Naughty food.


A couple of lifetimes ago I worked for a division of France Telecom and traveled to Paris for work. Riding along with memories of La Sainte Chapelle (my favorite Gothic masterpiece), the George V bar, and walking along the Seine is this true Parisian hospitality moment:

After dinner at a swank bistro, our waitress saw me eyeing the cheese cart and said briskly, “Non, you do not need it!” before she flounced back to the kitchen.

It was true, I had been served a sufficient amount of delightful food. At the time my 5’8″ frame toted around 135 pounds on a bad day, though, and I was incensed at the suggestion that a wee nibble of fromage, my second favorite food, was somehow naughty.

Naughty foods abound (Voortman’s vanilla-flavored creme-filled wafers and Flamin’ Hot Cheetos come to mind), but their naughtiness lies in the fact that they’re not actually food. How we’ve long demonized real foods in the interest of health is on my mind as I try to convert our family to living by Michael Pollan’s simple rules. I decided to embrace fully just two of the rules to begin:

1. Not buying anything my grandmother wouldn’t recognize as food. Cheese, bittersweet chocolate (my favorite food) and arugula are in; the 100% whole wheat sandwich bread we’ve eaten for years (100% whole grain… plus disodium phosphate and mono- and diglycerides) is out.
2. Not eating anything that isn’t served on a plate (or bowl or cheese board). This one is much harder than it sounds.

Dinner tonight? A little saffron risotto and a lot of spinach salad, followed by some honeycrisp apples, a morsel of dark chocolate, a green olive or two, and a small bit of Oregonzola cheese, which the adults washed down with Clif Creek Claret. Good, real food, served in small quantity and well-enjoyed at the family table. Nothing naughty about it.


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