by Jo Stougaard
I hate dieting. I hate it especially because I love writing about food. Trying NOT to think about food makes me depressed and cranky. Dieting means I can’t eat out at the newest brasserie. Dieting means I can’t make pork belly in my gorgeous Le Creuset braising pan. Dieting means I can’t watch José Andrés eat his way around Spain. It also means I can’t fantasize about sharing salmon tartare coronets with Bourdain and Ripert at the French Laundry. And most importantly, dieting means I can’t talk or write about my favorite foods… which for me equals NO LIFE.
Thankfully, I officially gave up dieting a couple of years ago and decided just to work out more everyday. I know…Duh. With my three dogs it’s easy to get in extra runs each day…. especially living in sunny Los Angeles.
If I have a really big food night planned (a new restaurant or food event) then I’ll cut out carbs for a few days, but that’s it. No regular restrictions on any of the things that bring me so much happiness. The days of morning after guilt and self-loathing are gone. It’s all about joy now. It took most of my adult life to get here, but at least I’m HERE.
Last month my sister invited me to go to the L.A. County Fair with her kids. I hadn’t been to a county fair in years and wasn’t interested… until I remembered all the scrumptious fried foods. Having been a relentless dieter for the past TWENTY years, I would have felt guilty and shameful even stepping near a junk food carnival stand in the past. But this was a whole new fried freak show experience!
We arrived at the fairgrounds around sunset, just in time for dinner. With my niece and nephew in tow (twins, ages 12), we made our way through the late summer crowds and headed straight for the infamous Chicken Charlie’s. We stood there a little dazed under the huge neon signs. So many choices… too many choices! I was so excited my heart was racing. There were Deep Fried Poptarts, Deep Fried Cheese Ravioli, Deep Fried White Castle Cheeseburgers, Deep Fried Frog Legs, Deep Fried Twinkies, Onion Strings, Zucchini, Avocados and more.
Since only the three of us would actually be eating the delightfully greasy entrees, we settled on just four plates. Deep Fried Spam, Deep Fried Poptart, Deep Fried Oreo and my personal favorite, the Deep Fried White Castle Cheeseburger. The WHOLE burger, battered and fried. It was SO good! I’m a huge fan of SPAM and thought that would be my favorite, but I was all about the cheeseburger. My niece Kindal loved the fried Poptart the best and nephew Chace devoured the fried Oreos.
The next morning I woke up feeling a little bloated, a little gassy and not really in the mood to lace up my running shoes. But I did. I took my dogs for a morning run and then ran again in the afternoon. No lingering guilt about the THOUSANDS of calories I consumed the night before. Just a cheerful feeling, remembering a fun evening with my family. Which is what going to the fair is all about right?
Chace & Kindal
Fair Visit: 9/17/08