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13 November 2002

It was cold and I bundled up in my warm jacket and gloves. I put new batteries in the bike light and took off for the club. This is my clubbing day, not my biking day.

It's 0.6 miles to the club, hardly enough time to warm up. On the way, I pass Albertson's (formerly Lucky's) supermarket, just coming to life. At 7:00, the sign has read for years, they sell "hot donuts."

This morning as I passed by I could smell the donuts, presumably hot and fresh from the oven. It hit me that it's been nearly a year since I've had a donut.

It's not the packaged donuts that get me. I could probably buy a box of Entemanns without feeling the need to gorge. It's the bakery donuts, especially still warm from the oven. Glazed and sugar donuts in particular.

They say that one reason fat people get fat is that they are trying to recreate the special tastes from the past. Our taste buds change over time, or maybe it's just that the special things we remember are special because of the circumstances and that it's not really the food itself, so we keep eating, hoping to recreate that thing that we remember as being so wonderful.

The donut taste for me came from Berkeley in the early 60s. We were holy guys in those days and often went to daily Mass on the opposite of campus from where I was living. After Mass we would walk down to a donut shop on Euclid Ave. where the glazed donuts would be warm and soft and squishy and I'd have a couple with a big mug of hot chocolate with a glop of real whipped cream floating on top of it. I can still taste how great that was. Warm donuts these days (or at least a year ago) never quite lived up to that experience....but I kept eating, thinking that maybe I just hadn't found the "right" donut.

Food was always a very big deal in our family. It seems that most of the pleasant memories that I have of childhood revolve around comfort food--and rarely vegetables! Maybe it was because food was one of the things that my father actually liked and, except for his irritating habit of choosing the dinner table to get angry with everyone, there are a lot of pleasant food memories associated with him.

I remember we would do taste tests. The flat where we lived had a kitchen and attached to it a laundry room. It probably opened into the outdoors at one time, because there was a window which from the kitchen to the laundry room. I remember setting up a taste test to see which milk was the richest. My father would go into the laundry room and we'd open the window just enough to fit a glass through it and he'd do the tasting.

Naturally, the milk we preferred was always the richest.

Then there was the potato salad. My father created his own and I've never tasted any quite like it. The secret, he always said, was to slice the potatoes wafer thin. Then he added onions, minced sweet pickles, Best Food (Hellman's) Mayonnaise and sweet pickle juice. It's still my favorite. I was his taster, letting him know if it needed more salt or not. I could eat gallons of potato salad--and over the years probably did.

My mother is a wonderful cook and made great desserts, fantastic enchaladas (the art of which she'd learned from a Mexican neighbor), and then those great hockies (fried bread dough) that I could eat a dozen of at a sitting, slathered with real butter.

At holiday time, food took center stage. It was always the same group of relatives, and always the same unpleasantness. It would start out happy, but as the evening progressed and my grandmother got "the way she got," one by one, my mother, sister, father and myself would find excuses to go to the kitchen, where we'd sit until time for dinner, leaving the grandparents and my godfather to kvetch at each other.

There was little to talk about at dinner, so we talked about the food--and it was delicious. I've never found another turkey stuffing to match my mother's. And then after dinner there were chocolates from See's candy, which my godfather brought every year. See's is still my favorite "special" candy, but that is definitely one of those "trying to recapture the taste" sorts of things. If presented with a box, I can eat half a dozen trying to find that wonderful taste of my youth. Someone told me a bit ago that the company has been taken over by a another corporation and the recipe changed slightly. I never will recapture that taste.

So it's no wonder that the smell of donuts reminds me of happy times and happy tastes.

But I didn't stop at Albertson's this morning. I went on to the club, where I did my 45 minutes of sweaty exercise. Then I went to Weight Watchers, where I found I had lost half a pound (hey--I'll take it. After the 7 lbs last week, I didn't expect miracles again!) and then came home to my daily breakfast of oatmeal and blueberries. As I eat, I marvel that my cholesterol has dropped from 215 to 135, that my blood pressure has dropped from 150/90 to 135/88 to yesterday's 120/80.

They say "nothing tastes as good as thin feels." Well, I'm not thin, and never will be, but no matter how good those donuts taste, "nothing tastes as good as healthy feels."

Quote of the Day

The faintest waft is sometimes enough to induce feelings of hunger or anticipation, or to transport you back through time and space to a long-forgotten moment in your childhood. It can overwhelm you in an instant or simply tease you, creeping into your consciousness slowly and evaporating almost the moment it is detected.

~Stephen Lacey, Scent in Your Garden, 1991

Photo of the Day

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This is what I see when I go out the door to my office every day!



One Year Ago
Just an Ordinary Morning
I looked at the now horrifying familiar shots of smoke rising into the air, people standing in the streets, mouths hanging open in shock. I dashed off a quick note to Peggy..."did you hear...?

Two Years Ago
Walking with God
You’ve really outdone Yourself lately, God. It’s been so clear and clean and I keep marveling at the vivid fall colors. Has it always been this beautiful in the fall, or is this an exceptionally glorious year?

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Pounds Lost:  81.8
(this figure is updated on Tuesdays)

On the Odometer

URL 692.6 + 36
Blue Angel 319.1

> 1000 miles since February!

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Created 11/12/02