On Food

I’ve been thinking a lot about food lately. Now those of you who know me know I ALWAYS think about food, in that, I love to eat food and therefore I think about it regularly. But I’ve also had reason to think about it from a variety of perspectives this week. I don’t have a real thesis here, I’ll admit it, but I thought I’d present the different things that got me thinking about the what, why, how, how much, and where of food consumption. I’d love to hear your musings on food as you read these, and contemplate the role of food in your own life.

My mom visited us this week (more on that in another post), and she is vegan when with my dad and mostly-vegan when with us. Her interest in vegetables, no, excitement about vegetables, prompted me to realize that we’re not really eating vegetables nearly as much as we could be. I also couldn’t help but notice the massive amount of dairy we chuck back.

Now as much as my mom loves (really, has learned to love) vegetables, she also loves coconut pound cake, and knows how to enjoy it properly when presented. On Mother’s Day, we went to what I think is the best brunch on the planet, Cafe Madeleine in Tower Grove Park. I realized it’s good to know how to savor a butter-less pile of broccoli and green beans, and then also be able to savor a very non-vegan delicious feast.  To everything it’s season, time, and portion. 

Not that my mom feasted on one of the delicious omelettes, but she did cheerful get Alaythia one covered in cheese and filled with bacon. And in case you’re wondering what else Alaythia feasted on once given the opportunity to overindulge in about 100 brunch foods: she ate part of her omelette then about 40 strawberries and a brownie.  She couldn’t have been happier.

Since my mom was here this week, we also got to have a rare treat: a double date out with good friends. Good friends from the South, mind you, so they introduced us to The Shaved Duck.  Somehow the sort of visually-disturbing name made me think it was going to be seafood or something… not sure why, we’re not exactly in seafood territory.  Let’s just say it was perhaps the most saturated fat I have ever been a part of 4 adults consuming.  It was also delicious, a good fit for a very-rare-treat kind of night.  Though I’d love to have double-dates more often, I really don’t think we should be going there more than, say, once or twice a lifetime.  The evening reminded me of a great book Kabyn and I read out loud together, The Wedding Supper of the Lamb, which in one section discusses fasts and feasts: most of the time, eating simply and cheaply and healthfully.  And every now and then, going completely all out.  This week at the Shaved Duck was definitely a feast night–as was the Mother’s Day brunch! 

After my mom left, Alaythia was of course very sad.  So to cheer her up, we took a long, hot stroller walk to the library.  She loves to pick out a stack of books and then go home and read them on the lawn, so that is exactly what we did.  With a stopover at the fountains to cool off, of course, but when a child half her age and twice her size (not uncommon) accidentally plowed into her (knocking her to the ground but I think he actually didn’t even notice), we had to take her sad, wet self back home and do our reading.

But unlike most trips to the library, I got myself a book, which I am currently a bit in love with: Deceptively Delicious, written by the wife of none other than Jerry Seinfeld.  I LOVE IT.  As y’all probably know, I love nothing more than to throw myself completely into what I consider a great idea, today Alaythia and I went to Target and stocked up on freezer and fridge containers and fresh produce (yes, our Target stores have good produce here, weird I know).  After nap, we zealously made apple-cinnamon muffins (which included an incredible amount of carrot puree) and delicious macaroni and cheese (low fat, and a large part of the sauce consisted of pureed cauliflower!).  I also made sweet potato puree, and so we’re stocked for a week of being Deceptively Delicious.  I steamed up a pot of broccoli with the intent of pureeing it as well, only to have Alaythia beg for a bowl of it.  So we also devoured bowls of steamed broccoli, which did make me vaguely wonder why I was bothering to hide vegetables, when she clearly loved them so!  But she doesn’t have the same enthusiasm for all vegetables.  And as my husband pointed out, she’s perhaps not the person who needs the cauliflower hid in a sneaky dish of cheesy pasta!  So I’m excited about doing some cooking that’s about being delicious and as nutritious as possible.  I think the book excited me because I like that goal for food: to maximize goodness and nutritive value at the same time.

Kabyn’s mom is coming next week, which reminds me how much I adore wheat and all high-gluten products (she can’t eat gluten (as in, really really cannot eat it or dangerous things happen to her, not as in it’s hip to be gluten-free in the Northwest), and how some people, like her and my dad, just can’t feast on what the rest of us feast on.  But just like the vegetables hiding, I’ve noticed Mae and my parents learn to get creative about feasting despite their limitations.  Thanksgiving doesn’t have to mean turkey; what about a fancy salmon?  And how about roasted sweet potatoes instead of stuffing?  Not only delicious, but friendly to people allergic to meat or wheat. 

This week I was also talking with a friend who’s trying to lose weight, and it got me thinking about how unkind we often are as a society to people who are genuinely doing all they can to lose weight.  Everywhere we turn, there’s way more accessible, appealing, and cheap unhealthy options than healthy options.  My resolution to that realization was to decide to try and always bring big yummy salads to potlucks: to support all of us in making healthy options about food, and to make healthy food accessible, delicious, and reasonably priced (free to others if I bring it 😉

Interestingly, today was also the day that some writing on biomolecules needed to be done on the chemistry course I’ve been working on all year.  So that got me thinking about fatty acids, polypeptides, nucleic acids, and disaccharides.  In a way, our bodies are complex conglomerations of billions upon billions of molecules.  And where else can we get the building blocks for those molecules except from the food we eat, the water we drink, and the air we breathe?  In a physical sense, you really are the food you have eaten, and you will be the food you have eaten and that you will eat.  Makes you think twice about what you’re putting in your mouth.

So if you’re still with me after this rambling essay, tell me, what do you think the role of food is in your life?  What gets you thinking about how, why, what you eat?

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