Wednesday, July 12, 2006

So, as I may have mentioned, I set out for the summer with a personal mission to eat healthily, if not vegetarian. However, I naively overlooked the fact that I would not cook or prepare a meal for myself for two months--leaving the real decision of what goes into my food up to whomever makes it. Even if you order wisely in restaurants, it is almost impossible to keep a lot of extra oil, salt, sugar & fat out of your food. After all, that's what they use to make it taste good, and to keep their customers. I've worked in a restaurant, I've seen the preparation of things that I thought would be healty choices (salads, soups, grilled vegetables, sauteed fish, etc.), and unless you ask for an alternative, your protein will often times be thrown into a pan of sizzling butter (along with your vegetables) and your salad will be accompanied by some type of cheese or cream. So, here I am, picking and choosing on hotel menus, and closely examining buffet lines.

Often, these days, my big meal of the day comes from the backstage set-up at the show. Each day, catering or "craft services" (as it is sometimes ironically referred to), sets up a large buffet style meal for the band and crew. Sometimes it's decent (like in Chicago) and sometimes it resembles college cafeteria food (I'm looking at you, Milwaukee). At our first show, as I looked around the tables and saw people sitting in front of plates of undressed white pasta, I knew that I'd have to get creative. There were a couple of unidentifiable fried things (fish and chicken?), some beef floating in gravy, discolored cooked vegetables, a soup, and, finally and thankfully, a decent salad bar.

So, I loaded up my plate with greens, topped it with some carrots, celery and beans (unfortunately I had to choose the lesser of two evils when it came to dressing: I picked the vinegary/ketchup one over the mayonaisey/ranch). Then I took some brown rice (only time I've seen that good stuff) and corn, and drizzled a little tortilla soup over it, for a kind-of chili & rice effect. It wasn't bad. One of the band members walked by, looked around our table and goes "what are YOU eating?" Most likely because it bore little resemblance to anything on the buffet line. Pick and choose and mix. It won't be easy. Even here at the Four Seasons in Dallas (I kind of can't believe I'm bitching about this, but in a 5 star hotel, wouldn't you expect good food?). The salads are wilted and chicken flavorless and rubbery.

Oh, yes, the vegetarian choice comes down to this: stuffing myself with bread to get full (since I can't find whole grain anything, or my beloved hummus), and becoming even more chubby, or eating some meat here and there. I'm choosing the latter, because I cannot afford any additional pounds at this point. Maybe the what to eat question really always just comes down to looks and vanity. Whichever produces the best results or something.

So, please bear with me here, as I know I was once a glutton for taste, regardless of a dish's contents, and now, I've begun to be more selective based on health. But taste always comes first, of course. In the interest of searching for the diet that is healthiest and most delicious for me, I wil try out different philosophies of nutrition, one day going vegan, maybe trying the Atkins thing for a few days, possibly attempting a macrobiotic or ayrvedic diet some day, or maybe even seeing what it takes to be a raw foodist (!). These are all lofty ambitions, and as I've already seen, it's really hard for me to stick to anything rigid for more than a day. I don't like to be limited by anything. Some days I just get disgusted by the idea of processed food and artificial additives, and can't eat any of that. (Reading The Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollan put me off of anything containing corn for a few days, which, apparently is impossible, because almost EVERYTHING we eat contains a corn derivative these days. You should read it, it's crazy informative). Surely I'll lapse into bouts of pizza eating, buttering and rootbeer drinking, (and peanut m&m's popping). So, who knows, what I'll discover. Maybe, in the end it will all amount to me being a life-long moody omnivore. That sounds like the most fun option anyway. Well, we'll taste and see...

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