I love good food. To me, heaven is a bowl of home-made pasta tossed with fresh garlic and olive oil and some properly aged cheese grated on top. While I'm at it, let's wash it down with a good wine and a slab of hard-crusted baguette lathered in European sweet butter. Sure, you think I should eat a salad? I'll do that too -- and no, I don't want the dressing on the side.
I am a foodie and I hate January because everyone around me turns on my beloved. Food was the handsome stud that you frolicked recklessly with in December but come January, you demonize and blame for everything from your jeans not zipping to the new water-retention bags under your eyes. You join gyms and single-handedly cause Weight Watchers' stock to rise; you skip meals in January and eye every carb as an email from the Devil saying he's waiting for you on the Dark Side. Enough, I say.
Me? I love food. I love it 12 months a year, including in the month of January. I love Godiva chocolates at Valentine's Day, butternut squash with tart apples and maple syrup in October, and sweet-butter poached Maine lobster prepared at the French Laundry with arrowleaf spinach, parsnips and saffron-vanilla emulsion absolutely any time. Yum.
I love the heartiness of Tuscan bean soup when it's cold out and in the summer I unabashedly dive into a watermelon until my face is a slobbery mess. I like spicy food, robust food, locally grown and freshly picked food and perhaps too frequently, food that comes in a bag marked potato chips. Yeah, I probably should cut those out.
But I am an eater. I make no apologies for it. Life is short and enjoying what you eat has always sounded a high note for me. I'm an adventurous cook with a good sense of what flavors work together. I find joy in new food discoveries, the kind that can only come from opening your mind and your palate to new food experiences. I am proud that my 11-year-old son recognizes the smell of wild sage and rosemary when we hike and after a mere million years of marriage, my husband no longer comes home with cilantro when sent to the market for Italian parsley.
But today, I feel the need to defend food from those of you who, each January, proclaim it Public Enemy No. 1. You know who you are. You grazed too long at the holiday trough and now feel you are paying the price. You want a quick and easy solution to feeling like the Pillsbury doughboy and you think it's simply to slash your intake and walk around spouting quotations from the latest diet bible, which this year I believe is called "Skinny Bitch" or something equally inspirational.
Sorry friends, but I'm here to set you on the path to freedom. A trot around the block a couple of times a week will address your December indiscretions. So would an exercise bike or treadmill in the corner of your room -- right next to the full-length mirror. But to give up one of life's greatest pleasures is not the route to take. Besides, jeans -- they come in bigger sizes.