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Temptation #1

On Saturday night, a couple friends of mine and I went to a little club in Harlem to listen to some world music.  A friend of my lady is in a group that does some pretty fat harmonies.  It’s old school R&B with a little funk.   They were phenomenal.

As it was my first evening out, I was feeling strong and mentally prepared.   I’ve been getting my mind around this for a few weeks, so on the first night,  nothing, at least nothing of the usual sort (an offer to share a bottle of 2005 Romanee Conti might … no would, be an unusual circumstance), could possibly tempt me.  I envisioned myself drinking seltzer water with a little lemon all night, and if we ate, I’d get a salad.

But when I first walked in, my eyes immediately fell on the beer handles.  They had some excellent choices.  Dogfish 60minute; Brooklyn Lager; and a couple other microbreweries that indicated some thought and taste.   My two friends ordered house wines.

The wines weren’t a problem.  It’s an unusual bar that has an excellent house wine.  They were satisfactory for the company, but a poor excuse for giving up the challenge.  I didn’t think twice.  I could tell they’d be tart single note fruit bombs.

The problem was the food.

For most of the evening it was standing room only, but after an hour we were able to get a couple seats at the bar.  Fan and Jen ordered guacamole with chips, plantains with hot sauce, and a Mediterranean plate.   This was my first challenge.

I knew that guacamole was OK.  Plantains, as well.  But the variety on the plate I would have to study.  And I couldn’t dip.  There were no veggies to dip.  Just pita bread and sesame chips.  I took one of the forks and just plunged into the guacamole and the eggplant.  Fan suggested the hummus.  In spite of it being considered healthy by most, it was still off limits.

I guessed that the pickles were sweet and avoided them.  The eggplant, however, had a sweet sensation upon my palate.  It wasn’t cloying; it was a sweetness that I guessed would come from a sort of vinegar.

This is one of the challenges of eating out:  it’s not what one knows – its what one doesn’t know.  I’m going to assume that the sweetness in the eggplant was not sugar.  Fortunately, I avoided all the other carbs that evening.  I didn’t drink anything except water, while my friends finished several glasses of an Italian house red.

Still, that night I my mind was foggy.  I felt like I had a headache, and I hadn’t had a glass.

Melissa Urban remarks that “black coffee is not that hard.”  She’s right.  But there is no getting around that one needs to be tenacious and diligent:  qualities that I’m learning only through brute necessity.  In a soft culture, it’s easy to be soft, lazy, thoughtless.  These thirty days are to learn something different.

First day, complete.

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Categories: Diet, Food Tags: , , ,
  1. Mwangi
    January 25, 2010 at 9:15 pm

    I’m enjoying this blog, if I learn nothing else at least I’ll find out all the happening spots in the tri-state area. (Though I am not sure I’ll be as strong as you in resisting the temptations all around!) I love Harlem, but have never heard of the Shrine Bar — it’s now on my list. Thanks.

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