End of the year and time to take inventory. While biting into a thick, bean burrito the other night, way after I’d passed the, “I am so full now it hurts” stage, I had one of those rare moments of clutter-free clarity about how often I find myself stuck in situations like this; stuffed beyond belief.
During the course of our stay here in Asia, I’ve been more or less subconsciously trying to address this bad habit. Mostly, I’ve stuck to a strict vegetarian/pescatarian based diet and avoided processed foods, including the usual suspects; breads, pastries, pastas, sauces, dressings and dips.
For about two weeks, I was really focused and kept stringently to my new, narrow dietary path without much trouble or frustration. Then we started visiting the Mexican cantina, La Monita Taqueria, located in a typical soi off Sukhumvit near Wireless Road. We’d barely walked through the front door before I immediately realized that all bets were off. The pungent smell of… cumin, tortillas, beans, cheese and cilantro had an astonishingly strong, nah, more like a hypnotic effect on me and on both visits, I completely lost control. Within minutes, I’d let myself be seduced and succumb to all of La Monita’s tasty temptations, including the aforementioned breads, sauces and dips.
I can with some authority assert that this simple cantina, with its thick wooden benches, clichéd ornaments and color scheme offers some of the best Tex-Mex I’ve eaten in Asia. Their Cali Fish Tacos are almost as deliciously flavorful as what the folks at Paia Fish Market on Maui serve.
Back to my food issues.
Without so much as a single academic credit in psychology, I’m still pretty sure my love of food is somehow mentally intertwined with my need for comfort and that it simultaneously serves to leverage my inability to deal with boredom. I don’t think I’m terribly unique in this, though. I’m guessing that especially lunches act as some form of diversion from the mundanity found in most office buildings and white collar workplaces. And it’s rapidly becoming a universal phenomenon. Especially noticeable is how popular the lunch break has become here in Bangkok where armies of lunching office workers invade everything from sidewalk restaurants to American fast food eateries.
Speaking of lunch. About a week ago, I stopped eating them. I just wanted to see how it would feel and to experience if skipping a meal and the anticipated ensuing lack of nourishment would render me fatigued – or, at least, less chirpy.
So far, for good or for worse, I’ve not felt any change whatsoever. My DIY logic behind this test is based on the medically proven fact that the older one gets, the slower the metabolism’s turnover is. And so, the usual lunch diet seems pretty much meaningless and any energy deficiency I might experience could be easily and more effectively remedied with much less and more thoughtful (nourishing) food.
Here at the hotel, for breakfast, after a workout at the gym, I eat a cheese/tomato/onion omelet, a half bowl of baked beans in tomato sauce, gravlax, some fruit and a couple of cups of coffee. That’s it. I might have a ice coffee or a fruit smoothie sometime in the afternoon and then eat a fairly large dinner around 7 or 8 pm.
It seems hard to find a really good salad restaurant in Bangkok. I’m not complaining. The food scene here is amazing and so insanely much better than when I was here for the first time 25 years ago. Still, I miss the finely cut salad I make at home with a dozen or so ingredients including a variety of nuts, raw veggies, and lightly grilled broccoli, beats, sweet potato and whatever else I can find in the fridge or freezer.
I want to continue this lunch-free experiment once we get back into everyday life again in a couple of weeks. Something tells me it could provide me with some long-term benefits and help me lose at least few of those extra kilograms lagging around my waistline. More importantly though, I hope it allows me to stop using food as some kind of mental crutch.