Tuesday, January 15, 2008


I am usually a pretty evenly balanced person. I don't get (typically) get depressed, I don't have manic highs, I don't binge eat, and I don't obsess. My mantra has long been "in all things balance." I am comfortable in the middle and not at the extremes.

Yet, as I climb out from the rabbit hole, I find myself absolutely craving certain foods. Now, I am prone to burger cravings fairly regularly, and indulge them because I believe in the healing powers of a great hamburger and fries. I also routinely need sushi, as it is "clean food" that tends to cleanse the mind and soul, plus the wasabi clears up any congestion or ickiness that I have. And yes, a few times of year, I just need Thai food and the rice noodley goodness that is Phad See Iw. But by and large, I have never understood the Ben-and-Jerry's-in-the-middle-of-the-night thing, or PMS chocolate cravings, or other such stereotypes. I don't ever think about candy or chocolate or ice cream (I actually can't eat more than three bites of the latter), and I can't remember the last time I ate something from a vending machine or convenience store.

Yet in the past two weeks, I have had crazy cravings. Thai, sushi, burgers, pizza - everything that I usually partake in moderation throughout the year. I haven't eaten a lot of anything, at least in one sitting, but in the past two weeks, I had leftover pizza, Thai noodles, crab wontons, egg flower soup, half a burger and (this one was a particularly weird craving) spaghetti bolognese in my refrigerator. I am a firm believer in indulging your cravings, so long as they are occasional and not regular. Otherwise, you get that whole feeling of deprivation, and when you go on a bender, you go nuts.

I am fortunate to live a life where I have to watch what I eat, and I am always mindful of that. I have never been an overeater or junk food person, and when I gain weight, it is always related to my level of exercise. Genetics sucks, but I have to play the cards I was dealt. Eat sensibly, most of the time, stay balanced with exercise, and eat whatever the hell I want if I really want it. But this weird two weeks of craving seemed almost manic. I ordered pizza one night last week and ate a single slice, after I heated it in a cast iron pan on the stove (I need a really crispy crust). I ordered two Thai dishes, ate about three bites of each, and they served as leftovers for the next three days. I have had leftover egg flower soup for breakfast nearly every day for the past five. I needed a medium rare burger tonight with steak fries, and I will have the other half for lunch tomorrow.

I thought it might be PMS, but then I looked at the calendar. Not so much. On one hand, I haven't had an appetite in nearly three years, so maybe I should be grateful. Yes, I have clearly eaten in those years, as I love dining out and trying the culinary creations of talented chefs, but I haven't been hungry in a long time. Thing is, this isn't really hunger. My stomach isn't rumbling and I am not light-headed because I forgot to eat the day before. This is pregnancy-style craving (No. No, not a chance. Nope.) and it is unsettling because I have never experienced such an intense desire for certain foods in a concentrated period of time. As I said, I used to indulge them when they came because they weren't a regular occurrence, but now, I have to resist. I can't (and don't) want to live on takeout or delivery, as I prefer to make my own food.

So my little bender has to come to an end, even though I enjoyed the idea of waking up to (reheated) hot soup or noodles, or a crisped up slice of pizza. It was sort of homey to look in my refrigerator and see a ton of options. But tonight, I tossed out all of the leftover containers, and roasted a chicken (great recipe, by the way) and onions and garlic, and chopped up a huge salad to enjoy for the rest of the week. Darbs and I went for an hour walk tonight in the still frozen snow and I am steering myself back to equilibrium. I don't ever want to be that chick who won't eat certain foods, but I need to get back to the middle of the spectrum.

And yet, even as I type this, full from my salad and roasted chicken quesadilla, I find myself fantasizing about how delicious a few bites of lasagna would taste. There is probably some insight to be gained by the fact that I only crave the savory (not sweet) things in life.

Unrelatd - this is hardly a decent picture of me, but I love it of Keegan. It completely captures him. My sister is equally unable to take a bad picture.


Talix said...

I have been MAD craving a crispy crust pizza lately! Like sauce and cheese on some matzoh bread crispy. NO idea where to get one. I may have to buy a cast-iron skillet.

Norm said...

"Pizza? I want some!"
-- Joey Ramone

cornutt said...

Tal, a cast iron skillet will become your best culinary friend. i got mine at Williams-Sonoma, but my favorite ones are usually garage-sale finds.

I never microwave my leftover pizza and used to just put it under the broiler. But reheated in a cast iron skillet with a touch of olive oil? Better than the night before.

Oh, and I didn't indulge it tonight, but today's freaky craving was a French Dip. I could almost taste the au jus all afternoon. Sofa king weird.