From feast to famine... to feast again

Some hate broccoli.
Some hate bacon....

-Ogden Nash
Food, glorious food
Hot sausage and mustard

- from "Oliver"

Poems have been written about food. Songs have been sung about food. Photographs and still-lifes have tantalized our tastebuds as well as captured our eye for generations unto generations. Food magazines multiply, extolling the wonders of food.

But what food?

Nowadays, we so seldom say, "I feel like a chocolate shake" and have one. First, we ask if the chocolate is light or dark, then we ask that our shake be made with skim milk and hold the whipped cream.

Then, while it is being prepared, we sadly think about calories and wonder if we've just given up lunch and dinner in our desire for a shake in spite of our efforts to make it as calorie-less as possible.

By the time the shake arrives, the calories and cholesterol have won. We have lost all desire for the shake and hand it to the thin teenager standing behind us and slouch out of Scoop du Jour.

The nutrition test

Nowadays, food must pass the nutrition test before we dare enjoy it. Cookies and cakes and pies must be fat-free. Fruit Loops, which you love, must be bypassed for whole bran. Butter on your toast has vanished in favor of margarines, provided they are free of trans-fats.

What meat to have for dinner? Red meat is inviting disaster. Chickens - how do we know they don't harbor the makings of bird flu within their bodies?

Should we switch to fish, a great source of Omega 3? Not likely. Fish apparently contain masses of mercury.

Virtually every food you like seems to have a prohibition on it.

I have given up carbohydrates, eaten meat and skipped the vegetables; eaten vegetables and skipped the meat; lived on fruits and nuts; existed on yogurt, with or without acidophilus; and eaten oatmeal faithfully day after day.

Why? I didn't actually like any of them, except the vegetables, but I tried them all. I was sure one of them would be the elixir that would make my life perfect. None of them filled the bill.

Guilt-free eating?

The other day as I was reading a magazine, I came upon a new diet that promised to energize you like the bunny. I read the various components of the diet.

"Oh, I must try it," I instantly thought and read on.

It sounded terrible, but the author guaranteed its effectiveness. It still sounded terrible. And I rebelled.

What is the purpose of eating: to stay alive or to enjoy a meal?

On second thought, could it possibly be both?

My mind drifted back to the olden times when we had dinner parties. It was such fun, pouring over recipes with no thought of vitamins and minerals or arteries and body mass. Just glorious food, good wine, a decadent dessert, good friends and good conversation.

After this burst of nostalgia I finally realized that I could have it both ways: healthy and gourmet. What a remarkable idea, healthy food and enjoyable food at the same time.

Healthy-food lovers will be amazed, gourmets will be astonished and I, at last, will be guilty free and pleasantly full.

* * * * *

The Madison Park park is becoming a reality. People involved have worked long and hard at planning and designing the park so everyone can enjoy it.

I wish that more of us had been able to attend the three public meetings that were part of the process so that we might have shared our visions as well.

However, the last meeting a couple weeks ago was fairly well-attended and very well-conducted. The rendering of the design that the architect showed us was about right for our little park.

I especially liked the gathering place with tables for games of chess, checkers, Monopoly or other board games and with benches here and there so we can sit under the trees and chat or read.

My few reservation concern the cement path, which will cut through the center of the greensward, dividing it in half so that there is little room for playing tag, catch or Frisbee or allowing families to have picnics there without the danger of a ball landing in the potato salad.

It could be possible to use the driveway that's already there for older folks and handicapped people to access the park and a ramp at the corner of 43rd Avenue, a hazardous corner at best. If the ramps can be moved from other corners as well, it might save the trees that would need to be removed for ramps and make the ramps less obtrusive.

Not being an engineer, I have no idea why the park must have 12 inches shaved off the top. That will be quite expensive, and unless there are very good reasons for it, both financially and aesthetically, I hope that part of the design will be reconsidered.

The park is going to be lovely and friendly when it is finished - just what it should be: a welcoming, little community park.

The group who has worked so hard to refurbish the park is to be commended.

Madison Park's Roberta Cole can be reached via e-mail at mptimes@

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