Thanksgiving dinner is literally a smorgasboard of food rituals both from a national perspective and personal perspective. For example, most people eat turkey. And stuffing. And mashed potatoes. And cranberry sauce. And pumpkin pie. And. And. And. And. And…The list goes on.
These rituals or habits are ones that we all know and collectively speaking, you could place them under that most overarching of Thanksgiving food themes—overeating. Typically, this takes the form of plates piled high with firsts, seconds, and even thirds if you count dessert, which is then followed by much groaning and the postprandial snooze on the sofa with the top button of our pants undone. After all, it’s hard to resist that sleep chemical brought on by so much turkey and pumpkin pie. Why not nap after such an indulgence?
This essay is part of an on-going series of book reviews and food essays. They’ll examine different aspects of food in literature and in life. Bon apetit! Other articles in the series:
- Comfort food memories: Manley’s Cafe in Boise
- Food in literature: Sinister Sprinkles review (Donut Shop Mystery)
Why not indeed? There is the discomfort to think of followed by that most familiar of all feelings that almost every person has experienced after Thanksgiving dinner, the guilt. This is caused by all that overeating. It’s a vicious cycle. Usually we assuage said guilt by reasoning that the turkey day feast only comes once a year if you don’t count the three-days worth of leftovers in your fridge. But recently, I found another way to get rid of some of the Oh-my-God-I-ate-too-much guilt this holiday. It’s a nice little book called The Art of Overeating by Leslie Landis, and it might just be one of the most perfect Thanksgiving books you’ll ever read.
Why it’s OK to overeat
OK. Technically, it’s not a Thanksgiving book, although the holiday of much overindulgence is mentioned in the book. Instead, this little tome expounds in a very tongue and cheek kind of way why should continue to overeat.
Some of my favorite bits of wisdom from the book include:
On emotional eating:
People talk about emotional eating with a negative connotation: “Oh, she’s upset, so she’s eating.” “He’s eating because he’s worried.”
What’s so “#$@!?” wrong with that?!
If someone is sad, anxious or unhappy, what could be better than eating? A nice fat slice of chocolate cream pie never made anyone feel worse. A perfectly prepared pot roast can only result in tears of joy. Who knew you would find all that in the refrigerator!
Quotes from the book:
I am the master of my plate and captain of my bowl.
And in honor of this Thanksgiving holiday:
You don’t need a holiday such as Thanksgiving or Christmas for an excuse to overeat. You can overeat anytime.
On the other hand, a holiday is a great excuse for overeating. After all, when else is it acceptable, even encouraged, to try two, three, four different desserts, even sample of a bit of every frosted, baked and rum-buttered recipe on the buffet table?
Wisdom from the takeout aisle
And for those of you who might be appalled at the bit-sized chunks of wisdom that are being spoon-fed to the reader, it’s well to remember this tasty morsel taken from the book’s “Preface.”
Back in the days before diets became “lifestyle” choices, and healthy food programs became a national obsession, eating was the one activity that we all had to do that was also pleasurable, and even fun. The Art of Overeating was written as a response to our food phobic culture. Taking a humorous look at our collective eating foibles can also become part of the solution. After all, you can’t stuff your face when you are laughing. The deep and meaningful message of this book is:
“Have your cake and read it too.”
You can find this Ode to Overeating on Amazon.com. I’ll bet you’ll be filled with laughter until you’re stuffed!