The Midwest Wants Me To Eat Something

     Before I begin this column, I would like to apologize for several things.  First and foremost, I apologize for this hideous picture of Paul Prudhomme.  The link he has to the theme of this column is sketchy at best.  I don't think he's from the midwest, and I've never met him, but he does like the food, so I figured, what the hey.  Secondly, I'd like to apologize for not writing or updating the site in quite a long time.  It's been busy around here.  I went to Chicago to visit my friend Alex, then I came home and got tiny pieces of bone pulled out of my face.  I'm still kind of recovering from that last thing, but I figured the ol' website needed an update.

      You should know something about me before we begin.  I don't eat a lot.  I'm a thin guy.  Now, there are actual reasons for this, and none of them are anorexia nervosa, as I'm sure many people (namely, family) think.  First, I'm a vegetarian, so I'm not going to go out and stuff myself stupid on a giant steak.  This leads into the second reason, which is that I live in a small town in Central Connecticut, which is not known for its vegetarian friendly dining establishments.  Basically, I have the choice of pizza or bagels for fast food, and that's about it.   Thirdly, I live with a teenaged brother.  This means that any food in my house that I actually can eat is usually already eaten and digested before I even know about it.  So, I have taken to training my metabolism so that it requires small amounts of food.  This is for survival, here.  Even though there are no crafty truck drivers, lovably stodgy geezers, or over the top, tiki torch-snuffing Jeff Probst, I can't walk around being hungry all the time and not have anything to satiate my hunger with. 

      About a week and a half ago, I flew out to Chicago to visit Alex.  It was my first time out of the Eastern Standard Time Zone, so I didn't know what to expect.  Hey, leave me alone.  I lead a sheltered life, all right?  Anyway, the trip was excellent, and I had a great time, but I couldn't help noticing that everywhere I went, people were offering me things.  Delicious things.  

     This whole phenomenon began even before I crossed into the area of this great nation known as The Midwest.  Some strange woman on the "aeroplane" gave me a small, blue paper bag while we were flying over desolate Upstate New York.  Inside the bag, I found not only a bagel and orange juice, but also a cup of yogurt, a napkin, and TWO cups of fruit!!!  Needless to say, I was astounded.

     The first day in Chicago, I was drowned in more food than I've ever eaten in a single day.  In addition to the luxury in-flight meal, I had a large plate of delicious vegetarian / middle-eastern food (it's got a name, I just can't think of it right now), fruit and coffee smoothies, a rather large grilled cheese sandwich, a "World's Smallest Sundae," and a cheese quesadilla, courtesy of Chef Alex, despite my firm protests that I'd eaten too much already.  He also made a full pizza for his friend Marisa, but she hadn't eaten all day. (Sidebar, Marisa's got a pretty funny website.  Check it out.  Actually, I think all of Alex's friends have websites.  Hmmmm)

     The second day provided no rest from the veritable onslaught of foodstuffs.  Although breakfast consisted of a reserved English Breakfast tea and English muffin experience, lunch was a trademarked Chicago deep dish pizza at Wrigley Field.  By this time in the trip, however, my stomach was getting accustomed to actually having food in it, and I mercilessly devoured the cheesy tomato pie.  I thought I had won, but I was wrong....  That night, we went to a sort-of dinner party thing, where The Midwest seriously kicked my ass with a delicious salad and spinach lasagna one-two punch, then finished me off with a Chili's sundae uppercut fatality move.

     The third and final day, I awoke from my supersatiated slumber.  "Today," I said to myself as I sat up in bed, "I will win."  The fateful battle happened mid-morn.  I walked downstairs to find Alex making a rather large batch of pancakes.  "OK," I said.  "Pancakes.  I can take pancakes."  One plate was made.  Then two.  Then another followed.  There were six plates in total.  Things were looking grim for me, and I wasn't even in Mudville.  

     I am so sorry about that.  I promise it won't happen again, I just couldn't resist.

     Anyway, back to the story...  "I don't know if I can eat that many pancakes," I said to myself, doing what I do best - making myself uncertain of myself.  "That's a hell of a lot of pancakes for anyone, let alone me."  The tea kettle sat in the corner of the counter, silently mocking me.  And steeping.

     Each pancake seemed to laugh at me as it was flipped.  Each tiny, deliciously golden-brown bastard face grinned, knowing that it, along with its brethren, would overwhelm me with their collective fluffy goodness.  Just as I was about to give up, I saw my Salvation.  It was sitting in a tan plastic bottle labeled "Pure Vermont Maple Syrup."

     Then those haughty little pancakes started soiling themselves.  I believe that there are few pleasures on this earth as pleasureable as Vermont maple syrup, you see, and this belief lets me consume copious amounts of whatever substance happens to be drenched with this heavenly nectar.  Also, I don't get to have it that often, which makes it all the more delicious.  I ate two entire plates of delicious pancakes, and also marked a historic event: the first time I had ever eaten more than Alex.

     Sixty hours later, I had my wisdom teeth out.  My meals that day all consisted of various portions percocet and ginger ale.