It would be delightful if I were one of those bok-choy-loving-kale-juice-drinking-organic-vegan-cheese-eating-pomegranate-facial-scrub-yoga-obsessed people. I’d probably live longer and sleep better and have flawless skin…
…the thing is, I think I’d also be fucking miserable, and I’m well aware of the role mental health plays in overall longevity and life satisfaction.
I can’t seem to help it. When given the choice between the healthy option and the tasty option (not that they are always mutually exclusive) I’m going to pick taste. Would I like some kale chips? Well sure, if they’re the only available snack – I’ll grudgingly admit that I actually think they’re fairly tasty – but would I like some kale chips if they’re sitting next to a bowl of Cheetos? Not on your life.
Now here is my theory: (and I’m going to go ahead and throw my sainted Mother under the bus here) I think the reason I love sugar and salt and spice and grease so much is because I didn’t eat enough of it growing up. My mother wasn’t the macrobiotic, organic, vegan freak-type, but she was firm in her mission to serve healthy, non-processed food to her family. She avoided buying prepared foods and sugary cereals and pop. We almost never went out to eat in restaurants, except for very special occasions, although we occasionally ordered pizza or had Chinese takeout. There were usually plenty of cookies around but they were always the home-made variety (which thankfully are infinitely yummier than store-bought). Don’t get me wrong: we weren’t completely deprived or anything, it’s just that the less healthy options were a bit of a rarity.
As for the current organic craze – sure, I’ll gladly eat organic produce – but only if it’s not prohibitively expensive and I think there’s a discernible difference between it and the alternative. (Organic baby carrots are the most obvious example I can think of – they’re not crazy-pricey but they taste exponentially better. Try ’em. You’ll thank me.) Also, I think hearing from family friends who told my Mom their son did nighttime pesticide crop-dusting for organic growers put a damper on my faith that organic is always really organic. If I’m going to pay $8 for a banana I just think it should come with a certificate of organic authenticity signed by the Pope.
When they’re in season, my husband and I buy fruits and veggies from the local farmer’s roadside stand and we have been trying to buy more of our meats from a local butcher, (although I have a sneaking suspicion that the hormones I’ve ingested from grocery store meat are the only reason I have breasts whatsoever.) Anyway, it’s not like we aren’t giving the eat-local movement a fair shake. It’s more that I think getting obsessed with it isn’t worth the fuss. I’m just not one to get caught up in dietary or fashion fads. I’m a naturally skeptical consumer in all my shopping. Salespeople everywhere, take note: you’re not gonna get me on the upsell. I don’t want your extended warranty or that weather protectant spray or an ugly carrying case. I’m not interested in buying 4 more to save 50 cents or signing up for your emails or your loyalty card. The answer is ‘no’ to whatever you’re hawking. Seriously. No.
The one and only exception to my ‘no upsell’ policy is sauces and condiments. Waitress: if you offer me additional quantities or options on those, your tip just increased.
In fact, my personal eating philosophy can really be encompassed in one simple phrase: I don’t think life would be worth living without condiments.
I’d probably lay down and wait to die if I found out that I could never have mayonnaise again. (Likewise ranch dressing – not on salads, ironically I think that’s gross, but as an accompaniment to my hands-down favorite food; Buffalo Fingers.)
Let me give you some examples:
- I like my coffee with lots of cream and sugar. (And not the ‘5% tastes like 10%’ shit. Read the label, it’s full of carrageenan. That is seaweed, people. )
- I adore Eggs Benedict. It’s the breakfast equivalent of my relationship with Buffalo Fingers. But don’t bother serving it to me unless the Hollandaise can be measured in cups.
- Aforementioned Buffalo Fingers (or wings) must be breaded, deep fried, doused in medium or hot sauce and accompanied by a vat of ranch dressing.
- Chips have a best friend called dip. Pitas and dip are also on affectionate terms. (BH – your epic ‘Oh Shit’ dip changed my life.)
- Fish & Chips are lovely, heavenly greasiness – but utterly pointless without loads of tartar sauce and malt vinegar. And how about some gravy for the fries…
- Tacos or fajitas aren’t complete without loads of cheese and sour cream. Ditto that for baked potatoes – but please add butter, bacon and green onions too!
- While we’re on the topic of butter, if I’m going to eat bread, it needs plenty – salted butter (not margarine, blasphemer), preferably slightly cooler than room temperature if possible. And fuck whole wheat.
- Anything involving whipped cream should be almost entirely obscured by it.
The way I see it, we’ve all got to die at some point and if I die of congestive heart failure, at least I won’t have the right to be indignant over it.
If my body is a temple, I’m pretty sure it’s the Southern-Baptist variety. And I’m only really there for the church picnic of fried chicken, potato salad, apple pie and the like. I’ll raise my hands and shout ‘Hallelujah!’ to deliciousness with a born-again zeal. If I croak afterward, so be it. I can think of considerably worse ways to go than with a drumstick in my hand.