Saturday, May 10, 2008

Turn the Other Cheek

So, I have to be honest. I just went to dinner the other night and I didn't worry about even trying to capture the points. Just didn't do it. Here's what happened:

I am a budding food writer (I know, the timing is a little off, but I have some fantasy that I can make it all work out one way or another--stay tuned.) Anyway, I got a wonderful invitation / opportunity to write about an art collection / food and wine pairing at a lovely little Persian restaurant on Beacon Hill called Lala Rokh. The brother and sister team who owns this restaurant also collects art, so the evening was as much about viewing a new acquisition, exhibited in the restaurant, as it was about enjoying the cuisine. How could I say no?

Three of us had a very enjoyable dinner with wine, dessert, and lots of laughter and fun conversation--exactly what being at table should be.

I thought about my points before the evening began. I have been diligently tracking them morning, midday, and evening for three straight weeks as well as adding in my activity points (which, I must say, seem to be very unfairly distributed when compared to the food points--but that's another post for another day!). And then, I just made the choice to not worry about points for this one evening. I wasn't going to try to calculate points for foods that were strange to me and that I would have little idea about how they were made. I wasn't going to add up all my banked points and fill them in for this night. I just decided I wasn't going to do it. I was going to enjoy this evening with my wife and one of our good friends, and the delightful service and recommendations of the chef, relax and enjoy. And I can say triumphantly that I did just that!

Now, a couple comments: I did not eat eat any bread from the bread basket, although I did take a bite of the hummus served as an accompaniment. And, Persian food, much like other food from the Middle East, is, from the outset, more healthfully and naturally prepared than food from some other cuisines. The bases are dried fruits and legumes; the techniques are long slow stewing; the meats are lean. There aren't many fats--no butters or heavy creams. Intense, complex flavors come from spice combinations; flavors are intensified by roasting the spices. We all left the table happy and sated, but not full and ill feeling. The biggest indulgences were two thumbnail-sized pieces of baklava and a melon-ball sized scoop of saffron ice cream.

And of course, the easiest way to reduce the amount of food you eat is to share. Plus, it's much more fun to have different tastes and to give and take instead of horde your own plate, I think.

The next day, back to points. I know that I cannot eat with abandon on a regular basis. In fact last night, again out with friends, but this time, I chose the seared tuna steak--and ate half--and greens. Simple, delicious, low in points. I know that my life now--and probably for a very long time to come, if not now forever--will be guided by points. I feel better. I'm losing weight. I'm healthier and happier.

But I also know that, occasionally, I will also be happy to enjoy an evening at table without overly consciously thinking about points. (Dinners with huge bowls of pasta covered in cream sauce, however, are probably never more.) I do believe I can mindfully do both.

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