Tuesday, June 30, 2009
I will admit to anyone who starts talking diets, I love food. However, my guilt regarding wasteful overeating equals my fear of blowing up like a blimp. I will be good about not taking a second helping, but I am horrid about keeping to a strict count-something-to-loose-weight regime. My best defense is to talk myself out of the in-between attacks that invariably come twice-a-day and use strategies to help distract me from thoughts of food. Writing is one of my distractions. You should know – for the sake of understanding this rumination – it is 10 AM.
It is the craving hour between breakfast and lunch when it is incredibly dangerous for me to walk into a grocery store. If I am stuck in to middle of a chore like sorting papers or doing laundry, I might conjure up the most glorious images of cheese and crackers, cherries and peaches, chocolates and nuts ever piled on a tasting counter. I begin reviewing the contents of the refrigerator and making mental notes of my food wish-list.
It’s always at the in-between times when I feel like I could hit the all-you-can-eat buffet and clean-up! 10AM - after being good at breakfast, oatmeal and fruit, maybe some sunflower seeds - the nibblies hit. On a normal day, I avoid food distraction by being in front of 25 students who might be gleefully explaining the irony of “Cask of Amontillado”, but this is summer. At 10 AM my summer schedule usually finds me at a between-chores stage measuring the time I have left in the morning against the new task I am beginning. What a great time for food, the wonderful comfort for planning the next excursion.
Of course, by the time lunch comes around I have settled a bit and can be sensible with my salad and fruit, usually. I confess I might – if it is available – have nuts or chocolate for being good and to delay (without success) the next in-between at 4 when I am certain I will perish by suppertime. When I start cooking supper, I invariably start nibbling. If Jon is cooking, I am saved. He hates having me in the kitchen when he is preparing food. I avoid being accused of each ingredient he spills and each onion he scorches and the opportunity to put cheese and other savories into my mouth, and I leave him to his commission.
Yesterday, Jon prepared lovely BLTs with Amish cured bacon purchased at the West Side Market. It was so lovely. The tomatoes were not-yet-marvelous since our backyard plants have only just set, and we have a few weeks before the Shaker Saturday Market (and, at a later date, our garden) will overflow with real Ohio tomatoes; but, the bacon was the real McCoy. I could actually taste the meat, and the fat was crisp, salty. I had the chance to relish the minimal processing of the market’s goods. At the moment, I can imagine the taste, and I remember buying the bacon at the Market.
Jon had invited me to accompany him on a summer excursion to the West Side Market. I had not actually stopped into the Market for several years. It is no longer within my travel range. Except for the Saturday market and other shops in Shaker, I have a tendency to go east for my market goods. This past year, since Jon had been a consultant at several west side schools, he had begun stopping at the market to indulge my request for fresh fish. Aside from fish, he began bringing home dried fruits and vegetables that were superior to any of the commercial brands. I had found the veggies wonderful for my in-between nibblies
The tented outside booths with their high piles of produce were just as I always remembered, but the interior with the meats and huge cases of cheese seemed darker. Florescent, the primary light source, was cold after the sun-glow canopies. Jon and I had just been to the North Market in Columbus a few days before, and the difference was marked. Between the meat counters and fish displays, Columbus’s North Market is full of eateries where one can get a box lunch or a complete dinner to take home. It caters to the young professionals who do not have the hours or expertise to prepare the food they have grown used to eating. Cleveland’s West Side Market is for basic food in its fundamental form. I admired the marbling in cuts of beef and the pile of haddock cheeks. We stopped by a counter that sold a wide variety of salts, lentils and grains and bought green bamboo rice and a rice mixture. We wove in and out of the smells and noise and glories of food making purchases until our arms were full.
As lovely as those thoughts are, I don’t want to be hungrier than I already am. I will grab some of my dried green beans while I try to distract my thoughts away from food.. The crunchy beans should have enough sweetness and salt to satisfy me while I sort through three more piles of notes and books.
My problem with dieting, or simply maintaining, is that food is so easily available. I have access to wonderful markets and high quality produce. I am placed in a very fortunate place. Of course I want to enjoy the largess, but I still have the Catholic-school-girl guilt about wasteful overeating. I do love food, but that is not a sin.
The picture is of Jon and Shane shopping in Columbus' North Market.