27 January 2009

No One Ever Mentions the Drawbacks

Winter basket January 6
Originally uploaded by skorky64.
I've been eating mostly local organic vegetables and eggs since last June, supplemented with grocery store stuff only when needed. It's been a fun time of exploration and discovery, and I do feel somewhat healthier. Or at least more virtuous, in the "I eat more vegetables than you do" kind of way.

But there are drawbacks. Beyond the challenge of eating the season (mountains of the same food, all at once), I've found that one by one, the snacks and prepared food of my childhood are no longer as satisfying.

I've started to make my own popcorn in a saucepan, rather than microwave popcorn. (Although that's more to do with not having a microwave.) It tastes so much fresher, and I can put as little salt as I want on it. Campbell's tomato soup felt gluey in my mouth after I had my homemade version. Jell-O instant pudding is too sweet. I still eat Spaghetti-Os when I'm by myself, but they taste more and more metallic to me each time. It won't be long before I give them up completely.

But my last holdout was Velveeta. Yes, the "processed cheese food" appellation scares me, but it's so darn creamy and melty and smooth. Nothing else works on a grilled cheese sandwich quite like the cheese in the foil-wrapped brick.

Frenchy left yesterday for a week-long job elsewhere, and so grocery shoppers on Monday evening saw me rush to the cheese aisle like it was 1849 California. Gruyere, Cheddar, Velveeta, goat, anything I could lay my hands on. By the time I got home, I was starving, so I made myself one of my favorite snack/dinners: fried egg, slice of ham and Velveeta on a toasted English muffin.

But something was off. I can't explain it, but it just didn't taste right. I finally narrowed it down to the Velveeta. There was something wrong with it. Is it that I've gotten used to the taste of fresher foods, or that I've just grown up?

There should be a term for it: the slow loss of childhood pleasures, the realization that what you used to enjoy just isn't that desirable anymore. I've grown up and have replaced each item with a grown-up equivalent, but I still want the old taste. Or rather, the familiarity that the old taste gave me.

I'm too young for nostalgia.