I’m from New England, so there are (many, many) things that are (daily) maddening to me about living in Texas, and especially living in Houston (traffic, humidity – even it does mean I am in my forties and still carded at the grocery store – the proliferation of SUVs and pick-up trucks, the acceptance people seem to have about living in Katy and driving into downtown every day – a distance that, to me, feels like driving from my parents’ house in Rhode Island to Boston, which is, for those keeping track, a whole other state, just to name a few.)
But one of the things I’ve come to love about Texas, that I would miss if I moved to say, Kansas, is the breakfast taco. A few years back, the New York Times wrote a story about this start-your-day food and I posted it to Facebook, causing my Yankee pals to look askance at me, wondering if maybe next I was going to give in to Big Hair Syndrome (“Dallas,” I said) or being a cowgirl (“Only during Rodeo – you know I’m allergic to cows,” I said) or marrying an oil man (“My husband might have issues,” I said). But there’s a simple joy to me in the breakfast taco: the egg and cheese mixed in with peppers and bacon and onion. It’s a small amount of yum at the beginning of the day.
Now, be assured, I do not seek this out. (If I did, I'd find way better quality ones, to be sure). The only thing I seek out in the morning is coffee – and I set the timer on the coffee maker to be sure it’s ready, hot in the pot, when I wander into the kitchen at 6:00 or 6:30. But, when it crosses my path (at the Whole Foods on Bellaire when I go to my allergist nearby; at Central Market if I’ve stopped in for a cold brewed coffee, made from the servery at Rice and available in the RechargeU convenience store), I seldom turn down the taco.
Here’s the thing, though. Lately, the breakfast tacos have been crossing my path a trifle too much. I am not obese. I am not, for the record, fat. I may joke and say I’m a whale, but I know the truth is closer to a baby manatee – albeit, perhaps not as cute. But I am in my forties and I have a doctor concerned about the borderline-ness of my cholesterol and a body that doesn’t metabolize things like the chili-cheese burger the way it did when I was twenty-five.
I know it's my own laziness. Or just plain wanting the thing. No plea for sympathy here.
I am not a believer in diets. They aggravate me, honestly. First, I have zero desire to fill my house with a bunch of stuff I would never normally eat because on Day One of The Next Great Diet Revolution I have to have a spinach-kale-quiche cup for breakfast with exactly three ounces of plain Greek yogurt. Freaking seriously? No. Also, I can say from experience that yes, I’ll lose weight and be less puffy if I cut all carbs out of eating for a month. And I can totally do that. But then, I’m going to actually want some pasta (notice that last name, folks? Macaroni is in my DNA) or think it’s an excellent idea to dip the baguette into the garlic and oil left over from the escargots and I’ll gain back those five pounds I lost.
No, I subscribe to all things in moderation. Yes, it’s healthier to have a salad and a clear soup for lunch than it is to have the club sandwich. Sure, a breakfast of Fage 0% blueberry yogurt and a cup of cantaloupe are better than the beloved breakfast taco. But, you know, I have a pretty healthy relationship with food. I don't down a whole tub of Nutella hidden under my comforter, drowning my sorrows. I try to eat more good stuff than bad, and I don't beat myself up over the bread in the escargots juices or the lasagna or the occasional frozen dinner. Does it take me longer to lose weight that way? You bet. But I can still do it eating things that I really enjoy and not driving my friends crazy when they say we should go out for dinner (“How many calories are in those naked wings? Oh, no, I can’t have the pitcher of beer; I can only drink half a glass. Do you think they’ll make that fish with no sauce? And no butter? And no bread crumbs? You all can have that oozing chocolate dessert; I’m on a diet.”). I hate these people. I truly do. I don't hate them for trying to take control of their lives. I hate them for not realizing that when you impose your dietary restrictions (and they are always restrictions, never, "Hey, let's go to that new Healthy Kitchen place, I hear it rocks!" or "Man, I'd love to go to dinner. You know what I'm craving? The grilled fish at Such-and-Such. Let's go there!"as a way to get what they need and not make everyone else cater to them) that you become absolutely no fun to be with and you start losing your sense of humor. We're not talking about someone who can't eat the bread crumbs because he or she might die because of his or her sensitivity to wheat. We're talking about people who need to tell you they have to oder this or that without this thing or that thing or, worse yet, come over to my place for dinner and then don't eat. ("Oh, I'm sorry. I know you said come over for dinner, but then I remembered you were making chicken parmagiana and I can't/shouldn't/won't eat that and even though I didn't tell you before, when we might have fixed it, I'll just insult you by being impolite and not having any food at all." I am totally reasonable. If I say I'm making chicken parm and you say, "Cool," my expectation is that you'll eat some; I did, after all, go buy all the stuff to make it with the intent of sharing it. If you'd said, "I love your chicken parm, but I'm trying to eat less heavy stuff, " I'm the kind of gal who who will go, "Awesome. I'll do a Nicoise salad.") I will not become one. Because I know that nobody -- not my husband, not my mother, not my friends -- wants to hear about every calorie I am cutting or counting or burning. They're supportive of the efforts, for sure. And I love them for it. But nobody cares if I pick the grilled fish over the fried oysters, even if inwardly I'm giving myself a gold star.
My foot was operated on about two months ago. The recovery has taken longer than I would like and it has dramatically decreased my ability to work out. Thus, I am finally in a place where I have doctor’s clearance to put more pressure on said foot and can do some more rigorous things. So, in celebration, I am taking my first Pilates class in eons (no, seriously, the last time I took a Pilates class, dinosaurs were roaming the earth. Not so much with the flexibility is the Stegosaurus) this weekend at Bella Body Fitness. I am deeply excited to have some toning happening in a way that will not screw up my foot (jogging is still pretty much out and the elliptical is ok while I’m doing it, but renders me to ice and Advil once it’s done). And swimming. My beloved swimming. (Insert sigh of bliss here).
Thus, it’s time to pay much more attention to the diet – the everyday eating diet, that is. And the breakfast taco must be sacrificed for a while. One a month won’t do much damage, I know. Three a week, when I’m trying to add more exercise? Probably not the worst idea I ever came up with, but not the best, either.
Again, no plea for sympathy. I offer it as a loving lament to too much of a good thing. Maybe even with a little accountability on the side. Because I know you don't care about how many calories are in that taco or how many I'm giving up. Or burning. Or wishing I were eating. Or whatever.
So, this morning, I savor my silly breakfast taco from RechargeU. And I savor it with a pear, delivered yesterday, from Greenling. Goodbye, breakfast taco. It’s not the end of our relationship. We can still be friends. But we really need to just see less of each other. I hope you understand.
*For just a little bit