Tuesday, March 30, 2010

So I decide to try writing about food and suddenly I can't seem to shop. Seriously. It's hard to shop for one person and I pride myself on being able to do it well. The last two weeks I keep running into walls of shopping failure. Not enough of this. Too much of that.
I've been planning on making lentil soup for awhile. Yesterday I start cooking and I don't have shallots. Shallots are are a main ingredient around here. I always have them. I buy them when I don't need them because I worry about running out.

I mean. What happened?
I had chicken stock but not quite enough. What? I always have chicken stock.
What I did have was some chunks of sirloin that I intended to use and they weren't going to stay fresh forever.
It worked out. It isn't perfect and it bugs me when I don't have what I need. But it tastes good and will last for the next few days until I can go shopping.Maybe I need to make a list.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

I do have more to say about Jaime Oliver. I watched the second section of the show on Friday and because I can't stand commercials I switched over to Kitchen Nightmares during them. That was interesting because there were similar themes. Bad food. Defensive cooks. And guys with English accents trying to make it better.
I do have an issue with Jaime acting like nothing like this has ever happened in the USA. Alice Waters has been doing it for a long time. But I don't want to sound overly critical of Jaime. I only really have one issue. Not all fat people eat badly. Not all fat people are unhealthy. And people who aren't fat are not well served by bad food and can be unhealthy. I heard him say that "scrawny people" can have these issues when he was being interviewed on CNN but two sentences later he was tossing the O word around again.
My issue was amplified by another show I watched that night in which a young girl who has been athletic all of her life can't find clothes to fit. She tells a story about winning some athletic competition. She heard a visiting coach say to her coach, "man that fat girl can run."
But for most of the show I am with Jaime. I am sharing his dismay when not one child in a classroom can identify a tomato. Or a potato. Or cauliflower. I have never known a child that couldn't identify vegetables. I guess that's because I know hippies and foodies.
I share his frustration when the cafeteria ladies are not willing to give the kids knives. I share his happiness when the teachers and the principal step in to teach the kids how to use them to eat.
One of the most confusing moments in the show is when he shows a group of kids how chicken nuggets are made. The kids are grossed out, as they should be, but when he asks if they want to eat them when he's done making them they say yes. When he does the same demo in England the kids say no. When he asks the USA kids why they'll eat these things that they know are gross they say they're hungry.
I'm really not sure what to make of this. Is it about instant gratification? Is it about such a lowered expectation about food that anything will do? I have always believed that if people know what's in the bad stuff and taste the good stuff they'll make the switch easily. But apparently I'm wrong.
I get the project and it is good. I want kids to know what a vegetable looks like and tastes like and I even want them to feel like they can participate in making their own meals. I want them to have that agency.
In most of the group scenes the kids don't look particularly fat. I'm not going to argue about people being fatter. I just know there have always been fat people and there will always be fat people. And I don't think that's a bad thing.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Plans for food and writing happen the same way for me. It starts with a repetitive internal monologue. I've been thinking about doing this blog for about a week. Once that thinking starts everything I see and hear seems like a blog post.
I had French Toast for breakfast yesterday. I have French Toast about ten times a year. It's hard to do it more often because I like to use a baguette and I can't eat a whole baguette in one day. So I make French Toast when I have guests, or if I have another use for a baguette. Acme makes a small baguette but they don't have them at Whole Foods. If I'm at the Ferry Building I'm likely to grab some triple cream. But I usually only go there if someone is visiting or it's a holiday. So French Toast is special but when I was shopping I saw some raspberries. Then I thought about French toast with raspberries. Then I thought about the blog.
Being a fat person and writing about food makes me anxious. I do wish people understood that not all fat people eat junk.
I don't think of myself of someone with an eating disorder. I have disordered days but generally I like the way I think about food. But I've grown up in a world that looks in my grocery basket and makes judgments. Or makes judgments without looking about what's in my grocery basket. I am fairly immune to all of that stuff but not completely. My original idea was to start the blog with a picture of the French Toast and I was stunned by the negative voices that rose up and yammered away in my head. The most eating disordered thing a person can do is think about their food and the meaning it makes about their body.
I think about what I need to eat to feel good every day. I know I need protein and I know if I eat too many carbs I get stomach ache. Back in the day I could eat a whole baguette no problem. That stopped being true in my forties and every year my capacity for carbs gets lower. There is a protein/carb relationship. If I've had enough protein I can eat carbs with no stomach issues. But it's a delicate balance. I'm not interested in taking pills so that I can eat more carbs and I never want to stop eating baguettes. So I dance along that protein/carb edge and do my best.
Andy Weil said something about eating across the color spectrum as a guideline and I've never forgotten that. Green food is important. At least one other color every day seems to work. More is better.
French Toast is white bread and I use a lot of butter when I make it. I don't like maple syrup that much so it's not about sugar but it is about rich. I like the baguette because it stays chewy after being soaked in the egg and milk. I like soaking it for a few minutes because it gets custardy. I use a little cinnamon, vanilla and nutmeg in the eggs and milk. I make extremely good French Toast.

Given that I've lost most of my readers on Fatshadow and this is a brand new blog and that people reading are my friends I do not really need to worry about judgment. So I was surprised at all the internal hish.
I was cooking dinner while I wrote this. Applesauce was cooking and the smell filled the apartment. Whole Foods and Trader Joe's often sell really thin cut pork chops. I seared them quickly in a not quite hot enough pan, which meant that they didn't get very brown, threw in some asparagus and stuck it in the oven. I heated the leftover risotto. The plate was too beige.
Heh. See. Now I'm obsessing.
Pleasure. Pleasure is on the list I go through when I'm deciding what to eat. My too beige dinner was a pleasure to eat. Nuff said.

Friday, March 26, 2010

I'm going to try and write a food blog. There are a few reasons.
First, I'm having trouble writing. So I hope that having a focus might make it easier. I like writing about food but I'm not exactly sure how to focus. I don't really use recipes. I'm not that interested in obscure ingredients or whacked out cooking methods. Maybe the second reason has to do with the uptick in obesity epidemic talk and how it makes me feel. The Jaime Oliver show, for example.
The show is fodder for an entire post. I watched a preview last week and he's been on numerous talk shows. Two things that I feel very strongly have a head on collision in the show. I share his horror over the crap food. And ... I get tired of the fear and loathing of obesity as a motivator. I think I will write more about this later. For the purposes of this post I just need to say that when I'm watching shows that generalize about how fat people eat I get cranky. It's just not true for me.
I've been cooking again. I have the time. I have things to say about food, much of which is just musing. And I've been having fun taking pictures of food. The picture above was inspired by a post I'd written. I think about how the food looks when I'm making a meal. I think more about it when I'm cooking for other people but I'm always aware of it. I love the moment when the food is all on the plate and it looks ... pretty. I am annoyed when I do things badly or in a sloppy manner or when I have an idea and it just doesn't work out.
When I was making dinner tonight I imagined what Jaime might say.

First, I roasted some asparagus. I like roasting because it's fast and brings out the sweetness in most things. I caramelized some shallots and then added the risotto and stock. Cooked all that until it was creamy. I had a few pieces of steak left over so I tossed them in with the asparagus for the last minute just to get it warm. When I pulled the asparagus out of the oven I drizzled a bit of truffle oil on it and put it in a bowl. I put the risotto on top of that with some Grana and then the steak. A small glass of wine and it was dinner. I think Jaime would approve.
My food thinking for any given day organizes around a need for protein, what's in season, what I have the time and energy to do. Nothing unusual. I like to eat seasonally and regionally. The truffle oil and risotto were from Italy so the meal is a fail on regional terms. I decide on risotto because I wanted to eat the asparagus. I didn't have much steak and I knew the stock and Grana would add protein.
I don't really care what Jaime would think. I like him well enough. His cooking shows are fun. He does a lot great community work. People, specifically kids, are fatter and it is about crap food and lack of movement. But people of all ages and sizes are not well served by crap food and lack of movement. So why does it always come back to the fat kids? It worries me.
I'm rambling around here but I'm just going to keep experimenting and see how it goes.