Major fork in my road to sweets and back: I didn’t get the crumb cake, though big trays of it were positioned right at eye level. I took the right turn. I’ve eaten lots of crumb cake in my day, from the Entenmann’s ones Granny [Alice] got us to the tender, chocolate-dappled squares the bagel shop in Montclair used to sell--so deluxe.
I want to remember the revelation today. It occurred to me, as I drove away, that I don’t need to have decadent treats on an everyday basis--or just because I see one, or feel like it. I thought of one of Michael Pollan’s famous food rules: "Don’t eat anything your great-great-great grandmother wouldn’t recognize as food." He means things like Twinkies and margarine, but let’s just throw fancy, sugar-laden baked goods into the mix, too.
And then I thought of the Harvard professor I interviewed years ago for a nutrition article in Scholastic Parent & Child Magazine. He said 1. That ideally, adults should be at their high school weight [!!] and 2. That we don’t need to keep ice cream in the house. If your child wants some, on a special occasion, go buy her a cone or cup. Hence, I don't need a treat like crumb cake just because it presents itself right after a doctor visit, either.
I wish I could ask my parents about my great-great-great grandmothers, but that would have been Mom and Dad’s great-great-grandmothers--not sure how much was known about them.
As for my grandmothers, they didn’t grow up with luxuries--one in Italy, one in NYC, and sadly, in an orphanage for years after her mother died. Her crumb cake gifting period came much later. If anything, I might be genetically programmed to make up for any possible deprivation my grandmothers suffered at the table.
And though, as a baker and food writer and sugar lover, I have made and tasted many tender pale yellow cake layers, crowned with the best, most buttery, cinnamon-flecked crumbs, that did not mandate that I get a square today. Even if, just by looking, I could tell it was a good one--that the base would taste like butter, not notes of shortening or margarine, and that the generous cascade of crumbs would be sweet and rich.
I had fasted for the bloodwork, so was hungry. I got the frittata, but instead of being baked, it was eggs that had been scrambled stovetop with a lot of mushrooms and spinach. I got a semolina loaf to bring home and ate the end of it. I poured myself a cup of coffee from the glass pot in the store.
- Frozen manicotti to bake tomorrow for Dan’s bday. [It’s today, but he has to go to D.C. on train for work, returning after 1 a.m.] He loves homemade manicott--his mom, our friend Elaine and I have made it from scratch, crepes and all, but our family/work schedule is too busy this week.
- A quart of sauce w meatballs and sausage, for Punch and me tonite and tomorrow.
- Fried whole peppers, one of the few vegan things I could find for Figgy. They look good, a little charred, etc.
- Escarole w crumb topping for bday dinner tomorrow.
- For Dan bday breakfast just now, a spinach-cheese-egg "muffin"--no flour. I want to learn to make these. I know Sis has.