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We’ve been far from the Internet but never far from a farm or plate or kitchen; just haven’t written about it. It’s always obvious that there’s a connection between the size of the dinner and the size of the diner, but only recently is that something to consider more seriously. In the past several years, my tattered belt has told the story of ten pounds here and there and another five up and five down. It’s always been a subtle change like that of a season.

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Other people's children aren't God-sends, but this one's mine; so things are different. It's ok that it's not different for you.

Well now I’ll be paying a little more attention. It’s not that, at 40, my first child stirs worries of how old I’ll be when he graduates or becomes an astronaut firefighter scientist dinosaur – he’ll always have an old dad – it’s more the idea of leading through example. Providing that example isn’t an obligation in my view, it’s just that I like a personal challenge, I’m in the mood to fit into old cloths again, and providing that example will only be healthy for me. And healthy’s always sexy. Not terribly altruistic motives when you come down to it, but both the discovery of consuming food in a different way and the meditation on why this isn’t happening more around us have made living and eating consciously a very exciting season to live in.

I’m no sell-out though! There’s still fudge and fats and crackers and rum and chips and gooey-inside fried appetizers, just fewer of them farther between. Don’t eat just to not be hungry. Learn to be hungry for a few more minutes and do more savoring. Pretty simple stuff. So in the savor more department, dinner’s have looked more like the salads I used to mock.

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Image of a new dinner. Quinoa, kale, cranberries and avocado. It's possible that hell might have frozen over but I'll be in better shape when I get there.

This little ditty actually takes a great deal of forethought and attention to detail. It’s a Kale salad. To eat the Kale in a salad, you remove the larger center “stems” and apply the smallest amount of heat in order to knock out the bitterness. One method of applying some subtle heat: Add Quinoa, the formerly elusive South American grain that only sort of cooks like rice or grits or polenta. The heat from the Quinoa stifles the bitterness in the Kale and with a thin vinaigrette, avocado and cranberries (for a prettier picture), you get a remarkably complex salad that’s sturdy enough to sate the thinner diner.

It’s a Breakup

As I consider what to write about how I’m eating, it occurs to me that I think I’m breaking up with American Food. For almost a year, I’ve been anxious to meet new flavors, experiment with spices and seasonings and slower cooking methods all in the name of savoring the part of life that matters to everyone: Food. As I mentioned, I still eat fudge. Just bought some. But instead of biting off chunks and chewing furiously to bite another chunk off, I do what Grandma FoodNewsie did, I just keep a little sliver in my mouth and let it melt away. She lived to be 98. She didn’t workout and try to keep up a youthful appearance. She got old and embraced it. She wasn’t out to convince anyone that she was born decades after her real birth year. Her example, as mine will be for The Little Nipper, was to savor life. The way she nibbled seemed at first an absurdity; but as I mature, I “get” it. I don’t want to race through things and put on a show that those things are somehow more fulfilling to me and there’s lots of them. I want to savor what there is and that means there will be more left to truly take in and appreciate.

American Food epitomizes some mystical unannounced race into Salt, Sugars and Fats. Those are the darkest seeds of food cravings: Add bacon, add cheese, add salt, add butter, etc. Looking outside American Food reveals actual flavor, actual methods. Cultivating these techniques and waiting for the payoff takes a Food Maturity that I think I’ve got now and that maturity is already paying off in terms of how much of me there is to feed! It’s not a weight-thing. It’s a waist-line thing. Weight is a piss-poor indication of health, but shape… That matters. And it’s shape that often distinguishes Americans from Europeans or eaters in the Middle East or Asia – and it’s to those regions I’ve been looking for new food ideas behind American Food’s back.

No hurry.

In the drifting research for one-pot meals to prepare to provide for leftovers, I've migrated to this old Christmas gift in search of out-of-the-box Italian with a kick of orange clogs. You "got" that, right?

I recently discussed with someone how I pick a recipe. I begin with an ingredient I’m curious about and then build out from there. It just happens that this old book of mine lists ingredients I’ve been curious about like Fat Back, Lard, Shitake mushrooms, Vin Santo and Risotto, pastas and creams. So it’s off to Italy and I leave today! Goodbye mindless mouth-stuffing! I’m off to slowly explore new ways to savor what we all love.

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