A bowl of oatmeal: It is my jam.
Savory oatmeal, that is! All day every day. Drizzle some soy sauce and some sesame oil on that bad boy. Add some canned tuna. Sprinkle on some green onions. Take away the mushrooms if you’re going to be a big baby about it, I mean, that’s fine, listen, I don’t care what exactly you do to it as long as you FUCKING EAT IT.
I tried this for the first time recently, and I’ve been going crazy on it ever since. I had it for dinner two nights ago. I had it for breakfast yesterday. I had it for breakfast today. At noonish I rolled myself off the couch and mumbled, “more oatmeal.” “You can’t seriously be eating that again,” Ryan said. Ha! That’s rich! This from the man who has toast with jam for breakfast roughly 349 days out of the year! Ugh, god, savory oatmeal; I can’t wait to go to bed so I can wake up tomorrow and eat it again.
I realize I sound insane; it’s just so rare for me to find something I can make here that a) I intensely enjoy, b) is not time-consuming to prepare, and c) requires only ingredients that are cheap and readily available at any old shop (as opposed to ingredients that are only available at the pricey supermarkets in the Russian district, or at that Shangri-La of produce and cheese and sauces, Mercury Market in UB). Speaking of availability, I love how the epicurious blog post I linked to up there has a cheery list of “other oatmeal variations to try,” all of which are useless to me:
* Chopped ham (no) and shredded cheddar (no)
* Wilted arugula (hahaha) and extra virgin olive oil (okay)
* Marinara sauce (yes) and grated Parmigiano Reggiano (actually, yes! But for a price)
* Sauteed mushrooms (yes) and Gruyere cheese (what)
* Sauteed sausage (not the kind you’re thinking of, sister) and onions (yes)
* Shredded roast chicken (sure) and roasted or sauteed leeks (pfft)
* Diced avocado (please don’t) and salsa verde (I said stop)
* Diced tomatoes (sure!) and feta (see Parmesan comment)
Am I whining again? Sorry.
It’s weird that I’ve never blogged about this, because I think about it all the time: I am, in fact, grateful for the way Mongolia has curbed certain appetites that were just making me fatter and fatter back home.
I lost 20 pounds my first summer here, see, and through some miracle it’s stayed off. And while I have a lot of theories about the initial, mysterious weight loss (stress; a couple bouts of Chinggis’ Revenge; the abandonment of my stupid hunger-inducing exercise routine; my host family’s food, which was fine in the grand scheme of things, but still, I never wanted to eat any more than the absolute minimum required to make Eej happy; and let’s be real I was kinda tubby to begin with), I’m pretty sure the maintenance of the weight loss comes down to two things: Cheese and beer. I used to consume these things daily. Now I can’t afford to. And so I don’t. The end.
Hahahaha that’s hilarious, like it was that simple, just kidding. It’s late now and I don’t really have time to go into this anymore, which is too bad. Because I love — I love — talking and reading about willpower, and how we have a finite amount of it, and how even just making decisions makes us tired. But all is not lost! Because our willpower is like a muscle, and if we exercise it we can build up our capacity to resist temptation over time. Fascinating, right, just go ahead and forward me any article you ever come across about self-control research, thank you.
So, basically, my willpower muscle was atrophied and flabby when we got here. And Mongolia has forced me to use it. And there were times, O, there were times of pain and struggle. Lo, I spent many nights gnashing my teeth and rending my garments and howling “I JUST WANT TO HAVE A GODDAMNED BEER AFTER WORK” with Ryan replying “Well, we can’t afford it, so why don’t you just stop thinking about it,” which was never annoying at all. God it’s so hard sometimes, being the child in this relationship.
For some reason, kicking my daily cheese habit was not such a mental struggle (“some reason” = the fact that cheese doesn’t have alcohol in it?). A while back I came across this hilarious early 90s anti-cheese rant by Courtney Love (“Orientals”!), and on the rare occasion that I have a leftover hunk of cheese in the fridge these days, I find myself kind of agreeing with her. Living in Mongolia, you get up close and personal with the whole range of possibilities on the Dairy Product Spectrum, and not all of it is pretty. I don’t know. I’ve seen cheese’s cousins. Cheese is…kind of gross? Now? To me?
So, there we are. It has taken me a year and a half to build up this tiny willpower muscle, but build it up I have, and this is my reward: All I want at the end of the day is a bowl of oatmeal and a mug of green tea. And my fiber supplements, and my reruns of Matlock, and my memories of youth.
But seriously try the oatmeal.