Biscuit Evolution in My House
When you're young, you can eat anything. It doesn't matter how many calories it has, how much fat is in a serving, or the total carbohydrate load of a portion. If you can get it in your mouth, it's gone. As a teen-ager, the mouth is usually big, the appetite bigger and the stomach bottomless. However, the ability to eat with such reckless disregard is reserved only for the young. It's an unfortunate fact of life that the older we get, the more important these things become to us. As we age, our ideas about food evolve, and the food itself evolves, often in unexpected (and unwanted) ways.
Now take the biscuit. In my house, the biscuit's natural state is to be smothered in either brown or cream gravy, sprinkled with black pepper, and doused with enough Tabasco sauce to start a 4-alarm fire. Biscuits in my house tend to "run in herds", so you'll often find several served up on a plate at breakfast time. Biscuits with gravy, scalding hot coffee and scrambled eggs--this is a long-standing southern tradition that has stood the test of time in the Basil D. household?until recently.
A visit to the doctor a couple of years ago resulted in his stern warning to me to "watch the fat, cut calories, lose weight." That night my wife Ann and I discussed the doctor's recommendations over a meal of hamburger steak, French fries, sweet corn and an ice cream dessert. I went to bed with vague notions of "doing something" sometime in the near future.
Next morning I walked into the kitchen and went over to the stove, where Ann presented me with a breakfast plate. "Here's breakfast", she said cheerfully. "Hope you enjoy."
"Breakfast" was a small, brown rock about the size of a fifty cent piece, one half of an apple and a glass of skim milk. I looked at the rock. "What's that?"
"That's a biscuit, silly. Eat it while it's hot."
I poked it with a forefinger. It looked as hard and unappetizing as a chunk of plaster. "That's not a biscuit. Where's the gravy? Where's the butter? What about the hot pepper?"
And then I heard the words I was to hear time and time again over the months and years?"Remember what the doctor said."
I sat down sullenly at the kitchen table. "I don't think this was what the doctor meant at all. He wanted me to ease into this dieting thing, not jump in all at once with both feet." I tapped the biscuit with my fork: it made an empty, ringing sound, as if the shell were rock-hard and the center hollow. "I want some gravy, or at least a piece of cheese on this thing" I whined.
"Eat like a good boy and quit complaining."
And so it went. Hamburgers were replaced with soy-patties, ice cream with apples, and snack crackers with celery sticks. Saturday afternoons formerly spent watching college football and basketball were now spent huffing around the neighborhood running as I tried in vain to "drop a few pounds."
A few months later I had a follow-up medical appointment. The doctor furrowed his brow as he studied the results of my tests, then looked up at me. "The weight-loss thing isn't going too well, eh?"
I mumbled something about a slow metabolism. The doc swiveled in his leather chair to face me, tapped me on the knee with the rolled up results of my tests and said "This is nothing to play with, Basil. You need tighter control of your diet and more exercise."
I left with printed instruction for an 1800 calorie diet, a daily exercise regimen and a resolve to "take charge of this thing." The next morning as I walked into the kitchen, Ann presented me with a breakfast plate. "Here you go, sweetie. Eat it up."
"It" was a small brown square object as hard as concrete, and a pill large enough to choke a horse. I tapped the square. "We're eating roofing shingles now? And where'd you get this pill?the vets?"
"Silly boy. That's wheat toast and a vitamin. Eat up."
I looked at the shingle. "Where's the butter and jam? Where's the melted cheese? Do I get anything else?"
"Now, sweetie, remember?"
"What the doctor said. Yeah, I know." I sat down and chomped into the toast. It was as dry and unpalatable as tree bark. "This is terrible."
"Don't be such a baby." Ann frowned at me. "It's good for you."
"I don't want something good for me, I want something that tastes good", I said sulkily.
And so it goes. I have the best of intentions, but the flesh is indeed weak. I've eaten a ton of roofing shingles, choked down a wash-tub full of horse vitamins, and worn out three pairs of running shoes, all the while becoming a secret chow-hound -- sneaking into the kitchen late at night to scarf down leftovers, secretive lunches at McDonalds, and munching on cheese-nabs hidden in my desk drawers. I do pay more attention to what and how much I eat, and I do exercise regularly, and have seen some result -- about 20 pounds down so far. I have a long ways to go, so you can find me at the breakfast table any morning chewing on brown rocks and roofing shingles and choking down my horse-pills. Sometimes I feel like I should be eating breakfast in a gravel quarry. In the meantime, does anybody need a slightly used gravy boat?