Turns out I was living in the monkey house.
Like, say, St. Louis.
|Lambert's Cafe in Sikeston, MO. The birthplace of many an eventual heart attack, I'm sure.|
The idea of foodie-tourism is something that’s always appealed to me (surprise!), and I’ve had a running list of places I’d like to eat someday that’s been growing for years. I blame cable TV, which is the food-addict equivalent of internet porn. If Guy Fieri features a particularly interesting Diner, Dive or Drive-In, it goes on my list. If Adam Richman from Man v. Food eats sandwich on french bread loaded with grilled pastrami, cheese, cole slaw and french fries (ON the sandwich! OMG!), then you can bet that someday I’ll find an excuse to get to Pittsburgh and try one.
There is a piece of conventional weight-loss wisdom that says we should strive not to have food be an “event” in our lives. If we remove the mystique surrounding special occasion meals and diminish the excitement of an anticipated treat, we can begin to view food only as the fuel our body needs to function, and nothing more. We can train ourselves to believe that Thanksgiving is about family, not oodles of food as far as the eye can see. July 4th is about the celebration of our freedom, not eating the world’s best lemon bars. Vacation is about seeing new sights and experiencing the culture of unfamiliar areas, and not about catching a hot roll with your bare hands before slathering it in sorghum & butter and devouring it.
Well, not totally. I believe that my food-crazy is part of who I am, and I am never going to eliminate it from my life. But I also believe that I can train myself to channel it in a way that makes my life easier to live on a day-to-day basis. For me, the problem isn’t that I put special food events on a pedestal, it’s that I put EVERY food event on one. There are days that I look forward to having a stick of string cheese with the same anticipatory glee that the thought of dumplings and kraut once a year at Thanksgiving induces. I have daydreamed all afternoon about the tater-tot casserole that we’ll be having for dinner with the same kind of palm-rubbing glee that a piece of my sister in-law’s chocolate cake incites in me a week out from a birthday party. Maybe the trick is to make everyday food unimportant, and to let the special event foods keep their mystique. If I can work each day to see food as fuel, then I honor my body by keeping it healthy and fit enough to really enjoy those moments when food is allowed to take center stage.
So that’s what I’m trying to do. Tonight I fuel my body with grilled chicken & brown rice & veggies. Tomorrow I fill the tank with steel cut oats, fresh strawberries, and low calorie popcorn. And the day after that I will cheerfully dine on low fat cottage cheese, steamed brussels sprouts, and baked tilapia--because I know that, someday, there’s a 22 inch loaded chili dog in Phoenix that’s got my name all over it…