Dinner

We have arrived at my favorite meal of the day; dinner. Din din or supper as it is sometimes called is my favorite because there are so many choices and it is so hearty.

The name of the games is carbs, carbs and more carbs. I shouldn’t be saying this as a diabetic. In fact, it may get me arrested by the glucose police. But too damn bad. Because all my favorite dinner food are carb heavy: pasta, macaroni and cheese, mashed potatoes and bread, among others.

The classic American dinner is a protein, a carb and a vegetable. I think this is a pretty good combination and love chicken breast or salmon, mashed or baked potatoes and peas or green beans. This is a very basic American dinner but one that is delicious to me.

I adore pasta. I like penne, linguini and angel hair. I like lasagna, baked ziti and chicken parmesan. I also like fettucine alfredo and pasta carbonara. I like fine dining Italian restaurants as well as Olive Garden. Salad and breadsticks and soup really bring the main dish home.

Pad thai, drunken noodle and pad garlic are also three of my fave dinner choices. We have a wonderful Thai restaurant in this area and I am a regular there. If I ever chose to cook [which is unlikely] I would want to learn Thai food.

I think dinner is a nice meal because it is usually after work. The work day can be very stressful and one is happy when it is over and done with. Eating a good meal in the early evening is relaxing, enjoyable and diverts the attention away from work stress. Whether done alone or with people, it is a time for hearty food and culinary enjoyment.

I love going out to dinner. There is something about eating when it is dark outside that is very special, especially if there is a warm ambiance with candlelight inside the restaurant and some kind of fancy drink, alcohol or otherwise. Admittedly these times are generally more fun with company, whether an individual or a group. The absolute best dinner is when the food is amazing and the people you are with are truly enjoying it. I am also incredibly grateful when people pick up the tab given my difficult financial situation. I wish I could do it more often for others.

Dinner is magical. Breakfast and lunch often seem more perfunctory. But a nice dinner is a luxury and nourishes the spirit as much as the body. I look forward to dinner every day and think about what I am going to eat. While I like more “fancy” foods I do not consider myself a foodie as I identify too strongly with my working-class roots and see that as something other people identify as. Sometimes, fried chicken, potato wedges and Cole slaw is my favorite meal in the world. If you were on Death Row and were granted your one final meal, what would it be and why? I know I would have a lotta stuff crammed on that plate. Hint: thanksgiving dinner items would figure prominently.

Eating Out

I absolutely love to eat out. I love it SO much better than eating at home.

Cooking for me is absolute hell. I burn things. I break thing. I drop things. It is a veritable disaster. I am frankly amazed when I hear people talk about how cooking is relaxing for them. From purchasing all the ingredients, preparing them and cooking them and doing all the clean-up, I find nothing relaxing about it but see it more as an ordeal.

Everything about eating out is preferable. You get to sit a comfortable booth. Have someone courteously come up to you and ask you what you want to drink. Then look a huge-ass menu with so many choices of what you would like to eat – way more than in the average home food pantry. Then you get to state your preferences and wait a short while your food is prepared. And then presto – a steaming plate of delicious food is on the table in front of you. This is not even counting appetizers and desserts, which make the experience even better.

Now I grant you, this is an idealized experience. There can be lots of glitches in the eating out experience. Bad service, bad food and bad ambience are the first things to come to mind. But despite these misfortunes, I would still rather eat out than face the sheer horror of home food preparation and all the rage that goes with it. Making food puts me in a bad mood for some reason, maybe because I know I can’t do it. That leaves me with pasta and frozen meals to eat at home.

I do not mind eating out alone in the slightest. Some people would not be caught dead eating alone, but it has never bothered me at all. Perhaps because I have lived a life beset by isolation, eating alone is just one more example of my aloneness. I usually work on my computer, read or listen to music. Sometimes I people watch. It’s hard to say how often I eat out per week, but it is probably 4-5 times a week. This doesn’t bother me either, but it does bother my wallet. Eating out is expensive and seems to be getting more and more so. I do know it is all about balance and I need to pick my eating out restaurants carefully both for price and for quality. Since you are paying so much you deserve a good meal.

I also love trying different types of cuisine. It is cool that you can go to different restaurants and try different ethnic cuisines. I have tried many, but among my favorite are Thai, Ethiopian, Himalayan, Indian and Italian. There are also some amazing Asian fusion restaurants and street food restaurants that have excellent food. I even like fast food, take-out and delivery, or even buying pre-made food in a supermarket and taking it home. Anything besides home-made food, even if it is the third pizza delivery of the week.

Now to be sure, as the adage goes, there is nothing better than a homemade meal. I agree with that as long as it is cooked by someone else. Occasionally I get a homemade meal by my parents and am very grateful for it. But mostly it will continue to be eating out and frozen dinners, and I am okay with not learning how to cook, and eating in my own unique way.

 

 

Food

As I sit writing this, I am waiting for my breakfast a local restaurant. I ordered a fruit cup to start, coffee and OJ, and a super vegetarian omelet with English muffins and sweet potato home-fries. To put it bluntly, I love to eat. To put it more bluntly, it is one of favorite things in the world. 🙂  And one thing I dislike with a passion is food shaming.

Food shaming is when a person judges or criticizes another person for their food choices. This is mean, spiteful and totally unnecessary. I believe strongly there are no inherently “good” or” bad” foods. We need to stop thinking of food in this simplistic and dichotomized way. We also need to realize that food and eating are a part of life. It is no surprise that so many people love food and love to eat. But this simple reality is threatened by the food shamers.

Of course, this is related to two phenomena: healthism and weightism. Healthism is the imposition by society and government of a so-called “healthy lifestyle.” In fact, imposition is too weak a word. A synonym for healthism is health fascism. Thus it often feels like this thinking is being aggressively forced upon people. At this moment in society, we are battered with constant messages of “health” and “healthy eating” that criticize the way we eat, including our very natural cravings for particular foods. Apparently these cravings are meant to be overcome by simple discipline and sheer self-control. And what drives food shaming and healthism? Weightism is a big part of it. Weightism is the institutional discrimination against people of size. As a person of size [I weigh over 400 pounds] this is something I face on a regular basis. It is one of the “isms” that is seldom talked about even though it is ubiquitous. Fatphobia and the fear of becoming fat drive weightism and food shaming. We have a very guilt-ridden and shaming approach to food, to eating, to “health” and to weight in our society.

Food shaming also comes from applying one’s own eating habits onto other people. As Aner Tal states in an article from Marie Claire: “In some cases, the internal monitoring that goes on with one’s own food choices gets projected onto the outside world. In a way, being critical of other’s choices is just externalizing the criticism or self-control you apply to yourself.” People need to stop assuming that everyone will eat like them or wants to eat like them. People’s eating and food preferences are highly individualized and unique. Rather than viewing some people’s eating habits as “bad” or “unhealthy” we need to see them as personal preferences and leave them the hell alone. Food shaming has been proven to be very injurious to people and it needs to stop.

It’s actually kind of sad and telling that I have spent the bulk of this post writing about the abuse associated with food rather than how wonderful it is! I have just finished my breakfast and it was absolutely delicious, including my serving of veggies and fruit. It saddens me greatly that we have taken one of life’s great pleasures and turned it into a site of panic, criticism and judgment. The good news is that there are plenty of people who are challenging these hegemonic norms based on food-shaming, healthism and weightism. Fat activists, size acceptance movement, body positivity folks and Health At Every Size [HAES] proponents are some of the cultural warriors who are combatting these discriminatory attitudes and transforming our culture in regards to weight, food, fitness and health. So, eat up! Mangiamo! Bon Appétit! Eat without apology, savor and enjoy.