Overheard at the Exploratorium cafeteria with my son (sternly, from an incredibly obese woman to her slim daughter, eating pizza): "Eat your crusts". It's difficult to escape my obsession with food when I have none. I'm keenly aware of every person shoving heaps of pabulum into their gullets. It's sublime. It's also incredibly telling. We simply eat too much. This woman may be a victim of an awful set of genes or an unfortunate thyroid problem. But, more likely, she probably eats her crusts. I mean, what's the point? In 99% of the pizza in this country (current Neapolitan craze excluded) the sauce and the cheese are where the action is. The crust is just dry bread with no real value, other than making us fat, right? Of course Pizza Hut will stuff your crusts with cheese if you're so inclined.
Our portions are obscene. I remember coming back from a long trip in Asia with my wife years ago - stomach shrunk to a manageable size. We went to Park Chow and I ordered the cobb salad. There were two sizes and I chose the smaller one. I ate about half and was totally full. Nice meal. I said to myself, and Julie: "I feel great and I plan to reduce my consumption so that this is always just enough". Yeah, nice try. I was back on the supersize mentality in a matter of days.
I dreamt a restaurant concept last night that involved only small portions. What a boon that would be! But wait, we have them, don't we? In fact there was a "small plates" craze a few years ago (which quickly was gobbled up by the comfort food craze - now it's street food). The problem was that we never ordered small plates to eat individually. They were just so you could try a little of everything. The waiters always would say "I recommend ordering 2-3 small plates per person". Eat your crusts. (by the way, why is there no proper Pintxos - Basque Tapas - bars in San Francisco? I could easily copy any one of a hundred from San Sebastian and it would be a massive success!)
Another side effect of the cleanse is that I am the uncomfortable dinner-party guest. At least ten times last night I subjected my poor friends with my philosophies on the master cleanse. I'm a one-trick pony and these patient folks must have been ready to smack me in the face with their delicious gouda sausages. I come off as self-righteous, enlightened and holier-than-thou when I am cleansing, because there isn't much else for me to talk about since my head is swimming with the thoughts of food. Note to self: don't ruin other's good times when cleansing. Stay home.
Which leads me to an update on things and some holier-than-thou speak: I am not hungry at all. I had a few pangs this morning that quickly dissipated. My allergies have been acting up and I had something in my eye last night. But those things aside, I feel great. Of course I cannot stop thinking about food, but this is a symptom of the conditioning we have (especially at meal time) and represent "cravings" and not real hunger.
When you embrace the cleanse, you quickly realize the vast difference between real hunger and craving. We are not hungry people. If you can afford to have a computer and run in the circles where you have discovered my blog, you are not hungry. We have cheap calories around us at all times. We are conditioned to feel the need to eat at specific times of the day but it has nothing to do with food-as-survival.
If I can impart any wisdom gained from this controlled starvation it is that it doesn't take long to get in touch with this concept and it can be revelatory. I don't think thinking about it is good enough. You have to stop eating for days to realize the true nature of hunger. It's tangible and empirical. And if you do it, you may just decide not to eat your crusts.