The Art of Dining Well
A journey of food and wellness with Dr. Loret de Mola
Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Fernando Ignacio Loret de Mola, MD. This is my first of what I hope to be several columns sharing with you the marriage of two of my greatest passions, medicine and culinary arts.
It’s easy to assume that a physician’s passion is restricted to medicine – wellness and patient care. But for me, that also includes food and cooking. People who love food generally have a thirst for knowledge and I am no exception. All my life, I’ve studied and sought life’s answers. From learning from my elders, accepting knowledge they’ve pass on to generations, to simple online research, every day is a day to learn something new about how cuisine touches our everyday lives.
It’s been said that “love is in the details” and that certainly includes all of the steps involved in creating a beautiful meal. It begins with selecting the best products, slicing, dicing, sautéing, tasting, modifying the dish and finally sitting down to enjoy it with family and friends. Even cleaning the pots and pans can present an opportunity to relish the culinary process.
My passion for cooking began when I left home for college. Talk about culture shock: food came from a box. From concentrated orange juice to pancakes, eggs to pizza and to-go orders, almost no one knew how to cook.
I would call home to ask Mom for recipes. I grew up in Peru where all meals are cooked from scratch, breakfast to dinner. For the past 40 years, I too, have been cooking from scratch, simple meals to complicated dishes. My longing to learn about cuisine has resulted in reading a lot of books – from preparing French food to watching Food Network. Peruvian cuisine has remained close to my heart.
People everywhere are learning why Peruvian cuisine is becoming so popular with multiple cultures. It is the great melting pot of flavors from Native American, Incas, Spaniards, Italians, Africans, Chinese to Arab influences. It is wonderful how a simple folkloric dish like lomo saltado, a stir fried filet mignon, which was served everywhere when I grew up, is now reaching dinner plates throughout the world. But the punch of flavors like cumin, salt, pepper, garlic and aji, sautéed onions, plumb tomatoes and soy sauce, mixed in with meat and onions is undeniable.
You may be reading this and asking yourself, ‘how does a physician justify a dish that probably contains fat?’ Here is the answer.
Fat gets a bad rap when it comes to healthy food, but our metabolism is based on it. Our organs digest fat as a source of energy. The key is knowing which fats are good fats and where to find them. As a general rule, yes, we try to stay away from animal fat, but unfortunately the most delicious food is made out of animal fat.
So here is what I tell my patients, who like me, have a zest for life that includes food and cooking. Eat small amount of fat each week. The more legs an animal has, the worse the fat and cholesterol it has. Lobster and shrimp are worse than the cow, lamb, which are worse than poultry, and finally fish. Saturated fat means that all the carbons from the molecules are saturated with hydrogen – and this is what we can “bad fat” as it produces more LDL-Cholesterol – a bad molecule to have because it causes atherosclerosis, or clogging of the arteries. Better fats come from vegetable sources, like olives, avocado, nuts or seeds, omega fish oils from sardines, tuna and salmon.
While attending a medical meeting in Sarasota, my family and I had the opportunity to enjoy the cosmopolitan environment – especially the two Peruvian restaurants downtown, Selva Grill (www.selvagrill.com) and Darwin’s on 4th (www.darwinson4th.com). Both had lomo saltado and I was impressed with modern Peruvian fusion of dishes.
The next time you’re in the market for a delicious Peruvian delight, try lomo saltado and share your experience with me on Facebook.
Folkloric dish Lomo Saltado, prepared at our home.
Recipe / Lomo Saltado
1 tbsp of garlic
2 tbsp of hot pepper cut very thing
2 pounds of beef tenderloin
1 pound of red onion,
1 pound of plumb tomatoes
2 pound of french fries
6 tbsp of soy sauce
2 tbsp of free cut cilantro
1 pinch of cumin
1/2 cup of red wine vinegar
1/4 cup of olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
Cut the tenderloin in small bite size square, season with cumin, salt pepper and fried in medium heat them in a wok add garlic, peppers and set a side. In that same oil fire onions until they are soft and translucent around 2 minutes. Deglaze the wok with vinegar. Cook for another minute and bring back the meat to the wok. Mix with the onions and add tomatoes, cook for one minute and add soy sauce, and hot peppers to taste. Serve with white rice and the french fries, garnish with cilantro and serve immediately.
About Dr. Loret de Mola
Dr. Fernando Ignacio Loret de Mola was born in Lima, Peru in 1957 and is an occupation medical doctor specializing in family medicine and wound care. Educated in USA and Peru, Dr. Loret de Mola completed his residency in family medicine at the University of Minnesota after which he relocated to Florida. He lives in Lakeland, Fla. and practice medicine with the Watson Clinic LLP, and is the medical director of the Center for Wound Care at Lakeland Regional Medical Center. Happily married with four children, Dr. Loret de Mola is an avid tennis player and enjoys cooking and exploring new dishes and foreign cuisines, sharing his cooking with friends and family.