I’m an odd one when it comes to my eating habits. I love cooking, even the real simple stuff, and most days I’d rather have a home-cooked meal that took an hour to make than a TV dinner which took five minutes in the microwave. I’d rather have that TV dinner now than a meal in the dining hall, where I don’t know the ingredients, it was made in bulk, and three out of five times it makes me absolutely sick to my stomach.
Since coming to college, and even during my years here, my eating habits have changed a lot. I started out on three square meals a day (on 80-90% of days) to only eating breakfast when I get up really early and it’s the only thing that will keep me awake in my 8:00 class this quarter. Back at my folks’ place, especially on the weekends, breakfast is mandatory and it is mostly eggs, maybe sausage, and some kind of carb (toast, pancakes, cornbread if my dad’s cooking) plus some kind of heavily caffeinated tea. Here, when I do have breakfast, it’s either a bagel with cheese or a peanut butter and jelly sandwich because they both have protein to keep me up and my lovely bottle.
When it comes to lunch, well I do try to have something here between the hours of 11:00 and 2:30, sometimes 3:00. It’s hard when my class schedule almost prevents me from having time to eat anything much. It varies highly, depending on where I am when I get hungry. Back in high school, it was pretty varied too, but I always had it at roughly the same time and I always had something.
As for dinner, that’s the only meal that’s for sure. Not a consistent time, but I will always eat it. They say that breakfast should be the big meal of the day because that’s when you need the energy provided by the food most, but dinner is always my big meal. Back in at the folks’, dinner is some kind of meat (they’re usually nice to me, so it usually isn’t chicken) and some kind of vegetable if someone is thinking ahead. When I cook there, I love cooking dinner. Dinner means most of the family will be there and it means I can feel justified spending an hour or more in the kitchen. When I cook I generally don’t like touching raw meat, especially red meat, so often enough it is vegetarian (which my dad almost loathes) or the meat is pre-cooked/processed. I like making casseroles, so much so that a couple summers ago when I was making dinner fairly often my mother had to tell me to find something other than a casserole dish. I’m better now, but I still do love them. When I’m there for a few hours during the day I will also often make bread in my mom’s bread machine, especially if I’m making Italian food for dinner. There’s one recipe in the cookbook for the bread machine that I modfiy fairly heavily that my sister absolutely loves (she’s a teenaged adult, so there’s very little a family member can make that she loves).
Before I get wrapped up in the deliciousness of food, which is not the point of this post, I need to move on.
I touched on this earlier, but here at school I have practically become a vegetarian, not by ideology, but because of availability and a commitment to try to eat in a more local and sustainable fashion. I have meat twice or three times a week and if you ask me when I ate it last I’ll have to think about it a bit (last night I had a ham and cheese sandwich). This is especially true in the case of red meat. Of those two or three times, maybe one of them is red meat. The last time I had red meat was in a burger I ate half of last Sunday. Red meat for me is mostly beef, but I recently tried bison and found it rather delicious. When I get back to my childhood home I will probably end up eating more meat just because of my dad’s cooking/eating habits, but I will try to look for more local/sustainable meats at the local farmers’ market. Cheese, peanut butter, and hummus have become my main sources of protein, and I’m good with that.
Cheese. I have discovered, since I started college, that I am mildly to moderately lactose intolerant. Not such a big surprise, but kind of a disappointment because I love my cheese and ice cream. The one week I went without cheese was an incredible exercise in punishment for me. However, I have gotten smarter about how I consume my dairy. One, I realize that I can have soy milk or a really good local lactose-free milk in my cereal and it still tastes real good. Anything I think I can substitute soy milk in for regular milk, I will try. It’s pretty good in smoothies and damn fine in chai tea lattes (in fact, better than regular). Two: when I do eat dairy, more than nine times out of ten I will take a lactase supplement with it. The lactase supplement doesn’t help perfectly, but it allows me to eat cheese and gelato without regretting it for hours afterwards. If I don’t take it with gelato sans lactase I do and will regret it for hours because of the stomach aches. I learned that the hard way in Florence, Italy.
That’s the most words I’ve written in a blog post in a long time, if ever. Almost essay-length. Well, now that I’m hungry I have to wait about an hour before I have access to good food. So is life.