The very first food I ever wanted and couldn’t have was a Hostess Sno-Ball. I was 4. It was on the low shelf by the checkout at Key Food, pink and round and glistening.
Pink. Round. Glistening. And Treyf.
Sure, I knew from treyf, even though I never used the word. Not Kosher, that was all my mother had to say. Couldn’t have it, no argument, nothin’ to discuss.
Nowadays everyone reads food labels for polyunsaturates, trans fats and allergens.
Back then I read labels for one word only: gelatin.
“GEL-atin!” we’d say, our lips twisting in disappointment in the aisles of Key Food and later Waldbaum’s and later Food Emporium and still later Stop and Shop.
It was like finding a piece of doggie poo on your living room floor, or a boy in the girl’s bathroom, or (now, oy) a new grey hair, or maybe just Waldo. Aha! —great, now get rid of it, on to the next.
Many yummy-looking things had gelatin like Oreos, and Lucky Charms and something else chocolatey I really wanted that I forget right now.
Such an innocent looking word; didn’t even make it to the top ten on the ingredients list, and all lower-case unlike those chemical compounds at the end.
Sruli says, whenever I kvetch to him that I am too fat, (which is way too often, but he got me at middle age, and knocked me up, and it’s very hard to lose baby fat now even after two and a half years and anyway I am noticing lately that most women my age have that thickness around the middle that marks them as middle-aged, so I have a double whammy that makes it doubly hard, dammit, and do you think Sensa really works because those pop-up ads on Facebook are kinda cool the way they shrink that red dress and I have a red dress from Lucky that I was hoping to wear for Thanksgiving but my stomach might stick out too unattractively, see above, and at this rate I will never ever get to wear it with that cool dangling gold oak-leaf necklace, the point being that it would dangle and not just rest on any protrusion) that I should go back in time and make all fattening foods “treyf” in my head the way I used to with gelatin. You didn’t even want it, he says, didn’t even tempt you.
I see the way my beautiful and slim fairy stepdaughter eats: small sensible meals, a fruit, some soup. She doesn’t crave, the way I crave, and food is just not that important. Just not that important. Ha!
And it’s not like I don’t have a million things going on.
Sometimes, ok, most times, I suspect that I would get more done if I stopped thinking about food, but I also suspect that that is tantamount to exhorting a seventeen year old boy to stop thinking about sex every 17 seconds or whatever the statistic is.
One of my theories about food and treyf and the reason that so many Ortho Jews are so fat is that when you deny yourself in one department you tend to go overboard in another.
Sure, no Ortho is eating Sno-balls, but watch them at the pizza place on Motzei Shabbos.
I am trying, of late, to be in control, and matter of fact and not greedy at all those buffets at all the Bar and Bat Mitzvahs we are doing every weekend; trying to absorb the concept of moderation and ease and the fact that the platter of pasta, or fried chicken cutlets or brownies that the caterer put out is not, repeat, not my portion, and I shouldn’t be eating that stuff anyway since there is almost always a grilled something and a nice salad and an even nicer fruit display.
Calm is good, calm is sexy. I’m going to try to be calm about food.
So tonight at the supermarket, Charlie Re noticed something on the low shelf by the checkout, something pink and round and glistening.
Mommy, she said, holding it up.
She is two and a half and the world is her oyster.
Ok, I said.
We checked out. I opened the package and handed one to her and one to her drooling twin brother.
She took a tiny bite and held it out to me, the coconut sprinkles (I never realized what they were!) yes, glistening, and I slowly leaned in for a taste.
She watched me carefully with her green eyes.
Mmmmmm, I said. But it was awful.