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I have been chuckling at this all day:

Which isn’t to say that I have anything against nutritionists. Especially fat nutritionists, and especially especially The Fat Nutritionist. But I still think those guys are on to something, here.

Despite what the title of this post might lead you to believe, the following link is not only entirely safe for work, but is also quite delightful:

Russian Haired Sausage

I guess you all know what is for dinner in the Ottermatic household tonight…

And from that same site, although probably of interest only to that tiny little slice of the Venn diagram where my readers and fans of Russian literature and film overlap, is a pictorial spread about people who go into the still irradiated Chernobyl disaster zone and play real-life “S.T.A.L.K.E.R.,” which is a video game, sure, but a video game based on a book by Boris and Arkady Strugatsky and film directed by Andrei Tarkovsky, all of which I find totally amazing for some reason. Probably low blood sugar.

ETA: First link is fixed! Sorry!

My friend L sent me this link to the Omnivore’s Hundred, and I love a meme, and I am really hungry right now (contemplating some vending machine carrot cake, L!!!! (she hates it when I do that)) so here we go. Bold what you’ve eaten and strike through what you would never eat.

1. Venison
2. Nettle tea
3. Huevos rancheros
4. Steak tartare

5. Crocodile [I have, however, eaten alligator.]
6. Black pudding
7. Cheese fondue
8. Carp
9. Borscht
10. Baba ghanoush
11. Calamari
12. Pho
13. PB&J sandwich
14. Aloo gobi
15. Hot dog from a street cart

16. Epoisses
17. Black truffle
18. Fruit wine made from something other than grapes
19. Steamed pork buns
20. Pistachio ice cream
21. Heirloom tomatoes
22. Fresh wild berries
23. Foie gras
[I actually don’t remember trying this but my husband assures me that I have, so okay.]
24. Rice and beans
25. Brawn, or head cheese
[I am counting this as a yes because over the course of my lifetime, I have easily eaten my weight in scrapple, which is a delicious regional variation of head cheese. RAPPA SCRAPPLE FOR EVA! ETA!!! Head cheese is actually more like souse meat than scrapple (which is more like liver pudding than head cheese) but as I’ve eaten souse meat, I shall leave number 25 as it is.]
26. Raw Scotch Bonnet pepper
27. Dulce de leche
28. Oysters
29. Baklava

30. Bagna cauda
31. Wasabi peas
32. Clam chowder in a sourdough bowl
33. Salted lassi
34. Sauerkraut
35. Root beer float

36. Cognac with a fat cigar [Never had them together!]
37. Clotted cream tea
38. Vodka jelly/Jell-O
39. Gumbo
40. Oxtail
41. Curried goat

42. Whole insects
43. Phaal
44. Goat’s milk
45. Malt whisky from a bottle worth £60/$120 or more
46. Fugu
47. Chicken tikka masala
48. Eel
49. Krispy Kreme original glazed doughnut
50. Sea urchin

51. Prickly pear
52. Umeboshi
53. Abalone
54. Paneer
55. McDonald’s Big Mac Meal
56. Spaetzle
57. Dirty gin martini
58. Beer above 8% ABV

59. Poutine [I’ve never had poutine but OMG do I ever want to try it. French fries, cheese curds, and gravy? Yes please.]
60. Carob chips
61. S’mores
62. Sweetbreads

63. Kaolin [I am crossing clay off this list in the hopes that I never have to it.]
64. Currywurst [BRING IT ON.]
65. Durian [Durian fruit is as bad, if not worse, than every terrible thing you have read or heard about it.]
66. Frogs’ legs [Animals I will never eat include: cats, dogs, frogs, turtles, and rabbits. If I’ve ever had it as a pet, or if it starred in a beloved children’s book I read, I won’t eat it. Arbitrary, but effective.]
67. Beignets, churros, elephant ears or funnel cake
68. Haggis
69. Fried plantain
70. Chitterlings, or andouillette
71. Gazpacho
72. Caviar and blini

73. Louche absinthe
74. Gjetost, or brunost
75. Roadkill [What can I say? I come from an area of the country where if you hit a deer, you take it home and dress it.]
76. Baijiu
77. Hostess Fruit Pie
78. Snail

79. Lapsang souchong
80. Bellini
81. Tom yum
82. Eggs Benedict
83. Pocky

84. Tasting menu at a three-Michelin-star restaurant. [I have enjoyed the tasting menu at Tru, but that’s as close as I’ve come.]
85. Kobe beef
86. Hare [Edit: MissPrism informs me in the comments that rabbit and hare are actually quite different, so I have un-bolded number 86. I also opted not to cross it out, since I’ve never had a hare as a pet and as such would probably eat one.]
87. Goulash
88. Flowers

89. Horse
90. Criollo chocolate
91. Spam
92. Soft shell crab

93. Rose harissa
94. Catfish
95. Mole poblano
96. Bagel and lox
97. Lobster Thermidor
98. Polenta
99. Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee
100. Snake

In a brief (three message) email exchange with a friend that contained the words “dinner” and “shame,” Gmail sponsored links presented me with these websites of possible interest:

10 Skinny Rules
I lost 9 lbs. in 11 days, just by following these 10 simple rules.
FatLoss4Idiots.com

Spasso Italian Grill
Old City’s Best Kept Secret Is Out! Affordable Italian Restaurant
http://www.SpassoItalianGrill.com

Kobe Japanese House

Great restaurants in Hickory Come in for a memorable meal
HickorysKobeJapanese.com
Dinner For Two

Dinner For Two Online.
Shop Target.com.
http://www.Target.com

Craving Pancakes?
Shave off fat and calories with these delicious food substitutions!
health.glam.com/savvy_food_swaps

Here’s a summary:

1. If you haven’t lost weight, you are an IDIOT because it is easy.

2. DELICIOUS FOOD!

3. EAT THINGS!

4. Eat things… that you buy on-line from Target? (Are they using their old funky popcorn as packing material or something?)

5. Wait no, if you must eat, eat FOOD SUBSTITUTES, but not real food even if you are craving pancakes.

Is that not dieting-induced neurosis in a nutshell???

I’m sick. Sick sick sick. I have a “cold,” which I put in quotes because the word “cold” does not do justice to my suffering, which is epic. Monumental. Exhausting. Phlegmy. My ears are clogged, so that the world takes on a distant, wrapped-in-cotton kind of feeling, like hangover fuzziness, but quieter. My nose is leaky. My chest is spasmodic. I sound like a drowning duck when I talk and an angry basset hound when I cough.

Eating is a chore, and not only because my clogged ears make chewing an unpleasant and deafening proposition, but because I am pretty sure I’m getting all of my daily caloric needs from the ever-present cough drop tucked between my cheek and gum. Eating food just doesn’t occur to me until some outside stimulus reminds me that, yeah, I should probably eat something. I guess. Let me finish my cough drop first.

The last time I was this sick was probably 2001 or 2002. The general symptomology was the same: onset with a ridiculous fever (this happened on Monday, and in my high-temperature state I got the idea that I really immediately needed to start live blogging Dancing with the Stars (which I had never even watched before Monday and only watched now because I couldn’t focus on anything else (as an aside: why is everybody on that show the same color orange?)), including the commercials. Lucky for us all, I loaned my laptop to a friend whose computer shit the bed a few months ago and we were all spared the feverish fruits of my delusional labor) followed by a week or so of incessant coughing and clogged up head and generally feeling like shit. I was also on Weight Watchers. And would you believe? I figured out the points for cough drops. And counted them.

You know what else? I got on the message boards at the Weight Watchers website to look for advice on how to stay on program when sick. Such tips included the points value for various cans of chicken soup and? Cough medicine.

Not a diet, you say? But a simple “lifestyle” change? Merely eat less, exercise more, and make sure that when you’re ill, you cut back on the food so you can make up for all the points your ingesting in medicine.

I still feel about as healthy as the floor of the Red Line at about 2 AM on a Friday night, but I could seriously give a rat’s ass how many points or carbs or calories or grams of fat my array of off brand cold remedies contain, and if I thought it would help me get through the day without coughing so hard I crack a vertebrae, I would eat a sugar-coated block of lard. Or, given how desperate I am to be over this nonsense, lick the floor of a 2 AM Red Line train (which would probably work to cure the cold because it would kill me outright). But even though I don’t feel good right now, I certainly feel better than I did when I was counting cough drop points.

UPDATE! I started experiencing stabbing head pain today before lunch and thought maybe I’d go visit my friendly neighborhood doctor. Wise decision, it turns out, as I have a fairly nasty ear infection. In both ears! I’m actually relieved, because it means there is something wrong with me and, being a veteran of adult ear infections, I know I’ll feel human in a couple of days once the antibiotics start doing their thang.

Speaking of, I’d better lay in a supply of yogurt. And since I’m not on WW, I’m totally getting the good stuff.

Candied Bacon Ice Cream

Just kidding! Everybody likes candied bacon ice cream.

Via Feminist Law Professors.

You know, I always thought it was normal, even desirable, to feel full after eating. That’s how you know you did it right! But I guess in this time of rampant, world-destroying obesity, we’ll pathologize anything related to the consumption of food. Witness this call for volunteers for a medical study at Northwestern:

Do you have stomach problems? Do you feel full after eating?

“Do you have stomach problems? Many people have stomach discomfort, stomach pain, feel full after eating and other problems will meals. Researchers at Northwestern University are conducting a research study using two FDA-approved medications to treat stomach symptoms that occur after eating. You may be eligible to participate if: You are 18 to 75 years of age; You experience stomach discomfort or pain, or other stomach problems after eating.” (Emphasis added. Also [sic].)

Note: I looked up the study on-line and what they are actually looking for are “patients with chronic abdominal discomfort, bloating, or early fullness after eating a meal,” which makes me think that one, they ought to hire somebody from the English department to write their “Participants Wanted” signs, and two, they are going to get a lot of unqualified people signed up for this particular trial.

Thanks to the husband for pointing me to this post on Chicago Metblogs.

A friend gave my husband Rick Bayless’s Mexican Everyday cookbook for Christmas this year. We’ve both been big fans of the man since I first caught Mexico – One Plate at a Time on WTTW shortly after moving to Chicago. For my first birthday in Chicago, my husband and another friend took me to Frontera Grill, which was immeasurably delicious. Unfortunately, given the popularity of the restaurant and their no reservations policy, we’ve not been able to go back since but we eat at Frontera Fresca on the seventh floor of Macy’s once every couple of weeks. And sometimes if we’re lucky, as we were on the night we ate at Frontera Grill, we’ll see the man himself, smiling and just as weird and lovable in person as he appears on TV.

In the introduction to Mexican Everyday, Bayless talks a little bit about his philosophy of eating and health. Apparently a chubby kid who grew into a chubby adult, Bayless took up yoga as “a nice antidote to [his] fast-paced, late-night restaurant life.” Eventually he began to feel that the size of his body was interfering with the progress of his practice:

Which led me, in an uncharacteristically weak moment, to fleetingly consider the question, Is it possible for a person to sensibly get rid of extra weight without going on a diet?

Diets are something I’ve loudly railed against having seen too much hype, too many unrealistic expectations, too many failures. I oppose them on (as least) two grounds–one nutritional, the other social. Most diets, after all, restrict what the dieter eats in quantity or variety, or both. Unrealistic quantity restriction frequently provokes the fear-of-starvation backlash (aka gorging), and narrowed variety not only becomes unsustainably boring, but it can be nutritionally unbalanced, even dangerous–unless you’re treating a serious medical condition, which I’m not. Our species developed as omnivores, after all.

From a social perspective, diets can be isolating. I’d venture a guess that we’ve all known people who’ve used their diets as an excuse for not eating with family, no going out with friends and, in extreme but sadly frequent cases, not partaking in holiday feasts. Food may be the fuel for the body, but it’s also glue for the family, for the community.”

Amen, Rick Bayless. Amen.

As anyone who has seen the episode of Mexico – One Plate at a Time that opens with a shirtless Bayless repelling into an underground cave, he has certainly met his fitness goals (also demonstrated with a photo of him in the forearm balance pose, which I am here to tell my non-yogically inclined friends, is no freaking joke). His approach was to cut out what he called “empty calories” found in beverages, and listen to his body to determine exactly how much he needed to eat to stay at the weight that felt comfortable to him. He then took up weight training because that way he could eat more (no surprises, the man loves to eat) and also get up into that forearm balance.

My favorite part of his philosophy of food, though, is his celebration of feasting as concept and practice. After criticizing “bleak” diets “that lead us to judge everything we put in our mouths as ‘good’ or ‘bad,’ that cause us to say that a break with their dietary prescriptions is ‘cheating,'” Bayless questions our “blind faith in the wisdom of the relatively young field of modern nutrition” that has led us to discard the concept of feasting “into the same dustbin as malnutrition and poor sanitation.” As a result, “many of us just eat defiantly. Willy-nilly and all the time.” Basically:

[C]uisines that have healthily nourished generation after generation have a pretty brilliant–but basic–way of putting essential foods together in the right proportions for everyday eating. Call it their foundation dishes. Yet those same cultures also realize that feating is essential for a culture’s aesthetic development, encouraging cooks to reach for new culinary heights. And that feasting is essential for cultural unity, brining groups of people together around the table to share sustenance, culinary art, related history. And that feasting is essential for the health of our bodies, allowing us the satisfaction of feeling thoroughly, completely full–with no need for midnight Häagen-Dazs raids.

A feast can make our spirits soar for days, while our bodies are regenerating themselves on everyday fare. In other words, no one ever got fat on a weekly feast, but missing that feast can leave you with strong cravings (both physical and spiritual) all week long.

Who can resist a strong craving?

I am absolutely delighted with this concept: eating simply and healthily, listening to and responding to what your body wants and needs, and then regularly gathering together with your community, whether that’s family, friends, neighbors, or a combination thereof, to tear the roof off this sucker with a feast.

It’s resolution time. The gym is about to get wicked crowded. I’ll see a whole host of new faces at my yoga studio next week. Weight Watchers and its ilk are about to increase their membership numbers. I usually don’t bother with resolutions; even when I was in the thrall of all those bleak diets I would usually count among my resolutions a firm commitment to start smoking again, or to read less and watch more TV. But I feel a sense of joy and liberation in the idea of everyday food and feasting that I honestly haven’t felt about eating in years, maybe ever, or at least not since the first time I connected eating with guilt and shame. So this year, I resolve to relearn the joy of eating, to embrace the concept of feasting.

And while the odds of my getting up into a forearm balance are about level with the odds of my waking up one morning with a complete understanding of differential calculus, I might strive toward executing a decent upward-facing dog with minimal grunting and squeaking.

I went to a friend’s house last night for a semi-regular girls night out gathering, in which we drink wine and, well, mostly drink wine. One of our friends brought a couple of In Touch magazines and we reveled in the absurdity of celebrity gossip culture. (I also found out that three of my friends are walking encyclopedias of celebrity gossip information, and one of those friends doesn’t even have cable so I have no idea how she does it.) Somewhere within its pages of vapid prattle, In Touch offered some celebrity diet tips (this may have been the same issue that classified Mischa Barton as being “pear shaped”) that included bringing Windex or other toxic substances with you to restaurants and spraying your food with it after you’ve eaten the proper portion size so that you won’t be tempted to eat the rest.

The Pear-shaped Mischa Barton (Ed. note: I changed the picture so as not to upset all the Mischa Barton fans who were angry that I was unable to recognize that the women on the left in the original photo was actually Mischa Barton’s sister. Sorry Mischa Barton fans! I think there is an OC re-run marathon right now. You’d better run or you’ll miss it!) 

I’m surprised you didn’t hear the echoing boom of my jaw dropping three feet to the floor. The first thing I thought of was Anne Lamott’s heart breaking Salon story “My Secret Body.” The second thing I thought of was just how disordered spraying your food with window cleaner was. The next thing you know, In Touch will be recommending laxatives for those days when you feel bloated from eating a plate full of carb-laden pasta the night before. Hell, for all I know they probably already have.

Then the friend who brought the magazines opined that this Windex trick was actually a pretty good idea. You see, she had lived in England for the last seven or so years and since moving back to the States a year ago, had put on some weight. She felt sure this was because of the monstrous portion sizes set before her at every American restaurant. I pointed out that Windexing your food is really classic eating disorder-style behavior but this didn’t seem to phase her. I know I’m not supposed to encourage or privilege diet talk, but viewing it as the lesser of two evils I suggested the old Weight Watchers’ trick of asking for a take out box when you order and immediately boxing up half your dinner. Still a little disordered but at least your not spraying your food with toxins.

I also thought some about that old obesity bugaboo, giant portions, and how ridiculous that is. I mean, no doubt, in some restaurants the servers hand you massive, huge plates of food. But are we really unable to stop stuffing our faces until all the food around us is gone? If that were the case, could we safely even store food in our houses? The friend said that she was just so programmed to eat what was in front of her that she was unable to stop until her food was gone. But is that a portion size issue? Or just another societally inculcated disordered eating behavior? And who decides what a proper portion size is anyway? Given the variety in size, shapes, and metabolisms found in the human race, could there possibly be one objective standard quantifying how much of any one particular food is universally appropriate for every one? If there had never been “portion sizes” to begin with, would the heaping plates of spaghetti at the Olive Garden even be a problem? We humans would have learned to just… eat. And then, when we were full, we’d just… stop. Some of us would be fat. Some of us would not be fat. And life would go on.

Which isn’t to say that I’ve never cleaned my plate and left a restaurant feeling uncomfortably full. But as often I’ve left the restaurant with a take out container in hand. Or, more likely, I left the restaurant and left the take out container on the table, but you know what I mean. I’m not sure that all you can eat buffets are the problem here. I’m more likely to point the finger at a culture that considers Mischa Barton to have a “figure flaw” and recommends poisoning your own food to keep you from eating it.

So I was like, really excited about macaroni and cheese, remember? In the comments, Sarah suggested I check out Martha Stewart’s recipe and since I do love Martha Stewart, I looked to her Perfect Macaroni and Cheese for guidance.

My macaroni and cheese differed slightly from Martha’s. For one, I left off the bread topping since the last time I did a bread topping, I felt like I was eating a sandwich. Also, I’m a ding dong and read the recipe incorrectly and rather than putting in either Romano OR Gruyere, I added both. This probably turned out okay volume-wise, since I was short on sharp cheddar, but I’m not entirely sure I liked what it did to the taste. Don’t get me wrong! The mac and cheese was tasty, but the Romano and Gruyere together gave it a really strong cheese taste that wasn’t exactly what I was looking for. Finally, the sharp cheddar was really greasy, although once the mac and cheese went into the fridge, that took care of the issue. Otherwise, the end product was pretty good and definitely plentiful. My husband and I ate macaroni and cheese for breakfast, lunch, and/or dinner for about a week.

To be honest, by the time it was all gone, I was pretty sick of macaroni and cheese.

Yes, that’s right. I was sick of macaroni and cheese. Could it be that my monomaniacal obsession with macaroni and cheese (a dish that is undeniably delicious don’t get me wrong) was born as much of denial as it was of love?

Eh, could be.

Ehhhh…. could be!

And then, in one of those freak domestic incidents that really wasn’t about me being lazy and trying to cram a casserole dish into a space that was too small for it, no seriously, I am not being cheeky here, when I was putting the casserole dish away, it broke in half.

And so, although I had intended to make the dish again, except this time using just one of the two stinky cheeses and using a low-fat Dubliner aged cheddar in an attempt to lessen the grease content, and then trying out some crunchy topping ideas that I have, I just sort of let the whole thing drift away.

Now I’m really into tacos.