I like food. And wine. And cocktails (like wine more). And like enjoying those things with my friends and family. And also like those things at the many solo "aperitif" times in my kitchen with TSF Jazz, Paris's 24-hour jazz station, keeping me company.
But sometimes enough is enough. And so it is that I am on this 21-day cleanse thing. "Purification," rather, under the supervision of my functional endrocrinologist. How perfect to get back to basics and detox the system between that crazy time of Thanksgiving and Christmas. How much weight do we gain in this time? I am forestalling that. But it means going to some parties and exercising such extreme will power that it surprises even me.
Now into week 2, day 8, and now that I'm in the cleansing groove and feeling great after a couple of (typical) rough days at the beginning, a funny thing has happened. By withdrawing from the food world, at least in part, I can observe. How I act with food, interact with it, use and abuse the tasting of this and that. How I use and abuse it in social settings. Some events I've almost not attended, for how on earth could one possibly enjoy an evening with the girlfriends at the W and not have a precious glass of red wine. Or one of those gorgeous cocktails. It was awkward, but in the end it made no difference at all. I still reveled in the sultry coolness of the place and the company of friends. No wine did nothing to diminish the evening. Shock. It may have enhanced it.
But all the more shocking now: how insidiously our popular culture has immersed itself in processed foods. When you've had a protein drink, some supplements, and a nice sparse green salad at the only place at the airport such a thing could be found ("no nuts or seeds, no cheese - not even a sprinkle - and dressing on the side, please"), the airport food landscape of french fries, Coke, and Cinnabons looks grotesquely surreal.
(baking sheet of torn pieces of washed and dried fresh organic kale, drizzled with 1 tsp of extra virgin olive oil and sea salt and paprika to be baked for 15 minutes or so at 350 - careful to not burn them. And, well, I may have had just about the whole "serving" that baking sheet made...they shrink when they cook!)
In this intense state of mindfulness about food and food experience, I pick up the December 3 issue of The New Yorker at the airport: "The Food Issue." I almost read it cover to cover - the food articles. They are exquisitely written.
Of note for now: "Annals of Gastronomy: Toques from Underground...the rise of the secret supper club," by Dana Goodyear, focusing on freak of nature wunderkind anti-chef, Craig Thornton and his Wolvesmouth dinners in L.A. He's young. Creative. Sort of insane I think. As every true artist probably is. Example:
"At a dinner last winter, when he learned that one of this regular guests was about to turn forty, he proposed cooking a forty-course meal to celebrate. It was a typical Wolvesmouth dinner, miniaturized and quadrupled, and served in four hours. (Course No. 24: 'chicken liver mousse, pickled pear, watermelon radish, brioche, fleur de sel' No. 31: 'lobster, celery root remoulade, black sesame, cherry-white soy vinaigrette.')."
He is very anti-bad food and anti-establishment and fame (for now), while catering to and relying on the "foodie" and the "foodie movement." And here I and millions of others would agree with him.
Hate the word "foodie." (Page 52)
Of his two alternatives, "super food asshole" and "pretentious food jerk," I am leaning toward the latter.
The New Yorker article tells us: he is 30 and skinny. Doesn't drink or smoke. Rarely sleeps. He once drove across the country, losing 15 pounds en route, because he could not stand to eat road food along the way. (Page 46).
So I get it now. This purification thing is a forced realization of the everyday toxins of the popular food culture. It reminds that a pretentious food jerk is really, at bottom, nothing more than someone taking a stand against the Cinnabon as an accepted norm and insisting on quality over quantity.
My mom recently asked me where this love of food--how it looks, tastes, is made and experienced--comes from. Don't know. I know I had this early on in that previous life of mine, where I vocally detested and abhorred chain restaurants. I did not have the "foodie" vocabulary back then (early 1990s), but I considered it a waste of a food experience - and calories. (When I was treated to a birthday dinner at a chain restaurant I should have clued in that this relationship was not looking good for long-term possibilities.)
If it is pretentious to demand that the calories I choose to expend be good ones, well-grown, seasoned and consumed with thoughts given to the food system that created it, so be it. I am a PFJ.