Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Food Confessions

HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN: I used to love toasted sesame bagels with strawberry jam. I mean—I Loved them. I used to wake up in the early morning, and think—“is it time for my toasted sesame bagel with strawberry jam yet?” I could just taste those toasty nutty seeds, and the crunchy bread and the delicious yummy jam, and oh, it was fabulous. I had one every day for about a year.

Then suddenly, without warning!  It was—impossible. Yuck.  I couldn’t even think about eating one. I still can’t.

Same thing happened with baked potatoes with broccoli and sour cream. Oh, I yearned for it, couldn’t wait to get home from work to have that for that one-potato dinner...the fabulous steamy potato, all hot, and the skin crispy, the way the broccoli and the sour cream merged, and no matter what kind of a bite you got, it was the best.

Then, suddenly, yuck. AH, no, thank you.

I binged. I binged, and then somehow, like in Clockwork Orange, I could not face it again. Is there a binge thing in our brains?

Right now it’s cool and hip to “binge-watch” a TV show. We sure did it with House of Cards last season.  We watched until we were bleary.

And good think there were only 13 episodes, because maybe I would have gone all sesame bagel after 14.  Who knows. (We’re starting Season 2 now--and wow. But we won’t discuss it.)

Do you—binge? On anything? Did you binge yourself out of liking it? (Maybe it's more--a habit, than a binge.) (Roberta/Lucy, is this a psychological “thing”?)

HALLIE EPHRON: I'm not a binger. Though at the moment, I've watched episodes of Poirot that I missed for five nights running. Does that count? And yes, I am sick of them. It's amazing how often Agatha Christie recycled plot devices.

When it comes to food, I quickly tire of whatever I've recently eaten. And I firmly believe that at any moment, something I've always assumed was perfectly safe will be shown to cause some terrible disease. So I might eat a hot dog for lunch for a week, but then I won't touch one again for months.

HANK: Because then it's out of your system? Or what?

LUCY BURDETTE: Of course Hank there is a serious psychological disorder called Binge Eating Disorder, but that's not what you're talking about here! This is more like too much of a good thing, right?

HANK: Yeah. Exactly. I only had ONE bagel.  EVERY DAY. FOR A YEAR. Sheesh. Scary. Yeah, it's more of a Habit than a binge.

LUCY: I'm like Hallie, anything I eat too much of can turn on me. Even Christmas cookies. I still have two rolls of cookie dough in the freezer and can't bring myself to bake them. Or spanakopita, which I dearly love. If I make a whole 13 by 9 inch pan of it for only John and me, it definitely becomes a slog at the end...

DEBORAH CROMBIE: I'm not a binge-er. Although I do seem to go in cycles on breakfast. For years I ate a soft-boiled egg and a slice of whole wheat toast. Mostly these days, it's granola and yogurt, but it's more time thing. I still love the soft-boiled eggs. Left-overs, now, that's a whole different thing.  I can eat something twice, maybe, and after that, yuck.

HANK: Yeah, it's hard to throw away leftovers. The key is to wait til the THIRD day. Then, no problem to toss because they are surely deadly.
I always say--let's put it in the fridge now, and we'll throw it away later.

RHYS BOWEN: I've always had a small appetite. I really enjoy good food and I do like to have good cheeses after dinner every night. But in my school days I do remember having tomatoes on toast every day for a few months, having Marmite and pickle on rye crisp until I tired of it.

HANK: Rhys, only you… Marmite and pickle on rye crisp?

RHYS: In fact I think I've been the opposite of a binger all my life--I get bored easily. I like to be surprised and try new things. When I lived in a country club the other wives wanted me to play tennis with them every morning. I couldn't do that. And these days I have friends who play bridge every day. I think I like my life as a smorgasbord, sampling a little treat here, a little treat there.

HANK: So how about some food confessions from you all--do you ever get a craving something,..and then have it every day until it loses its joy?

CHANGING THE SUBJECT HERE: One thing that will never lose its luster--is a new book  by wonderful favorite author...and right here in my little hot hand is JOHN LESCROART'S brand new THE KEEPER.  It's an ARC, and it's a Dismas Hardy, and  selfishly, I'm not giving mine up. :-)  But, because John is the coolest of all guys, he sent me two! And one is for a lucky commenter.  


  1. Does having coffee and a chocolate donut every Sunday during fellowship time after church count as binging on one thing?
    I hadn’t thought much about it, but your question made me realize that I have a tendency to eat and drink pretty much the same things . . . . I used to eat chocolate peanut butter on rye toast, but the last jar I had somehow managed to turn itself into cookies and sauce for ice cream, so maybe that was my binge thing . . . .

  2. I am a food creature of habit. Week days - breakfasts are banana and yogurt. Carrots mid-morning. Dried fruit and a sandwich for lunch. Then comes dinner, which might have a little variety, although I usually get pizza and eat it over two nights and Subway another night.

    Saturdays, I often have frozen waffles for breakfast (unless I've got something else going on and need to leave quickly). Lunch on weekends are hot pockets.

    It's been this way for years. What can I say, I'm a bachelor.

  3. I definitely go through binges for breakfast, and they usually last at least a year, sometimes more. For the longest time, I ate Frosted Cheerios for breakfast, even when I lost a bunch of weight. Then, I changed to Fiber One with almond clusters for about a year. My latest breakfast food is Earth Grains cinnamon and raisin English muffins. At home I want something quick and no fuss. I do always have to have my coffee though. It's only when I am on vacation or go out to breakfast with a friend that I crave a full fledged eggs, hash browns, bacon, and toast breakfast.

    In trying to think up a food that I binged on beyond breakfast foods and then didn't want anymore, it's harder. I have rather gone off Weight Watchers toffee ice cream bars, and I used to want one of those everyday.

    Deb, you said you aren't crazy about leftovers, or at least not more than one night of leftovers. I love leftovers in things like spaghetti casserole and chili. I could eat for at least three or four days on that. I just such a creature of habit at home when there's just me so much of the time. Like you, Joan, I tend to eat the same things.

    Rhys, you definitely win the adventuresome award for eating in this post today. Lucy, if I lived in Key West, I think I would make the rounds of my favorite places and eat much more of a variety than I do now. Hank, I might have have a plain English muffin with strawberry jam for my next breakfast binge, as I do so love strawberry jam. Hallie, I usually don't have to worry about thinking on what isn't good for me, as my healthy food conscious daughter is only too happy to let me know what horrible foods I'm eating. She does seem to have let up some lately, probably thinks I'm a lost cause. Now, it's very late, and I must get to bed so I can get up and eat my cinnamon raisin muffin in the morning.

  4. My paragraphing went haywire. I guess I wasn't paying close enough attention.

    It does give me a chance to comment on Mark's post, which wasn't up until I clicked on submitting mine. Kudos to you, Mark, for your healthy morning eating. I'm trying to train myself to eat carrots as a snack, but it's a hard sell to me. Maybe I'll give it another go now.

  5. When I was a teenager my daily craving was for a clam roll, golden crispy fried clams in a buttered and grilled New England style hot dog bun—had to have flat sides opening at the top and no rounded edges... the perfect, almost crustless, hot dog bun. I would get one on my way home from school and follow it with a tall glass of orange juice and a package of four toll house cookies when I got home.

    I think the routine was as important to me as the food. When I went to live with my grandparents in Boston, I easily switched my routine after school snack to Schrafft's cheese bread toast with butter and a cup of tea.

    I was disappointed that I wasn't allowed to drink large glasses of orange juice. But being me I would sneak it if my grandfather wasn't home. My grandmother never said a word. She taught me how to make a pot of tea, and I think that made up for a lot of loss. This was the house where I learned how to be Boston Irish.

  6. OK, I just did this last week while the wife was traveling. Mini-binge I call it. I hadn't made any peanut butter fudge in a long time and got a craving. Went to the store, bought two pounds of that white nasty refined sugar, two jars of JIF extra chunky and a bottle of vanilla extract. Three nights in a row I made peanut butter fudge. Three nights in a row I ate the whole batch. Couldn't look at sugar or candy the last morning. Hope I'm good for a while.

  7. I wish I had a small appetite, since I'm not a very big person. I don't think I do daily binges like you are describing, but I can certainly eat way, way more of a particular dish or dessert, just because it tastes SO good. And don't even get me started on Thin Mints. Eat one, might as well empty the whole sleeve. And no, that doesn't turn me off them the next day. Another day, another sleeve!

  8. Ooooh, Thin Mints - I'm with you on that, Edith. I ration them to myself... I can also take an entire 2 weeks to go through a pint of Haagen Daaz Rum Raisin ice cream, a few tastes at a time.

  9. Yes, I'm big on rationing too. I have a piece of dark chocolate after dinner. ONE.

    ANd maybe I shouldn't have said BINGE, because it's a SLOW binge. A tiny bit at a time. Never a LOT of pod at the same time. Just--again and again. What's the word for that?

  10. I am in the middle of a habit - those super thin coconut cookies that Trader Joe's make. I love those things so much. At least they are relatively healthy for a cookie (8 of them for 100 calories I think). But then, sometimes I crush them and put them on vanilla ice cream, so there when the health part.

    I do suspect that I will tire of them eventually. Then I will take a break and find some new obsession. Just the way the mind works I suppose.

  11. I admire you folks who can ration yourselves to 2 Thin Mints or a single piece of dark chocolate a day. That is amazing to me. Of course, nothing lasts a long time in my house. I live with two growing men/boys, so getting to a treat first is like survival of the fittest...or maybe the fastest.

    I eat a bowl of grits with salt and butter almost every morning, since childhood. It hasn't bored, or killed, me yet.

  12. Bingeing, or in for a penny, in for a pound. Rare, for me. Thank goodness.

    But food obsessions? Yes. And that's what I would call having the same food, day in and day out, for ages. I certainly do that.

    When I was in my 20's I had a glass of orange juice and a raisin English muffin with peanut butter every morning, for years and years. Then when I had a very serious oral surgery that went haywire, resulting in a broken jaw and a severed nerve, I lost my sense of taste for salty and sweet, for many years. The one thing I could taste was dark chocolate. So every morning I had a square of dark chocolate with coffee, instead of another, more tasteless breakfast.

    After about six years the nerve partially regenerated and my sense of taste came back. But, 27 years later, I still have a square of dark chocolate with my one cup of morning coffee.

  13. Postscript to 27 years of eating dark chocolate: I credit it with my extremely low cholesterol count. My husband and I eat virtually the same things every day, with the exception of breakfast. His cholesterol counts and mine are exactly the opposite, regarding the relationship of HDL and LDL.

  14. Two problems here: I live alone, so I always have larger quantities of any recipe than I need, and I have more than a touch of OCD, so I have a need to finish what I've made.

    Many, many years ago, when tuna came in 7 ounce cans, I was on Weight Watchers, and the allowance of tuna for dinner was 6 ounces. So I had an ounce left over every time I had tuna for dinner (which was often), and it almost killed me to put it into the fridge, If one collected enough of those little bits, one had enough for breakfast or even lunch, but it drove me nuts to have those little containers in my fridge. (That's the OCD kicking in).

    If I make a large enough batch of chili or meatloaf, I can apportion it over two or three days and freeze the rest in single size portions. The danger is when the recipe makes, say, two or two-and-a-half servings, especially when what they call a "serving" is a little on the small size. That's when I find myself nibbling around the edges of the second serving until it is gone.

    But as for my current food addiction? Right now it's homemade oatmeal raisin cookies. In the past, it has been what used to be called Broadway Ambrosia, that 1950's concoction of canned pineapple, canned mandarin orange slices, mini marshmallows, coconut flakes, maraschino cherries and sour cream (or yogurt). I get a yen for something, and make it, and sometimes it actually lives up to what I'd been thinking about. (But a lot of times, it doesn't; Ms. OCD here will often finish it anyway).

    Last week, I was in the deli section of our local grocery, and they had some fantastic gooey gunk called Pistachio Fluff. I asked for a quarter of a pound, and the counter attendant weighed out a third. Half of that was delicious; then it turned gagworthy. Of course, I finished it anyway (the next day), but I really wish she had given me the amount I'd asked for, rather than too much of a good thing.

  15. SO interesting, Karen! Off to find some morning chocolate. (Actually --not really.)

    Ramona, truly? I cannot see how you could not tire of that. Fascinating.

    Super-thin coconut cookies?Hmmm? Sounds yummy.

  16. Hank, I do love grits but I think I have them every morning because there is no decision involved. All day long, I make decisions. First thing in the morning, I want something that requires no thought. Grits does that for me.

  17. Nachos! More specifically, the ones we make at home which are loaded. (My husband is a firefighter. All his meals are delicious and loaded with too much deliciousness.)

    As soon a the final score of the Super Bowl displays on the TV I suddenly find them disgusting. Why would I eat something so disgusting?

    But as soon as the first pre-season game starts a few months later I'm all, "Do you know what we need? We need nachos. Nachos would make this game SO MUCH BETTER!"

    Is there such a thing as a sports-related habitual food binge?

  18. Key lime Greek yougurt. One for breakfast and one just before bed. I have been craving these for over a year and will search out a grocery story with the right brand. We buy them 12 to 16 at a time. Some times I mix it with rolled oats, chopped pecans and fresh bluettes or honeynut cherrios, but most of the time it is just a tub and tiny bites nibbled and savored. Don't know if I'll ever get tired of it. AND it has helped me get off sweets and other bubbles in the evening. ;-)

  19. "Sports-related habitual food binge?" yes, indeed,I thnk the phrase was coined by Frito-Lay.

    And possibly, it's the topic of someones doctoral thesis.

    And truly, think of all the articles there are about "Super BOwl" food, or "Derby" food. Right?

    IS there March Madness food?

  20. Mountain Muse, YES! Lemon Yogurt with oat bran and fresh raspberries.I had that for dessert every night for a year, I bet.

    Then Stonyfield Farms stopped making lemon. I was so upset, and even wrote to them. Somehow, they didin't care. I just wanted REGULAR lemon, not Greek lemon. They didn't care. NOt one bit.

    Sorry to whine, but man. I miss that.

    WOW. Is the NSA listening? One of my captcha words is

  21. Habits...obsessions...food! Oh yeah! Jack, I'm with you on the home-made peanutbutter fudge--but I only make it at Christmas and then I cut it into tiny squares to make it last a lo-o-ong time! Habit: peanutbutter on whole grain toast with a dollop of honey for breakfast. And Reine, you are making me wish I'd walked home from school with you!

  22. I ate peanut butter and honey sandwiches for lunch at school every day all through my childhood and adolescence (thank goodness this was back in the 1960s). I think my mother was very lucky that I was so undemanding. I loved loved loved them, and still do, though I don't have them every day anymore.

    (don't need to be in the ARC draw, thanks)

  23. For the first 16 years of my marriage my husband ate Cheerios for breakfast. Every. Single. Day. I bought them in the huge Costco size. Then one day he looks at me across the breakfast table and says, "Why do I have to eat Cheerios every day? Can't I have something else.?" So now we're on year 12 of maple-brown sugar Quaker oatmeal.

  24. When I worked in White Plains, NY in the early '80s a bunch of us would go across the street to a little deli and buy lunch. I'd include two packages of Gramma's Cookies (a dark chocolate and Oatmeal Rasin) -- that would be four cookies.

    When I quit smoking I started to gain weight and decided to give up the cookies. A couple of weeks later I realized the display of Grandma's was overflowing with dark chocolate and oatmeal raisin cookies.

    I had broken their inventory system!

    ~ Jim

  25. For a year or so, I ate a cup of light yogurt with granola. Can't even look at it now. These days, it's bagels. Who knows how long that will last.

    I am perfectly capable of rationing Thin Mints. I am also perfectly capable of eating an entire sleeve ion the morning, and another in the afternoon. No, it does not turn me off them the next day.

    I am also completely capable of chowing down an entire bag of tortilla chips (blue corn are the best) and half a jar of salsa in a sitting. I try not to keep them in the house or they are gone. I love chocolate, but for "binge eating" I'm more of a salty person (I had to give up bingeing on raw, roasted salted almonds - very, very bad things happened).

  26. I'm more a creature of habit. My breakfast for the past ten years has been a single egg fried, and over easy with a lite English muffin w/cream cheese and my large cup of French Vanilla iced coffee.

    My snack habits aren't as set... I eat when I'm bored, which is usually after midnight when I'll eat any thing I find in the fridge or pantry. I've been known to open a box of Cheerios and eat them by the handful. JUST BECAUSE I WAS BORED!

  27. Okay, now I'm feeling guilty about how healthy I sounded. If someone brings sweats into work, I'm usually first in line eating them. I eat plenty of junk, but not on any kind of routine.

  28. Creature of habit. Yes, that sounds better. And if a habit is delicious, what's wrong with that, right?

    Oh, and I am VERY fond of almonds. Hmm..and now, afraid.

    (ANd I agree, much more tempted by salty than sweet...)

  29. I have toast (homemade bread usually) with peanut butter (the real stuff that is just peanuts) and thinly sliced sharp cheddar cheese. The vending machines at college had those cheese crackers with "peanut butter". They saved me from existing only on cafeteria food! This is my adult, upgraded version. If I have a good avocado I use it instead of the peanut butter.

  30. Old-fashioned oatmeal is a good habit, and replaced the over-sweet prepared cereals and instants.
    Coffee, citrus, and dark chocolate is my more indulgent pre-breakfast . . .
    I did go off a favorite dish, mushroom crepes. The staff at the coffee house were quite certain they had not changed the recipe in any way, but I just didn't enjoy it any longer . . .

  31. Now I'm wanting a clam roll, and I don't think I've ever had one . . .

  32. Count me in on the clam rolls, Reine, although I've never had one. They sound delicious. And reminded me of the one food I get a really serious craving for. Fried oysters. And not just any friend oysters (although others will do in a pinch.) I want fried oysters from Pappadeux, the Cajun restaurant. Fortunately there isn't a Pappadeux very close to me so I don't get to indulge very often...

  33. Reminds me of the cherry story in "Zorba the Greek". I read "Zorba" in college and so theorized that if I ate nothing but potatoes and buttermilk for the entire summer (which was conveniently cheap for a college student), I'd be sick of it. Forty years later, I still eat a potato every day, but can't stand the sight of buttermilk.

  34. Reminds me of the cherry story in "Zorba the Greek" which I read in college and upon which I based the theory that if I ate nothing but potatoes and buttermilk all summer (conveniently cheap for a college student), I'd never crave potatoes again. Forty years later, I still eat a potato every day but can't stand the sight of buttermilk.

  35. I missed adding to the discussion because I was en route yesterday from Saratoga to home.

    The only time I've gone right off foods have been when pregnant. My morning sickness always kicked in around the six-week mark, and the last meal I ate before that happened became the Foodstuff of Death. With the Smithie, it was turkey. Thanksgiving was the day before, and afterwards, I couldn't eat turkey in any form for a couple of years. Hardboiled eggs with The Boy. I think it was Jell-O with Youngest, and I'm still a bit down on that.

    In my non-parturient state, I'm more like Rhys - I like to mix it up. I don't think I ever have the same thing, other than tea, more than once a week.

    I can get utterly sick of songs, though! Everyone else in the family will listen to songs they love over and over and OVER, but if I hear something too many times, that's it, I find it revolting.

  36. Easy! Two slices of Miltons multigrain bread, toasted; one slice of sharp cheddar cheese; one soy breakfast "soysage"....every weekend morning for 8 years!

  37. Deb, I have to comment on your fried oysters. I also love them. It is the only way I like oysters, which is funny since I grew up with oyster lovers and find my family now loves them, too. My mother always fixed scalloped oysters for any holiday or special occasion, and I would eat the buttery cracker filling only. My family, husbands and kids (especially daughter), insist on me fixing the scalloped oysters for holidays. I still basically eat just the buttery cracker filling, but I venture forth and have a small bite of oyster sometimes. However, fried oysters are the cat's meow.

  38. Fried oysters. Sounds SO yummy! Fried cardboard, also sounds yummy.

    Once I got tired of bacon, but I got over it, thank goodness.

  39. I did that with coffee. I drank it every day for about a year as I was finishing high school and for a bit after. Then one morning I woke up and it was a total turn off for me and I haven't been able to drink it since.

    There have been a few things like that since then -- tuna sandwiches was one. And an overindulgence in student fare -- macs and cheese, chile etc. had me not wanting to look at any of them for years. But with most of them I have found my way back to eating them again, though never every day.

    And Ryhs isn't alone with her taste for Marmite and rye crisps and pickles. My husband will eat marmite and pickles with almost anything.

  40. Zorba tells his young cohort, Basil, that when he was a young man, he loved cherries, they drove him wild. One day, he decided to confront his weakness and defeat it. He ate all the cherries he could find. From then on, the sight of cherries repulsed him. I believe the tagline was, it hadn't worked with Zorba's weakness for women (but its been a long time since I read the book.)

  41. When I was a teen, the family went on a trip to California in a camper. My dad was one of the "how many miles can we go in a day" breed. So we'd stop for lunch and he'd say "Let's just have hot dogs and a can of cold baked beans." Once in awhile he'd throw in scrambled eggs. I could not eat any of these things for YEARS. I can now occasionally do scrambled eggs. I can eat real cooked baked beans. But I still after 50 million years or so cannot do hot dogs. Once in awhile, if there is enough stuff to put on it, I'll choke one down to be polite. But if I can get away with it, I'll have what a friend called an undog. The bun loaded with chili, onions, condiments, etc. and NO DOG. That is the extreme of what you are talking about, I think. I try not to let anything get like that for me again. :D

    Pen M

  42. Un-dog! Hilarious! (Once my producer ordered a Thai Chicken sandwich without the Thai sauce. I said--that's just a chicken sandwich! We had a little discussion about that..)

    Thanks, Keenan!

    ANd whoa--I hope I never get tired of coffee. Sadly, that's SCARY.

  43. Me? Every other week, when I get my nails done, I carry a McDonald s Strawberry Milkshake into my appointment. It feels really great to "cheat" on my diet.

  44. I don't have mini binges with meals but I have with snacks,collations. I can have pretzels for weeks and then no more... Same with granola bars, rice chips, goldfishes... I can't even have them in the house.
    I'm not like Deb or you Hank, I love reheated meals: I cook during the week end and can reheat 3 or 4 times. It's not a problem for someone living alone . Couldn't be done when I had a family.

  45. I try not to have any kind of chips in the house. I cannot rest until they are eaten. By me. Dad won't eat Spam to this day. They were inundated with it during WW2.

  46. Oh, gosh, I can have a granola bar when I'm on book tour--that's my treat in the evenings when i get back from my speech.

    Someday, when it's quiet, I'll tell you about the first day I discovered Fritos. I bet I was--ten. Could that be? I ate so many Fritos I cannot even describe it. More than fifty years ago! And I still remember.. but wow, they were delicious.

    Tomorrow--were talking about--well, you won;t believe it. CARS.

    And I'll announce the winner of THE KEEPER!

  47. I'm so glad I did not like Fritos when I was a teenager! Unfortunately I love them now—especially with pico de gallo… help! I suppose that's better for my weight than bean dip.

  48. Debs and FChurch, we can pretend to be old school mates and go for a few clam rolls. That would be so much fun.

  49. StorytellerMary, you'll have to join us for clam roll. xo

  50. And the winner of John Lescroart's THE KEEPER is is HELEN NELSON! Email me at h ryan at whdh dot com and tell me your address!