Question - Is There Enough Food?
My relationship with food has been pretty simple - is there enough?
For some key critical years in my life, there wasn't. Many of you know the ole story Cappy tells about college where he dropped from 147 pounds to 118 because of a severe lack of finances, and thus, food. The other story of when I was patrolling campus one Saturday night and came across a wedding party that was winding down, and the bridesmaids offered me as much leftovers as I could carry (which I did). And then there was my freshman year of college where I found out where the staff left the tea cabinet unlocked. Many-o' times Cappy would pour himself some sugar laden teas on the St. Paul campus which provided enough energy to get to the next day.
In my late 20's my finances improved that I was no longer border-line starving. Bagels and ham sandwiches were cheap enough to make. Frozen pizzas were no longer a luxury. And a single bachelor making $30,000 a year can afford more than enough microwave entrees to survive. I thought I had "made it" when Subway came out with their "$5 footlongs," but little did I know much about nutrition, let alone why I was so skinny fat whilst living off of a nearly 100% carb diet. It wouldn't be for several years later that we'd learn carbs were the cause of obesity and ugliness, but Cappy was happy eating his bagels and whey.
Today with much more ample finances, no debts, and minimalist tastes I can literally afford anything I want to eat. Sushi, poke bowl, steak, lobster, and the over-abundance of "bleu cheese bacon burgers" that EVERY bar in America seems to serve. Only problem now is that I'm getting old and even though I can afford to eat anything I want, my health, decreasing metabolism, and cholesterol will not allow for it. Alas, I am sadly relegated to veggies, chicken, fish, and hummus. And given that nearly every restaurant serves atrociously unhealthy food, I'm eating two-thirds of my meals at home.
However, drawbacks of a carb-free, sugar-free, cholesterol free, and taste-free diet aside, this latest stage of my relationship with food has made me think of food more philosophically. Previously, it really was just a matter of "is there enough?" "Are you going to finish that pizza?" "What about the crusts?" "Hey, look ,the sub shop is selling day old bread for 50 cents!" "Who the fuck doesn't love the super pack of ramen!?" It really was the long forgotten battle against hunger most Americans were too obese to worry about. But now it was about health. Now it was about quality. Now it was about nutrition. It wasn't just "get the next meal so you can live to the next day," it was "eat the right thing or else you might not see the next day you cholesterol laden-fuck."
Enter Lidia Bastianich
While my health was more or less forcing me to look at nutrition and not just necessarily "sustenance," my health was also forcing me to look at lifestyle changes, namely in terms of stress, time, and my schedule. This past year with selling a house, moving, building a new one, maintaining a third, maintaining the Online Media Empire, writing books, and all that is entailed in that, the ole Capmeister's 45 year old bod was simply not able to keep up. It was mentally draining and physically draining, and Cappy was not the 21 year old who could once work 24 hours straight at the drop of the hat. And so not only did Cappy become even MEANER and ANGRIER than he was before, his blood pressure jumped to 138 over 90.
Upon seeing my new blood pressure and knowing I was miserable, I realized I needed to make some changes. I needed to philosophically understand that I was going to die in about 25 years and the last third of my life could NOT be as miserable as the first two. It NEEDED to be enjoyable and happy, otherwise this entire life would have been wasted. So I throttled back and forgave myself of the workload I had heaped upon myself.
I would only (try) to write one quality post per week.
I would only do two podcasts per week.
I would write a book in my own good time (not the 3 month limit I normally set for myself).
I would work out when I felt like it and not pressure my body into it.
I would take a full hour off doing absolutely nothing before I went to bed.
It could be video games. It could be listening to music. It could be sitting on my patio. But I could not be working. It could be ANYTHING but work. Frivolous things that I could not see possibly doing because there simply was no time, were now mandatory "calm-down vices" I would enjoy before I went to bed.
And Lidia Bastianich was one of those vices.
If you don't know who she is, Lidia Bastianich is a portly Italian woman who has a cooking show. After binging on the Mission Impossible series, the girlfriend recommended we just watch one episode because they were short and Lidia was charming. Reluctantly, I agreed to watch "just one episode" but found her show very calming and soothing. Soon we were watching more and more of them because I found them calmer and more soothing than a Mission Impossible episode. It has even come to the point that the girlfriend wants to watch Magnum PI (because of Tom Selleck's 80's era shorty shorts) while I have to lobby for Lidia. Regardless, though the show had no functional point or purpose, I found watching a grandmotherly woman cooking Italian meals to be a helpful aid in getting me to relax and calm down. And though she is not the only reason, my blood pressure has since dropped to 110 over 70.
Lessons from Lidia
At first I didn't really think about watching cooking shows, Lidia Bastianich's or not. All I knew was that I enjoyed watching this elderly woman take raw ingredients and prepare a tasty meal. Her presentation (both in terms of speaking and presenting the food) was entertaining, but also relaxing and educational. But it wasn't until I was running one day that my mind wandered and started to connect the dots as to why a seemingly pointless show that I would otherwise have no interest in captured my interest and calmed me down. And it was a combination of a lack of food during my youth, my high cholesterol, and the incredibly dearth of free time I had in my life that made me realize the economic epiphany I was about to have.
Women who can cook are an invaluable treasure.
First, if you'll permit me to live a bit in Shoulda-Coulda-Woulda-Land, I would not have starved if there was a quality woman cooking me a meal back in my late teens and early 20's. Yes, yes, I know that that was not an option back then as other women in their late teens and early 20's were in school. And yes, yes, I know today any woman who cooks for a man is being oppressed, but my point is more of a historical and philosophical one. In the (oppressive, patriarchical, sexist) olden days a woman, of some kind, would have been "at home" preparing a meal for the family. This could have been a June Cleaver-eque 1950's mother. This could have been a 1920's poverty east coast gangster Italian grandmother. Or it could have just been a romantic interest beautiful young lady, but more or less throughout American history, there was a woman cooking a good meal for the men in her life.
This was an AMAZING service and labor of love because it allowed men (once again, in the sexist, patriarchical, woman-beating past) to focus on work, focus on their profession, and then be replenished and simply loved by some woman in the house. It not only would fuel men in the form of calories, but would be a huge psychological boost giving a man incentive and reason to go out and support his loved ones. Sadly (and I'm being quite literal here, not trying to begat pity) myself and most men were either too poor or too busy just trying to get by to even contemplate such a luxury. We just needed fuel to get to the next day. It never even entered our minds about how nice it would be to have a meal ready for you at home.
Second, health. Yes, congratulations. The economy has become so efficient we have Arby's, Applebee's, Perkins, Sajiya, Sawatdees, Bob Evans, Cracker Barrel, Boston Market, the Crooked Pint, and any and all manners, forms, and varieties of restaurants in the US. You NEVER have to go home to eat or cook ever again. Cooking has been completely outsourced, even to the point lunch boxes are a thing of the past.
The food is all shit.
It takes some time and effort to eat healthy. You have to educate yourself about nutrition. You have to find food, ingredients, and dishes that are healthy to eat. It takes at least a year to make healthy food taste good. And even then, if you are really busy (say working two jobs to pay off your student loans, or two jobs to earn enough because taxes are at 40%, or you live in California and enjoy paying those rents) you simply do not have the time to sit down and invest 30 minutes to make a healthy meal, three times a day. But, if you had a dedicated person, a dedicated wife or mother who would make healthy meals from healthy ingredients everybody in the family would eat much healthier.
This is not something to poo-poo or dismiss so rapidly because of the long term health and financial consequences of eating healthy vs. unhealthy. Herman would not develop diabetes if his wife cooked him healthy meals, as opposed to him eating at McDonald's every lunch hour. The children would not be obese smart-phone addicts because their diet would not be middle school cafeteria food. The wife herself would probably stay in shape, lessening chances of divorce. And the health/insurance costs over the long run would be a fraction of the time and money spent by this theoretical cooking Wonder Woman.
Again, yes, I know. This is all horrifically sexist, bigotted, misogynistic, and anti-woman. But it doesn't change the fact that if you have a woman who can cook, and cook healthily, there are amazing benefits to any man lucky enough to have her.
But speaking of saving money on doctors bills and health insurance...
Behind wasting money on worthless degrees and cars you can't afford, the third-largest expenditure of most young (and older) people today is eating out. I've looked into this before and there are a lot more savings than what people first realize when you eat at home. First, yes, there is the explicit outlays and expenses you incur by eating out. Those alone are the third largest wasteful expense on most people's budgets and most people will not argue with that. But there are also other costs you incur when you go out. There is the gas you have to spend driving to the "newest" restaurant because you're sick of the same old ones within a 40 miles radius of your home. There are the drinking costs that typically come with the meal as you "deserve a drink" after that long day. There is the time costs associated with having two people stuck in a car for 80 minutes each on a round trip to a restaurant. And there's the other people you must tolerate when you're dining at (what are becoming) increasingly loud restaurants. If proficient enough a "Wonder Woman cook" can have a meal ready in merely 20 minutes of her time, sparing the team 140 minutes total time and darn well near saving 80% of your eating budget, booze included or not. I've delved into the detailed finances before, but if you can force yourself to buy cars with cash and eat at home, you can save up enough money to have a fully funded retirement plan.
And finally, the woman herself.
To be honest Lidia does not cook anything that is healthy. It has tons of butter, tons of sugar, cheese, and meat, and just looks absolutely heavenly as it is sure to clog my arteries. I do not know if she was married and if her husband is still alive, but if he's not he sure as hell died with a smile on his face. And this speaks to the emotional role a woman who can cook brings to a man's life.
You can tally up the financial savings, save all your good report cards from the doctor or insurance companies, look at the family budget, or look at your waistline, they all fail in comparison to simply having a loving woman cook you a meal because she loves you.
Not that I know Lidia personally (I don't), nor do I have delusions that she is some how my "grandmother" cooking a meal for me, but simply having a woman who at least LOOKS like she cares and is grandmotherly on the television I'm sure helped lower my blood pressure by a couple points. You throw in a real woman in the real world who's a real cook, and I can't imagine the psychological and mental health benefits that would come with it. Yes, it's healthy. Yes, it's affordable. Yes, it's saving us time. But is it served with love?
Alas, today it truly is sexist to demand, insist, or merely mention you "prefer" a woman who can cook. And the younger you get into the generations that are of courting/dating age, I'm sure the worse it is if you dare approach these beaches. But if you're lucky enough to find a woman who can cook, and a woman who doesn't find it degrading, and a woman who serves up all the benefits of being a good cook with a healthy dose of dessert in the form of love, you my find young man are one lucky man indeed. As that woman simply cannot be replaced.
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