Food, Food, and more Food

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A quick rundown of my holiday eating habits:

First, there is all the candy consumed on Halloween. Even now I tell myself, “It’s Halloween. I can have a Butterfinger or two.”

Then Thanksgiving comes around. The stuffing was always my favorite along with mom’s famous (store bought) pumpkin pie with a healthy dollop of Cool whip. In the days after Thanksgiving, turkey sandwiches galore.

No need to worry when the turkey runs out because Christmas is right around the corner with all the treats that holiday brings. I was never a huge fan of those powdered cookies my grandma used to bring over every year, but she did go through all the trouble to bake them, and there always was a whole tin box full of them. It’d have been a shame to let them go to waste. So I never did. Then there were the candy canes which I also didn’t love, but it was Christmas, you know. So I had to have at least one or two of those. And of course, the infamous fruitcake, which I’ve only actually eaten a couple times, enough to understand all the jokes surrounding it. Christmas dinner was the best though. When I tell my students what Christmas in America is like, I always tell them my mom would cook another huge turkey not long after we polished the one from Thanksgiving off. But, right now I honestly can’t remember. Did we always have turkey at Christmas? She may have baked a ham a couple times too because I also seem to have a recollection of that..at least I think I do.

Memory is a funny thing, isn’t it? Did you know that when you look back and think about an event from your past, that you’re not actually remembering the event itself. You are remembering the last time you thought about that event. And the next time you think about the same event, you’ll just be thinking about this time you’re thinking about it. Weird, uh? That’s why police have to really probe people’s eyewitness accounts; each time they think about what happened, they are just remembering the last story they told about it. It’s the reason the fish gets bigger each time you tell the story of the one that got away. And, it’s why I’m convinced now that I captained my high school football team to the state championship and after the big game, Mary Lou, the head cheerleader, and I drove up to Inspiration Point and celebrated.

That last memory might have gotten a bit distorted over time though.

So what comes after all the food you eat on Christmas? New Years, baby. New Years isn’t much of a food holiday. Alcohol seems to rule that day (or the eve anyway). In my case, alcohol meant pizza. There was no better combination when I was younger than pizza and…any drink. But, pizza isn’t a New Years food. What is? I’ve been to parties where little appetizers were served. Cheese and crackers are really good, but they don’t scream, “PaRtY!” to me.

OK. Let’s just leave New Years at alcohol.

Then you’re done, right? You’ve survived the holidays. It’s January first. Your head is killing you. The parade is on. The college football bowl games are on. You wonder how those players can butt heads like that so hard when just pulling the covers over your head as it rests on your pillow feels like it’s in a vice. Anyway, you’re alive and it’s time to do something about how you’re feeling.

How did the narrative get changed from “I” to “you?”

For me the best hangover food was always grease. So New Years morning I went through the check list:
Any left over pizza?
No. It was a New Years Eve party not a Saturday night party.

OK. Any leftover turkey? It’s not greasy, but it is substantial enough to help.
It doesn’t matter though because it’s all gone.

Ham?
No.

OK. Anything is fine. White powdered Christmas cookies?
No. Start panicking.

Candy canes?
Nada.

Um…Butterfingers?
Not a one.

Damn. Damn. Damn.
Looks like it’s time to go to McDonald’s.

And so the year begins on a high note. The holidays may be officially over, but you know there is one more food-laced day of celebration to get through before contemplating getting back into summer shape: Super Bowl Sunday. The day when football aficionados and laymen alike get together for a great feast of chips, beer and of course, pizza.

That’s how I remember Super Bowl feasts in America anyway. I understand now that some people go nuts and lay out a very wonderful spread. But, I’ve always been a simple man; give me pizza, a comfortable chair and a good view of the game and I’ll be happy.

I always love Super Bowl Sundays, even though ultimately it is between two teams I don’t care for. I always end up choosing one to root for though because it’s no fun watching a game without any emotion invested in it.

I was born and raised in Minnesota so I am a die-hard Viking fan: the most snake-bitten team in the NFL according to NFL Network. Viking fans understand. If you don’t know what it’s like to be a Minnesota Viking fan, then go to the kitchen, look in the fridge and find your absolute favorite food. Not there? No problem, go to the supermarket and get all the ingredients you’ll need to put heaven on a plate. While you’re shopping, dream of how good it’s going to taste and all the praise that will be heaped upon you for the masterpiece you’re about to create. As you’re cooking, think about the newspaper articles that will be written about your meal, the endless, 24-hour news coverage, the T-shirts, posters and banners that you will buy, all celebrating the wonderful feast you’re putting together. Check the oven. It isn’t burning, is it?

Good.

Man, that smells great. Wait. Is that the president on the phone congratulating you on your perfect meal? It’s just about ready. Set the table and call everyone around to eat. Oh, it’s nice hearing all the comments on how wonderful it smells and how excited they are to dig in.

DING! It’s time to eat.

OK. Great! Now go outside and walk around the side of your house. Look back in through the dining room window. There’s your kitchen. It looks warm in there. It certainly isn’t outside. Too bad you didn’t bring a jacket. Everyone is in there laughing and having a good time. There’s the chair you always sit in. There is your beautiful meal you slaved all day to make and are looking so forward to eat. But, wait. There is something wrong. Everyone is changing their clothes.  They are putting on green jerseys and triangular head pieces. Wait. They weren’t invited. You don’t want them there. Why are they eating your meal? Stop! Get your lips off of my food!!! Nooooooo!

Rats! Oh well, maybe you can heat up a can of Dinty Moore beef stew over a fire in a barrel.

That’s what being a Minnesota Viking fan feels like. But, just wait until next year.

…sigh.

Super Bowl Sunday is actually Super Bowl Monday morning here in Japan. This year my American friend, Joey, hosted the 8:30am kick off party for a few of us ex-pats. He’s a very good host. There wasn’t any pizza, but there was French toast. French toast is great football fare if you ask me. I contributed my part also and brought hashed browns from McDonald’s for everyone–also a recommended hangover food. So, like our counter parts on the other side of the Pacific, we ate, talked and kept one eye on the TV. We kind of lost interest when Atlanta started running away with it, but got quiet and tuned back in when Brady started connecting with his receivers, and we were as amazed as everyone else when The Patriots finally won.

Oops. Spoiler alert. I hope you already knew the result.

That was the most exciting Super Bowl I can remember, even though I wanted the Falcons to win. Not because I hate the Patriots or anything like that; simply because NE always wins. Isn’t that a weird human quirk that we root against teams just because they are successful? It’s the same reason I didn’t like the Yankees growing up.

I think it’s lobsters…..are the words Shane chose to start his next paragraph with; completely baffling the readers of his blog, who collectively asked themselves, “How the hell did he get from the Super Bowl to lobsters?” Yet, undeterred by their confusion, our hero gallantly went on to finish what he had started, secure in the knowledge that they’d be able to keep up with his train of thought if they just gave him a little more time……but I could be wrong about that. It may not be lobsters. I’m pretty sure it’s some sort of watery crustacean though. Anyway when crowded in a tank, they will try to escape by climbing out. Pretty good instincts if you ask me. They know what’s in store for them if they don’t. But, if one of the lobsters somehow gets a promising start on its jailbreak and looks like it will be successful, the other lobsters (…are they lobsters?) will pull it back, thus ensuring none of them escapes. I read that in a book years ago. So the details are fuzzy, but that’s pretty much the gist of it.

Yes, lobsters are weird. But, we aren’t that different. I’m not going to delve into a big human psyche shtick here. I’ll just leave that thought there while I get back to the Super Bowl.

…well, not the Super Bowl exactly. I’m done with that.

The problem with having the Super Bowl on Monday morning is that the game usually ends before noon (this year Brady’s heroics pushed it to 12:30) and then you’re left with kind of an empty feeling. I know everyone back in the states is watching the post game show (which for us means listening to the Japanese announcers) or they are watching all new episodes of great TV shows or they’re hanging out with family and friends. Or, if you’re a Falcon fan, crying and cursing the football gods.

But, here it’s Monday.

Monday.

I don’t actually teach on Mondays, but there is a lot of prep work to be done for the next week. So in a very short period of time, I have to switch my mind from “Football! WooWoo! I want more French toast!” mode to “I am a professional teacher. It’s time to make some lesson plans” mode.

It’s hard not to be influenced by the game though when planning a lesson.

So next week’s theme has turned out to be, in deference to Falcon fans, choking.