We left Columbus on early Saturday morning with a bag-ful of goodies: granola, bananas, apples, organic lime & chili chips, raisins, peanuts, etc. The bananas were gone before the end of our 160-minute drive to Indianapolis. At that point, we had 4 more days ahead of us in a rental car, visiting family and big cities. Indianapolis, Chicago, Urbana (they’re not ALL big cities), back to Chicago, then we part ways and Acacia drives back to to Columbus while I fly to NYC.
Right away we faced challenges to our proud naturalistic eating tendencies. The occasion for our visit to Indy was a memorial service for Acacia’s dear, departed grandmother. The event itself was wonderful, with lots of off-the-cuff stories, sincere tears, and a eulogy from a man named Natty Bumpo that included the word pubis. Incredible. What a way to go.
There was, of course, a buffet of light snacks at the event. Options included tiny smoked salmon and turkey sandwiches, loaded-down, of course, with mustard and mayonnaise. (Do caterers and event-planning relatives really imagine that everyone on earth loves mustard and mayo? You’d think people would be disillusioned of that notion by now. But, I digress.) There were veggies with awful-smellin dips, and some dubious-looking mushrooms stuffed with creamed gorgonzola. Ick. There were bread and tortilla chips with other nasty dips, and lastly, little espresso cups, some filled with creme brule and the rest with chocolate.
So, sane-eaters, what did Acacia and I choose? Well, it was well before 6, never-the-less we were quite hungry, so we tried the salmon sandwiches (hence my discovery of the offending condiments) along with a pile of vegetables. I ate a ton of celery, I can tell you, and eventually turned to plain bread chips to keep me from losing my mind. As soon as the opportunity presented itself, I dashed upstairs for a few handfuls of granola and nuts. We made it through the afternoon, though, and were promised a large, fancy dinner. I opted to grab a pair of bananas and a slice of pumpkin bread at the Manon Coffee shop in the meantime.
Dinner was interesting. It was much after 6, and we were both really, really hungry. We were also promised a fantastic meal, in no small part because the sales manager and executive chef for the restaurant (which will remain unnamed) are in the family. Acacia and I chose responsible meals – lots of vegetables, a little bit of meat. We shared some mashed potatoes. I payed attention to the locally grown selections and chose the lamb. The lamb was all gone, however, so I picked the special, lobster, which turned out to be a poor choice.
So, Acacia and I were pretty happy with our decisions, and looking forward to our salads and sides of asparagus, when the table was suddenly filled with fried snacks and pulverized sea-food – tuna tartare smothered in sauce and served on tortilla chips, oysters deep-fried and covered in crap, and, of course, fried calamari rings. The chef had been warned that one of our companions was vegetarian, though, and she got a couple of fantastic little crostinis with preserves, chives, and artichokes. Jealous. I lost a bit of control and ate a few oysters and a bit of calamari. I was really up in arms, though, over the sweet potato pancakes with brussels sprouts gratin. Sounds awful, right? Not at all. Anyway, we weren’t that hungry when our food came, which is okay, cause the food was pretty mediocre anyway. I ate my crappy salad and all my asparagus before digging into the lobster mashed potatoes and the rubbery lobster itself.
So, in the final analysis, I think we did okay at that meal. We stuck to moderation and didn’t overdue it. We both remarked, though, on how bloated and weighty we felt afterwards, and the next morning. One of the things I like most about “sane” eating is that I don’t feel like I’m dragging my body around after I eat. Rather, I feel good, energized, happy, bright, downright peppy. Certainly, there’s joy in that “oh man I’m full” feeling you get after a good, big meal, say a hearty steak with mashed potatoes. But that’s a far cry from the “oh man I’m gonna die” feeling you get when you’re filled you’re body up with fried food and artificial crap and your digestive system fully intends to punish you for it. If you eat sushi, you probably know what I mean. I’ve always noticed that a big sushi meal leaves me feeling different than a huge meal of most other sorts.
Anyhoo .. right?
The next morning we were being treated to a “pizza brunch” at a restaurant owned by another couple of family members. It was a great, little joint, and the pizza really was good. We were able to find several options with just vegetables. The problem was that we really weren’t in the mood for another heavy meal. We filled up on fruit and granola as much as possible before-hand, but we were still persuaded to order too much food. Did you know that human instinct tells us to over-eat, since our ancient ancestors were never sure when the next meal would happen? So, they always ate as much as possible. That instinct gets us in to a lot of trouble these days, since we’re usually surrounded by an over-adundance of food. But, we kept our instincts under control and made sure to take home plenty of left-overs and let other people consume them.
There was one more unfortunate experience in Indy. I tried to go out and find us some good food to eat at home or in the car, but I had a hell of a time. I did find a place called “Nature’s Market” or something like that, but it was bullshit. They had all these “natural bulk foods”, mixes of nuts and fruit and whatnot, but every single one of them was enhanced with chemicals, high-fructose corn syrup, and the family of dextrins. Oh shit! I looked around for packaged items with fewer than 5 ingredients, or some vegan prepared-food options (vegetarian prepared-foods can still make use of heavy creams and such), but came-up empty. I walked around that damn store with an apple and two oranges in my cart.
Well, on to Chicago.