Tuesday, December 8, 2009

General Tso's Chicken

When trouble starts at the beginning of the day, I stand a fair chance of making it go away over the course of the daylight hours. When trouble starts at 6 p.m., I know I'm in for a long night. Yesterday was one of those days; a steady march right into an ambush.

Work issues came up late in the day (and continued into the evening .. and overnight and next day) and we had unexpected guests (aged two and four) for dinner and after hours movies and something like bedtime (only none of the kids would go to sleep).

About the time that my daughter and the other four year old were up stairs chattering away and avoiding sleep, and my son was shouting (a new trick) down to us what I imagine were little baby curses for having put him in his crib, and our two year old guest was looking up at me with weary but unsleeping eyes, and the nineteenth email from work of the evening was arriving, I knew it was time to call in the big guns; General Tso.

"Oh, that's bad!" my wife said when she heard me put the order in over the phone.

"Be sure to order egg rolls. Oh, and how about some steamed dumplings," she added and aided and abetted my runaway call for comfort.

The food came as quickly as only Hoboken take out can come - still a dangerous miracle for this suburban boy - and the smell of the food filled up the first floor of the house like we'd been instantly transported south of Canal Street in the city.

The sweetly fried coating of batter, sugar and God knows how much fat and salt just carmelizes right into the starched white rice and makes for just heavenly melt-in-your-mouth bites. It's like a little chicken-ly miracle in a bowl.

"Yummy," as my daughter says these days to her favorite foods, "Unbelievably Yummy."

I'm not always this bad. I'm normally pretty good about my food diet.

I've been helped greatly by my wife whose made a conscious effort to reduce our meat intake and move us towards healthier choices. Over the last year I've also made a personal effort not to consume too much take out and to bring my own lunch to work. I've lost some weight as a result.

I make some exceptions to my healthy lifestyle.
  • Red wine with dinner on Friday night
  • Stout beer with dinner on Saturday night
  • One splurge night a week for sweets
  • A slice of Sicilian pizza for lunch on my client days in New York
  • Chinese take out when the whole house of cards starts to sway
In the end, last night I spent more time on the phone with work, or going up the stairs to check on the kids, or watching the computer than overdoing it on the take out. In the end it only really amounted to a single serving of what was delivered. Not too much and not too bad.

But having made the choice to get what I want for a change rather than what is good for me made it feel like an extended feast; like a double handful of chocolate at the end of lent.

Part of this enjoyment might be the latent Catholic in me taking pleasure in the forbidden fruit- there's always extra enjoyment in what's not allowed. But I think it might also just be the pendulum swinging back gently from having gone too far towards the strict. It's not healthy to always say no.

Today, most everything sorted itself out. Work issues have subsided and the children (just ours) went to bed quietly tonight. I celebrated with a bowl of home made beef broth and noodles and a small bit of fresh bread - thank you nice wife. After the splurge of last night it felt refreshing to have lighter fare.

The take out chicken is still there in the refrigerator sitting in the little leftover container looking just as good as ever. I rarely ever go for that kind of dish more than once a week, but it's good to know he's there just the same. I feel sometimes like he's my troops in reserve; the ones to be called for in the last need; the General.

At the risk of finding out that I'm the only one with no willpower, what's your splurge treat and what are the days like when you call it in?


Cathy said...

Oh, there are so many splurge treats. Pizza is big. Chocolate, of course. We had a great local pizza place, then we lost it and I thought I might be saved, but then an even better one moved in. Spicy sauce--yum.

David Sexton said...

Hi Cathy,
Pizza and chocolate sound wonderful. Good food is great to think about when the cold weather moves in too.

Hope you are well.