So we’re one week into our Challenge. It’s been quite a week.
For those of you just tuning in, the Booze Hound and I are doing a 10-week diet challenge through our local CrossFit
. Our meals will consist of meat, seafood, eggs, fruits, veggies, nuts and seeds.
This means no baguette. A little tear just streamed down my face.
Our effort is not for naught, with a grand prize of three free months of membership for the winning male and female. So if I’m in it, I’m in it to win it.
Before I whine about the low moments of the week, let me instead go through the great points:
1. I’ve never eaten more fruits and vegetables on a daily basis. For the record, I ate a lot even before the Challenge. I don’t care what kind of eating philosophy you espouse, but more fruits and veggies are never bad.
2. I have a minor addiction to nuts and dried fruit all mixed together in a sweet-salty orgy.
3. Although I would get hit by a bus trying to reach a bowl of my homemade granola, I have zero problem with bacon and eggs. Zero. Especially eggs fried in bacon fat. That’s nirvana.
4. Almond butter and I are becoming better friends. Still not besties, but it now tastes better than shoe paste.
5. I can’t remember the last time I woke up with a flat stomach after a night of Mexican food. That’s what tortilla-less fajitas and avocado salad will do to you. Rock on.
Alas, the hardest part of this past week can be summed up in six little words:
It’s. Not. French. (and) It’s. A. Diet.
You know me- always wanting to be French. I love eating small (French) portions of rich (French) foods whenever I want them (French French French).
It’s not like none of the foods we can eat are accepted by the Francophone nations. Au contraire. There is butter, cream, asparagus, salmon- things every chic Parisian includes in her daily life.
But the French way of life is what is missing. At the top of the gym white board is written the following statement: “Eating is not an event, it’s survival.”
In other words, take away my entire life’s happiness and extradite me to a desert island with only a volleyball named Wilson for company.
To the French (and many other cultures, but let’s face it- the French are my faves :), food is meant to be savored. Make the foods you love taste as great as they can, indulge when you want (but not too much) and make every meal a celebration. This is my philosophy, and it will never change.
This brings me to the second three words: It’s a diet. I’m not a fan of diets, never will be. They are joyless means to a weight loss end, fraught with misery and restriction. And I’m not doing this for weight loss, so it’s doubly hard to rationalize restrictions. If I think bolognese tastes better with cheese, tough. Cheese isn’t on the diet. Put the grater away. Want a piece of cake on your birthday? Nope, forbidden. Have an egg.
So as I spiraled downward this week, I relied heavily on the Booze Hound and our fabulous neighbors/CrossFit cronies to pick me up and remind me of three things:
1. Everyone has a hard time in the beginning.
2. This is not meant to be a way of life, but rather a challenge. Have you ever met an easy challenge? If so, it’s not a challenge.
3. Get creative.
And so, the gloves are off. I have dealt through my week of whining. There might even have been some tears. Hey, you never know you can cry over aged Parmigiano until you see it go back in the fridge without depositing some delightful sprinkles on your salad. I’m not made of stone.
For the next nine weeks I am making the best food known to man on this Challenge. Food that doesn’t need cheese. Or bread. Food that makes your mouth water on its own two feet.
Food Hound food.
While doing this, I will bust the aforementioned adage out of the water. Eating is still an event, and it always will be. But can I do the unthinkable?
Can I inject a little France into the Challenge? Where steak wrapped in steak topped with steak is considered desirable?
Oh, oh, glorious mayonnaise. From scratch. Mesdames et messieurs, you can’t get more French than mayonnaise. And I went to Dorie Greenspan, this generation’s Julia Child, for the authentic recipe.
If I’m going to kick this Challenge in the ass and compete Food Hound style, it’s all going to start with some mayonnaise. It’s rich. It’s permitted. It goes with about a million things. It’s French. It makes me feel like the fearless Food Hound I was a week ago before I melted down about not being able to eat veggie dip.
And so, I’m back. The gloves are off. After all, it’s hard to whisk mayonnaise with gloves.
Adapted from Dorie Greenspan
Yields 2 cups
3 egg yolks, at room temperature
4 tsp fresh lemon juice (my choice) or wine vinegar
1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
2 c oil (I suggest canola since olive yields an undesirably fruity (to me) taste)
Freshly ground black pepper
1. Put the yolks, lemon juice and/or vinegar, and mustard into a blender, food processor or stand mixer (my choice). If you can do this all by hand, you are Wonder Woman. Add some salt and whisk/whir to blend. Drop by drop start adding the oil, whisking/whirring all the while. When you’ve got about 1/4 oil beaten in and the mix is starting to look like mayonnaise (about 4 minutes or so), you can add the remaining oil more steadily but still slowly. Taste and add pepper and more salt, if you like. If you like it a little more piquant, add a little more mustard or a few more drops of lemon juice or vinegar.