I am not a big fan of American cheese. In fact, I really don't think it merits the title of cheese. Its shiny, smooth exterior and filmy aftertaste literally leave a bad taste in my mouth. The only way it is in the least palatable, in my opinion, is if it is melted on a cheeseburger. And even then, I would far prefer my burger adorned with goat cheese or feta or even a slab of cheddar.
This morning when I arrived at my Meals on Wheels assignment and noticed today's offering featured Saltines, American cheese, some dried out carrot and celery slices, a cup of tomato soup and canned pears, I felt unaccountably sad.
This meal really disheartened me. My first instinct was to round up all the people on my route, herd them back to my house and whip up some hearty stew or coconut curry chicken soup and crusty bread, some warm, comforting food.
After a couple of people made approving remarks about their meals, I came to two conclusions: 1) Food has a disproportionately big influence on my mood and 2) Not all people share my views on eating (gasp!).
Yes, good food makes me happy, people. And making good food for people makes me even happier, especially if those people are likely to effusively praise my offerings. And when I say "good food" I don't just mean snobby, gourmet food. I appreciate trash as much as the next person. Twinkies? I don't buy them anymore because I devour the whole box in one sitting, and I cannot think of a trashier junk food than Twinkies, can you? I mean, the things don't even disintegrate.
But if I had the choice between Twinkies and something far more decadent and delicious like say, Napoleons from a French bakery, the Napoleons would win hands down. This is also my policy on food like chocolate. I'll eat Hershey's if I have to, but would far prefer Ferrero Rocher or Ghiradelli's. Why settle for mediocre food when you can have superb?
I wonder if I am not a bit obsessed. I just finished reading Julie and Julia and the biggest problem I had with the book was that the author and her husband regularly ate Domino's pizza. They live in NEW YORK and eat Domino's when they have access to so many far superior foods? I can't fathom it.
My philosophy with eating is if you are going to eat it, the food should taste good. Really good. Otherwise, why bother with all the work of masticating and swallowing and digesting? And it should be real (thus my American cheese aversion), not some chemical concoction created in a laboratory. And I'd much rather eat good, authentic food instead of some chain food meal. So, yes, I eschew Panda Express for the little hole in the wall in Chinatown that Bil and I love.
Obviously, there are things in my life that are way more important to me than good food (family and friends come to mind) but feasting on tasty meals is definitely in my top ten list of happiness promoters. What does that say about me? Probably that I am shallow, gluttonous and self-absorbed. I'm not sure, but I don't really care right now. I'm hungry and need to start making dinner: tortellini with pine nuts and prosciutto. Now, that's a happy prospect.
What makes you happy? Check out this week's Spin Cycle for more people's takes on happiness.