Several years ago, two separate friends got me copies of the book Three Black Skirts: All You Need To Survive. I was definitely in a funk, and despite the pink cover it’s definitely a non-patronizing, smart book on getting your shit together, so it was not necessary to beat anyone to death with it at the time.
I own zero one two! black skirts, and I’ve since misplaced the book under a pile of dirty laundry or a stack of grad school papers on my messy desk, but one piece of advice I held onto was “Eat something green and fresh at every meal.” Last night’s salad + today’s eggs make a good breakfast brunch late lunch.
If you want to know the random foods I ate over the last 24-36 hours, and some thoughts on how blogging turns eating into a weird performative act, read on.
Yesterday I had an early meeting, so I wolfed down some Greek yogurt + honey. Lunch was a vegetarian plate at Sinbad’s on Belmont, which I will argue has some of the most flavorful, crunchy-on-the-outside tender-on-the-inside falafel in the city.
Dinner was a version of one of my favorite summer meals. You start with a delicious salad. Then you rub 8 oz of lean flank steak with garlic/hot paprika/salt and grill it in a hot pan and slice it and put it over the salad.
After dinner, P. said a magic word, and that word was “Oberweis.” Jim Oberweis, for those outside Illinois, is the racist wanna-be politician who is bad at math. Fortunately, he makes himself useful to humanity by making great milk and ice cream.
The crappy camera in my cell phone does not do it justice. Black cherry for the win.
Now, I had two reasons for starting this site. One was so I’d stop talking about recipes all the time in other venues. If you want to read my recipes, you can read them. If you are my friend and you are bored by recipes, you can listen to me pontificate about movies or rant about politics or offer unwanted feminist readings of popular culture or order you to watch The Wire and Mad Men in our usual interactions.
The other was to create an honest picture, especially an honest visual picture, of what I’m eating day in and day out. To pay attention in a different way than I had before. And I was interested to see how my eating behavior might change if I started making it public – would I be tempted to post only the “healthy” and therefore “morally superior” foods for fear of judgment? Because that would be fucked up, and just another form of the weird, unhealthy behavior I thought I’d rejected. I’m trying to find that balance between being conscious and aware but not inviting in the food police.
In changing the way I think about eating, I’ve been really influenced by some fantastic blog posts:
They have a similar theme, namely: “…refusing yourself nothing is not the same as giving yourself everything.”
I gained most of this weight when I worked a very stressful job, with lots of late hours and deadlines. There was a culture of working all the time, and traveling a lot, and I will say right here in front of God and Everyone that I used food to comfort myself. I had no time to cook, or thought I didn’t, and I had no boundaries about work or time or food, so I lived on take-out and huge sandwiches and giant pots of pasta with a good helping of happy hour beer and the 4pm brownie/latte run – just tons of restaurant meals and deli lunches and treats that turned into daily necessities. I had been raised by a on-again, off-again dieter, and was surrounded by women who were constantly dieting, so I had a combination of “DON’T EAT THAT IT’S BAD” messages crossed with “YOU WORKED FOR 14 HOURS IN A ROW YOU DESERVE THIS LINGUINE ALFREDO” messages. I had two modes: a diet mode where I counted calories and tried to control everything and be “good,” and a “fuck it” mode where I drowned my undiagnosed depression and stress and overwork under a pile of carbs and was “bad”, so obviously I should diet and go back to being “good,” except I felt starved and crazy all the time so was “bad” again which leads me once again to “Fuck it.”
So, as an adult, I’ve been re-learning how to eat and how to read my own hungers and desires. Eating too much bread or pasta or sugar will make me feel sleepy and crappy. Eating lots of protein, fruits, and vegetables will make me feel alert and awake. Planning regular meals and cooking at home means I pay attention. Photographing it and writing about it means I pay attention. Paying attention means asking questions like “Am I hungry?” “Will I feel good if I eat that?” and “What am I hungry for?”
And sometimes the thing I’m hungry for is Oberweis (but never in a political way), because it’s one of the last days of the summer and I’m riding down Lincoln Avenue with the windows open and the person I love the most is making me laugh and we’re celebrating the way we did when I was a kid and the family would take the trip to Dresser Hill, when ice cream was just ice cream and not a sin that needs to be confessed or atoned for on the treadmill. And I can have ice cream every meal of every day if I want to, but if I am paying attention, I probably don’t want to. Denying myself nothing is not the same as “fuck it.”