Tuesday, November 27, 2007

A Time and Place for Unhealthy Foods

My family hails from upstate New York, specifically the rural areas of Bainbridge and Walton, East of Binghamton. This is a land where nut-brown wood paneling and maroon vinyl adorn the bowling alleys and bars where my family gathers over the holidays. It is often bitterly cold outside during this time, the sun slanting early over the hills and the snow dust swirling like a lace curtain over the winding roads. Thus the cozy, dark corners of my Grandmother’s house and the local bars beckon us to gather there and linger for hours. This is vacation, after all, so I am always primed for a respite from my tidy routine. Good timing, since glistening popcorn balls, ribbons of strudel, scrumptious cakes and pies, succulent bacon, buttery mashed potatoes, golden fries and spicy hot wings suddenly besiege me. My sensory organs are piqued, my stomach ready to be commiserated and cheered.

I try to allow myself these few days away from my normal standards, but I am inexorably facing feelings of guilt deep in my psyche all the while. Why? Because I know too well the potential havoc these foods can wreak on my anatomy, and the environment to a great extent. But does it ever strike you as unfair that some of the best tasting foods are the worst for you?

No, I say, I will not be a patsy to my country’s gross obsession with fat and calories. It obviously has done nothing in the way of halting the spread of obesity and greed. Therefore, when faced with a platter of fried chicken tenders and fries that someone has ordered at the bowling alley my family often haunts during the holidays, I indulge in the name of tradition and celebration. It wouldn’t be fair to deny myself the full package of this experience, to not allow the wonder of comfort food to work its charm! The smell of the wing sauce, the glass rim of the beer bottle on my lips, the bowling saddle shoes on my feet, the sight of my family gathered together – the whole throw-my-reticence-to-the-wind experience must be fulfilled and relished; or these artifacts and scraps of nostalgia that illuminate my present life will fall prey to the wolves of dereliction. The scaffolding of my past will begin to decay with neglect. Thus, I indulge with reflection and gratitude, taking only enough to keep the wolves at bay, and leaving room for new memories to grow.

So go ahead, throw caution to the wind! Put an extra scoop of whipped cream on your hot cocoa and let the memories in!

How do you indulge and reminisce?

(Photo: My mom and I enjoy some holiday libations this Thanksgiving)


Anonymous said...

I eat, and then start weight watchers literally the day I get home!! But this is something I've been needing to do due to the stress of the last year, but this will be good for me. I say indulge, but don't overdue, that's the goal! Or else it will be my goal once Channukah and latke's come around...I'm mentally preparing for it as we speak...


Anonymous said...

by the way, I LOVE the bangs.


it's hallie! said...

2 words: processed. cheese.

When I return to Ohio for visits, I find myself reverting to my 'canned goods' childhood. One that was full of all the delightful boxed pastas, frozen breaded fish sticks... and of course, the ever famous "beans and weanies". Don't get me wrong- we ate other foods too, but those stick out like a nasty sore thumb.

Upon my return, I dutifully gather around the "snack cupborad" with my youngest sister and proceed to gorge myself on old school snacks. Sometimes I even throw in a Cheeto for good measure. For 7 days I allow myself to indulge in old family secret languages, memories, and foods. I say "so long" to brown rice and steamed veggies. I kiss my kombucha and yerba mate goodbye. And as for the tofu... see you later.

The potato chips (which have noth resided in any cupboard of mine for nearly a decade) are dipped into the grossest processed cheese dip you can imagine as my mother and I snuggle up on the couch for a good old fashioned Reikowsky family Christmas in Ohio.

ryan said...


Karl Staib and the pursuit of happiness said...

Cookieeees! Nothing like Mom's homemade cookies to make you all fat and plump for the winter.

Larissa said...

Glad you like the bangs. Latkes sound really good right now. Thanks for commenting and have a happy Channukah!

Larissa said...

Hallie, this sounds perfect, and I can totally relate. It's all part of revisiting tradition and feelings of security with your family.
Happy Holidays!

Larissa said...

Karl and Ryan,
Cookies and bacon. Two of my favorite things. Thanks for reading!

Ricky said...

you suck, i didnt get to go bowling because i had to work. lol

Sparky said...

i indulge, but not too much. i figure it's all ok in moderation, so while i dig in, if it's super greasy or fattening, i don't dig in as much as i could. although i do have a horrible weakness for chips and salsa and while you say that's not too bad, you should see me plow through an entire bag of milagro's chips ALL BY MYSELF. love you!

Larissa said...

Sparky, thanks for reading and commenting! Yes, there is a happy medium in everything. I find it harder to indulge since I've gotten older. Most of it is knowing how to listen to my body, but some of it definitely has to do with the guilt that comes with being an adult...thanks again!