Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The Problem with Celebrating

Several weeks ago, I posted the resolution that I’m not allowed to buy any new clothing until I’ve lost 5 pounds and maintained it for a week.  At the rate I’m going, I’m not buying new clothes any time soon—maybe even for the rest of my life.

The problem?  Celebrating.

When Scott and I first married, a friend recommended the cookbook Extending the Table:  A World Community Cookbook, a work of the Mennonite Central Committee.  The premise of the cookbook is that most of the world regularly eats a simple (but tasty) diet of vegetables, beans and grains with meat, fatty foods and rich desserts reserved for celebrations.  

The problem with Americans is we eat like we're celebrating every meal.  Hence our weight problem, as well as our over-consumption of world resources.

As 2 InterVarsity staff living in Manhattan, Scott and I couldn’t afford to eat much meat.   Extending the Table was the perfect cookbook for us.  We regularly ate East Indian Spinach and Lentils, Brazilian Beans and Chickpea Curry.  We ate vegetarian A LOT.  And we were SKINNY.  Scott especially got so bony I worried a little about him.

Then we moved to Boston.  Meat is a lot more affordable—especially if you buy it on sale (sales didn’t  exist in Manhattan).  Meat’s quicker and easier to cook.  And kids like meat a lot more than stewy bean and vegetable dishes.

Despite my never-ending attempts to feed the family healthy meals, there's always a reason to celebrate—and to this Chinese Mama, celebrating ain’t really celebrating unless there’s great food and plenty of it.  In this past week we’ve celebrated:

Monday:  Ren’s 5th grade picnic (I managed to eat only salad)
Wednesday:  Ren’s Moving On Ceremony (ended up getting Chinese take-out at 9 p.m.)
Thursday:  End of the School year celebration Indian buffet lunch with whole family (because weekday Indian lunch buffets are 1/3 the price with more variety than Indian dinners but you can only go when kids are out of school)
Saturday afternoon: 1 year old birthday party (passed on pizza and cake, ate only salad and water)
Saturday evening:  Night out with friends at Ming Tsai’s Blue Ginger--among our all-time favorite restaurants (ate and drank everything—lavosh/bread/butter, red and white wine, appetizers, entrees and desserts!)
Sunday:  Boston Faculty Fellowship BBQ & Pool Party at our house.  I made i-diet worthy wheatberry salad and Texas caviar, but also made Heather’s chili dip, sangria and grilled burgers, hot dogs, brats and veggie burgers.  (ate only veggie burgers, but imbibed about 700 calories of sangria).

Side Note:  Here's an e-mail exchange about the faculty BBQ between me, a colleague and Scott as we wondered whether to serve alcohol:
Me:  do I make sangria and is it OK to serve all that Miller Light Scott bought and doesn’t drink?
Colleague:  I'm down with the sangria for sure.  Miller Light eh?  Scott, did Kappy's have a sale or something?  I say, "Bring it on!"  There is that phrase after all, "Now it's Miller time..." 
Me:  Scott bought all the Miller Lite to welcome his cousin to town—and they drank almost none of it, so we have something like 35 cans.  At least I have something to boil the brats in!
Scott:  First of all, it was a 30 pak.  Second of all, don’t be calling our kids brats.  And I certainly can’t condone you boiling our kids in Miller LIte.
There's just so much bounty!  My life is blessed.  My life is full.  

Way too full.


Ling said...

im not a brat! i agree with dad!

athanasius said...

I love that your kids reply :-)

I was thinking end of school year celebrations are wrapping up, but of course here comes July 4!

Helen said...

Hilarious email exchange! Will have to look into that book, we eat way too much meat as well. The ironic thing is that I personally much prefer vegetables but I am the only person in the family who seems to feel that way! Ah, you went to Blue Ginger...feeling envious! I've been there twice and felt a little starstruck watching Ming in action. =)