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Language Log

Monday, Jul. 30, 2012 - 7:09 a.m.

Back home. Pretty glad I went, as I suspected I would be, even in the midst of my I-Don't-Wanna. It was nice to hang out with cousins and hear family stories.

My favorite of these: My cousin Ed got to spend a lot of time with my Grandpa because they lived so close to him. One day Grandpa asked him if he wanted ice cream, then got out the bowls, dishes out some ice cream, and put chocolate sauce on it. They started eating. Then Ed says, "Uh, Grandpa, the chocolate sauce is moving." Ants! There were ants all in it. So Grandpa says, "Well, they don't eat much", and kept on eating. So so did Ed.

One gets a sense of family identity from that. One that was echoed in a number of jokes and anecdotes: they always clean their plates. They don't waste anything. They are frugal and ornery.

Hah hah. At the dinner on Friday, at Famous Dave's, I ordered a pork sandwich and a hot fudge sundae, to be brought at the same time. Because I wanted both, but I knew if I just had the BBQ first, I would fill up on that and not get the sundae, but just having the sundae was not really a good option either. (And besides, everyone else had gotten to have cocktails. What's a pregnant person to do?) It's known that if you eat dinner then dessert afterward, you take in more calories than you intend, but if you have both together, you may eat less of the nutritious stuff but you consume fewer calories overall. So I enjoyed about half my dinner and half of the sundae. But you should have heard the gasps of disbelief that accompanied my food choices. And then when I offered my tablemates the rest of my sundae, my mom was like, "You're going to WASTE that?" I was like, "uh, I guess. I'm full."

(But then later when I had heartburn, as I always do, she assumed it was because I ate too much. I explained that a solitary apple can give me heartburn these days.)

The clean-your-plate mentality, while sensible enough in the context of food shortage (i.e., the Depression when they all grew up), really hasn't served them at all well. But it's interesting the extent to which they don't acknowledge that.

Anyway, I was pleased with the outcome of my simultaneous dessert and dinner experiment. I believe I will do it more often. Shocking everyone from the server to my family was extraordinarily gratifying. And at home, I won't have to actually "waste" any food if I keep initial portion sizes small. I think I'm going to give it a try at Thanksgiving. No one ever wants to wait for the pie, anyway. Between serving pie and dinner simultaneously, and my plot to do the insane N+1 pie thing (where N=# of guests), it should be the most scandalous Thanksgiving ever.

Oh,e xcept I don't know if I can do N+1 pies if they're all given at dinner. Part of the point of that is that people drop by to help you eat them. Well, I'll have to think about it.

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