Paris Wrap-Up

You know how no matter how great your vacation was; it’s always nice to get back home to your familiar stuff? Well, I totally do NOT feel that way. We spent the first 4 days or so frantically seeing and doing the tourist stuff, but then mellowed out over the last 3 days and just wandered around — shopping, browsing, eating and soaking up the city. Those last few days were the best part for me.

I’m going to try and make this the last Paris post because I know how tiresome it can be when people go on and on about their vacation like they’re the first people ever to have gone anywhere. I know I’ll be yammering about this to everyone I see in real life for a while anyway and if anyone is going to Paris soon and has specific questions, I may have some answers or tips (send me an email).

And, I’ve posted a collection of our trip photos on Facebook for those who are FB friends and want to see them.  There are a few at the end of this post, too, but to me the photos don’t really capture the reality. XUP Jr. is the photographer in the family. I just took a notebook.

What I Loved

People kept asking me if we’d been to a certain museum or taken in a certain gallery and while we did go to a few, the weather was so spectacular we really wanted to spend most of our time outdoors. And really, my definitive statement about Paris is that the entire city is a museum and gallery of art. The architecture literally made me weep. I don’t think I saw a single structure that was simply thrown up for the sake of housing an office or a shop or to cram as many apartments into a space for as cheaply as possible. No. It’s all created to be beautiful first, functional second and then they might worry about the cost.

Grime

I’ve heard a lot of people complain about how dirty Paris is – how beat up and grimy it all looks. And yes, it’s not a shiny, new showroom place that’s for sure. But it’s a lived-in looking place and I think that’s what makes a city alive. Paris is not a city that rolls up the sidewalks once the work day is over. People live in this city. Every shop, restaurant and office is just the ground floor of an apartment building. And these are very expensive apartments. Those with money live in the city. Those without money live outside the city in the suburbs.

So, the city is in full use 24 hours a day – like the home of a big, boisterous family. And they don’t seem to be overly concerned about keeping everything sterile and pristine.

The Metro

Including the Metro. XUP Jr. and I got the Navigo pass for tourists. For 17 euros we had unlimited travel by subway, bus, train, funicular or boat for the entire week. It took us exactly 24 hours to figure out the system and we were soon moving around the city like pros. There are 14 subway lines and 4 rapid train lines that zip around the city. We never had to bother even figuring out the buses. We never had to wait for more than 2 minutes for a train.

Each subway station seems to have a theme. There is one in the original Art Deco; one is a tropical jungle with a greenhouse running up one wall up to the outside; one is Greek with sculptures in recesses along the walls; one is all in copper with portholes, etc.

And everybody rides the Metro. The young, the old, the rich, the poor, business people, crazy people, mothers with strollers large and small, dogs, people with giant blank canvasses on their way to be painted or giant painted canvasses on their way to their new homes;  and, lot of musicians ride the subway — with their instruments. Once an entire band (accordion, trumpet, drum, guitar) got on at a stop, played a few tunes, collected a few coins and got off to catch and play the next train. Usually, it’s just one accordion player though entertaining the riders.

Or sometimes young men with important messages got on the train and delivered  heated speeches about something or other which I didn’t understand. People listened politely but didn’t seem too concerned about whatever they had to say.

Shop Workers

I loved the fact that not once did I go into a shop or restaurant where I had to deal with a gum cracking, insolent teenager. Restaurant service staff are all paid a good salary with full benefits, so service fees are included in the price of your meal – no tipping. These people, as well as shop sales people are professionals. This is their career for the most part. You are always greeting with a “bonjour” or “bon soir” and are expected to return the greeting. They are extremely knowledgeable about their products. I saw one young sales assistant talk a woman out of purchasing a shirt because she told her it did not flatter her figure and went to fetch her a few other options she said would suit her better.

The Traffic

I even loved the chaotic traffic. Most of the streets are only wide enough for one small car at a time. I know everyone has talked about the drivers in Paris and it’s all true. Traffic lights and signs seem to just be suggestions. If there isn’t actually something in the way, cars will just keep going. Parking or getting out of a parking spot always seems to entail ramming several cars in front and behind you. I don’t think there’s a dent-free vehicle in the city.

And then there are the scooters and motorcycles who seem to have no rules at all to follow. They’ll use the sidewalks, the bike lanes, cut across parks – whatever it takes.

And then there are the velos – bicycles who get their very own bike lane complete with curbs so that while foolhardy scooters might jump them, cars certainly can’t. Racks and rack of velos are available for short term rentals all over the city and most people seem to use them rather than their own bicycles.

And then there are the pedestrians. I love how fast Parisians walk. They’re all in a big rush. They’re impatient. They run up and down escalators. There is nothing more exhilarating than seeing a huge throng of black-suited Parisians barreling down one of those moving sidewalks they have at some Metro stations.

 What’s the Rush?

Where are they all going in such a hurry? Well, I think they want to get the business of getting from one place to another over with as quickly as possible so they’ll have more time to enjoy their leisure. And they love their leisure. They get more vacation days than almost every other country. Everything is closed on Sundays. A lot of things are closed on Mondays. Some things are even closed on Tuesdays. And Fridays? Everyone stops work early because it’s been a long week.

Most people get a 2-hour lunch and then work until six or even seven. From noon until at least two, the bistros and cafes are crammed with office workers and shop workers enjoying a meal, impassioned conversation, a bottle of wine, a dozen or so cigarettes and a coffee.

Restaurants don’t even open for supper until 7:30. And then the sidewalks get really lively with music and drinking and always, everywhere, a blue haze of Le Smoking.

Le Smoking

They haven’t quite got the hang of this smoking-ban-in-public-places yet. The restaurant door is open between the large, sheltered outdoor café part for the smokers and the tiny indoor part for the non-smokers. The staff room, which is usually just off the dining room and also has an open door, is thick with smoking staff. And the ban doesn’t seem to apply to people making deliveries or doing maintenance or any other sort of work indoors.

Eats

They also haven’t gotten the hang of vegetarianism. Probably they have no intention of ever doing so. We did find a couple of vegetarian restaurants. Le Potager du Marias which was recommended by some of the guidebooks as well as online veggie sites  was excellent. The other one, Lemoni, which was also recommended, was horrible. There were also no Parisians in the vegetarian places (just Brits and other tourists), so we gave the rest of the places on our list a miss and ate in the places the locals ate.

I had a lot of warm, goat cheese salads which were fabulous enough that I could actually live on them forever. We also had lots of Japanese food. There are Japanese restaurants everywhere. And we had falafels at L’As du Falafel, which is supposed to have the best falafels in Paris and which always seems to have a long line in front of it. I think it was the best falafel I’ve ever had in my life.

 We also found one place called Indiana Café (I think there are several in the city), which actually has about half a dozen vegetarian items on their menu including a veggie burger.

And, of course, we had a lot of gorgeous bread and wine. In the supermarkets you can get a very good bottle of wine for 2 euros (about 3 bucks). In some restaurants you can get a half carafe of wine with lunch for 2 euros. A glass of juice or pop by comparison is 4 euros. A large bottle of water automatically accompanies every meal.

Espresso

As I’ve mentioned a few times, I’m not a coffee drinker. I’d like to be because I love the smell of it, but whenever I’ve had coffee it actually makes me feel ill. I was told by two different people, who are also not coffee drinkers, that I should try the coffee in Paris because it’s a completely different experience. So, our first night there, our friends took us out for supper and as a matter of course, ordered cafes all around after the meal. When you order a café in Paris, you get an espresso in a very tiny cup with a little tube of sugar and a square of chocolate.

I drank it and was instantly addicted. I had an espresso every day. I brought back a big bag of espresso beans and am now committed to finding myself an espresso maker and some tiny cups. So, now when people visit I won’t have to offer them lame old tea anymore.

 Yay! Paris made a grown-up out of me.

Some Photos

 (Click to embiggen and/or scroll over for a description)

First Bite

About once every couple of months my Dad would get a hankering for Limburger cheese. He’d buy himself a hunk with some good dark German rye bread. Then, with all the kids gathered around barely able to contain their excitement, he’d sloooooowly unwrap the cheese while we all screamed in giddy anticipation and horror.

If you’ve never smelled the Limburger, it’s quite pungent – like the smelliest of smelly feet. That’s because Limburger cheese is made with the same bacterium found on human skin (Brevibacterium linens) which, in part, causes body odors.

Anyway, us kids would then watch as Dad spread the cheese on the dark rye, add some sliced onions, pour himself a cold lager…and then…then he’d offer us the first bite… At which point we all ran away and he enjoyed his sandwich and beer in peace.

When I got older, I did, one day take him up on his offer of the first bite. The younger kids shrieked in disbelief and followed me around the rest of the day asking me to explain in minute and precise detail exactly what it tasted like.

It wasn’t bad. It started me on the road to trying and enjoying a lot of different cheeses.

I wonder if my Dad would have been grossed out at the thought of eating tofu? Some people are.

I also like to eat cold spaghetti (with sauce) which my daughter thinks is revolting. I like it a lot better cold than hot. She also thinks its revolting that I have kippers and toast (cold) for breakfast sometimes and that I like onion, tomato and peanut butter sandwiches.

Is there anything unusual you like to eat that friends and/or family think is weird or yucky? Or, is there anything unusual someone you know eats that you think is weird or yucky? Not unhealthy-yucky (because that list could be endless) but Limburger cheese & onions style weird/yucky. Like these:

  • Bagels spread with hotdog relish
  • Doritos dipped in Marshmallow Fluff
  • French Fries dipped in milk shakes
  • Donuts dunked in beer
  • Sugar in scrambled eggs
  • Sushi with ketchup
  • Cream cheese on hot dogs
  • Popcorn with yellow mustard for dipping (I do this sometimes)
  • Chocolate sprinkles on rice

Who knows what culinary wonders are out there we haven’t tried yet?

From the Society Pages

In other society news….  Miss Violet Sky  (eldest daughter of the Southern Ontario Skys), undertook a journey to the nation’s capital this weekend past. She was received at the home of XUP where a small wine and cheese affair was arranged in her honour. Other society notables in attendance included the lovely Miss Alison.

Miss Violet was so much more down-to-earth and humorous than one would have expected from her writings and pastel-balloon blog masthead. Neither did she emerge from her carriage in the anticipated diaphanous gown! Not at all! Miss Violet was quite practically attired in clothing that might more commonly be seen on the average citizen.

Welcomes were warm and raucous all around; Miss Violet presented her host with gifts of fruit and baked goods; and the visit got underway.

The next 24 hours saw Miss Violet jet-setting through the best of what the city has to offer.  The Landsdowne’s welcomed her to their outdoor marketplace where staff curried her favour with samplings of their best wares. Miss Violet charmed them all with her winning smile and brief, yet personalized tidbits of conversation.

Miss Violet was then whisked to Parliament to be presented with some of Ottawa’s finest gothic architecture, followed by a tour of Lieutenant-Colonel John By’s marketplace where, after a whirlwind expedition through shoppes, she partook of a large refreshing beverage on a terrace overlooking the square.

A late luncheon was enjoyed by Miss Violet and her entourage at Saigon Boy, in one of the town’s more colourful quartiers. There followed a visit to the famed photographer, Mr. Robin, who was exceedingly gracious in entertaining Miss Violet on his verandah.

As the long day wore on, Miss Violet’s energy, optimism and good cheer never flagged one iota – the sign of a true lady.  Nevertheless, the evening’s itinerary was of a more relaxed, subdued nature and Miss Violet was given the opportunity to retire to her chambers at a reasonable hour.

Miss Violet’s stay in our fair city was, unfortunately of short duration as she was obliged to return to her duties in her own village the very next day. One hopes Miss Violet took some delight in her foray into the heretofore unknown world of never-before-met Ottawa bloggers as they took a considerable amount of pleasure in her company.

Tittle-tattle has it that Miss Violet herself will be presenting a more thorough accounting of her visit, complete with numerous delightful photographs. One certainly looks forward to this.

*********

Meeting new people – especially bloggers one has been following for some time – has so far, for me, always been a very positive experience. I highly recommend coming out from behind your keyboards every so often and giving it a try. You will not like everyone you meet, but if you keep initial visits short and don’t enter into the encounter with a great many expectations, your meetings will, more often than not, be reasonably pleasant.

Bon chance!

What I’ve Learned from Women’s Magazines

My very wise young friend from abroad commented on last week’s Coffee and Chocolate post saying:

I think i never liked chocolate [at least not that much] till women’s magazines taught me that women are supposed 2 crave for them.

This is exactly what makes me crazy about women’s magazines, books, advertising and TV shows like (do I really need to say it?) Oprah. Women are constantly being told the who, what, why, and hows of being a woman/human being.

 Here are the top 10 best-selling women’s magazines.[1]

  1. Woman’s Day
  2. Ladies Home Journal
  3. Cosmopolitan
  4. O, The Oprah Magazine
  5. Redbook
  6. Glamour Magazine
  7. InStyle Magazine
  8. Woman’s World
  9. First for Women
  10. Self Magazine

Because I’m dedicated, I went out and did some field research.  What women apparently need to know about on a regular basis are:

  • Fashion: Women do not know how to dress, that much is clear. They need to be told at least 12 times a year by various sources what colours are “in”; what clothes will best hide their unnatural body shape; what they need to buy if they want to look like a real women like the celebrity flavours-of- the- month.
  •  Beauty: Lots and lots and lots of make-up. And sometimes surgery. With the right collection of products and the skills to apply products like a pro, women can do anything from catching a man, keeping a man, disciplining their children and even getting a dream job. My favourite article on beauty is in this month’s Cosmo: How to Pimp a Boring Ponytail.
  •  Health: This always means weight loss. There are usually at least 3 articles in each magazine on how to lose weight and/or secret techniques or surgery to help you get your dream body. The other thing that “health”means in women’s magazines is articles on mysterious syndromes with vague symptoms which you could possibly have and which you should check with your doctor about.
  •  Sex: We’re doing everything wrong, all the time. There is so much to know that it’s probably best if women just stop having sex altogether until all the tests, polls, surveys and new pop-scientific data is in. We could damage ourselves and our relationships forever if we just plunge in and enjoy plain, non-psychologically evaluated sex. My favourite article on sex is in this month’s Glamour: “What’s better than his O face? His O line…”7 things He Says When He’s Just… About..To….” (I don’t think they’re talking about Oprah)
  •  Celebrities: Every magazine features some celebrity every month (except O, which only features Oprah every month and really, she’s like 50 celebrities rolled into one anyway.) These celebrities are always hotter, smarter, more successful, more courageous, more spiritual, more generous, more savvy, more everything than any ordinary woman could ever hope to be. The celebrities are held up as inspirations for us all so we can try our humble best to emulate them and then in next month’s issue of the magazine, related articles will help you on your journey. Next month’s Self, for instance features Taylor Swift’s Playlist. Can’t wait.
  •  Makeovers: All of the above can be resolved with the ubiquitous MAKEOVER. No women’s magazine can go to print without a makeover feature. Out with the old, in with the new.
  •  Quizzes: Then there are scattered articles on how messed up your kids, spouses, home décor, career, and cooking skills are and how you can easily fix everything by taking a quiz and following the 10 steps recommended by the quiz. Quizzes contain much ancient wisdom.

The real problem with these magazines is that they give the impression they’re educating and empowering women, when to me, they’re doing exactly the opposite. They tell women month after month that they’re not good enough in pretty much all aspects of their lives. And then show them in the most patronizing manner possible how they could turn that around if only they were better and applied themselves. Why do all these magazines read like they’re written for 14-year-olds? (No offense intended toward 14-year-olds).

Next month they start all over again.

This month on top of all our other problems it’s quite evident that women aren’t happy because almost all of the magazines feature articles on how to enhance your gloomy mood, how to “get happy”, how less sex or more sex or a hot bath or some chocolate or whatever will make you feel better.

This month women also all want to know how stretch their household budget in these scary economic times while still dressing, looking, skinnying-up, eating, exercising, thinking, smelling and shopping like Oscar winners.

So, hearkening back to my wise young friend‘s comment: How do women know that we’re supposed to love and crave chocolate; that it’s not only our right, but our obligation to be bitches for one week every month; that we’re too fat and droopy; that we’re suffering from stress; that our hair’s a disaster; that we’re emotional eaters; that our spouses are not doing everything they should be doing to make us happy; what we should and should not be buying/reading/wearing/feeling; or how and what to think about stuff?

How much of what you think you know, think or feel has been influenced by this propoganda? Can any woman, no matter how intelligent, no matter how much they avoid popular media, be completely free of its influence?


[1] The top selling men’s magazines are:

  1. Sports Illustrated
  2. Playboy Magazine
  3. Maxim Magazine
  4. ESPN The Magazine
  5. Men’s Health
  6. Field & Stream
  7. Popular Science
  8. Car and Driver
  9. Rolling Stone
  10. Motor Trend

Pollyanna Takes a Picnic

I got an email the other day that said something to the effect that my blog was always so mean and sarcastic and why don’t I ever write anything nice. Sooooo, today I’m going to write something nice.

Four of my coworkers and I, escape force ourselves to go out each Friday at lunch to bitch about work unwind at a local eatery/drinkery. We try a different place each week, anything from diners to pubs to ethnic cuisine to vegetarian buffets. The goal is to try something new every time and have a few pints laughs.

Today was such a gloriously beautiful day and, we figured, perhaps one of the few remaining gloriously beautiful days for the next few months, (birds singing, sun shining, leaves crunching, temperatures still hanging in at the double digits). So, we decided to have a picnic today instead of going to a restaurant.

We planned all week.

Lululemon Boy[1] brought his tiny BBQ, his ghetto suburb blaster and a stunning variety of tunes.

Nigel[2], our resident chef, and mascot, brought a tub of mayonnaise-free potato salad and a paper plate which he tried to convince us was an English frisbee.

 Uma[3] (who was in a sizzling hot competition with the stuff on the BBQ) and The New Boy[4] (who was too shy at first to have his picture taken) picked out some tasty hot sandwich fixings.

 And we all purchase the required beverages. (Because it’s important to stay well hydrated when spending time in the outdoors).

I was Pollyanna[5], chronicler of the event and disguiser of participants in the photos in case there’s a trial.

Here’s everybody waiting for stuff to warm up.

Mmmmmmm, starting to smell good!

Ready. (No, I didn’t eat any of the meat products. I had something just as good, though far less photogenic.)

We watched this guy for a while in his industrial leaf-blowing machine blowing leaves around. In a park. In the same spot. For an hour.

Then everyone started to get silly and danced around a bit. Then the conversation, like most conversations in situations like this turned to tattoos, piercings, kinky sex and whether or not it would be a good idea to pitch a tent.

Ahhh. Good times!

Before we knew it, it was time to go back to work.

That part of the picnic was too sad to capture on film.

 


[1] Not his real name, we mock him mercilessly because he’s so frightfully, frightfully macho, yet is giddily in love with his Lululemon sweater.

[2] Not his real name, but his evolving new look puts us in mind of some sort of high-brow British alternative rock musician and as far as we know they are all called Nigel.

[3] Not her real name, but she is tall and leggy and blond and likes to kick ass.

[4] Not his real name, but he’s only been working with us for a couple of months so we can’t be expected to remember his real name. We think it has a vowel in it.

[5] Not my real name, but I’ve adopted it for the day to help me be nice.

Ottawa vs Montréal: A Day in the Life

We recently hopped over to Montréal for a short back-to-school shopping trip and I couldn’t help noticing again how different Montréal is to a lot of other Canadian cities. It’s a fun city to visit and spend a bit of time in. I’m not sure I could live there full-time, though. Even though Ottawa is less than 2 hours away, they’re very different cities. Though those of you who go back and forth a lot, probably have a better insight on this than I do, here are some of the differences that always strike me, the occasional visitor:

  1. People in Montréal dress better; with more style, flair and imagination.
  2. People in Montréal smoke a hell of a lot more. I inhaled more second-hand smoke there in a day than I have in Ottawa over the last year.
  3. The food in Montréal is amazing. We barely had time for shopping between meals and snacks. So many great eateries. So many eatables.  So little time.
  4. People in Montréal eat all day long. From 11:00 am until way into the night, the restaurants, bistros, and cafes are packed. In Ottawa they all close up for most of the afternoon and many of them shut down mid-evening.
  5. Montréal people walk up and down escalators. They don’t just stand there sluggishly enjoying the ride. In fact, they seem more active in general. More people take stairs. People don’t gather in clumps waiting to go through the one door that someone has already opened when there are several other doors available for use if only you had the energy to walk over and open it. And, people walk really fast in Montréal.
  6.  There aren’t as many obese people in Montréal. (Or maybe their stylish clothes help to disguise their figure flaws?).
  7.  Men, in Montréal look at women with appreciation — all women, young or old.  It’s always disconcerting at first to be looked at and smiled at so intently – and to be flirted with by waiters and store clerks and even panhandlers. In Ottawa and every other Canadian city I’ve been in over the last 20 years, I’m pretty much invisible.
  8. Traffic signs and lights are only suggestions in Montréal.
  9. Ottawa is cleaner. Montréal seems kind of grubby in general. I don’t know what it is. Maybe because the buildings don’t look well maintained. Maybe because there’s lots of garbage around.  Maybe because the people are so dazzlingly good-looking that it makes the environment pale by comparison. I do know that all those sexy “laps dancing”, “nudes dancers”, and “pleasuring toys” shops don’t help the general ambience much.
  10. Everybody in Montréal seems constantly to be involved in intense conversations involving a lot of arm-waving and hand-flapping. In Ottawa you can see people sitting together in restaurants or walking together down the street without talking at all.

A Tofu Primer

Introduction

Whenever people find out I’m vegetarian, the discussion inevitably veers toward tofu. There are a surprising number of people to whom tofu is a complete mystery.  To others it’s a dietary staple.  But since I’m asked questions about tofu so very, very often and since it’s vacation time and nobody’s around the blogosphere much anyway, I figured it was time to produce a short, but comprehensive guide to tofu that I, or any of you, can conveniently whip out the next time the subject of tofu comes up. There will be time (space) for Qs & As at the end of this post.

Tofu Myths & Facts

  •  Not every vegetarian eats tofu. (This will shock and amaze people since some seem to believe that’s ALL we eat).
  • Not everyone who eats tofu is vegetarian.
  • Tofu is not made from rendered pork fat or the milk of some exotic Asian animal. No animals were harmed, milked or otherwise called upon to produce tofu.
  • Tofu is made from soy beans. It’s basically curdled soy milk. That’s why you may sometimes see it referred to as bean curd.
  • Yes, raw tofu might look unappetizing

  • But so does raw meat.

  • Not many people eat large slabs of raw tofu.
  • Yes, raw tofu has little flavour and a yucky texture.
  • But so does raw meat
  • Tofu is high in protein and those all-important isoflavones, and low in fat, cholestrol and calories

 What to do with Tofu

 Tofu comes in 3 basic consistencies – firm, soft and silken.  The silken is good for sauces, dips and desserts, the soft good for stir-frying (especially when it’s been frozen, then thawed), and the firm is good for a zillion things.

There are lots of great tofu recipes on the internet and in books devoted entirely to cooking with tofu. If anyone would like to share their favorite tofu recipe here, please feel free.

 Here’s one of our favorites:

 Tofu Alfredo Pesto Sauce

 1 package, soft tofu

1-2 cloves garlic

Bunch of fresh basil

½ tsp. sea salt

Pine nuts and/or parmesan cheese optional

Throw everything into a blender and whiz together. Warm up briefly and pour over fettuccine pasta or whatever or whomever you want. You can decorate it with veggies and stuff, too, if you want.

 

Qs & As

Post your probing and compelling tofu questions to the comments page and I will answer them here.

Q: Why do non-vegetarians feel such revulsion for tofu? (Tania)

A: People are often afraid of things they don’t understand, Tania. It’s white and wobbly and it has no identifiable source. Omnivores are accustomed to knowing exactly what form their food formerly had. They are intimately acquainted with how their beef lived, what it consumed, how it was slaughtered and butchered and came to be the delectable item they have on their plates. The lifespan of tofu is a bit sketchy and therefore repulsive.

Q: What was the last tofu dish you made? (Me)

A: Funny you should ask, but we had tofu today.  The daughter has been wanting “small bits of food piled on top of each other” for a while. She sees these sorts of dishes on cooking shows and magazines all the time and thinks they’re glamorous, so instead of taking her out to an expensive restaurant, I thought I’d surprise her with this wee pile of food.  Honey garlic tofu on a bed of jasmine rice, topped with broccoli, baby carrots, blueberries and a tamari glaze.

Q:  Is tofu really the wonder food they say it is? Over the years I’ve heard it can cure everything from menopause to cancer, which seems a little extreme. (Jazz)

A: This reminds me of the old UP NaBloPoMo days.  I don’t know that tofu can “cure” things per se, but it does have many health benefits: it lowers cholesterol, contains healthy omega-3 fats and antioxidents (including selenium) which may help prevent heart disease and some types of cancer.  The phytoestrogens, specifically the isoflavones, genistein and diadzein in tofu act like estrogens in the body which may help with an easier menopause and may also prevent certain types of cancer.  Word is that women in countries where tofu is a staple food, do not experience any of the problems commonly associated with menopause.