In which our Heroine eats Vegetables in front of other People
There are only two words for me these days: Food Snob. First off, I found a lovely looking recipe for homemade cranberry sauce for Thanksgiving dinner and decided that would be my great offering at the dinner table this year—whether anyone wanted it or not. As I plugged away at the hour-long process of slowly cooking up pears, soaking cranberries until they popped!, and thinly slicing ginger root, I thought non-stop of how utterly wrong it is that something as potentially beautiful and delicious as home-made cranberry sauce should morph over the years into the molded lump of dull red that slithers out of the can each year during our commemorative meal of bounty. “When,” I thought, “did it become traditional to slice up a jelly that still has the pattern from the can quivering on its surface?” (The other and probably less intact side of my brain decided it must have been the Beef Wellington years at the Kennedy White-house. I have no support for this reason, but some random part of me regards Jackie O as important enough to have influenced decades-worth of Betty Crocker pictures of the Thanksgiving spread in America.) Seriously though, it was my first time ever experiencing cranberry sauce NOT from the can.
In addition, last week I was at a meeting with some other people during the lunch hour. The friend who was sitting across from me pulled out one of those highly processed peanut butter and jelly sandwiches that you get in huge frozen boxes at Costco. Its familiar packaged yumminess called out to me as she broke the seal on the bag and pulled its unnatural white oval shape out and proceeded to eat it. Earlier she had found a baggie of leftover Halloween candy in her capacious mommy bag. This is how she began her lunch, but the PBJ sandwich was the real headliner for her meal. Even with the sight of such ambrosia before my eyes, I held firm (mostly because I had to) and pulled out my own lunch bag. Unfortunately, I made the mistake of setting it on the vacant seat next to me. Over the course of the next few minutes I saw every person’s eyes flick over and settle on my brightly colored and see-through plastic bag. Honestly, its like I was showing my knickers or something, for all the shame I felt at being so openly healthy.
And open I was. There is a bit of the devil in me at times like this. I began with the humble but vivid red-yellow apple, next turning to the perfect green of my crunchy celery stick. I also had exactly one long and perfectly tapered carrot, which was of course bright orange because they never come any other way. It was the fresh green beans that did it. Velvety green and looking like they’d just come out of my mom’s garden, I’d just begun on the pile when my friend interrupted the conversation to say, “Wait—is that a green bean?” as if it were an alien life-form. Realizing her own mistake at sounding food-snobbish, she quickly added, “Its just that I’ve never seen anyone eat them raw like that before.” Feeling pity, I explained that this is how they come out of the garden. Then, to add insult to probable injury, I added, “And they are all organic too.”
It’s possible that I went too far by peeling my luscious oranges just then. Juices squirted out from under my fingers, permeating the air with a tang that you just can’t process in a factory or shelve in a supermarket. Oh! The smell of a good piece of citrus is mouth-watering, isn’t it? Is there any other word for me at that moment? No. Loud and clear: FOOD SNOB!!!
No, I am not eating perfectly. When I’m tired, I still pull out the easy food. I figure that if I’m tired and headachy enough to practically feel the cancer growing, then it is probably okay to just eat a microwave burrito. But I’m trying, and most of the time I am eating WAY BETTER than before the cancer. I tell you that I feel so much better! My big realization for the day is that healthy food is called healthy for a reason: it gives you health! (I know, my rocket-science is astonishing). By the way, as you read the health line, you should be picturing strong biceps, like this:
I’d like to muster the proper amount of offended-ness from the PBJ vs. green bean face-off, but my somewhat-intact memory tugs at me, gently reminding me of my own past food snobbery—times when I may have been stupid enough to say something like, “Man, you gotta live… How can you eat that stuff all the time? Mmmmnmmn… (satisfied smacking sounds) All those vegetables are nothing compared to this luscious cheese-cake…”