I realized something last night. If I’m hoping to lose a little weight before our next baby – which I am – then I need to be more selective about my bedtime reading. Picture the scene: It’s late in the evening, several hours after dinner, and I’m snuggled into bed with a cup of hot tea and a good book. Trouble is, all my favorite bedtime reads are full of people eating large, tasty meals which are described in such detail that I’m almost drooling.
Take last night, for example. I settle into my pillow and open a perennial favorite, James Herriot’s The Lord God Made Them All. Here’s what I found: "a piled plateful of sausages, scrambled eggs and fried potatoes", "a glorious vegetable soup with pieces of sausage and dumpling"; "on the plate rested a ring of mashed potatoes into which he poured hot fat containing bacon and onions"; "dessert was sago pudding, thickly sprinkled with cinnamon".
Hmmm, now I'm a little hungry. I put down Herriot and reach for Jan Karon’s 2nd Mitford novel, A Light in the Window. But there's more temptation here: "Crab cobbler! He stared at the dozen flaky homemade biscuits poised on the bed of fresh crabmeat and fragrant sauce"; "baked beans, cole slaw, and ribs from home"; "the dessert of orange mocha cake with fresh cream".
OK, now I'm really hungry. I throw Mitford in the corner and pick up the classic Anne of Green Gables. Wouldn’t you know it? They’re at the dinner table: "The kitchen was filled with appetizing odors emanating from the oven, where the chickens were sizzling splendidly"; "she proceeded to prepare her bread sauce for the chicken, mince her onions for the soup, and whip the cream for the lemon pies".
Perhaps I should seek an era when food wasn't so readiy available. I find Laura Ingalls Wilder under the night table and read the following: "Almanzo ate the sweet, mellow baked beans. He ate the bit of salt pork that melted in his mouth like cream in his mouth. He ate the ham. He bit deep into velvety bread spread with sleek butter. He demolished a tall heap of pale mashed turnips, and a hill of stewed yellow pumpkin. He felt very comfortable inside. Slowly he ate a large piece of pumpkin pie."
You've GOT to be kidding. Wait, I know a certain source of material deprivation. I go to the bookshelf and get Louis L’Amour’s Milo Talon. And wouldn't you know it, those damn cowboys are eating "a plate of beef, scrambled eggs, and fried potatoes".
This is ridiculous. In desperation, I reach for the last book on the table, and thankfully find the following: "The men were chasing bits of rotten fish among the cabbage leaves, and they didn't leave anything, not even the gills or the tail, they even ate the eyes"; "he scooped up the last bits of mush with the soggy crust of moldy bread."
Finally. I have found hope in Solzhenitsyn's One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich.