Saturday, August 16, 2008

Eating Together!

Can men teach us about cooking and eating? Women seem to have the market cornered on dieting, what to eat, when, where and how. Women have traditionally been the cooks in the home. There are articles in almost every woman’s magazine about what to eat to improve your appearance. All of the weight loss meetings I’ve attended are predominantly attended by women. But…what has happened to our food reality in this body image obsessed culture is anything but culinary genius.

My partner Dan loves to cook and when he does, he loves to feed me. It didn’t take long for me to realize, that he was filling my plate to the same level he was filling his. Not to mention, the way he cooks, full fat, sometimes butter and oil in the same dish! The humanity! No wonder my pants started to get tighter!

I always thought I would want a man that cooks. What I didn’t realize is how difficult it would be to get him to go along with all of my crazy dieting techniques if he did. Instead of feeding him whatever I fancy, based on how “fat” I feel today, we have to decide together what to make for dinner. We have had more than one facedown over having “deep fried morsels of goodness”, as dinner. I find nothing wrong with having Special K, with dehydrated super sweet strawberry-like pieces, and milk for dinner, (Who would?) but a plate of fried whatever? Crazy!

After the first meal he cooked for me however, there was no going back. A delicious mix of shrimp, chicken, lime juice, shallots, and garlic in a cream sauce over pasta. He didn’t have me at hello, he had me at “dinner”. I was thoroughly impressed that he made a recipe with Shallots, let alone a recipe with so many ingredients. When he peeled the garlic by rubbing it together in his manly hands, I almost fainted. I didn’t know the half of it. While Dan’s favorite thing to do in the kitchen is fry things, when pressed (by me) he is perfectly capable of making a delicious marinated chicken to go over a lovely healthy salad.

One area where Dan’s cooking has been beneficial to me in a more spiritual way has to do with the fact that as a single girl I got into a comfortable habit of cooking in a certain non fat, diet way. Frying my eggs in a non-stick pan, with a shot (less than 5 seconds) of non-stick spray was a daily occurence, and I sometimes substituted egg whites for the whole egg to cut more fat. I almost had a heart attack on the spot when I realized that my new boyfriend was filling the bottom of the fry pan with olive oil and then carefully frying each egg one at a time in the lusciously bubbling oil. He would take them out, drain them momentarily through the slotted spatula and deposit them atop a buttered slice of bread. This was decadent eating. My momentary freak out over the oil incident turned into utter delight at the taste of his breakfast over mine.

Have I forgotten what real food tastes like? These changes in my daily food life have made me start looking for more real food, real tastes. I now eat real full fat cheese, and butter. To counterbalance the butter, I joined a Community Supported Agriculture program that delivers a box of fresh, local and organic produce to my neighborhood for me. The food in this box tastes like it should. The strawberries instead of a beautiful but flavorless store bought berry are smaller, some might say not as perfect but the flavor! Almost seems sinful. This is what food should taste like. I haven’t been on a fast food binge in weeks. Our new Wednesday night ritual is a bowl of strawberries with home made whipped cream. I don’t even miss the multiple dried up, low fat, high sugar cakes I used to placate myself with. I may be on to something here.

I’ve never been skinny and I admit I am tempted still to go back to torturing myself with non fat bland tasting food, to make myself feel like I am accomplishing something. When I do feel the urge though, I remind myself that the full on diet lifestyle never worked for me in the past. I wonder, would it be better to eat food that tastes good on a day to day basis while keeping my portions to pre Dan days? Maybe men and women can teach each other something about dieting or the lack thereof, in fact eating!