Thursday, September 29, 2011

There Are, Occasionally, Things To Eat Here

I have been remiss in oh, so many things, but it occurs to me that as I have gotten more used to Connecticut, I have stopped talking about it. And things do change here from time to time. I now know which of the 3 Super Stops and Shops within short distance from my house is the one to shop at - Glenville, if you were wondering, always has my Kashi Go Lean bars in stock - I know that no matter how hard I try, I will not be able to rationalize getting Chinese food from the expensive places when the hole in the wall on Main Street in Port Chester, China House, is a) better and b) 1/3 the price, and I finally know that it really is faster to take the highway.

But it is food I wish to talk about, especially as people will be visiting from out of town soon. Lower Fairfield County (and Westchester County) is not a food mecca by any stretch of the imagination. Devoted partner (soon to be rechristened, hmmm, I don't know "devoted life partner," "legally devoted partner," "partner of legally mandated devotion") and I simply do not eat out often. Part of this is cheapness on our parts, but the better part of it is unwillingness to shell out money for substandard food. The "nice" places around here are, sadly, so much country club cuisine. The number of times I have typed "Stamford CT ramen" into google hoping to find something is embarrassing.

It helps that food has not been a priority of late, notfood having won out for nearly 2 years, but occasionally we want someone else to bring us food. Especially last Sunday when we were hungover. So, I thought it would only be fair to highlight some of the food we have enjoyed.

My friend Julie recommended Casa Villa. One night when, again, I could not find the taco truck open (the taco truck is awesome, but not even remotely healthy), we took a look at its location on the Stamford border. We did not stay. It was not the shiniest of locations and food was in steam trays, and it just sort of said "don't eat me if you want to enjoy tomorrow morning." Perhaps this judgment was premature. Last week Julie and I went to the nicer, shinier location, where comely waitresses with perfect command of English brought us yummy tacos and plantains. I was hooked. The tacos were really really fresh with lots of onion and cilantro. I was so smitten that when Sunday came, I schlepped devoted partner there as well where I discovered that an additional bonus is the presence of Mexican coke. My only complaint about the food is that the cooks are a little liberal with their use of salt, but the Mexican coke helps.

And let's keep going with the taco theme because Port Chester got a hot new place over the summer and I mostly believe the hype. Bar Taco is happening. We waited over an hour for a table the first time we went. The menu is limited and the process of ordering (golf pencils and a fill-in order card) is hokey, but what is served is pretty damn good. And the ambience, while also hokey were it plunked down in Manhattan, is nice for people who miss non-starchy eating environments. The majority of seating is outside on a deck which has a bit of Kennebunkport to it. It gets busy and noisy and some of the patrons would do well on reality tv but, again, beggars and choosiness comes to mind. In a taco-off between Bar Taco and Casa Villa, I'll give the nod to Casa Villa, but for a night with a group and the desire for liquor based potables, Bar Taco gets my vote.

And apparently, we like food made by Spanish speaking peoples because for my birthday this year we tried out up-scale Lolita in Byram. It's Mexicanish, very dimly lit, and, I guess, good for dates or for drinks once hedge fund hours are over. The food was good. Not great. Good. But I have to reiterate that when in a food desert, sometimes good is great. Would the restaurant last five minutes in Tribeca or DUMBO? No. But there were no strollers which, believe me, is a godsend.

We also finally tried Layla's in Stamford late one night with Abby. Layla's is storefronty-looking, but serves very competent middle eastern food. I tried the falafel and the lamb schwarma and both pass with high marks. We passed on the hookah course, but it's there if you want it.

I'd like to give some props to the big bowl noodle soup we ended our Sunday hangovers with from Penang in Greenwich. It wasn't Ippudo, but it was warming, not overly salted, and under $10.

But the place in our neighborhood that is most craved, is clearly, and without peer, Burgers Shakes and Fries. Maybe it's simply that my body wants fried potatoes more than it wants any single other thing, but this is a good, grease-filled meal of excellence. I may have been originally swayed by the orange interior, but these people make excellent, as you like them, burgers. True, I've never managed to finish one, but I rarely eat an entire burger. The fries are my current local favorite and they are on the precipice of too salty - also known as perfect. They're also really really nice. Even when busy. And full of strollers. When it seemed like we would have to have a rehearsal dinner, I kept threatening to do it here.

So while I would love to find a place that does Dim Sum (good luck), perhaps some Turkish or Moroccan, and another Italian place (dear Tarry Lodge, you're my go-to for dinner with adults, but would it kill you to change your menu?), I will not dismiss, out of hand, all food options in our area. Most of them? Yes. But there's at least enough here to satisfy our 1-2x/month escape from the confines of our own home and the neverending grilled chicken served there.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Life After Fat

The time has come to admit that I am no longer, in any way, shape or form, fat. I can no longer make self-deprecating comments about my fat. It is now unseemly as opposed to just undignified. I must now humbly join the ranks of the not-fat who still have body issues. As in, I know I am not fat, but that doesn't mean that there isn't room to improve the quality of my midsection.

I'm being flippant, natch, but this is actually a rather difficult transition. I have been legitimately and certainly medically fat my entire adolescent/adult life. It was a fallback defense and a daily reality. The number of times I used fat as an excuse for something entirely non-fat related? Too many times to comfortably admit. It turns out that my shortcomings will now have to be rationalized via other means.

And it's really not easy to get my head out of its fatspace. One great example: buffets. I used to worry that, in an environment where there was easy food access, people would notice when I decided to help myself: too early and they would judge the fat girl who couldn't keep her hands off the food; too late and I was tacitly admitting my fat and its control over me. Also clothing choices, as in, why is that fat girl wearing that form fitting outfit. Does she not know she is fat and should, therefore, be hiding that?

No one has much sympathy for the non-fat body dysmorphia. Glamour magazine no longer considers my body a protected class and all those cover articles promising the best jeans/dress/outfit for your body type, don't have my body type. And while I agonize over the perfect 12" measurement differential (possibly achievable) and the sad state of affairs that is my skin, I don't get to be all that vocal about it because after all, I'm not fat. I really shouldn't have anything to complain about - certainly not the fact that a pair of really tiny jeans I got 10 pounds ago are now loose.

Now I get the "you shouldn't lose any more weight" comments. Which, don't get me wrong, I understand come from a place of support, but don't do much for the lurking suspicion that there actually are some more pounds that wouldn't be missed should they suddenly go missing.

While on vacation, I ate foie gras twice without guilt. Also while on vacation we took some pictures. In all of them I can point out to you what still needs improvement, but as a farewell to the fat that was, I will share two with you.

You see when we went to Corsica in 2005 we took a lot of pictures as well. Including this one:

And while we didn't get the angle quite right, we went in search of the exact same location while on this trip to take the same photo:

Is the first picture rather embarrassing now? Absolutely! Have I delighted in looking at these two side by side ever since we got home? Yup!

So this will be among the last posts I write about my weight. I'll be losing a little more and toning what remains, but I can no longer pretend that this is a real issue that deserves attention. Please bear with me, in person and online, as I make the mental transition from fat to normal - if you've never been both, you might not understand that the brain takes some time to catch up with the body, but I assure you this is neither dissembling nor a pathetic compliment-fishing expedition. And if you hear me refer to my "fat" in the present tense, give me a couple of months before you yell at me. New body and I are still somewhat strangers to each other.