not more frugal.
However, where I am most impulsive is with food. When my stomach is involved there is no filter. No careful consideration. I just say okay and chew.
When I was in Mexico last year with some blogging buddies we took a tour of an outdoor market. As we wandered down stalls of fresh fish, butchers, and piles of heirloom mangoes none of us had ever seen or heard of before we did out best to eat everything we saw. Dozens of vendors were making fresh bread, musky batches of mole, tacos filled with vibrant salsas slathered over mountains of minced fire-grilled tongue, pickled radishes and jalapeños, and dry cured sausages. We ate everything we could and abandoned any warnings of not to eat strange foods in foreign countries. We avoided the water but devoured everything else in sight.
Take me to a dim sum restaurant and nothing is off the table. Steamed tripe, flash-fried chicken feet, congealed blood, dumplings of every kind are just some of my favorites. I'll happily spit out bones and chicken nails onto my plate and reach for the next dish before sloshing it down with another cup of hot tea or soy drink.
So it is at the farmers' market. I shop in season throughout the year and at the Asian farmers' market that means there's always some new sort of produce I've never seen before being sold for cheap. Duck tongue herb, fuzzy melon, daikon, mugwort, Kav Ywm, Lauj Vag, pennywort, and loquats have all found their way into my shopping bag. I take them home and cook them and sometimes they taste delicious and other times not so much. The adventure is in the tasting, eating, and cooking.
Last week I was mulling around the market and came upon a bulbous pile of pomelos. Nearly neon in color and fragrant with the smell of flora and citrus they seemed to call my name. I had passed pomelos by before in previous years but never picked them up. Fearing they were too similar to grapefruit, the one citrus I simply don't care for, I avoided them. That day, however, I was feeling mighty impulsive.
When I got home I thought against cooking with it. I wanted to simply taste only pure pomelo. I decided to juice the flesh and candy the skin. Simple, unadulterated pomelo.
I was surprised to find that it tasted like grapefruit only sweeter, without the tongue seizing bitterness that so many varieties of grapefruit can have. It was mild and subtle. The juice made for a refreshing drink, but the candied peel, both sweet with just a whisper of bitter as opposed to the berating bleat of bitter in candied grapefruit rind, was decadent and full of zing. A sour note runs through each strips that's fresh and even slightly minty.
If you have the chance to pick up a pomelo be impulsive and grab one. It's a jump worth taking.
Candied Pomelo Rind (Pomeloettes)
3 cups sugar
1. Peel the pomelo, taking care to remove as much of the thick, white pith as possible. The pith is very bitter and may require some delicate work with a pairing knife to remove. Set the fruit aside for another use. Cut the peel into 1/4-inch-wide strips.
2. Fill a small pot with water and bring to a boil. Add the pomelo peel and blanch for 1 minute. Drain the water and remove the peel. Repeat this step three more time. This will remove some of the bitterness from the rind.
3. Fill pot with 2 cups fresh water and 2 cups sugar. Dissolve sugar over medium-low heat. Bring to a boil and add the rind. Reduce heat to medium-low and reduce until the rind is translucent and almost no liquid remains. About 1 hour.
4. Remove the peel from the pot and dredge in granulated sugar. Cool and dry on a wire rack overnight. Store in an airtight container for up to one week.