Bad breath, Ferran Adrià, and the Art of the Soufflé

18 Feb

Two weeks ago, after stepping on the scale and realizing that I weighed more than I had since my “fat girl” phrase in college nearly 15 years ago, I decided to go on a diet. A wretched, loathsome, low-carb monstrosity called the Carbohydrate Addict’s Diet . These doctors maintain that eating carbs all day long makes you want even more of them, and if you can limit your intake of them to one short period of the time, then you can control your cravings. This means that every day for breakfast–every s-i-n-g-l-e day–I eat eggs and some kind of meat (bacon, sausage, chorizo) with an occasional vegetable thrown in (mushrooms, asparagus, spinach) and drink black coffee. (How is it possible to LOVE lattes and cappucinos and absolutely DETEST black coffee?) For lunch I typically eat tuna salad, a can of green beans, and a diet soda. Disgusting, right? There’s absolutely no frippery, surprise, or delight in these meals, and when I cook, even if it’s something very simple like mac and cheese or a cookie, I want it to have some flavor or quality that surprises me. So most of the day is kind of depressing. 

Aside from the dull lack of variety, the worst part of the diet so far is that I have really horrible–and I mean terrifying–breath most of the time. Yesterday, for instance, I woke up and brushed my teeth and tongue really thoroughly, ate breakfast, brushed my teeth again, flossed, and then gargled with Listerine for a long time. My husband and I often ride to work together, and when we got into the car he handed me a pack of Listerine breath strips. I looked at him in disbelief and said, “Seriously?” Ashamed to tell his wife how unbelievably rank her breath was, he sort of avoided making eye contact and said “Kind of.” Researching the subject today, though, it seems that there is NOTHING TO BE DONE about it, aside from just not doing the diet.

The things that keeps me going, though, is that I can eat *whatever* I want for one hour of the day, which for me, especially since I’ve always been a night person and a late-night eater, is dinner. Early in the afternoon I start dreaming about food, thinking about what I want that evening, over the weekend, the week after that, torturing myself by reading recipes and looking at pictures of things like this–a cookie within a cookie!!

(Photo courtesy of The Kitchn) 

Once I finally get to my hour, though, I’m often so ravenous that I simply shovel food down so quickly that it feels mindless and desperate, and I rarely feel like I’m really savoring something delicious. I have to remind mself over and over to SLOW DOWN. Since I can’t have sugar 23 hours of the day, I often find my thoughts turning to dessert. Today I was reading Adam Gopnik’s piece in The New Yorker called “Sweet Revolution: The Power of the Pastry Chef,” about Ferran and Albert Adrià (I *think* they both are chefs at elBulli. I’ve just checked this book out of the library, though, so I’ll find out for sure soon.). Gopnik begins by remembering his Francophile mother and her love of soufflés, and his descriptions are making me really relish the delicacy and whimsy of cooking–and of all tasting and smelling and sensing. In his discussion of El Celler de Can Roca in Spain, for example, he writes that the sommelier “keeps his wines in tenderly nourishing musical environments, playing recorded melodies in the caves.” As I read about Gopnik whipping his egg whites to perfection, I had a sudden urge to make a chocolate soufflé, which I have never tried before. I’ve made goat cheese (gorgeous), blue cheese (too pungent), and apricot (too sweet) soufflés but never the classic. So I think I absolutely must make one tonight–take a deep breath, slowly sip a glass of the beautiful white wine we have at home that tastes like vanilla and pear, and slowly dip the spoon into the hot, fluffy chocolate.

Perhaps this I’ll use this recipe?

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