Wednesday, March 06, 2013

Save the fusilli!

Wait, were you going to eat that? Stop! Don't you know that every single food ever is incredibly problematic - to the environment, to the farmers/gatherers, to the organisms themselves? Why are you so arrogant as to think that piece of fusilli exists to be your nourishment?

So after assessing that I guzzle plenty of olive oil and, at least the week of the scientist dinner-dance, an appropriate amount of wine (other weeks, my devotion to seltzer wins out), I was left struck by the fact that I don't eat enough fish. I... go back and forth on fish, sometimes cooking whole snapper or branzino (or whatever they really are - 'snaggle-toothed poison-fish' or who knows), sometimes finding them kind of prehistoric and creepy, just a bit too close to eating lizard or frog, which I have thus far, to my knowledge, avoided. That, and fish is expensive, even if relative non-squeamishness allows you to buy them whole. Splurging occasionally, like every few months, on some minute portion of lamb chops makes sense, because lamb chops are delicious. With fish, it's more like, a really good lentil salad might have been better and cost 50 cents (if that) to prepare. But one needs solid food to go with the wine-olive-oil vinaigrette, and fish is the key to living forever like the napping Greek islanders.

Except you really shouldn't be eating fish. The same publication that brought us the Mediterranean Diet quiz is now urging us to find alternate sources of protein. Well, the panelists themselves are more nuanced, but the comments are going, leave the fish in the sea where they belong! And protesting human overpopulation, when it's like, perhaps so, but we who were born need to pick up something at the supermarket.


Meanwhile, I'm trying something of a diet experiment of my own. Not that I'm somehow above vanity and wouldn't want to wake up built like Miranda Kerr, famed Victoria's Secret/high fashion crossover model, and not that I think any voluntary change in food consumption in our society can ever be 100% non-vanity-related, but the goal here is meal-variation, not weight loss. (Kerr-ness would, for me, involve gaining a significant amount of height, and is thus futile.)

Thing is, I started to realize that I was eating a lot of pasta. A lot. As in, if working from home, this might end up being not just dinner most nights, but lunch as well. While I do combine the pasta with vegetables and cheese, it was still starting to get repetitive and kibble-like. I'd read recipes online and think, wow, that sounds great!, and then put up the water because it's easier.

So I'm trying to see if I can last a week without pasta. Not low-carb, low-wheat, low-gluten, anything like that. As much bread, pizza, dessert as I'd have otherwise. Just no pasta. I'm counting from Saturday night's ravioli. So far so good, but I'm not quite convinced I'll make it the whole week. But if I do, perhaps an announcement. If I do this and somehow emerge looking like Miranda Kerr, WWPD readers, you'll be the first to know.


Jacob T. Levy said...

1) "Miranda who?"
2) "Is that the actress who played Eowyn? No that doesn't make sense in context."
3) "Oh, right, her name was Miranda Otto."
4) "Back to the question at hand..."
5) [google]
6) [Arrested Development] "Her?" [/Arrested Development]

Is this person the modeling industry's beauty ideal du jour? Because, if so, I'll have to add that to the list of things I don't understand about the modern world.

Phoebe Maltz Bovy said...

She's only the ideal insofar as she's famous for being both a high-fashion runway model and a lingerie model. These are really two industries, so the fact that she's of interest to both makes her unusual.

But my point was less about Kerr specifically (who's no Olivia Wilde - a woman I saw on the street recently and... yeah, she's got nothing to complain about in the looks area), but about the way that any voluntary dietary restriction (i.e. not a peanut allergy, not a since-infancy religious dietary restriction/vegetarianism) is just about unavoidably, on some level, about wanting to be thinner. I don't think 'just for health', or even 'just for a change of pace', can exist in a society so focused on slimness - maybe for those who are already very thin (although plenty such individuals would like to be thinner), and sure, for some men, the issue is not thinness but bulking up. I don't think I'm somehow above this, so probably on some level, the no-pasta experiment is about a subconscious desire to resemble a supermodel. But! On a conscious level, I'm just plain sick of pasta, and don't actually think media images of supermodels much enter into this.

Jacob T. Levy said...

Oh, I got all that. Just going off on a tangent.

Phoebe Maltz Bovy said...

Ah - well, tangent appreciated. Always good to hear that nine feet tall and four pounds is not the unanimous preference of all of humanity.

Petey said...

"I don't think I'm somehow above this, so probably on some level, the no-pasta experiment is about a subconscious desire to resemble a supermodel"

The better experiment, IMHO, is to make the switchover to whole wheat pasta. It's easier than you'd think! Took me only about a week or two of total immersion to adjust my palette to find WW pasta just as delicious as I'd previously found white pasta. (Now, when I eat white pasta, I find it kinda gummy.)

WW pasta would help you in your new I Want To Be A Supermodel Quest. However, you might want to also consider radical surgery to have your height lengthened.

Also, when you truly get tired of pasta, you're tired of life...

Britta said...

I had a reversion in the pasta department, what with dating an Italian. I can't even get away with a pasta which is whatever vegetables I feel like cooked up in a sauce, since apparently there are rules about what you can put on what sort of pasta, and the sauces all have specific names and recipes.

I do eat a lot of fish, mainly because perversely frozen fillets are the cheapest meat in the grocery store. I'm sure they are farmed, and so not all that healthy for you, but maybe better for the environment? Anyways, I enjoy cooking and eating fish, but it could be because I grew up eating a lot of it.

Phoebe Maltz Bovy said...


I get the whole-wheat one as well, and it does increase variety. Although I think the science on this (says some NPR podcast) is that once it's super-pulverized or whatever, it doesn't matter, health-wise, if wheat is whole. And - good news - that even non-whole-wheat pasta isn't actually a bad carb. For what purposes, I'm not sure, but it sounded good.


Pasta rules! That seems a good way to increase variety and keep eating tons of pasta.

Re: frozen fish, not a bad idea. (Cheaper than chicken?) I can't begin to know which fish are better or worse for which purposes, plus, who knows if the labels are accurate. Pasta, however, is probably pasta. Probably.