For the past five days, I’ve been holed up in my mom’s house in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, eating gross food and wondering why I can’t poop. My digestive system hates me so much right now, no thanks to the delicious yet disgusting smorgasbord of Midwestern food I’ve been consuming.
Honestly, after our flight here last Saturday -- which involved a flight delay of a billion hours, many trips to the restroom at LAX because my poor kid had the runs, missing our connecting flight, and arriving many hours late to Iowa only to discover that our luggage was lost (as in, no-tracking-information-at-all-lost) -- all I wanted was a G.D. cocktail and something fried.
My food odyssey began innocently enough. On the way to my mom’s house from the airport, we made a stop at the local Super Target to buy underwear, and I picked up one of those Amy’s Organic Burritos, which seemed to straddle the line between “not so bad” and “convenient meal at 10:00pm.”
But then the next day, in borrowed clothes from my mother’s closet (a wonderland of quilted vests and crew-necked long-sleeved T-shirts), I threw all caution to the wind. Something about dressing in fleece and looking like a pink, toasty warm marshmallow gave me permission to disregard any concern for my arteries or intestines, and answer the siren song of high fructose corn syrup and animal fat.
Now we are on day five and I’ve eaten so much cheese that I don’t think I will ever poop again. I mean, I love cheese. I am technically sort of lactose-intolerant, but that does not stop me, obviously.
It’s not just the cheese that’s killing me, though. It’s the meat. Every day, at every meal. It’s the Midwestern way, a way I forgot long ago and am now embracing a little too enthusiastically.
So here’s what I eat in a typical day at home in California: oatmeal and fruit for breakfast, leftovers from the night before for lunch, some sort of brown rice/vegetable/bean dish for dinner, and snacks of whatever (fruit, hummus and chips, crackers, nuts). Occasional fish and chicken, and some red meat about once every couple of months.
Don’t get me wrong, I am not some sort of food saint. I’m not immune to the pleasures of processed foods, or those feta/caramelized onion pastry things from Trader Joe’s, which I may or may not have eaten half a package of two weeks ago. It’s just that, for budget and health reasons, I eat a mostly whole foods, plant-based diet. It makes me feel better, and it is cheaper to buy beans than it is to buy meat.
Anyway, we can just say that I’m not eating my typical diet right now. My clothes kind of don’t fit, but to be honest that is a secondary concern. I’m just so glad that the airline found my suitcase (the local airport even delivered it here!) and that I don’t have to wear my mom’s too-short-for-me trousers from Talbots, you know? My main concern is that my intestines are pretty mad at me.
Here’s what I’ve been eating this week in Iowa:
Sticky buns, which are heavily processed white dinner rolls baked with like a pound of butter, some brown sugar, and a package of Jell-O Cook N’Serve Butterscotch Pudding Mix (not instant, has to be the cook and serve kind -- why, I do not know). The top caramelizes and gets all gooey. EATING ONE RIGHT NOW, YOU GUYS.
This spinach artichoke dip made with weird preservatives and cheese, of course.
Colby Jack cheese.
“Easy Fudge” which is just a bag of chocolate chips and a can of chocolate frosting melted together in the microwave.
These homemade candy bars made with crushed cereal, pretzels, M&Ms and copious amounts of corn syrup.
Cheese curds (If you microwave them for 8 seconds, they melt a little and then they squeak when you eat them, which is weirdly satisfying.)
A “superburger” from the Starlite Room Tavern.
Fruit pizza, which is a sugar cookie crust topped with cream cheese frosting and fruit that has been cut up and tossed with sugar.
Actual pizza, which was covered in meat and cheese, of course.
You guys, I think I’ve had maybe one serving of vegetables in five days. When I get home this weekend, I just want to eat a giant plate of vegetables. But I still have a few more days of eating like my mom and stepdad do. When in Rome and all that.
How long can my gut hold out, do you think? Will I ever poop again? And what weird food do you eat when you leave your city and/or state?
Somer is tweeting: @somersherwood.