The best true story on beauty I’ve ever heard

Posted from Tamarack Song’s new blog.

The small size of villages means that girls approaching puberty have few, if any, peers to compare themselves to. Thus they do not develop to maturity in a context of intense comparison and competition. Each young girl is likely to be the center of attention for a number of years. As a girl begins to mature, the men of the village offer running commentaries on the changes in her body—obvious in a culture where the breasts are not covered—and joke about wanting to marry her or to run away with her. It is unlikely that the attention will have to be shared.

This experience seems to inspire self-esteem, as shown in the following sharing I had with a twelve-year-old girl. Her breasts were just starting to develop, and I saw her admiring herself. She was a lovely girl, although not outstanding in any way except by being in the full health and beauty of youth. She saw me watching. I teased in the !Kung manner I had by then thoroughly learned, “So ugly! How is such a young girl already so ugly?” She laughed. I asked, “You don’t agree?” She beamed, “No, not at all. I’m beautiful!” I said, “Beautiful? Perhaps my eyes have become broken with age that I can’t see where it is?” She said, “Everywhere—my face, my body. There’s no ugliness at all.” These remarks were said easily, with a broad smile, but without arrogance. The pleasure she felt in her changing body was as evident as the absence of conflict about it.

From pages 269-70 of Nisa, The Life and Words of a !Kung Woman (NY: Random House, 1983) by Marjorie Shostak.

How to Make Delicious Pea Shoots

I am not an expert chef but I enjoy cooking when I get the chance. Today I made pea shoots. Yum. Pea shoots are basically sprouts of a pea plant that look like tiny water lilies. They can are sold at all grocery stores (that I know of) and are usually found by the alfalfa sprouts. They are slightly sweet and slightly bitter, tasting somewhat like a pea with the texture of a vegetable. What I like best about them is that they cook fast and taste awesome; I munch on them raw while I cook. Plus, they’re green and great for your health. Here’s a quick recipe for how to make them in an Asian style:

What you’ll need to prepare this:

Pea shoots, cooking oil, chili paste (or chili oil), soy sauce, maybe salt, and pepper to season.

Frying pan, chopsticks or spatula (bamboo spatulas work great).

What you might want to add:

Meat (leftover beef or steak for example), scallops (great with pea shoots), garlic and ginger (depending on how much time you have), tofu/tofurkey, sesame seeds (to sprinkle on at the end).

How to prepare the pea shoots:

1. Get a frying pan. I like to use a frying pan that looks like a mini-wok (a wok is a bowl-shaped frying pan that is popular in cooking Asian dishes, something good for stir-frying). Add a spot of oil that’s enough to spread around the pan. Heat the pan to a Medium to Medium-Low setting.

2. As the pan heats, put a spot of chili paste/oil into the cooking oil. Tilt and coat the cooking surface of the frying pan. If you have garlic and ginger this is the step to put it in.

3. Once heated, add optional ingredients. Cook the meat until its half-way done.

4. Add pea shoots. Turn down heat to low; they wilt quickly.

5. Add soy sauce. The soy sauce will reduce so the darker your soy sauce, the less you’ll need. I recommend light soy sauce if you have it as it blends well with sesame oil.

6. Season with salt & pepper. (You may not even need salt, but the pepper is a nice touch).

7. EAT! Serve with or on rice, quinoa, or even eat as its own dish.


Pea shoots cook very fast. Make sure to tend them carefully. Since they taste great on their own, you won’t need to add too much soy sauce or chili paste to get a lot of flavour. Be sure to toss the sprouts with your chopsticks or by flipping the pan.

Also, keep in mind what kind of meat you put in. If you are putting in leftover roast beef it will have some fat and you may not need much oil.

Asian-style pea shoots are a great way to impress a dinner date. There’ll hardly be any dishes to do afterwards, too. Get cooking and enjoy.