I'm not sure, but I think I'm having an anniversary.
Last summer I stopped eating meat. Stopped drinking alcohol (yes, even wine) and dropped dairy a few months later. As my palate cleared up, I found that oils and fats tasted heavy so I stopped those too. I had been on a Paleo low carb high fat diet for 4 years and I couldn't stomach one more tablespoon of coconut oil in my coffee or floss one more meat string out of my molars.
Plus, like any cult, it started going off the rails. (Pizza crust made of pork rinds for example) and I felt like it went against all my passions of real food and beautiful cooking. And the obsessive restrictive behavior made me feel funny. Any woman who's cured a PMS flip out with a couple of boiled potatoes knows that carbs aren't really pure enemy territory. Are we talking ice cream carby? Pasta carbonara carby? Or having a Yam. The fact that alcohol was allowed but an organic sourdough bread was not? I call foul. And book selling agenda. And bullshit. And it clearly is about "looking" good and being thin, no one cares about what's going on inside.
I live in Chicken Country north Georgia and even had a stint raising my own heritage organic hens for a time. Can't really feel good about eating chicken any more. Know too much. Pork? I stopped a long time ago. Makes me SO Tired. Plus, the Chinese bought Smithfield in 2013 and the industry is ruining the state of NC, so think about that the next time you tuck into a rasher of bacon. You can read my post from 2013 here...
I also stopped my 'social smoker' malarkey. What does that even mean? It's one of those things you say when you justify your behavior as *fun* or European/Arty and not a gross habit like the poor slob who sleeps with a pack of off brand Camels on the nightstand or keeps a full ashtray in his car. In other words, your little dirty secret. (Also see: These are American Spirit, I pay $10/pack and they're organic...PS that's still smoking)
I saw a post from Alton Brown a couple years ago saying that he was doing an experiment to reset his body and to check in...he was going to stop drinking for a year. He had gotten a divorce. Had started to drink too much and had gotten fat. TV star fat, like 20lbs. I'm not sure how it went for him but now I see him often drinking martinis, sangria and talking about how there is whiskey in his coffee cup so maybe not so well it went. But that's how it started. And it's not my place to judge Alton. Or anyone, I just know what I did. I had a glass of champagne on New Year's Eve. And I finished a bottle of Spanish tempranillo that someone left in the guest house when I returned from FL back to The Hacienda. The difference was, it took me 5 days to drink it and I used the end of the bottle in a sauce. I had changed.
I found a really cool website called Hip Sobriety that resonated with my We're Not Doing This Anymore philosophy. I followed Alton's posts of his mocktails, bitters and soda water with an orange rind and such on social media. Sounded refreshing. Dropping this heavy baggage sounded refreshing.
At the time, I was in Florida and refreshing was needed. I was in that intolerable climate, maybe it's global warming, maybe it's hormones but the last thing I wanted was a big HOT glass of red wine. I was there tending to the thankless job as Trustee for someone's Estate after they die. To make it sadder and to add to the stress, it was my mother who had died. I felt very very alone.
Anyone who's ever been around a 12 step program knows this is a very tight rope situation. Easy to slip on the comfort of booze right into the dark night of the soul of booze. I grew up in a 12 step household. My dad was a quiet, functioning, brooding alcoholic. A fifth a night of vodka with fresh oranges from our back yard tree and off to bed. Bright and shiny in the A.M. and off to his soul sucking desk job at Honeywell. I literally did not see or talk to him for all of high school.
My mom made me go to Al-anon meetings sometimes with her. It also felt cultish. It also was hard to handle because in the 80s you could smoke anywhere. Stale coffee, smoke, crying spouses in a church basement? Offended all my senses. It gave her some support though and I learned many years later that she could not pull this from her inner self, and she would admit too that maybe she focused on his problem a little too much. A different era. But let's just say that I'm always and will forever notice red flags and addictive non productive behavior in others and all of a sudden, nearing 50, I started to look at my own non productive addictions. Oh, hello.
Even though I was never as famous in the food world as AB, I'm no stranger to Restaurant Chef Culture. Meal skipping, liquid dinners, long hours, body pain, late night steak houses, 3am poker games, Gran Marnier, smoking and sleeping with the bus boy are par for the course. I'm not saying it wasn't fun. I'm just saying my 30s were over. Like 10 years ago.
Stay tuned for Is This Forever?? (Part 2) next time on The Kitchen Therapist--------