Suddenly I understand

What the issue is in feeding a college student. Or even a post-teen. Or let’s just say it; anyone who can eat all the things that I dare not to eat for fear of ending up an example for a Dr. Oz show.

Caloric content.  Nutritional value. How to balance what the kid will eat versus what is good according to the label. How much to cook from scratch as opposed to serving up ready- made food, and how to blur the contents when presenting it and save credibility by doing so.

I would never have even thought about it were it not for an off-hand comment about how thin my in-residence niece had become. In a city where the Macy’s store routinely stocks racks upon racks of size zero outfits, being in the thin category typically means you’re doing ridiculous amounts of cardio, yoga, Pilates or running, or just living in a RDF (Reality Distortion Field) in which each day really does consist of 27 hours so you can get all your running around done.  Either way, the incineration of calories is basically a by-product of breathing.

But now I realized  when she said she was hungry, pretty much anything on the food cart was in play. A swift glance over the things she brought home was proof of that.  My routine is to make a pot of sauce with veggies and sliced chicken from scratch, marry it up with a double handful of whole wheat spaghetti, and live on it for four days. But the girl inhales In-N-Out burgers, has at least six burrito places on speed-dial (yes, I know that’s a dated term but it sounds more polite than finger-flick) and it was my own damn fault for introducing her to the local artisan market because the pastries they sell are made fresh every day in a bakery right up the street so there is never a need to eat a stale croistartmuffiscone. And still she is hungry.

So I found myself standing in a Costco/Safeway/Trader Joe’s aisle looking at packages of lasagna/chicken pot pie/ready-made zucchini patties and wondering how much of that processed mush I could offset with whole food I would cook. I found myself making weird deals like buying frozen waffles and fresh raspberries, hoping the fruit would throw itself onto the waffle as it popped from the toaster. I bought two nice firm yellow bananas and four green ones, hoping no hint of brown would appear on them before they were gone.  I lugged four bags full of food upstairs and then sat down to plan a menu. And suddenly I realized the sun had gone down, she would be home in 30 minutes, I still had Sunday chores to finish, and despite laying in enough provisions for a week in a snowbound cabin, there was nothing ready to eat.

Except for this big ol’ frozen pizza. It browned nicely in the oven, and a couple of diced  fresh tomatoes sprinkled on top made it look homemade. I dare you to tell the difference.


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