Friday, June 17, 2005

Do I Look Fat?

It’s a relief to be out of the restaurant business. I don’t miss the high blood pressure one bit. I’m still in the food business, it would be impossible for me to stay away from food for any length of time. Once a foodie, always a foodie. It’s hereditary I think, when my family sits down to eat together, our food is still warm on our plates when we begin to plan the next meal. It’s an Italian thing, dinner to Italians is like a sacrament, the moment the meal reaches the table, a silence descends and all conversation halts. For the first ten minutes of the meal, the only human sounds one can hear are basic guttural noises, like Uhmmmmm, and oohh, the clicking of forks on plates and sounds of contentment. Near the end of the meal, someone will speak, usually asking for more bread and olive oil, or maybe it’s me, eyeing a sibling’s plate where a couple of goat cheese ravioli remain untouched, ( it annoys me to see pasta uneaten) and the whole table will hear me say, “Hey! You gonna eat that or what?”

I get really South Side when I’m around my family.

Anyway, like I was saying, I’m out of the restaurant business, but not out of the food business. I work in a specialty food store, and all day I am surrounded by fabulous pastries, fresh seafood, imports of all kinds, things that you can’t find at the grocery store. I try to maintain a healthy weight, (by healthy I figure that it’s at least 10 pounds over what my doctor tells me I should weigh, cause who wants to be a skinny bitch? Skinny bitches are no fun to hang out with because no matter where you want to go for dinner, they always end up eating something sensible and they never want to order dessert, so there is no sharing of every exotic item on the dessert menu. No one likes to date a skinny bitch, because they are always wanting to do things like running, or rock climbing. You get halfway up the rock, and realize that on top of this uninteresting mountain, they don’t even have a 7-11, all that exertion and no food afterwards. And I’m telling you right now, no one wants to sleep with a skinny bitch, cause there’s nothing to hold onto, it’s like f-ing a broomstick, what fun is that?!!). It’s always a struggle for me to maintain my weight, since my work is food, a good part of my waking moments are spent buying, selling, and tasting food. I’m a pretty good sales person, when I am answering a question a customer has about oh say, White Chocolate Ganache with Pistachios and Raspberries, I get totally Italian about it, my eyes get big, my arms start to wave in the air, and the customer buys two of them. My store is full of people just like me, we love food, and we are enthusiastic about our work. It’s a tough job, but someone has to do it.

My doctor doesn’t understand my love of food. She’s from some Southeast Asian country, where they don’t have any. She’s a great doctor, she give me good drugs weather I need them or not, but she is kind of bossy. She has a voice like Margaret Cho’s mother, and as soon as I weigh in and have my blood pressure taken, she’s in my face with Mrs Cho’s voice saying,

“You so FAT! Why YOU SO FAT? WHAT YOU EAT?”

I don’t really think of myself as fat, but compared to her tiny frame, I guess I could be considered slightly overweight. My doctor is four feet tall and she weighs maybe 85 pounds. Jeez, I’m only a size ten, that’s not so bad. I mean, in the US, that’s considered average. I’m only considered fat in some third world country where the only thing to eat is rice and soybeans. Or in Paris, where the skinny bitches get to eat French pastry every day and not gain a pound. So what’s the problem? Doctor Cho is waiting for me to tell her what I’ve been eating, so I try to think about it.

Hmmnn…for breakfast, I had a pear and a cup of Wake the F UP coffee, but no half and half, and only a Sweet and Low. When I got to work, the Cheese Lady was all excited about the 6 year old Vermont Cheddar (she was waving her arms and jumping up and down), and she made me taste some, and I did, and it was fabulous, and then she encouraged me to have another taste, because it was really expensive, and she would not be giving it away again. So I ate a huge chunk, it was heavenly, and you really can’t tell from the first taste anyway, right? Then the Candy Lady cornered me wanting me to try the new chocolate from some micro chocolate producer in a tiny village in Switzerland. I tried to avoid it, but to avoid chocolate is just wrong, especially when the Candy Lady is waving it under your nose like some sweet smelling salts that will bring you back to life.

The chocolate was to die for.

I hid in the office for an hour, doing some payroll work, but soon had to intervene in a catering crisis. The kitchen had prepared a tray of sliced avocados way too early, and they were beginning to oxidize. The client was Mrs. Lascariest, who owns almost all of Mexico City, and a couple of good sized counties in Texas. If we sent the avocado tray to her house beginning to look brown, I would almost certainly have to spend at least an hour on the phone apologizing for the unforgivable mistake, and if I didn’t apologize just right, I would probably have to give her a huge discount just to get her off the phone. I decided that we needed new avocados, and we would leave the skin on, and garnish the hell out of the tray to make it look presentable. We did just that, but I was left with thirty pounds of avocados that were perfectly ripe, and just sitting there on the catering table, getting riper. I did what any foodie would do with ripe avocados, I made guacamole. I didn’t use a recipe, so I had to season it to taste. I didn’t get it quite right on the first try, I had to squeeze in a couple of limes and minced cilantro, but after several tastes, it turned out just right.

I went back in the office and I realized that I hadn’t eaten lunch! I wasn’t very hungry, so I ate a salad with blue cheese and Mandarin oranges with Citrus Vinaigrette. Very sensible. I went back to inputting payroll, but soon after I began, there was another crisis that needed my attention. The cooler in the bakery was running warm, and the pastry chef was worried about the quality of the Triple Chocolate Banana Tart. She brought a big slice with a spoon and set it right on my desk. I took a bite and thought it was just fine, but since I had taken a bite already, we couldn’t sell it, and I was forced to eat the whole thing!

Did I say that my job was tough?

My doctor was studying my face as I was thinking about the Triple Chocolate Banana Tart. I think my eyes got big, and I began to smile as if I were in a dream. She wrote furiously on her prescription pad and barked,

“No Chocolate! You too fat! You eat Chocolate, You DIE!”

Die? From Chocolate? Is that possible?

There are worse ways to go.

4 Comments:

Blogger TV Junkie said...

Good Grief, I'm so frikkin' hungry now! I'm on a diet every single day of my life - and I'm still a good 40 pounds overweight. But now? I'm hungry. Damn triple chocolate banana tart. *&^%^%*(

9:13 PM  
Blogger Neil said...

I could not last a week in your job. But maybe one day... that might be just what I need.

Neil

9:38 AM  
Blogger Freed from evil said...

I saw your picture below, no you don't look the least bit fat!! Boy, I wish I looked that good!

8:47 PM  
Blogger Polisci101 said...

Hey, love the post, cause I love Italian Food. There's none better. It's comfort food exponential. I am from the tri-state metropolitan area, so I feel blessed that I'm surrounded by lots of Italians who learned how to cook authentic italian from their grandmothers. I've head home made Pesto sauce and Mannicotti [pronounced man-ee-gott] that would make your brains melt. Yum!
I like watching Giada DeLaurentis on the food network. [I call her the 'skinny guinea'], but she makes great stuff none the less. I felt like I had to find a skinny b*tch who seems to love to eat too. ;)
I was wondering if you were born and raised in the area you currently cook and eat in, and if it was difficult to find really good authentic Italian. Because ya know, I love my friends, but some of the non-Italians would recommend the "Olive Garden" for Italian food, and to me that's sacrilege...

10:53 AM  

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