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The Pantry Corner

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Writing Instead of Baking Bread

I should be baking bread, but I'm not up for it. I'm suffering from benzodiazipene withdrawal. Somehow I lost the plastic bag that contains all my medication. I have no idea what happened to it. I hope it is at my office Monday. If not, I am going to live without medication until I get back up to Kaiser. One of my meds is a controlled substance, and saying I lost my meds makes me look like an addict. I'm too vain and proud for that.

Also, I need to go to bed early. A twenty-three hour day is wreacking havoc with me. A lot of sleep will do me good, even if I wake up all stiff and sore. I can ride MARTA buses successfully without barfing. Riding in a car leaves me motion sick. I think some of it is memory from the last time I got motion sick. It tends to be a learned reaction.

Still, I want to write about food. I bought all kinds of good food today and ate junk food for lunch. That is weird, hypocritical, but no one is taking score for consistency. It's not there. I do need to make bread some time this week. I desperately need to have enough bread for sandwiches right up until Passover for which I need to go buy provisions. That is an expensive job, but it is not happening this week. The bread baking is. I will do it Tuesday night.

Bread baking is important. I am the last human being who takes sandwiches for lunch. I am old school. I do not need a hot meal at noon. I think I am the last adult who prefers this sort of meal. Now if I were running a public health campaign, I'd put a picture of a sandwich, a piece of fruit, and maybe a glass of unsweet tea (your choice hot or cold or herbal) on billboards where they have those poor fat kids whose parents are neglecting them, and only if those neglectful parents would whip their wayward young'uns into shape. You can whip fat kids into shape because they have no status. That is the wonderful thing about this whole childhood obesity campaign.

Then we have the kindred campaign against fast food and yes convenience stores. Oh yes.... I love convenience stores, but something about this whole campaign (and I haven't done the research so this is just conjecture) reminds me of whatever led up to Prohibition. Yes, there was a Women's Christian Temperanace Union. It is still around and there was an Anti-Saloon League. These were organizations with thousands of members. These were popular causes. We have forgotten this. Also saloons sucked in their own way. Men ruined themselves there, but saloons like modern day convenience store and fast food places, had an upside. They had a buffet that provided a working man's lunch for the cost of a beer, and if you were a big guy, a beer would not get you even nicely buzzed. None of us can remember the lead up to Prohibition. Like the Great Depression, it likes just outside living memory, but I think we are heading that way again, and boy is that one ugly road.

If you want to attack obesity, attack the culture of pampering that spawned it. By keeping kosher, I have had to step outside the culture of pampering just enough to become very aware of it, because part of me misses it. Basically in America of 2012 everyone has a right to be pampered within their means. I can walk into a Subway, my favorite pamperage and order a veggie sub with everything except jalapenos and of course chipotle mayonaise. All that bread, all those pickles, all those veggies and cheese taste delicious. It is the sub sandwiches I miss most with keeping kosher. Likewise I miss Doritos, and all the places I know where I can get a good vegetarian lunch, falafel or bean and rice wraps and the pasta salad at Whole Foods and the pareve greens there. I can succor myself on chips and soda or even a mocha, but it's not the same. I'm an outsider looking in, but I know that for whatever money I spend, I can pretty much get exactly what I desire. Now I make most of that at home. Fine. It's better that way.

But one of the uglier manifestations of a pampering culture is the hot lunch. Everyone seems to want one and buy one ready made. Why? It never was like that. What is wrong with a sandwich, fruit, and tea. That's what people used to pack. It's simplicity itself. It doesn't even taste bad. There are still lots of pampering choices. A hot lunch from a ready made box to me is a sign of sloth and dependency on others and.... who knows what is in the typical hot meal, when it is reasonably priced enough that even poor folks can afford it? Of course there are good health foodish versions, but why do you need a hot meal at noon? If you went back to an average size sandwich on whole wheat accompanied by a generous size piece of fruit and an unsweetened drink, I bet most people would save calories, but a campaign against the hot lunch and back to a Spartan simplicity of yore, is just too close to home for most folks. There is no one to whip into shape but ourselves, and face it the consumer is king, and this time around, unlike at the working man's buffet which I never tasted and probably picture in utterly unrealistic terms, let's go for the folks we can push around. The rest of us aren't moving an inch.

Eileen H. Kramer -- March 11, 2012