Most guys out there can relate to this. If your wife is a total nerd about something, you pat her on the head and say, "that's nice" and accept it. Lord knows she'll return the favor at some point.
So Sunday night, with an unexpected night home as my schedule shifts a bit, I realized I'd run right into the Oscars buzzsaw. In my house, that means dressing up in fancy clothes, cheering and talking to the TV and getting in the zone unlike anything I've ever done for a football game, I swear.
Knowing I had to get through it, I offered to cook and create an Oscars-themed menu. I guess you could say I was enabling, but I've been stuck at 24 pounds lost for two weeks now and was getting antsy to eat beyond my calorie budget. This was a case of the reward (a happy wife) far outweighed the risk (of a big dietary setback).
"Toy Story" Tug at Your Heartstrings of Romaine salad, with "King's Speech" heirloom tomatoes and king crab meat in a lemon-garlic vinaigrette.
In honor of Boston, the setting of "The Fighter" and "The Social Network," and to pay respect to all the passion through this year's nominees, a Spicy New England Clam Chowder. I cheated on this one and started with a can of Progresso, but added more of the lump crab meat, some sea salt and enough cayenne pepper to make it burn a little going down.
"The Fighter" Black and Blue Filet Mignon. Seared quickly on the outside and raw in the middle, with a black pepper crust and grilled onions on a piece of toast. Served with organic arugula, a shout out to the dude in "The Kids Are Alright."
The most literal and the most figurative dish rolled into one. "True Grit" is the remake of a classic. And in my family, it doesn't get much more classic than my grandfather's favorite, Osso Bucco, which translates nicely to match "Winter's Bone." And for a special tribute to "127 Hours," I found mushrooms that cost $450/pound. In other word's, an arm and a leg (although I swapped in a much cheaper version, sort of like costume jewelery).
I called this, The Dessert of Your Dreams (thanks, "Inception"), and created a plate of my wife's favorites, all paying respect to the white/black of "Black Swan": Brownie with vanilla ice cream, oreo cookies and chocolate covered vanilla wafers.
So, since this is my diet blog, I should tie it all together.
I added up the calories for the day, and I really blew through the 1,800 mark and finished at 3,000. But it was so easy to see where I could have kept it respectable. Dessert alone was almost 900 calories. Throughout the meal I tried to make good decisions. For instance, the salad had a handmade dressing with only a little olive oil. The portion on the filet mignon was about 4 ounces, enough to get the flavor without overdoing it. Even the osso bucco was served alongside string beans and zucchini sauteed in a little olive oil and a nice blast of fresh lemon, rather than my normal pasta or risotto.
But the real calorie bomb was at dessert when I simply gave in to my impulses. At that moment, the taste mattered more than my weight, and I can honestly say that for the first time in two months that has happened.
The key test starts this morning. Nearly every failed diet I've done started with one bad meal, spiraled into one bad day, and ended with some absurd week-long binge. But I'm looking at last night's Oscars meal as a special event, certainly not an ordinary Sunday dinner (although in the past, it would have been). Today is a fresh start and I got going with my yogurt and granola and I'm more determined to keep it to 1,800 calories than I've been in a couple weeks.
I've been trying to separate food from emotion, so I hate to say that making my wife's special night all the better was worth the calories. But it did, and now I'm ready to get right back to eating the right way so she can be proud of that, too.