KCET ran this great story about Elizabeth Taylor's insatiable appetite -- not just for Richard Burton and being married -- but for food. As a mega fan of both Taylor's choice in men and edibles, the anecdote at the top of the story just resonated:
"One time Elizabeth Taylor had a surprise party here for her husband, and I walked into the kitchen and saw Elizabeth eating out of the pots. She was stealing a piece of chicken and she looked at me and said, 'You didn't see that.'" -- actress Betty Jones
As a pot-sneaker from an early age, I completely identify. In fact, the one Weight Watchers' rule I regularly defied was the one that advised you to portion out your meal on a plate and then put the rest of the leftovers away before you sit down at the table to eat. Talk about a disconnect. Clearly WW doesn't know what Liz and I know: Food tastes better when you wolf it down straight from the pot while your guests in the dining room are waiting to be served. Forbidden food, like its first cousin, forbidden sex, just comes with a special bonus quality to it.
So what other food indulgences did the lovely and talented Ms. Taylor and I share? Well, while I have never had chili from Chasen's flown in to wherever I was at the moment as she did regularly -- including to her villa in Rome during the filming of "Cleopatra" -- I did get Zabar's to overnight some pastrami to me when I first moved to Los Angeles. It didn't arrive hot but it did chase away my homesickness. I also have had Chicago stuffed pizzas delivered to my door from Giordano's to help my husband, who hails from there, celebrate his birthday.
Both Liz and I have watched as our weight on occasion has tipped the scale. I think we also share the pattern of getting serious and dieting for awhile, and I'm sure we both nodded with great enthusiasm when people spouted pearls like "It's not a diet! It's a lifestyle change!" It's a lifestyle change alright, but just a brief one for me and Liz.
After she slimmed down in the late 1980s, Taylor wrote a dieting book, "Elizabeth Takes Off," about which she quipped to a reporter "Maintaining your weight is the pits!" I couldn't agree more.
Liz -- and I -- love food. We love good, rich, bountiful food. We don't always love what it does to us, but we both understand that food is life and to enjoy life, one must enjoy food. (And for the record, eating disorders are not limited to the young. Aging can be a challenge to body image and for some women, it may bring on -- or rekindle -- an eating disorder, according to Harvard Health Publications.)
But falling way short of the seriousness of eating disorders is the stuff we all do, the disgusting eating foibles that are our dark secrets. Here are a few of mine:
1) I hide a few pieces of chocolate from my kids' Halloween stash in the freezer. When I rediscover them in April, the chocolate has little faded spots. And I eat them anyway.
2) When guests don't finish my incredibly amazing mashed potatoes, I've been known to share what's not eaten with the dog. Yes, I mean the stuff from the guests' plates that they think I'm dumping into the dog's dish. Some for Dolce, some for Mommy. Bet Liz did the same thing. I do worry that the dog is going to figure out a way to rat me out.
3) I eat leftover cold pizza standing in the refrigerator. "Bad pizza" is a contradiction in terms for me; there just is no such thing except for maybe Domino's, which is a big "why bother?" in my life. I do think though that in a just world, cold pizza would have the same caloric value as celery.
4) I eat raw cookie dough, even though I know it can cause salmonella because the package tells me so in big red letters. Look, there is a reason that there is an ice cream flavor called cookie dough. Cookie dough is incredible! I've eaten raw cookie dough since forever. So far, so good in the game of Salmonella Roulette.
5) I swig from the bottle of sparking water in the refrigerator when no one is around. So shoot me, there are some times when I am just too lazy to get a glass. I am mindful of backsplash, and yes, I am aware of the disgusting nature of this act. I yell at my kids all the time for doing this. But the truth is, I'm not really worried about germs. If I was a superhero, I'd be Germ Worryfree Woman. I scoff at those paper toilet seat covers in public bathrooms too and have rinsed chicken my whole life. I just refuse to get concerned.
6) Remember when Miranda on "Sex In The City" dumped the cake in the garbage and poured dish detergent all over it to ensure she wouldn't eat anymore? Two hours later she was forking the unsoaped-up pieces into her mouth. No, I've never done that. And I credit that to the coffee grinds I dump on top of my meal leftovers in the garbage, which I imagine taste far worse than dish soap.
OK, readers, your turn. Post your eating foibles in the comments below.
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