Sunday, July 8, 2012


Gabrielle Hamilton says she doesn't understand the notion of guilty pleasure. She eats what ever she wants. I feel the same way. Pleasure and guilt are oxi-moronic.  But there are foods that embarrass me. Like baloney. At least once a year I crave a baloney sandwich. It's a childhood memory thing. My grandmother used whole wheat bread long before it was cool but sometimes she'd make a sandwich on doughy hamburger buns. I think there was lettuce and tomato but I'm not sure. These days I eat baloney on crunchy baguette or ciabatta, mayo and tomato, watercress if I have it. They make really good baloney, which I buy when I see it but I'm OK with any kind.
The three things that influenced my thinking about food were diet history, hippie health food as a way of rejecting the main stream and my years in restaurants. I'm not always sure which of those things is influencing me at any given time. My ideas about snacks are full of craziness.
Grandmom rarely served any snacks. Maybe a sour ball. Sometimes on summer evenings she'd make root-beer floats and serve them with pretzels. I'd scoop the ice cream with a pretzel. Salty, sweet and bubbly. If she had her Bridge club over she's serve mixed nuts and I could have a few. Potato chips were a side dish, like with a baloney sandwich.
As an adult I thought of most chip things as empty calories but I'm not sure why. It might have come from dieting but I think it was also part of the hippie health food thing. There were no hippie health food chips then. But for some reason corn chips were OK. Why was corn a better starch than potato? There might have been a reason but I can't remember it. Popcorn was OK too. Usually at a movie. Usually with brewers yeast.
Maybe part of why I didn't eat chip type thing was because I didn't usually have a lot of money. If I wanted something salty I ate nuts. I ate M&Ms with peanuts because the protein in the nut made the chocolate OK. I don't even know what I mean by that.
I do remember being offered some kind of salty snacky thing when I was a preteen hanging out with some friends. I'd been dieting and knew I'd be cheating but I also wanted to be normal and fit in. I might as well have been smoking crack. 
For some reason lately I've been wanting cheese puffs. I think I saw them on a movie or something and it stuck with me. So yesterday I bought some hippie health food type cheese puffs. I watched TV and ate empty calories. It was fun. I'm not sure it was something I'll do anytime soon again. They didn't sit that all that well. 
I don't feel guilty about these things but I do feel like I'm doing something wrong and I really don't know exactly why. I don't feel that bad. I mostly feel confused.  

Monday, July 2, 2012


I pretty much stopped dieting, or eating to lose weight when I was seventeen. It was the sixties and I was influenced by Frank Zappa singing: there will come a time when you won't even be ashamed if you are fat and feminism and the general culture of peace and love and rejection of main stream culture. I didn't really internalize the idea of fat as part of my identity until much later. I continued to think that being fat was a pathology and that if I worked on my psychological issues I would naturally lose weight. In my early twenties I titled a journal: Adipose Agony because I was still fat after so much self help work.
My thoughts about food moved toward hippie health food. I ate bowls full of yogurt and wheat germ. I ate brown rice and veggies. I drank Lapsang Souchong. But I also experimented with indulging cravings for things like M&Ms as a way to shift any psychological addiction.
I  began to work in restaurants at sixteen but it wasn't until I was in my early twenties and got a job in a French restaurant that I began to think like a foodie. I started as a dishwasher. The chef was Italian, oddly enough, and decided to teach me about food. I remember him literally sticking things in my mouth and asking if it was good. I had no idea. I knew what I liked and I learned to like new things but I had no sense of what made things good, better or best.
I am diabetic by one point. I never remember the numbers that define things but I am literally diabetic by one point. I know that those numbers were redefined at some point but I've always been told I was borderline diabetic. My doctor isn't worried because my numbers don't jump around. Every year I get blood work and every year it's the same. My cholesterol numbers are great.
In my forties I noticed changes in my ability to digest fats, sugars and carbs and in my fifties things changed again. I noticed because I got stomach aches. I've adapted my consumption and manage to keep the stomach aches at bay most of the time. As a result I eat in what would probably be considered a very healthy manner by most standards.
My first concern is getting enough protein. I rely on eggs for breakfast to some extent. And then some other kind of protein like fish, meat, beans, cheese later in the day. I always have fruits and veggies. I eat most of my carbs and fats early in the day so I can digest them before time to sleep. I have something like candy, cookies, cake, ice cream every day but I can usually only have one thing (or suffer a stomach ache) and I usually eat what ever I'm going to have very early in the day. I drink lots of water. Little caffeine. Not much salt.  
How I eat is also determined by the seasons. If you read me at all you probably know that I if it's summer I want to be eating a peach every day. Peas start in spring but sometimes I can get them all summer. Berries are in abundance and so good. Tomatoes get better and better as the summer goes on. At some point in the fall I'm eating apples. I eat more warm food in the winter. Cold food in the summer. Because I live in San Francisco it can feel like winter in July and summer in December, which keeps things interesting.
I need variety to feel happy but that's not hard for me. I enjoy the process of figuring out what to eat. I never think about eating to lose weight but I do have a diet of sorts. We all do. A diet is how you eat.
Dieting, or eating to lose weight, is unsustainable for most people. I've met very few people who don't care what they eat on a day to day basis. People like to eat the food that makes them happy. Fast food doesn't make me happy. But I have learned that some people love it. Hard for me to accept but it's true. I don't have much trouble not eating a lot of the candy, cookie, ice cream, cake part of my diet because it doesn't feel good. The only time I every crave anything is when I try to not eat it at all.
I didn't always have to put much thought into what I needed to eat. I didn't get the stomach aches when I was younger, or certainly not as easily. After cooking all day I often didn't feel like cooking for myself and have eaten lots of popcorn and yogurt dinners. I've also had a bag of something ( cookies, pretzels) open next to me on the desk and eaten most of it without paying attention. But those days are gone now. My body complains too loudly and too quickly.
Sometimes I'm not in the mood to think about food and not in the mood to cook. I order a pizza or some Chinese food and sometimes it works out. But most of the time I spend any where from twelve to twenty four hours in misery while my digestive system grumbles and complains.
Also when I was young I smoked and if you gave me a choice between a cigarette and food I'd pick the cig. I was still fat.
I've been on the drugs and alcohol diet. I was still fat.
I've been on the poverty diet. I was still fat. 
I am fat by nature. How fat may be about how much I eat and how much I exercise but in my experience the thinnest I've ever been was still fat.  
I love and respect food. Food is about comfort. And community. And pleasure. And so many things that I am not willing to give up.      

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Birthday Food

Last year I took pictures of what I ate on my birthday and posted them on Facebook. It was fun. I mean I am plenty critical of Facebook but my birthday was an example of a good thing. All day long I got messages from friends. Friends from every phase of my life. And then I'd post a picture of a meal and get likes and it was just fun. I did it again today.

I always want eggs for breakfast. Always. Sometimes I eat yogurt in the summer and oatmeal in the winter but I mostly eat eggs. I also always want triple cream and I only eat it on special days.  It's asking a lot of my ageing digestive system to eat eggs and toast and then triple cream and toast so I had the latter for breakfast last year and it worked out very well. This year I had it again. I like St Andre but I've been getting Cowgirl Creamery Mt Tam. It's so good. Crunchy  Acme bread, peaches, strawberries and coffee. Great start to the day.

I had to wash an inch of dust of off my martini glass. I think the last time I used it was on my birthday last year. I really like the taste of alcohol. Always have. And I drink top shelf. Bombay Sapphire when it comes to gin. But today I added the smallest amount of pomegranate juice in the gin. I always get a twist in my martinis but I do like olives on the side. Creminelli Barolo. Lovely snack. 

This picture kind of cracks me up. It does reflect the blur in my vision after the snack. I used to always want lobster on my birthday. In fact I didn't really eat red meat until I was in my forties. I'm not sure if it was a hormone shift but I became meat obsessed in my forties. I still eat it as a special thing. Watercress is my green of choice and I've developed a taste for breakfast radishes recently. A glass of Pinot. Funny. There was a time when it would have been a bottle. 

And. Of course. Cake and ice cream. Chocolate cake. Vanilla ice cream. Still in the plastic clam shell. Happy birthday to me. 

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Just Another Bowl

Dinner. Starts with a spring onion and pork loin in olive oil in a pan. Then the kale. After a minute I put in some chicken stock (water if I don't have stock around ) and a hand full of peas. I added a slab-o-feta tonight for creaminess. I've been eating a version of this two or three times a week for a month or so. The protein changes. I use Bruce's stuff a lot. Sometimes Grana. Sometimes chard instead of kale. Peas are a recent addition since the season has just arrived.
Still thinking about food in Gabrielle terms although I will probably never eat the way she does. She says she eats when she's hungry, is never ashamed of anything she eats and doesn't understand things ideas like comfort food. However she clearly understands how comforting food can be. 
The last section is about her trips to Italy to visit her in-laws. She mentions parmesan omelets several times. I'd never thought about parm for an omelet. I don't really eat that many omelets. I tried it and it was good. She also used mayo instead of butter to make a grilled cheese sandwich. I am very curious about that.
She doesn't like food blogs because she's always seeing bad grammar, syntax and spelling. 
I don't like that many food blogs myself but mostly because they're boring. 
And this one is  no doubt boring. 

Monday, June 11, 2012


I do not want to finish this book. I'm enjoying it too much. I think it's a good enough read for anyone but if you've worked in a restaurant it's like meeting your new best friend. I was trying to finish it today but after reading for awhile I Googled her and watched videos of her in her kitchen. I recommend it.
Eventually I got hungry. I chopped a Spring onion in a bowl. Dumped in a can of tuna. Swack of mayo. Squirt of mustard. I was sad because I had no celery. Happy because I had lemon. Tossed in a large handful of watercress and chopped in some breakfast radishes, which added the missing celery crunch. I've been experimenting with not eating carbs in the evening in deference to my cranky digestion and it does seem to help.  But I was really hungry so I made a piece of toast. Grabbed a handful of cherries and went back for more Gabrielle.
On Saturdays Debbie takes me to shop. Every week I buy what Acme ciabatta so I can make French toast on Sundays. I like it because of the crust to bread ration. I slice off a chuck and slice that the way you would if you were making a sandwich. So there's a lot of chewiness. But before that, on Saturday night I slice off a small piece of the end and eat it with butter. It's a risk because it's carbs and fats in the evening and sometimes my digestion gives me trouble but I can't resist when the bread is fresh. I was thinking about it when I ate my toast. I was thinking about the difference between cold butter and fresh bread and butter melted on warm toast. Both good. I'm thinking about these things because of how she writes.
Gabrielle writes a lot about eggs. People making eggs. Eating eggs. Cooking eggs. I love her desire to feed people with good solid well made food. The food you remember. Food that comes from your life and experience.
I just do not want to finish the book.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Good Food

I was going to write about my brussle sprouts and pasta but there isn't much to say about it. I made it. It was good.

I read on a list serve for HAES (health at every size). It's a mix of eating disorder therpists, fat activists and friends of. There is often disscussion about pathologizing food and/or eating. I can never figure out how to express where I stand on it all since I come from a foodie perspective. Actually I come from a former dieter perspective and the perspective of my family and an ageing hippie perspective. There are so many things that shape our perspective on food and eating.
I have strong feelings about good food. Good is about craft in the preperation and quality in the ingrediant and something ephemeral and hard to describe. Things can be good in context. I don't usually like doughy white bread but the doughy white bread used for lobster rolls is perfect. The doughy white bread on pork buns is perfect. Doughy white bread is good food in the right time and place.
Lanquage, food and meaning making are three of my favorite things. Good food. What does that mean?
I was not born a foodie. In fact I have a fairly limited palette by foodie standards. I became a foodie because I needed a job. My earliest jobs in food were washing dishes. The silver spoons in my life were covered with other people's saliva. The people I've met in the food industry were my mentors in food. Some of them were chefs and some of them were dishwashers. I remember a prep cook giving me a cob of corn with a wedge of lime covered in chili powder. You rub the corn with the lime and chili powder. It's ridiculously good. Being a foodie is about learning from other cultures.
There's no doubt that the idea of being a foodie is pomo and manufactured. From a media perspective it is the indulgence of  the mostly young and mostly white. But for me it's a process of discovery informed by livelihood.   The intersection of my foodie life and my fat life is always wobbly. I know many people don't really care about food, or enjoy food that repels me. I don't feel superior. But good is a word that describes a notion of superior.  For me a hamburger made fresh with good quality meat is superior to one made with pink slime. It's superior in terms of health and taste and pretty much every thing. But there's nothing superior about being a person who thinks that way.
Once I took some women to a place near me where they make amazing hamburgers. They grind the beef daily and use a good cut of local beef. They grill the burgers and serve them on wonderful crunchy buns with romaine, tomatoes and red onion. They make a sauce with mayo and mustard. The fries are cut from potatoes, also fresh daily. The shakes are ice cream and milk. They enjoyed the meal but when I said something about not being able to eat fast food burgers after tasting the ones we were eating they gave me a look and I knew I was wrong. For them.
Fat people are always being told that their food choices are wrong and bad. It's not a useful way to think. I know there is more than one reason to enjoy a particular food. When I was a kid we had chipped ham on doughy white bread buns. I crave them.
I get angry when I read ideas about foodies as class specific and uppity. It's not my experience. It is true that I always want to cook good food for people. Cooking and sharing a meal is one of my great pleasures. I do have strong opinions about what good food means. But, like it so often is, meaning is a shape shifter. Good is what you want it to be.