Unlike the woman who ate nothing except food from Starbucks for an entire year, my life has no meaning, but at least my mouth and stomach did not suffer a 365-day forced march into the valley of pre-packaged monotony.
I heard about this woman's "feat" on the radio the other morning, just as the 2014 new year was cranking into gear. I love New Year's, mostly because it means Christmas is over and because there's a wide open canvas that holds all kinds of promise and freedom. And unlike Beautiful Existence, which is apparently the REAL NAME of the woman who devoured only Starbucks food in 2013, I am incapable of lashing myself to the psychic or physical gymnastics that comes with such outrageously specific "resolutions."
In 2013, I think I might have eaten two articles of food from Howard Schultz's little chain of coffee shops, both of them involving egg sandwiches. For the most part, however, my year of eating (unlike B. Existence's) included some pretty sensational and taste bud titillating experiences, including at least 11 trips to a vegetarian Indian restaurant called Udapi Cafe, which serves to most tongue-tingling marsala paneer and tomato chutney; the singularly most fabulous Manhattan variation laced with apricot liquer (the Colonel) at Rob Roy; a duck confit salad at Maximilien's in Pike Place Market and approximately 7 servings of the lemongrass grilled pork bun at Monkey Bridge in Ballard. I could go on, but in deference to B. Existence, whose palate must have blanched into a bed of styrofoam after so many Starbucks luncheons, I'll suffice to say that my eating in 2013 was the aurora borealis to her Pluto -- the little planet that was so sadly reassigned single star status.
As for Starbuck's role for my culinary needs in 2013: One of the two items I ate was some kind of egg white and spinach wrap, which a barista handcrafted for me in the industrial-strength microwave; the other was an egg salad sandwich, which was prepackaged in crinkly cellophane, allowing me to turn it over and over in my indecisive little hands. This was an EMERGENCY fueling, so in both instances my first order of priority was 1) protein and 2) price. The wrap was a decent deal, since it slid down with a minimum of effort.
The egg salad sandwich was more dicey: It was laden with mayonnaise and therefore fat content, and stuffed between two thick slices of high-carb, whole-grain bread. I am sure Howard Schultz, slim from all that biking and possibly veganism, would not be caught dead eating one of his egg salad sandwiches, which, if I recall correctly, has about 25 grams of fat, and about 35 percent of your daily requirement of saturated fat.
But beyond those two forays into the culinary re-launching of Starbucks food offerings, it was a no-go. Ever since Starbucks started advertising that their pumpkin scones were riddled with 640 calories (or thereabouts) and that the morning glory muffins were dripping with about 18 grams of fat, we've sworn off the baked goods. And as for the little see-through containers of cheese hunks and grapes: I would rather dig around in the bottom of my POCKABOOK for an errant almond than pay $5.95 for a midget-sized cheese tray.
The entire idea of eating only Starbucks food has me quite perplexed, if not aghast. I mean, why? The news of this woman's Starbucks' "feat" literally sent me to Google, where on January 5, me and my little family decided to end the Winter Break with an exodus to whatever Yelp and other reference sites said was the best dumpling house in all of the greater Seattle area. It was there, with our dear friends from Boston, that we huddled over a big, round table at Din Tai Fung's in Bellevue, where in the kitchen a small army of dumpling makers and noodle rollers were truly handcrafting tasty treats whose origins are from Taiwan.
The place was packed. The food was endless. We could not have felt more elated and lucky. Free to eat and celebrate the coming new year, with no ridiculously restrictive dietary fabrications! Our New Year's resolution for 2014 was to eat MORE of MORE kinds of foods, starting right then and there, in spite of Beautiful Existence and Howard Schultz.
In the dimming light of the winter evening, we eagerly marked off our little black and white sheet of menu paper, calling for bamboo steam bins filled with juicy pork dumplings; chicken fried rice; sauteed string beans in garlic sauce and more dumplings and wontons, slathering them in the fresh ginger and soy and vinegar dipping sauce. The wait staff never blinked as we sent them back to the kitchen for another order of pork and vegetable dumplings, or more fried noodle or Shanghai cakes that the kids could not stop devouring. We were pigs, gluttons, drooling our own saliva along with the hot soupy juice oozing from the pillowy dough.
You know what the dumplings told us?
That the universe is endless. The palate insatiable. The eyes and nostrils are open.
Egg salad? Scones? Ha!
Is a former political and sports columnist who worked great cities like Albany NY, Seattle, Baltimore and Harrisburg PA. She lives New York.