I’m beginning to believe the old saying, “Be careful what you wish for,” because not long ago I told my husband I wished I could lose 20 pounds before summer...and it happened...suddenly.
An excruciating pain in my teeth and jaw led me to have some major, emergency dental surgery a couple of weeks ago, which has left me unable to open my jaw more than a crack or chew. I’m so hungry for something that’s not the consistency of baby food, even road-kill is starting to look appetizing.
It doesn’t help that I’m lactose intolerant, because everything tasty the oral surgeon recommended for me to eat – milkshakes, pudding, ice cream, yogurt – is made with milk. So my current diet consists of strained bananas, Cream of Rice cereal (made with water, not milk), broth, mashed potatoes (just plain potatoes that have been mashed with nothing else added to them) and whipped butternut squash.
When I was growing up, baby food had a lot of flavor because it contained salt, sugar, spices and other additives, which all are taboo nowadays. Everything in today’s baby food is “all natural.” That’s fine for people who want to raise healthy babies, but as a grown adult who has to eat the stuff, well, it's about as tasty as wallpaper paste.
Meanwhile, my husband is wolfing down cheeseburgers, pizza, steak sandwiches and pot roast. I try not to look at him when he’s eating because I have the tendency to drool just like my dogs do when they watch him, but it’s pretty difficult to ignore him when he’s saying, “Mmmmm! This is soooo good!” with every bite. It makes me want to fling a spoonful of my strained bananas at him.
No, make that an entire bunch of whole bananas...unripe ones.
I was so desperate for meat the other night, I stuffed some leftover pot roast into the blender. I was hoping it would come out the consistency of a milkshake, but it came out looking more like something you’d mortar bricks with. The dogs loved it.
“Can you go to Manchester and pick up some of my favorite chicken-lemon-rice soup for me?” I asked my husband the other night. “I’m really, really craving it.”
“You can’t chew the chunks of chicken in it...or even the rice,” he said.
“I can blend it in the blender and make it smooth,” I said.
“I still don’t think you’ll be able to eat it,” he said. “And it’s a 35-mile round-trip to go get it, you know.”
I told him to never mind, but the more I thought about it, the more my craving became all-consuming. As much as I hated to be seen in public looking as if I’d just gone five rounds with Mike Tyson, I decided to go get the soup myself.
Usually, I go to the restaurant early, before the rush hour, and chat with the servers, all of whom I'm on a first-name basis with, while my soup order is being prepared. But I was in no mood to chat, or even to be seen, looking the way I looked. In fact, I was afraid my swollen, baboon-like lips might frighten little children. So my plan was to arrive when I knew the restaurant would be so crowded with customers, none of the employees would have time to chat or barely even notice me, then I'd sneak over to the takeout counter, grab my order and leave.
My plan worked fairly well. The restaurant was mobbed when I arrived, and all of the servers were busy rushing around. I got my soup, paid, grabbed the bag and had one foot out of the door when one of the servers approached me and said, “I’m so glad I caught you! There’s a woman over here who’s a big fan of your column and she would love to meet you!”
Never have I wanted so desperately for a floor to open up and swallow me.
I ended up speaking to the woman while I covered my mouth with my hand. She probably thought I had a phobia about germs or was trying to conceal garlic breath...or that I was just a weirdo.
The minute I got home, I rushed to the blender and poured the soup into it. Then I blended it until I saw nothing but smooth creaminess. Eagerly, I dug in. The flavor was heavenly, but the consistency was pretty off-putting – kind of like eating shaving cream. I’d obviously overdone the blending.
Last week, I returned to the oral surgeon, hoping to hear good news. In fact, I already had a steak picked out for the celebration.
“Everything is still pretty tender and healing,” he said. “I think it will be at least another week or two before you can chew anything.”
“Can I finally eat a steak then?” I asked.
He shook his head. “No, I'd stick with foods that are easy to chew for a while...at least another month or two. Nothing crunchy or chewy, just to be safe.”
Frustrated, I stopped at the store on the way home and stocked up on more Gerber strained bananas. I figured it was the perfect food to go with my baboon lips anyway.
In the meantime, if anyone knows how to liquefy a porterhouse steak, I’m open to suggestions.
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