Food On My Mind

Food is always on my mind in some form or another, but recently it’s been on my mind mostly out of a frustrating thought while I was out on a grocery store run not too long ago.

I’m coming up on the end of three years (I think) since I transitioned from a strict no-gluten diet, which has slowly morphed into a very low-carb diet. It’s been an interesting adventure in patience, food creativity, and a change in perspective on food that has become habitually ingrained in a way that I don’t (almost) agonize about what I’m going to eat for my meals every day.

When I first had to admit to myself that I cannot eat wheat products and other gluten-containing foods, I half-assed it. You know what I’m talking about, dear reader. “Treating yourself” to those goods that you know your body will revolt against later, sending you into a spiral of discomfort and stomach spasms that’ll leave you wishing you were dead or close to it.

After about a year of skirting around my food restrictions and unnecessarily suffering for it, my partner put his foot down. After all, it wasn’t just me suffering every time I had fresh-baked bagel with shmear or mac n’ cheese leftovers. He suffered from my eventual complaints, and wasn’t having any of it. At some point—probably after a serious talk and argument about it—something clicked in my head. I shouldn’t be having any of it either.

Ajisen Chashu Ramen

Bowl of spasm-inducing goodness.
Photo by: Daniel Go|Flickr

Expecting—and then writhing from the stomach pain that came after eating something as “harmless” as a piece of cake wasn’t a smart way to live. There were plenty of other food choices available to me. I just had to commit to it.

But change is always hard. Especially in territory that’s as essential to your being like food.

Food is a profound part of our identities, and there have been many sad moments while navigating my diet restrictions when I’ve come to learn that many of the foods I grew up on and love so dearly, are harmful to my well-being.

Oh, you’re having Shio-ramen? Have a taste of my Shio-beansprout vegetable alt-Ramen.

But humans, for the most part, are not void of creativity and I have been able to experience alternatives to some of my favorite dishes.

Eating out all the time is nice, but I’m not made of money. Learning to cook good food wasn’t some overnight miracle. Former roommates have always been amazed at my ability to whip something together, but really, it’s not that impressive.

Learning to cook wasn’t exactly difficult either, even for someone whose “cooking lessons” included watching mom cook. When I felt like watching her cook.

Over time, and a few trial and errors, I got better at it. I’m far from being a “master chef” but I continue to learn new techniques, new taste pairings, and have taken everyday “chicken and rice” to varying levels. Since moving to Brooklyn a year ago, I think I’ve close-to-mastered the art of tacos. Seriously. This last year will be marked as “the year of the taco” in my life book. The chapter will be called “Which Chorizo?” or something like that.

Despite occasional frustrations in cooking, that’s not really the hard part. The hard part is figuring out what the hell it is I want to cook. While it’s easy to go the grocery store and buy a bunch of 10/$10 prepackaged food stuffs, I don’t roll like that (unless it’s beans or single ingredient things and sauces).

Yes, there are prepackaged gluten free foods everywhere, and a lot more now than when I first started navigating this dietary adventure but what most people fail to realize, I’ve come to notice, is that processed, prepackaged foods—GF or not—is still processed and prepackaged food.

Meaning: they’re all full of the same garbage that allows them to have a prolonged shelf life.

Not to mention, have you seen the sugars in packaged GF things? Holy moley.

And this is where my frustration about food and grocery shopping comes in. (Well, in combination with something I observed in the last year.)

Processed, prepackaged foods are very convenient, especially for students and others who basically “don’t have time.” But over the years, I’ve come to learn that people of a certain group are fucking lazy. Possibly to the long-term detriment of their health.

Tomato-y goodness, straight from the farm.

I’m sure there are some people who really really really cannot fit preparation and cooking time into their schedules. Fine. But there’s a group of us, despite feeling “too busy”, really can fit prep and cooking into our schedules. We just don’t do it because 1) we don’t know how, 2) we haven’t bothered to figure out how, 3) we’re lazy shits, and 4) everything must be “easy” (I hate that fucking word so much).

Food takes a lot of time, and energy.

I think about food all the time. Maybe this is because of some weird neurotic frenzy I’ve developed to ensure that each meal I have is filling and nutritious, and won’t result in a bodily revolt of sorts.

But food really does take time. People who aren’t restricted by specific dietary needs seem to forget that it requires some level of patience to consume good food. Your mom or dad didn’t go through all the trouble of making that baked ziti or grilled steak for the hell of it. If they didn’t care, they wouldn’t have spent the time or they would’ve burnt the shit out of it.

The immediate need of some sort of gratification has left us in a situation in which we don’t care about the food—preparation, taste, texture, etc. We’re hungry, therefore we must stuff faces with something to satiate that “feed me” feeling.

People with dietary restrictions make time to think about, prepare, and cook their food out of a certain need, but that there’s a “need” to do this shouldn’t mean other people can’t do it either. There’s no reason why an almost-30 adult can’t boil water or know when fish is baked through.



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