The scene of the crime was Long Island, N.Y. Coming back from a family evening out, I was squished in the back seat of our ‘53 Plymouth with my three older siblings and my aunt from California. Maybe it was oxygen deprivation, but the next thing I knew, it was morning and I was waking up in my bed. It was then that I came to a horrible realization about the night before: I’d slept through the promised ice cream stop. Aunt Janet tried to introduce me to the concept of ice cream for breakfast, but it was too late. The damage was done. And I have been a food-obsessed woman ever since.
Now, let me take you to a recent visit to Florida. My sister-in-law Susie (as in blonde and blue-eyed) is driving; my mother-in-law Margaret, aka “Muggsie” (as in lovely and feisty) and 100 (as in years), is in front. I (as in I-Meant-To-Eat-Salad-But-Somehow-Ordered-Fried-Food) am in the back.
Me: I’m stuffed. I feel disgusting.
Susie (ignoring me): We’re pulling in here.
Ah. The famed ice cream place.
Me: I have a theory about ice cream.
Muggsie: Is it that you always want some?
I overlook that and head in a more lofty direction.
Me: It’s about people’s favorite flavors and how it relates to one’s coloring.
Me: OK, forget that for now. What’s your favorite flavor, Sue?
Susie: It depends … whether I’m hungry, the direction my taste buds are pointing, the time of day …
Me: Wait. Go back to the taste-bud thing. Your taste buds point?
Susie: Yeah. In the morning, they are rounder, so I like things that are nutty.
I am trying to follow this, and wondering just how ginormous her taste buds are. I’m also wondering if ginormous is really a word.
Me: I’ll start again. It’s 9 p.m. Taste-bud pointiness aside, what flavor would you like at this moment?
Susie: Why? What’s your theory? Oh, and maple walnut. And chocolate.
Meanwhile, my mother-in-law, in the front seat next to Susie, is quiet. Until now.
Muggsie: Tell us your theory.
Me: It has to do with eye and hair color. Look at me. What do you see?
Susie: I can’t look. I’m driving.
Muggsie: I can’t look either. And I’m not driving.
Me: What do you each think my favorite flavors would be? Hint: dark hair, brown eyes …
Susie: Chocolate malt nut ripple.
What is she, a chemist?
Me: Just chocolate will do. What else? Think.
No response. You could hear a chocolate chip drop.
Me: Coffee! Brown hair (OK, grayish, but still) and brown eyes. Eastern European. Chocolate and coffee. Don’t you see?
Muggsie: I like all flavors.
I see my scientific theory is lost on this group. It’s possible I may need to do further research.
Meanwhile, I’ve noticed that many of the food myths and advice we’ve been told are not holding up in science, such as:
1. “Your eyes are bigger than your stomach.” It’s not easy to measure one’s own eyes, especially when you wear glasses. My right eyeball is just over an inch, horizontally. Left eye? Hard to say, as it is now covered with an eye patch, thanks to measuring with a metal-edged ruler. The average stomach? Roughly 6-by-12 inches. Even I know that’s way, way bigger than an eyeball.
2. “Cholesterol is bad for you.” News flash: Scientists think this is no longer true. Or something like that. So, egg up, people. For years we obey these so-called experts and then they’re all like “Oops. Sorry, our bad.” You know, in a few years, bacon will be the new super food.
3. “Butter is bad for you.” My cousin’s wife says that’s not true. She’s an artist, and anyone that creative has got to know this stuff. Plus, butter is pretty straightforward. One ingredient: butter. Six letters.
4. “Men lose weight faster than women.” Wrong. Women don’t lose weight, ever. No matter what. But give a guy a week, a six-pack, a couple of pizzas, and a single walk around the front yard, and he’ll drop 10 pounds.
5. “GMOs are bad for you.” Um, OK. I think this actually is true, but I wanted to list five myths.
Now that you’ve read all this, my ice-cream theory doesn’t seem so bogus, right? Plus, if you believe theories about mind-body connection, it seems to me that happiness in food choice ought to make your body work better. I can’t wait ‘til I win the Nobel Pizza – I mean Peace – prize.
I hope there’s good cake at the awards ceremony.
That’s the way my taste buds are pointing.