Friday, January 30, 2009

On Being a Very Good Eater

My attempt to lose the 10lbs that I somehow managed to gain over the summer is not going so well. Oh sure I'm eating salads and going to the gym where I have been doing some RUNNING (Seriously. I have been running. Who am I?) but I'm not actually losing any weight. This is probably due to my love for food.

You see, I love food a lot. Often I'll find myself eating some food and excitedly thinking about the food I might eat next. It'll be lunch. I'll be munching on a nice crunchy salad with artichoke hearts and boiled egg and blue cheese and thinking to myself, "hmm what shall I eat for dinner? I could make spaghetti! Or order Thai basil chicken! Man tomorrow morning I get to have that yummy yogurt again, with the dried apricots, I CAN'T WAIT!" This cannot be healthy, right? Surely I must have some sort of hole in my heart that I'm trying to fill with food but when I try to recall being abused by the elementary cafeteria lady I quickly get distracted by thoughts of sloppy joes and chocolate malts. I think the hole I'm filling might just be my bottomless stomach.

I recently observed that having few buddies at my new jobs means I'm much more likely to eat a healthy lunch to which my friend Lisa replied, "Good Point. If you [worked here] we'd be all 'hamburgers!' every day." This is not true, sometimes I would want mac and cheese and some other times I would want Chinese pork buns, and least you think I only want to eat food bathed in grease sometimes I would just want roasted broccoli covered in lots of red pepper flakes. Part of my problem with food is that I love healthy foods which seems like a good thing until you're eating a trough of it and gaining 5lbs JUST FROM BROCCOLI.

Sometimes I fantasize about getting really fat. Because sure, I would miss my toes and sexy underwear and living past the age of 50 but maybe all of that is a reasonable price to pay for unlimited ice cream consumption? Maybe once I got past being the woman that kids moo at in the grocery store I could cover myself in a yummy blanket of ranch dressing and dig my way out with a truck load of french fries. Perhaps TLC could do a show on me (Half Ton Blogger?), perhaps they would pay me for humiliating myself on national television not with a free gastric bypass surgery but with my own personal chef who will make me endless supplies of fresh pasta covered in spicy tomato sauce. Doesn't sound half bad, right?

This fantasy is partially fueled by my desire to succeed. I am not always successful at eating less than 5 servings of jalapeno corn bread or doing my personal trainer prescribed squats at the super slow speed that makes my thighs shake in fear. Despite past successes I am not at all sure that I can succeed at losing the 10lbs that appear to be cling wrapped to my thighs. But I know without a doubt that I could kick ass at being really fat. I would eat ridiculous quantities of grilled cheese sandwiches. I would lounge around in a muumuu. I would be very good at sitting in a very large chair.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The Winner Parade Entry 6: Behind the Scenes on My Crazy Blind Date

So remember back when I was famous for being perpetually single and so frustrated with the ridiculous system that we call courtship (and by "we" I mean old people like myself; I believe the kidz call it "Laying the Jezzy on Some Hos")? Good times. Oh wait, actually... BAD TIMES.

For those of you who were not here a year ago and who have not spent your weekends memorizing my archives: Firstly: FOR SHAME. Secondly: A refresher. So I discovered Crazy Blind Date back when I needed two things: 1. Some lovin' and 2. Some blog fodder. I went on one date that was, in the end, neither Blind (since he read my blog predate) nor Crazy (since he was a pretty normal dude) and then I wrote a brillant blog post about it. This post was soon found by the owners of the dating service which is how I became the one woman spokesperson for dating random dudes. Shortly thereafter I got an email from the site founder asking me to go on another date which would be filmed by The Mike and Juliet Morning Show. More chances at free loving and blogging: SWEET. This post is the public face of that little adventure and THIS POST (the one you're reading right now) is the behind the scenes sweet juicey meat of the same experience.

So for the sake of faux anonymity let's call my copilot in Crazy Blind Dating for TV Mr. Slick because even though I'm 98% sure he does not read this blog (and 53% sure that he cannot read at all) and 100% sure that you could go back to the first post about our date and get his name I'd like to keep pretending that I am not a horrible person willing to publically throw former paramores under the bus in exchange for a brief respite from my writter's block.

Ok, so I went on the filmed date with Mr. Slick and it was fine I guess. He was cute, much cuter than many of the guys I date BUT I don't even like cute. Or, not that kind of cute. I like floppy hair over lots of gel, I like ironic tshirts over starched collars, I like eye rolling over googly eyes. Slick was The Bachelor and I was looking for... someone who would not be considered muscle-y enough for reality TV. He was also very eager, so much so that he managed to insert himself into my post date plans by tagging along to the Roller Derby even though it meant posing as press to get around the sold out tickets situation. When I mentioned to a friend the possibility of getting together for a board game night he again tried to force his way in, even insisting that we should play games TOMORROW. On face value this seems like it should be flattering he must really like me to be trying so hard to hang out but really how could he like me so much after 2 hours of hanging out half of which was on camera and therefore totally not real? And even if he *did* like me that much shouldn't he know better than to be so obvious about it -- have some damn shame/pride. Anyway I managed to not see him again until we were both sequestered in the Green Room with Mike and Juliet (this was a feat, the boy texted me AND called me multiple times -- keep in mind that the time between date and TV appearance was about 36 hours.).

And now a brief pause for a moral lesson, listen up kiddies. I have often in dating made the "oh give him another chance" mistake. I mostly blame my friends (oh, and my self esteem issues). you see when you're single and not so thrilled with it and friends with a lot of married ladies who want nothing more then to live vicariously through your (theoretically) exciting single life it goes something like this:

Friend Who is Sick of My Whining: How was your date?
Me: ehhhh ok i guess.
FWiSoMW: Was he cute?
Me: Sure
FWiSoMW: Did he do anything weird?
Me: Well... I dunno, I guess not.
FWiSoMW: Give him another chance!
Me: But... not funny... and.... kind of boring....
FWiSoMW: He was nervous! And shy! ANOTHER CHANCE!

And so a second date, and sometimes a third and I never get any more into it and the dumping is even more painful than it might have been. I'm not usually one to argue for intuition over facts but dating is a unique little beastie and one should probably just go with her gut. Lesson over.

But back to Slick and our date #2 which I agreed to because "but you were on TV! That didn't count! He's cute!" We went to a wine bar which is how I ended up at his apartment at 3am. Well, that and the promise of meeting his dog -- I'm a sucker for dogs. The dog was nowhere near the coolest thing in his apartment. He lived in a small studio in the East Village which would have been ho hum if it weren't for the HANGING BED. He (or, I suspect, one of his smarter friends) had rigged up a pulley system for the bed that allowed you to push the entire thing up flush with the ceiling or pull it down to dangle in the middle of the living room for sleeping. He even had counter weight book shelves! Frankly, this changed everything. I mean, sure, he was kind of boring and weirdly eager and not too bright but when would I get another chance to experience the wonder of a hanging bed? And wasn't the existence of the hanging bed a sign that deep down under the sweater vest and all of that hair gel he was probably a totally cool guy? I managed to resist slutting it out for the bed that night but things got even worse when I started telling people about the bed. My Settlers of Catan buddies at work put it best, "Well, you pretty much have to go out with this guy like 12 more times cause after 5 dates you can probably bring your girl friends by his place but you'd have to be pretty serious to get away with inviting over a bunch of random nerdy dudes from your office and WE TOTALLY NEED TO SEE THIS BED."

And so... a third date. We met for coffee, mostly because I couldn't imagine spending more than an hour with this dude without falling asleep. Mid coffee drinking he started to tell me a story about his recent bar tending gig. Apparently one of his coworkers was kind of annoying and so one day during the time when the supposed jerk was in charge of the till Slick took a bunch of money out of the cash register and put it into his pocket. And then jerk guy got fired for losing/stealing the money! and Slick got to keep the cash! HILARIOUS, right? No. Who shares stories about that funny time when they stole some money? Crazy, boring, not so smart guys who looks ok on the outside but turn out to be not worthy of a date 4 no matter how cool their bed might be. And so me and the swinging bed were never to meet again because while I might sacrifice my virtue for the sake of playing Jane and Tarzan in a swinging boudoir I could not ignore the fact that Tarzan was a baboon.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Move Over Bacon

Bacon is over. It was fun a few years ago when the world first discovered the novelty of adding bacon to everyday foods but it's 2009 and bacon has officially jumped the shark. Searching for "bacon" on youtube yields 22,100 results. a Google search results in 45,700,000 hits. There is bacon chocolate, bacon brittle, bacon ice cream, bacon fried steak, bacon bacon burgers, bacon bandaides, a bacon tiara... I have even found numerous web pages suggesting one fashion a bacon condom, have sex and then... make breakfast. Enough.

I don't dislike bacon. It's salty and sweet and meaty. It makes a good addition to most foods. It's cheap. It's fun to eat. it's meat candy. I KNOW. But seriously -- it's way overdone. Its gotten to the point where every wannabe foodie in America has given up on actual creativity in favor of stacking bacon on top of any old crap and calling it genius. It is all but impossible for me to meet any new bacon application with anything other than a roll of the eyes. It's time for a new food king; a new condiment to rule them all; a new bacon.

Obviously the new bacon needs to be tasty but taste alone will not be enough for our new ultimate additive. Bacon is ubiquitous because it is a pretty snazzy little food and its replacement will have to be equally exceptional. Bacon 2.0 will need to be as appealing atop a burger as it is mixed into ice cream. It will need to be cheap and prevalent enough that most Americans can easily afford to experiment. And, perhaps most importantly and certainly most elusively, it will have to have a certain flair. People like bacon because adding it to food serves as a big fuck you to doctors, vegetarians, that muscle-y guy in the gym, cholesterol and every other flag waver in our diet conscious society. They may have thin thighs and a long life span but we have smoked pork belly! Piling on the bacon gives people the little adrenaline rush of being naughty and its replacement has to give us a similar spark of rebellion (without really risking all that much, I'm leaving out contenders that might actually kill you, sorry blowfish).

And so without further ado I bring you the foods that might save us all from frat boys, bloggers and lazy chefs waving around strips of bacon like the checkered flag in the Digg Bait 500.


Tabasco is already one of those foods that showoffs turn to less for flavor than for bravado yet I think it has a lot of untapped potential to bring the party to new foods. I'm especially intrigued by the idea of sweet tobasco preparations. The torrid love affair between chili and chocolate has already been well established by the likes of Jacque Torres but I want to try tobasco creme brulee. Another advantage is that tobasco is cheap and can be added to almost anything with a simple shake of the bottle (no actually purchasing or cutting up of chilies required). Sadly, liquids are at a bit of a disadvantage in this competition if only because no one will ever be able to fashion a Tobasco bra unless they hunt down the actual chilies and a girl with especially callous nipples.

Gorgonzola Cheese

I know everyone has wet panties for pork fat but I'll take cheese over pig any day. (Did I just use cheese, pork and a reference to my panties in the same sentence? Yes. Sexy, right?). Gorgonzola also has the bonus of being a strong flavor that can probably hold up any dish, I've had it both on a burger and bathed in honey and loved each dish equally. I am excited about the possibility of gorgonzola ice cream and gorgonzola chocolate truffles, but somehow gorgonzola doesn't have the hype of some of the other contenders. Despite being fattening and flavorful and badass-y (you're eating mold!) I can't really see chefs and foodies getting into an uproar over the concept of blue cheese slathered all over breakfast lunch and dinner.

Chicken Schmaltz

Like bacon, schmaltz is cheap peasant fare made up almost entirely of fat. It certainly has the flavor profile to elbow itself into the starring role in any dish it enters but I'm not sure the flavor is really that easy to marry to other food. Not even my adventurous stomach feels ready for the likes of chicken fat ice cream and I'm not even sure that I'm that interested in a schmaltz burger. Also, you'd pretty much have to make schmaltz at home and most of us are way too lazy to do that.


Like tobasco, bourbon suffers from the sin of being liquid. That said I think bourbon is well positioned to take over -- it has a strong, easily identifiable flavor that tastes great with sweet or savory preparations and high cholesterol has nothing on alcoholism when it comes to badassness.

Duck Confit

Duck confit might be most able to compete with bacon for the title of "food most likely to serve as the catalyst for a coronary indecent." since it actually comes enshrined in a shiny coating of rendered duck fat. It's also the ingredient that I'm most intrigued with from an experimentation perspective -- duck confit mac and cheese? yes. duck confit and eggs? yes. duck confit donut? YES. I do worry a bit that duck doesn't have the flavor punch of bacon -- it would taste great in almost anything but doesn't assert itself in a way that inspires total devotion. I also expect people to argue that duck confit is too fancy pants to be considered easily accessible but I was able to walk into a corner grocery and buy a leg for $6.99 (This may be easier to do in NYC than Iowa City but I assure you that New York is often no prize winner when it comes to exceptional grocery stores ). However, duck confit also has the extra cache of being French and is there anything more rebellious than loving the French?

So who wins? Whose combo of flavor and flair reigns supreme? Personally I like anything enshrined in fat almost as much as I like pissing off people in Alabama with my love for the French so I gotta go duck confit but I'm open to being schooled in the comments.