12 February 2012

Comfort food

The famed older brother and I have been having a series of conversations about food over the last year, since he can eat at many of the places I fantasise about as an American living abroad. They're all places that I'm sure would a) ruin me if I lived close to or b) never actually eat at if I were around as they would ruin me, but still, I find looking at their websites to be fascinating and much healthier than actually eating there. My hobby? Seeing if I could find something that I actually could eat without falling off the horse and going back to fat Stephen. It's hard, but I manage to do it--a kind of practice for a potential move back, if that every becomes a real possibility.

The conversation this last week was about The Golden Corral, a staple of my childhood in El Paso, TX. The Golden Corral, for all the non-American readers of the blog, is everything you imagine America would be, or at least the way I imagine that you as a non-American imagine America (hinted at in the sorts of questions people ask me about the States). Everything at The Golden Corral is big. It's a buffet style restaurant, but you order a steak AND the buffet. And yes, the buffet has all-you-can-eat fried chicken, and yes, there is an all-you-can-eat desert bar (with a soft serve ice cream machine) and now, apparently, a chocolate fountain.

On Sunday afternoon, we used to go after church services at a Southern Baptist church called (ironically) 'Grace Baptist'. Insulated, obese Baptists as far as the eye could see, piously avoiding alcohol and drowning themselves in saturated fat while trying to pray away their hypertension and coronary heart disease (It runs in the family).

Or at least that's how I embody the memories of it in my thinner, albeit more bitter, 29 year-old self.   

So my brother went to The Golden Corral and one of the people he was with was kind enough to snap me a couple of photos, seen here.
Comfort food. How perfect, I thought, and how perfect that it has a corner all to itself. Comfort food: food that brings you comfort, the exact opposite of what I believe about the function of food these days and the problem with my life until I was 24, really. I asked Yoko about it, do you have a similar concept in Japan? but when pressed to explain what comfort food was, I didn't actually know. Is it a particular kind of food like mashed potatoes, or is it just simply a kind of food that gives you comfort, different for everyone... I didn't actually know.

Well, Wikipedia pretty much explains it, and it's pretty much all the worst things you can eat. They make you feel better while killing you, see the fireplace delusion.

In my memories of jr high school, the fatter, more insecure version of myself is filling up another bowl of ice cream and putting chocolate and caramel syrup and gummi bears on top of it and no one cares because we're all kids and kids are supposed to be able to eat whatever they want. No one is connecting the dots.

In posting these pictures my brother sent, I promised that I would not be judgemental. And I've been nothing but judgemental. I am thinking about running tomorrow morning as I type this sentence. If I get up after four, I'll leave immediately--running metaphorically from that fat kid who was constantly afraid and eating to feel better. Away from 19 year-old Stephen that judged everyone who drank alcohol at parties, but drank between 4 and 8 cherry cokes a day. Hey, but no pornography: I can lead others with moral authority!

Put down the soft-serve, 12 year-old Stephen. I promise, it'll be okay.