Monday, April 29, 2013
I've been slacking for over a month now on food, eating more than I should, eating a lot more sweets than I need, being really lazy about cooking anything. On Friday I got a wakeup call of sorts.
See ... I am definitely a food lover. Not a food lover in the sense that I feel that gives me an excuse to eat anything and everything in absurd quantities. No, a food lover in the idea of the sensory experience. Food can appeal to all our senses.
Obviously we taste it, the keynotes there being sweet (oh, yes), sour (um, not so much), salty (okay if I need sodium), and bitter (gak, ew, ptoooie!). Your taste experience may vary, of course.
We certainly smell it. In fact, without our sense of smell, our taste buds alone don't tell us much about a food's flavor. A whiff can make all the difference between a sudden onset of hunger or a complete loss of appetite.
We absolutely enjoy the visual aspect. I think one of my absolute favorites in this past year was a "flourless chocolate dome" at P.F. Chang's. The presentation is this smooth dark chocolate half-sphere on a white plate, strawberries, raspberries and blackberries artfully scattered around, and a drizzle of bright red sauce. Gorgeous. Almost too beautiful to eat and sully the appearance.
Texture (touch) is important. Improperly mixed foods with chunks or a grainy texture are a put-off while crisp raw vegetables are a delight.
Texture also plays into sound, with those crisp raw vegetables crunching. Some people find some sounds immensely irritating, such as slurping soup or masticating with the mouth open, but other sounds are a natural part of the eating process. Try eating any sort of cracker, chip, or nut without any crunch and it won't feel right.
The wakeup call I got Friday was this. I went to a social gathering at a local coffee shop with visions of being something special (compared to a Starbuck's, for example). I spent almost $20 on a hot chocolate, a spinach quiche and a side salad, and a chocolate eclair. I expected, for that price, some real quality food. I got a semi-soggy quiche I mostly finished off because I'd come directly from the gym and needed to eat, a salad that was overly drowned in a vinaigrette that I didn't bother with, a hot chocolate that I could have made myself with a packet and hot water, and an eclair I ate less than half of. I love GOOD chocolate. This was not. It was thin and barely notable. The custard was thick, but bland. The pastry was not light and airy.
I've been less satisfied with food lately. As a food lover, when the food is less satisfying, there's a bad tendency to have more as if that will make up for the lack. In truth, more mediocre chocolate is not going to be satisfying if some mediocre chocolate was not.
I have absolutely zero intention of ever going obsessive about clean eating. That is not the lifestyle I want. That means I don't expect to ever get down to 8% body fat and enter a figure (or even bikini) competition. Which is fine because that has never been my goal.
That does not mean I want to eat poorly made trash pretending to be food, stuffing two or three times as much in my mouth hoping a few more bites will satisfy the food lover in me.
I want food that satisfies the food lover from bite one, the kind that makes me close my eyes, let it rest on my tongue, and savor. I do that with my protein shakes. It took me weeks to find the "perfect" combinations, but every time I have one I delight in the smooth, the chill, the fruity flavors.
So I'm back on track as of today with being picky about the food I eat. (Next ... I just need to learn how to cook steaks properly. I love a properly seared medium rare steak, but so completely fail at cooking it right myself.)