Monday, October 12, 2009

I Can't Hold My Bread

The Great Bagel Debacle
© 2009 Leighann Lord

I think I've developed an allergy to wheat, specifically bagels. I am devastated because bagels and I go way back. They’re what I lived on when I was in college. The year I arrived at school, the cafeteria was shut down by The Board of Health. My dining options were vending machines or local restaurants. The latter would devour my meager college student budget. That's when I discovered bagels. They were cheap and filling. Eaten at the right time of day, I wouldn't have to buy anything else. A bagel a day, kept the abject poverty away.

I don't have a doctor's diagnosis to back me up. I'm still waiting for Congress to get back to me on the whole health care thing. My evidence is purely anecdotal. Every time I eat a bagel I get super tired. I'm talking steak and potatoes tired. A nap isn't optional, it's mandatory. I can't focus or function until I lay down and let the fatigue have it's way with me. So while most people can't hold their liquor, I can't hold my bread.

I'm also dismayed because the list of things I can't eat seems to be growing:

Anything Served in a College Food Court.
Admittedly, collegiate food has vastly improved over the years. Anything is a step up from vending machines. But by the time I get to a campus to do a show, everything is closing and I'm getting the dregs of the day. A sandwich on almost stale bread or a prepackaged freezer burned salad is not my idea of a healthy dinner. Nothing seems particularly tasty when you carry it away on a plastic tray.

Anything Sold by a Street Vendor.
This stuff is probably never good for you, no matter how old you are, but it's convenient. It seems over time, however, that our ability to process street food in a discreet way makes it a less desirable option. Ice cream trucks were ruined for me when my parents asked: "Where does the guy go to the bathroom and wash his hands?" Thanks, Mom and Dad.

Anything on a Bar Menu/Anything Fried
I'm hard pressed to think of anything on a bar menu, besides alcohol, that's not fried: chicken fingers, cheese sticks, nachos (fried just not on-site), spring rolls. Spring rolls are tricky. How can a food with Spring in the title be bad for you? It's a culinary Jedi mind trick. "This is not the healthy food you're looking for." Now while fried food doesn't make me sleepy, I can feel the pimples forming on my face as I'm chewing.

Burger King French Fries
Because in comparison to McDonald’s, BK’s fries are just plain nasty.

Again, none of this is by "Doctor's orders," yet. But if you're paying attention, your body tells you, long before any medical professional, what you should and shouldn't be eating. You and your colon have a conversation. "Really? You're gonna eat that? You know we can't handle that. How about a piece of fruit? Wait, is that organic?" My body is in league against me. If my stomach objects, my colon sustains and I am found in contempt.

My Parents on the other hand have an extensive list from their doctor of what they can't eat. This makes going out to dinner difficult. Apparently anything "commercially prepared" is code for: "This is going to kill you."

We've got a bad three-week run where my Parent's wedding anniversary, is followed by my Husband's birthday, which is topped off by my birthday. Woo Hoo! Good times if you can eat ice cream cake three weeks in a row. And let me assure you, just because you can doesn't mean you should.

What's cruel is that almost all of the "bad" food smells good and tastes even better. Bacon smells like love. The primrose path to gastrointestinal hell is: smell it, want it, eat it, regret it. Perhaps the human olfactory sense will evolve to the point where it can tell when food -- natural or processed -- is a no no. If it smells bad, it is bad. If it smells good, dig in.

"What’s that smell? Hot dogs and cupcakes? Yuck, but that tofu is making my mouth water. Can I get that on a bagel?"

Leighann Lord is a standup comedian. See her perform 10/17 at the Tribecca Performing Arts Center as part of the New York Underground Comedy Festival! Check out her upcoming shows @ Join her on FaceBook. Follow her on Twitter.

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