When I write about me and food I want to put my best foot forward. Or the foot that everyone, a grand and undefined internet everyone, thinks is my best. I presume that people who read my blog are interested in the scratch habits I have, and so I generally stick to writing about them. I write about pancakes, and compulsive canning, and pickling kohlrabi. I write about cooking gigantic meals for herds of people, and prepping herds of greens I’ve wrestled from the garden to the bathtub, pausing for a quick dip in boiling water on their way to the freezer.
I do not write about the supermarket staples I rely upon.
Like a crutch? No, like a semi-sane person living in the 21st century.
Here are the kitchen truths I never want to tell:
- I eat cheap tortillas that practice a don’t-ask/don’t tell policy on GMOs on their packaging. Their redemption is that they don’t have lard.
- I eat an Erie Canal’s worth of block cheddar from Cabot each year. They only recently started labeling this with No Artificial Growth Hormones.
- My baking butter is Cabot, and that is still not labeled No Artificial Growth Hormones.
- My eating butter is Kate’s, which must be a gigantic operation if they can get butter from Maine to me.
- I am an irregular purchaser of the best milk I want to buy. Every once in a while I will read about hormones and plastic and recommit myself to the cause of hormone-free, unhomogenized milk in glass bottles, but I cannot always get to Honest Weight to get that milk from Meadowbrook. I often have Stewart’s milk in the fridge, and they have that don’t ask/don’t tell policy on rGbh.
- I buy plenty of non-organic food, including salami.
- I am very fond of miniature hot dogs, especially the ones at Famous Lunch.
- I also love chicken wings. They are best at the Ale House.
- I am a huge fan of Flying Chicken’s biscuits, fried chicken, and red beans and rice.
I have a leg that is made of quesadillas because we eat them for lunch and snacks. Sometimes we eat grilled cheese instead of quesadillas. But cheese plus starch is a standard around here.
Is this ideal? I am not even sure what ideal eating looks like to me. Would I buy better quality food if I had extra money? Would I skip the cheese plus starch shortcuts if I had more time, or gave more time to chopping vegetables and cooking whole foods? I doubt it.
I am dubious about ideals, because they can lead to dogma, which is dangerous stuff.
Many years ago, as my son Francis was learning to read, he took every box of cereal and crackers out of the cupboard at my parents’ house and read the ingredients. High fructose corn syrup! Hydrogenated oils! His surprise echoed my disapproval, and he condemned every single box of food he’d eaten at my mother’s.
I was mortified. How could the long-awaited skill of reading turn so sour? On the way home I tried to talk to him about talking about other people’s food. You have to be delicate about other people’s choices, I said. “Even if they’re poisoning themselves?” he asked.
I no longer know how I answered that question. But I do know it was a turning point in the way I talked and thought about food. My kid was reading packages, and he was reading my dogma. As much as I feared the ingredients I taught him to vilify, I didn’t want to alienate my family, or anyone else. Food is such a point of connection – I don’t want to burn human bridges.
So maybe I should take a page from myself and try not to burn the bridge between what I eat (lots of different things, not enough vegetables) and what I think I should eat (more vegetables and every single local food I can find). Hmm, I’ll give it a try.
*PHOTOGRAPHY NOTE: I’m illustrating my thoughts on realistic vs wishful eating with some idyllic pictures of summer vacation.