I am a crossword puzzle fan. I love the progression of difficulty from Monday to Saturday of the New York Times crosswords. I spend a lot of Saturday morning working out the answers while having my coffee and treat from my trip to the Public Market. But the Sunday crossword is like catnip for me.
Back in August I was helping clear out someone’s house who was moving and came across a treasure trove of New York Times Sunday magazines, crosswords intact! They were in no particular order and dated back to the early 2000s. I have been enjoying pulling one or two out each day and working on them. In addition to the puzzles, I have been getting a kick out of reading the articles. I have read about the separation of church and state, many items about immigration and even more about food. I found one article, from 2004, by Michael Pollan called Our National Eating Disorder very interesting. It talked about how Americans have a weird relationship with food when compared to other countries. Mr. Pollan talks about how the question of what to have for dinner has changed as families pass from generation to generation. Food is a way of hanging onto ethnic backgrounds but each succeeding generation gets further away from the traditional. We all remember the meals grandma used to make. Mine was traditionally German with lots of heavy sauces, vinegary sweet and sour potatoes and meat. My mother did make some of these dishes on special occasions, but she was a great cook who enjoyed making homemade mac ’n cheese, lasagna, chili and stew. The author talks of how the more “American” we became the less we wanted to eat they way our grandparents did.
What ends up getting lost, though, is a healthy relationship with food. We get caught up in whether food is good for you or needs to be avoided because it is too something. Creamy. Fatty. Decadent. Sweet. We lose sight of what it means to simply enjoy food. When psychologists asked French people what they thought of when they heard the phrase chocolate cake, the answer was celebration. Americans responded with guilt.
As I mentioned in the first paragraph, I buy a treat for myself every Saturday at the market, usually an apple sticky bun from Flour City Bakery. I get home, wash and put away the fruits and veggies, open the paper and sit down with a cup of coffee and my indulgence. I savor every bite and when it is gone I go on with my day. No regrets. No remorse. No guilt. I love food and I intend to enjoy it, not beat myself up for choosing to eat what I love. The key is when to say when and to maintain a healthy eating routine that allows for treats. I’ll leave you with my favorite quote from Mark Bittmen: Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.
This week’s recipe is super easy and can be on the table in 30 minutes. (If you need a refresher about jackfruit, I wrote about here).
Barbecue Jackfruit with Mushrooms over Rice
2 cups brown rice prepared according to directions
1 tablespoon cooking oil
1/2 onion, sliced
1 pound button mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
1 can green jackfruit, rinsed, drained and squeezed dry
1/3 cup favorite prepared barbecue sauce + more for serving
2 green onions, chopped
Mushrooms sauteeing and shredded jackfruit
Mushroom and jackfruit mixed with barbecue sauce
One of my favorite barbecue sauces