Happy New Year, everyone! Time for us all to purge ourselves of our bad eating and exercise habits and be healthful again for a couple of weeks. Join a gym. Buy a blender and start making smoothies with chia seeds and spinach. Swear off ranch dressing and swear off red-velvet waffles. Consume only “lite” beer. Buy the olive oil version of your favorite mayonnaise.
You might wistfully eat those last three pieces of candy from the Whitman’s sampler – you know, the ones you didn’t really like to begin with, but since you know you won’t be having any chocolates for awhile that weird jelly-filled one starts to look pretty good. I mean, let’s face it: that map of shapes and flavors in the box top is there for a reason. Now, my brother and I used to throw away the guide and play “Whitman’s Roulette” for fun from time to time, but the real order of business is maple and orange creams first, hideous jelly-filled last. And by the way, that ain’t jelly. It’s something that’s gelled, but doesn’t resemble anything I’d put on toast or a bagel.
And no more toast or bagels, lest you be tempted by butter or cream cheese.
Many decadent foods are equated with sinning. Devil’s-food cake, just an innocent dark chocolate cake named after a demon. Foie gras (there’s a whole debate about the morality of this goose liver delicacy) is delicious. I’ll never forget the first time I tasted it in culinary school, with apricot preserves.
Calf’s liver is a nutrient-rich food but it has a bad reputation, as it’s harvested from young bovines. Try it with blackberry demi-glace and giant Peruvian lima beans and get back to me.
I find that people get pretty worked up about veal and goose livers and such but completely ignore what happens in your standard beef production facility or massive poultry or pork farm. Do you know where those dinosaur-shaped chicken nuggets you’re feeding to your 3-year-old come from? How about that bacon you and I love so much? Had an Egg McMuffin lately? Delightful. But where does the egg come from, and where are they sourcing the “lean” Canadian bacon from? You and I don’t know. We could probably find out, but we’re not bothering.
Everything in moderation, people, including moderation. Have one molten lava black forest cupcake a month instead of 12 low-cal chocolate Snackwells packed with chemicals. Have one pork belly appetizer a month rather than 24 strips of turkey “bacon.” Go ahead with your chia seed and spinach smoothie; that’s probably really good for you as many days as you can get up the energy to make it and drink it. Eat lots of eggs, as they are the perfect protein, but try to get them from a farmers’ market or someplace that sells free-range chicken eggs, rather than a farm-factory. Pro tip: I love brown eggs, even if there’s no clear evidence that brown is better. Anyway, this only goes for chickens who aren’t raised in factories.
Enjoy red meat, but limit it to a few times a month. Try to eat more seafood, but pay attention to sustainable fishing records. It’s a lot of work to keep up with all this stuff, but it’s worth it for the environment and for your conscience.
Please – give yourself a break once in awhile. It’s okay to have three Jolly Ranchers from a co-worker’s desk bowl, and it’s okay to have one waffle cone full of salted caramel ice cream every now and then. Don’t beat yourself up when you sin but also don’t eat the entire can of Pringles – that’ll make you feel bad and also you’ll get that weird wrist abrasion from the bottom-of-the-can reach. Unless you’re crafty and pour them out into a bowl.
And go ahead and buy that Whitman’s sampler for 50 percent off. You can save it until Valentine’s Day and pawn those horrid jelly-filled ones off on someone you don’t love so much, while you enjoy the sweet, sweet maple nougat-filled chocolates. Save the orange creams for me.
Marsha Lynch has worked at many Louisville independent restaurants including Limestone, Jack Fry’s, Jarfi’s, L&N Wine Bar and Bistro, Café Lou Lou, Marketplace @ Theater Square, Fontleroy’s and Harvest.