The Importance of Waffles & Ice Cream

"Ya'don't haafta pull so hawd!" Grandma loudly informs me, in her heavy New York accent. Everything inside the pullout-freezer drawer jolts and slides forward, making a slamming sound against the front of the freezer. I quickly grab 2 waffles from their box and the pint of ice cream. I accidentally slam the freezer shut. I wait for Grandma to react. No reaction. She's busy talking to my Mother about the idiot at the post office. Safe.

I don't like the feel of cold things on my hands. I don't like my hands to be wet or damp. I'm quickly reminded of this as I hurry to get the 2 frozen waffles into the toaster oven and the ice cream on the counter. I set the timer for my waffles...tick tick tick tick tick tick tick Mother laughs, reminiscing about their days in the Bronx in the 50's, with the nutcase Uncle who lived upstairs and the dog that attacked him...tick tick tick tick tick tick tick tick tick tick tick...Grandma talks about the gal she now goes to at the beauty parlor and how lovely she gets -what hair she has left- to stand up and look presentable...tick tick tick tick tick tick...I stare at my waffles, my eyes lost in the long, noodle-shaped orange heat lamps. DING! I barely touch the waffles as I scoot them on a plate, careful not to burn myself and I place one, no, three scoops of ice cream on each.

It's our first night in New York, which means Mom and I are briefed on who's getting married, who's had a Bar Mitzvah, who got divorced, who's pregnant and who's literally lost their mind in the last year, A.K.A. who is "not well", to which Grandma flings her hand in the air, raises her eyebrows, lowers her eyelids and says, "fuhgeddaboudit, she's nuts!" 

Yes. This is my favorite; sitting at the kitchen table with my Mother and Grandmother, talking shit about people. Me, my teeth warmed by waffles and chilled by ice cream (NEVER allowed in our house) and my Mother with her coffee & frozen Mandel bread, (also, NEVER allowed in our house.)

It's so late, but I don't have to go to bed because there's no school the next day because I'm on vacation. And I'm not tired because I'm on California time. Because I'm a California Girl...with New York blood and a New York groove and a New York (very) Jewish Grandmother I absolutely adore...


A while ago I wrote a post called, Why Can't I Stop Cheating on My Diet?, I mentioned an article written by one of my personal and professional heroes, Marc David, Founder of the Institute for the Psychology of Eating, where I graduated from a few years ago. (I totally just plugged FOUR things in ONE sentence. Is there an award for that?) Anyway, the article describes Three Types of Cravings; Supportive, Dispersive, and Associative. For the purposes of this post and my super-descriptive awesome story, we'll talk about the latter of the 3, Associative Cravings.

Associative cravings occur when we yearn for a food that has a rich, deep, and meaningful association with our past, much like waffles & ice cream remind me of my Grandmother, who passed away 2 years ago. It's almost like my taste buds step into a time machine, where not only do waffles & ice cream remind me of my Grandma, but, in a way, they are my Grandma. By surrendering to this kind of craving we can visit our past, and re-live feelings that may bring their own special healing moment, regardless of the nutritional inferiority of the food. Biology and nostalgia can make a fascinating and almost mystical meal.

It's easy to demonize, try to control, shut down or even hypnotize our cravings away (I tried that years ago. It was total bullshit. True story.) I'm no longer interested in ignoring that which biologically, and in many cases, spiritually calls out for me to pay attention. Cravings ought not to be curbed. They need to be listened to, heard, honored, and, dare I say, celebrated! Trying to control your appetite? Fuhgeddaboudit!

So, here's a (FUN) exercise for you if you need some help celebrating your cravings:

Tell your story associated with a particular food (or type of food) you've craved, like I did above. It can be a poem, a Haiku, a sonnet, a painting, a drawing, a song, whatever! Just tell the story. Re-live it. Celebrate it. For reals.

Some things to keep in mind when you're storytelling:

*Who does this food remind you of?

*Where were you when you would eat this food?

*What was happening in your life then?

*What feelings (happy, sad, displaced, aloof, angry, overjoyed, etc.) did you experience when you ate this food?

*What are your beliefs about this food now? How do you classify/label it? (healthy, unhealthy, clean, not clean, must-burn-off-now, I'm allowed to eat it when...)

Email me your stories! I'd be honored to read them (and *maybe* with your permission, feature them on this here blog).

With my whole heart,