On Nutrition

What did you have for dinner?

I had a piece of marinated and grilled steak, grilled asparagus, green salad, papaya, and white wine. I should have had red wine, but I did not have any, and now I want chocolate mousse, but I do not have any. I am eating a bad Camembert.

Some of my favorite desserts, however, are miso soup with seaweed and tofu, steamed spring rolls, and sushi.

Last night I had chicken legs stuffed with onions and green peppers, and green salad with tomatoes. I had two entire chicken legs. I had not planned on that, but when I bit into the first one, I realized how hungry I was and knew that the second one was a goner.

I was too full after that. I would have done better to boil some egg noodles to go with that first chicken leg.

Which leads me to my question: do you who eat meat, plan balanced meals? I do not, but I am planning to begin. When I was a very small child, our dinner was: meat, fish, or fowl; shell macaroni or lima beans; a green vegetable; green salad. Then we moved up to meat and green salad only.

This was for a number of reasons but I believe we were in part celebrating not being in the Depression or in World War II, eras in which one could not have gotten hold of so much meat. I still tend to cook this way since it is Very Easy — you make the salad while the meat grills, and there you are.

However, I note that I feel much better if I cut down on the meat — way down — and eat one or two green vegetables and let us say, some brown rice. And fizzy water, green tea and miso soup do me far more good than do milk, juice, beer, or wine.

I feel heretical saying this — that I would reduce meat quantities and eat brown rice. I appear to have learned that not to be grateful for all the meat and dairy products is not to empathize with those who missed these items in the Depression, and had them rationed in the War.

Still I ask: am I the only one who, on just meat and salad, is either too full or too hungry?


29 thoughts on “On Nutrition

  1. Every once in a while I have to have a big steak. Every once in a while I need to eat a lot of pasta. I avoid all salty foods. I love cheese but now favor yogurt and low salt cheeses like mozzarella. Plenty of fruits and vegetables and big salads. Little or no bread. Rice or potatoes sometimes. Very few sweets and desserts. No more than one drink a day.

    I don’t worry or care about my weight. At my age, 71, that is an exercise in futility and probably dangerous as well.

  2. I am addicted to apples and these crackers called Ak-Mak. http://www.akmakbakeries.com/, and I wish we had more and better fruits and vegetables here than we do.

    Do you remember all the meat and dairy products that were pushed in the earlyish 60s? It was beyond belief by today’s standards (I think). Is it true, people were still compensating for not having had many of these during WWII (that’s what I was told back then)?

  3. We tend to eat like Californians– one dish meals with some meat, but only as an ingredient, not as the majority of the meal. Fresh veggies year round are also something the early boomers got that their predecessors didn’t. So there are many ways to celebrate.

    I skipped dinner because I had too much lunch, but the family had our last precious bottle of TJ’s red curry sauce with a cut up cooked chicken breast and mixed veggies over mixed brown rice.

    1. This is interesting — I didn’t realize there was a single California style any more. We didn’t have fresh vegetables year round when I was a child (I’m from Santa Barbara), they were all frozen. There was fresh fruit and lettuce, better than what one can get now, but I saw my first fresh vegetables in the seventies! I remember amazing fish, more amazing than now.

      Avocado and grapefruit salad with vinaigrette…
      Tomato and avocado salad with vinaigrette…
      these were both big. When you got them with a grilled fish it was very good.

      (Crab Louies were big, too, when I was really young, and also a lot of salad dressings with mayonnaise in them, and steaks and baked potatoes and gin. And clam chowder.)

      1. Frozen counts! And bananas…

        There isn’t a single Californian style, but they tend to add meat as an ingredient rather than the standard meat and two veg (where one veg is actually a carb) all separate like you get in much of the rest of the country. And the meat to veg ratio is much smaller. Not always, but it’s something I took for granted (parents are Californians) and my midwestern friends learned to do when they moved to CA.

        It’s possibly because produce is less expensive and meat more expensive (relative to veg) in CA than in much of the rest of the country.

        I was briefly in Santa Barbara during the 80s when my mom was teaching there. We ate a lot of frozen veggies and fresh seafood then too.

  4. During the war we ate beans, rice, salad and eggs, mostly. We could not get spices or butter. We ate margarine that we had to color ourselves with a packet of dye. I suppose we got milk and cheese with our ration stamps, although I don’t really remember. Certainly, we did not go hungry.
    After the war my father was an accountant for a meat packing company in San Francisco called Moffatt’s Manteca Fed Beef. He got a lot of free meat as a perk of his job. We got sick of filet mignon and pork chops were a treat.

    1. Manteca Fed Beef, I remember it or at least remember it being referred to! My mother was born in 1925. Being a teenager in the war, without meat or butter, made a very great impression upon her and that is why we have so much of both up until today. Yet it seems it wasn’t just her — it was the era — there were huge amounts of propaganda in the schools, in favor of consuming large amounts of meat, milk, and ice cream. It was alleged that ice cream built healthy bones!

      1. I tried to buy sake recently, but ended up buying Korean soju. It doesn’t particularly agree with me, I find. I do find that I need to drink rather heavily whenever I have to process my thoughts, otherwise repression intervenes and I don’t find out what I am thinking, which is bad all ’round. Sauvignon blanc seems my safest bet, then.

        Apart from that, pork fat seems to serve me very well for a general sense of well-being. Lamb fat is also very fine, if salted adequately.

  5. @Jennifer, then I should go out and buy wine … I’ve only got beer and it just doesn’t do the trick of sending one into another, more ethereal world.

    @NicoleandMaggie, AHA I see — I’ve never lived in the regular US so I didn’t know about this. Here in Louisiana it’s soups and stews and meat is an ingredient not the main thing, unless you go to an outright steak house or something.

    1. And – it’s true about the less expensive produce and more expensive meat in CA. VERY expensive here to eat a CA type menu.

  6. Thanks for writing a review of my book. I now have a new cover and all sorts of crazy ****. Kind of a resolution included, visually, with the revisit to Africa that was promised in the final paragraph — and new photos to represent this. Serendipity. Ah, me. All three examiners said my PhD was important and original. Still, I have work to do for the next few weeks.

    Or so.

  7. Well, that’s a comment, not a review, I still owe you a review! Excellent on the examiners, and they’re right! 🙂

    1. I will send you one of the new copies to look at. Ultimately this book will get an overall slight edit, to shine it up to a more commercial level. But I can’t afford to do that at the moment, and I am remarketing it as underground, or rather, “experimental”.

      What really shocks me is that I thought everyone thought experimentally about their lives, but the more I look around me, the more I see that this is not true.

      I think it helps to clarify in one’s mind where one is coming from, because if others approach an experimental work as if it were a more conventional work, then they are likely to levy criticisms to the effect that the item does not live up to expectations for the genre.

      Now that I am free from having to deal with PhD theorising, my mind is clearer to address some of the issues that were bothering me in the past several years. One of them has been the tendency by some to misread my memoir as if it were not written somewhat ironically. Even I began to see it as straight-forward, non-ironic writing, through the eyes of others. And I did feel uncomfortable about that, as if something fundamental regarding my intentions had been twisted out of shape. At the same time, I was unable to stop and think because I had to address issues concerning my PhD.

      Like everything else, this issue of how to read a women’s memoir is largely a matter of the application of patriarchal lenses. Women are childish, and children, particularly, are childish, and hence, to write as a child-woman is not, and cannot be, ever ironic.

      Really, I see what I have written, and part of me concurs. How can what is self-evidently true (under the patriarchy) be seen in a false light — thus permitting the entrance of irony?

      I think I am very much at odds with my anglo-saxon culture and its literalism. Really, I declare myself French. There are too many people in this culture who have told me I am saying something very different from what I have said.

      1. It will be good to see! Merci!

        No, most people definitely do not think of their lives experimentally. They think about finding a niche.

      2. Really, I think that sums up a core misunderstanding — even in the way I have come to misunderstand myself when I lose touch with what I have been thinking. There is the idea that the purpose of one’s life should be solely to seek equilibrium, and that a failure to find such equilibrium is indication that one’s whole life has been a failure. But rarely is the thought entertained that the goal of one’s life need not necessarily be equilibrium. (One seeks a certain degree of it, of course, but that does not mean it becomes one’s goal.)

        What makes this whole conservatism of belief even harder to oppose is the almost universal insistence that one should speak from a point of view that is already defined by social (and hence, psychological) equilibrium. Otherwise one is seen to be saying exactly nothing.

      3. I also realise that I have gone incredibly easy on the patriarchy in my memoir. This is because most people — men and women — are patriarchal. It is not a good idea to suddenly shock them with too much of the truth. Rather, they have to be brought to examine their condition slowly — very gradually — or they could fall back into false optimism as a result of cognitive dissonance or die of shock.

        So, I have deliberately withheld much of the truth from them — truth which must some time see the light of day.

        Here is a more straight-forward and less edited version of reality:

        It has to do with my father’s sexism. I believe that when he first noticed my body start to develop into a more womanly look (actually whilst I was cantering on horse back), he lost his emotional equilibrium. It must have been difficult for someone as repressed as he is. Anyway, from that point on, he began to treat me as if I were emotional slosh, as if I had nothing to say, or nothing worth hearing. So, I learned to repeat myself a lot, judging that if I kept saying the same thing, it would eventually sink in somehow.

        My father’s attitude towards life, to this day, seems to be that men cannot have emotions, only women can have them. At the same time he believes that women can have no intellect, only emotions. This seems to me to be a very strange way he has invented in order to get rid of his uncomfortable emotions.

      1. All of this is true. And it’s the essence of Reeducation and its discontents!

  8. California. Style. An oxymoron? It’s mostly phony-baloney stuff perpetrated by people desperate to make a buck. Which is about everyone these days!

    1. I think what is meant is actually Alice Waters / Jeremiah Tower influenced food.

      Traditional foods of CA were Spanish/Mexican and Chinese/Japanese and New England, back in my day, plus all the produce, with Italian and Russian pockets. Now there’s a lot more French and general gourmet influence, from what I can tell.

      I was impressed by the food in Kentucky. Lots of beautiful vegetables, done well and not boringly, meat nicely done but not too much of it.

      1. In Zimbabwe, Chipo washed my hands in fire-heated water, before offering me a large plate of sadza (to be eaten by hand) with an ample meat serving.

  9. From above — people don’t realize about patriarchy, that’s for sure. This includes many official feminists.

    On food, I’ve bought more of those onion and pepper stuffed chicken pieces, I can’t resist. I am not sure why they are so good. They have pork-stuffed ones, too!

      1. Yes — moralizing and being fashionable, or being feminist in their theoretical research but not in their life, etc.

        We are sitting here and feeling conservative, I and the neighbor who is a gay Black man. We are feeling conservative because in the commune across the street there is polyamory and blended families (i.e. children with two mothers who are a couple and a father who really was just the sperm donor but is in love with the mother who actually had the child and is considered part of the family), and we don’t see liberation in it but confusion and exploitation, and it doesn’t seem advanced to us but rather retrograde, as in the type of mayhem in which the upper classes engage and also the out of control random mall people of the type who appear on the Jerry Springer show or Judge Judy. I know we’d be told we were just conservative and prejudiced to have these reactions but I don’t think we are.

  10. P.S. My actual date of birth is in the late 50s, and my parents were born in the 20s.

    I seem to have absorbed the idea — although this was never articulated as such — that people had fought and died so we could overconsume buttered steaks and whole milk. I absorbed this both at school and at home.

    That is why I felt guilty about not feeling well on that diet. Did anyone else from my era get “ideologized” in the same way about the duty to feel grateful for this plethora of cheap, industrialized meat and dairy products?

  11. I truly feel guilty about not being more heavily meat/milk oriented, and am getting the idea that it’s something about my family in particular, rather than my generation.

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