Over the past two months I have been very diligent in getting off of my fat butt and doing something to make it, well, less fat.
Everyday, except for Sunday, I get up around 5am and hit the streets, walking 3.7 miles each morning. At the same time I have tried to cut back on my food intake by eliminating some of my "live to eat" mentality and have started to replace it with "eat to live". Thanksgiving and Christmas excepted. I'm using smaller plates, completely avoiding pop, fast food, and chocolate. The personal benefit to all this is that I have lost approximately 25 pounds of ugly fat. Admittedly , I've never actually seen beautiful fat.
When I was a kid, and TV was still limited to 4-5 channels (7 if you sat on the roof moving the antenna around for your dad), Jack LaLanne, one of the first, and certainly to my generation, the most famous of the fitness guru's. Jack is still at it of course, although, he currently is recovering from heart valve surgery, I guess dying would tarnish his image. Still, heart valve surgery at 95 years old is pretty good. Jack is the guy that gave me the advice, through one of his most recent infomercials, to eat only whole foods. And I'm yelling at the TV, "Jack! I am eating whole foods! I ate the whole pizza, the whole chicken, the whole box of donuts!" Okay, I know that's not what he meant."
I've never been much of a prepared foods guy in the first place. I like pizza, but over the years I've discovered after a few bites that the first bite and the second bit pretty much taste the same. Boxed macaroni and cheese pretty much taste like the box, my wife's macaroni and cheese tastes better than anything I've ever had in my childhood or since. Fast food, okay, McDonald's French fry's are the best, but again, if there not hot, I don't have any passion.
Growing up we were poor. I knew it for sure when in the 7th grade I had a friend over a sleepover. When we were eating dinner he asked me if there were "seconds". I looked at him, incredulously, and asked him what "seconds" were. Since that time I have made up for the lack of seconds in my life.
Which brings me to perfection.
During the past couple of months I have rediscovered a childhood food that may be the most perfect food on the planet. Not for everyone maybe, but for me, "Perfection". I'm talking about the most perfect food in the world, the Peanut Butter & Jelly Sandwich or PB&J.
I feel sorry for people who are allergic to peanuts. You don't get the opportunity to enjoy and savor the culinary delight that is the Peanut Butter & Jelly Sandwich. And it's best with crunchy peanut butter and Welch's grape jelly although replacing the peanut butter with creamy or the jelly with the jam of your choice doesn't ruin the sandwich in the same way that cloves can ruin a nice ham.
Think about it, can you imagine something so simple, something lacking imagination like two pieces of bread with peanut butter and jelly slapped on each side and then slapped together, that can bring memories of your childhood back so quickly. The PB&J is the sandwich that mom really does make better, because she "makes it with love". And PB&J doesn't require a lot of thought. If you're in the store and need to get the ingredients for a PB&J all you have to have on your list is three items: bread, peanut butter, and jelly. If you can't make a PB&J then you're not a human. If I had the chance to be on Iron Chef America I would pray for the ingredient to be peanut butter, and jelly. I'd make one PB&J , share it with my competition and then spend the remaining 55 minutes discussing our childhood.
What other sandwich, for that matter, what other food on this entire Earth, is primarily based on a condiment? I've never heard of anyone getting excited about a mayo & mustard sandwich. Peanut butter is a condiment, an ingredient, like a spice, with most other foods. Other than the PB&J, peanut butter works great in Peanut Butter Cookies, but name me another condiment that can bring such joy to your taste buds. Peanut butter and jelly is the food equivalent of Abbott & Costello, Burns & Allen, Starsky & Hutch. You can eliminate the jelly and just have peanut butter but, why?
And controversy? Crunchy versus creamy, jelly versus jam? You could get into a fist fight over the options. I was in the grocery store the other day trying to find a certain type of lettuce so that I could make a salad, the produce manager and I got into this very deep conversation about the best foods. We ended up agreeing that PB&J was quite possibly the best food ever. I know that I gave up on the lettuce, went right over and got some bread, got in my truck, went home and had a PB&J. And why is it that Welch's Grape Jelly is the best grape jelly on the planet. You don't get this kind of passion with ham & cheese.
I think that this is the type of "whole" food that Jack LaLanne was talking about. If I was an Israelite while Moses was wandering around the desert for 40 years it would have been okay, as long as "manna" was a PB&J.
In my quest to be perfect I'm going to suggest that making a PB&J is the one area that I have achieved this perfection.
And here's my recipe: two slices of whole wheat bread, Jif Extra Crunchy Peanut Butter, Welch's Grape Jelly. Slather peanut butter on one side, jelly on the other. Join the two pieces of bread together, peanut butter to jelly, cause it's really messy the other way. Cut in half or diagonal, I prefer whole. Open mouth, insert sandwich, bite, chew, savor, swallow, repeat. Die and go to heaven. There's not much else to life.