So last week I was having an awful day. One of those “Stay away from me, or I will light your hair on fire” days. Not only was work terrible, but I was getting overwhelmed with wedding plans, and money, and responsibilities, and LIFE. A mini meltdown was in my future and I saw a good cry coming. So I methodically came home from work, went upstairs, and got changed into gym clothes, with all intentions of going to walk on the damn treadmill. When Jay came upstairs to change as well, he found me laying on the bed staring at the ceiling and basically looking miserable I’m sure. Now, it doesn’t help that I’m trying to eat healthier and work out in order to look perfect on my wedding day in that dreaded white dress. Perfect being a very subjective word relative to the person using it. To me it just means I would like to have only one chin in the pictures for my wedding album. Even in the days of photo shop, I would like to save my lovely photographer some hours of effort. Jackie is fabulous but she needs some decent raw material.
Anyway, being on a diet AND trying to save money for wedding stuff and a honeymoon basically takes away my two biggest outlets for stress relief. Food and shopping. Now, I know what some will say…you don’t have to completely take out all the things that you love on your diet…you have to find balance…have a cheat day….save your points…bla bla bla…crap. Now, I agree about the balance thing for a long term commitment to changing your eating habits, I really do. However there is no room in a wedding diet, targeting a specific date in the increasingly near future, for a big juicy Five Guys double patty cheese burger with bacon and sauteed onions every time I feel stressed. The teenager at the counter of the burger joint would know me by name and I’d end up tripping over the steps at church, cause I couldn’t see my feet, and would go rolling down the aisle taking the runner with me and getting to the altar trussed up like a Thanksgiving turkey complete with two pudgy legs sticking out the end. Jay would still marry me after he stopped laughing, but I don’t think my mother would be happy with me making that kind of display at church. On the flip side, Greek yogurt isn’t putting a f*#&^$ dent in my unrelenting craving for food in that sacred trinity of B…Bread, Bacon, and Butter.
So after Jay took pity on me and laid on the bed too and listened to me bitch and moan for a good 45 minutes, my final statement was “AND I JUST WANT TO EAT EVERYTHING!”. His response was one of the reasons why I want to spend the rest of my life with this man. “Let’s go.” …perfect. He told me we were not going to the gym, but going to have dinner. Someplace, anyplace I want. Now, telling a fat chick that she can have anything in the world she wants for dinner is like dropping a 9 year old in the middle of FAO Schwartz and saying “pick a toy”. You quickly become overwhelmed by all the options and everything starts to look good. So as we sat there brainstorming between burgers and pasta and thai, my dreamy man says we could go to the mall and put some more stuff on our registry too. Food AND shopping? Score. Not just ANY mall I interject, but the mall that has a PF Changs chinese food restaurant. We both look at each other and at the same time say…”lettuce wraps”. In a firm and decisive tone he told me to get my shoes on and get in the car.
Now, if you have never been to a PF Changs or don’t have one in your area, I do apologize because you are missing out. This is one of the rare occasions where I will wholeheartedly endorse a chain restaurant. PF Changs is a very unique Chinese food restaurant that has wonderful concoctions of both traditional and modern dishes. Now I know that this is not food you would find in China and it is highly Americanized, however it’s still freaking fabulous. Our absolute favorite thing on the menu is their famous lettuce wraps. They are these wonderful mixture of finely chopped chicken, garlic, mushrooms, water chestnuts and I’m not sure what else, all brought together with a really rich brown sauce. When it comes to the table they are served with a big pile of the chicken filling topped with some very crunchy fried white rice noodles for texture and presentation and a stack of beautifully crisp iceberg lettuce rounds. You take one of the rounds, and spoon on some filling and then bring in the sides and take a big bite. Then you have an orgasm. Then you repeat. The filling is so crazy savory and rich and totally coats your tongue in this wonderful flavor of soy and garlic and salt, and the lettuce is so cold and fresh and the perfect match to cut some of the heaviness from the sauce. In the end you have this almost buttery feeling in your mouth as the components mix together and everything just melts. It is such a perfect food pairing and I tip my hat to whoever put it together. It is a perfectly balanced dish in flavor and texture and execution. It’s fun to eat and you get your hands all messy and basically smile the whole way through.
We ordered a few entree items for the rest of the meal which included mongolian beef with steamed rice, double pan fried noodles with pork and some mu shu chicken. Just to make sure we hit up every meat type we could. The beef was tender and grilled with a great salty glaze, the noodles were amazing with a thick savory sauce coating them and the little pork strips were perfect with the slightly crunchy texture of the noodle. The mu shu was probably the least memorable of the dishes but it did have some good fresh textures and flavors from several kinds of cabbage shredded together with a light sauce and pan fried chicken pieces. It came with thin rice wrappers to put the mu shu in and some hoysin sauce to top it off with. Everything was wonderful and we left with some meager portions to take home with us. Nothing however stands up to those lettuce wraps.
By the time we were finished, I had completely forgotten about my bad day, I was full, happy, and the world was right again. So right in fact, that we felt compelled to stop in a few jewelry stores and we found and bought my wedding band. So what is the moral of the story you say? Sometimes you need to just do what makes you happy. In this world of crazy schedules and working overtime and stretching ourselves so thin, sometimes you need to just stop and be happy. Do those things that give you the greatest joy,no matter what it is. For me it’s food and being with the people I love. Sharing a great meal with someone and filling not only my stomach but my heart with great company and great conversation is the absolute best thing in the world. Having an impromptu date with my fiance made a horrible day fade away and reminded me that no matter what comes our way, we have each other. We have more love than many people get to experience in their lives, we have AC, our families, our friends, and we share such a passion for each other and for this life we have that sometimes I have to take a step back and admire what I have been blessed with. I was reminded of how grateful I am. Grateful that I am able to go out and enjoy a wonderful dinner, grateful that I have people in my life that I can rely on and who love and care for me, and grateful that I am able to come home to a warm house with two happy cats and food in the fridge. We can easily forget all the good things we have right in front of us and we have to find a way each day to remember one of those things. To find happiness in one thing every day. Eat the food you love, talk to the people who make you laugh, hug your kids, and never be afraid to speak your mind. Make an effort to be happy, and happiness will find you. A Five Guys burger every once and a while doesn’t hurt either.