Archive for November, 2009

It Takes A Village

Thursday, November 26th, 2009

charlie, lotus augie oliver thanksgiving

I just came back from my third but not last trip to the market. Thanksgiving is in approximately two days, two-and-a-half, to be exact. I’m dizzy, I have a touch of vertigo, and I’m also dizzy from anxiety. Lethal combination.

I was given instructions from one friend, Robin, to ask the butcher to nearly cook me my turkey. She said I could ask him to take the whole bird out of its bag, clean it, pull everything that’s inside out and put that in one bag, and place the turkey in yet another bag. I liked the whole concept of never having to really touch the damn thing.

This Thanksgiving dinner crap is like my math phobia on steroids. I can’t help but think of my mom at this time because she did it all — and did it effortlessly. My mom didn’t ask for help chopping, shopping or even to clean up. We were all spoiled by this. Not to mention, she did the whole Thanksgiving dinner with no anxiety, and could have done that meal for us, on-demand, every night of the year.

Gelson’s, my market, wasn’t fully staffed, so there was a long line to ask for help from the one butcher. People stared me down when they heard of my over-the-top, time-consuming request. Embarrassed, I tried to explain that I don’t really cook turkeys. Two women nearby tried to help me; everyone seems to think cooking a turkey is as easy as pie, so to speak. And I don’t think pies are easy, so there goes that saying.

My friend Joy promised to e-mail a recipe to me, but since these two women were being held hostage by my demands of the butcher, they used the time wisely by offering me advice. It sounded so simple. It always does. I liked the younger woman because she seemed to have an easygoing temperament. She was so pleasant that I now wanted to be invited to her house for Thanksgiving dinner. Please invite me, it’s just me and my six guests.

Frankly, I’ve been angling to be invited somewhere for weeks. Thanksgiving has always seemed overwhelming. For years I could count on my family, or if not my own family then my boyfriend’s at the time, or my husband’s. I loved going to Gourmet Grandma’s house (mother of the ex-husband), because, well, it’s obvious — she’s a gourmet cook!

This year, as each week passed and we got closer and closer to this semi-dreaded, semi-thrilling holiday, I kept asking my kids if they were invited to go to their dad’s, which really means his mom’s. I never got an answer, so I worried that they never got an invitation. Finally I received a call that all mothers (or all other mothers) would love. My daughter announced that she and her fiancé and his adorable four-year old would definitely be coming to my house for the big day. “Why? Is something happening here?” I thought. Instead I said, “Great. Are you sure?”

She seemed not to pick up on my ambivalence and I still thought this could change. Her father might yet call with that invite. Then I got another phone call from my oldest son who said that he, too, would be here for Thanksgiving. Everybody was RSVP-ing to an invitation not sent. Now, it suddenly seemed set in stone — I was going to be the hostess of this year’s Thanksgiving dinner.

It hasn’t been easy since my mother died, scrambling at the last minute to figure out where I’m going. Even less easy when I remarried and we became seven people, five kids, two adults. Mind you, we don’t eat a lot, but still it’s hard to be invited somewhere when there’s seven of you. One year, I was solo because my husband was back east with his family and my kids were at Gourmet Grandma’s. That was easy. I thought/hoped that this year would be a repeat. (more…)

My Big Fat Five Years

Sunday, November 15th, 2009

fatface me on london rooftop, 70s

It’s been over 25 years now, closer to 30 really, but it had a lasting and devastating effect. For a myriad of reasons — too personal for a food blog but perhaps told one day in my “weight issue blog” — at around twenty-one years old I gained 30 pounds, seemingly overnight. My tiny frame, considered “too thin” my entire life, I now thought of as obese. Really, I did. I could not pass my reflection without falling over and sobbing. I’m not kidding. I would literally fall to the ground in the most dramatic style that an actress who had just sabotaged her career by gaining thirty pounds could. A hot surfer friend looked at my legs one day and observed, “gnarly legs, Fred,” which I wasn’t sure what to make of. Until I asked his little sister what gnarly meant, and when she said big, I cried for days over it. Fortunately, it never stopped me from having boyfriends. And the man I ended up marrying and having children with, in those early, adoring days, used to call the fat around my waist his “angel food cake”. Hey, at least he didn’t call it pound cake. And shortly after this acceptance I relaxed and lost all the extra weight, almost immediately.

Everyone owns their own story of why they end up eating too much. My heart will always and forever go out to anyone who suffers this plight. During the five years that I was out of control, I spent most of my days hunting and gathering whatever I needed to sate myself. It was a full time job. Without going further into the gory details, let me reveal why I’ve come to mention my still-haunting weight issue. I just read a book and it’s a “must read.” (Digression: Around the time that I stopped overeating, I started reading. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t read as much as I ate, I am not THAT insatiable of a reader. But I was a late bloomer when it came to food for the brain, if you will. Eventually I became a very particular reader – for me, the voice of the writer must be unique. ) I have mentioned in this blog how much I love anything written by Ruth Reichl. And now I am a huge fan of Frank Bruni, formerly the restaurant critic of the New York Times. The book is called “Born Round” and as you can probably surmise from the title, it is a memoir about his own weight issue and his relationship with food. It resonated with me for obvious reasons, but I think it’s a great book for anyone.
Enjoy a passage from Born Round written by Frank Bruni (more…)