Jenny's succulent-sounding wanderings through New York's monuments to culinary pleasure will be a striking contrast, I suppose, with my own latest adventures in eating. Since the end of the gastronomic glutfest that was the Culinary Arts Program, I've been On A Diet. Yes, on the South Beach Diet. Oh, how I cringe!
Not having vats of olive oil, one pound blocks of sweet butter and enough full-fat cream to feed the starving Russian masses of yore in one's refrigerator is at first bracing and refreshing to the active culinary mind. "Let us (lettuce?) see, what can I make with...three cups of salad greens, 3 ounces of boneless skinless chicken breast, and two teaspoons of olive oil (a typical list of ingredients in a South Beach Diet meal)?" The conclusion: not anything especially interesting from a gastronomic standpoint. For the past two weeks my eager, quivering hands have shoveled so much roughage into my drooling maw in the form of dark leafy greens and a cornucopia of vegetables that I went to the bathroom nine times in 36 hours. PEOPLE, THAT'S WHAT THEY CALL REGULAR. Instead of boeuf en daube, homemade ice cream, and hanger steak I'm eating low-fat tofu, red cabbage and broccoli for lunch, whole bell peppers for "dessert," and egg whites with multiple squashes stir fried in for breakfast. Starches? None, at least not in the first two weeks of this diet. No brown rice, white rice, pasta, bread, sugar, or anything of that sort. You are allowed to eat lower fat cheese, so I've been snacking on string cheese and raw almonds on occasion when hunger strikes me.
It is relentlessly healthy.
And, at least at this moment, I (gulp) really like it.
How am I supposed to become a great gourmand and food writer if I'm not sampling everything the world's tables have to offer? I can't go on assignment to Greece or Bulgaria or Tanzania and NOT try the doubtless non-South Beach Diet (or any diet)-approved delights that await. In the interests of quality gastronomic literature, my stomach must be allowed to sample all the fish eyeballs, fatty pork, wine, chorizo, chocolate cake, and fried chicken (ad infinitum) it desires, right?
Well, maybe not. As much as I'd like to be Jeffrey Steingarten, Jeffrey Steingarten doesn't have to squeeze himself into a wedding dress in a year (to the best of my knowledge). Hence, in the interests of a somewhat more slender waistline, my penchant for consuming bags of popcorn and four servings of rice in one sitting (as I am wont to do when drunk off my ass) is going to have to cool it for a time. (And ditto to the getting drunk off my ass.)
Instead I'm going to try to relish a somewhat different style of eating. Nothing overly drastic (I am NOT staying on SBD). Although, as I wrote above, I have to admit that two weeks of no heavy starchy carbohydrates, no sugar other than a scant teaspoon of honey here and there, and boatloads of fresh vegetables (all together with a bunch of kung-fu) has made me feel different, and better, and it's a feeling I want to keep.
But for god's sake I am currently pondering what I'm going to have for my after dinner snack, and A PLAIN CUCUMBER SOUNDS REALLY TASTY AND AWESOME. OR MAYBE A FUCKING SPIRULINA ENERGY BAR. ARTHUR AGATSTON, WHAT HAVE THOU WROUGHT UPON MY INNARDS?