As I sit here writing this, I have a sore throat (tonsils are infected) and a chest cold that’s making my ribs hurt. It’s been over a year since I’ve been sick like this and well over 10 years since my tonsils “bloomed” — as my Mom would call it — with an infection. I’m sick and miserable, and it’s not helping that we don’t have furniture yet (it’s being delivered on January 16); or that the POD arrived yesterday with a bunch of boxes holding fragile stuff crushed because it seems that the POD was tilted even though the company claims a no-tipping policy; or that I can’t seem to get a good cup of coffee in a restaurant (everything is watered down, BLUCK); or that seltzer seems to be a foreign, exotic drink; or that wraps and paninis are “hippy” foods that seem to be few and far between. As much as I love deep fried, pepper gravy-slathered goodness and the most delicious BBQ you’ll ever eat, I’d like something simple like chicken soup and salad … or maybe a grilled veggie wrap. This unfamiliar food is heightening my sense of displacement and magnifying my home-sickeness. I can’t seem to find Breakstone’s whipped butter or real seltzer water, like Polar or Vintage. Sure there’s Ozarka and Perrier, but order a glass of seltzer in a restaurant and the waitstaff will look at you like you have worms crawling out of your nose. Oh, sparkling water. I get it. I actually had a kid tell me that I can get a Diet Coke because it’s basically the same thing. WHAT. THE. ENTIRE. HELL?
And let’s talk about that Texas water. Why does it taste like ass? Seriously. The stuff is undrinkable, never mind brushing your teeth or taking your medicines with it. Ed and I are looking into getting Poland Spring (or a reasonable equivalent) home delivered just so we have water to drink and to make coffee. On the upside, I love what it does to my hair. I haven’t been losing the black dye in my hair as quickly as I was in NYC and the water makes it super soft and straight. Even Ed’s hair looks better and more manageable.
I guess you can call me a spoiled NYC gal who is used to a certain lifestyle … so this is a big food shock for me. It doesn’t help that I’m feeling homesick, out-of-sorts, displaced, and lonely. I’m always friggin’ lonely, aren’t I? sigh … Being sick is just compounding everything because all I want is familiarity: chicken soup, good coffee, a nice salad … no, I don’t want ranch dressing. Why is ranch dressing the damned default?!? Can I have a lemon wedge and olive oil? No, I’m not from California. sigh …
It goes without saying that I have a very complicated relationship with food. It’s not just something that my body needs to survive. Food, to me, is life itself. It represents where I come from — the place, the people, my family — and it’s what I turn to for comfort. A big salad with a little olive oil and squirt of lemon can cheer me up on a dreary day. Grilled hot dogs on a potato bun with relish and mustard means summertime. And big pots of borscht or chicken soup might as well stand in for my Mom — hugs in a bowl. I never realized just how much Jewish/kosher food I consumed until this week. Mom always bought Breakstones butter, something I can’t seem to find. I wonder if I’ll be able to get knishes or blintzes. I nearly cheered aloud when I saw that the local Kroger’s has Tabatchnick soup and other frozen kosher products. HEB has pita and naan bread, and decent looking jarred pizza sauce and mozzarella. I refuse to by Hunt’s canned tomatoes … yuck … so I’m opting to spend the money on imported Italian tomatoes. Food.
I’ve always joked that I would never be skinny because I love food too much. Thinking about it now, I don’t love food, per se. Certain foods are symbols for much larger ideas, and it’s times like this when I need those certain foods to help me gain my footing in an unfamiliar land with a very foreign culture. I’m not simply lamenting the fact that pizza outside of NYC or Chicago is nonexistent. I’m not lamenting the loss of Breakstone’s whipped, lightly salted butter. I’m looking for something familiar that will help me transition into my new home. I’m looking for a pastrami sandwich with grainy mustard to look me straight in the eye and with a NYC accent say, “How you doin’?”
I’ve said in the past that I have a problem with portion control and that’s something I need to work on. However, Bat Fit is not a diet. I don’t diet and wouldn’t be able to if I tried. My relationship with food is personal, deep, and extremely complicated. “Everything in moderation” was what my Mom taught us and “everything in moderation” has been my mantra throughout this whole process. Yes, I tend to overeat, especially when large portions are put in front of me. But, there’s nothing wrong with food in itself. A small portion of fries won’t kill you, neither will a small piece of cake or pie. Everything in moderation and fresh, good — and SLOW — food has always been the key to my personal weight loss. I never feel like I’m depriving myself. Good food makes me physically healthy … and mentally and emotionally happy. And it’s exactly this kind of food that I’m looking for to help me settle into my new home. I may have to make some compromises like half-and-half in my coffee, but there are some things I won’t compromise on like good water or salads. Here’s to finding my comfort zone in Texas.