In my blinkered view of the world, the word “yummy” often refers to foods that are probably not all that yummy. I usually hear “yummy” snuggled right up next to something I’m not supposed to like. Yummy brussels sprouts, or yummy light ice cream. Similarly the “yummy flavors” I heard referred to in a recent advertisement made me think of the Bertie Bott’s Every Flavor Beans of Harry Potter fame: yummy compost, or yummy sulphur (only two of the many flavors offered on Mugglenet.com).
I don’t mean to suggest that Brussels sprouts aren’t awesome. I’ve been slamming them by the handful since they started getting really sweet out in the garden. I do mean to suggest that sometimes people try to promote healthy alternative food as “yummy.” It sometimes sounds desperate. I don’t expect to hear “yummy pizza” or “yummy cheeseburger with a side-order of fries.” I do expect to hear “yummy vegetarian alternative Thanksgiving meal.” Why? Because most people have to force themselves to eat healthy food and most of the so-called “yummy” stuff is just a substitute for what we really want. The privation of our evolutionary heritage has selected us to seek fat, sugar, salt, and protein.
Years of Catholic guilt have left me feeling that denial is a form of good deeds. This has left me more susceptible than most to “yummy” propaganda: if I don’t eat cheese, I’m a better person and God will love me more. I left behind God but not my guilt fetish. So I fight my body’s desire for delicious lovely, creamy but still kind of hard, salty, lovely, did I say lovely cheddar cheese. Excuse me.
The boss, ever the more wise of the pair, gently suggested many years ago that I’d be better off just having a little bit of cheese, then moving on. Sometimes I can’t stop, then the cheese is gone, and I am sad, guilty and sick to my stomach, and the youngest boarder can’t have cheese in his lunch box.
Our sedentary lifestyle and easy access to food means we have to be a bit careful. We have to think about what we need versus what we want. But if you’re going to eat crap, eat crap, not “yummy” pretend crap. So don’t go for “lite” ice cream, just don’t eat so much ice cream, but have the real stuff. Take a walk to Herrell’s you won’t regret it.
I’m reminded of Pollan’s formulation to “eat food, not too much, mostly plants.” When you indulge, indulge, don’t pretend, and don’t do it too often.
I indulged this weekend in some great food and drink during a weekend with friends on Fire Island – not a damned yummy thing in sight. I also had a chance to catch a nice big striped bass. We had eaten striped bass the night before, so I know they taste delicious, but I let him go.