A few weeks ago I was invited to an evening cocktail party at a friend’s house – promised to be a fun evening.  Of course I offered to bring something and was told that an appetizer would be great.

Last week the hostess sent an email around to all of us who had offered to bring an appetizer so that she could get an idea of what was coming.  My original intention was to being edamame humus with pita chips but by the time the email got to me there were at least 5 other dip-type items on it so I decided to do something different – Chex Party Mix.  So that’s what I wrote.

I mean everyone likes that, right?  And it goes well with cocktails and there would be MEN there and from what I understand men aren’t generally all that excited about dips.  Anyway, I didn’t give it another thought.

Until Saturday afternoon.

I called a girlfriend of mine (actually the friend through whom I know the hostess) who was also going to coordinate rides, etc.  We were chatting about this and that and then she asked me – were you serious about the Chex Party Mix?  Of course, I answered, why?

Apparently some of the women WHO I DON”T EVEN KNOW! saw it listed on the email and got their knickers in a serious knot.  WHO is this person? they demanded.  What kind of person brings a bag of bits & bites to an adult cocktail party??!!  seriously, apparently there was an entire day of emails like that – totally trash-talking this insolent gatecrasher and her audacity in thinking that this was acceptable party fare.

OH. MY. GOD!!!!  These women are all in their mid to late 40’s and early 50’s. Professionals for the most part.  But way bitchy and petty apparently.

I assured my friend that I was in no way bringing a vacu-sealed bag of bits and bites to the party – I was in fact in the middle of making home-made Chex Party Mix – with pecans and almonds and three types of organic cereals and Chinese noodles.  This was not your 1970’s housewife party mix.

and don’t think I wasn’t tempted to go to the corner store and buy a bag and bring it with a 6-pack of no-name pop.

But I didn’t.  Because I am better than that.

The party was fun.  My Chex Mix a huge hit – it was the ONLY dish from the table that made its way to the kitchen and was surrounded by all the men.

And I found out who started the mean emails and it was none other than that bitch who last year stuck me with $150 of a group bill AFTER going on and on and on about how much money she and her husband make.  And of course she pretended not to have ever met me before.

Karma’s a bitch, babe, that’s what I have to say to you.

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Am I  pissed that she lost all that weight?  absolutely not – I think it’s fabulous.  What I am pissed about is how they are promoting it and the unrealistic image she is portraying while posing in a bikini.  Hey, she looks GREAT! but at what cost?  and to what end? as far as I can tell all it serves to do is propagate the unattainable and unrealistic (not to mention completely unhealthy) body image that Hollywood and the media force upon us.

Like most women I know, and don’t know for that matter, I have struggled with my weight pretty much all my life.  I have been WAY up and WAY down, neither healthy, and right now I am pretty much where I should be but of course am still not completely happy with it.  I lead an active life but think I should be more active.  I eat well 95% of the time, but then go through spurts, like right now coincidentally, where a 250 calorie bag of baked pretzels dipped in almost no calorie Dijon mustard makes a perfectly acceptable meal of the day.  Yeah, I know, SOOOOO healthy, right?

I had a mini melt-down the other day, thankfully in the privacy of my own bedroom, brought on I suspect by watching an interview with the aforementioned Ms. Bertinelli, tuning in to the Biggest Loser (a show I actually enjoy and think for the most part promotes a healthy attitude and approach to weight loss),  and the fast-approaching spring/summer season.  Ms. Bertinelli admitted to dropping her caloric intake to 1,200 for several weeks prior to the bikini shot.  Well of course she did?  If I knew I was going to be photographed in a bikini for millions of people to see you had better believe that I would pretty much stop eating and start working-out 6 hours a day for at LEAST a month. 

But then what? What happens when you go back to real life? What happens when you HAVE  a real life, with a real job and real responsibilities?  Most of us don’t have 6 hours a day to dedicate to working out.  Most of us don’t have a weight-loss company PAYING us to promote them thus enabling us to have those 6 hours a day to work out.

Which brings me to my next “issue” – the whole weight-loss company thing.  Jennifer Lancaster made this point over and over in her book “Such a Pretty Fat” (which I LOVED, by the way – READ IT!).  Sure, Jenny Craig and Weight Watchers work great IF YOU EAT THEIR PRE-PACKAGED FOOD.  But then what?  Are you stuck eating that crap forever??  Because, yuck. And so not healthy – it’s all processed and full of stuff you can’t pronounce and so contrary to that other dietary trend we are being inundated by – the 100 mile thing (but that’s a whole other topic for a whole other entry). And they don’t emphasize (or even mention in some cases) that exercise is the key.

This is a point that The Biggest Loser makes over and over again – change your life, change the way you eat, change the way you move.  Sure the contestants on the show have the luxury of being on a ranch with some fabulous trainers and the ability to work out 24/7 should they so choose.  But it’s not a permanent situation and they, for the most part, leave the ranch with a new approach to how they live their lives.  They are shown healthy alternatives to their favourite snacks.  They are encouraged to MOVE.  Their lives and lifestyles change – they are not dependant on a series of pre-packaged “meals”.

But this isn’t about extolling the virtues if a reality television show.  It’s about why I am pissed at Valeri Bertinelli.  You look great, I’ve already said that, and you do.  Really, you do.  But how will you look in 6 months?  Probably still great, but likely not “posing in a bikini on the cover of a national magazine” great because how could you? unless, of course, you continue on your 1,200 calorie a day regime which is setting such a great example for all the real women and impressionable young girls out there.  Does being thin and bikini ready make you a better person? Because that’s the message that’s being sent.  thin=better, happier, worthier

Here’s the thing – I love food.  I love reading about it, watching about it (bad grammar, I know), talking about it, preparing it, and eating it.  Life would be pretty damn boring if I was restricted to 1,200 calories a day for life.  (also, I would be ridiculously thin and that’s just not such a great look on anyone over 35 – hello, a little fat does wonders for the wrinkles) Food for me is a social activity and one that I am not willing to give up.  The moving thing?  I do that – sometimes more than others but on average I am way more active than apparently 90% of the general population.  I have 2 dogs that require lots of exercise and that translates into 2 45-minute walks a day during the week (including HILLS – I live in the mountains) and a 2 to 3 hour hike on Saturdays and Sundays.  Plus other stuff.  So yeah, I am active.

I also know that I feel better a little “lighter” and I am in a better mood when I am eating healthier and when my favourite clothes fit. But I really don’t need the, admittedly mostly self-inflicted, pressure of having to be bikini-ready or risk being shunned or marginalised.

So Ms. Bertinelli and those of your ilk, I am pissed at you (but you do look great!).

 

As mentioned many times, I love cooking.  Love reading cook books,  surfing recipe sites, watching the Food Network, reading cooking blogs, etc.  Love all that.  I also love cooking for people, LOTS of people.  Dinner parties, family suppers, you name it.  However, I HATE cooking dinner for myself .  Moreover, I hate thinking of something to cook for dinner for myself, so I sometimes just spend time thinking about what I would havefor dinner if  I could have anything that I wanted.  And then sometimes I cook that, like last night I made myself a spinach, mushroom and goat’s cheese souffle with a mixed green salad.  Yummy

 

 

But more often I don’t

 

 

Last week I asked a some other people that question:  if you could have anything you wanted for dinner tonight, what would it be?

 

 

here are some of the answers …

 

my father:  Halibut fillets, about an inch thick and pan fried in lots and lots of butter and capers for about five minutes and then five more minutes in a very hot oven, served with spinach and French fried potatoes of the type offered in Le Mas des Oliviers (thick and salted, but not too much). Start the meal with a green salad and delicate vinaigrette and finish with a medium age goat cheese and room temperature Stilton served with a baguette warmed in the oven. The wines would be a  Chablis and a Californian red, not too heavy. All this followed by Espresso with a couple of 80% dark chocolate truffles. 

 

 

my friend Sue:  A pile of hot wings with lots of Ranch and 3 or 4 beers!!!  Mmmm…and only 5000 or so calories too! 

 

Julia, a new mum: someone to cook it for me (funny, this was a VERY common response!) 

 

my mum:  a plate of roasted vegetables on a bed of fresh pasta with goat cheese on top…. 

 

my friend Kathleen:  Whitefish as DB Bistro Moderne did it three weeks ago for a special – lightly sauteed on a bed of blanched vegetables and white truffle sauce.  For the appetizer, beet salad with goat cheese.  For dessert, that tequila souffle we had at Chambar (which was AMAZING!). 

 

my brother-in-law, Marcus (a vegetarian): a rib-eye with a side of ribs – ha ha!

and my favourite answer, mainly because she is vegetarian, deathly allergic to eggs and has major lactose issues (and because my mother & I so called it)

 

 my sister, Paula aka Lola’s mum:  Eggs Benedict with roast beef and Yorkshire pudding and a side of Rocco’s (owner of our fave restaurant in Montreal) carbonara, and for dessert I would have sugar pie from the Alpine Inn (in the Laurentians) and tartufo!