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THE ATTACK OF THE VENGEFUL VEGGIES

by Rose Madeline Mula

Help! I’m being terrorized by a giant zucchini — and a green pepper, a bag of baby carrots, and a head of wilted romaine lettuce.

Well, maybe “terrorized” is a bit strong; but these assorted veggies are certainly seriously intimidating me. Every time I open my refrigerator door, they say (I swear they can talk), “Eat me! Throw away that cookie … you don’t need that jelly doughnut …. eat me! Don’t let me rot!”

The irony of the situation is that they couldn’t have any power over me at all if I hadn’t brought them home from the supermarket and given them haven in my fridge in the first place. You’d think I would have learned my lesson by now. But I haven’t. I make the same mistake every time I go grocery shopping. Last week my tormenters were two artichokes, some string beans, spinach, and a bunch of beets, all of which I eventually fed to my garbage disposal.

Why do I keep buying things I probably won’t eat? Because they’re good for me, and I know I should eat them. Instead, however, I usually pop a big greasy hamburger on the grill; but I do put ketchup on it, and eat chips with it — don’t they count as two veggies? Or I’ll dig into a heaping plate of pasta, but with tomato sauce and some fresh chopped basil (there you go — something green!) so it can’t be all that bad. Or if I’m feeling virtuous, I’ll eat chicken. Everyone knows that chicken is certainly healthier than the juicy, marbled sirloin steak I’d rather have. Okay, okay — so I prefer the dark meat thighs and drumsticks instead of the leaner white meat breasts; and yes, I do fry them, but in virgin olive oil, which is good for LDL cholesterol, isn’t it?

I know I’m just rationalizing my poor choices.

It isn’t that I dislike vegetables. I eat (and enjoy) them when others prepare them. But when I have to do it myself, it’s just too much work. All that washing, peeling, dicing, slicing, chopping, mashing… Not to mention the boiling, braising, roasting, steaming, stewing — followed by the scouring and washing of all the pans, knives, choppers, mashers… Seriously, far fewer utensils are involved in broiling or frying a piece of meat or boiling a pot of water for pasta. And fewer still for fast food takeout.

But despite that, starting tomorrow I’m going to prepare more nutritious meals. Sure I am. But I tell myself that every day, and it hasn’t happened yet. It’s easy to make that vow right after I’ve polished off a large baguette slathered with mayonnaise and overstuffed with roast beef, ham, salami, and three kinds of cheese and garnished with bacon bits (okay, slabs).

Sometimes I actually remember my promise the next morning. Those are the days I raid the vegetable bins at the supermarket. Unfortunately, I have to pass Pizzeria Uno on the way home; but I don’t — pass it, that is. All that grocery shopping makes me hungry, so I decide to go in and have a light lunch — just one slice of pizza. I’ll bring the rest home and freeze it to serve to my Scrabble group on Sunday. Inevitably, one slice leads to another, and I polish off the whole thing—so I buy another one for my company on Sunday. Well, I have to offer them something. Of course I do have all that produce in my crispers, but I don’t think a vegetable medley will cut it with this group. In addition to the pizza, I know they’ll be expecting munchies like Tostitos and salsa, cheese and crackers, chips and dip, nuts and pretzels ... Is it my fault that they have such poor eating habits?

As for me, I really am going to make an effort to improve my diet — starting right now with a nice glass of wine. (Hey, it’s grape juice, after all.)

Editor's Note: Rose Mula's most recent book, The Beautiful People and Other Aggravations, is now available at your favorite bookstore, through Amazon.com and other online bookstores, and through Pelican Publishing (800-843-1724), as is her previous book, If These Are Laugh Lines, I'm Having Way Too Much Fun.

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