Operation Feel Good (OFG, the plan my siblings and I have to get fit) has, in the words of a friend, become Operation Fat Guy. In the hopes of getting back on track I thought I would latch onto my younger sister’s plan to begin a six week challenge. Lose one pound each week for six weeks. Although she’s actually doing an official program with her workout group at her gym, I thought I would set the same goal for myself. The baseline weigh-in was a little more than a week ago with the first weigh-in to see if I’m on track just a couple of days ago.
For the most part, I am an honest person with a couple of exceptions. When you play cards with me, I won’t tell you when I can see your cards. (It’s really up to you to learn how to hold your cards.)
The second exception is food. The lies are mostly just to me. Like the brownie that doesn’t count because you ate it standing over the kitchen sink when no one was around. No plate, no witnesses, should be a freebie.
Unlike cards, my relationship with food fools no one. Even if I am not caught in the act, the end result is plain for all the world to see. For instance, I was the chubby kid who wore a t-shirt swimming. In my day you didn’t worry about sunburns, so the only reason to wear a t-shirt in the pool was because you wanted to hide your body. Obviously, a wet t-shirt is going to cling to every roll of fat, hiding nothing.
As an adult, I exercise regularly and eat the vegetables I never touched as a kid. But when I am alone there are always a few too many treats that sneak in. Or sometimes the intention begins with a salad but ends with ice cream. You can only hide so many doughnuts before they show up one way or another. And show up they do, like during my second trip to New Orleans.
On that trip to New Orleans, my long-time friend Kara joined me. (I introduced you to Kara in my post about apricot jam, the one where she tried to eat my apricot jam. A story that could have had a really bad ending.) I hadn’t discovered New Orleans until my 30s, but it was love at first sight. Gritty, sensual, New Orleans welcomes you, dares you to stay.
I love the food, the architecture, the music, the attitude.
On that second trip, I had my list of things to do. My list was actually a matrix built mostly around food. New Orleans is, of course, one of the great food cities in the world, and because there are only so many meals in the course of the day careful planning is needed.
Kara and I live opposite times of day. She’s a night owl, I’m a morning person. That can work perfectly when traveling because we each have space to explore as we please and can then regroup. So that first morning of our trip, I headed out early, long before she’d wake. I came back to the hotel at our pre-arranged time.
Knocking on her door, I asked if she was ready for breakfast.
Looking at me strangely, she asked if I was hungry.
That struck me as odd, because she knows that I’m always hungry. And in New Orleans I pack my eating pants. Am I hungry? What kind of question is that? So I asked again if she was ready to go to breakfast.
Now there was a smirk as she asked if I was really hungry.
“Yes,” I replied a little perturbed.
“Really?” Her eyes now fixed on my sleeve.
My black sleeve, covered in powdered sugar.
Such a rookie mistake. I still can’t believe I was so stupid as to be caught with powdered sugar on my sleeve.
I had gone to Café du Monde for beignets, a little breakfast appetizer.
A beignet, the reason for going to Café du Monde, is a square piece of dough that has been fried and covered with powdered sugar. Café du Monde was established in 1862 in the French Market just across from Jackson Square. The café is open 24 hours a day, closing only on Christmas Day.
Yes, Café du Monde is extremely touristy, but I wouldn’t call it a tourist trap (seems I make that exception for places that make doughnuts, see “Not my fault, it was voodoo!”). I’ve had a couple of misses when the service was slow or the beignets were just okay, but even on a bad day, we are talking fried dough. And on a good day, we are talking really good fried dough. Need a little something to settle your stomach first thing in the morning after a night on the town? Café du Monde is open. Need to rest your feet (or liver) on a hot afternoon? Café du Monde is open. Is it 2 a.m. and you’re feeling a little peckish? Café du Monde is open serving pillows of fried dough.
The menu at Café du Monde is quite simple – really just beignets, coffee and milk (and orange juice and soft drinks). The coffee includes the roasted root of chicory. If I had tasted coffee with chicory first outside of New Orleans, I don’t know that I would have ordered it a second time. Now, however, the smell instantly takes me back to New Orleans and I will order it as a cheap way to travel. People have added chicory to coffee for centuries when coffee was scarce, like the French did during their revolution and much of the South did during the American Civil War. At Café du Monde you can get your coffee black or au lait (half coffee, half milk).
The morning I showed up with powdered sugar on my sleeve was all the more stupid because it wasn’t my first time eating beignets. I knew how to avoid getting powdered sugar all over me.
On a windy day, sit upwind.
Tilt the beignet away from you and tap to remove some of the excess powdered sugar.
Elbow out, raise the beignet straight up, over the plate.
Do not bring the beignet to you, lean in over the plate (as though you are eating a brownie over the kitchen sink to leave no evidence).
But when gusto gets the better of you, check for powdered sugar before meeting up with friends for breakfast pretending like you haven’t had a bite to eat since last night (which they are thinking was dinner and not the beignets you had at 2 a.m. after telling all your friends you were going to call it a night but made a beeline to Café du Monde).
Had I followed any of my own advice, I would have shown up free of powdered sugar and no one need to have known that I squeezed in an extra meal (as per my matrix).
And now back to my point, at some point those doughnuts will show up one way or another. Sometimes on your sleeve, sometimes on the scale. To be continued . . .