Going to the high country? Eat your liver & onions first.

Today may be #NationalPiDay, but it’s also #ThrowbackThursday. With apologies to my vegan and vegetarian friends, I dig back into the winehiker witiculture archive to bring you a post I originally published in September 2006:

“Going to the high country? Eat your liver & onions first.”

Happy #ThrowbackThursday!

~winehiker

Winehiker Witiculture

So you want to ramble the ridges, shred the bowls and bag the peaks? And you want your body to deliver peak performance under more extreme environmental conditions than you’re used to at sea level? And you want to impress your friends, too?

Ever hear of “hypoxia?” Some call it mountain sickness. Call it what you will, it’s the effect of reduced atmospheric pressure at altitude coupled with an insufficient supply of oxygen to the body. Every person can have different symptoms when suffering from hypoxia; some of the common symptoms are lightheadedness, dizziness, and reduced vision. When your purpose is to enjoy some backcountry beauty on foot, ski, or bike, you don’t want your body to fail. So how do you compensate for reduced oxygen and air pressure levels? You make sure you give your body what it needs before you go to the high country.

It’s been documented…

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Going to the high country? Eat your liver & onions first.

So you want to ramble the ridges, shred the bowls and bag the peaks? And you want your body to deliver peak performance under more extreme environmental conditions than you’re used to at sea level? And you want to impress your friends, too?

Ever hear of “hypoxia?” Some call it mountain sickness. Call it what you will, it’s the effect of reduced atmospheric pressure at altitude coupled with an insufficient supply of oxygen to the body. Every person can have different symptoms when suffering from hypoxia; some of the common symptoms are lightheadedness, dizziness, and reduced vision. When your purpose is to enjoy some backcountry beauty on foot, ski, or bike, you don’t want your body to fail. So how do you compensate for reduced oxygen and air pressure levels? You make sure you give your body what it needs before you go to the high country.

It’s been documented that beef liver is chock-full of iron, but it also contains Vitamin B12, a vitamin that has been proven to combat anemia. These are just the very building blocks your bone marrow needs to create more red blood cells. And extra red blood cells are precisely what you’re going to need (not just want) as you work your body up there under the clouds.

Wait a minute – you don’t like beef liver, all smothered in sauteed onions, mushrooms, and gravy with garlic Yukon Gold mashed potatoes, a little fresh chopped >BAM!< Italian parsley?

Liver and onions!  Mmmmm... tasty.

Liver and onions! Mmmmm… tasty.

What, did you think a plate of steamed broccoli was going to get you up that high rocky windswept slope?

The answer is: eat all of the above the night before you venture to the high country. Don’t refuse it because you think you won’t like it – eat it because you’ll immediately enjoy the beneficial effects the very next day at altitude.

(Sometimes you just gotta do what you gotta do in order to do what ya wanna do. It’s kinda like crawling that 500-foot sewer pipe in the Shawshank Redemption: freedom awaits when you emerge from the other side.)

OK, so you’ve never had a good plate of liver before. There’s a right way to prepare a liver dish and a wrong way. If you grew up in an English/German-influenced family like I did (boil it some more – there’s still some flavor in it!), then you’ve probably experienced the wrong way: high heat, done in 90 seconds, tougher than a biker’s beard after a mudstorm. If you want a good recipe for beef liver, ostensibly because you want to beat all of your friends to the top of the mountain, then leave a comment, and I’ll be sure to post it online here for all to raid their supermarkets for.

See you at the top!

~winehiker