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No Diets!

The calorie approach is the work of the devil. He has persuaded otherwise sane men that festal eating should not alternate with ferial eating at all, but with dieting–an activity which, while it uses food, hopes that it can keep food from having anything significant to do with us. The modern diet victim sees his life at the table not as a delightful alternation between pearls of great price and dishes of lesser cost, but as a grim sentence which condemns him to pay for every fattening repast (even the sleaziest) with a meal of carrot sticks and celery. Not that there is anything wrong with raw vegetables, or with eating less if you want to–but to allow such considerations to become the rule of man’s eating is simply the death of dining.

Robert Farrar Capon

So we at Chez Lewis are on, what the whole world would call, “a diet.” We are indulging the Devil, Capon might say. Doing the work of Satan. No, there’s nothing wrong with raw vegetables. . . . nothing that a little cheese or butter couldn’t fix.

But I digress.

Capon’s exactly right that our TV doctors, food manufacturers, and government-approved food pyramids have so mediated our relationship with the Staff of Life that we can’t enjoy it, let alone taste it. He wrote his text in 1968 when convenience foods were all the rage and actual food-prep was becoming passé.

It takes time to taste food. Really taste it. Not consume it. Not do lunch or have dinner. It takes a lot of thinking, planning, shopping, chopping, stirring, checking, and then enjoying.

We think we go back and forth between enjoying our food and not enjoying our food. We’re either eating or we’re dieting. It’s either a lasagna or protein bars. Broccoli-Rice Casserole or rice cakes. But Capon is pointing out that that’s the wrong dichotomy. It’s festal vs. ferial. Feast day vs. held-overs. It all tastes good! It’s all food.

And that’s why this so-called “diet” we’re on makes sense to me. It’s food. Just food. It’s not convenient or potable. It starts from scratch at its most raw.

Seriously though, how would it change us if we alternated not between feast and famine but between festal and ferial? If the lack wasn’t lacking but just ordinary? Not prime rib vs. Healthy Choice but prime rib vs. PB&J?