Fast food is a meal chockfull of fat and salt and sugar that is consumed either in your car or at a grease-encrusted table in a brightly lit structure close to a busy freeway. You’re required to shout your order into a microphone, pay through a window, collect your food in a bag, then eat it with your right hand while driving with your left. Fast food is good for busy mothers who have no time to cook because they’re busy transporting carloads of kids to various athletic practices and events that are – inexplicably – scheduled at dinner time.
Slow food. Slow cookers get star billing here. Slow cooker meals consist of vegetables (which are good things!) and haunches of tough meat that promise to become tender if they’re cooked for the same amount of time it takes to fly from New York City to Rome, Italy. Sometimes this works. Slow cooker meals are usually nutritionally sound. Cooking technology has improved since my grandmother’s heyday. I confess I have actually defrosted a chunk of frozen meat in the microwave so I could put it in the slow cooker. This seems odd.
Annoying food. This is food that makes you look loutish while you’re eating it. Hard tacos, for example. There’s no refined way to eat a hard taco. Salads containing lettuce pieces too big to put in your mouth are booby traps. Jell-O, spaghetti, cotton candy and triple-dip ice cream cones also are problematic.
Funny food. Prunes. Carrot juice. Tofu. Limburger cheese. Fish served with the eye still right there -- staring at you.
Comfort food. Oreo cookies dipped in milk. Hot chocolate on a cold, snowy day. Animal crackers. Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Day-after-Thanksgiving leftovers. Chicken noodle soup. Grilled cheese sandwiches paired with Campbell’s tomato soup. Coffee, in a large mug first thing in the morning. Tea, if you’re British. Every novel written by a British author includes at least three scenes where a character facing an unexpected crisis pauses, considers her disastrous predicament, then says, “I’ll put the kettle on.”
Gourmet food. Anything expensive that is described with a fancy foreign phrase. Portions are exceedingly small and the ingredients are arranged artistically. The serving plate is usually white, so you can fully appreciate the arrangement.
Food that’s supposed to be good for you but -- wait a minute -- who’s fooling who here? Yogurt has less fat but more sugar. Frozen yogurt -- same. Diet ice cream tastes like cement that hasn’t quite hardened. Decaf coffee smells like sewer gas and tastes like mud.
Food with no redeeming nutritional value, but satisfying anyway. Sugared donuts, Pepsi and Coke, paczki, piecrust, sugarless gum, raw cookie dough, candy corn, margarine, potato chips, Cheez-Its. Sometimes, eating these things causes a brief episode of guilt. Pay no attention. It goes away.
So, what’s on your plate?