Photos by Rochelle Li, Words by Nandini Ahuja
In the lifelong search for pleasure, rarely do we aim for mediocre satisfaction. When in the throes of passionate love, not one of us will adamantly demand subpar sex. When given the choice between a real and a knock-off designer piece at the mall, we will always lust after the real. If this is the case, and it is, then why shouldn’t the same be true for what we eat? If treating ourselves in every other part of life means indulging fully and guiltlessly, then shouldn’t the same be expected when it comes to food? In a society that glorifies a low-calorie diet, learning to treat ourselves to one of life’s greatest sensory experiences is a valuable lesson.
Those of you who are familiar with Anthony Bourdain, host and star of the Travel Channel shows, Parts Unknown and No Reservations, know this renowned chef and food critic brings some of the most delicious foods on earth into the television spotlight. On both of his shows, he has the fortune of relishing rich, fresh and authentic dishes from every corner of the world and gushing over them to his viewers. I am not aware of a single episode in which Bourdain traveled hundreds of miles with his camera crew in search of a meal made with substitute ingredients and half the fat of the original. If such an episode exists, I am sure it is not his best. Bourdain has made it his job to discover originals and present them to us, his eager audience. And we love watching him sink his teeth into a freshly baked Margherita pizza in Naples because in that moment, we are living through him.
But we don’t always have to. While Bourdain’s lifestyle on screen seems extreme, there is a more practical application of this indulgent ideology to everyday life. Though conquering diet limitations such as gluten and lactose intolerances is one of the culinary world’s greatest successes, it has led to the false mindset that making every dish healthier is always better.
This seems counterintuitive. Of course healthier is better, right? But often, when applied to baking, “healthier” also means “not as good.” When we crave a sweet dessert after a terribly long exam, do we salivate for a protein bar pretending to be a cookie or for a real, gooey, chocolatey cookie? I’d choose the latter. The problem is that modern day guilt has gotten in the way of treating ourselves. We just don’t trust ourselves anymore. At this stage in our lives, we are developing patterns and habits that can stay with us forever. What if eating that one cookie will turn us into addicts and we won’t be able to keep ourselves from the baked goods aisle at the supermarket? Well, there’s a cure for that too.
Before it is misconstrued that I am pushing a diet of heavy cream and filet mignon on society, I want to explain myself. Just how purchasing an expensive set of Beats headphones feels gratifying after a semester of living cheaply, eating indulgently feels worth the calories after a few days of making healthy choices. Religiously denying ourselves of delicious treats is terribly bleak if there isn’t a light at the end of the fat-free tunnel. If we can’t reward ourselves with the real deal good stuff that is goat cheese on baguette once a week, then who says we will ever cut ourselves a break in life? Let the way you eat reflect the way you live your life. Eat well to live well.
DISCLAIMER: I am not and do not claim to be a registered dietician or nutritionist. Therefore, the advice you see on this website has been researched, but does not come from someone with professional experience.