Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Me and Jada

For a while now, I've been thinking that me and Jada Pinkett Smith were like sisters from another mother. We have so much in common. She's married to Will Smith, a powerful Hollywood actor/former hip hop star. I'm married to my husband. She has kids who whip their hair around. Me, too. And she's a vanguard of style, which is exactly how I'm known in my social circle.

But the other day, I read that she doesn't eat for pleasure, she eats for nourishment. I have been reeling ever since. And I don't mean the sort of benign annoyance reserved for a body-obsessed celebrity. I mean I have come to the realization that we, as a society, are completely fucked.

Bill Maher, in an interview with the New York Times food correspondent, Mark Bittman, demonized everything except for the few vegetables he grows in his own backyard. Oh, and cannabis. Milk is chemically incompatible, yeast is bad, wheat is the devil, and you know how he feels about corn, meat, and anything that comes in a box or package. That leaves three things that won't kill me immediately, and I hate all of them.

My question is: why isn't anyone talking about how things taste anymore? Why isn't Alice Waters stepping up to the plate? She's the one who brought back Brillat-Savarin's phrase, "The pleasures of the table." Yeah, she's into community farming, but she also loves eclairs.

The joy of good bread has been lost because the wheat might not be labelled properly. Buying meat is fraught with questions of integrity, even at a place like Whole Foods. You go there because it's the morally correct place to drop $200 on groceries, only to be faced with a rating system for meat. "1" means the animal wasn't water boarded, while a "4" signifies that the cow was fed grass hand-picked with a tweezer by Jamie Oliver. Am I a bad person for choosing meat #1?

Jada probably doesn't even eat meat.  She probably rises to a non-GMO soy latte and a gluten-free, sugar-free muffin made with spelt. Her mid-morning snack is 2 celery sticks and a 1/2 teaspoon of faux peanut butter with three raisins (four, and you're headed for a life of diabetes). For lunch, she might have a kale salad, with 1 oz. of tofu, weighed on a French scale. No dressing. And for dinner, she splurges and has a broiled faux chicken breast, no salt, steamed vegetables, no fat or salt, and 1/4 cup of quinoa, the ancient grain that connects us to our ancestors. For dessert, she treats herself: a tiny child's spoon of sugar-free frozen yogurt, sweetened with agave. It all tastes like shit.

I awake to a slice of cold spinach pizza. I eat carrots and a few apple slices from my kids' lunches. Sometime mid-morning, I get hungry and have Cheese Nips and a diet coke. Lunch is a big chopped salad from Portillo's with a bread stick coated in GMO oil. It's delicious, and so is the salad. I start to get all low blood sugary around 4, so I have two cookies. Or maybe some roasted salted almonds. Or a carrot muffin and a string cheese. For dinner, it's a heaping bowl of pasta with a couple of meatballs and freshly grated parmagiano, and some steamed broccoli with olive oil and lemon. I always have seconds, and usually no dessert, because with the way I eat, I never feel like I need to treat myself. I am always emotionally and physically satisfied after a meal.

So I guess that's the one difference between me and Jada: I eat for pleasure. And she eats to be 20 pounds lighter than me.

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