Eat First, Ask What It is Later

Note: This post is excerpted from a letter, entitled One Saturday Morning,  I wrote to friends on February 22, 1999. It was originally posted several years ago, but vanished from the Poobah archives because of the incompetence of my former web host. Welcome back.

Dear Correspondents,

The sky is low and gray and the temperature, at least by California standards, is frigid. Maybe 45 or 50 degrees. I awoke early enough this morning to indulge myself with a little reading and a wonderful breakfast.

Food Face

BON APPITITE - When you eat anything except rocks and calf's liver the world become one huge grocery store.

My current read is “The Man Who Ate Everything – And Other Gastronomic Feats, Disputes, and Pleasurable Pursuits”, by Jeffrey Steingarten.

Steingarten, whose original job was improbably as a lawyer was appointed food critic of Vogue magazine. (He never explains specifically how he made the jump, but it certainly seems like a move in the right direction if you ask me.) When he was appointed, he found that he had numerous food aversions – not a career-building trait in a food critic. The book is the story of how he learned to eat nearly everything. It seems a redundant tale for someone like me who never saw a food he didn’t like, but it is a good read nonetheless.

For me, the world is a gigantic grocery store. When I go to zoos I don’t think of the beauty of the animal on the hoof, but rather how it might look roasted, on a plate, and surrounded by tender baby carrots and squash. I don’t view those National Geographic travelogues about boys hunting monkey with blowguns so much as adventures as narrated serving suggestions.

I eat anything except rocks and calf’s liver – and I’ve even consumed two wonderful portions of the latter before. I am an omnivore. I’m a highly-developed example of millions of years of successful breeding, producing a specimen who can gain weight in any climate or condition on earth – so long as there is something to eat other than rocks and calf’s liver.

Darwin would be proud I’m sure.

After reading a chapter on surviving on a subsistence diet (which inexplicably included recipes for perfumed rice with lamb and lentils and Swiss chard and bean soup with ricotta toasts), I got hungry and made breakfast. I scrambled up some delicious eggs with bits of Jarlsberg cheese, a touch of cumin, a light dusting of garlic powder, and some chives. As accompaniment I prepared a small bowl of fresh cantaloupe and strawberries, some buttered whole wheat toast, and some aromatic French roast coffee (made with a pinch of salt added before brewing). I savored every bite.

Now I’m floating around on a full belly, quite content, and intensely interested in food. I think I’ll have to spend the rest of the day watching cooking shows on PBS. This, in turn, will lead to an orgy of cooking this afternoon and a full belly tonight. Satisfying, but not healthy. Oh well, better to die with a smile on my face and a full belly, than hungry and pissed because I missed a good meal.

Your Omnipotence,

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