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When You Are Hungry You Eat

July 19, 2012

Most people don’t go out for three lunches in one day. Nor do they regularly indulge in second breakfast. Recently Little Miss Fussy and I passed some time at the counter of my favorite diner on a little father-daughter date. But we had both eaten just a couple hours before. So we didn’t order a lot of food, just a couple of things to tickle our fancy.

I’m not like most people, and that’s fine by me.

Although sometimes people confuse me. Take for example the food lover who happens to be in Troy and checks into Dunkin’ Donuts. Troy just isn’t that big. On the north side of town you have Bella Napoli with their pillowy yeasted donuts and crisp cake ones (just avoid their glazed). A bit to the southeast is The Cookie Factory with its light as air glazed donut with a crackling coating brightened with a hint of citrus. Over the river to the southwest is Schuyler Bakery that has been making the same old-time donuts since before I was born (while I’m not the biggest fan, this style has its backers).

The point is that regardless of where you are in Troy, you can’t be further than five minutes away from a great freaking donut. And donuts are one of those foods that are so bad for you, so loaded in fat, sugar, and refined flour, that if you are going to eat one, it best be delicious.

But this person was hungry and said, “When you are hungry, you eat.” I’m not convinced.

Above I’ve already talked about the inverse of this, because I eat when I’m not hungry all the time. Sometimes it’s for the sake of science. Occasionally I just want to get a certain flavor out of my mouth. Other times it’s for sheer comfort, like that guilty slice of Buffalo chicken pizza I had earlier this week.

When hunger hits and there is no good food around, what do I do? I wait.

Not everyone can do this. Mrs. Fussy can’t. When her blood sugar falls, she needs to get food into her quickly, otherwise she (and others like her) become rather insufferable at an alarming rate. And for some it’s a medical necessity.

But not for me. Short term hunger doesn’t bother me that much. If I was really hungry and I knew I could have a mediocre taco right away or wait thirty minutes to have some exceptional ones, I’d choose waiting without hesitation. Maybe it’s because I eat something for breakfast. Or perhaps it has something to do with my acceptance of snacking.

This isn’t to say that I don’t get hungry. I do.

Some days I lose track of time, and don’t get around to eating a proper lunch. On those days I end up not eating until the mid-afternoon, and, famished, will eat a few handfuls of nuts, usually standing up. And those days are the worst.

I generally gauge the quality of my days by the quality of my lunch. Those days that I’m able to sit down to something amazing at a proper time, and am really able to enjoy are it, are great and make life worth living. The days where I end up eating nuts I find totally demoralizing.

I’ve even found myself on days when I’ve inadvertently skipped lunch walking by a Dunkin’ Donuts or a Subway. And with my stomach rumbling, I still don’t pop in for a disgusting sandwich or a fried dough ball that is a donut in name only. Actually, on that particular day I stepped into the CVS for a bag of SmartFood to hold me over until I could get to my nuts at home.

Luckily I’m fortunate enough to know that a sensible dinner will be had at the end of the day with my family. It may not be gourmet, or terribly relaxing, but it is almost always delicious and wholesome.

My lapses, the errant stops at places like McDonald’s, are not moves of desperation resulting from hunger. Rather they are calculated decisions while on the highway or providing a small treat for a couple of kids who deserve some passing semblance of normalcy in their lives.

So yeah, you’ll find me at Taco Bell with my Fresco-style bean burrito and a kid or two in tow. I could even conceive of a situation where I would take a kid to Dunkin’ once in a blue moon.

But you only have so many meals to eat in this life. They can’t all be spectacular. But if there’s a choice to wait a few minutes for something better or take the lousy thing that’s right in front of you, I hope you have the patience to hold out. I assure you, it will be its own reward.

17 Comments leave one →
  1. July 19, 2012 10:53 am

    Really interesting! I wish I was better about waiting, but I go from hungry to hangry really quickly.

  2. Eric Scheirer Stott permalink
    July 19, 2012 10:54 am

    Always eat when you are hungry.
    Always drink when you are dry.
    Go to bed when you are sleepy-
    But don’t forget to breathe or else you’ll die.

    (old vaudeville song)

    • July 19, 2012 1:32 pm

      That reminds me of this-

      It’s Beefsteak when I’m hungry rye whiskey when I’m dry
      Greenbacks when I’m hard up, heaven when I die
      I’ll go tea and a holler and I’ll build me a still,
      I’ll give you a gallon for a five dollar bill.

      (Jack O’Diamonds (Rye Whiskey) – Tex Ritter)

  3. July 19, 2012 11:26 am

    It’s nice to be able to hold out like that, and I do try to wait for the good stuff, but yeah, a lot of us have sensitive blood sugar, and if we’re hungry, we NEED to eat, and we can’t wait that long.

    In the case given, maybe she didn’t have the energy at that point to go get the car and drive to a better doughnut when she was already standing near Dunkin and was hungry. (Though in my case, I probably would’ve gotten a Wake-Up Wrap — more protein, less sugary carbs, enough to take the edge off until you can plan for better-quality food.) Or maybe she just really wanted a Dunkin doughnut — the pull of nostalgia can be strong sometimes, after all.

  4. July 19, 2012 11:32 am

    Maybe Dunkin Donuts is a guilty pleasure for the person you’re referring to.

    I appreciate Bella Napoli and The Cookie Factory for other things, but I still would take a fresh strawberry frosted donut from Dunkin Donuts over one from those two bakeries. My parents used to bring me to DD’s as a kid pretty much every Sunday and I’d always choose a strawberry frosted. It pretty much cemented the idea that ‘this is what a donut should taste like’ (with the exception of apple cider donuts, of course).

  5. July 19, 2012 11:43 am

    You’re calling someone out for going to Dunkin Donuts when this is your reasoning for going to McDonald’s?

    ‘My lapses, the errant stops at places like McDonald’s, are not moves of desperation resulting from hunger. Rather they are calculated decisions while on the highway or providing a small treat for a couple of kids who deserve some passing semblance of normalcy in their lives.’

    Anyone could call you out for that line of reasoning considering there are those of us who have never felt the need to bring our kids to McDonald’s and who also have resisted the advertising brain washing that results in thinking that McDonald’s is a part of a ‘normal’ childhood.

    But…to each his own, you know?

    • derryX permalink
      July 19, 2012 12:05 pm

      Now that I read Jen’s comment, I’m going to wager a guess that “passing semblance of normalcy” is what was meant by “keeping it real.” :)

  6. July 19, 2012 11:56 am

    I think I may have been directly involved in the discussion at the tail end on twitter, and I think it’s important to point out the obvious that every place that is in business serves a market. You specifically may not be the audience places like Dunkin Donuts or Subway may be targeting, and I think anyone who has read anything you’ve written or has spoken to you in person should be aware of that, but they’re obviously successful businesses because they appeal to wide audiences.

    Not everyone has the time or energy to think about every food decision that you do, and these types of places make products that may pale in comparison to the great things that are out there, but are convenient, affordable, and, probably most importantly, consistent. I can’t tell you how annoying it is to get a number of cream filled doughnuts at a place like Bella Napoli and find each of them filled at varying degrees.

    There’s also a nostalgia factor and additional pop culture appeal to places like that, so, while you can’t wrap your head around why people spend money on that stuff, people love that stuff.

  7. Mr. Sunshine permalink
    July 19, 2012 12:28 pm

    When I get hungry, I need to eat something right away, or I get nauseous, shaky, and sweaty.

  8. July 19, 2012 12:54 pm

    One of my great sadnesses, especially when I’m traveling, is when it’s time to eat and you know that there is great food to be had but your companions, who may be your clients, say “oh let’s go to [insert Olive Garden, Chili’s, TGIF or other execrable chain].” There are only so many lunches you’re going to eat in your life and you just lost a good one.

    Also, I agree with the philosophy of waiting a little while to have good food instead of mediocre. The problem is that by the time I get it I may be too hungry to savor it vs wolfing it down…

  9. July 19, 2012 2:16 pm

    A lot of people have mentioned low blood sugar and not being able to wait to eat. Perhaps carry a pack of nuts, some dried fruit or a granola bar in your purse and car. That way, you’re not forced to eat crap and you have a healthy (ish in the case of the granola bar) snack to tide you over.

    I’m one of those annoying people that can’t eat just anywhere and will make people wait until we get to the right place.

    • July 19, 2012 8:33 pm

      Healthy snacks pretty much never do it for me — they’re a drop in the bucket of my stomach that only serves to wake it up and make it rumble even more. (Yes, even the protein + carb kinds of snacks, like a cheese stick and fruit, etc.)

    • July 20, 2012 4:41 pm

      I’m one of those annoying people, too. But several factors enter into the decision regarding where a group of people eat. One of them is of course convenience: if you’re in a small town, you go where a kitchen’s actually open. Another, though, is social sensitivity. I know quite a few people, typically younger, who were raised with fast food (by which I mean Olive Garden, Chili’s, et al.) and don’t feel comfortable with anything that’s outside their comfort zone. That’s fine. I’ll go there if they insist, and find a menu item I like. In many cases, I’ve eventually convinced them to go to a more interesting place, and they find themselves liking what they’ve had. Part of the life we have as lovers of quality, sustainable food is that we’re proselytizers – we find good things, and seek to share them with others. But it doesn’t occur right off the bat. If I understand Daniel’s intentions correctly, that’s essentially what he’s trying to do with this blog for many in this region.

      That said – I gotta have a Big Mac every six months or so. I’m a child of the 70s, and for a kid that was indeed a special treat. :)

  10. Kerosena permalink
    July 19, 2012 2:35 pm

    My first thought was, maybe the food lover’s time is not their own. If s/he works for someone else, outside of the home, s/he may not have had an extra 10 minutes to travel back and forth to a good bakery before getting to work.

    Or maybe the person’s favorite afternoon ritual is enjoying a nice big swig of iced tea. Did they specifically report buying/eating donuts?

    I’m not defending DD, just suggesting that there may be other factors at work.

  11. July 19, 2012 6:52 pm

    I am like Mrs. Fussy, C is like you. I am downright insufferable once my blood sugar drops to a certain level. A former coworker and I used to talk about the three triggers (we both had all three): Hungry, Hot, and Tired. I’m not so bad when it’s hot (though this week did try my patience more than usual), and can usually tolerate that so long as I am well hydrated, however the Hungry and Tired are a deadly combo. I become a 5 year old on the brink of a monster temper tantrum.

    I’ve started doing what JenH718 suggested above and keep snacks on hand for these occasions, but not all occasions are perfect for that. I am also fussy about food (obviously, I’m here!), so that complicates matters as I would rather hold out for something good. However, sometimes I do eat out of necessity, which C very rarely will do. We both have certain “staples” at particular chains that we may normally avoid, for these such occasions.

  12. kevin j. permalink
    July 20, 2012 1:24 am

    I agree with the hunger thing, but sometimes you just have to eat…as for the Schuyler Bakery comment, i was born in this area 42 years ago and nothing beats those sugar covered flat doughnuts!

  13. July 20, 2012 7:25 am

    Like Mrs. Fussy, when my blood sugar gets low, I morph into angry mode pretty quickly. I do carry snacks with me (hello, mom of 5!) but sometimes I’ll have to pop into a less than stellar place to grab something. In terms of donuts, DD’s are certainly not on my list of must haves, but in a pinch, I’ll eat one. The kids will ask for them on occasion and will give in once in a while. Yesterday was one of those days. With the construction near the Rexford Bridge and our need to sit in traffic leaving camp to get from Nisky to CP at rush hour, I thought it would be a nice diversion for the kids. I was right!

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