Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Food, Glorious Food

Another birthday has come, and the celebration has ended. I'm 39, the last year of the "last of the fun" decade. 40 is supposed to be the "wisdom" decade, although I think I've learned quite a bit in the last few years alone. Good heavens -- what's next?

I have figured out there are 5 subjects that I can go on endlessly about: sexuality & relationships, religion & spirituality, politics & public policy, race & ethnicity, and food. Yes, food.

I've been fat for most of my life. I've lost a lot of weight, though not as much as I would like, and I've managed to keep most of it off, with fluctuations on either side of 5 pounds. I can now run a 13-minute mile. And, I no longer care about dieting.

I simply refuse to fight with it anymore. I don't give a rat's ass about counting calories, fat, sugars, or carbs. I've always eaten what I've wanted and have learned to not eat anything not worth eating. Twinkies, Devil Dogs and anything with a whipped creme (as opposed to whipped cream) filling are vile. Dubious sauces are gross. Food that has a color not found in nature isn't worth the trouble. And fried food that becomes leaden once cold is out of the question. I'm tired of reading article after article on how Americans should eat, and how they aren't eating. Yes, I did support "Why French Women Don't Get Fat" because the main tenets are simple and make sense: don't eat a lot, enjoy what you do eat, and don't take it all so seriously. I'm just tired of reading labels and having internal dialogue about what's heading for my mouth.

The government has revised dietary guidelines (these are the same people that thought hydrogenated fats were good for you, mind you) to suggest increasing fruit and vegetable servings, as well as dietary fiber. Okay, that's reasonable. Most mass-market fruit is twice the size of regular fruit (buy an apple at a greenmarket and compare it with an apple from a supermarket), so you've got 2 servings there. Add a salad on to dinner with a serving of vegetables, and you've made an increase. Eat a whole-wheat English muffin instead of a white one. Cheerios instead of corn flakes. Seems reasonable enough. However, what they don't tell you is what happens as a result. I'm constantly apologizing to my poor wife because I've got as much gas as a Macy's balloon. I won't share what elimination is like -- let's just say I've never been more regular in my life, emphasis on more. And, how the hell am I supposed to get really good fruit in the middle of winter? You shouldn't have too much dried fruit because it's high in sugar. And, fruit juice, even 100% orange juice, is high in calories if you drink too much.

I just want to be a happy fat chick. I want to eat and not think about how fast this potato wedge will go to my hips. I don't care if the fat-free glaze on my low-fat orange scone is a fast-acting carb that I'll need to spend 10 minutes on the bike in penance for. I'm no longer interested in asking myself if I should be eating at 10:45 because I had breakfast at 7:30. I went to the freakin' gym at 6am, I was home by 7:15, I ate, I had coffee at my desk at 9:45 and I was hungry at 10. Leave me alone, dammit, I'm hungry.


However, I did finally see "Supersize Me." Whoa. Anyone with a clue knows that fast food eaten regularly is bad for you. Anyone who has heard the media hype about the documentary knows the filmmaker put his health in jeopardy thanks to his McShenanigans. And anyone who struggles with their weight knows first hand the power of sugar, fat, and salt. Morgan Spurlock's film was eye-opening, but not news. It will be at least a few months before I can eat at McDonald's again, but that's okay. I'd rather spend my calories on really good stuff.

So, I'm going to close this ramble with fantasies of my favorite consumables, in no particular order.

1. A really good diner cheeseburger -- my 2 favorites are from Manatus in the West Village, and the New Purity Diner in Park Slope
2. Tie for fries -- the chips from Chip Shop in Park Slope, Belgian frites with sweet chili sauce or the frites from F&B in Chelsea with the garlic mayo. Ohhh...
3. Cod & chips at Chip Shop. I draw the line at the fried Twinkie, Snickers, Mars, or other psychotic batter-dipped freakshow.
4. Chateaubriand (essentially grilled steak, served medium rare with bearnaise sauce, a mayo made with butter instead of oil) washed down with a house red in the restaurant across from the other medieval church in Paris (not Sacre-Coeur or Notre Dame) Jesus, Mary & Joseph...
5. Tie for brownies -- the Moosewood Cookbook and How to Cook Everything by Mark Bittman. You HAVE to use really good chocolate for these -- we like Scharffen Berger in my house
6. Jacques Torres' chocolates, especially Love Potion #9 and Wicked (spices and chilis). He's also a nice guy and a runner.
7. Veuve Cliquot Champagne -- everything else is secondary.
8. The foie gras as served at Taillevent in Paris. Perfectly tempered, just the right amount, served with a sheet of jellied jus across the top, a crostini with fig jam (and I don't particularly care for figs), and a glass of gewurtztraminer or Sauternes. Sex on a plate. I haven't enjoyed foie gras like it since, and believe me, while in Paris, I ate it every chance I could.
9. Cheese from Cato Corner Farm in Connecticut, especially the Brigid's Abbey, Myfanwy, and Dutch Farmstead
10. My own roast chicken, marinated London broil, and seafood stew.

Excuse me while I wipe away the drool.

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