There’s trouble afoot at my house. My wife, always a careful and healthy eater, has eliminated all meat from her diet. She’s an animal lover, almost to the point of fanaticism, and has decided that you can’t claim to truly love them while continuing to eat them. I disagree; I am an animal lover as well (more so before they took over my home), partly because so many of them taste delicious. It’s bad enough that I have to do the hunting (by “hunting” I mean perusing the meat department at the grocery store); now, if I want to enjoy some deliciously seasoned, charred flesh, I have to cook it as well. The extra effort required to sate my meat tooth (I don’t have a sweet tooth) has drastically reduced my protein intake to unprecedented and dangerously low levels. On more than one occasion I’ve found myself on the couch, eyeing a sleeping cat…and then having to change my shirt.
The problem has been compounded by other family members as well. My only child still at home is my youngest, almost eighteen. Always athletic, she’s into P90X (just watching the video makes me sore) and has drastically changed her eating habits as part of the program. My son (and fellow carnivore) moved out late last year and he’s a fitness weirdo himself; I’ve lost my only food ally. Our oldest daughter graduated with a degree in Nutritional Science and I can hear her admonishment in my head whenever I’m considering a questionable dietary choice (she should talk louder). It seems whenever I open my refrigerator nowadays, all I see is green stuff (we really should clean it sometime). I like salad as much as the next guy, but it’s supposed to be a setup for better things to come; at my house, it’s fast becoming the headliner and there’s often nothing else in the offing. To me, food is not only to enrich the body, but to feed the soul as well. While my body will likely benefit from ingesting that which God intended for it, my soul is hurting. Bad. What good is an extra ten years of life (my dad always said “Who cares? It’s the last ten.”) if you’re miserable? Few could argue that happy people tend to live longer or, at the very least, better.
I’ve read a few blogs about food, recipes and meal plans ( Susartandfood is a good one; she writes on any number of topics, then offers a new recipe at the end of every post). I figure if they can do it, so can I. Heck, just by looking at me one can tell I’m no novice when it comes to eating (there’s an air about me). If you agree with me that a happy choice is better than a healthy one, or if you think that’s a ridiculous notion and need some proof of my stupidity, I offer you now My Top Ten Meal Plans for a Healthy Soul:
1) Moons Over My Hammy, Denny’s Restaurant (No, I’m not making any of this stuff myself). Start your day with an arterial assault of scrambled eggs topped with sliced ham, covered in yellow, melted mystery cheese, slapped onto buttered sourdough toast and slathered in a ridiculous name.
2) Double Meat With Cheese, Whataburger. For lunch, distort your profile with two “beef” patties, two slices of processed american cheese, a withered flap of iceberg lettuce, some chopped onions and two Auschwitz-inspired tomato slices between two grease and mustard-saturated buns. The presentation is often lacking (the actual burger looks like the one in the picture fell from a third story window and got run over), but the taste and resultant nap are both unforgettable.
3) Wienerschnitzel, German delicacy. No, not the hot dog, dummy; this is a veal or pork cutlet (I prefer pork; what they do to those poor baby cows is abhorrent by any standard) pounded thin, breaded and fried. Squeeze lemon juice on it; unbelievable. The Germans don’t often get food right, but the first Lederhoser who chopped up a pig, beat the cutlet to a near-flattened quarter-inch, threw it into some beaten eggs, rolled it in seasoned breading and dropped it into hot oil was ein genius. Hey, I just provided the recipe; try it sometime.
4) KFC Extra Crispy, Kentucky Fried Chicken. Unsuspecting poultry decapitated, cut into parts, dunked into a secret, amazing seasoned batter and plopped into a deep fryer. Crunchy and salty on the outside, tender and nearly perfect in every way on the inside (sounds like me), and only 510 calories per breast (doesn’t sound like me). Wait…510…that’s a lot, isn’t it?
5) Roast Beef and Gorgonzola and Potato Cream Cheese Soup, Wildflower Bread Company. Wildflower is one of those pretentious eateries that provide the illusion that eating there is eating healthy. No matter; the illusion is enough for me. The sandwich and soup combined come in at just under 1100 delicious calories. If I were Bill Gates wealthy, I’d have my knaves keep a spa full of this decadent soup at the ready, so I could take a dip every day.
6) Nockerln, German origin. Unbelievably, the Germans have done it again. While there are variations, the version I grew up with are globs of batter containing flour, salt and eggs and dropped into boiling water. These doughy “balls” are then served with heavy pork gravy. Salty, delicious, decidedly unhealthy and quickly expansive when mixed with stomach fluids, they are, apparently, not for everyone: my wife and children don’t care for them. I only get them once a year, when my side of the family meets on Christmas Eve. It truly is “the most wonderful time of the year.”
7) The T-Bone or Ribeye Steak, I Don’t Care Where From. My two favorite cuts of dead cow, slathered in A-1 Steak Sauce, will be part of my last meal should I be convicted of murder, sent to death row and eventually executed or, in any other circumstance, lucky enough to know in advance when my last meal will be.
8) The Breakfast Sampler, IHOP. Finally, now when the waitress asks “Bacon, Ham or Sausage?”, I can answer “Yes.” Add two eggs, two pancakes and hash browns, and that almost painfully distended, yet strangely contented feeling I usually have only at Thanksgiving is virtually assured. Best of all, you can have it any time you want. Breakfast for Dinner is one of my favorites, just behind Dinner for Breakfast.
9) Rex’s Revenge, Beyond Bread. Thick-cut Turkey Breast with Caesar’s dressing on focaccia bread. Only slightly less delicious is the eleven pieces of free bread and butter I eat while waiting to order. Truly one of the few places where I don’t resent and not-so-secretly despise all others in line ahead of me.
10) Chorizo Burrito, Various Local Mexican Eateries. Delicious pig brains, intestines and tripe scraped from the slaughterhouse floor and formed into sausage, fried with potatos and cheese and wrapped inside a large tortilla. I once swerved across two lanes and nearly crossed a median into oncoming traffic because my wrist, covered in red grease from the chorizo burrito I held, slid off the steering wheel. If intestinal issues occur after eating too much of numbers 1-9, this offering is guaranteed to cleanse the system within six to eight hours, often in dramatic and explosive fashion.
My family loves me; I know this because they all try to convince me to eat “better.” They apparently fail to remember that this top ten helped to make me the happy, contented, carefree guy I am today. Take away the food that feeds and nurtures my soul, and lose the lovable husband and father who moseys adorably (and painfully) about the house in t-shirt and boxers each weekend morning, who recognizes that mirrors are to be avoided, as they serve only to foster vanity and self-involvement, and who cleverly sees the folly and potential risk of bending over to pick up anything less than a dollar. Sure, I could be made to join the grazers, but my happiness, and ultimately my health, would suffer for it.