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Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Indulgence

Do you know one of those people who describe everything as "amazing," "the best," "awesome," and don't get tired of giving praises and being overly effusive?
Well, my husband isn't one of those...
In the rare occasion in which he manifests lots of enthusiasm, something fabulously incredible and magnificent has happened.
Last night, during kickoff, we witnessed one of those special moments, and it didn't have to do at all with the Giants' victory. Our friend and fabulous cook J (or Y), had promised my husband he would invite him for a BBQ if the New York team made it to the Super Bowl. 
When my husband bit into the juicy, crusty and soft steak, he suffered a transformation: his face glowed and his smile found a new dimension, extending itself into bliss.   
He really enjoyed it! He didn't indulge. He freely, happily and plainly enjoyed his steak. Then he ignored Madonna, finished watching the game, worked a bit, and slept. Woke up the next morning and went on with his day. He didn't feel guilty, more masculine, rougher, or more powerful. He just had a great meal the previous night.
Which brings me to something I started noticing since I moved to the U.S more than a decade ago. I find it to happen especially, but not exclusively, within the female gender and I don't know if it's reflected in and/or produced by pop culture and media advertising: If you eat something delicious, you must somehow be sinning. You are eating it, but you must feel guilty, and at the same time, you should let the guilt go while you eat it. You can feel bad after consumption and go to the gym (or resort to alternative behaviors to un-eat and un-do the sinful did). But in the meanwhile, doing the bad is good, but very bad (Ehhh?).
Which makes everything VERY confusing.
I just googled "indulgence" looking for the definition of the word, and besides the Merriam-Webster entry that follows (and the Wiki one, of course!), a couple of bakery shops/products named "indulgence" showed up in the search. The dictionary indicated that indulgence is a: "remission of part or all of the temporal and especially purgatorial punishment that according to Roman Catholicism is due for sins whose eternal punishment has been remitted and whose guilt has been pardoned..."  
Thesaurus.com indicated that some other words for "indulgence" are: allowance, appeasement, babying, excess, extravagance, forbearance, fulfillment, gratifying, hedonism, immoderation, intemperance, intemperateness, leniency, pampering, permissiveness, petting, placating, pleasing, privilege, profligacy, profligateness, satiation, satisfaction, spoiling, toleration.

In my oppinion, the following image, taken from a wrapper of a Dove (TM) Promises (TM) chocolate candy summarizes the whole phenomenon:

Or just check this Betty Crocker's Warm Delights (TM) commercial:


My question is: why?????

Why do we have to give these associations to food? Yes, it's true that food has meaning: it reminds us of certain things or times, traditions, experiences, identity, people places or relations, but a simple and impersonal piece of mass produced, machine-wrapped chocolate, a microwaved cake or an ice cream scoop should be satisfying for a couple of minutes and then we should be able to move on, and not turn it into a theological and/or moral dilemma.

My friend Debra, author of the great blog Beyond Prenatals, wrote about this ad she saw near her home:

Photo by Debra Waldoks, MPH, RD, CLC http://www.beyondprenatals.com/
A pleasant moment should not become torture. Something enjoyable for the senses cannot define who we are, so let's not treat it as if it could. A food treat doesn't mean sin, independence, company, success, happiness, eroticism, punishment, emancipation, power or love. Nor is it the answer to get over a breakup. It's food. It might be delicious and able to placate a craving, but only a food craving, not an emotional one. 
I'll follow all this with a cookie recipe. If you celebrate February 14, make some cookies, chocolates or whatever you want instead of buying something prepackaged. There's definitely some meaning in making something special, unique and personal. And the process can be part of the whole opportunity to enjoy, not to indulge.
CORN COOKIES
My dear friend E, who just gave birth (welcome baby M!!!!), craved corn throughout her pregnancy, and more specifically, Christina Tosi's corn cookies from the acclaimed Momofuku Milk Bar. Once, the store was out of them and my friend craved them so badly that she baked them herself on her due date. Pregnant or not, she has an incredibly discerning palate, so I was intrigued about the cookies.
I haven't tried the original ones. However, the cookbook, Momofuku Milk Bar came out a couple of months ago, and includes the recipe. The author's baking style is completely different from mine, but there are some brilliant ideas in it that can be translated into the kind of things I like making, and I can't wait to keep playing around with them.
At the end, there's very little resemblance from chef Tosi's creation from what I ended up baking, as I cut-down, added, and substituted all over her recipe. As I said, I haven't tried the original version, which people love, but my cookies came out quite AWESOME (and my children agreed). They have a nice, interesting, familiar flavor and a delicious soft-in-the-middle-crunchy-on-the-edge texture.
INGREDIENTS
  • Vegan, free of: gluten, wheat, dairy, eggs, nuts and soy
  • Super ingredients: organic corn (not GMO): corn is a good source of fiber, vitamins B3 and B5 and manganese and is very rich in antioxidant phytonutrients.

 

45 g (3 tablespoons) virgin coconut oil (I like Spectrum brand)
45 g (3 tablespoons) expeller-pressed grape seed oil
65 g (4 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon) organic sugar
1 teaspoon ground chia seeds
11/2 tablespoons water
65 g freeze dried organic corn (such as Just Tomatoes brand)
112 g (1/2 cup plus 3 tablespoons) whole oat flour (gf if needed)
22 g (2 tablespoons) whole corn flour (NOT corn meal)
1/4 teaspoon plus 1/8 teaspoon aluminum-free baking powder
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoons fine sea salt
2 tablespoons cold water

METHOD
Preheat oven to 350 F.
Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
Combine the oils and the sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix at medium-high speed for 3 minutes.

While the oils and sugar are beating, in a small bowl whisk the ground chia with the 11/2 tablespoons of water and add it to the oil mixture. Mix for 8 more minutes.

In the meanwhile, grind the freeze-dried corn in a coffee or spice grinder (you will have to do it in separate batches).




Reduce the mixer's speed to low and add in the corn powder, the oat and corn flours, the baking powder, baking soda and the salt.

Mix for 1 minute until all the ingredients are combined and mix resembles wet sand.

Remove bowl from the mixer.
Add the 2 tablespoons water and mix gently and briefly with a spatula until water is incorporated and comes together.

With a mini scoop, make balls of dough and place them on the prepared sheets leaving about 2 inches in between each ball.


Flatten the balls with your palms and bake for about 10 minutes, until edges brown a bit.

Cool for 2 minutes and enjoy!

Makes about 30 cookies.

2 comments:

sandy said...

nice blog...Debra from Advanced style told me about you...keep up the great work..

Alexandra said...

Thank you so much, Sandy! I really appreciate it.